Sunday, July 25, 2010


Spent our last night and day in Joburg by going out to dinner at a
trendy restaurant and then doing a Soweto tour the next day before
having to depart.

We went to dinner at a place called Moyo in the Melrose Arch area of
Joburg. It's a really lively and happening area of the city and safe
to walk around in. There are many restaurants and bars to chill out
and relax, and to see and be seen. Moyo tried to present a modern
African feel, and the menu served traditional dishes in an upscale
manner. There was live African music, although maybe a little too loud
for the dinner going crowd. It was a great, quick experience of
"modern Africa".

Our Soweto tour (meaning Southwestern Townships) was interesting,
although spoiled by a bad tour guide. I'm actually complaining to the
company and trying to get a refund. Anyway, Soweto is where black
people were moved under Apartheid to keep them out of the city center.
It is a huge area, consisting of multiple townships and 3-5 million
residents. We vistited the Hector Pieterson Museum, named after a boy
who was killed in the student uprising in Soweto on June 16, 1976.
That museum was fascinating and gave a real glimpse into life in
Sowento under Apartheid and the beginning of the civil rights movement
in South Africa. Highly recommended!

Today, people still live in Sowento and a community is thriving. I got
the impression it was a badge of honor and a symbol of solidarity for
people to continue to live there. There is a thriving middle class a d
conditions have improved tremendously there since the end of Apartheid.

About to board the plane back to SF. I have a splitting headache and
am a little irritable. Things move slow in Africa and are sometimes
absurds, but I'm trying my best not to blow a gasket at someone right
now - at least until I get home.

Next Post: Trip wrap up and thoughts on travelling in Africa.


Spent 2 nights in Kruger National Park, South Africa. It is a very
large park with well established roads, campsites, picnic areas,
shops, and of course - the good animal population. Its a very nice
park - a jewel. We drove through Limpopo Park in Mozambique to get to
Kruger as they border each other based on the political boundary
between the two countries.

It is great to be in South Africa again: good roads, good doctors
(with quick malaria tests I found), toilets, solid currency, hot
showers, fresh water, etc.

I wish we could have spent more time in Kruger, as it is vast.
Unfortunately we werent able to do it justice, but glad we got there
and experienced it. A highlight for us there was a few more elephant
encounters and an encounter with a pack of hyena!

Spending a day in Johannesburg before heading back to the USA. Got
enough time for a Sowento township tour, and we are hopefully reunited
with our Aussie friends. John is still weak, but out of the hospital.
He has to stay in SA for another week before he is "fit to fly".
Edwina is doing great, just has some serious cabin fever.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Tofo and Bilene

Our final days in Mozambique were a bit of a bust because of rain. The
coastal town of Tofo is a fun, tourist friendly town with a beautiful
beach. We had hoped to go snorkeling at the off shore estuary or go
diving with whale sharks & manta rays, but the bad weather prevented
it. There was a good craft market to browse though in the little
center of town.

During our last night in Tofo, I came down with some sort of African
jungle fever (& I don't mean the Spike Lee kind). It was like the flu,
but lacked symptoms such as runny nose, sneezing or sore throat. It
was headache, fever, hot/cold chills, fatigue, spaciness and terrible,
terrible joint aching. I feared I had caught Malaria since another
member of our group went out with it earlier in the tour despite
taking meds. I was sick for 2 days and went to a doctor once back in
South Africa, who tested me for Malaria and confirmed I was negative.
The doctor thought it was just the flu perhaps, which was a relief as
Malaria requires a hospital stay. Of course, I felt better on the 3rd
day. I've never had an illness come on so fast, debilitate me, and
then just go away without a trace. I missed seeing the lagoon around
Bilene as a result, but it was raining most of the time so water
activities were not possible.

