Hi everyone! Yeah, yeah, yeah, we’re way overdue on the blog entries, we know. But hopefully this will make up for it a little. We’ve got pictures and videos from the past couple of months that thanks to my mom and dad as well as Karen, you guys can enjoy.
So the first little video we have is of us, (mostly Brian) digging our garden. We went with the Permaculture technique that we learned in training, which meant a lot of digging and double digging! I manned the camera and Thika supervised from a cozy patch of dry leaves. Sadly, a combination of extremely hot, dry weather along with perhaps not the best seed choice has left our garden a total failure. Oops! Maybe we’ll try again next year!
The next major event was the English theatre competition. This is the piece that our school presented. The theme this year was “Be the Change”. The students in our group decided that they wanted to address gender equality and HIV/AIDS in the piece and put together a story about a young girl, Jenny, who is under too much pressure at home to have time to succeed in school. As a result, she sleeps with her teacher to improve her grade and in doing so contracts HIV. Unfortunately, this in fact occurs here in Mozambique. However, with supportive friends and a helpful teacher, she is able to overcome her obstacles and eventually reaches her goal of becoming a teacher and is able to help other students be successful without resorting to corruption. The students did a beautiful job. We were so so proud of them. One of my favorite projects so far. If you can get the sound up on the computer so that you can understand what they’re saying, listen carefully cause there are some pretty funny lines!
Before the awards were given out at the English Theatre Competition in Chimoio in September, the students had a dance party to celebrate their accomplishments. It wasn’t organized dancing of any kind, but this video is cool because if you watch, you’ll notice that many of them end up in sync with each other by the end.
During the dance party that took place while awards were being determined at English Theatre, Brian took the camera around to catch some of the kids dancing. The two little ones are neighbor friends of a volunteer that came to check out the competition. Check out the way that little girl can move! And the incredibly awkward American girls are Rebecca and Alex, both Oregonians who are a bit less talented in the rhythm department. Our friend Tim also makes an appearance and shows off a few moves at the end.
Here are the students that participated in English Theatre hanging out before the competition. They’re all 11th and 12th graders, and as you can see, absolutely adorable.
Here are three of our 12th grade English Theatre kids hanging out at the competition, just being cute.
This is the dance party at English Theatre. Oh man, generally speaking of course, Mozambicans LOVE a good dance party. Pretty fun.
This is Brian climbing a tree with one of the Mozambican teachers. “Why is he in a tree?” you ask yourself… great question. Really great question…
After English theatre, we had a party with our group at our house to celebrate. I made spaghetti and garlic bread and I had completely forgotten how much teenage boys can eat. It was really quite a site. However, the highlight for the students was the “banana cake” as they call it (it’s just normal American banana bread) which they managed to go so far as to work into the play and could be bribed to do nearly anything in exchange for a small piece.
Next, the following videos and photos are from the experience exchange that my REDES group attended in the Gorongosa National Park. We invited groups from Catandica and Buzi to come share their experiences and learn about the environment.
This year my REDES group decided that they wanted to learn how to dance ballet. We spent the majority of our time during meetings practicing steps and working on a routine. It was really fun, though suffice to say, none of these lovely young ladies are going to be pursuing a career as a ballerina. The final performance was at an exchange of experiences that we held at the Community Education Center in the Gorongosa National Park. There were also young women from REDES groups in Catandica and Buzi, along with their Peace Corps advisors present. I apologize for the shaky video as I was trying to do the routine while taping.
This is another video from the experience exchange that I did with the REDES girls at the park. The girls from Catandica put together a dance routine and taught my girls and the girls from Buzi. It was a great weekend.
Here are the young women at the community education center at the Gorongosa national park during our experience exchange. They were doing an activity that demonstrated the connections between different elements of our planet.
This is my REDES group after their dance performance.
This is the whole group that met for the event, including the girls from Buzi and Catandica and the Peace Corps volunteers that were there with them.
The next big fun thing that happened was the arrival of my parents. YAY!!!!!!!!! As soon as they arrived, we headed to Victoria Falls. On the way we stopped at the Cahorra Bassa Dam in Tete province.
This is a photo of Tiger Lodge, the place where we stayed at the Cahora Bassa dam in Mozambique while on the way to Victoria Falls.
Here’s a shot of a yawning hippo that we went to see while on a little boat ride on the Cahora Bassa lake. They are huge!
On that same boat ride we went to a lagoon full of crocodiles.
