Sunday, September 30, 2007

Kids - American vs Zambian

I went with Henry to the Minor Emergency Center so he could get on antibiotics too - as we are headed to Amarillo. We sat in the waiting room and the only things to read were a Kids Directory and a Kids magazine that were both mainly advertisements. There were ads for Princess Birthday parties where everyone could dress up, several companies that offered the blowup activities, special schools beginning for infants (more sophisticated day care), gymnastics, ballet (Russian style - looked like a famous instructor), gymnastic birthday parties, gymnastic classes, bowling birthday parties, drop in babysitting (so parents can have a night out), photography ads, etc. There were lots of bright eyed, happy looking American children.

I suspect some of those birthday party packages could easily cost $200. A Zambian teacher makes about $250.00 per month. In the villages, Zambian babies are ALWAYS with their mothers usually carried on her back - no strollers or car carriers. Sometimes big sister or grandma will be carrying the baby, but since mom has the food, moms are never far away.

A Zambian child lives a much simpler life - no gymnastics, few televisions (most people in the villages do not have electricity) and school may be a long walk (miles!) Toys are fewer and much simpler. Life and death are very real to Zambian children - there are many orphans. But Zambian children seem happy.

Visual and mental stimulation are important in child development, but after seeing the myriad of ads (and remembering all the activities my children participated in), I could not help but wonder if American children are too stimulated and too driven by parents who are only wanting the best for their child and trying very hard to provide that "best".

Could it be that we are overdoing it? Spending time around the orphaned toddlers, their most important need was to be hugged and cuddled. Perhaps American children need more quality time with their families and fewer hectic runs to yet another activity.

Friday, September 28, 2007


We got back to Austin on Wednesday arriving around 11:00 A.M. We got to eat lunch with Jonathan and Debra and then Debra chaffeured me around town - picking up some things, going to the grocery store, etc.

I came home sick - secondary infection related to my allergies. AIr quality in the southern part of Africa is not great right now because for reasons I have not fully been able to define there is a lot of burning going on. They burn the tall elephant grass - sometimes they burn it in strips along the road to protect their land from a fire from someone's cigarette, perhaps they burn it to get their fields ready for planting when the rainy season starts, perhaps they burn the tall grass for security so no one (or wild animals) can sneak up to their house, and sometimes it is an unplanned fire from a careless cigarette. I heard many "reasons" but not just one that fits all what we saw. I also spent time around precious toddlers - many of whom had runny noses. I've been blessed - my allergy meds have kept me very healthy the last several years - so I have not needed antibiotics recently.

Update on the sick babies: When we left Livingstone, our driver was headed to another town where the babies had been in the hospital. They were much better and were going to be transported back to Namwianga! Praise God that they got well enough to return "home."

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Cape Town Morning

The sky is bright blue this morning in Cape Town - and Table mountain has flowers on the slopes that I can see in the distance from the hotel.

In the interior regions during the end of the dry season, for reasons I have not yet been able to discover definitively, people burn a lot of the tall grass, leaving the skies always hazy. This creates beautiful African sunsets, but also obscures the brightest blues of the sky. So seeing the beautiful, clear blue sky today is a blessing.

It is our last day in Africa. So I have mixed feelings. I know we missed a lot of wonderful things in the Cape Town area, but one short morning is also not enough. I can hope we get to come back.

I have many things to blog about that will show up here in my blog over the next few weeks. Our days were long, leaving little time to blog. Also, even when we had internet capability there were bandwith and cost issues.

I will be putting photos from Africa on my website, but there seems to be a transition in software that has occurred at my internet provider for the site. So there may also be a delay as we work out a solution, or design a new website for me.

We still have the drive to the airport. Perhaps we can get a cab to take us a "scenic" route.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Back to the 21st Century

Our last week has been spent in Zambia near Kolomo. Kalomo is a fascinating town - with an open air market, sturdy buildings, schools, and a mix of transportation styles. You can see the big tractor trailer rigs, modern buses, trucks & cars, taxis, bicyles, donkeys, and ox carts. There is also sign language for catching rides. While in the US one puts one's thumb out, Zambians hold their arm out and wave their had up and down. If a car is too full to pick up any more passengers, the driver holds his hand flat and moves it left to right.

Zambians are creative as well with their transportation. I saw two men riding somewhat precariously on top of a load on the trailer of a semi truck. When I asked my driver if the truck driver knew the men were, he assured me the driver knew. It looked dangerous to me . . . but then what do I know?

