111. Splish Splash, I Was Takin’ a Bath

Earth Suds is an eco-friendly startup whose goal is to eliminate all single-use plastic amenity bottles (containing shampoo, conditioner and bodywash) and replace them with sustainable tablets that dissolve and lather like traditional soaps.

Although EarthSuds tablets started as a solution for hotels, the tablets are now being offered to the general public.

I first tried their Starter Pack, containing 5 tablets each of their shampoo, conditioner and body soap. More than satisfied, I went back for more of their shampoo and conditioner. I also ordered their larger (and reusable) travel case.

The tablets are not inexpensive, which stops me from using them on a regular basis. Still, they will be a forever item while traveling.

It’s a simple product with huge ramifications.
The simple part: Crush the tablet, then along with a small bit of water, work up a nice lather in your hands, then wash like any other liquid soap.
The huge ramifications: Earth Suds have the potential to eliminate the 5.7 billion amenity bottles sent to landfills every year in North America alone.


Earth Suds was named a top 10 global finalist in the National Geographic Ocean Plastic Innovation Challenge.

The product achieves all three dimensions of sustainability:
economically it generates and re-invests profits,
socially it employs adults with developmental disabilitie,
and environmentally it eliminates single-use plastics.

RUNNING LIST OF ITEMS
purchased in preparation for the Kenya/Uganda trip
(some I may use again, some probably not)

86. Maasai Watchband

Apple Watchband Fanatics switch their watchbands when given even the slightest excuse to do so.
An African safari certainly seems justification enough to make the old switch-aroo.


When I spotted this beaded band on Etsy,
I knew it would be a great accessory for my trip.

It arrived a couple of weeks ago, and as much as I like it, I find the wide leather backing and all those beads get mighty weighty by the end of the day.
Fun? Yes. Practical in the African heat? I think not.
It will be nice as an accent piece, worn now and then to complement the day’s outfit, but it won’t be joining me on the flight to Nairobi.*


Still, there’s reason to take heart.

I’ve found 3 silicone replacements.

*I’m old. Old people lean toward elastic waistbands and sensible shoes, as well as light-weight watchbands.

RUNNING LIST OF ITEMS
purchased in preparation for the Kenya/Uganda trip
(some I may use again, some probably not)

utility work gloves
nylon gaiters
Money Belt
Humangear GoTubbs
hiking boots
water shoes
AfriSocks
wide brimmed hat
knit beanie with light
BUFF
African-patterned watchbands

77. Head Coverings

I purchased this hat at a local marketplace about a year ago, right after I first started making plans to visit Africa. The hat can be smashed into a suitcase, and when retrieved, springs back to life again, as good as new.

It provides protection from the hot equatorial sun. The chin strap will keep it from blowing away if the breezes get too strong during an open air safari ride.

Basically, it’s a gardener’s sun hat. I’ve name it Kivuli.


Kenya and Uganda might straddle the equator, but it can get very chilly indeed. I’ve been told the nights can cool down, even if the temperatures are high during the day. I ordered this knit beanie to protect against the lower temperatures while I sleep. The beanie has a rechargeable LED light. No stumbling over things if I should need to get up in the middle of the night.


And finally, there’s this thing – called a BUFF®.

It’s a seamless, light-weight (1.2 ounces), ultra stretchable tube, recommended by The Skin Cancer Foundation. Buffs contain 100% recycled microfibers which are made from two plastic water bottles that have been removed from oceans and landfills.




It can be worn as a neck wrap or a skull cap to keep in the warmth, a face mask to keep out the dust or a headband to manage a bad hair day.

It will be interesting to see if I ever really use it.

A LIST OF ITEMS
purchased in preparation for the Kenya/Uganda trip
(some I may use again, some probably not)

utility work gloves
nylon gaiters
Money Belt
Humangear GoTubbs
hiking boots
water shoes
AfriSocks
wide brimmed hat
knit beanie with light
BUFF

60. Keep ’em On My Toes

Gorilla Trekking Boots

Last month, before REI closed its retail stores due to the Coronavirus, I visited its shoe department and tried on a number of hiking boots. It took 8 different brands before I found a comfortable boot, but the cost stopped me from taking a pair home.

This month, online sales cut the cost in half. Still, it’s a pricey purchase considering I may never use them. (Kenya has closed its borders.) The boots arrived a few days ago. Thinking that I ought to break them in, I’ve been wearing the boots around the house. They’re very comfortable, so the breaking in stage doesn’t really seem necessary.