I still wish I knew exactly what made me sick. (?????) All better now
though (whew)

Next stop: Kruger Park, South Africa.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010


7/19/10: We arrived in Vilankulo, Mozambique - which is a small town
on the coast facing the Indian Ocean. It is tropical and home to
beautiful sand beaches and a few islands just off-shore that have
coral reefs. We took a day trip via dhow (traditional sailing vessel)
to Magaruque Island just off the coast of Vilankulo. The waters around
the mainland and island are surprsingly shallow, and the dhow is well
suited to traverse the shallow waters. Spent the day exploring the
island and snorkeling the reefs where there was an adundance of
tropical marine life. Our guides on the dhow prepared us lunch of
fresh caught crab and barracuda (both delicious) using coals on the
boat. A fantastic day!

7/20/10: We are in the beach town of Tofo, Mozambique today. It is
raining :-( but we are on the beach and the temp is nice. For those
looking on a map we went north to south; from Tete, to Chimoio; to
Vilankulo; to Inhambane; and now Tofo. One more stop before going back
into South Africa (Kruger Park!).


7/16/10: Our 2nd day in Mozambique was another transit day while on
our way to the coast. We camped outside the town of Chimoio. Compared
to other towns we've passed through in Moz' and the rural areas,
Chimoio is actually quite nice (nicer than Tete). The town had a nice,
vibrant feel. Lots of activity with a faint musical backdrop of a
calypso, reggae, tropical type of music (I like the music in Moz').
There are modern ammenities like grocery stores, ATM's, pharmacies -
and much of the population seems afluent when compared to the rural
areas. There is a large Coca Cola bottling plant just outside the
town, which I'm sure helps the local economy. Still, you see evidence
of the poor, rural community. For example, outside the parking lot to
the grocery store was a lady walking with a stack of sugar cane on her
head. We bought some from her (sugar cane is delicious and addicting
to chew on I found). That seems to be a common theme in larger towns
throughout Africa; there is a mixture of modern and traditional
lifestyles & a sharp disparity between rich and poor. I stretch to
call it "rich and poor" even. It's more, as mentioned before, simply
people who "have" and people who "have not".

Our real purpose in Chimoio this afternoon though was to visit a
medical clinic. Our friend John has fallen ill with flu like symptoms
and it was getting worse. We thought maybe he had a bad cold or ate
something bad, but a blood test at the clinic confirmed he has
contracted Malaria! It's odd because he was taking Malaria medication,
so we are all very surprised & a little un-nerved as we are all taking
Malaria precautions (in addition to strict hygene & water consumption
precautions). Julia has been off her Malaria meds because it was
giving her migrane headaches, so she is being extra cautious about not
being bit. I am still on the meds though. There are side effects, but
my body acclimated to it in a few days time whereas Julia's did not.
Treatment for John will take 5 days and he will need to be flown to
Johannesburg, SA. It is possible that he & Edwina will rejoin the tour
when we arrive in South Africa at Kruger Park, if he is well enough.
Other than his home in Australia, South Africa is the best place for
John to be sent for treatment.

This experience has made me realize how fortunate we are. We travel to
these 3rd world countries with the full support and infrastructure of
the western countries we come from. John is seen by a private doctor,
in a private clinic, flown to Jo'burg, & given treatment in a first
world hospital. I'm not sure any of the locals nearby would be given
or can afford such care themselves.

UPDATE 7/18/10: John has not only contracted Malaria, but MEASLES as
well!!! Again; un-nerving as John was taking Malaria meds and has an
MMR vaccination! Apparently there is a new outbreak of Measles in
Africa at the moment which is all over the news? Can someone reading
this confirm and comment? We have been disconnected from the media.

7/20/10: John is being released from the hospital soon (hurray!) but
cannot return to the tour. He will stay in Jo'burg. He is better and
that is most important.

Sugar Cane

Sugar cane is an enjoyable thing to chew on, especially on long
drives. You peel back the skin with your teeth, bite off and then chew
on the inside. It has a fiber texture with sweet liquid absorbed into
it. You chew and then spit out the fibers when the sweetness is gone.
It's a little messy and probably not good for your teeth, but it's
very addicting. I love it! We just bought enough for everyone for
$20Mets (less than $1US). They grow lots of cane in Mozambique, &
people are selling produce roadside everywhere so it is easy and cheap
to get here.