Housing ranges from brick or concrete structures with metal roofs or thatch roofs, to simple thatch homes. Zambians cook outside on open fires. Women still carry their loads on their heads and their sweet babies swaddled on their backs.

Today we sadly left Namwianga mission and the villages around Kolomo to begin our journey home.

The drive through Livingstone is filled with colonial era buildings and some new construction as well.

But two legs of air flights and we are now on the ground in Cape Town. We've gone from temperatures in the 90's to 53 degrees. Modern buildings, lots of modern cars, expressways (instead of narrow dirt roads disintegrating into cowpaths) . . .
I feel as though I've just emerged from a time warp. It feels like two different worlds.

But I'm going to miss Kolomo and Namwianga.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Thursday, My "Free" Day

Thursday was a day in contrasts.

Linda took me to the market in Kolomo. What an amazing place!

There are a number of vendors who are set up in little huts made of tree trunks and thatch. There were narrow aisles and there was much merchandise available for sale. Men's trousers were hung over the side walls, chatingi material, pots and pans, luggage, underwear, shoes. It was like a trip to the mall - Zambian style. It reminds me of a giant flea market only with very narrow walkways. I was glad I was with Linda, because part of shopping in the market is to haggle over the price. You really need to know what something is worth in Kwatcha's (the local currency).

A newer building houses the fresh food section. There were fresh fruit and vegetables as well as many kinds of dried fish.

We then went over to the buildings and went through many of the shops there.

We had bought a limited number of diet Cokes (called Coke Light here) but he had been using them faster, so we looked for that. Several places had Cokes, but no Coke Light. Each store is relatively small, but filled with things to buy. And each store has a different mix of merchandise. I could have bought another piece of luggage (tempting), greeting cards, thread, beautifully knitted baby clothes (they have a knitting machine in the store), freshly made bread - still warm, 50 kg flour bags, 50 kg mealy meal (white corn meal). One store even sells wholesale in large quantities (think a smaller Sam's Club -where you ask for what you need and they bring it to you.) When we got home, we had slices of that wonderful fresh bread - wonderful!

Before we left town, I took a couple of shots of downtown Kolomo - reminds me a little of small town America.

After a series of mixups as to what time my group was supposed to be where, we finally made it to the hospital in Kolomo. While I had my camera, I did not try to take photos for many reasons. I was going to speak to the women at the women's shelter - think the Zambian version of a Ronald MacDonald house. When you have family in the hospital, someone must go and stay with them to help in their care. Zambians cook outside and they just bring their cookfires with them in metal containers. I walked up to a circle of cookfires and women of all ages - many with babies and children. We held our meeting in a room with a concrete floor and no furniture - sitting on mats Zambian style with our legs stretched out in front of us. I had reworked my lesson on Job adding many scriptures on how God cares for us and how he comforts us when we are going through struggles. I had learned two songs in Tonga - the one I closed with was especially appropriate here - Watching and Waiting. After the lesson, I was greeted so warmly. I had women who wanted to tell me things - I only wish I understood Tonga!

We got back to Linda's house to learn that one of the Harding students had lost her dad . . . The plan for the evening was dinner at one of the houses with the American workers and a devotional by the Harding kids. At first the plans were up in the air, but we continued on the original path. Dinner was wonderful - spaghetti, toasted bread, cucumbers and tomatoes, and apple crisp! When we got to the Hamby house, the Harding kids had surrounded Courtney - and songs, prayers, and scripture flowed freely. Please pray for Courtney - it HAS to be hard to lose your father so unexpectedly and to be so far from home. She will fly back to the States to be with her family. But it was wonderful to see those young people rally around her and sing so beautifully, hold her hands, and surround her with love.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007


The first three weeks of our Africa trip, we were the tourists at the safari camps. And we throroughly enjoyed seeing all the animals that we had only seen in zoos in their natural environment. It was amazing how many new birds I have seen - some similar to the North American cousins, others totally different from anything I've seen in North America.

This week we are at the Mission. It is an impressive place. Started in 1932, it recently celebrated its 75th anniversary. There is a basic school nearby. At the mision are a secondary school 8-12, and a college - both boarding schools. Both are rated among the top schools in Zambia.

There is also an orphanage for babies and children up to two years old. There is a clinic with a physician's assistant who provides medical care. And each summer a group of physicians comes and does an extensive medical clinic for about 10 days. There are plans to build housing for doctors who might be able to come at other times of the year.

