Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Kruger Park

A friend is leaving Moz soon and asked if I'd go with her to Kruger Park for her last hurrah. We left Maputo early in the morning and arrived at the gate a couple of hours later. The first thing we saw were some really scrawny warthogs. Apparently they are the first to starve during a drought because they eat roots.
As we moved along we began seeing impalas--they are a dime a dozen. I learned some interesting things about impalas. They all give birth at the same time at the beginning of the rainy season, Nov-Dec. If it does not rain, they can delay giving birth for 1-2 months! (I can just imagine them wanting desperately for it to rain.) If it does not rain by then, they give birth, but kill the young so that they don't have to starve to death.
We saw lots of giraffe and zebras. Giraffe are so interesting - God really got creative when he thought them up.

This ugly bird was up close. He turned at the last minute, I guess he wanted a profile shot.

Elephants were quite abundant as well as the hippos off in the distance. We saw several rhinos. One was running alongside the car. It seemed he wanted to cross the road so we stopped and he ran right in front of us. Better than running into us! Sadly my camera is slow to shoot and I just got his back side. Later we saw a big male lion trying to drag or chew on a dead rhino. According to another observer, some lions killed the rhino a couple of days earlier and were standing by to make sure no one else took it. Occasionally they came out for a snack. We saw lions several other times, but usually at a distance. The binoculars came in handy.

My friend really wanted to see a leopard as that is the one animal of the Big 5 that she has not seen. The Big 5 are lion, buffalo, rhino, elephant and leopard. I'm not sure who made that designation or why. I enjoy the other animals as well. We went on a sunset drive and I'm always impressed by the knowledge of the guides. They pointed out a hyena and talked of how hyenas love to eat bones. Their dung is actually pure white and other animals eat it as their calcium tablets! These guys were tired after being out all night.

When it got dark on the safari, we shone lights to see if we could spot any eyes. Sure enough, there were some big ones in a tree. The guide figured out that it was a spotted genet, a cat-like animal that is actually related to the mongoose. It had a black and white ringed tail, very unique. We also saw some bushbabies that jump like kangaroos and sail through trees like squirrels only farther.
Sorry I can't take credit for these last two pictures. My camera isn't that good. I got them off the web.

Whenever I'm at Kruger I know I'm only seeing a small part of what is really there. It is an amazing place and awesome to think that most of Africa used to be inhabited by these animals. Kruger is a really big place - as big as a small country! We could continue to visit there many times and not see it all.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Spring in Mozambique

Here we are again in Mozambique. We have returned to Spring where some days are cool (73) and some are hot (95) and that might all be in the same week. Sometimes there is wind and thunder but there has been very little rain since we left. Hopefully the coming wet season will produce adequate rain. Here are some of the beautiful jacaranda trees we see these days.

We returned to our housemates who have been keeping our place guarded and clean and the Rottweiler, Wally, well fed and bathed. It’s been a big job with him as the tick season is in full swing and ticks are everywhere. Apparently they were even climbing up the walls of our house! It’s pretty amazing because we hardly have any dirt, it is mostly a concrete drive with a little strip of dirt beside it and a couple of flower beds. They had been trying special shampoos and everything else and nothing worked. Steve looked it up online and found out that oil kills ticks. So he found some second grade coconut oil and the Saturday project began. First they covered Wally head to toe with oil and let it soak for a couple of hours. Then they began picking off hundreds of ticks and it took several hours. Wally just laid there patiently and at one point he even went to sleep! He has not been too happy lately and we can see why. He has a lot more energy now.

M&Y have wanted to learn to play some card games and we have had fun teaching them Uno, Crazy 8s, Rook, Rummy. They catch on fast and laugh a lot. It’s a good way to pass an evening. They are also diligently trying to learn English and the book I brought them that teaches English using Spanish is rarely out of their sight. They have been around the circle a couple of times trying to work on visa issues and we hope something will work out for them.

Steve is working daily on the challenges of selling coconut oil. People who sampled it at the commercial fair loved it but the price was set low to get samples out and now when they see the real price they are balking. They don’t understand why a local product costs almost as much as olive oil which comes from Europe. What they don’t understand is that the costs of containers for a small operation along with import duties to bring them in from SA are very high. If we want to have a sustainable business, we have to have some margin as well. Mozambicans do pay high prices (for unhealthy things like alcohol or candies), but if they can get something cheaply they will go that route. The education on the health benefits must be ramped up but all of that takes time, effort and money. Sometimes I think it would be easier to outsource it all and sell it online to people who already know about the product. If you have not heard one of Steve’s spiels, you can go to www.kokonutpacific.com.au and learn all about coconut oil.

At work we were encouraged to hear how the LifeWinds lessons went while we were gone. These are moral value Bible studies that are taught in an interactive way in a small group with role play, small group discussion and other adult learning techniques. We have used them with our microenterprise course and asked to use them during devotions at WR. People were enthused at what they learned, the chance to ask questions and discuss things as a group. Many of them remembered topics and specific discussion from weeks back. It was an affirmation of what we have experienced with this method of adult teaching. We are getting ready to start a study on the book of Acts using the same method.

Yesterday I connected with a group of women who get together once a month and speak Spanish. It was great to meet people from all over the world, chat, eat ethnic foods, and plan activities for the future. It is really fun to speak Spanish and not worry that I am messing up (as I do in Portuguese) and to find other people who are fluent in Portuñol! Two of the women I met are photographers who have set up a business selling photos and cards. You can see some of their beautiful photos of Mozambique and S Africa at www.pictureperfectconcepts.blogspot.com (sorry I can't get my linker to link so just paste it into your browser, it's worth it).

There's more to tell you, but we don't want to wear you out so we'll keep it for another time. Perhaps if we would write more often these entries wouldn't have to be so long...