Thursday, November 16, 2006

A kid with an attitude...

and a REAL cute face I might add! While we were in Kruger National Park the other day with Gary we came across several herds of elephants. One herd had some real cute little guys, and this one took exception to our being on the road! He twirled around several times in his mock charges, fanned his ears, shook his little noodle-trunk and kicked up his feet (note the hind foot). He put up quite a fuss and sent dust everywhere. We were in stitches! I guess the youngsters are known for having a quick temper so this unprovoked behavior is quite common. Another not-so-funny incident was when a gianormous adult female elephant came walking up from behind then came to the side of our car, stopped an arm's length away, perked her ears forward and looked far too interested in us! My window was down and she was on my side, yikes! I sort of wanted to wind it up so she couldn't just poke that huge tusk or trunk inside, but I also didn't want to seem alive and threatening. We all sat dead still while we prayed she'd lose interest, which thankfully she did! There were a number of vehicles behind us and as some passed by us after the event they asked us how it felt at that moment. A bit like a bug actually! And isn't this just a sneaky guy? Come right in, the water's fine :)
After a fantastic day at the park it was time to take Gary to catch his flight in Johannesburg. We overnighted there then headed right back to Mercy Air to finish up some more business. Two days after Gary left, Nat Zook arrived and will join us on our flight to Mozambique tomorrow. So today there's lots of rushing around, packing, doing last minute stuff, etc. Our time here in south Africa has gone by quickly and we're very ready to head for the bush again! All going well (ie. satellite internet working) I'll try to blog again next week. In the meantime, stay out of the water!

Friday, November 10, 2006

The Trout Farm

Dwight & Gary at our favourite pitstop between Jo-burg and Nelspruit. This trip is about a 3 hour drive after 30 some odd hours in planes and airports...yes, we were tired! The car is a rental that we somehow managed to squeeze all our luggage into. Gary, who is from Red Deer, will be with us for a week as he completes our Cessna 182's annual inspection. It's great to have him here with us! Oh, and did I mention it's nice and warm here? (Sorry guys:)) ttyl

In a Faraway Land

Well, here we are in South Africa at last. Our flights were all great with just a bit of excitement thrown in here and there for good measure. Our first bit of fun was in London, surprise, surprise. We weren’t carrying liquids or vicious finger nail files as you might expect, but we were carrying our cameras and my purse separately from our carry-ons. This had not posed a problem on the 2 previous flights, but suddenly in London at the security gate we were ordered to squeeze all we were carrying into our 2 carry-on cases. Despite the good reason behind all this, it was absolutely (and borderline hilariously) impossible! No matter how we tried to re-arrange, push, pull, flip-over and repack our stuff, it simply wouldn’t all fit inside! Our exasperation elicited only one response from the security lady, “You must place ALL items into your carry-on luggage ma’am.” The “ma’am” was for me because my purse was one of the items that defied being shoved anywhere. Finally we resorted to piling things onto the tops of the open carry-ons, pulled the lids forward so as to suggest they were made to be closed, then sent them through x-ray. The x-ray guys didn’t even blink. Once we collected our things on the other side, we unpacked it all and carried it as we had been, and there were no further complaints. Go figure!

Another mildly exciting event took place on the flight from Qatar to Johannesburg. We were about 4 hours into the 8+hr flight, and nearly everyone was asleep. I was tossing and turning in my cramped space when I glanced at the screen in front of me and saw the message “We have a medical emergency. If there is a Dr. or a nurse on board, could you please report to the crew immediately.” I braced myself then summoned a stewardess over to report for duty. Apparently a passenger who drank several alcoholic beverages earlier in the flight also took sleeping pills and was now barely responsive. “We need to know if his condition warrants diversion of the flight so we can (land and) get medical attention for him.” Great. One small decision that would have repercussions for 100’s of passengers and their schedules plus the added cost of who knows how much for the airline. First I needed to assess the passenger, and just as a BP machine was brought to me, a Dr. was found and took over the case. I was thanked over and over again for being willing to step in, and if I had actually met the Dr. myself, I would have thanked him/her over and over again for doing the same. But instead, I simply returned to my tight little corner to try to catch a few more z’s. I guess the guy was okay because the remainder of our flight was uninterrupted.

Here’s a picture of the African sunrise over Johannesburg International Airport at 5 or so a.m. When we finally got out of the building we were welcomed by bright sunshine, chirping birds and diesel fumes. Just as it should be. And if you don’t agree, you obviously haven’t spent enough time in Africa!

Thursday, November 02, 2006

'Twas the Night Before Departure...

Not really, it's actually 2 nights before departure, but it might as well be one. That "harried" feeling is sneaking up on me. It feels like I've been rearranging cupboards and packing for days, yet all I see is what still needs to be done. Well, I've done this often enough to recognize the stages of departure (I'm making this up as I go, but the stages are there nonetheless). This is the reckless stage. During the early stage (when I start packing) I'm meticulous and everything I want has it's place in my luggage. The reckless stage begins when I realize that both suitcases are full to maximum capacity, overweight, and most of my earthly belongings are still lying on the bed! Quite a bit of reckless "stuff-turfing" happens at this point; it's re-prioritization really. Things I thought I needed, I suddenly realize I no longer need because other more important items would be left out if I did. I won't be-labour the point. I'm sure you get the picture. My Goodwill pile is ginormous by now! My next 24 hours will be spent weighing and re-arranging the re-prioritized, re-packed items. Packing is one of my least favourite parts about travel. What else can I say about my last moments in Canada except it's a flurry of departure related kafluff and a roller coaster of feelings as we leave our kids behind. "Sniff". I catch myself remembering what life in the bush is like and I wonder what kind of home awaits me now. It will be a rather empty one with a broken coffee maker, enough supplies to "get by" (just the way I left it), but with the added challenges of +40 weather, the beginning of bug and snake season and currently, poor water supply (let's not go there :)). And yet, I look forward to it all! God truly is good and compassionate on all He has made (including me). TTYL. And yes, if you remember, do pray for me!