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All posts by Mary

Tanzania – Made Me Appreciate All We Have Back Home

By | Family Travel Tips, Our Travels, Parks | No Comments

I’ve been delaying writing about Tanzania for a few reasons. One, it’s been an absolutely non stop ride since we left there, and I feel like I’m only getting on top of life again now. And two, I am struggling to paint a happy picture of the place, and I didn’t want to let our brief experience taint anyone else’s travel plans. It wasn’t all bad, but let me explain… Read More

Rwanda – A Country of a Thousand Hills

By | Hikes, Our Travels | One Comment

As you trundle over the growing hills and across the Rwandan border, the countryside changes dramatically around you. The dry, flatter land of Tanzania gives way to rolling green hills, so fertile with rich volcanic soil that crops of all description bulge in size along the sides of the road. The biggest change is that everything is green. A change I welcomed with open arms. Read More

Rwanda, and the Power of Unity

By | Our Travels | 3 Comments

I’ve wanted to write about Rwanda since the moment we set foot in the country. It is nothing like I imagined it to be. This may be because I was 12 when the genocide happened, and in the back of my growing mind I filed Rwanda away as a war-torn African country with starving people and useless government. It is a poor excuse, and I feel embarrassed to admit it, but I knew little of the area, what it had to offer, and the history of what happened 24 years ago. It is going to be difficult to give you a full run down of events here, but I will try my best, because to understand the country now, you must know where it has been, and what it has overcome. So for those of you, who like me, did not know, here is a summary… Read More

Too Much of a Good Thing?..

By | Hikes, Our Travels | No Comments

The last few weeks seem to have screamed by in a whirl of muddy roads, border crossings and spectacular African destinations, but it has left me far behind in filling in the little details. As I sit here, looking out over Lake Kivu, I have to fight the urge to jump ahead and tell you about Rwanda, a country we have so far found truly remarkable – but I will get to this soon enough. I have our time in Zambia to recount, as long ago as it feels now, and a fleeting trip through Tanzania to get us to this point. Read More

I Left a Piece of My Heart in Zimbabwe

By | Our Travels, Parks | 2 Comments

Lake Kariba and Mana Pools

We left Victoria Falls after a really great stay and chartered a course across the country. We had to make it to Kariba town, on the Eastern side of the 220km long lake. Our next escapade was house boating on Lake Kariba, getting there was going to pose an adventure in itself however. Read More

Zimbabwe Off-limits

By | Our Travels | 2 Comments

My whole life I have heard tales of how incredible Zimbabwe is, the beauty of the country and the friendliness of its people – but sadly the state of the government meant the country was in a shambles. With fuel shortages, a currency so unstable you could flush million dollar notes down the toilet (literally), and almost no food in the shops, it has been a place off-limits to its neighbouring countrymen. But with a recent change in government and hope in our hearts, we decided now was the time to give it a go. So we left Botswana after a few days of getting on top of ‘life chores’ and work in Maun, and headed in the North-West side of Zimbabwe. The border crossing was a breeze, and the locals couldn’t have been friendlier. Read More

Life On the Okavango

By | Our Travels, Parks | No Comments

Be warned, this is not a tame tail. Life in the wild can be exactly that – wild! Before any of you think we are negligent parents, I just have to say that we didn’t know we were going to be camping 100 meters from 6 lions, or that our guide would take us right to them. For us this was about experiencing mokoro life, living like the people of the waterways. It turned out to be a more game-filled experience than we ever could have imagined though.

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Botswana .. And the Elusive Cat

By | Our Travels, Parks | No Comments

What a wild ride it’s been! Long over due for a post on what we’ve been up to, but everyday seems to be filled with life. Whether it’s crazy animal encounters, extreme trips, chilling on a river, or doing bundles of laundry, I don’t seem to have had a moment to pull my thoughts together and give you all the update you deserve. So here goes…

The Call of Africa
A poem by C. Emily-Dibb

When you’ve acquired a taste for dust,
The scent of our first rain,
You’re hooked for life on Africa
And you’ll not be right again
Till you can watch the setting moon
And hear the jackals bark
And know that they’re around you,
Waiting in the dark. Read More

