Puppy Blog!!

Hi everyone!  Well, the puppies are five weeks old today.  And let me tell you, they sure are acting like puppies these days!  Escaping from their room, spreading toilet paper all over the bathroom, rolling in the mud… They are keeping us busy!

 

This is a picture of Thikinha.  Her name means “little Thika” because she looks exactly like him.  She is a little ball of fire.  She’s the smallest one and the only puppy that can climb over the cardboard that keeps them in their little bathroom.  She also happens to get very jealous if any of her sisters are getting attention.

 

Here is Cocoa.  We named her that because of her chocolate color.  However, we weren’t really thinking clearly because depending on the exact pronunciation, her name actually means “poop” in Portuguese.  Oops!  Sorry Cocoa!  So, instead, we’ve been calling her Coconut.  She’s adorable.  She’s the cuddler of the group.

This is Panda, previously known as “no-name”.  We named her in honor of our friend Esther who had to leave Moz.  Panda is a little explorer.  When the babies are all sleeping in a little puppy mountain, she’s usually off by herself stomping around in the tall grass.

Here is Hampster.  She got her name because of her resemblance to a rodent when she was first born.  She’s the guard dog of the group.  She always alerts the other girls when a human arrives at their room.  The other day all of them were sleeping, but Hampster sat up in front of the group and barked and growled at the crows that were out in the yard.  They puppies have made the local crows their arch enemies.

Finally, we have Fatty.  She has been the biggest, heaviest one ever since she was born.  Poor thing.  She’s just big boned!  But she also happens to be afraid of heights and grows very nervous when she gets picked up.

As for Shindi, their mom,  poor Shindi.  She’s a good mom, but she’s just exhausted all the time!  If the puppies aren’t nursing, they’re crawling all over her wanting to play!  She never gets any rest!  And no matter how much I feed her, she’s still hungry!  As a result, she’s become quite the little thief.  When we’re not looking she sneaks into the house to see what she can scrounge.  The other day, Brian and I walked up to the village to buy groceries.  When we came back we set our bags down on the porch and went to visit the puppies.  A few minutes later while putting the groceries away inside the house, I couldn’t find the bread anywhere!  After looking and looking I realized what happened.  Outside in the dirt was the plastic bag and the remains of the loaf of bread that Shindi stole.  She’s sneaky!

 

And of course, there is Thika.  He has been really bad lately.  Barking like crazy whenever people pass by.  We have to lock him in the “cadeia” (jail), which means latching the screen door shut and keeping him in the house.  It’s sad that these little puppies have to grow up with a jail bird for a father, but to be honest, he’s a pretty bad dad anyway.  He’s scared of the puppies and actively avoids contact with them.  Something tells me someone is a little jealous!

 

Here are a few more pictures of the babies…

Well, I guess that’s pretty much it!  Hope that the school year has started off well for everyone!  We sure do miss you guys!  See you in about two months!!!

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South Africa, Jes, and Puppies!!!

 Hey guys, we know we know, it’s been a long time since a blog post. Hopefully this will help make up for it. I am going to attach a few pictures with some captions to show what we have been up to lately. The highlights are obviously the visit from my parents, the visit from Jes, and, maybe unkown to many people, the birth of 5 puppies. Yep, Thika is officially a father and it’s a good thing that we are here to help raise them a little bit because as you would imagine, Thika just stays on his chair. Nothing has changed for him. I will definitely be attaching some photos of them as well. But first, here are some photos from our trip with my parents to Kruger and Cape Town!

 

Here are my parents standing in front of a place called Bourke’s Luck Potholes. This is a spot in the Mpumalunga Valley where whirlpools form holes in the rock that have the appearance of a pot hole. It is a really beautful spot along a stretch of road they call the Panorama Drive.

Here are a few pictures of different animals that we saw in Kruger. Obviously, we saw an incredible amount of animals while at the park but I just picked a few photos that I enjoyed to share with you. Unfortunately, we have no photos of lions. Jordan and I are looking like we are going to go the full two years without seeing any lions. :(  We may have one or two game drives left in Gorongosa though, so you all need to cross your fingers for us!!