We also purchased delicious roasted cashews, pineapple, & oranges from
the roadside, which are all grown here. It's not a roadside stand I'm
talking about, but rather a dozen people waiting at a petrol station
or similar place where people stop. They are all selling the same
things and swarming you for business if you show the slightest
interest. Mozambique in particular is proving to be a difficult place
to buy things because of how aggressive people are in selling - it's
exhausting and makes me not want to deal with buying things unless I
have to.

The Sugar Cane Lady:

Welcome to Mozambique

7/15/10: We left the beauty of Lake Malawi for the Indian Ocean
beaches of Mozambique. It will take us 2 days of travel through the
country to arrive at the shore. We are currently at a stop over in
the town of Tete.

The border crossing from Malawi into Mozambique was time consuming.
First off there is a huge "no mans land" between Malawi and Mozambique
- at least 4km. Not sure why, perhap because of the civil war in
Mozambique which only ended in 1992 (walking in the bush is ill
advised because of land mines). The no mans land distance means you
have to get exited from Malawi, then drive to the Mozambique border
post, and get out again to get entered. The Mozambique authorities are
stricter than we had experienced before. It took a few hours for all
of us to get our visas in order and get permission to enter
Mozambique. They look for excuses to extort money out of you, and when
you do pay a legitimate fee like a visa fee - it seems to fall into
illegitimate hands. Julia and I already had visas, which we had
obtained from home, and this made our personal experience with the
authorities much easier.

While others on our trip were getting clearance, we waited in the
border area. In my other African border crossings, I had not been
harassed as much as I was here. People swarmed our truck upon arrival
trying to sell us things like cigarettes, apples, cell phones, or
phone cards. I said "No thank you" about a thousand times and tried
to remain patient. Many were trying to get us to change money; walking
around with wads of cash. I did not change money because of fears of
getting fleeced (we were warned by the guide). Our guide had to change
money though, understandably to keep the tour going, and was more
experienced in doing so. The guy he traded with looked like a pimp-
wearing a suit whereas everyone else was in tattered clothing - and
the exhancge rate is better on the black market than it is at the
bank. It was shady at best. The shadiest thing about tge border post
was people just hanging around: doing nothing, begging, looking at
you, flat out asking for things (ie: "hey boss, gimme your watch").
Needless to say, we kept close guard over the truck until we were
allowed to leave.

Once driving, the country appeared much poorer than Malawi. I had
expected the worst conditions to be in Malawi. The area we are in is
crowded and dirty. Our campground (named "Jesus e' Bom") is not the
best, but it is on the Zambezi river and there is make-shift plumbing
with hot water heated by a wood fire. Our guides say this is the best
place to stay while on our way to "paradise".

Mozambique seems to be a bit more challenging than others to travel
in. For example, we have to cross a bridge but only 1 lane is open
while the bridge is being retrofitted. It is the only bridge over the
river for miles. They alternate traffic in either direction every HOUR
- and don't keep to the schedule very well. So depending on when you
arrive, you may wait a long time to cross. While you wait, authorities
continually harass you for paperwork in an effort to extort money from
you. When it us finally your turn to cross, they harass you again. Our
guide is definitely earning his wages in just getting us through
Mozambique. There is definitely more corruption here than we had
experienced before. A means to an end though as we are on our way to a
beautiful place.

Note: The children in Mozambique (and Malawi) are more polite than
those in Zambia. When giving out trinkets or pens/notebooks to kids in
school, the kids here are much more calm and patient (no free-for-
all). They also don't speak English (Portugese), but are pretty good
at communicating with gesture.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


We are camping on a nice beach on the shores of Lake Malawi. The lake
is huge. It feels like being on the ocean. We were scheduled to go
snorkeling today but it is too windy for the boat, so we opted for
visiting a craft market. We purchased several things, and it is
expected that you bargain to bring the price down. You could even
trade goods like baseball caps, clothing, etc. The streets in Malawi
are more crowded than in Zambia. There is a problem with over
population since it is such a small country, half of which is the
water of Lake Malawi. The people are poorer than in Zambia, as there
are few natural resources in Malawi. What they lack in resources, they
make up for in craftsmanship. The craft markets are filled with great
handmade items, some of which are stunning in the skill it took to
make. I might even assume that most of the crafts sold in Africa come
from Malawi.


