New site & Drakensbergs

New site & Drakensbergs
These are the mts from our village

Sunday, July 29, 2012

28 July - ZamBots

July 29, 2012

The first two weeks of school were crazy.  All the work on the data base (SA SAMS) had to be completed and turned in to the regional office.  Guess who was elected to do much of the computer work.  Actually I volunteered because I know I can do it faster than anyone else and they were all busy with mark sheets.  I also had the planning for my classes for Term 3 that somehow never got done during the break.  Any way it’s weekend again and I have some time so here is the rest of our vacation pictures and happenings.

So after two days in the village and a great day at Kruger with Hannah, we flew off to Zambia. On the flight we could see the Kalahari Desert and Makgadikgadi Salt Pans – a huge stretch of white in the desert.  As we flew into Livingston, the plane banked and we could see Victoria Falls from the air with the spray billowing out of the chasm the water falls into.  We got to the backpacker that would be our base for our time there and had some time to wander around Livingston.  The next morning we were picked up early to be driven to Chobe National Park in Botswana.  We had to cross the Chobe River that separates Botswana and Namibia on a little motor boat.

We had a two-day, one-night safari in a tented camp.  Our first activity was a river drive on the Chobe in a small boat that could get really close to the shore.  We saw elephants crossing the river to get to better grass on the other side.

We also saw lots of birds! hippos, crocodiles, buffalos and more.  Then we went in an open safari vehicle for a long game drive along the river.

The highlight of that drive happened just as it was getting dark.  I finally saw a lion!  We were quite close in the open vehicle.  When he got up and stretched, I really hoped he was going to walk the other way, which he did.  Very exciting!!! It was dusk so the picture didn’t come out very well.  But you can see how close we were.

We went to the campsite and had a nice dinner and slept in tents with lions and hyena and maybe a leopard talking during the night not far away. 

 We were assured that we would be safe in our tents because of the fire and a big light that was on all night.

The next morning we went on another game drive and came around a bend into the midst of an elephant herd having breakfast.  I could have reached out and touched them they were so close.  We could hear them crunching the wigs they were eating.  Did you know elephants have brown eyes? (at least some of them)
One of the neat things about Chobe was how many different animals you could see at one time along the river – giraffes, elephants, baboons, hippos, crocs, buffalo all at once!  The other thing that is different from Kruger is the size of the herds! – one herd of buffalo we saw  had several hundred animals and we saw elephant herds of 20-30!!  It was a good time to visit this park because it was winter – dry season – so all the animals stayed near the river.

When we got back to Livingston we went to see Victoria Falls.

Below is a picture of the bridge over the Zambezi River that separates Zambia and Zimbabwe.  We watched some people bungie juming off the bridge! CRAZY! And not for me.

 The falls were amazing! And it wasn’t even the time of year for the biggest volume of water over the falls.  The local name for the falls translates as "the mist that thunders."

There is a bridge to a promontory that is on the opposite side of the chasm from the falls.  They will rent you a rain-poncho for $.50 because walking across it is like being in a heavy rainfall. 

 When I leaned over the bridge I could see a rainbow that was almost a complete circle!!

Our last day in Livingston we went on a white rafting trip on the Zambezi River.  Pictures about that adventure next time.

Bye for now,

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Started this before we took off for our trip – no good way to send from there.  More to follow this soon. (July 10)

June 24, 2012

Wow! Lots has happened since I last posted to the blog.  We’ve just finished Term 2 of the school year. We are on the 2nd day of a nice long (3 week) break between terms.

Since last time we have gone from fall to winter.  Once in a while I actually feel cold and have to put on another layer.  No one has central heat in the village and some houses in “white” neighborhoods have no heating system either.  We have a space heater that we used a couple of times last winter and haven’t yet had to break out this year. High 50’s/low 60’s at night – mid 70’s during the day. Glad for a blanket at night but often in a T-shirt by the afternoon.

Richard’s snap peas came up well and are flowering.  He planted both American and South African “snap pea” seeds.  It will be interesting to see and taste any differences.  To Richard’s surprise, after reading the seed packets, the S. Africans bloomed 1st.

The regional (Limpopo Province) Peace Corps gathering I mentioned last time was a success.  The new Country Director agreed to pay for the conference space and came up from Pretoria to be a part of the program. It’s nice to have supportive competent staff in our SA Peace Corps office. Our session on gardening was well attended and became a sharing of best practices session.

My daughter, Megan, had a great visit. She stayed in the village for over a week!.  She visited Kgopong and got to see where I am working and meet some of my learners and co-workers. She brought 4 gross of pencils for me to give to learners. She also got to Dipone, the high school, and helped Richard with his large Grade 9 & 10 Maths classes.

While Megan was here I had my sixty-first birthday.  She wanted me to have a birthday party while she was here.  I invited Didi & Kobus and the young cousin I help with school work. It was nice to have people from different parts of my life together.  Sophy created a real South African feast for us all to share.
The last weekend Megan was here we took a day trip to Kruger. Richard and I have been to Kruger 4 times now and each time there seems to be one animal that stands out.  The first one (with the school) was a bit different because everything we saw was new.  We even got excited about seeing impalas.  The second trip, with Sarah, was the giraffe trip – we saw more giraffes up close and got to see one run. They are so graceful!  With Adam the elephants were most spectacular – especially the big bull elephant that stared us down! With Megan it was Zebra day.
Megan left May 28th and the last 4 weeks of Term 2 flew by.  School felt a little too much like a regular job – teaching 5 different grades – lots of lesson planning and time in the classroom.  Sometimes I feel I am doing the fishing instead of teaching the educators how to fish but at least the educators are in the room with me most of the time and can pick up some new ways of doing things.  I was glad for the semester break to start on June 22nd!

More later.

July 10, 2012

Much later…

Richard’s oldest, Hannah, arrived in country June 26th.  We rented a car (something Peace Corps only allows when we are on “annual leave”) and picked her up at the airport, took her to meet our friends, Didi & Kobus, and have a hot shower after 2 days of traveling before going to the village.  Then she spent a few days in the village meeting our host family, having an African feast, Seeing where her dad lives and works and meeting some of the learners at Dipone.  On June 29th we left our house at 4:30 am for a day in Kruger with Hannah.  That day was rhino day!  We saw lots of the animals that live in Kruger from the small “dwarf” mongoose
to the very large rhino. We had two great rhino sightings. The first was 2 rhinos sleeping in the road where we could drive slowly right past them!
The next day we got on a plane to Livingston, Zimbzbwe.
I’m going to post this part now and post the rest of our vacation the next time.