a little bit of wet and a little bit of wild

7 07 2013

It has been a bit of a challenging time the last while.  Rather than rant on a blog, the way I deal with things is to go quiet.  So we have not fallen off the planet, but have been dealing with various issues typical of an expat worker. Job issues, health issues and concern over people back at home all keep us deep in thought, busy praying and worrying. 

We have had some time to get away a little, for a night or 2 at a time.

Whitesands is a well developed resort on the Northern coast of Dar es Salaam.  After getting in several hours of malls and shops that sell a range of products, in aisles where you can walk more than 6 steps, it was great to put feet up for a bit.  The wind was blowing and the rest was rather quiet, which gave us a chance to try to rest and be still.

 

So a lovely night away, with the Indian Ocean before our eyes from our room and delicious food on offer at the restaurants was a pleasant interlude from bustle of the city.

We also had a chance to get 2 nights in the Serengeti area.

The absence of crowds of people with all the associated noises was sheer bliss (I had trouble falling asleep at night without the sound of the rotary roof fan to block out all the other noises!) We had a chance to try to catch up on some bird watching, with about 90 species recorded over the time away. 

White bellied bustard, Lilac breasted roller, Ruppell’s Griffon, Usambira Barbet are captured above.  Some other favourites were Verreaux Eagle owl, Fischer’s lovebird and Bateleur eagles soaring across the skies of Africa.  We hope to get a real chance to get more bird knowledge in the future.

Although the main wildebeest migration had already passed through, we got to see some very large herds of 200-300 wildebeest still grazing before migrating.  Seeing this many wildebeest together was very special.

There was also a sense of the drama of the migration. Some herds were attempting to drink, not even cross the Grumeti River.

But they were very skittish and did not get to drink for very long.

Again and again there would be splashes, “hi-hii” ing of nervous zebras and a quick retreat.  Can you see the cause to the right of the brave wildebeest on the right there?

You, YOU try drink what you need for a hot African day with THAT in front of your nose!

 

Here is another huge example of the crocodiles the herds need to contend with on their river crossings.  There was a close snatch, but no successful meal for the croc we saw.

We had our share of sunsets. 

And even a sunRISE.  Yes, Deon and I captured a sunrise. 

Africa does dawn and dusk so very very well.

Alas, we had to deal with some real nasties.  Not all people have the same reactions, and not all are considered so tasty.  But no matter what bug repellents we used, what clothing we wore, Deon and I were both considered good buffet material for TSETSE FLIES! 

These nasty insects choose blue and black over lighter colors. (They bit like crazy through my light beige shirt.)  Deon had over 20 bites, I had over 30 which swelled like mad and itch like crazy.  Apparently Skin So Soft works to deter them.  If people are willing to send us boxes of this product to try it we will let you know if that is the truth.  We can state that no dettol/ water mix, peaceful sleep or other options available here worked successfully. 

It takes about 3 or 4 days for the great itching and swelling to subside, with sudPhoto1125den ankle-scratch dances still called upon about a week after the bites. 

It can also turn into a nasty bruise, depending on where the bite occurred. 

The numerous bites and some other medical concerns forced us to leave our trip a day early. Africa is not for sissies!

Now that I have melo-dramatised the awful terrors one faces in the wilds of Africa, let me move on to some really gruesome sights… (close eyes now if you do not like seeing some gore)

We saw not one single cat hair or predators. We heard a few hyenas in the distance at night, but there was no avenue of big teeth greeting us on the road sides.  There was more than enough for vultures to devour and we saw about 4 carcasses, with no big vulture action around: there is just too much food to be eaten.  It seems like old animals, or animals that trip and fall, or perhaps that get scratched and infected can lie in the veld for a few days before being found by nature’s cleaners. 

As always, the bush provides happiness for our souls. 

We gather our breath and face what lies ahead, reminded that the complexities of Africa: the beauty and the pain, the wet and the wild all work together. And through it all, we can keep on going.  In His strength.

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