Africa

Venturing to Victoria Falls

March 28-29, 2012

Wake up early so we can figure out which bus we need to take to Livingstone. Grab breakfast at the hotel and walk away from the hotel trying to find a cab. Now, this would be a time where wifey #1 gets frustrated with husband. Because before we left the hotel, I asked him to get the hotel to call us a cab. But, he decided walking would be easier. Well, we walked down the street about a block/block and a half to have some random guy pull over and offer to guy us a ride in his “taxi.” Yep. Sure. We will take it. Then, we drive back the way we walked, turn a few corners and land in bus station chaos.

Our “taxi” driver delivers us to the best bus leaving for Livingstone. I appreciate him doing that for us! It was leaving at 0900. We had about an hour to kill. We were told the bus would take 6 hours from Lusaka to Livingstone. Liam went to the counter to obtain our tickets. He somehow managed to get bus tickets without paying because he told them we wouldn’t pay if the bus took longer than 6 hours. And they agreed to let us pay when we got there.

Zambian buses are nice.

Decided to run to the restroom before we jumped on the bus. The bathroom was for a fee, so Emily and I had to go back and find Liam and get money. (He was the only one with any kwacha at this point). You know, I don’t mind paying to use a bathroom if it’s clean, working, and has soap and toilet paper. Keep in mind, working in my book includes a bucket with water that you dump down the toilet to flush it. That is a working toilet. If the flusher works, it’s like Christmas.

Jump on the bus. We sat three across. Poor Emily. She was squished into the window seat. Liam was half-a-cheek on and half-a-cheek off of his seat. I sat in the middle trying not to move because I didn’t want to take any of their seat space.  It was a cozy fit. The window was wide open because even though the bus had aircon, it wasn’t turned on. The fancier bus that we missed earlier this morning had the aircon. We are going to be a stinky threesome when we arrive in Livingstone. There was a little baby girl across the aisle who kept playing with us. She came and stood on my lap for a little while checking us out and watching everyone else. She was super cute.

Once we were on the road, the three of us konked out for about an hour to an hour and a half. There is something about public transportation that puts me to sleep. I think it’s the rocking. Regardless, it was a great little nap! Wake up feeling famished. We stop at a rest stop. (GASP. A rest stop. In Africa. Dude. Zambia is civilized). There is another fee bathroom that was immaculate. There was a “fast food” restaurant that was pretty legit and a store to buy drinks and other snack food items. Pretty impressive and a first since we moved to the continent.

Emily and I jump back on the bus and we eat our lunch. I ordered a flaky pastry with a warm chicken and veggie curry filling and three orders of French fries (chipsies). Besides being a little too salty, it was delicious.

The bus was stopping a lot more than we thought it was going to. Apparently, we are on the local bus that stops every three feet. At one of the stops, Emily looked outside and saw a guy selling popcorn. She bought a bag and it looked so good, I decided I wanted one too! I love the fact that I can stick my head out the window of the bus and buy snacks, music, DVDs, a phone charger, a broom, cold drink, and pretty much anything else I need. It’s fantastic!

Several hours later, we pull into Livingstone, Zambia. It’s about 3pm. Way beyond the 6 hours they told us it would take. So, our tickets were free. Kind of felt bad about not paying, but they agreed to the terms. Now, we need to find the bank that we passed a bit ago. Gather our bags and walk past all of the cabs to the strip mall. All of the backs are closed so we cannot exchange money. Liam pulls some money out of our account and away we go to Jolly boys.

Since we aren’t 100% sure where it was, we have a cab take us. We were literally around the corner but with all of our bags, it made it so much easier to take a cab. Get to Jolly Boys Backpackers and check-in. Since we were 24+ hours late for our first night, we lost our reservation but they had not sold our room yet. Thankfully. We added another day because we were still debating whether we were going to stay a few days longer since the train took forever to get here.

Walk into the 4 bunk dorm we rented. It was pretty nice. 2 sets of twin bunk beds. With mosquito netting, or own bathroom, and aircon. Total score.  Put our stuff down and try to figure out what we are going to do for the day. Took showers to get the bus funk off of us. Played around online to check school stuff, Facebook, emails. You know. The usual.