After a Long Day on the Savanna

Linda and I plan to make use of the swimming pools at a couple of camps while on safari.
I’m not a flip-flop fan, but I’ll be wanting some sort of footwear as I walk from tent to pool and back.
Water shoes seem like a good choice.


They’re soft, light weight, pull on easily and fold into a flat, small bundle. I question whether they’ll last more than a season, but for my purposes, that’s not a worry.

After soaking them in the sink, I hung them to dry in the shower. Next morning they were dry inside and out.


A Safari Necessity

Yes, these are a must. AfriSocks!

RUNNING LIST OF ITEMS
purchased in preparation for the Kenya/Uganda trip
(some I may use again, some probably not)

utility work gloves
nylon gaiters
Money Belt
Humangear GoTubbs
hiking boots
water shoes
AfriSocks

53. Pop Open Bottles

A couple of years ago, I used two Humangear products to store items while traveling.

One of the smaller GoTubbs® was filled with liquid concealer (Gotta hide those dark bags!) and a second one with a pair of stud earrings. A larger GoTubb® was used for medication.
The fact that they can be opened with just one hand meant little to me at the time of purchase, but that feature has come in handy dozens of times. With a single-handed squeeze, they pop right open.

Today I ordered these Humangear GoToobs® with locking cap. They can sit on a flat surface or hang on a hook in the shower. And they’re leakproof (which I intend to test before I place them in my luggage) and TSA-approved (3.4 oz/100 ml).

Both GoToobs® and GoTubbs® are BPA-Free and PC-Free.

RUNNING LIST OF ITEMS
purchased in preparation for the Kenya/Uganda trip
(some I may use again, some probably not)

utility work gloves
nylon gaiters
Money Belt
Humangear GoTubbs

51. Mood Music

Image Source: Uganda Traditional Music and Dance, Kids Canada

Since a great soundtrack can help set the mood on a trip, I went in search of African/Kenya/Uganda music and dance sounds.
I found a large number of music videos from which to choose. Some I liked, some not so much.
Although this genre isn’t something I normally listen to, I discovered many pieces to add to my African Safari Playlist. Here’s a sampling.

Source African Skies, xXEpicMusicWorldXx, YouTube (Time: 4:17)

Source: Miriam Makeba Official Channel, YouTube (Time: 3:31)

Miriam Makeba (1932-2008), nicknamed Mama Africa, was a South African singer, songwriter, actress, United Nations goodwill ambassador, and civil rights activist.

Miriam Makeba performing in Italy, the night before she passed away

In 1965, she testified about apartheid before the United Nations. South Africa revoked her citizenship and she became a political exile until 1990. Makeba performed with artists such as The Cuban Brothers, The Skylarks, Harry Belafonte, Paul Simon, Nina Simone and Dizzy Gillespie.


Her music is available on this website.


Listen to how Cee-Roo blends the common everyday sounds of Kenya in with its music and song.

Source: Feel the Sounds of Kenya, Cee-Roo, YouTube (Time: 3:00)

Here’s a song from Uganda, “The Pearl of Africa.” It’s a tribute to mothers.
A loose translation is given at the bottom of this post, but the sound is enough to make you want to move.

Source: Banyabo REMA New Ugandan Music, RemaNamkula, YourTube (Time: 3:59)


I know. I know.
But I like it.
And, after all, it’s my playlist.

Source: The Lion King – “Circle of Life” from AFRICANIZED, Alex Boye, YouTube (Time: 5:55)

One hundred percent of the download proceeds from the album AFRICANIZED go to Koins for Kenya.
Since 2003 Koins for Kenya has provided ways for Americans to actively engage with rural Kenyans to provide countless educational opportunities. Rural Africans are given a chance to overcome the abject poverty that has held them hostage for generations.


Banyabo

She wakes up to feed the hens, she gest up so early, mama
She works and gets so tired.
She has to look after the young ones (the young ones).
School fees for studying and the books.
sometimes they don’t have.
Even finding something to eat is a battle.
She’s the one who struggles, the one who comes up with
where to sleep and what to eat.

A woman
They hold it in, they persever, they’re oppressed.
Eeeh, they work hard.

Independent woman
African woman.

Aahhhh, a woman.