This is a cool picture that Jordan got of a Giraffe checking us out from behind a tree.

Nothing like a group of hippos sunbathing themselves a bank. Jordan was especially happy to see the hippo calf there in the front. Jordan has a belief that all baby animals are cute, no matter what, but the hippo definitely challenges that belief.

Here is a flattering photo of hippo for you all.

This is a photo of a Nyala, in my opinion, one of the most interesting antelope-like animal the parks have. Check out the stripes and ears on that thing.

Here is another cool antelope-like animal. This is a Kudu. While in cape town, I had the opportunity to try eating some Kudu. I had a Kuda and Impala stew. Unfortunately, I couldn’t tell the difference between the two once they were stewed but I hear that Kudu is a bit tougher then Impala. Either way, it was delicious.

We were fortunate to encounter a herd of buffalo crossing the street. There must have been hundreds of them. We were waiting for awhile as they crossed and a bunch had already crossed before we even got there. It was a pretty cool experience.

Here was an elephant that we were lucky that Jordan spotted when we were doing our own personal game drive. Up until this point, we hadn’t really seen an elephant close up so my parents were really excited to encounter this one. We were snapping all kinds of photos and enjoying the moment when this guy walked out of the trees….

This guy, had to be, and still is, the largest elephant that I have seen here. He was enormous. Words can’t even come close to describing how big he was. After this guy came out of the trees, my dad wanted to get a good view and take some photos so he switched the car off, which caused me to immediately remember our experience with Jordan’s parents when the elephant charged us so I quickly suggested to keep it running. Good thing too because he clearly was not too thrilled about our presence. After coming out of the trees, he followed us down the road for a bit, flapping his ears. It was definitely one of the highlights of the trip.

Another highlight of the trip was when we had the chance to ride elephants. We got to spend about an hour hanging out with the elephants and learning all about them and then another 30 min riding them. We got to see how truly incredible the memory of an elephant is. There were about 8 of us that got to meet one of the elephants and feed him food while the trainer repeated each of our names four times. After the interaction and ride was finished, the last activity was to bring all of us out and have us stand in a new order and see who the elephant remembered. The trainer would take a hat and set it on the ground and then tell the elephant to pick up the hat and hand it to someone. He got all 8 of us correct. It was pretty amazing.

This was a classic moment of the trip. I don’t even have to say much about it. Just look at the look on my mom’s face. I am proud of her though, it was a big step…good job mom!!

After Kruger, we then flew to Cape Town for the last part of the trip. Everything that Jordan and I heard about Cape Town being one of the most amazing places on earth was definitely true. It was a pretty amazing experience seeing how different Cape Town is from, well pretty much everywhere else.

This is a photo of the waterfront. In the background is the clock tower where you can find the boat to Robben Island. Robben Island is where Nelson Mandela spent much of life as a prisoner. We were lucky to actually go on Nelson Mandela’s birthday and it was fun seeing everyone so excited that it was “Madiba’s” birthday. For those that aren’t familiar with his story, I really suggest looking it up. It is pretty amazing.

 

These photos are of us overlooking the Cape of Good Hope. The Cape of Good Hope is sometimes confused as the southermost point of Africa but it is in fact just the Southwesternmost point. However, it is a pretty cool experience to be there at the edge of such a huge continent.

No trip to Africa would be complete without seeing the penguins right….

Our last full day in Cape Town, we went wine tasting in the Stellenbosch region. When we saw that the Jordan winery was located there we obviously had to make a stop. They had very good wine but it was a little on the expensive side, sound familiar… :)

And then Jes came…

This is Jes and Jordan with our friend Emily Kremser, also an Oregonian. We stick together.

Like we do with all visitors that have come to visit us, we had to take Jes to Vilunkulos, our nearest beach. We stayed really busy there with snorkeling and horseback riding. Here is Jes anxiously waiting for her horse to start trotting.

