"Pine Mouth"

Well, a lot has happened in the last month, and obviously we're not posting most of it here, specifically because it is mostly the highest form of simply enjoying being with our family and friends here in Tennessee, and we're too busy enjoying it to post about it.

And we're really OK with that.

But blogging continues to be a way to denote some of the odd little details of life that might otherwise be forgotten, and so we share the random:


Monday, we traveled down to Chattanooga to see Jena and Brian, and our two nieces.  On arriving there, we got to spend an awesome afternoon with our friends the Chaffins, who know how to put together a mean lunch and otherwise make you feel totally at home.  Then we descended the mountain on which they live and headed over to Jena's.

Wednesday morning:  Why does my coffee taste so bad?  Why isn't this going away with brushing my teeth?  Why does everything taste terrible today?

Well, it turns out that I have "Pine Mouth", a recently described (by the FDA) syndrome where you eat pine nuts, and an as-yet-unidentified something makes everything have a bitter and metallic taste. Thankfully, it goes away spontaneously after 4 days to 4 weeks with no longterm effects.

Actually, our friend Chris, while serving us the absolutely awesome pine-nut-containing orzo on Monday, mentioned to Rachel that she had had this problem.  I missed that conversation, but was thankful that it existed, so that Rachel could correctly diagnose me 2 days later.

No big deal, but it is messing with my US weight gain plan.  Each time someone mentions a yummy meal of the future, my first thought is "man, I hope I'm tasting things normally by that time."


Safari 2015

As a little family vacation, transitioning from Burundi back to America (for 9 months), we stopped by Kenya and took the kids on a safari.  The last time that Maggie went to Maasai Mara, she was 1, and so we were excited to let them experience this, and maybe, just maybe, Maggie and Ben will remember this trip into adulthood.

We have been on safari multiple times (click here for old pictures), and each time is a little different, with unique things you didn't expect.  So, here is a rundown of what made this safari unique, i.e. what it will be remembered for.

Hyenas.  We saw more hyenas on this trip that all prior trips combined.  It was sort of like when they took over in the The Lion King, but the Pridelands did not look to be suffering otherwise.

Of course everyone wants to see carnage on safaris ("I want to see a cheetah eating a zebra"), but as Carlan pointed out, the more unnatural the carnage is, the better ("I want to see a zebra eating a cheetah!"), even to the point of the ridiculous ("I want to see a meerkat eating a zebra, who is eating a cheetah!").  Driving into camp this time, we were greeted by the closest thing we have yet encountered:  a hyena eating a hyena.

We stayed at a new place (for us) called Salt Springs, which was hard to get to, but is Maasai owned and run (unique among the lodges there).  It was more budget, but still very nice, and great service.  They had a dining area that overlooked a big bend in the river, and you can just sit and watch for animals in the distance.

This was Toby's first safari, and he loved it.  The monkeys were his favorites, and just riding in the bumpy car was his most favorite.

Mongooses and Rock Hyraxes (or Dassies).  I think we had seen about 1 of each of these on prior trips.  This time, they were out in droves and we saw more than 50 of each.  Here is a picture of the little Rock Hyraxes up in the cleft.  They are actually the closest cousin of the elephant, if you can believe it, and could rest on your palm.

We saw several hippos grazing out of the water, which is cool, since normally they are just ears and eyes poking out of the water.  Possibly because it was the rainy season...

The first of our two companions: Abraham Paternoster, our friend who spent most of his gap year (before college) with us out at Kibuye.

And the second: Molly Shankles, who is starting med school in the fall and spent the last 2 months with us at Kibuye.  They were both a huge blessing to us.

Birds.  Maybe we're just more interested in birds as time goes along, but we saw tons of great birds on this trip.  Here is one of about six lilac-breasted rollers we saw, but we also saw 5 types of storks, hamerkops with their ridiculous 6-ft wide nest, cranes and many others.

Probably the single coolest moment was this pride of lions eating a cape buffalo.  As Abraham pointed out, it was one of the Big Five, eating another of the Big Five, so there you go.  In fact, we saw probably about 20 lions, which is compared to less than five on any other safari we have been on.  No leopards.  They remain imaginary in our book.  And cheetahs are getting more dubious as time goes on as well.

There is nothing like an elephant (or better yet, a family of elephants) slowly making their stately way across the savannah.  We followed a great group of five for a while, and they can within about 20 feet of our vehicle.

Safari njema!
Urugendo rwiza!
Bon voyage!
It was a good journey.