Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Masumbe’s Wisdom By the Campfire

Every night before dinner in these camps is a time for gathering around the campfire, sharing stories, getting to know the fellow guests. At Tena Tena our third night, we are sitting with Msumbe, the assistant camp manager, and listening to him talk about Zambia.

Zambia is a peaceful nation, and it is a miracle. More than seventy different tribes, and that many different languages and dialects. Rich in natural resources, full of children hungry to learn, Zambia has placed a high priority in educating everyone in getting along with one another.

“So like when you come across another person, not from where you are from, you don’t start in with a lot of questions. First you ask ‘How is it where you are from?’ and then you listen. When you know where he is coming from, and how are things there, then you can ask better questions, and not offend someone.”

Hmmmm, I thought, good advice. Sometimes I feel a little shy, especially when there are large groups of “others” like South Africans, or British, and they have their own values, their own ways of communicating, different from ours.

Soon, I was sitting next to a British woman, and desperately trying to think of a way to get HER talking, so I could be listening, and that is exactly what I asked “Tell me what life is like where you are from?”

She looked at me like I was a little crazy and asked what I meant. I said that I knew her life was very different from mine, and I was interested to know what her daily life was like. So she started telling me she wasn’t very interesting really, but gave me some details, and actually, it WAS interesting. Once she got going, knowing I really was interested, I learned a whole lot!

One detail I will never forget is that she rides to the foxes every weekend in the fox hunting season, this very respectable woman, and that they all do, even if it is against the law. No matter what the weather, they ride, hour upon hour. She laughed and said they ride so long and so hard that her clothes become discolored from the saddle leather, and she comes home stained and filthy from her rides.

Now how would I ever have known all that without Masumbe’s good question? It’s like being given a key that opens many locks. You never know what treasures you will come upon, but you have this wonderful key. Thank you, Masumbe!

July 3, 2008 Posted by | Adventure, Community, Cross Cultural, ExPat Life, Family Issues, Living Conditions, Relationships, Social Issues | , | 5 Comments

Tena Tena, RPS, Zambia 2008

We travel to Africa almost every year, but the Robin Pope Safari camps are the only ones we have ever visited more than once. After our first visit, I think in 2003, we went back for a Hiking with Robin Pope safari in 2005 and enjoyed every minute of it. When we first dreamed of taking our son and his wife to Africa with us, we thought we would do the Hemingway Safari with CCAfrica (it’s twelve parts but this link takes you to the first entry) but that takes 14 days, and LawAndOrder Man doesn’t get that much time off.

No problem, we know that the Robin Pope Safari Camps do it right. We know they will be totally WOWED. We set up some dates, and then when the Cupertino wedding comes up, we revise the dates, which means that we do the same trip we did the other two times, only backwards. This is fun! When you are booking a Robin Pope Safari, you need to book early, they fill up fast.

We love Tena Tena, the first camp we stayed at. Each couple has a very large tent, with furniture and books and oriental carpets. The bedcovers are kilim, the whole flavor is very fusion, like Zanzibar – African, Indian and Middle Eastern. There are only five tents, maximum of ten guests. We feel so at home.

During the day, each tent is totally open in the front to a large patio from which you can watch passing game. Our very first day in Tena Tena, just after lunch the elephants came through, and we watched, enchanted, from the porch. First AdventureMan went to our son’s tent to watch as they passed, and then all three came to our tent. My heart was so full of joy that I didn’t know whether to watch the elephants or to thank God for the sheer happiness I felt, all of us together and the miracle of elephants walking right past our door as we watched in wonder. I found a way to do both.

So here are some more photos of our time at Tena Tena:

The airplane we flew in on, and Mfuwe International Airport. Once a week or so, a flight comes in from Malawi, and so it is genuinely an International airport:

The South Luangua needs these small planes to get the visitors to their camps, so Robin and Jo Pope invested in their own airline, ProFlight.

The guides at the Robin Pope Camps are so patient. I am absolutely ga-ga about the sky, seeing blue sky and clouds and a sunset. I get gorgeous sunrises in Kuwait, but I never see the sun set. The guide is patient when I ask him to stop to take a photo. While we are stopped – a hyena comes slinking along, totally ignoring us, crossing behind our vehicle.

The next morning, it is up at 0530, out of the camp by six (not a vacation for people who want to sleep in!) LawAndOrder Man and EnviroGirl have been awake since three a.m. – jet lagging – and are bright and shiny!

As we are watching the baboons wake up and take care of daily business, we see the most amazing fight – a set of four birds fighting over a tree top territory. One hops up on his partner’s back to scold and intimidate the other two into leaving:

Back in Tena Tena, a delicious lunch – every meal is delicious – and just as we are finishing, there are elephants crossing the river to our side. What is cuter than a baby elephant?

The elephants crossed the river, then came foraging down past our tents:

I know you are all dying to see LawAndOrder Man and Enviro Girl – that’s them, watching the elephants on our tent front porch.

Our guide, Bertram, was amazing. He would ask us “what do you want to see?” and we would tell him, and he knew just where to find them. The first night drive, I said “We love seeing everything, but it would be a real thrill to see a leopard.”

We drove around, looking at all kinds of things, and then he said “over on your left is a hammerkopf – and a leopard.” And there she was, relaxed, soaking up a little sun before she hunted up something for the night’s dinner. She posed, she stretched, she changed positions and gave us plenty of time before she sauntered off. Wooo HOOOOOO! We had been to Africa three times before we ever saw a leopard, and here was one on their very first night of their very first safari. God is Good!

One of the best parts about Tena Tena is hearing hippos. There are hippos everywhere:

Thank you for being so patient with all my vacation stories and photos. I know, I know, I am turning into that boring old aunt who always shows up with photos! 😉

July 3, 2008 Posted by | Adventure, Africa, Customer Service, Entertainment, ExPat Life, Family Issues, Living Conditions, Travel, Zambia | 3 Comments