Saturday, March 3, 2007

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Boo hoo. Last day in Zimbabwe. I'm so sad to be leaving. This has been the most amazing experience. After a short drive to the airport, we flew from Vic Falls to Johannesburg. Five hour layover in Jo-Burg, then on to JFK. Hilary's mom and sister picked us up at JFK, then it was a 3 hour or so drive to Albany. Mom met us and drove me home. It's wild to be back in Saratoga. I can't wait to go back. I have made some amazing friends on this trip and I'm planning on making this an annual trip.

Some of my favorite memories...the children...

...Pumping water from the well...

...Carrying water on our heads (and realizing there was no WAY we could remove our hands from that bucket, let alone carry a baby on our backs like the women of the village do!)

Riding on the back of the truck to the village....

John and Cindy with the children....

The women dancing....

The children singing....

Friday, March 2, 2007

Friday, February 23, 2007

It was wild sleeping in an open room, listening to the sounds of insects and other animals, and hearing the drum beats in the distance. Simon's family kept an all night vigil in his honor. There was singing throughout the night.

Woke up early to get ready for the day. The children were arriving at school at around 8. Spoke to a young boy, Levis, who was one of the first to arrive. Cute kid.

At about 8:30 we started off toward Simon's homestead for the ceremony. How impressive. We were invited to enter Simon's hut, where he was lying, to show respect to the elders in the hut. The women were singing, and we joined in their dances, both inside and outside the hut. There were several prayers, then the ceremony moved toward the burial area behind the homestead. There was a lot of symbolism that we're still researching. Some people put sticks in the grave, there were 4 tree branches placed at each corner of the grave, we each threw a handful of dirt on the grave. I felt so honored to be a part of this.

The rest of the day was spent preparing food for the feast. We shredded about 12 heads of cabbage. Soup, cabbage, biscuits were all prepared by the women in the village. A cow was sacrificed for the villagers to have some meat. They hadn't had meat in quite some time.

We gathered for the final celebration luau, each of us reporting on the projects we had worked on. I really enjoyed the celebration. At around 5, we started serving the food. Grade zero children (similar to kindergarten) went first, followed by the other grades, then the elders and people of the village followed. All went smoothly. The children were so hungry by that time that they were looking exhausted. I wish we could have fed them earlier.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Well, I woke up before the alarm. I had a few pesky mosquitos that kept me awake. There's nothing like that buzzing in your ear! It was such a neat view as the sun was coming up. What a great place.

Had a nice hot shower in my plush bathroom, then wandered along the boardwalk through the trees to a light breakfast of toast and tea.

Started out on the first drive at 6:30. Saw tons of animals: giraffes, zebras, buffalo, wildebeasts, elephants, several species of antelope, lots of birds. We came back to the camp for breakfast, then got ready to head out for our final drive back to main camp, about 3 hours. Took tons of pictures and some video. What a great day. I will definitely come back here.

Got back to the Guest Paradise Lodge in Vic Falls at about 4. There had been some sad news. Simon, the village chief, had passed away at 4AM. Some of the team was out shopping with the family to gather food, blankets for burial, and a casket. There will be a funeral ceremony tomorrow.

Had a quick dinner, then packed for our overnight in the village. This is going to be an experience. We'll be sleeping on cots in the library:

Here are the bathrooms. The one on the right is for staff.

We prepared some food for the teachers, then joined them around the campfire for jokes and stories. It was nice getting a chance to talk to Spaeeway, the grade one teacher, and several others.

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Oh my GOD! Just checked in to Makalolo Lodge for my safari. This place is unbelievable. I can't describe this. The safety talk was an eye opener. We must be escorted back to our tents by an armed guide, because of the animals, of course! And...only blow the airhorn in an emergency - like if there's an animal scratching on the tent - yikes! I'll write more about the trek in here and all we saw....I'm off now to trek #2 with Raymond, the guide. Ooohh! Thunder. I love it!


Oh my. This bed is the MOST comfortable bed that I have ever been in. I feel like Ernest Hemingway here. Just finished dinner and drinks with Mary Ann, the hostess, and Raymond, our guide. Dinner: rice, veggies, rolls, blue cheese on puffed pastry, and salad. Dessert was tasty, too, and a nice white wine. The insects are INSANE right now. Went over to the campfire to finish our wine. *Funny story of the day: a GIANT clicker beetle landed in my wine. Huge. Immense. At least 3 inches long. A baby praying mantis fell in my tea earlier, but that's another story. I rescued both the mantis and the clicker.

