Trip of a Lifetime: Ultimate Africa: Day 13 Part 1

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November 15, 2015 – 12:46P

Sitting on the front porch relaxing in the cool afternoon temperatures of Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe.  Let me start by writing about last night.  What a fantastic thunder and lightening storm.  The lightening first appeared in the distance filling up the entire sky with deep shades of red.  Not long after, there came bellowing roars of thunder that spanned for nearly an hour as I lay awake in bed.  I was hoping for rain and between wind bursts I could hear footsteps in the grass outside our “tent.”  The wind bursts became so ferocious that one particular gust blew so hard against the canvas wall behind our beds that it knocked over the lamps on Aryn and my nightstands.  This really made us nervous and my first reaction was to quickly unplug my camera battery that was charging.  Then, I replaced the lamp onto the nightstand and finally it began to rain.  The rains were heavy and I pulled the heavy comforter up to my chin to keep warm.

Eventually, the weather system moved out and we were able to sleep again.  The following morning we both admitted our concern over the canvas roof possibly ripping right off or the doors flying opening and a lion creeping inside to escape the rain.  You know, I never did figure out what those outside footsteps were.

After a nice breakfast, the following morning, we headed out on our first game drive of the day!  The sky was overcast and a light rain materialized which really cooled things down to, I’d say, the mid 60’s.  It felt amazing.  I can’t say enough good things about OAT.  They don’t miss a trick because the jeeps came equipped with enough green ponchos for us all to wear.  Unfortunately, when the rains come the animals hide.  We did, however, see a few impala, zebras and some birds.

Zebras in Hwange

Zebras hanging out in Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe

After a while, we stopped at a picnic area with bathrooms.  The guides served up our morning tea and coffee with these wonderful rosemary shortbread cookies.  Since it was overcast and slightly raining, we gathered beneath the thatched roofs of one of the structures that stood beside a giant candelabra tree.

Hwange Pavilion

Pavilion where we gathered to escape the rain for our morning tea & coffee. Notice the beautiful candelabra tree.

One of our guides, Mafuka, had taken some long strands of tree fiber from one of the baobab trees.  He began by pressing them in a downward motion along his leg and by doing this he was able to twist the strands into a tight, thin rope.  He, then, used these short ropes to make bracelets for all the ladies.  I, selfishly, asked him to make one for me as well, which he did.  He also made one big rope and, when holding it up, said it was strong enough to tow one of the jeeps.  Wow!

Baobab Bracelets

Mafuka making the bracelets out of fibers from the baobab tree.

While Mafuka was making the bracelets, he shared with us bits and pieces of his life and the Zimbabwean culture.  He particularly focused on the cultural practice of polygamy.  Very educational.  Mafuka is 74 years old.  He has been leading game drives for over 50 years.  He, now, has 3 wives as he divorced his 4th one years ago.  Divorce is a very informal process here in Africa.  The man simply tells his wife he no longer wishes to be married to her and sends her on her way.  No divorce attorney or paperwork is required.   If there is a child between them, the man is expected to provide for that child.  Sometimes this gets messy.

The process of getting married is fairly simple, as well.  If a man likes a particular girl, he simply courts her and if she falls in love with him and and he wishes to be married, he asks her to marry him.  If she says yes, he, then, pays a dowry.  The dowry price ranges based on the value of what the woman can bring to the marriage.  For example, if she is educated, she could bring a substantial income to the marriage and, therefore, the price of the dowry increases.  Mafuka gave the example of “10 cows and $5,000,” as a dowry price.  He also explained that if a guy has a good reputation the dowry price is lower than a guy with a bad reputation.  This is the opposite of what we would think would determine someone’s dowry price.  However, it’s done this way so to possibly discourage a “bad boy” from marrying your daughter by raising the dowry cost hopefully to a level that he can’t afford.  Smart thinking!

