Tag Archives: adventure

Jofane Camping Trip

One of my newly announced goals is to be more adventurous. Yep, I’m trying to embrace life and jump right in – meaning I’m making a real effort to actually leave my cabana for more than work and the occasional market run.

Outing #1:  Jofane Camping Trip

I made for the hills and joined my friends Uli,  Berkhart, and Roz for a long weekend.  Uli has a little plot of land that overlooks the Save River (pronouced sah-veh) where he is planning on building a lodge. Until that day, we get to camp outside in the wilderness. Roz and I shared a tent and the guys were very brave and slept outside with just a mat and a mosquito net.

Basically we spent the whole weekend sitting around and enjoying the expansive view.  We hiked down to the river to find the local pod of hippos and stomped around snake country for several hours, braving giant spiders, their equally creepy webs, and befriending one local little boy who wanted to be our guide.

Turns out that our “guide” didn’t really know where to go either.  Everything was really overgrown and after a few hours we only found one vantage point that looked suspiciously like a crocodile entrance,  so we gave up and turned around. (Adventure does not have to include wrestling crocs.)

Everything, from the night-glow purple lilies in the swamp to the golden orb spiders hanging above the trail,  is just a bit bigger and more impressive in the bush – totally worth leaving the cabana to see.


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Reevaluting Comfort Zones

I was recently asked by my friend Sarah Branigan to answer some questions about new beginnings for her blog. The questions weren’t particularly hard – I was not expected to discuss my greater opinions on the universe or life but her questions sparked a lot of internal reflection on my year’s goals as well as several long conversations with friends.

One key question really threw me for the loop:what are some of the things you are hoping to begin this year?”  I found myself overwhelmed and somewhat disappointed in myself when I realized that many of my goals for 2011 were more about re-starting or re-focusing instead of starting from scratch and conquering new ambitions. Finally I responded to Sarah’s questions several weeks later than planned, humbled but with a greater understanding of what I plan to start this year. You can check out my answers and her blog here.

While my new goal of being more adventurous was still fresh on my mind, I found myself being critical of certain peoples’ seemingly total disinterest in leaving their comfort zones. I, all high and mighty, passed judgment on that their distant, safe, routine-filled lives… until I came to a shocking realization, that I myself might be living in a foreign land but I am just as inclined to fall into routine, socialize with the same group of people, and find comfort in the privacy of my cabana. In fact, I tend to be a reclusive home buddy, preferring to stay home to read and paint instead of partying and making lots of new friends. Just because I am living abroad does not necessarily mean that I am any more active in challenging the boundaries of my comfort zone.

With appreciation for the perspective, inspiration and self-evaluation that her inquiries sparked I offer full apologies to anyone (cough, cough … you know who you are) that I may have said some harsh things to. 


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Last Minute Adventures with Courtney & Sarah

It’s funny how eminent departures can act as catalysts, moving things forward with a sudden immediacy that often prompts the question, Why did we not do this more often!?

October was a whirlwind of activity and the 31 day countdown for Sarah and Coutney before they left Mozambique. I am (or I guess I should say was) neighbors with Sarah and Courtney,  two Peace Corps volunteers who just finish their 2 year placement, and  even though it was not me preparing to leave the country,  my weekends were spent participating in their big pre-departure adventures and events.

With a limited amount of days the desire for free-time was tossed out the window, and instead dates were scheduled, big parties were planned and opportunities to travel were taken. Not that these options hadn’t always  been available beforehand, but suddenly  it was time to fit it in all those last minute experiences.

So as the girls wrapped up their service, it offered a good opportunity for me to evaluate all the should-have, could-have and would-haves one year into my time abroad.

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This is how I spent my October…

At the beginning of the month we took a road trip to Gorongosa National Park. There we happened to meet and hang out with Gregg Carr, the American entrepreneur who has taken on the task of revitalizing the park and bring it back to it’s former pre-civil war glory. He and Vasco, the head of tourism for the park, inspired us with their passion and vision for the project.  We went on a game drive the first day then climbed Gorongosa Mountain and swam under the waterfall the next.  You can read more about Gorongosa’s interesting history and our trip on Sarah’s blog here and Coutney’s blog here.

We invited several colleagues over for a big cross-cultural taco meal and they shared their stories about Mozambican Sex Ed – a lecture that we had been curious about for some time.

Apparently,  when Mozambican females are teenagers their mothers will sit them down and give them advice on “how to keep your man” and other notes on life.  It was a hilarious and enlightening dinner conversation.

We had drinks and another bon-voyage dinner at the local backpackers hostel, Zombie Cucumber

The house next to our compound often has late night parties that keep me up at all hours of the night. Finally, I decided that if I was gonna be up, I might as well be at the party. So Sarah and I made good on their invitation to stop by. Of course, Sarah subsequently flirted, offended and then got thrown out by the host. It was pretty funny!

