Three Weeks In

This week is our third week in Malawi!  So far things have been really good.  We haven’t ventured out of the city yet, but that will change this Sunday when we head to Zambia for 4 days of safaris and relaxation!

The past three weeks have been consumed with work.   This past Friday it finally hit me that we had been going nonstop and I was so thankful for the weekend.  Since we’ve been around the house and city a lot, we’ve gotten a lot more settled in in Lilongwe.  We’ve found some favorite restaurants and cool cafes.  We have found a good running path that takes us through the neighborhood behind us.  We’ve gotten used to the power going out every once in a while.  (So far we’ve been lucky that it has only gone out twice and only for 20 minutes or so, so it hasn’tbeen an issue at all.)  We’re getting used to seeing people carrying huge loads of firewood, buckets of water, suitcases, and the occasional chicken in a box on their heads.  All in all, we feel much more settled here now.  I think yesterday was the first day since we’ve been here that I didn’t feel homesick at all.

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The house & rovers

Now that we are settling in, the fun is also starting!  While we will be working during the week, we have a lot of exciting adventures coming up.  This weekend we will go on safari in Zambia and I have to say I am thrilled to be going back to Croc Valley, the same lodge we stayed last time I was here.  We are planning a short visit to snorkel and enjoy Cape Maclear on Lake Malawi, Liwonde National Park for another safari and to see the Zambezi River, and the Zomba Plateau for some hiking!  The great thing about Africa is that once you are here, travel within is pretty inexpensive, so we’re going to be able to do a lot of fun things!

While we’ve been getting acclimated the past few weeks, we’re also seeing the great need that is present Malawi.   We’ve had a friend with a sick daughter who could not see the doctor because they did not have the $35 that it took to admit her to the hospital.  Luckily, Andrew and I were able to help our friend and his daughter, but it is a somber fact that many people die because they can’t afford medical treatment that is much less than $35.  We have had employees ask us for a pay advance so that they can buy their children’s school uniforms when the price inexplicably went up to around $60.  (School fees are a huge issue for many families.)  We’ve had employees ask for a raise and tell us that they don’t have enough money even for lunch.  We’ve listened to Malawians tell us about the many problems in the education system in Malawi and how it is actually perpetuating the cycle of poverty.   We’ve also listened to Malawians tell us about their concerns of corruption in the government and how it seems that no matter who is in power, the people are still hungry and don’t have enough to put their children through school.   We’ve seen first hand how women are still second-class citizens in Malawi.  We’ve just seen a whole lot of people that are struggling and hurting.

John & his wife, Monica

John & his wife, Monica

But we’ve also seen a whole lot of beauty.   The people here are so eager to help us and to know us.  Our guards who are at our house 24/7 are kind and hard working.  Our cook/house manager extraordinaire, John, goes out of his way to make sure we are comfortable and have the food that we like.  Today his wife is at the house doing our laundry, and she is so happy to have a small amount of income.

The Malawians are so grateful for what they have and it is truly an example for me.   I have been thinking about the Bible verse Phillipians 4:12 a lot since we’ve been here.

“I’m glad in God, far happier than you would ever guess—happy that you’re again showing such strong concern for me. Not that you ever quit praying and thinking about me. You just had no chance to show it. Actually, I don’t have a sense of needing anything personally. I’ve learned by now to be quite content whatever my circumstances. I’m just as happy with little as with much, with much as with little. I’ve found the recipe for being happy whether full or hungry, hands full or hands empty. Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am.”  Phillipians 4:12

 Many Africans seem to live out what we always seem to be talking about.

Back in Malawi

I’m happy to say that I am writing this blog post from the front porch of the house that I will call home for the next three months…in Malawi!   The last time I wrote, I was heading home after being here for two weeks.  Now I’m back working for the same non-profit, World Camp, that I visited the last time I was here!  Except with one very special addition…my fiancé, Andrew!

