Tuesday, June 30

Day 36

Africa, it's time I bid thee adieu.
I may have not loved you in the beginning,
In fact, I may have not loved you at all,
But with time I learned to adore you.
With time I learned who you are.
In 36 days and you opened my eyes,
To a world that's real and alive,

A world that's opposite my own.

A world who knows how to survive

Off of the bare essentials,

Which is unlike what I see at home.
You've changed the way I see things,
And made me realize I have it alright.

But I won't envy your ways,
Or long for the days

Where power and water are scarce.

Where I think A.W.A.
Africa Won Again,
Because those are the days,

When you humbled my ways,

And taught me a lesson or two.

So, here's to you Africa, as I bid thee adieu.
I'll long for our differences.
I'll long for your crisp nights.
I'll long for the game that surrounds.

And I'll long for your adventures that ensue.

I'll long for the eyes of the children,
Whose eyes pierce my soul to the core.
Their innocence and their beauty,

The charm in their smiles is there.

They're more than just a gift from heaven,

They're God's way of lifting and cheering this world,

That can often times forget it's purpose

When dark clouds seem to have settled in,

But the light from the children will always shine through.

And hope is alive once more.

Thank you for teaching me some of life's lessons

And humbling me along the way,

You'll always have a place in my heart,

But for now I must wake from this dream,

And face reality once again.

Ke a leboga, Botswana.

Sunday, June 28

Day 34

I'm less than four hours away from Johannesburg, South Africa, meaning less than four hours away from them...



What am I doing watching this game on TV?

Friday, June 26

Days 30-32

{First car I've ever seen with my name on it's licence plate happens to be in Africa, awesome}

DAY 30-32?!? Who knew I could survive 30+ days in Africa alone, not me? Get me to day 37, and I'll be home in DC...for at least 10 hours anyway. I don't know if I'm looking forward to that or not? I'm congratulating myself on being out of the country for an entire month! I know, not that big of a deal, people do it all the time. But other people do things like this, not me. Never in my wildest dreams did I ever imagine having an experience quite like this, especially one that's paying me as my eyes become opened to this magnificent world.

Never in my wildest dreams did I ever imagine I'd enjoy staying in accommodations that looked like this...


That's right, I basically spent the last two nights in what I like to call a "deluxe" tent. When we pulled up to Nguma Lodge in the Okavango Delta, my first thought was, "You've got to be kidding me?" But it didn't take long for me to LOVE everything about this place. And how could I not love it when the trail to the lodge and my tent looked like this:


Where I feel asleep to the cries of the birds, and the stomping around of hippos, and splashing of the fish.

{hippo tracks}

I couldn't help waking up with a big smile on my face as I listened to the sounds of monkey's swinging from the trees, and birds out singing their songs.

Both mornings I'd stand at the end of the dock mesmerized by this view:

Simply breath taking. But it gets better.

My last night there I went out on a boat ride and captured all of this...


The most dangerous creature in the Okavango Delta...the crocodile...just look at those teeth!

The beauty of the Delta:


And a sunset that I couldn't capture quick enough...


The exact same spot two different times of day, sunrise, and sunset:


However, the real reason for visiting the Okavango Delta wasn't for pleasure, wasn't for capturing those amazing sights, and it definitely wasn't to see more animals that I've yet to see since I've been out here. All of those reasons were merely added bonuses to this trip. The real reason for this visit was to meet with various NGOs and stakeholders to learn more about what we can do as the U.S. Government to help them...
Who happen to live in huts that look like this..
.
Botswana is quickly becoming one of my favorite places to be, and I'm not so sure I'm going to want to leave next week!

Tuesday, June 23

Day 29

This is the reason my trip got extended, business meetings near the Okavango Delta, what a shame.

