Reflexology: Fail. Huge Fail.

I got a living social coupon for a “30 minute reflexology session and a 60 minute massage”** at Inner Wellness in Montrose.  It was not what i expected.  Or what it was advertised as.  It was not in a spa, gym, or store.

expected this….

** The EXACT wording.

What it was:

– In a woman’s house.  -Not quite as sketch as it seemed.  it was a seperate work space attached to the house.

– A woman who specializes in cancer patients and the lymphatic system.

– 30 minute Indian Champissage: a relaxation for the head, neck and shoulders.  It was basically a head rubdown.  Which felt nice (i mean how often do you get your head rubbed?) and is supposedly while Indian women don’t go gray, but it was not what i anticipated.  While it did ease tension and stress, it did not erase the knots in my neck.  So for what it was, i’m sure it was great. For the Living Social advertised massage? Fail.

except my lady didn’t have cool shades on.

– 45 minute Kansa Vatki: an Ayurvedic treatment of the feet and lower limbs designed to rebalance the Tridosha of Vata, Pitta, and Kapha.  Basically a foot and calf rub using coconut oil and a small metal bowl.  Again, pretty relaxing but in no way reflexology.

Pros:

– I did not have to take off any clothes, which made me feel much better about it being in some womans house.  If it had seemed sketch i would have hightailed it out of there, which would have hurt my money conscious heart.

– The music as great, although i def distracted myself majorly trying to figure out if it was the instrumental track from Pocahontas or Mulan.  Immediatly brought to mind both movies, so then i wasted precious relaxation time trying to remember the words to any of the songs to see if they fit.  Conclusion: 78% sure it was Pocahontas.

– I got to take a little quiz to find out if i am a Vata, Pitta or Katha. In case you are curious i am a combo of Pitta and Katha. Still fairly unsure what that means, but i like surveys and tests.

Cons:

– Not at all as advertised. Seriously Living Social? major generic word play.  In fact the woman stressed that it was nothing like reflexology twice. um then why, praytell, was it advertised as such?

– I felt reasonably awkward. (altho in fairness, i feel a degree of awkwardness in most massages, i really fail at emptying my mind and instead focus on things like: the time, whether or not i should tell them the pressure is too much or if it will just get better, wishing i put more lip balm on because now my lips are dry and i don’t want to lick them like a creeper as someone working on my shoulders, and assessing how bad i have to pee).

– I still have knots in my neck.

– It just made me want a real massage.

– I still don’t know more about reflexology.

So if you have any friends or family who need lymphatic treatment after cancer, check her out, Inner Wellness in Montrose. She had lots of framed certificates, so she seems legit enough. If you are looking for a massage and reflexology, don’t go there, cause she doesn’t do that.

Sidenote: I do not understand how arizona doesn’t partake in daylight savings time.  What happens if you live on the border and travel into Arizona for work? Or out of?  Do you have to leave an hour earlier? or later? How do you reconcile having 2 different times all the time?  For that matter what about people who live on the border of time zones? How do they live their life with two different times happening all the time? i can’t handle people being late here.  I’m pretty sure my brain would explode if i lived on a border.

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Part 4: Western Serengeti and Lake Victoria

On our way to our last hotel, while cruisin through the Serengeti, we finally saw……TAILS AND PAWS! or really just a tail. thats right. it’s Leopard time!

this tree had a momma leopard, 2 cubs, and one dead antelope stashed in the top

see the tail? and you can see her through the leaves as well

in the first pic, see the hole in the tree trunk?  one baby explored it for like 10 minutes!

heading in!

stretching out

how did this happen?

baby #2 exploring

shy guy

But seriously, the leopard momma killed an antelope and dragged it to the top of the tree to snack on.  Do not mess with a leopard. They are tough.

Another educational tidbit: The most badass tree in Tanzania- The Whistling Thorn Acacia Tree.

This tree comes prepped with not one, but TWO defense mechanisms! The first is obviously the thorns, as you can see below, long dangerous spines cover each branch.  However, this doesn’t deter the giraffes, they can sneak their tongue between the thorns to eat the leaves.  Thats where the second defense comes into play.  The whistle comes from the wind blowing through the little brown pods on each branch.  These pods house (and feed with sap) millions of battle ants that come pouring out of their homes at the first sense of movement and bite the crap out of anything in reach.  We tested this by getting close and tapping the branches lightly, sure enough each branch was covered with ants in mere seconds.  This is why you see the giraffes grazing on this tree, they only take one or two bites then move on before they get attacked.

Our last camp. Tented camp that was victorian era chic

Hippos and Crocs: how to escape them- climb on a large rock or fallen tree, they both have short legs and unwieldy bodies, and thus cannot climb.

Huge hippo pool. VERY stinky

Hippo fight!