It took 2 days driving from the capital of Zambia - Lusaka, but we
arrived at South Luangwa National Park to an amazing sunset. Our
campground overlooked the river that divides the national park from
the Game Management Area. We were camping on the GMA side. The roads
into the park are very bad, so much so that our truck got a flat on
the way (see post "Have and Have Not"). The roads are dirt and rock
with potholes. It takes about 3hrs from the nearest paved road via the
dirt road to reach the park. On this road it was very rural, more so
than I had seen before. Many small villages with no ammenities like
electric, running water, phones, and animals pulling carts on rough
roads - although I did see a thatched roof hut with a satellite dish
on it which was interesting.

Camping in the park was a real pleasure as there was electricity and
running hot/cold water, the grounds were grass, and the main lodge had
a pool and bar. The river had a large hippo population. One could
easily see them from the campground, and they were very noisy. In
fact, one came into our campsite around 3am to graze. It was probably
leas than 10' away from where we were sleeping in a tent! Camping is
good on this trip as it extends our range; there isn't always a hotel
to stay in at some of the key locations (like this one).

Our first full day was spent doing a morning and a night game drive.
Julia and I were lucky to have had some great game drives in Chobe,
Botswana - and the South Luangwa drives were icing on the cake. We
missed seeing cats in Chobe, but were able to see a pride of Lions
resting during the day and 3 Leopards during the night drives. It
really was an incredible experience to see these elusive animals in
their natural habitat, especially the Leopards at night. We also took
a walking safari through the bush with a guide and an armed escort
where we tracked a tower of Giraffe.

In addition, a few of us from the camp got a chance to see the World
Cup final (Spain v Nederlands). We had to hire a car to take us to
another lodge about 30 minutes away that had TV, Cable, and
electricity. The vehicle was an open safari truck and they charged $5/
pp for a round trip. We arrived in time to see the 2nd half (things
move slow in Africa). The bar was crowded with people from all over.
We all crowded around a 19" TV to watch. Memorable.

On our final day in South Luangwa, we visited a local village with
hopes of playing soccer with the locals. Our guide Chris was able to
get us an invitation to the remote village and helped break the ice
once we got there. These people were remote and poor, probably
farmers. The village was primitive by western standards, but clean and
liveable. I don't think they see white people very often (their word
for us is "Mozunga"). Some kids may never have seen white people
before. They would stare at us and giggle sometimes, other times
touching our skin. I responded with being friendly and smiling,
shaking their hands. The kids especially loved Julia's hair. They
looked on with amazement when she would take it down and they would
all want to touch it.

We got our soccer game organized eventually. It was 8 on 8 - on a
small dirt field with wooden tree branch goals (no nets) and a well
worn, slightly deflated soccer ball. There was no referee, just a
timekeeper, so we all just agreed on the calls. The Zambians played
barefoot, while the 3 "Mozunga" (plus our guide Chris who is Zambian)
played with shoes. It was the greatest 45 minutes of soccer I've ever
played. I had a few good touches and a memorable header. Our friend
John scored a goal. We had quite a crowd watching, maybe the whole
village. They would cheer and sing songs during play. When someone
would score a goal people would cheer, sing, and kids would rush out
onto the field doing cartwheels. It was amazing! At the end of the
match, I was filthy from the dust. I'm still coughing up dirt, but it
was well worth it. We were impressed with how well they played, given
that they have so little to play with. They are really good soccer
players! John and Edwina had a brand new soccer ball on the truck that
they bought for themselves, but decided to give it to the village as a
gift. The soccer coach of the village gathered everyone around and
announced that the "Mozunga" gave the village a new ball, and everyone
cheered! They put on a dance for us while we had our guide Chris give
kids some trinkets and pens/paper we had (we made him deal with the
free-for-all; see post "Have and Have Not"). I really can't imagine a
better cultural experience. I think we made a positive impression on
the people of that village; provided some entertainment; and showed we
cared. We were glowing about it for the rest of the day and will
remember it for the rest of our lives as a great moment.