 

After I finished my MBA in May, I was so unsure of what I wanted to do next.  Andrew was also feeling that it was time for him to pursue something different. When Andrew and I began discussing the idea of returning to Malawi, we thought that coming here for a short period of time would be a huge adventure, but not something we were sure we could do right now, but we wanted to consider it.    Around this time, one of the World Camp founders approached me about coming back to Malawi for the summer.  Well, Andrew and I had just gotten engaged and I didn’t want to be gone for so long.  After discussing this with World Camp, they offered to take BOTH of us for this job!   World Camp wanted me to come and do management consulting and some accounting work, as well as a number of other jobs and it just so happened that Andrew has a business degree as well and is currently working on his MBA.  I guess we were the perfect fit!  After a number of other things simply fell into place, we felt like this was the right time for us to go on this adventure.  My awesome mom and I got so much of the wedding planning done before we left this summer, so when we return home in November all of the major wedding planning items will be done! 

 

Our time in Africa so far has been a whirlwind.  It’s hard to talk about everything we’ve done in the past two weeks, but I’ll try to touch on the highlights.

 

The first couple of days after we got here were spent exploring Lilongwe.  Lilongwe is a bustling city, unlike what Andrew and I are really used to.   We quickly learned we need to look right before crossing a street as the cars drive on the left hand side here.  In Lilongwe, there are lots of little shops and people selling fruits and vegetable on the streets.  There is a lot of activity here.  Our house is conveniently located right down the street from an outdoor market that sells fresh vegetables and a few grocery stores as well.  I’m always so surprised and humbled by how kind the people here are when we have to ask for help or directions.  We’re also getting used to the fact that grocery stores aren’t as well stocked here as they are at home.  Cheese is imported here and hard to find, but we just simply could not eat our spaghetti without shredded cheese on the top, so we walked to the grocery store and found two little cheese wedges in a ten foot long display case.  Success!

 

After a couple days of getting used to our new/temporary city, we headed down to Dedza for Camp Hope.  Camp Hope is a collaboration between Baylor Clinic (associated with Baylor University) and Paul Newman’s SeriousFun.  The three organizations put on Camp Hope once a year and by doing so bring together about 80 children that live near Lilongwe that are HIV+ for a week of fun and learning.  At Camp Hope, these sweet kids learn how to properly take their medication (they are all patients at Baylor), learn about the importance of nutrition, how to deal with depression and stigma, and perhaps most importantly, the campers were able to discuss their disease and their struggles in a positive, open environment with others who were dealing with the same issues.   Andrew and I were so happy to get to help out at this camp.  One of our favorite jobs was just serving food to the kiddos, and let me tell you, those kids can eat!  Andrew and I were always shocked at the portions they would want, (and eat!), but were happy to give out seconds.  You could truly see how much these kids loved learning in this environment.  In Malawi, a lot of times schools are more memorization based, rather than classes that encourage participation and hands on learning.  The kids were so engaged and loved getting to share their ideas and thoughts.  They also spent a whole lot of time learning different songs and dances.  I have never seen so much singing and dancing in my life!  Unfortunately, we couldn’t take any pictures of the kids for confidentiality reasons, but there was a whole lot of smiling faces at Camp Hope.

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A couple other highlights since we’ve been here:

 

-Setting out goals for our time here and beginning to look at the current accounting issues

-Going to a social event for expats in the city (There are a lot of other expats here!)

-Navigating public transportation

-Riding in a packed van at night and watching Andy sit on a bag of onions instead of a seat

-Eating a delicious cheeseburger at a nearby restaurant when we were missing American food

-Having an awesome cook, John, to make us meals

-Having no hot water for two days…and counting

-Watching 6 Harry Potter DVD’s (It gets dark early here.)

 

We’ve had a great time in Africa so far even though we are missing our families so much.  We are so lucky to have so much to miss back at home, and I know it will make Thanksgiving that much sweeter this year.