Figure out where we want to go eat dinner. Decide on Hippos. Well, we got to Hippos and it’s an Irish bar. I think they are in the process of changing the name. There were a few hippos out of wrought iron as the window screen. Probably should have taken a picture of it, but I was too hungry to think straight!

Enjoy a nice leisurely dinner with Liam and Emily. She took a minute to call her parents and let them know she was safe and we weren’t scary! Dinner was really tasty and it was nice to relax after days of rocking back and forth on public transportation.

Headed back to Jolly Boys and curled up into our respective bunks. What a wonderful night’s sleep!!!

Woke up on the morning of March 29th and decided today was the day we were going to head to Victoria Falls. We enjoy a nice breakfast at the Jolly Boys bar. There we also meet Jason and another guy Mitch. Mitch is heading back to Namibia today. Jason is American who is traveling the world with his wife, Erin. They have been in Southern Africa for a month or so and are camping out here and volunteering at a local school. He’s such a nice guy! I can’t wait to meet Erin later!  But, we need to head to the falls.

Hail a cab and off to the falls we go. We are going to view them from the Zambian side because we don’t want to worry about crossing into Zimbabwe because the customs agent sold Emily a single entry Visa for Zambia. Therefore, she would have to spend $50 every time she crossed the border to get back in. Not worth it to see the rest of the waterfalls.

We pull up into the parking lot. Pay our fees and begin walking towards the falls. There are several trails and a fair amount of people. We were warned that we were going to get wet so we came prepared. Sort of. All of my rain gear is back in the States in storage because I was pregnant and was not going to stretch out my outdoor gear. So, I’m going to get wet. Liam had his rain jacket and he had to wear the backpack with the good camera. Emily had her rain jacket and put everything on the inside. We stop at one viewpoint and take a few pictures in front of the falls. It’s pretty impressive. This is high water season so they were overflowing. The spray created a giant mist that would whirl up and spray you. And we were still pretty far away.

Everyone walking up from the falls is in their bathing suits and soaking wet. Why didn’t we think of that. Emily and I were shaking our heads because it never occurred to us to just throw on our suits and walk through the water.

Although we look superimposed, we are really standing at the top of the falls.

Rolling rapids

Continue down the trail and we come to the Zambezi River at the top of the falls. The river is moving pretty quickly and the clouds of mist loom omnipotently over the top of the falls. They are also quite loud. I’m not going to lie, it’s really impressive. Just the sheer magnitude of the falls is pretty mind-blowing. But, then again. I’m easily entertained by geology. I love rocks, water, and the way the Earth works. I wonder what is on the back side of the falls. I really want to come back when it’s low water season and look at the rock structures behind the falls. I have to see the small trickle of water that occurs during dry season. Another thing to put on my bucket list. At this rate I’m never going to die.

Back track a little on the trail and start walking down into the falls. Followed the curvy pathway to a footbridge. Emily and Liam were ahead of me and down at the edge of the falls getting soaked. I paused a moment to take their picture!

Wandering in the mist of Vic Falls

Here goes. Francis in the Mist. What a sensational feeling. The mist surged when the water poured over the edge of the falls. It was this powerful gust from below. It was enjoyable. I don’t know if that even explains it. There is a moment when you first feel the drops hit your skin and you catch your breath. Maybe it is from the power of the falls. Maybe it is from the coolness of the water. Or, maybe it is because you are standing so close to one of the Natural Wonders of the World. Regardless, I liked it. A LOT.

We crossed the footbridge and found ourselves completely soaked. For the record, what was I thinking wearing light khaki capris with purple undies. Clearly, not thinking about the wet bottom contest I was about to enter.

The footbridge over the falls.

Continued on the trail. I still can’t believe this is our life.  We get to spend as much time as we can stuck on this fantastic continent. I’m so excited to see what the next 10-15-20 years hold for us. It’s going to be such a ride.