Quoting the trusty source that Wikipedia is,
"The Okavango is home to a prosperity of wildlife and attracts thousands of visitors a year.
The delta provides a seasonal habitat to numerous different species. Among these are African Bush Elephants, the African Buffalo, the Hippopotamus, the Lechwe, the Topi, the Blue Wildebeest, the Giraffe, the Nile crocodile, the Lion, the Cheetah, the Leopard, Brown and Spotted Hyenas, Greater Kudu, the Sable Antelope, both the Black and the White Rhinoceros, the Plains Zebras, the Warthog and the Chacma Baboon. Notably the endangered African Wild Dog is present within the Okavango Delta,[3] exhibiting one of the richest pack densities in Africa. The delta also includes over 400 species of birds, including the African Fish Eagle, the Crested Crane, the Lilac-breasted Roller, the Hammerkop, Ostrich, and the Sacred Ibis."

Today I was reading through a government document that cited Wikipedia, so it's got to be reliable, right? At least the Government of Botswana seems to think so. In that case, I'm hoping (with low expectations) that Wikipedia proves to be reliable when it comes to the Okavango Delta. But I won't be disappointed if I only see hippos, elephants, leopards, antelope, lions, and crocodile. I think that will suffice.

Monday, June 22

Day 28

In the hustle and bustle of wrapping things up as the end of my African adventure draws near, things changed instantaneously. While the ending is still in sight, it's not as near sighted as it once was. I love being in Africa, but I also loved the thought of going home on Friday. Instead, I'll love the thought of going home NEXT Wednesday. What's five more days, right? As I sat contemplating my last month abroad, this is the only thing that ran through my mind...

...adventurous, crazy, or just plain dumb?

May 22nd depart for Corolla, North Carolina
May 25th depart for Washington, DC
May 26th depart for Frankfurt, Germany
May 27th depart for Johannesburg, South Africa
May 28th depart for Gaborone, Botswana
June 18th depart for Johannesburg, South Africa
June 21st depart for Gaborone, Botswana
June 24th depart for Maun, Botswana
June 26th depart for Gaborone, Botswana
July 1st depart for Johannesburg, South Africa
July 1st depart for Washington, DC
July 2nd arrive in Washington, DC
July 2nd depart for SLC, Utah
July 3rd drive to Sugar City, Idaho
July 5th drive to SLC, Utah
July 7th depart for Oakland, California
July 8th depart for SLC, Utah
July 9th depart for Washington, DC
July 10th drive to Palmyra, New York
July 12th drive to Washington, DC
July 13th take a “sick” day to recuperate…
...nope!
July 13th back to work, back to real life, back to the Ronald Reagan Building I go.
But hey, at least I'm getting my "summer" I thought I'd never have, right?

Sunday, June 21

Days 24-27

I ventured out into another country this weekend, and fell in love with South Africa. The diversity you find in Africa is like none other that I've ever seen. One second you're in a poverty stricken area, where people are living without electricity and running water, and the next thing you know you're looking at mansions. I'm not going to act like I understand how things work in Africa, but I will acknowledge the fact that it feels good knowing I work for the U.S. government who is doing it's best to help out people who are less fortunate than myself...health wise anyway.

Highlights of this weekend:
  • Having a complete stranger give me a tour of Johannesburg
  • Someone following me asking for money, me telling him no, to which he tells me he loves me
  • Eating cow intestine and trachea (sure didn't know that's what it was at the time)
  • Being humbled by those living in tin cans...literally
  • Giraffe foreplay
  • Seeing zebras...FINALLY
  • Learning that when I want to see a hippo, I need to specify if I want to see it dead or alive?
  • and of course, seeing the lion
  • Megan getting proposed to! He was willing to pay 10 cows for her...I think she's worth at least 12
  • Eating ostrich
  • Seeing the most defined abs I've ever seen in my entire life
  • Watching woman dance topless (tribal dancing) and feeling extremely awkward
  • Megan and I driving down the streets, in AFRICA!!!
  • Being able to run red lights if/when we felt "in danger"
Soweto, one of the poorest townships of Johannesburg:

Eating a traditional African meal...meaning cow intestine and trachea...yummy!


Pilanesburg:


The poor dead hippo...probably not too dangerous, right?


{if you look closely at the middle picture, you can see the lion in the left corner}

I'll never look like an African, even with my face painted, but I can at least try:


Man with amazingly defined abs:



For your viewing pleasure
Soweto:
video

Pilanesburg:
video

African Cultural Performance:
video

I love good weekends...especially in Africa!