Mafuka continued by stating that if a man finds another available girl that he likes or, in some cases, his wife may suggest bringing in a particular girl (say one of her cousins) and the man likes her, he can ask her to marry him as well.  Mafuka said he knew of a man with 40 wives.  He also shared that despite having multiple wives, some men cheat on their wives with a mistress.  This can create a lot of village gossip.  Our other game drive guide, Thabani, is much younger (probably in his mid 20’s) and has only one wife and three children.

We also learned there is a lot of societal pressure around having children.  So much that there have been cases where girls who were unable to bear a child have committed suicide.  There have also been cases of men committing suicide from the stress of trying to keep his mistress a secret from his wife(s).

Baobab Tree

Beautiful baobab tree where Mafuka stripped the fibers to make our bracelets. Notice the extensive scouring of bark. This is the work of elephants rubbing their bodies against the trees and can be seen throughout Hwange.

(This conversation will continue in part 2 of Day 13)

 


Trip of a Lifetime: Ultimate Africa: Day 12

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November 14, 2015 – 7:30A

Today is my dad’s birthday!  Happy Birthday Dad from Zambia!

We are getting ready to take off on our 12-seater “puddle jumper” plane to leave Zambia for Zimbabwe (or “Zim Zim” as Vitalis calls it).  Zimbabwe is his homeland and you can tell he is both proud and excited to show us some of its highlights.  Unfortunately, Zimbabwe’s unemployment rate is 80%.  Yikes!  Many of its unemployed are earning money by selling their hand-carved and handmade goods (i.e. sandstone and wood carvings).  Our pilots again are Julie and Shane.  Skies are clear and the sun is shining. It’s tough to leave this particular camp. The riverfront view from the main lodge and our “tent” was spectacular.

Last night, I woke up briefly around 1:30a to use the bathroom and heard footsteps in the grass outside our tent.  I turned off the oscillating fan for a better listen and discovered there were two hippos using the “hippo highway” right along side our front porch.  One at a time, they splashed into the water.  I then, turned back on the fan, walked through the mosquito netting, and got back into bed.  While we were getting ready this morning, Aryn said she had been awake and heard them as well.

I woke up to my 5:30a cell phone alarm (a half hour earlier than our wake-up call from the camp staff).  I planned this to give myself some extra time to sit out on our front porch.  As I stepped outside, all wrapped up in my giant white comforter, I checked my surroundings for hippos.  As soon as I knew the coast was clear, I sat down on one of the director’s chairs with my feet stretched out before me and gazed out at the morning view of the beautiful Kafue River.  The reflection of the trees in the water across  the river was stunningly perfect.  The staff informed us that the water level is currently down around ten feet due to the lack of rain.  From my vantage point, the benefit to the drought is the ability to see the intimately-woven root system of the trees exposed along the river bank.  The low waters also allow the hippos to stand on the river’s bottom and poke their eyes up and look around.  I saw a couple pairs of hippo eyes popping up this morning, as well as, a couple of fish jumping up out of the water.  I could have sat there for hours.  It was so peaceful.  It was perfect!

Kafue River

Morning view of the Kafue River from my tents front porch. Zambia 2015

As I was sitting there thinking, I recalled saying to the group during one of our recent game drives that with all the magnificent animals and scenery we’ve experienced: “I expect my afterglow from this trip to last me a whole year.”  After saying this, Norma turned to me in the jeep and said:  “Brian, it will last you the rest of your life.”  I bet she’s right.

Now, we are flying at 10,900 feet with beautiful views of the green “bush” all around.  So far, it’s been a smooth flight.  Thank you Julie and Shane!

Vitalis told us that on our way to our next camp, Hwange National Park, we are stopping to look at fabrics.  Should be interesting.  I know Aryn’s mom, Judy, is very excited as she hopes to buy a huge variety of bright colors to make things when she returns home.  Vitalis told the women in our group that he would pay for the first round of fabric.  His idea is that they are to bring one of their fabrics to the homestead we are going to visit and the women there will show them how to properly tie it around their waist.