I think it will be these precious orphan babies that will haunt me when I return home. They would each come up for attention and wanted to be held and cuddled.

Before I left there were 5 or 6 children sharing the swing with me - all wanting and needing the simple cuddle and pat on the back.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Travel in Africa

We've travelled a lot in the United States. You cross the border and note in your mind that you are now in a different state. It was more important when Henry and I were entering states for the first time.

In Africa there are many countries-each wanting control its own border. At Kazungula four countries meet on the river - Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, and Namibia. Over the last four days we have had gone through 8 immigration stations. On Saturday the 15th we flew to Livingstone where our driver met us. We drove around an hour to get to the Zambezi River. Our driver led us into the immigration office - our departure forms were already filled out - all we had to do was sign them and fill in our passport number. We waited for our small passenger ferry boat to arrive. We then loaded our baggage and were boated over to the immigration area in Botswana.

At Kazungula, there is a major ferry for large trucks. However, there are only two boats that can hold one large truck and a few small cars as well as walk on people. Needless to say the trucks back up. There are also lots of people crossing the border here. They all seem to have big carry sacks - sometimes plastic sometimes materia, usually with handles for easy carrying. When entering Botswana, you go through the immigration office, then you must step in a wet cloth to disinfect the bottom of your shoes. I'm sure it must be effective or they would not make you do it, but I can't help but wonder - we just get back in the car we were in - seems like the germs would still be on the floor board where our feet rested before. Henry seemed to think it was to prevent the spread of hoof and mouth disease - certainly an important endeavor.

The next two nights were spent at Chobe Game Lodge. About 10 minutes up the river by boat is Chobe Savannah Lodge - both owned by the same company. However, when it was time to transfer, one loads up one's baggage and drives to still another river crossing. Once again you enter a small building, fill out a departure form, and an official looks it over and goes STAMP STAMP on your passport and on the form and initials both. Our belongings have been loaded on a still smaller boat and off we go. There were two boat loads of passengers making this move.

We reach a spot on the opposite shore. The boatman points up a hillside and says we need to go up there. Mind you, there is NO building in sight. Here we are, eight people trudging up the hill, having no idea where we are going - hoping our baggage is safe back at the boat. Finally we see a small building, yes, it IS a customs building - looks like it is also part of the Impala Conservancy. It was interesting to note the posters on the walls. On one side were beautiful posters with photos of the animals - elephants, giraffes, impalas, etc. On the other wall were two photos with what looked like unexploded ordinances - with instructions in German(? ) - don't touch, notify the authorities! We have our forms stamped, our passport stamped and back down the hill to the boats. Nearby is a wonderful stork rookery. I've only put the 28-105 lens on the camera but that was close enough to get some fairly decent stork nesting photos.

About 30 minutes later we arrive at Savannah Lodge for two great nights.

Today we left Savannah Lodge. Anja had filled out most of the Namibian and Botswana forms for us. We went to still another different immigration station - up a very deep sandy hill - I felt I was back in the sand dunes as my feet sunk down in the deep sand. Soon we were stamped out of Namibia and on our way again. Once again there were other people waiting for the boat - this time with buckets and basins of dried fish - complete with flies. Back into the boat and off we go again . . . this time I recognize the Botswana station - we've been to this one before - on our way to the Savannah lodge. One of our other new friends said I must be sure to look at the poster on the right hand wall. (We had discussed with them the posters of the animals and landmines) Gentleman in his living room watching TV - thinking about a girl and sex - with the strong recommendation that masturbating was a good thing (and if you are trying to combat HIV . . . ) Our baggage was transferred to a safari vehicle and driven to the next Botswana immigration station to check out of Botswana. We'd been to this one when we FIRST entered Botswana. We did not have to touch our shoes this time going out. Back onto the small boat ferry - we are greeted by the Wild Horizon transport people and we are loaded onto a small bus this time. We wait a little bit for another couple of passengers. Our driver takes our passports and checks us back into Zambia. He calls to check if we have a Visa waiver from our guest house - we didn't, but then again, we'd already paid the $100 visa fee - so we can come into Zambia for three years without having to pay it again.

Whew! I was smart enough to bring water . . . I drank most of it along the way!

We'll be in Zambia almost two weeks - so we won't have to go through immigration for awhile.

Sunday, September 09, 2007


Wake up call 5:30 A.M.