Next stop: Malawi

Note: Most places we stayed in Zambia have been surprised to see us
(Americans). They say not too many Americans come through. Makes us
feel like pioneers of sort.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Have and Have Not

Since entering rural Zambia, we have come across many children. They
come out of the woodwork to wave at us as we go by. When we stop, we
are tempted to given them small gifts or food. Most of us brought
small trinkets with us to give out to kids. Julia and I have colored
ballpoint pens, pads of paper, colored hair ties, & balloons. Our
friends John & Edwina from Austalia brought these cute kawala bear
stuffed animals that hang on a window.

It's especially tempting to give when kids are asking for food, but
our guide has asked us not to encourage a begging behavior in children
by giving hand outs. He suggests finding kids who are in school and
asking them a question like "Who is the President of Zambia?" or
asking them to recite a poem they learned in school before giving
anything. It's hard to tell though which kids are in school and which
are not. These kids are not starving, but food is precious. Although
heartbreaking at times, our guide Chris is right.

We did have one instance where we blew a tire on a rural road. About
15 kids came out and we were having a good time talking to them. As
time went by while we were changing the tire, more and more continued
to come out. They sang us a song so Julia and I decided to give them
some balloons. We believed we had enough to go around. Once I
presented them though, it turned into a free-for-all. The kids are
just so starved for entertainment, and there are just so many of them
amd so little resources (toys?) that any one person could not
accommodate them all without going broke. Each kid was desperate to
get a balloon, and I do meant *desperate*. I could see it in their
eyes. Unfortunately for our balloons, an older kid grabbed the bag out
of Edwina's hands before we could finish giving them out (we were
taking turns and it wasn't her fault). We wanted to give something to
every kid, but it is just impossible - either by the volume of kids or
the competition among them.

One thing we do give out regularly though is excess food. Any
leftovers that would normally be thrown away go to whoever is around,
and it is always gladly accepted. We just need to be quick and
targeted in handing it out to avoid the "free-for-all".

Instant Coffee

I haven't had a decent cup of coffee since Cape Town (over a week
ago). All coffee served in Zambia is instant coffee. It's terrible. In
the supermarket, there is an entire aisle of tea and tea related
accessories, bur only a small shelf of coffee related items. I'm
guessing people in Zambia don't really drink coffee, and I'm expecting
the same in for my future in Malawi & Mozambique. I want *real*
coffee! Where there's a will, there's a way.

While in the supermarket in Lusaka, I bought real ground coffee. There
was only one brand - regular or decaf. It might not be the best
ground, but it is real coffee. I found paper filters in the tea
accessory section, so bought them too. Finding a filter cone to use to
pour water through the filter & coffee though was proving impossible.
There may not be one in the entire country! They had a small French
press plunger for sale, but it was too expensive and made of glass -
which would break with the type of travel I am doing. I had to create
another way.

Thinking outside the box, I went to the automotive section and found a
plastic funnel used for auto oil (new, of course). It cost the
equivelant of 25 cents. I cut the long end of the spout off and put
some filter paper in the funnel hole to slow the drip so the coffee
would steep.

We named the contraption "Sputnik". Goodbye, instant coffee.

Southern Cross

We spent the last 3 days along the banks of the lower Zambezi River in
ZambiaWeTher Zambezi is a mighty river- spanning across at least a few
miles, with Zambia on one side and Zimbabwe on the other. It is fast
flowing at 12km/hr and abundant with wildlife. We camped for 1 night,
and had the pleasure of staying at a very hospitable lodge on the
river bank called Mvuu Lodge for the next 2 nights.

The river is home to many animals; the largest of which are crocodile,
elephant, & hippopotamus. Hippos are fascinating creatures and we
enjoyed spotting them. They are usually submerged but we were
fortunate enough to get glimpses of them out of water and of one
opening it's mouth. They can be dangerous if provoked, so we needed to
keep our distance. At night, they come out of the water to graze and
their calls can be heard. We enjoyed falling asleep to their noises
and have gotten pretty good at imitating it (which is pretty funny).