On a side note, I find it interesting how the staff at each of these tented camps will spend months away from their families.  They either work for 3 months with one month back home with their families or work for 2 months with eighteen days off back home.  That must be a hard schedule but they say they love it.  We’ve learned that some of the single staff members end up dating some of the other single staff members and, sometimes, marrying them.  Makes sense because these are the people with whom they spend most of their time.

On another side note, I must say that I have been very fortunate with the choice of anti-malaria pill (Proguanil) that I was prescribed by Passport Health back home.  Even though the bottle lists no specific instructions, I have always taken it will food and have yet to experience any stomach issues.

We are now flying over a large blue lake.  Spanning from its breadth is an intricate system of rivers stretching and turning in all different directions.  What a spectacular perspective we have from this height.  I’m really hoping for some Wifi at the airport.  I’d like to get some communication out to Aaron and Ma.

4:10P

After landing and crossing into Zimbabwe by minibus, we were able to stop at the Sprayview Hotel in Victoria Falls (which is actually going to be where we’ll stay for our last two nights of this adventure).  There I found a single spot where my phone was able to get a good enough signal to send text & Facebook messages.  I camped out in this chair for a good half hour touching base with Aaron and sending other messages.  I also visited the Sprayview Gift Shop in the lobby (bought nothing) and shared a Zambezi beer with Karen, one of the ladies from our group.  While checking in with Aaron I learned that nearly 200 people were killed in Paris by members of the Isis terrorist group and the entire soccer stadium was under threat and, therefore, evacuated.  Back in the US both JFK and LaGuardia airports were shut down as a safety precaution.

After leaving the hotel, we briefly stopped at a small tented marketplace in town to browse and buy the $2.00 fabrics Vitalis had told us about.  They were all so colorful and I bought two (a tan and brown one for me and a purple one for Aaron.  Purple was his mom’s favorite color).

 

Market Fabrics

Beautiful fabrics only $2 a piece at an open-air market in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe

The bus ride to Hwange was over an hour and before entering the park we passed through an open casting coal mine – very interesting to see.

Now we have arrived at Kashawe Camp in Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe.  From our front porch we overlook a beautiful view of the rust-colored river valley.  Again, the water level is extremely low.  Hwange National Park is 14,000 square km and the terrain is completely different than the previous game reserve parks we’ve visited.  The terrain here is quite rock and hilly.  The main lodge at Kashawe overlooks the dry river valley and the golden rolling hills and tall bluffs.  When we arrived there were 12 giraffes down in the valley feeding off the acacia trees.  Vitalis proudly refers to this as “African tv.”

Kashawe Camp

My travel companions enjoying the view from the main lodge at Kashawe Camp in Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe

African TV

A few of the giraffe’s we were watching from the main lodge. “African TV” in Hwange.

We all stood in the main lodge and looked out at all the giraffes.  The camp managers, Sally and Ed, requested our attention and introduced us to our game drive guides Mafuka and Thabani and briefed us on the camp’s layout and safety protocol (ie. the medical emergency horns, walking backwards vs turning and running if you encounter an animal, etc).  The current temperature is 98 degrees and Sally explained that this hot dry weather is unusual for this time of the year.   Their rainy season was supposed to have begun by now.  We filled our OAT water bottles before being shown to our tent (Tent 9).

Kashawe Tent

Tent 9 at Kashawe Camp in Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe

On each of our beds was a towel folded up into the shape of an elephant.  Very cute.  As always, our OAT bags were in our room when we arrived.  We only are responsible for carrying any small bags (ie. carry ons).  The room is very comfortable.  I’m going to grab a quick cold shower before walking back to the main lodge at 5:00P for our evening game drive.  When I get there I do want to check out their gift shop.

Hwange Tent

Inside Tent 9 at Kashawe Camp in Hwange National Park. Notice the towels on our beds formed into the shape of an elephant.

9:10P

Our evening game drive took us past scores of vultures perched high up in the trees.

Hwange Vulture

Vulture perched high up in a tree scouting the area.