 

 

Leaving With A Heavy Heart

January 10, 2013

For our last full day in Lilongwe, we spent today at the Lilongwe Wildlife Center.  The center is a refuge for injured and rehabilitated animals, so it was right up my ally.  It was interesting that the government funds it.  I think it is great that the government is funding a wildlife center, but what about the schools and the infrastructure that desperately need funding?

Outside the Lilongwe Wildlife Center

Outside the Lilongwe Wildlife Center

We didn’t get to see as many animals as we did at the safari, but it was still a great tour.  I was very impressed with the quality of care the animals seemed to be receiving there.  After our tour, I went and spoke to the woman in their office about internships or volunteering, so that is an exciting prospect!

Our time in Malawi was challenging and enlightening.  It made me question things about myself and my country.  Why isn’t Malawi’s government more proactive?  Why do Malawians only eat maize? How did Zambia get it together?  Why did Malawian’s start cutting down all of their trees?   Why do they LOVE nsima so much?  Why does everyone smell the same?  Why do they sleep in their clothes?  Why are the taxes so high in Malawi when it discourages people from starting legitimate businesses?  Why are Malawians happier than Americans when they are in poverty?  Are we really all that different?  How do we help?  Would they take our suggestions?  Would they even be relevant?

Children of Malawi

Children of Malawi

It is difficult to think of the most important thing I learned on this trip is.  If I had to narrow it down from all the lessons I’ve learned, it would probably be the value of resourcefulness.  Seeing William’s windmills that he made electricity from without even having finished elementary school truly rocked my world and continues to make it difficult for me to make excuses for anything in my life.  Even when a situation looks hopeless, there is a way if we use the resources we are given and never give up.

Children Everywhere

Children Everywhere

Personally, I think that Sam from Cool Runnings made the biggest impact on me from all of the entrepreneurs we met.  Her selflessness and the extent to which she is invested in the community were so evident.   But from a standpoint of looking at Malawi as a whole, rather than just my own experience, the Neverending Food permaculture site really impacted me.  From seeing only the rows and rows of maize in Malawi, I thought that that was all that they could grow.  Seeing that this not only isn’t the case, but that Malawi has an abundant supply of food available if only the people would grow it was insane.  My hope is that Kristof and his family continue to do their work and show the people of Malawi that they do not have to die of starvation or even have a hungry season.

Life is so predetermined in Malawi, partly due to gender roles and partly due to the poverty.  It is almost as if there is no way out.  Look at William Kamkwamba, though.  He is a self taught scientist who travels the world and then returns home to a village with mud huts.  William’s village is quite rich in comparison to most due to William bringing solar energy to the village.  Most villages aren’t so lucky.  It was hard for me to be around the filth and the children clothed in rags.  I was constantly afraid of getting sick.  But out of the chaos and the poverty was Jesus and beauty.  The family I stayed with in Mchezi had so much faith.  When we woke in the morning, Martin said “the sun is shining, and that means God is still loving us.”  Seeing this display of faith in a place of poverty filled me with hope.

Sundown

Sundown

It is with a heavy heart that I leave Malawi, but I have a feeling that this isn’t the last time I will be in Africa.  I believe that after we see something or learn something we are responsible for it, so now I am responsible for what I saw and what I know.  There are children starving and dying of preventable diseases and people spending their days in an endless cycle of poverty.  I hope that some portion of my life can be committed to making even a tiny impact in Africa, because Africa has certainly made an impact on me.

“The sun is shining, and that means God is still loving us.”

Chickens & Ants in Mchezi Village

January 9, 2013

Yesterday we arrived in Mchezi Village.  We were greeted by smiling faces and, as always, lots of children! I swear I have never seen as many children in one place as I have in Malawi.