Continue walking down the trail.  A few people follow us down the trail and ask us if we are going to bungee. Now, I’ll admit it. My sanity is questionable on most good days. But, I would still NEVER consider jumping off a perfectly good bridge into the gorge below the falls. Not my cup of tea. Especially after we have all watched the woman plunge into the river, because oops the line broke (check on youtube it’s everywhere). Yep. Not so much. Even though, two guys following us tried for a brief second to convince Emily and I it was safe. Still NOT happening.  Oh yes. This would also be one of the few times in my marriage that I have told Liam he was not allowed to do something. Because, the idea of him plunging into croc filled waters did not sit well. Luckily, he’s a good listener and decided he wasn’t that interested!

Self portrait at the top of the Falls.

Came to the end of the trail on the Zambia side of the falls, turned around, and began walking back. About a 1/3rd of the way back, the skies decided to pour more liquid on us, because obviously, we weren’t already wet enough. That’s when it started to become a little chilly. It was grey, cold, and rainy. Ick.

Make it back to the main gate and exit. Walk around the curio shops right outside the falls. It was a place to get out of the rain and see what type of wares were available in Zambia. We knew we needed a mask. But, it’s always fun to see what other Africrap stuff you can find. And Lord knows Liam and I love our Africrap. A little over half-way through, Liam found a long mask he really liked. It was about 3 feet long with a fish and a bird at the top. It’s mostly black (thanks to Kiwi shoe polish) with a little red and green. It was beautiful. We also found a wonderful hand carved chess set. Asked the price and it was 1.5 million kwacha (almost $300). Um. I don’t think so. I told him I would need to think about it! It’s probably worth the price he asked me to pay, but I live one country away and know these things don’t cost that.  Price out some Zimbabwean money. We need a bill and a coin for the Africa map. It’s not that expensive but since we want to look at the other shops in town, we will wait for the best deal. Oh how cheap we have become!

Headed back to Jolly boys to shower and clean up after becoming SOAKED. Relaxed for a while around the camp and decided what we wanted to do for dinner. Emily and I also decided we were going to go on a safari tomorrow at Choebe National Park in Botswana. Liam was going to have an adventure day and get some work done. My husband kicks arse. He lets me wander all over the globe so I can take pictures of all of the animals I love. Not only that, but he’s pretty cute too. That’s why I’ll let him have a second wife for this trip!  Hehehe.

Decided on the Mexican restaurant for dinner. There is a serious lack of decent Mexican food in Africa. It’s a reality that I have not quite accepted. But, at some point I’m going to have to. We had a nice dinner and headed back to Jolly Boys because it’s going to be such an early morning.

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Categories: Africa, Trip 5 | Leave a comment

Here’s Your Sign…

January 8, 2012

I’m 100% borrowing that line from Bill Engvall. And you are about to learn why.

In our house, we have a safe haven. It’s a metal gate you lock each night for added safety. At first the idea of locking myself in our house bothered me, but now it’s just another part of our day in Tanzania. Here’s a picture.

Locked in

We had been home for a few days from West Africa and we were very much out of our routine. It was a late night (about 2am) and Liam and I went upstairs to bed. As he locked the safe haven, he looked at me and said, “Where’s the key?” At which point, we realized we were locked in our own house. Awesome.  So, we went to sleep. Because what were we going to do about it at 2am?

Lock without a key

Oh yes. I forgot to mention. All we had with us was my computer. We left everything else downstairs, the embassy radio, our cell phones, and Liam’s computer.

We wake up the next morning around noon and are debating how we are going to break out of our house. We do have access to a balcony outside of our bedroom. And then there are the windows. There is also a spare set of keys in the car. But, of course the car is locked and the doors to the house are deadbolted from the inside and you cannot use a key to unlock them.

Latches.

So here we sit. Locked in our house with no way out. So, what do we do? Well, Liam grabs his climbing gear and belays down the side of the house. This way he can try to get the keys out of the car.

See climbing ropes

See Liam trying to figure out how to break into our car

I spend some time trying to convince Liam to just ask the guards to call someone to help us. Give up on Liam listening and walk inside, grab my computer, and email our friend Jane. Also, try to use a free online service to text another friend. But, I seriously doubt it is going to go through. Here’s the email.

­­­­­­***********************************************************************************

From: Francis   Sun, Jan 8, 2012 at 1:37 PM

To: Jane

HELP. Please.