Here is my lounging in a hammock at the beach talking to my parents about buying our plane ticket for coming home. It was a big moment for us. It seems so much closer now that we have our tickets home.

After the beach we then went to the park at Gorongosa to go on a few game drives. We were able to go on a morning drive as well as a sundowners. Unfortunately we didn’t get to see as many elephants or lions as I would have hoped but here are a few of the park’s staples that we got to see a lot of:

The infamous warthog!

This is a saddle-billed stork. He was fishing at this moment.

These guys are water bucks. I love the white ring around their backsides.

While at the park, we stayed with friend’s to save money so we had to sleep on the floor and I couldn’t resist taking a photo of Jordan in the bed that she made for herself. In her words, “it’s cozy.”

And on to the puppies! Upon return to site after travelling with Jes, we came home to a very, very, pregnant Shindi. Shindi, by the way, is Thika’s girlfriend. She has been coming around for awhile now and that is when we realized that she was pregnant. Jordan thinks that she waited for us to return to have the puppies but I think that it was probably just a coincidence. Either way, the day after we returned, she gave birth to 5 little girls.

 

Here is Jordan checking on Shindi and the puppies before she heads to class. It has become a common occurrence for us before and after class.

Shindi trying to make space for all 5 pups to nurse at the same time. These are hungry little girls.

Here is a close-up of the one puppy who has yet to be named. We were hoping for some assistance from the family back home. We will open the floor to any good ideas. As it stands now, we call her no-name.

Shindi in a little bucket with her puppies. Jordan had put them in the bucket so she could clean their room and Shindi couldn’t help but climb in there with them.

They couldn’t help but climb all over their mother.

Getting a much needed rest from all the eating and squealing.

And for good measure, gotta give the dad a shout out as well. Thika decided to climb up into the bench at a local restuarant with me. Good thing the people like us there and put up with Thika’s ridiculousness.

Well, that is all I got for now. I hope you guys enjoyed the photos and terse descriptions. We miss you all and are getting really excited to come home in 3 months. For a more exact countdown, feel free to contact Lauren Bryan or my mother. See you all soon!!!

Brian and Jordan

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Some Random Photos

Hey Guys, so I just realized that we have a blog that we are supposed to be updating…whoops.. :) I hope everyone is doing well. I am going to upload a few photos here that we think you all may enjoy. Of course you all know that that means, heavy on the Espanhol and Thika….

Here is a picture that we have been meaning to post for quite some time now. This is Espanhol holding the cake that Jordan made him for his 17th birthday in December. We invited his family over and threw a little bday party for him. He was loving it!

This is a photo of the Bday present that we brought back from him. He is a pretty serious Beaver fan these days so he was really happy to recieve a nice polo with the OS logo on it. I have to send a shout out to Jaimee Colbert of the OSU Men’s Basketball Team for this though. She was really generous when we were home last July to give us some extra apparel from the Basketball team and we were able to give Espanhol a couple shirts. This has to be his favorite though. Thanks again Jaimee, you are the best!!! Go Beavs!

Here is a photo of Jordan’s friends who work at the Market; Rosa and Isabel. These two are so accustomed to not only selling us all of our vegetables but also giving us way too much free stuff. There are times that we are walking by the market and don’t need/want anything but they always force us to leave with something. Even if it is as little as one onion. They are really generous people. On this day, Jordan invited them over to our house to cook and eat with her. They were pretty funny because Jordan made a big Spaghetti lunch but they insisted on cooking something as well so they made a typical Mozambican dish too. As usual, there ended up being way to much food for everyone but at least delicious. I am not complaining!

These pics are from a party that we had on Woman’s Day in Mozambique in April. The boys from our JOMA group came and helped make lunch for the girls in Jordan’s REDES group. We definitely had to help a lot still but it was pretty funny watching them get really excited to help with anything they could. When it came time to doing dishes though, they weren’t too thrilled that that was part of the expectation. It was pretty cute though.