Holy crap. Something just snorted outside my tent. I turned off my light and I can't believe how dark it is.

So the day started with a 9:30 pickup. It was 2/12 hours to the main camp, where we met our handsome guide, Sasha. Really good guide. The drive in to the Makalolo camp was 3 hours. I spotted the first animals, 3 sable antelopes. Quite beautiful. Saw a 17-year-old or so elephant zebras, birds, warthogs, baboons, wildebeasts, hippos, impalas, Jesus (no I didn't see Jesus) I think I just heard a lion roar. Ohmigod. I'm thinking I should turn off the light. It's attracting bugs. Getting up to see what the roar is. Yikes. back in bed. I almost landed out on the boardwalk out there with the beasts. I leaned against the tent and thought I was going to fall out! More later. Roooarr.

So it turned out that the roarer was a rather large elephant who was having a late night snack next to my tent. It was very cool. He(?) drank some water from the swimming pool, then walked toward my tent to snack. He chomped around the tent, then moved along. Mark mentioned that he heard him lurking around his tent and he looked around for his emergency horn, "just in case". What a fantastic day. Alarm is set for 5 AM

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Worked in the clinic all day. What a great day. Saw many patients who were suffering from headaches, probably caused by dehydration. All of the people were so happy to have someone there to treat them. It was a very rewarding day.

Distributed peanut butter, bread, and juice to the children. Was able to take a picture of Admire, the child that my students are sponsoring.

Left the village at 5 to head back to the lodge.

Went to The Boma for dinner. It was quite fun! We had the face painter come around and paint everyone's faces. Quite funny. The drummers were amazing. After a wonderful dinner, we all received drums and were taught how to play. What a riot. Later, Mary, Hilary, Nana, Miranda, and I got up to dance, which was a hoot. Had my 'fortune' read by the bone guy. He tossed around some broken nut shells and told me I would find love in Zimbabwe. Quite the story.

Monday, February 19, 2007

First full day in the village! Up at 6:15 for breakfast, and then loaded up the trucks with supplies.

Set up the clinic and figured out who was going to do what. Miranda and I set up our little station in the back room of the clinic, and we saw 35 patients. Busy! No time for water! The children were all so good. They're so dehydrated and sick that they don't even complain. One little 6th grade cutie was so polite and well-spoken. She gave me a big hug. Her name is Bibiana. Here she is:

Hilary kept the children busy while they were waiting their turn, singing the frog song and the duck family song. I think I'll have those songs in my head forever! She did such a great job, I think I see preschool teacher in her future!

Mark, Nana, and Cindy2 kept the patients flowing through the clinic and saw many interesting cases.

Tonight we went on the Mighty Zambezi for a lovely sunset cruise. We were able to watch some hippos "manufacturing" - a new term.

Sunday, February 18, 2007


What a day! The day started off with breakfast at the lodge at 7 - eggs, tomatoes, juice, toast, oat bran (I'm actually eating cereal!) Headed to the village at 8:15. Our first stop was at Simon's house, the village chief. He is very ill, but was able to sit up and greet each one of us. What an honor it was to meet the village chief and shake his hand! After we each greeted him, we stood outside his hut and sang our "We are marching" song.

Next, we headed off to 5 or 6 churches (no, the roofs did not crumble), all different denominations. What an experience. At each one, we were impressed by their voices. SO beautiful. We sang our song at each church (either "We are Marching" or "You are mighty"). Nana talked me into breaking from the group on "Mighty" (which was really quite fun) and I really got into it at the last church with "Marching". While this was NOT a religious mission, the people in the village have a very strong faith, and they were honored that we took the time to go to each of their services.

We took some pictures with some of the children, then headed into Victoria Falls for a tour and shopping. The falls were AMAZING. Saw many rainbows! Baboons were out. VERY cool. Wandered over to the Zambian side to watch a couple guys bungee jump, then headed to do some shopping in the open market. CRAZY! It was way too overwhelming. Way too many people selling their stuff.

Tonight we went to the Safari Lodge down the road to have dinner. We watched some water buffalo grazing. NEAT.

I'm tired! Early morning tomorrow for the first full day at the village!