Board safari vehicle 6:00

Dawn over Chobe

The lion family

All the other people watching the lions

The Boat Cruise on the Zambezi- Croccodiles, Elephants, Hippos, and Birds

Tea Time

The Leopard

The last time they saw a leopard was two or three weeks ago. At first he was very hidden behind a sturdy bush, but right at the end he climbed a tree and gave us a good look.

And on the way back to the room after supper I saw a lion walking along the sandy river edge - fortunately on the other side of the big fence.

Saturday, September 08, 2007


This is the first internet since Lusaka- at $6.00 per 30 minutes.

I have so many blogs about things we've seen and experienced. I plan to take time and do a lot of blogs when we get home. But for now . . .

I messed up in Lusaka and got us to the airport very early in the morning and our flight was not until afternoon. The good news about this was that I got the airport routine figured out so that when our missing bag arrived, I was able to be in the baggage pickup area and get it before we flew to the next lodge. We spent most of the day in the airport. It was fascinating watching all the people. There were women in soldier and police gear, women in native dress, women in business outfits, women carrying babies swaddled on their backs. We met one family that was seeing off the matriarch. This lady works as a nurse in London but comes home to Zambia every year to spend a month with her family. Her daughter, her two daughter's-in-law, three grandchildren and perhaps a son spent time with her in the airport before she flew off. One of the customs for international flights is for the family to climb the stairs and watch until the person is out of sight. Our flight to Mfuwe (only a hint of an m with fooey) was late because there were passengers flying in from Livingstone on a flight that was running an hour late. When I was getting my lost bag, I was worried about how close the time was to check in for the next flight. No need to have worried - I had PLENTY of time.

The Luangwa River Lodge was great. It is a small lodge - only houses a maximum of 10 guests. Most of the time there were only four of us. Our guide was James (pronounces Jims). Because we got there late, we were whisked to the night drive - so no time to dig out the camera gear. The highlight that night was a leopard and cubs feeding on an impala the mom had killed and drug up high in a tree. We got back to the lodge driving through the river. Dinners were delightful - served on the grass under the stars near the river bank. More later . . .

Today was "moving" day. We left Luangwa River Lodge - were driven to Mfuwe airport - flew to Lusaka. We got off the plane - went back through check in and flew the same plane to Livingstone. We were met and whisked into a car to head for Chobe. First mistake - ALWAYS go to the bathroom before you leave the airport. (Made the same mistake when I first arrived at Mfuwe - we went straight from airport to night drive - more about my bathroom stop there later) Also- make sure you take time and get some bottled water. Also check on lunch . . . we totally missed it today. We were driven about 40 minutes to the Zambezi river crossing - also a border crossing. Then we waited briefly for the boat that would ferry us over. Then we cruised the river shortly waiting for the car for the lodge. Then we waited for the other two passengers (they never showed) I asked about bottled water and a bathroom and just got the same directions about immigration . . .Good thing I did not need to go badly. But we were getting thirsty.

Finally he gave up on the other passengers. We went through immigration which includes getting the bottom of your shoes disinfected. We then drove another 30 minutes to get to the lodge. We were hot, thirsty, and tired. But once again, we were greeted with those heavenly cold cloths. Our greeter got us some of the snacks for tea time and some cold lemon ice tea - once again heaven. Our room is AIR CONDITIONED!!!! It is hot here so that is a blessing. Henry chose to stay in the room while I took a short sunset river cruise - elephants everywhere!

Supper was Mongolian stir fry - great food.

So . . . I'm caught up for now. More details and photos to come later.

Monday, September 03, 2007


The wakeup call tomorrow is scheduled for 5:15. We'll get up grab what little stuff we have with us (The big clothes bag stayed behind in Johanesburg courtesy of South African Airways) and take the taxi at 6:00 to get to the Lusaka Airport to catch the 8:00 flight to Mfuwe. The first flight from Johanesburg that could bring our baggage arrives at 9:00.

Namibia was WONDERFUL. Sossusvlei Mountain Lodge was luxurious and beautiful. We saw oryx, spring bok, Bat eared foxes, rock rabbit, Namaqua quail, koorhens, Cape Sparrows, Sociable weavers, and Lappit Faced Vultures. We got to go to Sesriem and Sossusvlei National Park and see the biggest dunes in the world along with the hike to the Dead Vlei area where the beautiful dead trees are.

The next camp was at Wolwedans - which means dancing wolves. Our lodgings were a very lovely tent on a wooden platform with the opening facing the sunrise. We were brought a thermos of hot water every morning so we could enjoy the sunrise from our tent's porch.

The staff and food at both places were outstanding. Photos to come later.