Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Tena Tena and a Trip to the Salt Pans

When that wake-up call comes, you really need to have everything ready. It’s cold, and while I like colder weather, I find it slows my thinking, especially early in the morning. By the time you load up in the car, you need to be sure you have drinking water with you, your spare camera battery charged, your camera in the backpack, heavier clothing for early in the drive, lighter cover ups for later, when it gets hot. You need sunscreen with you, and insect repellent, and anything else which makes you comfortable, like kleenex tissues, and lip balm (it gets very dry out on the game drives.)

It’s approaching mid-winter, so it is getting colder. If you could see us first thing in the morning, in all our layers, you would laugh, and you would wonder if we are in Africa or Alaska. We are all wrapped up in T-shirts, sweatshirts, sweaters, hats, scarves wrapped around our faces, blankets . . . it is early in the morning, we are in an open vehicle, and it gets COLD in June!

We are on our way out to the salt pans. The last time we did this, four years ago, one of our passengers got really really sick. It was awful. There was nothing we could do for him, except to pretend we didn’t hear him retching in the back, throwing up over the back of the truck. We all felt so sorry for him. We all knew, there but for the grace of God, it could any one of us.

Dawn coming up on the way to the salt pan:

This trip was totally different. We had an unexpected cloud cover much of the morning, which kept things cool. We kept passing villagers, men on bikes coming from the north with baskets of chickens to sell, to buy necessities to take back to their northern villages. Once, we saw an elephant, and warned some of the men on bikes that there was an elephant ahead. We found one man just mounting his bike; he had seen the elephant and had dropped his bike and run. These elephants are massive and if grumpy – or in ‘must’ – they can be lethal, and mean. If the man runs away, the elephant might stomp his basket full of chickens, or his bike, just out of meanness.

We couldn’t resist shooting this herd of impala, just their heads peeking up over the tall golden grass:

As we near the salt pans, we spot lion on the road ahead of us. We can see a mother and her cub.

Julius knows a way around, so we go around to the other side, where we can see four lion – and then six lions! They are all young males, females and cubs, and are resting.

Julius tells us not to be fooled by their sleepy expressions; the lions are actually taking in everything, the sounds we make, the way we smell, and the way we move. Did you know male lions are “tri lobal?”

Then the lions decide to hunt, they stand, stretch, and walk off into the tall grass – and we love the way they just disappear, their golden color matching nearly the color of the golden grass:

We spend about an hour just enjoying watching the lions, then head for the borehole hotspring for tea. The vista is both bleak and lush – where the water from the borehole has trickled, you can see green. The water is very hot, and you can smell the sulpher. 

There is a funny story about the bore hole. A lodge was being built, Chichele, which wanted a borehole. The bore hole drillers asked the locals where was “chichele” (which means salty) and they didn’t know about the lodge; they sent the drillers to the old salt pan, also called “chichele.” They drilled a bore hole – out in the middle of nowhere – only to discover they had drilled in the wrong spot. They capped it, and today there is an oasis of green out in the middle of an otherwise fairly barren plain. It attracts a lot of wildlife – and those who prey on wildlife.

As we leave the hot spring, we spot more lions, maybe ten, a different pride. I say we, but it is really Julius, who sees the vultures circling and thinks there may be a kill in the area. We spot the lions, and then start the long drive back, stopping here and there along the way to take pictures or to learn about a whole lot of things we don’t know much about.

On our way back to Tena Tena, we pass through “The Colony” where the Yellow Billed Storks are nesting, hatching their young and teaching them how to fly. It is noisy, and hilarious; there is a lot going on. We particularly love the ‘flight school’ as young stork hesitate to take off, then practice their take offs and landings. Occasionally, one doesn’t make it, and there are Marabou Storks on the ground, who finish them off quickly.