We spent time on the river by taking a sunset cruise one day and a
canoe trip the next. Canoeing was interesting as we were warned not to
put any part of our body in the water (so be careful not to tip I
guess?). We only had a problem at the end of our canoe trip when we
had to disembark. We missed our landing by about 20 meters and had to
get out of the canoes on a steep bank. Paddling upstream was
impossible as the river flows too fast. The river bank we stopped at
appeared ankle deep, however once we exited the canoes we quickly sank
to our thighs in quicksand-like mud and got stuck in the water. Full
of mud now - we laughed it off but were thanking heaven there were no
crocs nearby as we were floundering in the water trying to get ashore.

What made these days even more special was how remote it was. The best
way to get to Mvuu was by boat as there are no paved roads closeby. A
2hr boatride down the river could easily take all day by land to go
the same distance. There was no electricity, but the lodge had a
generator that ran during the day to charge battery operated
appliances. We were able to watch 1 half of the Spain v Germany World
Cup semifinal game before the TV battery power cut out. No electricity
though means no lights at night. The night sky was amazing and I was
able to see the Southern Cross and other constillations for the first
time (the Scorpion constillation is another favorite of mine). I look
for the Southern Cross nightly now. The accommodations at Mvuu were
platform tents each with an outdoor bathroom. Sounds rustic, and it
was - but it was also very comfortable (beds) and put us in synch with
the amazing environment around us.

Next - we are stopping in Lusaka (the capital and the largest city in
Zambia) for supplies before driving off grid again to South Luwanga
game park. Also, Julia and I have made friends with a couple on our
tour from Australia (John & Edwina). Doing activities with them has
definitely added to the fun- we are a team.

Picture is of sunrise over the Zambezi River.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Rural Zambia

Today we did our first long drive in the truck (pictured - along the
way) as we left Livingstone for the Kafue River in Zambia; where we
plan to canoe. Along our way we saw the rural countryside. Most
structures are primitive, built from a combination of manufactured and
natural materials. There is a surprising amount of activity from town
to town and the people appear to be able to afford basic needs plus
more. Farming, herding, and likely trade amongst each other seem to
comprise the main rural economy. There are modern ammenities; such as
modern petrol stations, electricity, running water; from town to town
but these ammenities are sparce in between towns where some people
live. Everyone though appears to be in the same socio-economic
position: poor by western standards but not the poorest globally. If
there is a difference in class based on wealth in Zambia, then it is
almost too subtle to tell; except in Livingstone (Vic Falls) where
there are more modern ammenities and more money because of tourism.

Note: Our truck is a beacon in the rural areas, as you might imagine.
People, kids mostly, come running and waving to greet us. It's a bit
bizarre but we smile and try to be friendly.

Currency in Zambia

Thought it might be worth commenting on the currency in Zambia, as
paying for things has proven to often be a royal pain in the ass. Visa
is dicey at best. They dont even know of other credit/debit cards. The
cash economy is a multi-currency system in that they accept the
Zambian Kwatcha (of course), but they also accept South African Rand,
British Pound, & US Dollars. The Kwatcha is only good in Zambia. No
bank outside Zambia will change it, so you don't want to leave Zambia
with a lot of it. $1 is worth $5000K, so if you changed $100US you
would end up with a huge stack of Zambian bills much bigger than a
$100 stack of US singles (there are no coins). A hamburger might cost
$30,000K ($6US). I try not to hold more than $20 worth of Kwatcha at a
time. Paying for things often involves using a combination of
currencies and the use of a calculator to convert. No one ever has
very much change and using even a $20 bill is too much. I wish I had
brought smaller bills. They need to figure this out for their economy
to improve or evolve I think. Zimbabwe money is even more reduculous
(& worthless). Guys on the street will try to sell you actual 100
Trillion Dollar Zimbabwe notes as a souvenir. This is coming from a
place, though, where everything is useful and nothing is thrown away.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Victoria Falls

