Tuesday, December 26, 2006
Getting to ile was a little bit of a challenge- all of our stuff was still in our house in Nacala, and had to be moved before we could go anywhere else. There was a little bit of a mad scramble at the last minute, logistics wise (logistics are very complicate here) but things worked out well. In fact, we got a 1st class flight up to Nampula, which was nice, and once there we were met by a Peace Corps driver/ all around handy-man who was up in the North fixing up houses. He took us in a Land Cruiser pick up truck, loaded all of our belongings, and then took us to ile the next day. I´m not sure that anything else would have fit in (or on) the truck.
We´ve been really happy with our reception in ile. People so far have been very friendly and welcoming. Our director took us to meet some of the important people in town (police chief, city administrator, local brazilian nun, Canadian shopkeeper- he´s from Toronto- etc.) We have been introduced to some of the teachers, who were working on the final grades of the year, and they all seemed excited to see us. One of the teachers came to our house, showed us around town, and took us to his house, where we watched pirated south African music videos on his TV. Then, since we had just moved in, the school took us out for dinner- and lunch the next day.
On one of our first days shopping in the market we met some German missionaries (although not actually missionaries- there are 2 nurses and a civil engineer, but very similar to missionaries), who have been very kind and had us over for lunch- very tasty sauerkraut.
As for our housing situation… For now, things are OK. We are litteraly a part of the school here, though, our house being attached to the building where the kids eat. We even share a wall with the kitchen! Right now there are only half a dozen kids staying here, waiting for their final grades, but once school starts there will be hundreds. The house is supposed to belong to the Director of Student Dorms, but he moved out because of the noise! The school tells us that we will have a new house soon, but I know that can mean in 6-8 months unless we push…. The house is pretty bare right now, there are 3 rooms with no kitchen, counters, closets, etc. Just 3 plain rooms, and since this should be temp housing, we aren´t doing much to build on it. (Although we´re adding some furniture and it is getting more comfortable- who knows, we could be here a while).
The only serious problem is a dispute Eli and I have over a word in Scrabble- I think she was angry because I was winning by 150 points, but maybe someone can check this word for us. I used Adz which is a noun (some kind of tool) and then I made it plural, so Adzs. If that´s not right someone let me know.
The other disadvantage of ile is that there is no cell phone coverage, but rumor has it that they are building a new cell tower that will be operational within a month. It hasn´t been confirmed, but if I start sending text messages, you´ll know. I hope everyone is doing well back home, things are very good here.
PJ and EO
Friday, December 08, 2006
Even more pix
This elephant stumbled around after drinking the mystery water from a manmade reservoir
The leopard that Eli spotted!
Herd of Elephants... there were LOTS.
Blyde River Canyon!
White rhino with an oxpecker on its back
Me, feeding a vulture!
Going back to Moz
Today 55 trainees swore in and became Peace Corps volunteers, bringing the total in
Eli and I took an 18 hour flight from
The next day we got picked up by our safari company. Most safari companies have a set day when they start, but Viva Safaris goes every day, and we were curious as to how that worked. It turns out that there are always groups of people coming and going, and we met quite a few international people. In the van with us were an Australian and a Brazilian, and we also met people from
Viva Safaris advertises tree houses but, of the 11 or so cabins they have, only 2 or 3 are actually tree houses, the others are on stilts! But, they do overlook the river, and they are very nice inside (big double bed, chairs, bathroom with hot water). On our first night we did a game drive in a private reserve, which they advertised as a night drive, but which actually ended at sunset. There was a huge difference between the private reserve we went to with Eli´s mom and this place- it wasn´t nearly as nice here! (The place was a sister company to viva safari´s, about half hour away from our camp).