Here are the girls in Jordan’s REDES group. Most of the girls participate in our JOMA group as well. Being that it was Woman’s Day, they were awarded the table all too themselves. They were loving that. Jordan had a little talk with them before lunch though to ask them to not brag too much. Even though these are some of our best and brightest students, the cultural expectations of men and women can still be hard to break down. Needless to say though, I think the girls were loving watching the guys cook and clean while they got to play cards the whole time!

Here are all the guys in our JOMA group relegated to the grass while the girls get to eat at the table. They don’t seem to be too disappointed though. By the way, it is incredible the amount of pasta these kids can eat….

This picture is from one of our JOMA meetings. All the kids had brought their news articles for our Journalism project and were presenting them to our Counterpart Alfredo to proofread. You can barely see Alfredo in the middle surrounded by the kids trying to get their articles looked at. Alfredo is an English teacher at the other Secondary school in town and has been a phenomonal counterpart so far this year. My only regret is not finding him until late last year. He just gets so excited to work with the kids and do these projects, it’s adorable.

Well, no blog is complete without a photo of the pup. Here is Thika howling in the middle of the day without getting out of his chair. I am telling you guys, words cannot describe how lazy this dog is. I am bummed because I thought that I had put the other photo of Jordan feeding him on my flash but I must have forgotten. I’ll just tell you, he kept his butt on the chair while bending down to the ground and eating. Heaven forbid he actually gets up to receive his food. As for the howling, he has taken to responding to my howling these days. It is pretty funny because all I have to do is imitate his howling and he will look at me and lift his head and howl back. I guess he is just trying to communicate. Probably wanting more cookies…

Alright guys, I hope you enjoyed the update. We miss all of you and the countdown has officially started with some of you but if you haven’t heard yet, we have received our COS date, Nov. 25. So that is coming up really fast. It will be here before you know it…

Take care and keep in touch. Brian and Jordan

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Update and another New Address

Hello everyone!  Well, it’s been a while since the last update, we know, but we’ve been busy okay!  Let me see, the last big post was about our travels with Mom and Dad Turner, but we’ve had a few more adventures since then.  Shortly after they left to head back to the states, Brian and I headed north to visit our friends Vonnie and Esther in Monapo just outside of Nampula.  After spending a night at their site, we went to Ilha de Mocambique which is a small island off the coast of Nampula province that was one of the sites most populated by the Portuguese when they were here.  It’s full of old Portuguese buildings that have since deteriorated quite a bit but are absolutely charming now.  We stayed at a really cute backpackers place and celebrated Brian’s birthday there.  Esther planned a lasagna dinner that was SO GOOD!  And Dov had the fabulous idea of “roasting” Brian.  He put together a monologue full of Brian jokes, I led a game titled “Third Grader or Brian Mills?”, and there was a skit acting out many of the ridiculous things that Brian has become famous for.  You’ll see a picture of the roast below.  The guy in it is named Pete.  He’s not actually in the Peace Corps.  In fact, he’s English and is here in Africa riding his bike around doing a malaria project.  He’s absolutely hilarious and if Brian ever leaves me, it will be for Pete.  I think they’re really in love!

Ilha Bridge

Pete Roasting Brian

After our travels up north, we went back to Gorongosa to just relax for the holidays.  We were lucky to host all the new volunteers in Manica and Sofala, as well as Dov and Tim.  We spent the long weekend mostly just cooking and eating.  The menu included pancakes, tuna salad, fried rice, nachos, and pasta with breadsticks.  It was really a fun Christmas, but pretty hot.  The problem this time of year is the flies.  It’s cooler to sit outside, but being mango season, the flies are out of control.  You can’t sit outside without getting swarmed!  So we packed the whole team inside our teenie little house. Good bonding time with the new people!

