Sunday, July 12, 2009

Give me a break!

We decided that after about 4 months of a fairly relentless 7-day-week furlough schedule of travelling, speaking, promoting, etc. (no, furloughs are not missionary “holidays”), and before we plunge head-long back into our roles in Mozambique, that this would be the best time to escape for a few days’ break. Besides, we wanted to do something special for our 28th wedding anniversary.

After considering a few different options, we decided Kruger Park was calling our names. Ah yes, the sights and sounds of roaming animals and red sunsets was very appealing, so we set about booking online. Unfortunately though, the park was full. Kruger tends to be a busy park at the best of times, but it’s also high season now as school is out (I think just about everywhere in the world), so, sadly, our booking attempt was turned down. We even decided to try a day-trip a few days later but were turned away at the gate. Too many people. “Give me a break!” I thought. I bet the animals were thinking the same thing.

At the place we eventually found

So we decided to go for somewhere “near Kruger” and were delighted to find a place that is situated in a smaller park that borders Kruger (along the Crocodile River) and that boasts a few animals of its own. On our way in, we spotted some hippos loafing, snorting, and wading, as all hippos do, along the river’s edge.

This spot was about a 20 minute walk from where our room was, but we could still hear their thunderous snorts quite clearly. It’s rather like a lion’s roar (in depth and volume) in that it is much deeper and louder than you can imagine, and it tends to vibrate the very inner core of your being. A hippo can be a huge, nasty beast (I believe they come 2nd only to the croc in terms of fatal attacks on humans), so I was grateful for the fences that separated us from them. But even so, I like them—from a distance—and was thrilled that the hours of our time away were punctuated by frequent snorts from the nearby hippo pod!

Animals within this smaller park are free to roam everywhere, and that includes yards, fuel stations and the like. We were on a walk one day, busily chattering to each other, when we suddenly notice a few large male kudu just a few meters from where we were. They stood and stared at us as we stared back at them. I think in their minds they were processing, “Okay, so, what now?” and so were we. I fumbled with my camera case and managed to get a few not-so-great shots of them after they’d figured out that what they should do now is “walk away” nonchalantly.

A small herd of warthogs wandered through the place while we were there, so I took a few snaps of Mr. Pig for you to see up close. Gotta love that hair.

Dwight beckons Mr. Pig to "come hither". Mr. Pig maintains a safe distance.

I had to get a picture of some of these paintings of Great Tuskers that hung on the walls (traditionally classified as an elephant that carries ivory of 100 pounds (45 kilograms) in ONE tusk. Bull elephants with huge tusks are a target for poachers, and therefore are monitored (even named) in most parks. This painting is of “João”, one of the original Magnificent Seven who roamed Kruger in the ‘70’s and ‘80’s and who was named after a Mozambican park labourer.

It was a nice break away, but it was short as we still had last minute things to get and organize before heading to Mozambique. One of the items we needed to get was a small (power) generator.

This is a particularly economical unit that uses gasoline to put out 12 volts, which is then converted to 220 volts. Wattage output is determined by draw (for those of you who are electrically inclined...basically it means that the less power you use, the less fuel the engine consumes.) And it’s quiet, so that’s an added bonus.

From the sounds of things, our need for this little machine could be much more urgent that we realized since the province where our mission is located has experienced a “break” in diesel supply (aka: there’s an (unexplained) critical fuel shortage). This has brought things in the area to a virtual standstill. For the mission, limited diesel = limited driving and limited hours of power since the main generator uses diesel. Let’s hope this “break” is a short one as well!

Ron and Barb (Mercy Air) return today from their week of work on the mission. This means that our house is now empty again and ready for our return. We leave tomorrow morning, and thus closes the “Furlough 2009” chapter in our lives!

Dwight and a Swiss guest at Mercy Air S.A. put the Cessna away after Dwight took it for a test run and general systems check. Regular "checks" are always good to do on planes :P

I better run for now. Time to pack again.

TTYL (so long as we have fuel for internet, that is)

1 comment:

Russell said...

cool pictures, mom. Hope you guys had a safe trip and hopefully the diesel shortage is temporary.