Some 61 Y’s Men of Meriden, during their final meeting of the year on June 12, were treated to a PowerPoint visual tour of the Zulu Nyala Game Reserve in South Africa by Carolyn Daniels, Arts and Education Program Director for the Meriden YMCA, accompanied by her friend Robyn Demarco who shared the microphone. This guided tour, undertaken in Nov. 2017, was split into two parts: one week at the game reserve and a second week touring Cape Town and the Cape of Good Hope.
The effervescent Daniels, wearing a brilliant red dashiki purchased at a local African market, described their tented camp teeming with monkeys and the daily safari drives in search of the elusive “Big Five” (elephant, rhinoceros, cape buffalo, leopard and lion). The leopard evaded them, but not the others. Photos of elephant families at a watering hole and others destroying trees for food provided an “awesome” insight into their lives. Also spotted were white rhinos (with a flat lip for eating grass) and black rhinos (sporting a pointed lip to aid in eating leaves and fruit); armed guards patrol the Reserve’s borders to deter poachers from obtaining rhino horns, each valued at up to $1 million (more than its weight in gold) for presumed aphrodisiac and other benefits.
Other animals spotted included hippos (ill-tempered and dangerous, with males often battle-scarred from defending their water holes), adult and juvenile giraffes, buffaloes, nyalas, zebras, wildebeest, cheetahs, warthogs, and a lion family. But the worst day of the trip for Daniels was about to occur: going to the St. Lucia Estuary and playing “the worst game of golf in my entire life, with monkeys in the trees laughing at every bad shot I made.”
The tour continued through a small village, visiting a school where students were uniformly polite but cheerful, studying both Zulu and English and learning from American textbooks written in the 1970s. Then on to Cape Town and biking on the picturesque Tabletop Mountain, but not seeing any nightlife as two Caucasian women after dark likely would be attacked by “smash and grab” criminals. Other scenes displayed daytime hiking, nearby wineries, a bicycle tour, the Cape of Good Hope (where the Atlantic and Indian Oceans meet at the southern tip of Africa), an ostrich farm, and penguins cavorting at Boulders Beach.
Retired or semi-retired men from Meriden or surrounding communities, interested in attending a Y’s Men of Meriden meeting, are invited to call 203-238-7784 or visit the www.ysmenofmeriden.com website.