During our time at home over the holidays, pineapples also came into season.  They’re everywhere right now and we eat them all the time!  In the market one day I found a little guy that was just too cute not to buy.  There’s a picture below of it next to my hand.  Remember the picture a few months back of the giant snail?  The pineapple is the same size!  Crazy!

Moz Pineapple

Our major drama shortly after the holidays was that Thika went missing.  He was gone for two full weeks.  We were sure he was toast.  He just doesn’t disappear for that long!  But one afternoon I stepped outside and saw a little dog trotting along the street outside ouf our house.  I yelled, “Thika?” He turned his head.  So I yelled again, “Thika!” and he paused, looked at me, then came bounding up to the house as if to say, “Oh ya!  I live here!  I almost forgot!” Needless to say, that was a very happy moment for us since we could not have imagined living a whole year without our puppy! It has been great to have him back.

Thika's Chair

Last weekend we took a trip down to Massinga to watch the Super Bowl. It was very exciting to finally get to see a football game. It has been way too long. It definitely was an interesting experience though. We had to watch the game in a 24 hour gas station that has probably never seen that amount of people inside it at one time. It was hilarious because the game kicked off at 1:30 a.m. local time here so we spent the night leading up to it having our super bowl party and eating snacks including little smokies and chips with guacamole. We then all walked to the gas station and just hung out for the duration of the game, which as you all know, is probably the longest sporting event on T.V.!! Luckily we were able to see the national anthem and the halftime show but were not able to see the commercials. Of course Christina Aguilera had to botch the only live rendition of the national anthem I will probably ever here this year but nonetheless it was a pretty cool experience to see all the volunteers standing up and really taking in the moment. When you don’t get to hear it ever, you really appreciate it. Awesome experience. We tried to document it as best as we could but as you will see in the photos, it was a pretty small and cramped space and it was difficult to take some good photos.  However, someone did manage to snap a good one of a very sleepy volunteer who just couldn’t make it through the game!  Guess I get to check “sleeping on a gas station floor” off my list!  You will notice though that even in my sleepiness, I somehow found my way to the cookie aisle!
National Anthem

Super Bowl Party

Super Bowl Sleeping

Well I hope that you guys enjoy the photos that we have attached and everyone is doing well back home. We miss you guys and will talk to you soon.
Brian and Jordan
Also, this is our new and final address for packages and letters.
Brian and Jordan Mills
Corpo da Paz
CP 331
Chimoio, Mozambique

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New Address

Hey Everyone, I hope you all enjoyed the last blog post since I doubt we will ever be able to have such a comprehensive update like that again! :) It was a lot of fun getting to do that though. Thanks again to Jordan’s parents and Karen for all they did to help us be able to do that.  The only purpose of this blog update, however, is to inform everyone of our new address in case anyone is planning on sending any letters or packages anytime soon. The new address that you can mail us to is:

Brian and Jordan Mills

Castelo Branco/Corpo da Paz

Rua Sussendenga 295

Chimoio, Mozambique

And as mentioned before, it is not a bad idea to write Jesus Saves and such all over the package to just try and limit the amount of digging around the post office crew will do. It obviously doesn’t guarentee anything but it can’t hurt. Thanks again everyone and have a good christmas. We will definitely be missing all of you this holiday season. All the Christmas music we’ve been listening to sure won’t help either… :)

Tchau!

Brian and Jordan

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Giant Update!!

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!

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WE’RE ALIVE!!!

Alright guys, this is long overdue but, finally, here is a blog post! We had the unfortunate luck to have our computer crash on us again about a week after we returned to site so have been stuck these past couple months. Couple that with our cell service not being very good in Gorongosa since we have returned and I feel like we have not been able to keep in touch lately.

Well first of all, we want to say thank you to everyone for when we came home last July. We had such a great time seeing everyone and having the opportunity to catch up. It was a really refreshing break for us and now we are set to finish out our service. We already miss everyone and are now looking forward to Jordan’s parents coming out in November. That will be really exciting and another refresher to keep us going!