Julia and I are at a lodge along the Zambezi river outside
Livingstone, Zambia. I call Zambia "the Vegas of Africa" because they
aim to please and you can do it all here. Bungee, hele rides, game
drives, you name it. None of it us cheap either. The currency is do
devalued they take dollars. 1$ = $5000Kwatcha so changing even $20
leaves you with a wad of bills. We went on a hekecopter ride over the
falls to ensure we saw them because the mist is so intense that if you
walk the falls you may not be able to see them. (You can see the mist
in the pic which is from the top of the falls. The mist can be seen
from 50k away) Later, we walked the falls and were fortunate enough to
see them, but got drenched. It is an amazing place. We also went on a
Rhino walk in the Mosi-O-Tunya park and were brought by armed guard to
within 15 yards of a wild Rhino. It was a priviledge to be so close to
such a mighty animal. The armed guards are not only for our
protection- they guard the Rhinos from poachers 24/7. They are
military with AK-47s. Today we ate doing a lion walk with lion cubs
who are being raised to ve reintroduced into the wild. We met up with
our overland tour and are headed down the Zambezi river toward Lusaka,
Zambia (the capital) tomorrow. Internet may get even less.

4 Corners

We arrived in Zambia from Botswana. The border we crossed is actually
a meeting point of 4 countries: Botswana, Zambia, Namibia and
Zimbabwe. The border is a river and is crowded with trucks (and
people) needing to cross, but there are only two ferrys that take
trucks across and each only carry two trucks. The truck line was very
long and we heard that some truckers could wait as long as a week to
cross. It is much easier to cross without a vehicle. We paid a fee for
"fixers" to arrange our crossing. They helped coordinate a combination
of cars on both sides and a boat in between to take us across, and
they also ushered us through immigration. It was chaotic and not well
marked, so having a guy to tell you exactly which building to walk to
and who to talk to was worth the money. We got across in a few hours
whereas without them it may have taken all day plus much stress. We
arrived in Livingstone, Zambia; which I have dubbed "the Vegas of
Africa"- more on that in the next post.

Flickr update: still no reliable open Internet access so my camera is
not uploading pics. A few from Cape Town did upload though, & I'm
still uploading the odd iPhone pic.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Mabele Primary School

While in Botswana, we visited a primary school in a remote village
near Chobe park. The school had up to 7th grade and we got to visit a
5th grade class. The teacher showed us a bit about the curriculum and
the kids sang us a song. The kids all wear uniforms and everyone had
their hair cut short so it is hard to tell boy fr girl except that
girls wear skirts. Afterwards, we got to socialize with the kids.
Julia made a friend, named Precious who was a very cute and friendly
5th grade girl. The kids were all very interested in meeting us and I
think they enjoyed having visitors. For some reason, no one in
Botswana wears sunglasses. They saw Julia's glasses and my camera (I
brought the point & shoot thus day so it was less pretentious), and
all of them wanted to have their picture taken with the glasses on. It
was quite a fun time for them to have their photos taken and to
immediately see it on the camera. Although the school looked fairly
well supplied, I got the impression that a digital camera was a
luxury. We have some fantastic photos that I hope to share soon, but
open wireless connections to the Internet have been rare so I've had
trouble uploading photos from the camera. We asked if there is
anything we could give the school, and learned that they really want a
Santa Claus suit so they can celebrate Christmas (which they do on
November 25th instead of December 25th). We plan to send one to them.

Friday, July 2, 2010


We have been in Chobe National Park in northern Botswana for the past
3 nights. We stayed at a safari lodge just adjacent to the park. I
realized we weren't in Kansas anymore when our prop plane landed at
the sleepy airport in Kasane, Botswana. The days have been filled with
game drives through the park. The park is a truly amazing place,
absolutely abundant with wildlife. The government of Botswana (using
their army) has done a good job protecting the park from poachers and
enforcing strict rules for tourists. It is afterall a valuable
resource for tourism and a natural wonder. On our game drives and boat
rides we have seen the gammit of animals: zebra, giraffe, antelope,
elephants, buffalo, and much more. There is also an abundance of
baobab trees- huge trees and my favorite in the world. The only thing
we missed were cats (lions, leopards) who are very elusive. Perhaps at
our next destination. I'll try my best to get some photos up on
flickr. Tomorrow we are heading to Livingstone, Zambia and Victoria