Palmerton woman fulfills a dream to visit Africa
SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS Taking a moment for a group photo on their exciting photo safari to Kenya are, left to right: Ray Borger, Alfreda Lantzy, Marlene Heckman, Larry Heckman, Titus, their guide, Earl Everett and Wanda Martin.
Ever since she can remember, Alfreda (Freddy) Lantzy of Palmerton wanted to visit Africa.
"I've been fascinated with Africa because its like a mysterious unknown territory. A place people were leery of. I wanted to see it for myself," she says.
She finally realized her dream a few weeks ago when she traveled to Kenya on a 14-day photographic safari.
"I've always been an adventurer. I'm inquisitive. I want to know what's on the other side," she says.
That sense of adventure has taken her to just about all the corners of the world.
"When our daughters were growing up, we took them to a lot of places. We believed we were helping them get an education," she says.
Even after her daughters were grown and living on their own, Freddy continued to travel.
"I've been to all 50 states and to Mexico, East and West Canada, Nova Scotia, Jamaica, England, France, Spain, Portugal, Madeira, Costa Rica and China.
Finally able to travel to Africa was like a dream come true for this retired nurse.
Freddy was also excited about another life-long dream--to see a simba, (the Swahili word for lion,) and giraffes in their own natural habitat.
"I've always been intrigued with African animals."
Her African adventure began on Sept. 9 when she and her group, which included Ray Borger of Palmerton, Marlene and Larry Heckman from Effort and Earl Everett and Wanda Martin of Brodheadsville flew to London, England and then arrived in Nairobi, Kenya on Sept. 10.
When she looked out the plane's window flying over Africa, she saw exactly what she thought it would be-vast.
"There's nothing built high enough to hide the sky," she says referring to the city and towns.
Booked through Explorations by Collette by Wanda Martin's West End Travel in Brodheadsville, their first stop was a visit to Tenderfeet Education Center in Nairobi, supported by the Collette Foundation.
The group visited the farmhouse/plantation of author Karen Blixen who wrote, "Out of Africa."
"It was really nice. There were pictures of Robert Redford and Meryl Streep all over," says Freddy.
In no time at all the group was introduced to the native inhabitants of this dry, sand-colored land--the animals.
The first they saw were the zebras, which she learned there are three distinguishable types.
"There's been a drought for the last two years and there were so many carcasses even the vultures can't keep up with them.
They saw hyenas, water buffalo, deer, gnus, tortoises, leopards, chimpanzees, hippopotamuses, ostriches, eagles, flamingoes and rhinoceros.
"I accidentally stepped in rhinoceros dung. It smelled so bad I took my sneakers off, wrapped them in a plastic bag and left them there. They were brand new Sketchers, too," Freddy says with disappointment.
When they'd spy a herd of elephants, everyone would get really excited.
Freddy was amazed at how majestic giraffes are. "They were just phenomenal. They're so huge. You have no idea until you see them in their world," she says.
It was 12 days into their adventure and Freddy had still not seen her simba.
"Finally, someone yelled out, 'There's a simba, and I'm like 'Where? Where?' And there he was, sleeping alongside of the road. We drove as close as 10 feet away from him. Then he opened his eyes and raised his head to look at us."
That moment made the whole trip for Freddy.
Some other highlights was standing on the equator and seeing Mount Kilimanjaro.
The weather was comfortable, averaging around 78 degrees.
Freddy says there are two things she thinks of when she recalls her visit.
"Beauty and poverty. There's beauty in seeing all the animals in their environment. There is beauty at the resorts found in the middle of nowhere and elegant homes of the rich adorned with beautiful flowers and landscaping. Then it's all surrounded by huts of the poor made out of cow manure and so much poverty of the people."
But she says that the trip met all her expectations. "Worth every cent."
Back home, enjoying time with her two daughters, two grandchildren, and her dogs, Aramis and Sophie, she's already dreaming about her next adventure. She's planning on visiting the ancient land of mysteries in Peru, home of the Incas and Lake Titicaca next year. After that, Rome. After that?
"I'll think of something," says this explorer at heart.