Hippo fun facts: They helicopter their tail when they poop to mark their territory.  Yet another reason not to get too close. You know, besides death. When they fight it’s generally a roar-off to see who can open their mouth wider. Apparently whoever can open wider wins….

sleepy hippo

Croc fun facts- they can live up to 100 years, and can go as long as 1 year between large meals.  Also they tend to eat in pairs because they need the other croc to hold the animal so they can each rip large chunks off to eat.  They also cool by laying with their mouth wide open.

anyone else humming the Jaws theme?

airing out

bird!

Impala mock fighting

Sunset on the plains

Our last day was spent in a fishing village in Lake Victoria.  Interesting society, the economy is fish, they have a large fish market and also export their fish all over the world.  They also have a polygamous society and lots of drug and alcohol problems.  But the younger generation is getting away from this and focusing more on building up their school and educating their youth.

our village guide Peter

Kids in the school, the posing kills me!

Then one last game drive

zebra butts

topeys

The group we were with: Dartmouth Alumni trip

Goodnight Africa!

heading to the airstrip

fording a river, oregon trail skills coming into play!

the “airport” “runway”

Regional Air back to Arusha

Arusha->Kilimanjaro->Amsterdam->New York.

The End.

Tanzania, Part 3: Southern Serengeti & the Massai

After the crater we hit the road once again to head to the Serengeti!

Giraffe crossing

On our way we visited a traditional Massai village.  The Massai raise cattle and live in small huts and the herdsmen are called Massai Warriors.  The village was very interesting, they have huts made from dried cow dung and twigs and each family lives in a separate hut.

inside the hut, our Massai guide wearing Dana’s sunglasses

They herd their cattle, make jewelry, and live a relatively simple life.  They performed the traditional Massai dance for us, which consists of a lot of hooting, yelling, and jumping.

The dance is also a bit of a courting ritual, the women tend to judge the men on how high they can jump.  After our tour of the huts, we (exited to the gift shop) were encouraged to contribute to their villages economy by buying jewelry.  Which of course we all did, cause who doesn’t love shopping?  Note* you CAN and SHOULD bargain when shopping.  Dana and i got a little overwhelmed and separated from the group and did not bargain. Then we were kicking ourselves when we found out everyone else did….lesson learned.  All in all an interesting experience, but probably one i only need to do once.

Next stop: Oldupai Gorge

Oldupai Gorge

This is the place where the Leakeys’ discovered the first Homonid and manmade tools.  It is also known as the cradle of mankind.

Back on the road to the Southern Serengeti.  We passed through the migratory corridor, and managed to see part of the Great Migration!

literally wildebeests, zebras and gazelles from right next to the jeep to as far as you could see on the horizon. it was insane.

2 million wildebeest, 1 million zebra, and about 900,000 gazelle migrate every year, they migrate together because each animal possesses a distinct defensive trait that helps the other species. Plus they are all grazers and thus must continuously move to have ample food since their herds are so large.

lions chillin on a rock on the way to the hotel

rushing to beat the rain to the hotel… or rushing into the rain…

Harmonious living

learned that Zebra like to face opposite directions so they can see prey coming

Checked into the Four Seasons for the night and went right to bed since we had a 4AM wake up call the next morning for:

Hot Air Ballooning!

blowing up the balloon

Sunrise on the Serengeti

off we go!

level with the birds

up, up, and away!

Traditional Champagne toast, post ballooning

They told us that Champagne Toasts are traditional after Hot Air Ballooning.  When the Hot Air Balloon was first invented in France, the first people to ride in one were almost killed by the peasants when they landed, because the peasants thought they were sent from the sky by the devil.  In order to keep this from happening to the great inventors, the King of France decreed that each balloon should carry a bottle of Champagne with the seal of the King on it, to show peasants that they were men, not demons.  True story.

Loo with a view

Whenever we had a bathroom break or a stop, our guides would classify the bathrooms for us: Highly Recommended, Recommended, With a View, or Average.  Helpful, and generally spot on. The Average by the way, was a hole in the ground. Otherwise known as “Not Recommended”.

elephant butts

After that delight we headed back to the hotel to have lunch and had the whole afternoon off!  Which we spent by the pool, of course.

did i mention there were elephants there too?

The End.

Of part 3….the final part 4 (with 100% more leopards!), coming soon…

Tanzania, Part 2: Manyara & Ngorongoro Crater

Fun Facts
– National Animal of Tanzania: Giraffe


– Tanzanian flag does not have the color red because their independence was not won through bloodshed

On our way out of the Tarangire, we saw the elephant paradise.  This pic doesn’t even do justice, huge herds of elephants, all over the place, at least 300 if not more.

We also saw BABY LIONS!  Our guide said they were probs less than a month old, and the momma had stashed them up on this rock shaded by branches to keep them safe while she was hunting.  The pic is fuzzy because they were SUPER far away. Even the guides had to use binocs which was rare.

The rocks and trees behind me are where they are! p.s. my camera zoom rocks.