However, we had 2 full days in
We saw huge amounts of elephants and zebras, lots of interesting birds including ostriches, ibises, vultures, and a lot of other bright ones. (Eli was really glad that I had brought 2 pairs of binoculars J) . We saw warthogs wallowing in mud, others with its babies, baby zebra and giraffe and baby elephants. We saw groups of baboons fighting and tons of impala. One of the best things we saw were the white rhinos, which we spotted 5 times. Once it crossed the road right by our car, and we got a great view of it. We had a wonderful time on the game drives. Our only complaint was that we didn´t get into the park until about (our camp was outside the park on private land that still had a lot of animals), and breakfast was a - we should have been in the park by !! Early morning is the very best time to be out a and we missed a lot of it. However, we still did see a lot and have a good time.
Another day we went to a Cheetah rehabilitation project, which was interesting and we saw Cheetah, who were being bred, in cages, and some other animals on their property, such as the sable antelope with is very nice and rare. They have a vulture feeding pit where the bones of dead gazelles´ and elephants are cleaned. Then the bones are sold to be crushed into powder to be used as an ingredient for cheese cake, ice cream, and chocolate etc! After that we did another ¨night drive¨ in the private reserve where we went the first night, which was disappointing. That day we were not extremely happy because although the Cheetah project was interesting, it was a short tour and we had a lot of downtime.
Another day we went to the Moholoholo animal rehabilitation center, which was even better than the Cheetah project. They had a lot of animals which had been injured (birds of prey which had cut their wings off by hitting power lines while in a dive). They had lots of vultures, because vultures get poisoned easily (farmers put out poisoned meat to kill things like coyotes or leopards which eat their animals, and it kills hundreds of vultures at a time). In one cage they had a group of cape vultures, which are fairly rare. We went into the cage with the tour guide to get a close look, and then they offered to let us feed them! Of course I wanted to do it, so they gave me a leather glove that went up to my elbow, and a piece of raw meat to grip. Once I had the meat a giant cape vulture landed on my arm and started trying to pull the meat out of my grasp. It was amazing! A lot of people asked me if it was heavy, because it´s so big, but it wasn´t. We also saw lions, which were only separated from us by a chain link (and electric) fence, so we got very close, and the guide fed them raw meat through the fence. Then we saw a baby rhino who was being cared for. Because he didn´t have a mother, but still needed a mother figure, someone was always with him. We saw the baby rhino sleeping on the grass snuggled up to a lady! He came over to us when he heard us and we got to pet him- he had really hard, thick skin. Next we saw a honey badger, which we were also able to touch. There were giant marabou storks around the place, which the guides threw meat to and we were able to get pretty close to (I hear they are fairly rare from an experienced birder, although we saw one with Eli´s mom).
That afternoon we did a walking safari in Kruger, with 2
On the last day we were scheduled for a morning walk then a visit to some scenic spots near Kruger. Before we left the camp guide had to rescue some people who were trapped in their cabins by a herd of buffalo! (One of the big 5 animals). The walk was at that original private reserve that we did not like very much. It was funny because at our Transfrontiers safari, the guides were very professional. This time, the guide was wearing a polo shirt, board shorts, and he didn´t even have shoe laces in his shoes! (He was the guide for our driven safaris in kruger too, and he was pretty knowledgeable and very nice). It was a good walk though, we ended up getting really close to a giraffe that was at a water hole. It was short- only an hour, but fun, then we left to get dropped off in Nelspruit. On the way we saw the
In Nelspruit we stayed at the same place we stayed at with Eli´s mom, Old Vic´s, which is a great place. The only problem is that when we arrived we were told by the owner that he had heard Americans had to buy visas to
Of course, this being
We made it to
Tomorrow morning we leave for Nacala, so we can get our stuff and move it to ile. The plan is to arrive in ile with all of our stuff on Sunday night. There will be a peace corps person up there with a car to help us with the move- hopefully everything fits in the car! Ile, by the way, is pretty small, and if you look for it on a map you may not find it. It is between Gurue and Mocuba in Zambezia...sort of close to Malawi.
p.s. They just filmed the amazing race in