We are late, and fortunately Claire has had sandwich plates made up for us so we won’t starve (LOL). We eat at the bar, and head for our cabins, but it is not an afternoon for resting – we have a visitor:

Most of the time, these little bushbuck are too shy for us to photograph, but here in the camp, there are a couple who have become used to the smells and noises of us intruders, and is oblivious to our cameras.

The afternoon drive starts off sedately along the Luangwa:

But we find beauty in the small things as we head toward sundown. These are Egyptian Geese settling in the lagoon nearby:

There are also elephant, an entire family, playing in the water:

Sunset is spectacular. I am drinking Campari and Bitter Lemon, and because we are heading back early, I drink the whole drink.

Julius and Davis serve up sundowners:

We had asked for a short night drive, but after ‘sundowners’ by the river, we find a pair of mating leopards, and the drive goes on a a lot longer than we intended. Mating leopards are exciting, they make a lot of noise, and are well worth a late drive, especially with a sky full of stars. NOTE TO SELF: No matter how tempting, limit your liquid intake at sundowners! Once the sky is dark, there is no safe bush to step behind and the roads are bumpy!

Julius helps us find the Southern Cross on the way back to camp, and shows us how to identify the Scorpion. The skies of the southern hemisphere are strange to us, but the stars are so bright and the night is so dark we just lie back and revel in the beauty of the heavens.

A very lively dinner, with the Swiss foursome, a new Scottish couple and us, eating ‘gammon’ which is ham, with pumpkin and mashed potatoes. Dessert is an amarula ice cream, which leads us all to the bar for shots of amarula liquer before he head for bed. It’s a lot harder organizing for the next early morning after a glass of wine and a shot of amarula, but we sleep like babies. We do hear lion roaring, but we just go right back to sleep.

June 22, 2012 Posted by | Adventure, Africa, ExPat Life, Mating Behavior, sunrise series, Sunsets, Travel, Zambia | , , , , | 2 Comments

Seventy Times Seven

I come from a great mixture of nationalities, but two of them, the Irish and the German, specialize in carrying grudges for a long time. I once lived in a small German village, where a woman told me that her family did not speak to this other family, nor that family to them. Their grandmothers had some great falling out – nearly 100 years ago – and while no one can remember what it was about, the families still don’t speak.

Seventy times seven – it goes against the grain, doesn’t it? Jesus said so many earth-changing things, like “Love your neighbor as yourself” and to take care of the poor and the prisoners and the widows and children – people who are considered, even in today’s society, to have less value. To let go of your angry feelings, to forgive – that is hard work.

And yet, he spells out how very damaging our grudges are – to US! If we can get over our selves, and our own selfish instincts, our lives are so much happier and so much more productive . . .

Matthew 18:21-35

21 Then Peter came and said to him, ‘Lord, if another member of the church* sins against me, how often should I forgive? As many as seven times?’ 22Jesus said to him, ‘Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy-seven* times.

23 ‘For this reason the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his slaves. 24When he began the reckoning, one who owed him ten thousand talents* was brought to him; 25and, as he could not pay, his lord ordered him to be sold, together with his wife and children and all his possessions, and payment to be made. 26So the slave fell on his knees before him, saying, “Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.” 27And out of pity for him, the lord of that slave released him and forgave him the debt. 28But that same slave, as he went out, came upon one of his fellow-slaves who owed him a hundred denarii;* and seizing him by the throat, he said, “Pay what you owe.”

29Then his fellow-slave fell down and pleaded with him, “Have patience with me, and I will pay you.” 30But he refused; then he went and threw him into prison until he should pay the debt.

31When his fellow-slaves saw what had happened, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their lord all that had taken place. 32Then his lord summoned him and said to him, “You wicked slave! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. 33Should you not have had mercy on your fellow-slave, as I had mercy on you?” 34And in anger his lord handed him over to be tortured until he should pay his entire debt. 35So my heavenly Father will also do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother or sister* from your heart.’

June 22, 2012 Posted by | Character, Charity, Community, Cross Cultural, Faith, Lectionary Readings, Random Musings, Spiritual, Values | Leave a comment