Really-Real Africa

By | Our Travels, Parks | No Comments

As our time in Namibia is drawing to a close, I’m finding a part of me already misses the incredible skies and vivid sunsets of the desert. As barren as those lands were, they held something special. I can’t deny though, that being next to a river is food for my soul. Watching the hippos wallow in the river, and seeing the crocs cruise by, fills me with such a sense of peace. It also makes me want to hop in the river however. They seem to have such fun cooling off while the rest of us land dwellers over heat in the upper 30-degree weather. And this isn’t even the hot season! I don’t know how the people here cope in the summer months. The last week has been unbearable, we have been doing game drives in the middle of the day, even though we know we’ll see no game, just because we need to cool off. Our thermometer measured 41 degrees a day ago, luckily that wasn’t the day we got ourselves stuck in the sand…

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The Less Obvious Truths about Long Life Milk, and Other Stories From Africa

By | Musings, Our Travels, Uncategorized | No Comments

It has become quite apparent to me over the last week or so, just how spoilt we are. I don’t mean this in an ‘I get everything I want’ kind of way, I mean it in an ‘I have such an easy life’ kind of way. I should probably just title this post “#blessed”, but I’m not sure if that is the truth of it.

Two days ago I found myself hanging laundry, marvelling over how this is the first time in my life, that I have ever had to hand wash 5 loads of laundry. I was so proud of my efforts. There I was with my rubber gloves and perfect white buckets, and an image popped to mind of the countless rows of clothes we have driven past along the side of the road, flung over fences, hanging from poles, and I thought: I am pretty damn sure those weren’t washed in a machine! Never-the-less, my arms were tired and my fingers were sore, and I was satisfied with my first ‘en masse attempts. But then I thought about it more…
We had just driven from Etosha to the Caprivi strip, and the landscape changed dramatically. There is something called a ‘vet fence’, which is a large fence entirely separating the very north of Namibia from the South. The Northern lands were given back to the native Namibians, but as the spread of disease between animals was rife, the government-run South fenced it off and implemented policing of the borders, stopping any meat products from being taken from the North into the South. What’s interesting is that as soon as you cross over that ‘border’, there are animals everywhere! Cows, goat, sheep – all walking across the road, grazing on the verges, it’s like crossing into really-rural Africa. Suddenly there are kraals or homesteads every couple of hundred metres. The houses are all built out of wood and grass, and there are people walking along the side of the road carrying buckets of water on their heads, or on poles supported by two people. Even the children carry water. The first time I ever had to carry my own water was when Cape Town had its severe drought last year and suddenly we had to carry buckets of water from the shower to flush the loo’s, and from gutters to the pool, but I feel that’s not at all the same thing. Here I am being so proud of my laundry, and all around me, people not only hand wash all of their laundry, but they carry their own water to do it in too!

The cattle

 

All of this was really hammered home this morning when after an incredibly beautiful game drive along the banks of the Okavango river, we popped in at a local store to pick up some supplies we had unexpectedly run out of. One of these things was milk. As I fought my way to the front of the petrol queue, Shaun ran into the general store with me yelling at his back, “Don’t buy milk if they only have long-life”. As it turns out, they only had long-life (not a surprise, this is true of most of Namibia). Back at the van, as I unpacked the groceries and moaned about Lola’s sudden love of cows milk, I may have mentioned milk rationing as a way of saving the fresh milk for my tea (we only have 1 litre left!). When we established (after some choice language) that I would rather not drink tea than have it with long-life milk, Shaun told me to grow a pair. Although I prefer not to grow a pair, I did think on the conversation for a while, and this is where it lead me: blessed is not at all the correct way to describe it – spoilt is.

Although there are numerous things I do feel blessed about, like medical care and access to education, there are other things that are unnecessary spoilings that in no way make our lives ‘better’ than any of the people living here. Maybe the good life is in the simple places. Once you have had it easy, like everyone who is reading this right now, it makes it harder to enjoy the simple things, because you are so aware of what you are missing. In my case, fresh milk and a washing machine, and I have no doubt many more things are going to rear their heads the further away from civilisation we go. Thank goodness we had enough boot space to stock pile good coffee and toilet paper!

My laundry