After Cahorra Bassa, we had planned to spend the next day driving to Lusaka (the capital of Zambia) to spend the night. Unfortunately though we overestimated the distance that we would be able to drive and ended up in a little truck stop of a town right before dark with nowhere to stay. Luckily though, someone pointed us to a nearby lodge. It just so happened to be beautiful with a wonderful restaurant and some really friendly people. However, the only problem was that there was no AC. It was a long, sweaty night for all four of us, so from that point forward dad deemed it as “Sweathouse Lodge.”
Finally, after another long day of driving, we arrived at Livingstone, the town just outside of Victoria Falls. We stayed at a really cute little bed and breakfast with a wonderful owner. It was really really nice.
While stopping to pick up some water on the road, Mom managed to make friends with a bunch of little boys.
This is one of the baboons that roam Victoria Falls park. Now, the thing is, these little guys have grown quite accustomed to people and all that people bring with them, including food. We were innocently strolling along when we came across a whole troop. A particularly brave (and large) male member of the troop just strolled right on up to Mom and tried to open up her purse! He just reached his little hands up and tried to pull it off of her shoulder! Dad managed to shoo the little thief off, but Mom nearly experienced our only incident of crime during their visit at the hands of a greedy baboon!
There he is. Just cracking himself up as usual. Side note: During the rainy season that whole rock wall behind him would be filled with water! Crazy!
There they are. Mr. and Mrs. Turner.
So because it was the dry season, a large part of the falls was dry and the main part a little more difficult to see from the Zambia side. However, it was still pretty impressive.
So the main advantage of going to see the falls at this time of year is that you can walk across a large portion of the top where there would normally be water and get a different angle on everything. From this angle we can see two bridges over the falls. The one in back is the one that people bungie jump off of.
The most adorable little thing you’ve ever seen.
This is the view of the falls from the other side where we were able to walk across because it was the dry season.
Our second night in Livingstone we went on a dinner cruise on the Zambezi and came upon a large pod of GIANT hippos.
On that same dinner cruise we saw a couple of crocodiles. As you can see, they were very, very close.
While staying at Victoria Falls, we signed up for a Rhino walk which was basically a walking safari in which we went with guides to find rhinos. We ended up seeing five white rhinos which is 0.10% of all the white rhinos in the world! This guy is a 31 year-old male out grazing on his own. He was later joined by his friends, but we backed up so they wouldn’t eat us.
So, according to our guide, this rhino (same as the first one) was in a very agreeable mood that particular day. Our guide was so confident that we came within 15 yards him! However, by the time we got that close, even the guides were nervous.
This is Brian with one of our guides, Pauleta.
That was the safari truck that took us to where we went on the rhino walk and took us on a mini safari afterwards. The guy on the left was our driver and the one on the right is Sam. He’s from the national park and was there to protect us in the event that the rhino’s mood changed and he began to act aggressively. However, the gun is really only meant to fire a shot to scare the rhino. It would have entirely no effect on him whatsoever.
After the rhino walk and a light snack, we went on a mini safari through the park and came upon a herd of giraffes. They weren’t afraid of us at all. Apparently when people are on foot animals like giraffes see them as predators and run away. However, when there is a bunch of people in a car, they see the car as one entity and do not recognize it as a predator so therefore do not feel threatened. These guys just hung out and ate lunch while we watched them.
Here’s a close-up of our new friend.
We also managed to find a few zebra. They’re pretty skittish and also pretty mean when they want to be.
On our last day in Vic Falls, we decided to take a helicopter ride so that we could get a really good look at the main part of the falls.
You can’t really tell from this, but the falls are absolutely huge.
Here’s another angle on the falls with a rainbow this time.
Guess who got to ride shotgun?
This is the helicopter that we rode in. The pilot just so happens to be from Mozambique! Small world!
After Victoria Falls, we started the journey back to Gorongosa. Now, we could have just stayed at the safe bet, Sweathouse Lodge, but no. We arrived there early and decided to go for the gamble. We continued on to the next big town and stayed at a place that made Sweathouse Lodge look like the Four Seasons. That’s what we get for pushing our luck!
Finally, we arrived in Gorongosa. The first night there we had dinner at Espanhol’s house. His mom made us xima (a corn paste, kinda of like cream of wheat) and matapa (a traditional Mozambican dish made from ground greens, peanuts, and coconut milk.) That night, the electricity also went out. This proved to make for an interesting couple of days. The following are pictures from our Thanksgiving celebration in Gorongosa.