Well, I guess I should start from when we returned. Much has happened in the past couple months. Life was really crazy when we got back to Moz. First of all, we had dental check-ups in Maputo so had the opportunity to get to stay in a nice hotel on Peace Corps dime for a couple nights in order to see the dentist. After two nights, I then went off to Inhassoro for a JOMA meeting. I then had the luck to stay in a resort hotel in Inhassoro, which is on the beach, and eat great food and just have a really relaxing time. Meanwhile, Jordan remained in Maputo for a conference called PSN. PSN stands for Peer Support Network, so if any volunteer is having any troubles with any issue, Jordan is one of a few volunteers who they can contact to discuss these issues anonymously. So needless to say, we had a really easy time reacclimating to Mozambique. It was really surreal because we not only got to attend those fun conferences and stay in resort-like hotels, but we were granted the opportunity to catch up with a lot of PC friends that we hadn’t seen in awhile!

Once these conferences were over, we were flown back to Chimoio, which was really lucky because we had all our suitcases from home so we didn’t have to worry about travelling with them by car. It was really nice to finally get back to Gor though; I was really excited to see everyone at site that I missed, including Thika, Espanhol, and all my students.

However, time for being home was really short lived because after being home for two nights, I had to pack up and head to Beira for the Sofala Provincial Science Fair. I had four students in tow and they all did a great job. Two of them, created a skin lotion from local matierials that is supposed to be used for skin irritants or rashes, and then the other two did research on a disease that is plaguing the chickens in our community. One of these two kids ended up taking second place so that was exciting. I had a good time with Science fair and look forward to doing it again next year when I will be around for more of the planning and preparation.

Once Science Fair was over, I finally was able to return to site and relax for a while. Of course, a week later, Jordan had to fly down to Maputo for a REDES meeting that lasted over the weekend. It was starting to seem like we were never going to be able to just relax at site but after that, we didn’t have anything to do for about a month so that was nice. Once Jordan returned from her conference in Maputo we started preparing our English Theater group.

English Theater was definitely more of Jordan’s project but I would assist from time to time but Jordan organized a great skit and the kids were amazing. It was incredible to see how quickly they learned their lines and we were both really proud of them once they delivered their play on Sept. 18. The theme of this year’s English Theater was Be The Change. The script told the story of a Mozambican student, Jenny, who was not allowed to study because as a woman, she was supposed to stay in the house and clean and do work. She had a dream to be a Biology teacher but never had enough time to study or go to class so had to resort to sleeping with her teacher in order to get a passing grade. However, she also received HIV from sleeping with this teacher so then had to deal with that on top of everything else. She had good friends and a good teacher who helped her and she moved in with the good teachers sister and was able to achieve her goal as being a teacher and went on to help her students in the future who suffered the same trials. It was a well written script and you guys would be amazed at how well the kids performed it. I recorded their play with my camera and will try and send it out sometime in the future when I have good internet again so you guys can see it. Hopefully, it will work….but no promises!

Finally, the reason that I am in Maputo right now is because the new training group has arrived and I was able to come down and help receive them so I am helping out with the orientation right now in a swanky Maputo hotel. It has been real fun and definitely a trip getting to see all their faces and think back to those days when I was coming to Moz and not knowing what I was getting myself into. Tomorrow, we head to Namaacha and I get to spend the next week with them there and help them get acquainted to their life in Training. I am really looking forward to it. Meanwhile, Jordan remained in Gor for these couple weeks and is helping out with my class but I will be returning the favor in a couple weeks when she gets to come down and help out with the trainees at training and I have to stay at site and teach her classes. God help me…. :)

Well, let me reiterate, we miss all you guys so much and think of you all the time. We have pictures of many of you up on our wall at our house and are so proud to show people when they come over and talk about you guys. Now that we finally have a computer again we will try harder to keep in touch with y’all and hope that you guys have a great winter and football season. GO BEAVS!! They will be back, don’t lost faith yet!!

Tchauzinho,

Brian and Jordan

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