So, Liam managed to lock us into our safe haven last night without the key for the lock. We also don’t have our cell phones. So basically everything is downstairs and we are locked in upstairs. Except Liam belayed down the house to try to open the car b/c there is a spare set of house keys in the car cause I forgot to grab them last night. But, the front door has the security latch. Can you help???

Thanks!!!

­­­­­­***********************************************************************************

At this point. I’m starving. And beginning to get really pissed at Liam for not talking to the guards (Apparently, I’m a grouch when I’m hungry). It’s a mute point for me to try to explain it from the balcony because they do not speak English very well. And let’s face it, our Swahili is minimal on a good day.

Finally, Liam goes and talks to the guards and someone appears with a ladder and a set of bolt cutters. I tried to cut the lock on my own, but since my shoulder was busted, I barely put a dent in the lock. Tell Liam I do not have enough strength to cut it. He climbs up the rickety ladder and cuts the lock off of the safe haven and we are free!  We walk downstairs and open the door and Kevin (Jane’s hubby) and another friend walk up! So, happy to see them!  Even though we were free, Kevin was a knight in flip-flops and beach shorts (he was putting a kayak into the water at the Yacht Club when Jane told him what was going on!)  (It’s now about 3pm).

And we are free!!!

Well we finally found the extra key…

Came back inside, showered, ate lunch, and checked email. Received Jane’s response of “On the way.” I knew she had to be laughing. One can’t help it. It’s funny.  Called her and we laughed together. The things that happen at our house!  Seriously. 2012 has already worn me out and we are only 8 days in.

Another thing to add to the list to move with: Bolt cutters.

Like I said….Here’s your sign….

Categories: Africa | 1 Comment

Chobe National Park, Botswana

Chobe National Park, Botswana

March 30, 2012

Wake up bright and early for a fun day in Botswana. Chobe National Park is about an hour away from Jolly Boys.  I don’t know who is more excited, Emily or I. Liam has a plan for the day that does not include “the wives.”  He says he needs to work, but, I think that is code for cold beer, relaxing by a pool, and playing online!

Leaving the husband to fend for himself, Emily and I jump in the van that will take us to Chobe. I’m so excited. Especially, when the driver tells us to watch for rhino as we drive. We passed through another park right on the Zambezi River in Zambia. Well, for the entire time we were in the car, my face was plastered to the window looking for a white rhino. I have animal issues. I could spend the rest of my life stalking them. I 100% understand animal photographers. It’s a game. To get the coolest shot of an animal in their natural habitat. And with each shot, you think of something new and exciting that you “have to have.” Don’t compare shots with people. This will result in jealousy and the need to capture another image on another safari. I guess it’s becoming my addiction. Unfortunately, safaris do not come with a cheap price tag. Can I just live in the bush for a few months and chase animals????

After about 45 minutes, we turn off the main road.  This road leads to the Zambezi river. Um. I’m confused. I didn’t know we were going to have to cross a river. But, I should have known this since the falls have to come from somewhere. My own stupidity often amuses me. It takes a lot of practice and hard work to be so ditzy!

We go through customs and have our passports stamped. Jump in a little boat and zip across the river. Someone was talking about crocodile infestation and the need to be careful because hungry crocs may attack boats. I didn’t know whether to believe them or just hope for a new purse and pair of boots with a side of croc taters.

On the other side, we go through immigration in Botswana. Now, at the border of Botswana, there is a shoe washing station. It’s full of black nasty water and who knows what else. But, in order to be polite, I wash my shoes and hop in the jeep. We are off on safari. WOO HOO!

How is this going to clean our shoes????

How is this going to clean our shoes????

We arrive at the office of the safari company. Try to pay, but of course their credit card machine is down. I was pretty excited to actually use a credit card machine. We have been living on a cash only system for MONTHS. Credit cards are almost a novelty now. Eat breakfast and find out that we are riding through the land portion of the park first and then the river safari after lunch.  The office manager tells me it will be okay to pay the fee over lunch as that should give them enough time to fix the problem with the machine. Fingers crossed.

Our car service for the morning...

Our car service for the morning…

On the way to the park, I hunt the town looking for an ATM. Just in case. Always good to have a back up plan. This is Africa.