If it wasn’t for a woman … I wouldn’t have been educated
I wouldn’t, I wouldn’t have learned a thing if it weren’t for mama
I wouldn’t have grown up.
If it wasn’t for a woman … I wouldn’t have been educated.
I wouldn’t, I wouldn’t have learned a thing if it weren’t for mama.
I wouldn’t have grown up.


While pregnant she imagines the long distance to the hospital.
She does’t even have enough money for transport.
She decides to walk the distance.
Sometimes she delivers on the road
Without anyone to help her out . . . she perseveres.

They persevere, they put up with a lot … the women.
The journey of bringing up a child is a long one.

A lady
They persevere … women. They’re determined.
Ooooh, they work.

It’s the woman, (if it wasn’t, if it wasn’t) ooooh if it wasn’t,
if it wasn’t for mama, weeeheee
I wouldn’t have been educated, eeew eh (I wouldn’t have learned.)
If it wasn’t for mama
I wouldn’t have grown up, I wouldn’t have.
If it wasn’t for a woman … I wouldn’t have been educated.
I wouldn’t , I wouldn’t have learned a thing if it weren’t for mama
I wouldn’t have grown up.

She sells cassava alongside the road … so that we can get school fees.
Sometimes she comes home without having got anything, poor woman.

She does everything that’s required at home.
The clothing expenses in addition to the hospital bills (Aaaah) mama works so so hard.
She’s so hardworking and mankind
She’s a woman of integrity, a mother (poor woman)
A Woman, my mama (eeew)

You’re my star

If it wasn’t for a woman, I wouldn’t have been educated …

47. TSA Pre✓®

My friend Judy first encouraged me to use the STEP (Smart Traveler Enrollment Program) when we traveled together in 2017.
Travelers can apply for any of five Trusted Traveler Programs by visiting the U.S. Department of Homeland Security website. These programs allow members to use expedited lanes at the U.S. airports, and when crossing international borders.

Two of those programs are TSA Pre✓® and Global Entry.

With the 5-year TSA Pre✓® Program ($85), travelers can speed through security without having to remove their shoes, laptops, liquids, belts or light jackets.

I learned recently that, in addition to adding your Known Traveler Number (KTN) to your reservation, it’s best to confirm that the number was picked up in the booking when you check in to receive your boarding pass. Otherwise, you may find yourself standing in line with the rest of the masses.

Global Entry provides the TSA Pre✓® benefit plus expedited US customs screening for international air travelers when entering the United States. Global Entry costs $100 for a five year membership.

To find the best program for you, use the Department of Homeland Security’s interactive Trusted Traveler tool.

40. Colorful Cash

The currency unit in Kenya is the Kenyan shilling, officially abbreviated as KES, or more commonly as Ksh.
The shilling is referred to as a “bob,” for example “100 bob” or “2000 bob.”

Colorful new notes were introduced last year in compliance with Kenya’s 2010 constitution that prohibits notes and coins from bearing the portrait of any individual.

The faces of the 50-, 100-, 200-, 500- and 1,000 shilling notes all have an image of the Kenyatta International Conference Center, considered one of the most recognizable landmarks in the country.

One of the “Big Five” of the animal kingdom is shown emerging from the final zero on the reverse side of each denomination.

The new coins also feature wildlife rather than Kenyan leaders.

38. Speaking of Money . . .

Although I don’t plan on purchasing much while in Kenya, I’m hoping we’ll have time to walk through the markets in Nairobi.
If we do, I’ll have a currency converter at the ready.
I’ll still keep track of the current conversion rate, as I’ve been known to accidentally press the wrong keys.

The free app I use (GlobeConvert) converts all sorts of things: currency, speed, length, temperature, time, cooking, radiation dose (yikes!), volume, weight, electric current, and more.

My advice to myself while purchasing an item: Slow down – and check it twice.

At the time of this writing,

1 Kenya Shilling = 0.0099 U.S. Dollars.
or
100 Kenya Shillings = .99¢

To do a mental calculation: Note the price in KSh. Then move the decimal point to the left two spaces. That’s approximately the cost in U.S. Dollars.

37. A Wearable Safe

I’m getting more forgetful as I grow older, and a lot more paranoid too – which is why I just purchased the travel item below.

Normally, I carry very little cash while on a trip. But circumstances are different this time, so I’ll be using an age-old safeguard: The Money Belt.

Here’s the situation. We’ll be using the services of a number of different people along the way: drivers, trackers, guides, spotters, porters, waiters, housekeeping staff and more. That means I’m going to need more small bills than I normally carry.
Since I’m not sure how easy it will be to get to an ATM in the middle of camp, I’ve decided to withdraw a greater amount of cash than I usually do.