Here is a picture of our Thanksgiving turkey, pre-slaughter of course. Espanhol helped us find a place where we could buy him in Gorongosa.
So, we had heard from multiple sources that the best way to kill a turkey was to get him a little tipsy first. The reasoning, according to our local sources, being that 1: it makes the meat taste better and 2: the turkey struggles less after a drink or two. They told us red wine is the drink of choice for turkeys. However, unfortunately we seem to have picked a sober turkey. Despite our best efforts, he wouldn’t touch it. Haha!
This is dad killing the turkey. Goodbye turkey.
So, sorry this is so graphic, but for anyone who has killed a chicken, you know that it doesn’t just die and quit moving right away. It wiggles for a short time afterwards. Well, imagine doing that with something 5 times the size of a chicken. That means 5 times the blood and 5 times the wiggling. It was so gross! There was blood everywhere! This is Brian holding him down till he finally stopped moving.
Here are Brian, Colin, and Espanhol plucking the turkey using hot water. Not a fun job.
Here’s a picture of me for all you whiners out there who will have something to say if I don’t put one up.
This is dinner. We’ve got biscuits, fruit salad, olives, pickles, mashed potatoes, stuffing, turkey, and gravy. Not bad.
For dessert we had pumpkin pie and apple pie.
Now, many of you may have looked at the food photos and said to yourselves, “Not too shabby for cooking with a toaster oven and a hot plate. Good work Jordan!” I would say thanks, but there’s even more to the story. The night before our electricity went out and it stayed out for three days while my parents were there! Not only did this make things a little toasty because there were no fans, but it also seriously complicated the cooking situation. We were left with no choice but to use these two little charcoal stoves to cook the entire meal. No toaster oven and no hot plate. All that food we cooked on those two little stoves! (All but the apple pie that is. Thanks Alex!) We even created a dutch oven to bake the pumpkin pie! It took 12 hours and our in house self-proclaimed “Grill Master” (aka Dad) manning the charcoal to make it happen, but we did. It was a darn good dinner but I am never EVER doing that again.
Thika was also quite fortunate to participate in the Thanksgiving meal! He got a turkey leg bone and some leftover sides. He is the luckiest dog in Mozambique.
After Thanksgiving in Gorongosa, we headed to the National Park for one night.
This is a Sable. It was the first animal we came across when we went out on our own in the rental car the first day we were at the park. It was really cool.
I have no idea what this is called cause we found it on our self-guided game drive and had no one to explain it, but it’s a beautiful turquoise bird of some kind. (Shout out to Chris and Malea and Mom and Dad Turner for the AWESOME camera!!!)
Apparently its baby warthog season at the national park because we saw them everywhere! Little babies following their moms to mud holes where they could cool off. As Hailee would say, they are so ugly, you can’t help but think they’re cute.
Again, don’t remember what these guys are called, but zoom in a little and you’ll see their crown-like spiky feather things on their heads. Really pretty.
This bird is called the Galinha do Mato, or directly translated, the bush chicken. I think it’s really pretty, even though someone to whom I am married likes to make fun of me for taking lots and lots of pictures of them.
This is a photo of one of the varieties of antelope in the park. We were lucky to see lots of babies and moms on this visit.
As the sun was setting we drove past an open plain with hundreds of antelopes grazing. The picture can’t even begin to show how many animals there were spread over a vast expanse of land. It was really amazing.
So much personality in one little warthog! I wish you could see them run. They get those chubby little bodies moving when they want to!
I can’t remember its name, but this is the smallest variety of antelope in the park. It’s about the size of a Labrador Retriever.
It’s a real life stork!
So so pretty.
This is one elephant in the first herd that we came across. As you’ll soon see, this encounter was a lot more peaceful than the exchange we had with the next herd.
More moms and babies. They never get old for me!
This is what happens when you lose the fight.
Check out the horns on this guy. They are so cool!
This is the second herd of elephants that we came across. They seem to be just marching their way through the forest until…
Oops! We got too close to the baby elephants. Mama elephant is NOT pleased. The driver started the car and took off full speed. Unfortunately it stalled the first time which got our blood pumping a little before he finally got it going. She chased us down the road for a little bit until we were a safe distance from the babies.
Here she is, after she’s decided to stop charging us, thank goodness!
During the whole charging incident, the rest of the herd circled up to protect themselves and the babies. Then, they put their trunks up so they could smell us. There is a cute little baby in the very front of the group!