I’m impressed with Botswana so far. It’s one of the more developed countries in Africa. The country is relatively safe and the exchange rate is stable.  The town we drove through was clean, the roads were tolerable. Botswana has potential.

We arrive at the gate and take an opportunity to run to the restroom. The roads on safari tend to be rather bumpy. Plus, I don’t know about you guys, but I always have this fear that I’m going to squat in the bush and a mamba is going to bite me. I’m sure it’s a silly fear and I’m probably way more likely to be bitten by a killer spider or a stung by a scorpion. But, who said fears were meant to be rational. Not I!

Get back in the car and away we go.

Now, the first animals we spy are warthogs. Now, most people who know me, would swear I would never utter the words below. I don’t know what has come over me. But, I desperately want a warthog hanging on the wall. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not going to kill it. That’s Liam’s job. And, I will eat the bacon and share with friends and staff. But, I think they are so ugly, they are cute. I will not be able to go back to Alaska without a pig on the wall. It may be the only dead animal allowed in the house because they are so creepy. But, the pig for some reason is okay. Shrug.

It's a warthog!

It’s a warthog!

After the warthogs, we passed a herd of impalas and then found some storks nesting in the trees. Maribou storks were nesting everywhere. They are rather large birds. I have not gotten close enough yet to confirm this, but, I am pretty sure that their wingspan is longer than I am tall. I’m also questioning the fact that the bird may be taller then me.  Yes, I’m that short and shrinking.

Maribou storks in a tree

Maribou storks in a tree

Maribou stork trying to catch a few fish.

Maribou stork trying to catch a few fish.

We continue a little farther down the road and arrive at the river’s edge. Okay. I’m impressed. The Chobe River is beautiful. We can see Namibia across the river.  There are elephants splishing and splashing. Hippos floating and talking. This is really, really cool. Again, I don’t know who is more excited. Emily or I.

Not far from us, there was a gigantic bull bathing himself. A small boat motors a little too closely and the elephant becomes annoyed and walks out of the river. As he continues to walk towards us, I’m impressed by his size. One of the biggest elephants I have seen to date. He is gorgeous! And, heading straight for us. When large bull elephants are approaching, the driver’s always enters a heightened sense of awareness. Bull elephants can be quite ferocious and will attack if they feel the need. But, our little friend was just looking to have a nice stroll without any invading his personal space. He walked right behind the jeep and then along side it. He was walking rather briskly so a lot of the pictures I took are blurry. But, I was able to get a few great shots of the lil’ guy!

Large bull leaving the river

Large bull leaving the river

That's a big boy!

That’s a big boy!

We continued along the river’s edge for a while. The truck in front of us was full of the China man. They started making all kinds of noise and ran a massive male kudu away. I was pissed. Why couldn’t they keep their little lips from flapping for five minutes so we too could enjoy the beauty of the giant male kudu. I managed to snap a few pictures as he ran away! But, GRRRRRRR, stupid China man.

Run, Kudu! Run!

Run, Kudu! Run!

Our driver went around them and we were in the lead. Good. Stupid China man. Well, we came across a beautiful water buffalo. I offered to take Emily’s picture with it. However, we had to change seats. I don’t know why I didn’t think to tell her to move slowly and crouch, but she stood up and took a step. Well, the buffalo freaked and ran away, the hippos soaking behind him freaked and all jumped. Our driver freaked and wanted to know what we were doing and we couldn’t stop laughing. Oops. I did feel a little guilty for the heart attacks we handed the water buffalo and hippos. Poor little guys all freaked out. Next time, I guess we should ask them before we try to covertly take their picture.

Hi. I'm a water buffalo.

Hi. I’m a water buffalo.

Continue along the river’s edge and see a female waterbuck, striped mongooses, and a herd of elephants. The river is beautiful. I’m really enjoying the safari along the river’s edge and looking forward to the boat portion of our trip. I just wanted to be chased by a hippo. A slight death wish, maybe. But, it would be GREAT for the story!