Children of Mchezi

Children of Mchezi

When we arrived at Mchezi we were shown around the village and the Community Based Organization that is in Mchezi.  The CBO has three income generating activities: a chicken coop, a tailoring program, and a youth group. One of our goals during our time in Mchezi, is to do a SWOT (strength, weakness, opportunity, threats) analysis for the different income generating activities and basically act as consultants for the CBO.  I chose to work with the chicken coop.  Chris, who runs the CBO, showed us around and introduced us to Johovo who runs the chicken coop.  (Ironically, I will be staying with Johovo’s family tonight.)  They explained to us that they raise chickens and then sell them to restaurants and vendors in Lilongwe. I was impressed by their bookkeeping.  On the wall of the chicken coop was a taped up piece of paper where they recorded chick mortality and the number of chickens they have at any given time to sell.  Their bookkeeping seemed accurate and thorough.  I was very impressed that 25% of the chicken coop’s net profit goes into savings.  (Like Suze Orman says, if you have an emergency fund, you never have emergencies!)  Of the remaining 75% of their net profit, 70% goes back to the community to orphans and vulnerable children (OVC’s), and the remaining 30% goes to operations.  I love that the CBO is run by the village people, who have assessed their community’s needs and are helping to provide answers themselves rather than waiting for handouts.

After we spoke with Johovo about the chicken coop and asked enough questions to make his head spin, we sat down in one of the rooms in the CBO for a lunch of nsima and greens that some of the ladies in the village cooked.  (Nsima is a substance made of corn that is sort of like hard grits in a patty form, and Malawian’s eat it at every. single. meal.)  We ate with our hands and were thankful for the food the women prepared for us.   After eating, we went back to the chicken coop and asked some more questions and started to think about the different aspects that we wanted to include in the SWOT analysis.

Soon after, I learned that I would be staying with Johovo’s family for the night.  Johovo’s house didn’t have quite enough room to house me, so I would be staying next door at his son, Martin’s, house.  We made the short walk to Johovo’s house from the chicken coop with my sleeping bag and back pack in tow.  When we arrived to Johovo’s house we saw that it was a small mud hut with no electricity or running water.  The sun was setting so the inside of his home was rather dark, but I could see his wife sitting on a tattered couch, and his daughter, Naomi, leaning over a pot with smoke rising out of it.  They lit a candle when we arrived to provide some light inside their home.  I asked Naomi if I could help her cook, and she was happy for the help, even if I probably ended up making more of a mess than anything.  She showed me how to make (wait for it……..) nsima!  What else?  First she showed me how to sift the ground up corn so that it was very fine powder.  We added boiling water and stirred into a thick, grits-like substance.  Then we scooped some of the nsima out of one pot into another pot of water where it formed into nsima patties.  While we cooked, chickens and a cat ran in and out of the house and over the plates that our food was being cooked on.  My germophobic nature was really being tested. Naomi had also prepared eggs and some greens to us to eat with our nsima.  Quite a feast!  The house was so smoky from the cooking that my eyes were burning and the smell of maize is stuck in my nose.

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Naomi & Jehovo Outside of Martin’s House

The Gang Inside Jehovo's House

The Gang Inside Jehovo’s House

Before Naomi served the food, Johovo prayed and then Naomi came around with a cup of warm water to wash our hands with.  I found it interesting that they were interested in cleanliness and wanted us to wash our hands, but there was no soap.  I know soap is a very expensive, luxury item, and I really wish I had brought them some as a gift.  As terrible as I felt, I couldn’t eat very much of the food.  My stomach was already still trying to handle the nsima from lunch today.  A combination of an already upset stomach with the smoke in the room did not do much for my appetite.  We ate with our hands and I tried to scoop up as much nsima at a time as I could or at least push it around my plate some.  People in Africa literally starve to death, so wasting food in the home of a Malawian was not something I wanted to do.