This is a good sign that there is a lion nearby so we began scouting for the high profile animal.  Unfortunately, we did not find one.  We did, however, stop to watch an entire herd (or properly referred to as an “obstinacy”) of cape buffalo.  There were dozens of them along with some of their young.  It’s funny how they will stand there staring back at you, motionless, the entire time you’re there.  We also saw a few giraffes, a memory of elephants and actually heard a couple of elephants trumpeting in the distance during the picturesque sunset … Ahh Africa!

Game Drive Jeep

Our jeep in Hwanage.

Cape Buffalo

Cape Buffalo staring at us in on our first game drive in Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe

Before dinner, Mafuka was standing at the edge of the bluff, beside two wicker chase lounge seats, that looked down into the river valley.  A few of us walked over and he held one finger up to his mouth and said:  “Shh, there is a leopard out there.  I can hear it calling.”   In my opinion, the leopard call is the most intimidating.  It’s a low and throaty panting grunt.  We stood there listening for a while but did not hear the leopard again.   Sometimes the waiting is the most exciting part.  :)

Right now, I’m propped up in bed at our “tent.”  Dinner was delicious but dessert was even better: chocolate mousse.  Our guides, Mafuka and Thabani, escorted us to our tents bearing rifles.  This is the first time we’ve been delivered to our tents by armed guards.  Apparently, it’s Zimbabwe law.  They did warn us about frequent lion and leopard sittings throughout camp.  Jetting in one direction from the main lodge is the rust-colored dirt path to our tents.  The shorter path to each “tent” is marked by a series of sticks planted into the ground.  The number of sticks marks the tent number to which the path leads.  It was a long walk to our “tent” – Tent 9.  The guides were sure to shine the flashlight into the darkness looking for eyes looking back at us.

Tomorrow morning’s wake-up call is early at 5:00a in order to beat the heat while out game-driving.  I hear lots of sounds outside although, so far, no cats.  Night night!  Don’t let the lions bite!


Trip of a Lifetime: Ultimate Africa: Day 11

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November 13, 2015 – 6:14A

Awake and showered.  Feeling great!  I woke up at 5:30A and laid there for about ten minutes in the cool air with the comforter over me before getting up and putting on my glasses so I could sit outside on our front porch and enjoy the peaceful view of the Kafue River here in Zambia.   I had to wrap myself up in my giant white comforter because it was a bit chilly.  Doesn’t look like we got any rain though.   On the opposite side of the river the trees are beautifully reflected in the water.  I watched a lazy crocodile silently float downstream and listened to the birds.  It was such a relaxing way to start my new day.

I thought more about the people we have encountered here.  They all seem so relaxed and always smiling.  When you return from a game drive, for instance, and they ask you “how was it?” they seem genuinely interested in what you have to say.

I hear some hippos grunting – I think they’re coming from across the river.

Heading to breakfast now.  Our first activity of the day is fishing!  Very excited for this!

1:18P

What a fun day so far!  I wonder what’s around the next corner (maybe another elephant – haha!)

This morning after a nice breakfast of fresh fruit, porridge and pancakes those of us who opted to go fishing got on a small boat and sailed down the Kafue River.  As our guide “Golden” moved up the river looking for a good spot to fish, we saw many animals including various antelopes, birds and, of course, hippos.

Hartebeests

Hartebeests along the Kafue River in Zambia

“Golden” was very patient with us as some of the people in the group had never fished before while the rest of us were, by no means, experts.  Therefore, “Golden” had to repeat his instructions on how to cast a fishing pole several times.  Haha!  We fished from 7:00a till around 10:00a.  “Golden” jokingly said if we don’t catch any fish we don’t eat dinner tonight!  All six of us caught, at least, one fish.  I lucked out and caught eight!  They were all tilapia and catfish.  I was so proud of myself for having caught the most.

