Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Hiking with Robin Pope in Zambia (3)

There’s a lot of world to see, and we never intended to repeat a trip. The Robin Pope camps are so exceptional that – we made an exception. The very next year, we are back in Zambia, and eager – we are going hiking with Robin Pope himself.

Who is Robin Pope? He is a native African, and a staunch Zambian. He knows so much about wildlife that he probably doesn’t even know how much he knows. He is quietly and dryly funny. He started guiding as a very young man, and then, together with his wife Jo, began building a very particular kind of tourist experience. When you reach the Robin Pope camps, Nkwali, Nsefu and Tena Tena, you become like family. Well, family who live very luxuriously – the cabins are large and spacious, and beautifully appointed, with fine linens, mosquito netting, shelves, toiletries, all the comforts – a million miles from anywhere.

Each camp holds only a very limited number of campers, supported by enthusiastic and knowledgeable staff. They grow their own vegetables, or buy from local farmers. They employ people from the nearby villages. Black and white people work together equally.

One of the things we were able to do was to visit Kawazaa village, to visit the schools re-built and supplied by Robin Pope Safaris, to visit the local clinic, to visit with local villagers. We can’t wait to go back. The second trip, we bring one big suitcase full of school supplies – calculators, books, paper, pens, pencils . . . it was fun for us to find these things, having met the students who would use them, and the teachers who would benefit by having resources. Everywhere we go, we have to sign a book – the villagers get specific monetary credits for every visitor they entertain.

There are six of us who will trek with Robin Pope, and we meet in the Land Rover that picks us up at Mfuwe International Airport. I love that name – don’t you just see big jets flying in and out? In reality, it is a tiny little airport, handling only small planes. There is one small arrivals gate and one equally small departures gate. Because it also gets an occasional flight from Malawi, it can call itself “international.” We arrive at Nkwali, enchanted once again to find the hippo pod right under our window.

Lunch – how do they do it? Fish cakes with lemon mayonnaise, leek quiche, potato salad, avocado salad, green salad, cheesy corn rolls and butter, finishing with coffee and tea.

On our game drive the next morning, Jacob takes us out to see Thornicroft giraffe, and we see lots of elephants and baby elephants, and a herd of over 300 buffalo. After lunch, it is hot and we fall into a dead sleep, awakening in time for our afternoon game drive which starts with a boat ride across the river.

And what a boat ride! The hippos have spread out, and we THINK we are safely past when one of them lunges at the boat, missing us by a thread.

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Thank God, it is hot for another hour, as we are all totally soaked, but also energized by the huge jolt of adreneline shooting through our veins at escaping unhurt from that lunging hippo. On our drive, we see leopard, genet cats, civet cats and a great big lumbering porcupine.

We have dinner down by the river, under the stars, with napkins folded like guinea fowl. It starts with spinach soup, and then there is pork tenderloin, pumpkin, mange-tout peas, cauliflower with a cheese sauce, lentils and for dessert, butterscotch pie. Somehow, we manage not to gain weight – we can’t figure out how.

October 23, 2006 Posted by | Adventure, Africa, ExPat Life, Lumix, Travel, Zambia | | Leave a comment

Amazing Race Kuwait: Dying Laughing

The funniest part of all is watching the contestants on the Amazing Race Kuwait trying to find Souk Soulabiyya. The funniest thing of all is watching them look at the maps and say “it isn’t on here!” No kidding!

The coolest thing of all the the gracious people who help, even dropping their own errands to lead them in the right direction.

And the most amazing to me, is that one member of each team had to climb up the outside of the Kuwaiti water towers – holy smokes. Even those who had a terrible fear of heights were determined to make it. I was in awe of how they faced their fears and prevailed.

But oh, watching them try to navigate the roads – dying laughing! If you don’t laugh, you’re gonna cry.

Thought I had published this last night, but found it this morning in drafts. Drat!

October 23, 2006 Posted by | Adventure, Cross Cultural, Kuwait, Travel | 2 Comments

First Frost

The light frost was already evaporating when I took this photo, early Sunday morning.
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October 23, 2006 Posted by | Lumix, Photos, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Clash in the Work Place

Forbes has an article on the newest clash of generational working styles. More traditional bosses and managers still prefer a lot of face-to-face contact for creating and solidifying deals, and are mystified by the “Gen Y” tendency to sit in a cubicle and communicate by SMS.

An excerpt:

“The recent crop of grads, those born in the early 1980s, aka Generation Y, has marched boldly into the workforce over the past four years. They’ve brought with them a set of technological tools that makes fax machines, voice mail and spreadsheet software look positively quaint. They’ve grown up with scanning, text messaging and Googling, and they’re not about to stop once they’ve hit the working world.

Nor should they. Those skills are big assets when it comes to multi-tasking and productivity. But they’re also a nightmare for many of their bosses, those over 35 who understand that while technology is a useful tool, it doesn’t replace in-person interaction as a primary means of doing business. Today’s bosses can’t understand why their young recruits, for all their brains and technical acumen, hardly ever come over and actually talk to them.

“I hear from clients that [young professionals’] first instinct is to IM rather than walk over to their boss’ office. That can be OK for a quick question, but when you’re planning something, you need to talk face-to-face,” says Steven Rothberg, founder of Collegerecruiter.com, who places recent graduates into corporate jobs.

The tech disparity between 20-somethings and 40-somethings is far greater today than it was 20 years ago, when today’s 40-somethings were the young turks. Over 17 percent of today’s workforce is between the ages of 25 and 34, while another 28 percent is made up of employees 55 and over, Bureau of Labor Statistics numbers show.

That breakdown is not much different than in many past years. But what is different is the speed of technological progress since the mid-1990s, from the Internet and e-mail to cell phones and instant messaging. A recent survey by outplacement firm Lee Hecht Harrison shows that 60 percent of U.S. corporations acknowledge having workplace tensions among generations.”

October 23, 2006 Posted by | Communication, Generational, News, Social Issues | 2 Comments