Naomi, Me, Jehovo

Naomi, Me, Jehovo

During dinner Johovo did most of the talking, while his wife and Naomi were almost silent.  He is very wise and claims to be the oldest person in the village.   He told us that he never wanted to take another wife and that he “tried to always be faithful to his wife.”  I’m not sure if that means he was unfaithful or not.  After dinner we “washed” our hands again and then we were shown to Martin’s house where we would be sleeping.  Martin’s home is made of concrete and has a tin roof.  This is definitely a step up from a mud hut with a thatched roof, and I have to say I was thankful for it since it was raining outside.  Martin showed one of the girls I was traveling with and I to our room.   The room was a small space just big enough for two people to lie down in and had a sheet as a make-shift door.  We laid out our sleeping bags down and brushed our teeth.  Before long Martin came back and I heard him say “Maaaryy.”  (They called me Mary because it is Jesus’ mother’s name.) “Mary, there are some ants along this wall of the room so…put your head on this side,” I heard Martin say. He said he didn’t want anything to happen while I was at his house.  So I switched the direction I was laying at Martin’s advice.  I had brought along a fitted sheet to put over me during the night in case there were no mosquito nets.  So I pulled my sheet over my head and tried to sleep.

Fast forward about two hours.

I wake up hearing a little squeaky sound.  It was like little squeaky tiny people talking to each other.  I couldn’t figure out what it was, so I tried to ignore it.  Then I started to feel something crawling on my face.  Then I felt a little, tiny something crawling on my back.  And in my ear.   And in my hair.  Now at this point, generally I would start to panic.  Scream.  Cry like a baby.  But at this moment I was oddly calm.  I found my glasses and my flashlight.  When I turned my flashlight on I was pretty horrified to find that my entire sheet and traveler’s pillow were covered in tiny, black ants.  I looked at my body and found them crawling on me as well.  I took off my clothes and shook them out and tried to assess the situation.  Here I am, in the middle of a Malawian village, at midnight, in the dark, covered in ants.  I pretty much just sat there trying to flick ants off of me as they came and tried to keep them from crawling onto my sleeping bag.  It was kind of like a raft in the middle of a sea of ants.  I checked my roommate and she was ant-free, so I didn’t wake her up.  I had my devotional with me and did some reading in that.  It wasn’t long before my roommate woke up because she too had felt ants on her.  We moved our sheets into the living room and sat on nearly demolished couches for the remainder of the night.  Needless to say, that was probably one of the longest nights of my life.  Hearing a rooster crow at 5:00AM has never sounded so good!

When Martin woke up and came out of his room a little after 5:00, he said “Mary, why you not in your bed?”   I told him I just like to wake up early, and he told me that I was “a good woman.”

I followed him outside where we walked over to Jehovo’s house and Martin started chopping wood.  I asked him if he does this every day, and he replied that yes, he does this every day to help the women with some of “their” work.  I thought this was kind of funny.  By the time I had walked next door, Naomi and her daughter had already gone to fetch water and been back.  I helped Naomi’s daughter wash the dishes from the night before.  We used one bucket of water to soap and clean the food off of the plates and cups, and the other bucket to rinse them.  It took quite some time and by the end my back was aching from leaning over so long.  Then I walked around to the front of the house to help Naomi cook the rice that we would eat for breakfast.  Again, just crouching down in front of the pot made my legs and back ache.  These women are so strong.  Naomi laughed at me when I told her my legs were hurting.  Eventually we all sat down in Jehovo’s house to a breakfast of rice.  At breakfast someone asked him what he thought of Joyce Banda, the president of Malawi.  He replied, “Her husband was a lawyer, so I think she might do a good job.”  Again, I wanted to laugh at these comments about women being inferior.  So often we take for granted that in America, women can truly be anything.  We have just as many rights as men and a world of opportunity open to us.  It is so easy to forget that in many places, women are looked down upon and discriminated against simply for being a woman.

