Tag Archives: road trip

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.

*   *   *

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.

Advertisements

2 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

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: 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

The Waterberg Cottage

Reunited with Ingrid we made our way to the Waterberg, an old Boer faming region several hours north of Pretoria. There we stayed in a guest house on a fifth-generation owned cattle ranch.  We covered a whole range of accommodation during this trip: cabana, airport hotel, rock lodge, fancy-tents, tent-tents, and private family housing. 

We arrived a bit late in the evening, but just in time for the evening’s astronomy lecture. One of our hosts, Phil, is a physicist and astronomer. He had great and practical information for astronomy greenhorns. With no light pollution the stars were HUGE

The next day, which was actually my birthday (more on this later), we hung out with the Barber and Calhoun family. Mr. B,  the family patriarch, gave us a tour of the ranch and property.

We heard their history; how their relatives came to the Waterberg and how the land, country and politics have evolved. What an wonderful family. They are kind, generous, extremely open minded and articulate.

Let me say that I know many really really wonderful South Africans. But regretfully, I admit that I have sometimes found myself quick to judge or stereotype some white South Africans as close-minded or racist – but this family proved me so wrong.   How valuable it is to be reminded that it was my own insular limitations that needed to be redefined and judgements that needed reconsideration.

3 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Let the Wild Rumpus Begin

After a week of showing off Vilankulo, Mom, Dad and I flew to Johannesburg to begin the next chapter of our African adventure together. It’s started off on this:

In South Africa we rented a car and hit the road. First destination: Swaziland. This was the prearranged route:

Now, it’s important to recognize the relationship of road-trip travelers and a dependable car. You must bond with the vehicle, and that process starts with a name. Our  red Hondai hatchback was christened Ingrid:

Ingrid was small but mighty.  She served us well on highways, dirt roads, sand paths and the occasional scenic route over unpaved, rocky mountain passes (more on that later). 

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Sorta Kinda Bush Trip

I was all excited because I was to take a few days off of work and go on a bush trip this week. The plan was for me, Andreas and Uli to make four day driving/camping trip into the very rural Mozambican back country all the way through a national park and to the border with South Africa and Zimbabwe.  I felt like I was getting to partake in a rugged boys expedition. My friend Elizabeth said my plans sounded like a scene from The English Patient;  visions of story telling and quoting Herodotus around a campfire.

However, the trip didn’t really work out quite as planned. The first attempt to go was canceled several weeks ago because Uli’s mother passed away back in Germany.  So understandably the trip was postponed. Upon his return, the excursion was rescheduled and we reorganized our provisions and loaded up the car.  

3 1/2 hours outside of Vilankulo, literally as we were passing into no cell-reception zone, Andreas received a text that his son Caspar had a fever.  We stopped for an hour, waiting to hear the results from the Malaria test. It turned out to be negative, but we still decided that we should go back just in case.

We did made one stop before we headed home at a beautiful spot called Banamana.  Drive 35 km northwest of Mabote along a single lane dirt road with tall bushes on either side, then all of the sudden the bush just stops and you’re looking out on an expansive grassland and small marshy pond.

The sky was huge and the clouds were massive and menacing.  The grass was this electric shade of green, and the rarely traversed dirt road bright rusty orange. All that was missing were the herds of zebra and a few elephants.  It was truly beautiful.

Once we got home Caspar’s fever had already subsided and he was feeling fine. A bit frustrating, but I can imagine that it could have been quite stressful for Helga if Caspar had been really sick and we were all out of contact for 4 days.   Anyway, the next day the car was still packed and I had already requested Monday off of work, so Uli and I went out to see some property he’s trying to buy.

The ride was lovely and the site is gorgeous.  It’s a hill top that looks over a flood plain and the Save River. You can see miles up the sandy banks and even a small pod of hippos. We could watch as the clouds and sheets of rain made their way down the valley to the hillside.  There’s no development way out there and only a handful of people. Just a few mud huts in the valley with little paths treaded through small corn plots, bush and grass. 

For entertainment we experienced a series of automotive breakdowns. First,   the car got stuck in a mud hole – with the help of a random man who rode past us on a bike and returned soon thereafter with a shovel, it took about an hour to get free from the sludge.  Then back at the camp site, I noticed a quiet hissing noise coming from the car; flat tire.  The next day when we decided to do some exploratory back road driving – Uli accidently drove over a cement corner stone that was hiding in the grass. We drug the block along with us a few yards, then had to dig it out from under the car. This of course, had pushed one part or another of the undercarriage together. SO, after finally resolving that last issue, we decided that it was time to head back without tempting the African car gods anymore. 

So, I didn’t get to go on our four day bush excursion, but I did get to camp one night and learned a lot about how to jack up a car and position planks behind muddy tires. 

That was how I spent my Saturday, Sunday and Monday.  No Herodotus or campfire jokes, but pleasant conversation. The most interesting revelation of this whole trip however, was that Uli told me that he thought I was 32 until rather recently. Which I guess could be taken as a compliment to my maturity, but really it makes me think that I need to boost my SPF regimen from 70 to 100.

Leave a comment

Filed under Blog posts