Head away from the river and take a pit stop. This would be one of those points that I realize my fear of snakes needs to be overcome. Emily and I STOMP our way through the brush to the lil’ girls room (a large tree had fallen over and we were using the root base as a barrier to the other people near us). We figure any critters that were here are now afraid of our size and power. It worked. We didn’t see anything.

Had a nice cold coke and a snack and away we went. Meandered through the bush and found a giraffe munching on some trees. Then, a rather large group of impalas. Then, all of a sudden, our car is barreling past a female lion laying on the side of the road. Emily and I are trying to talk without screaming because we are in the open seats and have a fairly good chance of being first one attacked. Now, this was not an easy feat. There were lots of hand gestures and STOP! STOP! STOP! as one slurred word interjections. About 50 m after the lioness, the driver realized what we were saying and stopped and backed up. I’m impressed she stayed put. Granted it was really hot. And she was hiding in the canopy of a tree, panting. About 10 feet away, there was a group of cubs playing in the bushes. What a score. Baby lions. They were pretty cute. I just wish we would have had a little better visibility for improved shots. The grass was really tall and they were hiding as they played. I’m thinking Simba & Nala type pouncing practice. Hakuna matata.

Munching on a few tree tops...

Munching on a few tree tops…

Surviving the heat...

Surviving the heat…

Little lion cub

Little lion cub

After the lions, we pretty much headed out of the park and back to the office. It was time for lunch. I do not know why but safaris make you hungry. It could be the constant core workout as you bump along the “roads.”  Lunch was quite a spread and rather delicious. Southern Africa is quickly winning me over. The credit card machine was working and I was able to pay my bill! Thankfully.

After lunch, we waited a little bit to sort through which group of people was going on the boat with us. Walk down the boardwalk to the boat and was disappointed. I wanted to be in a floating death trap. Nope. We were in a gigantic party boat. Note to self, make sure the boat is a floating death trap in the future. Es muy importante.

Our river barge.

Our river barge.

I told Emily as we got on the boat that I would cry if one of two things did not happen. Either I wanted a hippo to chase us OR I wanted the open mouth hippo shot. Well, I got the shot. The hippos were rather cooperative and according to the captain quite grumpy. We were far enough away to enjoy the show. I felt like we were watching a slow motion version of the game hungry, hungry hippos.

Look at those tusks...

Look at those tusks…

Coming to you live...Hungry Hungry Hippo.

Coming to you live…Hungry Hungry Hippo.

We putzed along the river. Passed a few crocodiles, hippos, and came upon a rather large herd of elephants. There were a few baby elephants in the mix. They were so much fun to watch. They stayed right by their moms and if there was any fear, they hid under their mom’s legs. There was on little guy who was leaving the river and was trying to climb over a log. He was so small, he was sort of stuck halfway over it. I had to giggle as he wiggled off the log. It’s such a pain to be little and have to crawl/wiggle over big obstacles. I get it little guy. And I had been allowed, I totally would have helped you out!

You can do it!

You can do it!

A gigantic male appeared on the bank and was strolling down to the river. He was an interesting fellow to watch. When he arrived at the bank, all of the other elephants walked over to him. He must be the guy in charge. Or his harem was excited to see him. I know the puppies and I run to greet Liam when he comes home. So, I’ll go with the harem and excitement.

Little one playing in the water...

Little one playing in the water…

Herd at the river's edge

Herd at the river’s edge

The BOSS!

The BOSS!

Continue on and enjoy the nice calm ride along the river. It was a beautiful day and the weather cooperated considering it was raining everywhere around us!

What a great safari day! I’m glad I was able to go with Emily! It was a neat park and I would love to go back one day!

Categories: Africa, Trip 5 | 1 Comment

Reasons why I can’t wait to raise our babies in Africa…

I’m starting to realize what an amazing opportunity raising our babies in Africa is going to be. Our kids will never throw fits to go to the zoo to see gorillas, monkeys, giraffes, elephants, lions, rhinos, hippos, and honey badgers. It will be a part of their landscape for the first 10ish years of their lives. They will learn the art of silence and how it can enhance seeing, hearing, feeling, smelling everything around you, especially when you want to acquire a favorite photographic image. Hopefully, they will have an ear for language since they will be around so many. They won’t have all of the marketing and outlandish advertising thrown at them by American marketing firms. During the day, we can walk everywhere. Eat foods without all of the preservatives and chemicals even I can’t pronounce. They will be outside, playing soccer, running around with other children, and generally have a more active lifestyle than most American children. They will be exposed to germs and have (hopefully) healthy immune systems. They will know how to travel and be responsible while doing so. Know how to be safe in otherwise unsafe situations. Their first backpack may not actually be for school, but to go hiking and camping with mommy and daddy.