Kafue Fishing

My first catch of the day on the Kafue River in Zambia

Tilapia

One of the Tilapia that I caught while fishing in Zambia

The fish we caught were to be cleaned, cooked and served up with tonight’s “traditional dinner.”   It was funny to be fishing and, all of a sudden, you’d see a pair of hippo eyes curiously popping up out of the water.  Some of them even swam closer to our boat.  Very curious creatures.

On the ride back we saw a huge crocodile crawl from the river bank into the water.  What an experience to have gone fishing in Zambia!  How cool is that!

During our fishing expedition the other half of our group was on a game cruise up the Lafupa River.  When we returned to camp they were already there eager to inquire about our luck with fishing.  We all gathered in the main lodge and relaxed on the sofas swapping stories and photos.  It was so much fun.  The lodge also had a nice little gift shop with some very cool stuff.  I was saving my money for the open air market I knew we were going to hit up in Victoria Falls.

While everyone was relaxing, Aryn’s sister Kathryn and I got word that there was an elephant out front so we jumped up, grabbed our cameras and hurried to go see.  This thing was huge.  It was walking along the road into camp eating whatever trees were to its left and right.  It walked from where the jeeps drop us off down to the “boma” just across from the bar.  I captured a great video of the whole experience on my iPhone.  This elephant wasn’t but a few meters from us and we were quickly advised to back up.

Elephant in Camp

Elephant walking by the “boma” at Lafupa Tented Camp in Zambia

Elephant and me

Me with the elephant in our camp in Zambia.

Elephant at bar

What did the bartender say when the elephant walked up to the bar?

The best part was when the elephant tried to walk between two of the buildings, he got stuck and had to back up to get out.  Haha!  So cool to watch.

Elephant booty

Elephant got stuck!

After we ate lunch, Vitalis briefed us on the optional excursions in Victoria Falls and passed around a sign up sheet.  I am opting to do the elephant back safari ride & rhino game drive combo and the helicopter flight over Victoria Falls.  So excited for this!

Afterwards, we were released for our mid-afternoon siesta.  I decided it was time to finally hit the pool and boy what a good decision.  One of the ladies from our group, Rene from Wisconsin, was already there.  The water was absolutely perfect.  It was so nice and cool and exactly what I needed to escape the afternoon heat.  Rene and I talked about previous travel experiences, our life and careers back home and future travel goals when, all of a sudden, here comes this massive elephant (probably the same elephant from before).  The elephant walked right up to a palm tree beside the pool and started eating the branches and leaves.  Right away, a staff member appeared to monitor the elephant.  We all watched, afraid to move or make a sound, and, at one point, the elephant turned and looked directly at Rene and I.  The staff member was standing by a nearby building and came forward and threw two rocks directly at the animal.  It turned its head and walked away from us.  Wow!  That was exciting.  We have all been warned that the elephants in Zambia are more aggressive towards humans due to the country’s history with poaching.  We learned that elephants have incredible memories and are actually able to genetically pass these memories on to their offspring.  So bad memories from the area’s past issues with poaching have been passed along to the current generation of elephants.  Fascinating.

I stayed in the pool for almost an hour.  A giant breeze came through which felt great against my wet skin.  I didn’t even need a towel to dry off.

Now I’m relaxing on the deck of the main lodge looking out at the two rivers.  This place feels like a resort!  The sky is filled with beautiful white billowy clouds.  Perhaps some rain is headed our way?  I feel incredibly relaxed.  Today is Friday the 13th.

2:40P

We are being held up at the main lodge by an elephant loitering around outside the reception area.  I got some great pics and vids of him with his two left feet standing inside the boma.  I guess I’ll have to wait for a while before I can go back to my room to change out of these gym shorts (that I swam in).  This guy seems in no hurry to leave the camp.  Going to get some more pics.

3:11P

I’m sitting on the front porch of our “tent” looking out over the river.  Darker clouds are beginning to roll in and winds are really picking up to the point of creating small, gradual waves upon the river.  The staff is predicting some rain.  The view here is so nice that I don’t want to leave but I’d like to take a quick shower before “high tea.”

