Sunday, October 25, 2009
I think I wrote in last years blog entry that it was a jarring step back from being servants to the people of Africa who are most needy to being the ones waited on hand and foot by African hosts. The starkness of this change makes what we did in Kabanana even more important in my life. The opulence and comfort of the Zambezi Sun Resort is only several hours drive time from Kabanana yet every time someone comes to wait on me, I find myself thinking, "I am supposed to be the one serving." To me it is a good lesson of how different my life is from the children and adults in that little hilltop community surrounding Healing Place School.
Africa is hauntingly beautiful. It is exotic and rugged; beautiful and wild; filled with wide open bush country and dotted with populations of wonderful people. Once Africa gets into you, you can't get it out. This is an expression we have heard again this trip.
Saturday was Zambian Independence Day. 45 years ago, the brave men and women of Zambia fought to overthrow cololonial rule and they are very proud of that fact. Yet we didn't see the excessive displays of fireworks or partying that we might have expected. People were very mindful of the importance nontheless.
We boarded a van at 0730 and headed for the border crossing into Botswana. The Chobe River, where it meets the mighty Zambezi forms Africa's equivalent of the USA's four corners area. Namibia, Botswana, Zambia and Zimbabwe all meet right at that place. Chobe game park is just inside the border of Botswana along the river near the town of Kasane. Arriving at the Chobe Safari Lodge, we boarded a small boat for a morning of cruising the river around an island where Water Buffalo, Hippos, Elephants and Red Leeschi Antelope graze contentedly knowing they are safe from Lions who don't like to swim.
On the island side and on the shore side, we saw innumerable Impala, Hippos, Water Bok, Warthogs, and every imaginable bird. We saw several crocs but nothing too huge. One man on our boat was dangling his feet over the front until the guide reminded him that crocs can jump up to five meters towards their prey. He quickly complied by bringing his feet in.
There was a herd of nearly 50 bull Elephants crossing a shallow spot in the river to graze on the island. It was a remarkable sight that none of us will forget and one which the guide said was highly unusual.
Around 1300 hours we returned to the lodge for a wonderful meal. I had the impala stew which was very good. Most others stayed on the safe side. After lunch we boarded canvas-covered 10 seat Land Cruisers for our Afternoon drive through the park where we saw even more incredible, and wonderful animals. Most amazing was that there were over 100 female elephants with calves heading down toward the water to take a mud bath and drink as well. Seeminly unconcerned with our presence they appeared to be acting out their natural instincts - one even tussling with a territorial hippo. All in all it was an amazing day.
We arrived back at the hotel around 1900 (7:00) for dinner and relaxation. One somber note we found out was that at the border, where our driver was waiting for us on the Zambia side, a young man who peddles hand made goods to tourists had laid down in the shade of a large semi-truck for a nap. Not seeing him, when it was this drivers turn to head down to the ferry to cross the river, he drove over the poor man. Our driver had seen it and was very upset as you might imagine. I was able to pray and talk with him. Having been on the other side of such an experience and yet alive to talk about it, I think he found encouragement from our conversation and said he was thankful to the Lord that he had allowed me to live and share that story with him - not to mention to do the work we had been doing in Lusaka.
Today some are on a lion encounter. Others are planning to bungee jump (not me) and take a helicopter tour. Me, I plan on sitting by the pool and reading. We head back tomorrow. The week has gone by much too fast. We look forward to seeing you all and sharing stories with you after we arrive Tuesday night around 6:00 pm. Blessings to you all.