Rather than leaving it all under the mattress while I’m out on safari, or in the safe and forgetting to retrieve it before I leave, I’ll wear my cash on me. The money belt is where I’m putting my passport and other essential documents as well.


It will be UNDER MY CLOTHES. I’m always a little taken aback when I see someone wearing a money belt outside her top. Seems like that reduces the security factor big time.

RUNNING LIST OF ITEMS
purchased in preparation for the Kenya/Uganda trip
(some I may use again, some probably not)

utility work gloves
nylon gaiters
Money Belt

32. Settling on a Suitcase

I own a piece of carry-on luggage that meets all my traveling needs.

It spins on four sturdy wheels.
My stored electronics are safe inside its hard exterior.
Although I check it on long international flights, it serves as a convenient carry-on, easily fitting into the overhead compartment on shorter domestic trips.
Best of all, it opens like a clam shell, so there’s very little layering.

Yet it won’t work for this trip.

Linda and I will be taking short domestic flights while in Africa.
Due to the restricted storage space in smaller planes, soft-sided bags are a necessity. Hard shell baggage is not permitted.

undefinedSo long, favorite bag.

First: Meeting the Soft Sides Requirement

In the far-back, deep-dark, up-high part of my closet, I located my old cloth roller.
It’s in great shape and seems to be a possible solution to my baggage problem.

I hate to give up the clam shell opening, but this is something I can overlook, as packing cubes have taken some of the hassle out of organizing a single, deep base.

That solves the soft-sided problem.

Next: The Maximum Dimensions Test



We’ve been told that the maximum luggage dimensions
are 24″ X 12″ X 10″.
My bag is 22″ X 14″ X 9″ – wider than allowed, but also shorter and shallower.
According to our travel agent, “As long as the total linear inches (all sizes added together) are within range and you are within an inch or so on any dimension, you are fine.”

Another hurdle overcome.

Finally: The Weight Restriction

The weight allowance on our domestic flights is 33 lbs per person, inclusive of hand luggage.
My old roller weighs over 7 lbs. That’s more than 20% of our allotted weight.

If I spring for a new duffle-type bag, I can save approximately 3 pounds. But osteoporosis and sarcopenia (the medical term for “age related muscle loss”) are now part of my health history. I’ll have to find just the right bag before I’m inclined to give up on wheeled luggage.

The cheapest, and perhaps the smartest solution is simply to pack less.
I’ll still keep an eye out for the perfect bag though.


In the meantime, I plan on borrowing the neighbor’s bolt cutters
and removing the lock with its long-forgotten combination.

30. U.S. Department of State

United States citizens traveling abroad can register their trips with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate by signing on to the Smart Travelers Enrollment Program (STEP). Enrollment can be done online at the U.S. Department of State website.

Kenya is a developing country, still in the process of improving its human development index. This, coupled with the recent kidnapping of a California woman in Uganda, makes registering my trip seem like a sensible, precautionary step to take.
In case of an emergency, the U.S. government will know about my presence in the country and where to contact me.
Registration is free.

I have also signed up to receive email notifications when the latest Travel Advisories for Kenya and Uganda are posted on travel.state.gov.
Users can unsubscribe at anytime.

The U.S. State Department publishes a color coded map showing travel safety levels for the world.

Kenya borders the troubled country of Somalia. At the present time, travelers are told not to travel near the Kenya-Somalia border and some costal areas due to terrorism, and to stay out of Turkana County in northwest Kenya due to crime.

27. Cameras, Lenses, Bags and Books

The following three images are representative of what I’ve been doing to prepare for our 2020 trip to Africa. If you’re not already aware of my great passion for photography, it will be apparent with the reading of this post.

This is an image of all my gear – everything I own except for the Nikon 500mm f/5.6 lens which is wait-listed. Supposedly it will come in June.  It will be worth the wait, as it will allow me to get up-close-and-personal with the wildlife.  It was my big lens purchase for my new mirrorless full frame Nikon Z6 camera.  I took the Nikon with me to England last year where I got incredible shots.
 I added a Tamron 100-400 mm lens to bridge the gap with my older Nikon 5200.  Yes, I am taking 2 camera bodies.
The green Mindshift bag is a dedicated camera bag with all kinds of organizational nooks and crannies. That, along with my orange REI duffle, should hold all of my cameras, photographic equipment and clothing.