9:00P

Before heading out on our evening boat ride on the Lafupa River, one of the staff leaders, Phineas, gave us a brief history lesson on Zambia.  The economically depressed situation of this country makes me so sad.  Sixty percent of Zambia’s population is currently unemployed.  It was also interesting to learn that the average life expectancy is only 47.   This is mostly due to the spread of HIV from infidelity in some marriages.  We also discussed the controversial issue of poaching since it is still a major threat here.  Elephants are killed for their ivory tusks and rhinos for their horns.  So very sad.  All we can do is spread the support of more game viewing vs game shooting for purposes other than food.

On our boat ride up the Lafupa River we saw many hippos and a small crocodile but the majority of the time our cameras are feasting upon the awesome sunset during our “sundowner” cocktails.  I was seated at the bow of the boat with my feet propped up on the railing, taking in the peaceful scenery while drinking a Mosi lager.

Lafupa Game Cruise

Relaxing during our game cruise along the Lafupa River in Zambia

Dinner around the “boma” was fun.  The table tree stumps were from leadwood trees.  Vitalis had me lift one of them to experience just how heavy they are.  Boy was he right!   It was cool eating the tilapia and catfish that we had caught.  Also served, was oxtail soup in a delicious brown gravy, polenta and vegetables.  The tribal entertainment (singing and drums) was awesome.  The staff manager, Natasha, was so nice and wanted a goodnight hug from each of us.  What a fun evening and exciting day overall.  Feeling very tired.  Tomorrow’s wake-up call is at 6:00a.  I’m setting my alarm for 5:30a so I have time to sit on the front porch and enjoy our view of the river.  Night night!

P.S.  I forgot to mention I was bit by a tse tse fly during the evening boat ride.  Damn!   It hurt like hell.  Also, there is apparently a friendly warthog, named “Lulu,” that roams the premises here in camp.  She will actually come right up to you if you offer her food and eat right out of your hand.  I have yet to meet her but Kathryn said she met “Lulu” and she was approachable.  I want to meet Lulu!  I want to take her home.  Her and Louie (my pug) can run around the house snorting together.  LOL  :)


Trip of a Lifetime: Ultimate Africa: Day 10

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November 12, 2015 – 5:48A

Slept great!  Woke up to a beautiful sunrise over the Kafue River as I sat out on our front porch wrapped up in the big white comforter from my bed.  It’s amazing how when you go to bed at night, you hardly need a sheet and when you wake up your pulling the comforter up to your chin.  Very cozy mornings.  As I was watching the sunrise and elephant appeared to my left.  It was walking right through  camp eating whatever tree branches it desired.  LOL.  Too funny.

I love hearing all the various sounds of nature in the early morning.  The shower water was hot and felt great.  Heading to breakfast with Aryn soon.  I enjoy sitting down with everyone around the long community dining table at each lodge. We chat with a hot cup of coffee and whatever breakfast is being served that morning.  OAT has truly done a great job designing this trip.

1:02P

Breakfast was a made to order omelette, oatmeal with yogurt, fruit and muffins.  My favorite fruit with the oatmeal is the papaya or “pawpaw.”  Brunch was a tasty beef and noodle stir fry.  I make sure I stake my spot at the table so I’m facing the view of the rivers.  It’s just so beautiful and so serene.

The Zambian terrain is different: more trees and they are taller.  There are some different tree species as well, one of which is called the Candelabra Tree.  It’s has a tall trunk that blooms out on top in the form of tall cactus leaves.  Very interesting.

Candelabra Tree

Candelabra Tree in Zambia’s Kafue National Park

As we continued on our morning game drive we spotted two female lions (sisters) walking amongst a grove of trees.  Both our jeeps headed towards the lions.  On our way, we caught a quick glimpse of a massive crocodile moving from the grass into the water.  Our guides pulled both jeeps right up to the female lions, turned off the engines and there we sat for the next half hour, watching these magnificent lionesses relaxing in the shade.  I noticed when we pulled up to the lions it was 8:30A and I thought to myself – if I were back home in Akron right now, I would have been at work for a half hour and my team would just be arriving.  But instead, there I sat – watching two wild lions from just a few feet away on a beautiful clear and warm morning in Zambia, Africa.  Wow!

