Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The Hippo Song

Every safari guide in Africa knows this song and sings it at the drop of an impala poop. We first heard it in Zambia. This rendition is performed by guide Jacob Shawa at Nkwali Lodge on the Luangwa River.

Mud, mud, glorious mud
Nothing quite like it for cooling the blood.
So follow me, follow
Down to the hollow
And let us wallow in glorious mud.
The British musical comedy duo Michael Flanders and Donald Swann introduced “The Hippopotamus Song” in their musical review At The Drop Of A Hat in 1956.

Dave Donelson, author of Heart of Diamonds a about in the

Monday, May 12, 2008

Sleeping Over With Arnold Palmer

A visit to Arnold Palmer's Bay Hill Club and Lodge in Orlando is like sleeping in Arnie’s spare bedroom and sneaking out to play a few holes before the members show up at his home course. That’s because it is Arnie’s spare bedroom and his home course. In 1976, Arnold Palmer purchased the lodge and it has been the winter home of the Palmer family ever since. As one of my golf buddies said, “I felt like Arnie was going to come walking down the hallway in his bathrobe.” It’s not a mega-course complex, but it’s a wonderful golf experience.

There are twenty-seven holes of fine golf here. They are the Champion and Challenger nines, which together make up the course for the Bay Hill Invitational, rated the tenth toughest on the PGA Tour, and the Charger course, with five dog-legs and water in play on four holes. For Florida golf, there are a surprising number of elevation changes and tree-lined fairways. There are also plenty of greenside mounds and bunkers that dictate long iron shots that must come in high in order to hold.

Both courses are private and you must be a guest of a member or staying at the resort's lodge to play them. It’s members-only on Saturday morning, too, so you’ll need a tee time at one of the other 168 courses in Orlando, if you want to play golf every waking moment, as you should on a buddy trip. The Lodge is small and homey, with 64 comfortable rooms, a fireside club-style bar, and an informal dining room where you can enjoy a sumptuous buffet three times a day or order from the down-to-earth American-fare menu.

Dave Donelson, author of Heart of Diamonds a about in the

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Tic Tac Sundowners

One safari tradition polished to a high gloss of grace and gentility in Zambia is sundowners, that magical ceremony where everyone stops whatever they're doing at the end of the day, fixes a drink, and watches the sun go down.

Zambezi sunsetIt's fun in a group, because everyone chats and swaps tales of the day's adventures until just that special moment when the sun dips below the horizon. That's also when the sky typically glows red, particularly during the dry season when the air near the ground is lightly hazed with reflective dust. On a really good night, you'll see the moon rising as the sun disappears.

As you can imagine, sundowners can also be a very romantic event when there are just two of you. It's a quiet time for special wishes and quiet reflection.

Or it can be a light-hearted mini-party. One of my most memorable moments in Zambia was near the end of a trip when my wife and I had been paddled out to an island in the Zambezi by our guide Victor in a makoro, or dugout canoe. We got there a little early, so we taught Victor to play tic-tac-toe in the sand while we waited for the sun to go down. By the time we left, he was definitely more than holding his own.

What makes having sundowners such a special ceremony is that it doesn't last much more than a few minutes--usually just long enough to have one drink and a moment of contemplation with boon companions.

Dave Donelson, author of Heart of Diamonds a about in the