These are just a few of the photography and travel books in my self-imposed curriculum.  They include a catalogue from the Shangri-La of Photography: B and H Photo in NYC. 
For me, B and H is every bit as much of a temptation as a fine ladies boutique.  Their tech assistants can answer any question and give really great recommends.  My slogan?  Never travel without B and H!

This final picture, taken with my Nikon Z6,  is probably over Newfoundland.  I was on a flight to England that left Dulles around 6:30 PM.  It was August and the sun was above the cloud cover so I had amazing views as the sun dipped below the horizon.
One of my photography books actually has a chapter on taking photographs out of airplane windows! Carol, our Tour Agent Extraordinaire,* arranged a window seat for me, so my camera will be ready! 

*Carol Flax
Luxury Travel Advisor
An independent affiliate of McCabe World Travel
Virtuoso Member
carol@mccabeworld.com

25. Before We Meet

Linda B here.
Greetings from the east coast half of this traveling duo.



It’s cloudy and cold in
Winchester, Virginia today.

The map below shows my flight plan from Washington, D.C. to Nairobi, Kenya.
Denise and I won’t join forces until we arrive at our hotel in Nairobi on August 19.

First leg, Washington Dulles to Zurich:  9 hours
Layover: 1:50 hours
Second leg, Zurich to Nairobi: 6:45 hours
Total travel time: 17:35 hrs

20. Tackling the Travel Trash

I heard or read this travel tip just lately, but can’t remember where.

It addressed how to deal with the candy wrappers you remove from snacks you brought onto a flight, the used tissues you accumulated when you had that sneezing fit over the Atlantic, and the coffee cup you didn’t hand back to the steward because you hadn’t quite finished your coffee yet.

I stuff all my flight trash in the elastic pocket on the seat in front of me. I try to be as neat about it as possible, but honestly, that pocket can get a little disgusting after hours on an international flight.


A tipster suggested bringing a plastic bag to use as a wastebasket, and when you depart, take the bag with you and dump it into the nearest trash bin as you make your way to the luggage carousel. I don’t know why I’d never thought of it before.

Plastic trash bags are no longer allowed in Kenya (Thank, God!), so I’ll be taking a few small recycled gift bags to use on each leg of my flight to and from Africa.

Nice for the Earth’s environment in general.
Nice for my immediate environment on the plane.
Nice for the custodial staff that services the plane’s cabin after touchdown.

16. Gaiters and Gloves

I’ve been told the items below are necessary for a comfortable gorilla trekking experience:
1. a pair of gaiters to keep little critters from crawling up your pant leg,
2. a pair of heavy duty gloves to eliminate cuts from thorny branches you might have to push out of your way.

These weren’t things I just happened to have in my dresser’s bottom drawer. They’re recent purchases.

I’m attempting to buy “speciality items” slowly, over the next six months in order to spread out the cost. Aside from a pair of hiking boots, most things are rather inexpensive, but when added all together – yee gads! So I’m acquiring the stuff a little at a time.

Update: This was my first attempt at composing and publishing a post from my cell. I had two goals. One was to enter text. The second was to post an image taken with my phone.
As it turned out, I had to use the computer to clean quite a bit of this up. I’m left with lots of questions.

11. It’s a long way to Tipperary!

International flight arrangements have been made. It looks as though I’ll be en route for 18 hours. Considering I was expecting over 20 hours of travel time, this is a pleasant surprise. There’s a layover in Amsterdam where I must change airlines (Delta to KLM). Since I’m traveling solo, this concerns me a bit, but I keep telling myself that I’m going to be just fine.

Los Angeles (LAX) to Amsterdam (AMS): 8 hrs, 20 mins.
Layover: 3 hrs. 50 mins.
Amsterdam (AMS) to Nairobi (NBO or WIL): 6 hrs, 50 mins.

I’m going to need a good neck pillow.

9. Camera Thingies I May Take

I’m not sure I’m going to take a camera to Africa, as Linda is such an expert and she’s armed herself with some nice lenses. I may use her pictures and those I take with my cel. But just in case I change my mind . . .

I have a little catch-all pouch in my daypack marked specifically for camera accessories, and I add to it from time-to-time.

  • camera charger and cords
  • extra camera battery
  • powerbank
  • lens cleaning cloth
  • beanbag
  • 2 extra memory cards
  • homemade lens cover
  • extra lens cap and keeper
  • camera rain sleeve