And maybe, just maybe, they will learn to love the environment and the spaces we are given like their mommy and daddy and want to wander the world and be a part of it as much as it will be a part of them. I just wish we could have had these experiences with Nora. But, since we can’t, I’ll keep looking forward to exposing our babies to Africa.

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Another reason I love Africa….

They are old school Coke lovers here. It’s not “new” Coke with high fructose corn syrup. Nope, it comes with REAL sugar cane in a glass bottle. I have died and gone to heaven. And not only does Coke come in glass bottles, but so does everything else. Krest soda water, tonic water, and bitter lemon. 7up. Fanta in all flavors. It is the little things you learn to love.

I’m going to have to visit my sis-in-law the dentist when I get home because I won’t be able to afford to have all of my cavities filled…I’m going to have a really hard time leaving Africa…

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Learning Swahili

Each and every day I’m learning how little Kiswahili I know. However, the guards, housekeeper, and gardener are excellent teachers.

I have been on the hunt for mint because there is a lot of sugar, soda water, and rum but I have not seen a mint plant anywhere or a Swahili word or phrase for mint. Finally, the internet provided me with some assistance and the guards and I figured out the word: nanaa. Not nanasi (pineapple). Hopefully, Nestor (our gardener) can locate some nanaa…cause it is nearing happy hour!!

A little Kiswahili lesson:

kahawa – coffee

chai – tea

maji – water

Asante sana – Thank you

Karibu – Welcome

rafiki – friend

simba – lion

I’m up to a total of 7 words/phrases. I’ve got a LONG way to go…

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Welcome to Tanzania…

Despite all the chaos of the past month, we are here. In our humble abode,which I might add is bigger than the house we are actually paying for – thank you tax dollars. We have been in Tanzania for two weeks and thus far, we can’t complain. The food is delicious, the bugs are staying away, and the weather is a comfortable 70-80 degrees without a lot of humidity. We have guards for protection and a housekeeper and gardener for our sanity. Life is a lot slower – which is actually what we need after losing Nora and reshuffling our lives.

We haven’t really done that much because Liam has been working on paperwork so we can begin wandering Africa. We have been wandering around the Msasani Penisula, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Need to take it a little further out into the city but we are still trying to remember how to drive in the right direction.

Here are a couple of funny stories from the past two weeks:
1 – Not too long ago I was having a conversation with one of our guards about snakes. He proceeded to tell me that snakes live in our front yard in a giant tree. He told me not to worry about the green ones (GREEN MAMBA) because they will just come down the tree, look at you, and go right back up. But, the black ones (BLACK MAMBA) will come after you. So, apparently of the two snakes with some of the most deadly neurotoxins in the world, the message I’m supposed to take is I hope there are only GREEN mambas in my tree??!!!!????!!!

2 – While Liam and I were at Bongoyo Island this past weekend, we were walking through a tidal pool (lagoon at high tide). At one point, I see an eel playing in the water and swimming towards Liam. Now, did I react like a calm cool collected adult. ABSOLUTELY NOT. I started screaming “EEL! EEL! EEL!” and running towards the nearest rock to jump on. Liam was a few steps behind me. Needless to say, I then received a stern lecture from my husband about how to identify potential threats by using the face of a clock. I’m pretty much going to guarantee that the next time something like that happens…I’m still going to start screaming and RUN! I need to find a book on oceanic animals in this area so we can start snorkeling and diving (and be less of a chicken shit once I’m educated on what can and will hurt you) once my dive book shows up.

I posted pictures on Facebook of our recent adventure to Bongoyo Island – Here’s the link if you would like to see them: http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.737896212939.2229365.2808561&l=f7cf7dee77&type=1

Until next time!

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