Despite our continued search for tails and paws, we have not yet seen a leopard.  They are super hard to see because of natural camoflauge and trickery, so the guides say to look for tails and paws hanging down from tree limbs where they are laying.

Super rare lens cap sighting! casualty of taking pics when flying in a jeep

Next Stop: Manyara National park.  This park is almost jungle-y in parts, then opens up to a bare grassland type vegetation.  it’s crazy.  In the jungle-y part are TONS of baboons. some were cute, some were ugly with gross butts.

There is a hippo pool here:

Baby Hippo! the guides said it was only a few days old

how close we were to the hippos!

action shot!

Lunch at a banana plantation! regular bananas AND red bananas.

We stayed at Endoro Lodge these 2 nights, and it was so lush and vibrant, plants everywhere!  Each pair had their own little cottage and they were very safari chic. Lots of animal skins and the ubiquitious mosquito netting.

Our next stop was the Ngorongoro Crater!  On our way, one of our people stopped at an ATM to get $$ and the conversion was $200 to 300,000 Tanzanian Shillings.  Talk about feeling like a baller!

The Ngorongoro Crater is actually a caldera because it has an unbroken rim.  We started out driving around the rim, then dropped into the crater for some seriously incredible game viewing.

the rim, you can see the rim all the way on the other side

flat topped acacia trees

The rim of the crater is very lush, jungle like landscape, while the floor is short grasslands with lakes.  The crater supports harmonious living, and allows the Massai people to live on the rim and bring their cows and goats to the crater floor to water, while on the floor the wild animals reign.

wildebeast

guess where Glamour was?

cape buffalo

harmonious living, cape buffalo, zebra & warthogs

Black rhinos are on the endangered list and Tanzania is trying to grow the population.  There are 18 black rhinos in the crater, and we saw 5, the guides were amazed we saw that many.

3 black rhino, just chillin. SUPER RARE to see

flamingos!

Hyena

Lion & Lioness prepping for their afternoon siesta

hippos and a birdy

we had lunch near a lake where there are hippos, and by near, i mean we could touch the water.  (but we didn’t obvi).  Hippos are only dangerous to humans when they are out of the water (or if you are in the water with them obvi) and you get between them and the water, then they attack because they feel threatened.

pride of lions

On our way out of the crater, on a road up the edge, the vehicle in front of us startled an elephant and he gave a mock charge to them and then us when we pulled up.  Apparently elephants give 2 or 3 mock charges before they really charge.

this is with no zoom.

End of the day: the tops of my hands started to get burned from holding onto the jeep roof all day every day, time to zinc it up!  Animals seen in the crater: grants gazelle, cape buffalo, zebra, wildebeast, warthogs, hippos, hyenas, lions, eland, baboons, crown crane, goose, rhino, flamingos & elephants.

Tanzania, Part 1: Tarangire National Park

Location: Tarangire National Park
Accommodations: Kikoti Tented Camp

This was one of my favorite parks.  Not sure if that was because everything was so new and exciting, or it really was better.  But i loved it!  We saw tons of elephants, zebra, giraffe, warthogs, dick dicks, ostrich, impala, and even Cheetah!

Elephant Crossing!

Family Picture

Cheetahs chillin under a tree

Ostrich

Dick Dick

words of the day:

Jambo- Hello

Assante- Thank You

Caribu- Welcome

We rode in land Cruisers that were pimped out with 3 rows of seating and pop out roofs in each section.  My sister and i stood on the seats the whole time.  And basically hummed the Indiana Jones theme song the entire time too.  It was just so adventure-y!

Kikoti Tented Camps were amazing.  80% solar energy, 20% generator.  You had to “order” a shower in the morning, and before you woke up, they would light a fire under your hot water tank to heat it up!  They also brought you coffee or tea with your wake up call to enjoy on the porch.  The second morning Dana and i got ambitious and did yoga on our porch while the sun came up.  That was the first and last time we exercised all trip haha.

Our “tent”

Mosquito netting is everywhere!

bathroom on the left, shower on the right.

Day 2 brought even more animals! Notes: wear sunscreen and bug spray at all times. Safety first! plus the sun is brutal, very close to the equator.

elephants crossing between our 3 jeep caravan

Baobob tree, like the Tree of Life in Disney!

Sidenote- Disney did their RESEARCH! They totally got Africa right.  From Animal Kingdom to the African Lodge to The Lion King, they really nailed it.

Bird!

i wrote down all the animals we saw, and even some of the trees.  Somehow i just couldn’t fit all the bird info in my head.  Something had to be sacrificed…

Grasslands

Sausage Tree!

Warthogs on the move

Sunset

Lesson of the day: Don’t take Malaria medicine on an empty stomach.  It will make you fear you got the plague from the plane and most likely cause you to irrationaly freak out until you puke and realize why. Just saying. Eat first.

Part of me doesn’t even want to write this recap, because that means the trip is really over.  It was such an incredible trip that i kind of want to pretend it’s not really over.  We’re just on a break.  We are totally getting back together.