Monday, March 13, 2017
It’s officially week 2! We have spent every day during the past week working in different schools— Planning at night, waking up early, training all day, and then making our way back to the Larson’s for a bottle of Coke. (This has become our group’s tradition.)
On Saturday we facilitated a training for teachers at a school called Canthina do Ceu. The teachers were so engaged with us, and this time, despite the need for translation by the lovely Khazi (a pastor from our first school), this training session was more of an exchange between two different cultures of educators. As much as we were able to pass on to them, we have gained so much to bring back into our own classrooms. Though this may not be in the form of a ball toss or a card sort, we will take with us a new-found appreciation for what we have.
This was 6 days of training in a row, both tiresome and fulfilling all at once, but despite our exhaustion, we packed up the car and headed out, passports in hand, to Kruger National Park in South Africa. And this is where it gets exciting.
After about a two hour drive into South Africa, we had to cross the border, once on our way out of Mozambique, and again on the South African side. I was expecting this to be more hectic, scary even, but we got out, stood in line, got stamped, and were back in the car. It was seamless. (Almost.)
Our last turn was into the Elephant Walk Retreat, right outside of Kruger. The cabins were beautiful— completely wooden with large, open rooms, all opening up to one long deck. And from here was the best part of the trip so far. The view was breathtaking. One of the Larson’s good friends, Johan braai-ed for us, a delicious South African barbecue, with salted filet, lamb, and boerewors, a lamb sausage. I of course loved the grilled corn the most, but I think the group collectively enjoyed the lamb the most. (Thanks, Johan!)
As Johan braai-ed, a big herd of elephants walked down the river we were staying on. There must have been close to 20! For Yohan, this view was just the norm, but for us— well, we couldn’t keep our eyes (or cameras) off the sight.
At 3:30am we woke up to a loud roar (or what I thought was a roar). There were hippos in the river calling out. Whether they were playing or fighting, it sure was something. After this, I was way too excited to sleep. I tossed and turned in my bed waiting for the sun to rise, but the full moon was so bright. There was this bed outside on the deck with a mosquito canopy over it— too covered in moths and beetles to sleep in to begin with, but was calling my name now. I climbed in, pulled the blanket up to my shoulders, and watched the moon fade. The hippos were quieter now, and the birds were growing louder. At 5am, everyone else came out of their beds to take in the sky.
We met our guide, Goodman, at the gate to Kruger (only a minutes walk from our cabin) at 6am. This is the part where pictures will speak louder than words. Along our 10 hour safari throughout Kruger, we saw so many animals. Unfortunately, none of the “big cats,” but we did see elephants (a big 5), giraffes, zebras, a lot of (tame) impalas, a wart hog, rhinos (another big 5), kudos, a mongoose, many exotic birds (including a brown-snake eagle and a fish eagle), a velvet monkey, Cape buffalo (and another big 5), water buffalo, wildebeest, hippos, crocodiles, turtles, antelope, and many creepy vultures. Take a look!
Not featured in the list above: the termite-mound we thought was a leopard and the large tree root we mistook for a lion.
Cassie, Kyle, and I woke up this morning and headed to Project Purpose, a home for the children of prostitutes. Project Purpose is run by the Larson’s friend, Katie. There were about 15-18 children at this home, including one little baby named Elsa. Only 8 months old, her little feet were smaller than Kyle’s thumb. We sat at tables with these children and played with crafts practicing spelling their names, their favorite animals, and singing songs. The kids were so well behaved and respectful, and it was hard to walk away, even though we only stayed for around 2 hours.
This afternoon we will head over to another orphanage to play with more children. Until next time!
Kyle, Cassie, Lauren, me, and Kate.
All photos featured in this blog are taken by Lauren Morrow.