After we ate, I asked Naomi about her schooling.  She had been to some high school it seemed, but had not graduated.  Her daughter’s father was a policeman in Lilongwe, but Naomi said he was not a good man.  I didn’t ask for details.  She told me she was going to school at night, and wanted to be a mechanic.  My heart broke for Naomi.  How easy would it be in the United States for Naomi to become a mechanic?  She could take online classes from her living room and achieve this goal with relative ease.  With all of the odds against her, I hope Naomi succeeds in her goal of pursuing her education.   I know that after meeting her I will appreciate my education and all of the opportunities I have been given more than ever.

My Friend, Naomi

My Friend, Naomi

After last night I have never been so thankful for my home and my family.  I consider myself a fairly adventurous person, but being awake all night with ants crawling through my hair truly tested my strength.    In Martin’s house there is a plaque that reads, “We cry out to the Lord for mercy.”  At first I thought it was kind of an interesting thing to have up in your home.  Not joy. Not peace. Mercy.  I think after last night I understand only a little better what it is like to live in an African village.  And keep in mind Martin’s house is considered extremely nice in Malawi!  My strength was tested, and I believe I came out of this experience a more compassionate person.  …With a much higher tolerance of creepy crawlers than I had previously thought.

A Lesson in Culture

January 7, 2013

Tomorrow we will be doing a home stay in Mchezi village, so today we are had a cultural training lesson with some of our friends from World Camp.

Here are some of my takeaways of Malawian culture from our lesson:

  • People in Malawi communicate nonverbally.
  • Women bow slightly when meeting a man.
  • People might not look you straight in the eyes.
  • Don’t put your hands in your pockets when speaking. Clasped hands in front of you mean that you come as a friend.
  • People might stare at you, not to be rude, but because they are curious.
  • When there is conflict in Malawi, people will discuss it with others before each other.
  • Conflict is avoided.
  • Music is very important in Malawi.
  • Chitenjay is the most important piece of clothing for a woman.  (Chitenjay is a long rectangular cloth that can be used as a skirt, blanket, towel, diaper, curtain, baby holder, head wrap, etc.)
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A Malawian Friend

After our cultural training Alex Kalumba, from Innovation Africa, came to speak to us about his non profit and some of the challenges that Malawians are currently facing.  Innovation Africa focuses on health and education issues in Malawi.   Alex explained that 7 out of 10 children will die from preventable diseases.  Only 7% of the population has access to electricity.  One of Innovation Africa’s main projects is to set up health clinics and get electricity to health clinics that already exist.  The problem with many of the clinics in Malawi is that there is no electricity, so often times women deliver their children by candle light or the light of a cell phone.  And that is if they are one of the lucky ones who make it into a clinic at all.  About 50,000 people rely on one clinic for medical care and often clinics don’t have doctors working regularly.  After nurses complete their schooling, 96% of them apply at clinics that have access to light and electricity.  From this we can see that the best nurses are not necessarily in the rural clinics.  If we could get electricity to every clinic, then nurses would go to work in the rural villages that are in desperate need of medical care.  Another obstacle to not having electricity in clinics is that vaccines and some medications must be stored in freezers or refrigerated.  While the answer seems to be to simply put electricity into clinics, the government will not put electricity where there is no economic activity, such as rural villages.  Solar power is also a seemingly easy answer to the problem, but it costs a good deal of money to get solar panels set up.

I cannot imagine being a young mother and delivering a baby by candlelight.  Thanks in part to Innovation Africa, every clinic in Lilongwe now has electricity!   This is only a small victory, but it is a start.

After Alex left, I got my sleeping bag and overnight items ready for the homestay tomorrow.  I’m so anxious to meet the family that I will stay with and to really be immersed in Malawian culture!

Saying Goodbye to Luangwa

January 6, 2013

This morning at breakfast, Shah, the owner of Croc Valley Camp spoke to us about his business. Initially, Shah owned a crocodile farm where he sold crocodiles. Once new laws were enacted to stop the killing of hippos (which was what Shah was feeding his crocs), Shah decided to turn Croc Valley into a camp. Shah said his business is quite lucrative, but it floods sometimes and it’s not as easy job.