Also, with all the packing-jitters in the air I needed to stay busy myself,  so I finally took the opportunity to go diving at the local 2 Mile Reef and…

When the stress was just too overwhelming, I decided we all needed to take a break and a deep breath. Moreover we really needed coffee and chocolate, so we hopped in the car and wentThen early on a Saturday morning, bags packed, car loaded, pets kissed – I drove them 16 km out to Pambara and they caught the bus heading south out of town. 

Now the end of November is drawing very close and I have drug my feet in posting this blog entry. Courtney and Sarah have since moved out of their house, closed their service in Mozambique, and have headed off on their separate travel plans. Life in Vilankulos got suddenly very quiet with their departure but the pause is only momentary.  Soon a new volunteer will arrive and I will be responsible for showing her the ropes as they did for me. I will certainly miss them– their company and friendship has been invaluable since my arrival in this distant little African town.


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Ze Holga

I’m off on a roadtrip adventure this weekend. Courntey, Sarah and I are venturing north to Gorongoza National Park for the long  weekend. The park is in process of revitalization – trying to bring back animals and set up some infrastructure for tourism. I hear that it’s quite overgrown and most animals haven’t ever seen people! Should be exciting to see how wild it actually is.

Until I get back, I thought I’d offer some photos from my Holga. Christopher was amazingly generous and lugged my film back to the US and even developed it for me. Here are a few of the digital copies: 

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Last Minute Adventure in Jo’Berg

After two weeks on the road with my parents and Ingrid, we made full circle and spent our last day together in Johannesberg. We stayed with family friends, visited, repacked and did laundry.

Of course, adventure had not given up on us quite yet. Early the next morning, we loaded the car up and started off towards the airport.  I was using dad’s iphone GPS to guide us, but  somewhere along the way perhaps I got a bit confused and the map led us to a train station in downtown Johannesburg. Ooooops.  Then of course, running an hour late, the iphone battery died, the two maps were no help and no one on the street seemed to want to offer directions. 

Full of adrenaline and pre-flight jitters, dad displayed  some heroic traffic maneuvering and got us back on the right track.

Airport goodbyes are always hard, especially when you don’t know when you’ll see your family next.  Christmas? Maybe, but probably not (good thing we celebrated in July).  There is no graceful way to express the depth of my love and appreciation for my parents,  and absolutely no possibility of maintaining any composure when faced with the acknowledgement of eminent distance.  So, with teary eyes, a few big hugs and too much to say – dad pushed me through to security and on my way back to Vilankulo. 


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Botswana Border Cross

We made it to the Botswana border and temporarily left Ingrid under a big tree full of monkeys.  This is where we found our next adventure.

I think the space between two border posts is very an interesting and curious phenomena. Normally there is just a gate or fence that separates two countries’ official border posts, but sometimes there is a gap of land a kilometer or so between passport stamping stations.

Where are you officially in that time/space paradigm? Are you the responsibility of where you just came from or of where you’re heading?

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Anyway, the space between the border posts at Pontdrift was particularly worthy of note. First we abandoned our car under a tree outside of the South African border post but we were not quite in Botswana yet. Then we walked to unimpressive corrugated structure  where an old rusty cable car (the size and shape of a cage) awaited.  Luggage went first, trusting that someone on the other side is going to protect it for us.  Then when the next cage showed up, we hopped in, clanged the door shut and floated across a brown muddy river (imagining crocs just waiting underneath for an easy meal). 

Then we were in Botswana. 

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Thanda Tula means Love the Quiet

After venturing over the mountain pass we finally

We were so well taken care of at Thanda Thula. Our mornings started early with game drives with our guide Kenneth.

We saw all of the Big Five, including one particular

After a veritable breakfast feast and we’d go for a bush walk. Kenneth, armed with a big riffle, would lead us around pointing out different plants and tracks.  I can’t say that we’d be well equipped to survive in the wilderness alone, but it did stir the embers of adventure. 

There are so many facts to learn and I often feel that perhaps I missed my calling as a naturalist or at least an eccentric museum tour guide. However, I shamefully admit that I am the type of person who wants to touch and collect all the stones, bones and feathers I find.

There was one particular

All of the staff was incredibly gracious. When I was clumsily attempting to learn a few greetings in the local language Shangaan, Nomsa wrote up a list of words and expressions I might want. I can’t say I ever had a proper opportunity to say “Another elephant please!” but with Nomsa’s list, I could if I needed. 

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After three days it was time to move on to the next stop. We loaded up the car at 4:30 AM and drove north to the Botwana border (avoiding all scenic mountain passes).

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