Saturday, 13 July 2013

Part Two: South Africa

Since I have so many photos, I'll keep it brief.

We cross the border and suddenly the fields are green, the water is safe and the roads are paved. A strange and surprising contrast. We explored Kruger Park in our own vehicle (I didn't know we could do that!!). We stayed in three different and breathtaking places in and around the park, taking our time to explore and enjoy. We drank great South African wine every night and on one very special day, met elephants at a conservation and education centre.

I'll let the pictures tell the highlights :)

adventure girl

Skukuza: The camp inside a compound in Kruger 

A meal?


Sunday, 7 July 2013

Part One: Maputo, Bilene and Beachy Mozambique

I've had a ton of photos to sort through from our epic adventures in Africa. I've also had a lot to think about with regard to this trip. This was much more adventure than vacation and I've needed a little time to sort through my ideas (and laundry ;). My foremost feeling is gratitude. I'm grateful for my fabulous kids, who were patient, brave and reasonable; my sweet partner who shouldered more than his share of the planning and work of it all and our generous, awesome hosts Genny & Camille. I'm grateful to live where I do, in this time and place. Wow, we are in good shape in Canada. Every time I travel, I come home with a new gratitude for our sweet life and all our good fortune.

I do realize how ridiculous it is to say "Africa" when describing where I've been. It's like visiting Halifax and claiming to have explored North America. It is my romantic soul, who has dreamed of the continent since I was a wee adventure girl, that felt like I was finally getting a small taste of this land of mystery and majesty. I realize that each country, village and neighborhood is unique, of course. There is a much larger conversation to be had about this very complex place, but it's not for this space right now.

The word AFRICA encapsulates (in my imagination) the scenes from the National Geographic magazines I flipped through as a youth; the novels and films that were set in that most wild of settings (Out of Africa, The God's Must Be Crazy, The Power of One, to name but a few...) and the nature shows I've absorbed on rainy Sundays. If you have yet to watch the BBC series Planet Earth, do it. I had a lot of powerful nature imagery in my head, but I left a great deal of our destination un-investigated. I knew we weren't stepping off the plane into the wild savannah, but I can't say I knew what to expect of the cities and towns except that it was going to be drastically different than what my kiddos were used to. I was surprised at how calm and accepting my little ones were. They are still so young, but it was lovely to hear Jack's comments and observations.

A tiny bit about Mozambique: It's a stunning coastal country in South East Africa, rich in natural resources, the national language is Portugese, the seafood is fresh and tasty and the people are very beautiful. Also, it is a developing nation where safety is a small concern, the water is not potable, malaria is a bit of a risk and some guidebooks still caution travellers about land-mines. I'm a flexible and adventurous mummy, with a firm belief that stepping outside of your comfort zone often delivers the greatest rewards... And my anxious, mama-bear side really battled with the adventure-mom side during our travels, as you might expect.

My dreams are what directed me to an "african" adventure, but our family was what allowed these dreams to become a reality. My sister and brother in law are living and working in Maputo and their home was our base, allowing our wee ones to enjoy their cousins and creating a feeling of safety and familiarity for all of us. They were incredible hosts and helped plan an itinerary too amazing and diverse to fit into one post.

...So here is part one.

sunrise in Bilene, where we spent the night in a hilltop cottage and listened to monkeys on the roof at night. At least, we hoped they were monkeys...
good morning 

fishing boats in the quiet lagoon

heading to work at the craft market, Maputo

dancing to the music at the market where we had a yummy cafe lunch and found treasures 

love the artists here, it was hard to choose 

the "ferry" on the way to Merçado do Peix - an off-the-beaten track gem. We drove an hour, took this ferry over what looked like hippo and croc water (to ME) and then rode in a 4 wheeler through grasses and farmlands until we reached the private cabins, main house and beachfront of this paradise. There wasn't a single creature on the beach as far as the eye could see. You may notice my "are we sure about this?" face :)

the stunning beach was so worth it!

The fish market, where we looked, haggled, bought and watched our shrimp get cleaned. A jealous kitten looks on.

A very different day at the office, we witnessed an aggressive baptism just down the beach from here. The kid got dunked like a basketball.

I was in awe of the women carrying such heavy loads, often with children in tow of course

The museum of Natural History
Artwork made from repurposed guns - French Cultural Center, Maputo

train station