An aspect of Croc Valley’s business that I really like, is that a portion of Croc Valley’s profit goes to the community.  Some of it goes to the wildlife association that protects the parks and the animals, and some goes to Project Luangwa that builds schools for the nearby villages.  Shah reminded me of Sam at Cool Runnings who also gave much of her time and money to help the community.  Shah also talked about trying to develop secondary markets in Luangwa, which really interested me.  Right now Luangwa only has tourism as a market and because of this Croc Valley has a huge distribution problem.  With virtually no supply chain, it’s extremely difficult to get supplies that they need out to Croc Valley.  I think that getting some kind of secondary market in South Luangwa is much harder than it sounds, but would prove extremely rewarding for the community.

After we ate an early breakfast, it was time to say goodbye to Zambia.  We drove another 6 hours back to Lilongwe.

Once we returned to the World Camp house, Kathryn and I began to brainstorm business ideas for Zambia.  There is so much opportunity here!  When we crossed over into Zambia from Malawi, there was an immediate change.  More cars, more phone lines in the city, and the people seemed to be dressed in newer clothes.  The people in Zambia were still poverty stricken, but it seems like progress is being made and they are moving in the right direction.  Billboards advertise the consequences of domestic violence and child abuse and advocate against corruption.  Zambia in general seems like a much more progressive place than Malawi.  There are still mud huts and thatched roofs and rows and rows of maize, but Zambia seems to be actively trying to improve its citizen’s standard of living.  Malawi seems almost stuck and unable to move forward.  I suppose a lot of the reason that Zambia is doing better than Malawi is due to tourism bringing money into the country.  Malawi has poached so many of its animals that safaris there are almost nonexistent.   While the Zambia’s tourism seems to be mainly focused on safaris, I think they could expand the safari lodges and differentiate the lodges from one another.   I believe that if Zambia can introduce some kind of secondary market, the Zambian safaris could rival those of Kenya and South Africa.

I hated to say goodbye to lovely Zambia, but am excited for the rest of what my journey has in store for me.

Finding Peace in Zambia

January 5, 2013

This morning we woke up bright and early at 5:00AM to eat a light breakfast and head out on another safari! When I walked outside of our cabin, I spotted an elephant hanging out in the camp ground, about 100 feet away.  An elephant!!  Animals wander in and out of Croc Valley.  Monkeys climb on the roof and hippos take a dip in the pool in the dry season.  My kinda place!

Elephant taking a peak at us

Elephant taking a peak at us

The first safari was amazing.  Even better than the night before.  We saw a leopard sitting in a tree taking a little (cat) nap.  He was absolutely stunning.  He would stretch and get resituated and lay back down so gracefully on this big limb.  At one point he opened his eyes and I was lucky enough to get a great picture of him.

Leopard

Leopard

The only disappointing this about this safari was that I wanted more.  I wanted to sit among the animals and watch them all day.  See where they go and how they spend their time and catch their food.  I could’ve spent all day there.

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Hangin with the elephants

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Pretty little bird

Lions napping

Lions napping

After the first safari we came back to the lodge.  I laid in a hammock by the river and listened to the hippos talk.  It was wonderful and refreshing to be immersed in wildlife.  After afternoon tea, we headed back out for another safari that was equally as wonderful.  Minus the bugs. At night the bugs are attracted to the light that the safari guide shines in order to spot animals eyes.  Since I was sitting right behind our safari guide, I got quite a few bugs on me.  We didn’t see any lions tonight, but we did get to another leopard. The leopard we saw tonight walked right in front of our jeep!  He was so graceful and strong.

Leopard walking by

Leopard walking by

Mommy and Baby Elephant

Mommy and Baby Elephant

I’m not ready to leave this peaceful place tomorrow morning.

South Luangwa National Park

South Luangwa National Park