Female Lioness

Female Lioness

Lioness

Lioness heading for he shade.

Two Female Lions

Lioness joining her sister in the shade.

Resting Lioness

Look at the size of those paws. Notice the blood stain on the bottom of her front left paw. She had just made a kill.

Just before lunch we all gathered at the entrance of the main lodge to watch a giant elephant headed our way. He had just entered the camp to snack on some grass followed by leaves from a tall palm tree.  It’s amazing how graceful these animals are considering their mammoth size.  I took a brief video but Natasha was quick to step out of her lodge to warn us to step back and some of the men from the staff appeared and shoo’d the elephant away.

Now I’m sitting at the desk in our “tent” looking out at the Kafue River.  It’s a hot day in the sun but cool in the shade.

2:40P

Resting in our tent to escape the afternoon sun.  I converted my tan Eddie Bauer pants into shorts.  These were a pre-trip purchase btw.  $50 online and shipped in about 8 days.

A puku is walking between trees in the near distance.

The water on the river is shimmering like diamonds.  I may walk to the main lodge soon to enjoy the breeze coming from the water.  I’m also considering taking advantage of the pool (I didn’t think to pack swimming trunks but I can wear my UMASS gym shorts).

I just looked up to see two monkeys staring down at me from one of the trees outside.

“High tea” is at 4:30P today.

9:17P

During “high tea” Vitalis delivered a very interesting lecture on the history of Zimbabwe.  It was cool to learn that Zimbabwe shares a commonality with the United States as being the only two countries to ever break away from British rule.  The US in 1776 and Zimbabwe in 1980,  Their current president is 91 years old and has been in power since the 1960’s.

I hope I’m not jinxing myself by saying this, but I have yet to see a single mosquito.  I have, however, seen what’s called a tse tse fly.  Although I have yet to get bit by one, I hear they are quite painful.  Fastened to the front of our jeep, by aluminum wire, is an empty paint can.  On this evening’s game drive, our group opted for the local insect repellent: a log of elephant dung placed in the empty paint can and lit on fire.  This gives off a smokey incense that, apparently, repels the tse tse flies and other insects.  I was not only surprised how well it worked but that it emitted a pleasant aroma: similar to citronella.

Elephant Dung Can

Elephant Dung smoking in bucket to ward of the tse tse flies

Our evening game drive went into the night.  It’s called “spot-lighting.”  Our guide tonight was “Boyd.”  We experienced two highlights during this game drive.  One was a parade of elephants that walked right across the road in front of us.  Following along right at their feet were these white birds called cattle egrets.  They never left the parade and walked along with the elephants like they were part of the group.  Very interesting.

Elephants and Egrets

Parade of elephants and the cattle egrets following their footsteps.

Our second highlight was one of the most beautiful sunsets I’ve ever seen in my life with fan palm trees in the foreground.  We joined the other jeep and parked to watch the sunset as we enjoyed our “sundowner” drinks.  The guides always have a wonderful selection of ice cold local beer, wine, soft drinks and water.  I had a local Zambian beer called a Mosi lager.

Palm Tree Sunset

At this point the sun has nearly set

Big Zambian Sun

Another view of the sunset

I really enjoyed our conversations tonight over a steak with potatoes and vegetable dinner.  Tomorrow’s wake-up call is at 6A.  That’s “good good” news that we are able to sleep in a bit longer.

P.S.  Laundry service at these camps has been terrific. We receive our washed & pressed laundry neatly folded and tied up in a bow by a long piece of dried grass.  It is sitting out on our beds waiting for us when we return from dinner.  Everything is smelling fresh and well-pressed – including our socks.  I have never in my life had my socks ironed.  How nice!  Thank you to all the wonderful staff (at all three camps) and all their amazing behind-the-scenes work.

Good night!


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