LWL – Life with Loretta

Well, it has been two glorious weeks living in my new flat with Loretta and I can say, I couldn’t be happier. It reminds me of when I lived back in college with my best friends. We wake up together, make coffee together and walk to school together everyday. At the end of every night we usually find ourselves sitting in the back of the flat under the stars in front of a big roaring fire just simply talking. I couldn’t be more lucky to have someone like her. Sometimes in the afternoons, we find that we are so exhausted that we take naps and then finish the day with a late night walk to get a cool drink at the shop. I finally feel at home with her by my side.

Loretta eating our dinner.

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Monday night dinner

Making the most of a sheep. Loretta seemed happy with dinner although from the photo below it doesn’t look that appetizing but I think it was a success! Included in the dish was heart, lung, intestines and stomach. I think my palette is growing.

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Our-men

Our second week back has been nothing short of easy. We are missing 5 teachers at the school and as a result the kids must stay in their registered “home room” class all day while the teachers are in theory, supposed to rotate and teach. This really hasn’t been working and as a result both the teachers and the learners are irritable and disruptive. Today finally, our last day of the week has come and I am emotionally and physically exhausted. Over the holiday, Loretta let me know that all of the flats on the school campus had been broken into and things have been stolen. Quite the disappointing thing to come back to after a wonderful holiday. Below are some of the photos. Luckily while I was on holiday, some of my favorite girls from Grade 12 picked up all of my belongings and organized them into my new room over at Loretta’s flat. Could they be any sweeter?

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So I have survived the week luckily and this morning made me realize that sometimes you must just laugh and everything will naturally work itself out.

I have realized that many things said here are just simply not understood or lost in translation. Every morning at our staff meeting we pray. Thanking God for another successful week, patience, safety and the humor to continue. Today I realized, as I sat with my eyes closed, hands in prayer, that my colleague at the end of the prayer said with her eyes tightly closed, “our-men.”

Our-men people, our-men.

Zambia, Etosha National Park, Swakopmund, Henties and Walvis

After Lexie and Peashy left the Chef arrived. Unfortunately the first week he was here I was sick and essentially couldn’t leave our backpacker. On our last few days we rented bikes and found our way to the local market that was buzzing with people selling lots and lots of fish, worms, fabric, shoes and various seeds and nuts. We found a man who had a shop that contained a variety of fabrics. Some made of wax some of cotton. We picked a few and then both had some items made. I decided on a skirt and a traditional dress and he decided on a pair of shorts. The remaining fabric would be sent home to be made into pillows.

After our visit to Zambia we traveled through Johanessberg again and went to Namibia to do some more traveling. We stayed one night in Windhoek and then headed North to Etosha. En route we stopped at a game park where we got to feed cheetahs, leopards, hyenas and meet a friendly oryx.

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We popped around in our rental car and camped under the stars every night. After driving through Etosha and the game lodges we decided to head west towards the coast to see Swakopmund, Henties Baai and finally Walvis Bay.

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While in Walvis Bay, we decided to climb Dune 7 – as we reached the top it felt like we were transported to Egypt as all you could see in every direction were more sandy dunes.

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We left Walvis and headed back to Uis so I could teach and he could meet some of the kids. Something that we often do in Uis, as I have mentioned before is kill sheep and goats as they provide meat for nearly a month. The kids are particularly skilled at this so the Chef said he wanted the full experience. The boys were more than happy to help cut up the meat after the sheep was killed but the Chef did the honors. Loretta, the senior boys, the Chef and I had full bellies for the next few days. Gorging ourselves on sheep meat. The kids couldn’t have been happier.

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Botswana, Zambia, Zimbabwe

Next Lexie, Peashy and I traveled across the border to Botswana. As we approached the border we saw that there were more than 50 sixteen wheeler trucks lined up to cross with various kinds of goods. Our guide, Steve informed us that trucks can wait as long as three weeks to cross the border. The border over to Botswana is a ferry across the Zambezi River. Luckily it took us approximately an hour to have our passports signed and for us to enter Botswana.

Our destination was Elephant Sands, situated in the middle of the bush. Our guide informed us that there are more than 360,000 elephants in Botswana, the biggest population in the world. In Africa, elephants are poached illegally for the ivory all the time. In Botswana our guide shared with us that if you are found in the bush with a gun you will be shot at as the authorities will assume you are poaching. If you are not dead, you will be dragged behind the authorities vehicle and brought to the station where you will be forced to dig a hole in the ground, essentially your own grave. The authorities will then insist that you tell them who you are working for and where the ivory you were trying to secure was going and who the buyer was. If you do share the information, they will shoot you and you will drop into the hole you dug for yourself, if you don’t tell them they will torture you and then shoot you. All in all, the outcome is not good for any poacher.

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Once we arrived at Elephant Sands we did a game drive after we were situated in our chalet. I wanted to go for a walk or a run but the staff said that was not advisable given the amount of lions, hyenas and elephants in the area. Instead, we resorted to enjoying a few Hunters by the watering hole.

The following evening, the staff took us out into the bush for a braai – it was probably one of the most memorable braais I have ever had. Amazing food, a big fire, surrounded by new friends and family. En route back to the lodge, we encountered a bull that was as tall as a building just casually walking along the road. It was so unexpected Lexie even let out a “EEEk!”

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We left Elephant Sands and Botswana and headed to Zambia specifically Victoria Falls. We made excellent time at the border and arrived at our hotel, The Waterfront, which was right on the Zambezi River. That evening we took a sunset boat cruise down the river for our last night. The following day, we found out that you are able to bungee jump off the bridge that runs between Zambia and Zimbabwe. Given my fear of heights, I knew I wouldn’t be partaking however Lexie couldn’t stop talking about it.

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She was a pro!

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We also had the opportunity to walk with lions and ride elephants while in Zambia. I think this was by far my favorite part.

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South Africa, Kruger National Park, Blythe River Canyon

Well the holiday has been most memorable from staying in Johanessberg for a few days alone to reset to having my sisters here and now having the Chef here. I feel utterly spoiled with delight.

Given that I have been traveling for about 3 weeks I think I will write three different entries. The first part of the holiday was spent in Jo’berg and then I met Peashy and Lexie. To say the least it was quite the reunion. Once I picked them up from the airport, we relaxed for a day at MoAfrika, a lodge that shared a view with an ostrich farm. Both sisters were tickled at the sight of them. The following day we were off on our safari to Kruger National Park, South Africa to Botswana and finally Livingstone, Zambia.

We first left Jo’berg and traveled to Blythe River Canyon. It is the 3rd largest canyon in the world and apparently the greenest as you can see from the photos below. Quite lovely.

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The Kruger national park was exquisite. We saw everything from giraffes to lions mating. It was utter bliss not only with my exceptional company but the plethora and diversity of animals we encountered. I bounce between having the giraffe or elephant be my favorite from the trip.

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More to come – Next traveled to Botswana.