15 October, 2014

Global Handwashing Day

Today is Global Handwashing Day! Yes, it's a real thing....

Unfortunately, I found out about this too late - and was in Windhoek at the time - and so unable to plan anything for my village. BUT, since I will be here next year (probably not in the village though), I'm planning on getting ahead of the game and trying to set some things up...and maybe help them out a bit, even if I'm not actually present there....Plus, I can help pass along this info to other PCVs, and maybe get something going....

For those of you who are teachers, parents, or just involved with your community - 
The website for Global Handwashing Day has soooo many resources you can use - for FREE!

Check them out below (click on the picture)...and pass along this great health info...

Good luck and let me know what happens!

In Peace & Love,

13 October, 2014

An Oryx Holiday The Little Bugs preschool visit

An Oryx Holiday

After our balloon ride over the Namib Desert we visited The Little Bugs Preschool. Little Bugs is an early childhood development
center created by Namib Sky Balloon Safaris and offers free education to children the the Sossusvlei region. The following is a quick look at this school. Who could imagine that in the nothingness of a desert a place like this would exist!! You can look online to find out more about it or if, simply, you want to see better videos.

An Oryx Holiday - Part 8 - Erindi Game Reserve

8. Erindi Game Park

We left Erongo Wilderness Lodge and were just a few kilometers away from Erindi but it took us about 11/2 hours to get there because we were on a D road, which means we were traveling only about 30-50 mph. And once we got into Erindi we had to slow down to 30 kph because of elephant warnings. We saw no elephants but we did see baboons, giraffes, steenbok, and impala. And we were within 50 feet of two wonderful giraffes...one kept his eyes on us while the other one kept eating. 

We arrived at Old Traders' Lodge and were shown to our rooms...#29 and 30. We walked up to the restaurant which had a deck overlooking a large watering hole. It was here that we saw a large herd of African Elephants which are bigger than the desert ones we saw in Damaraland. 

There were 3 baby hippos down at one end and about a dozen crocodiles all around the hole. 

Our first game drive lasted from 3:30 to 6:30. Our driver and guide's name was Tim who gained Diane's confidence as he sat in the driver's seat waiting for us and loading his gun. The other three people were from Swakopmund and had been to Erindi many times before. He wanted to see a leopard and a pangolin, which is very rare. So we spent a good deal of this 3 hours looking for leopards. We never found one. We found a male ostrich sitting on a nest of 24 eggs.

 We knew it was dad because he was a very dark black color. He usually sits on the eggs at night because his color blends in with the night. The female is brownish and blends in with the bush during the day.We also saw 2 male lions, Goldie and Shadow, wildebeests, oryx, impala, eland, and zebra. Tim was able to tell us by looking at the tracks they left that a lion and lioness were mating on the road and that she probably swatted him afterwards. Mating is very painful for the female because the penis has a barb on the end of it which somehow helps to pull the egg down for fertilization. We went back to the lions who were brothers and had recently been in a fight but this week seemed to be the first time they were near each other again. Around sundown is the time when they wake up and after they stretch, yawn, and clean themselves, they roar. We waited but the roar never came. 

On the way back to the lodge it got dark. These guides are trained so well to see animals and interpret tracks. Tim, a young guy from Botswana knew from the time he graduated from high school that this is what he wanted. Besides an initial six month course he had to take all kinds of other courses on all other aspects of guiding. As we drove back to the lodge Tim waved a spotlight from side to side across the road. He was looking for the reflection of animals' eyes. Suddenly he stopped the 4x4, got down and picked up a spider. He knew it was there because he had seen the reflection of it's eyes.

We got back at 6:30, showered and went to dinner which was a buffet.

The next day we got up early and did another game drive...this time with Louie. Louie "talked shit"...that is he told us a lot about black and white rhinos' droppings. 

When the black rhino bites off a stalk of a plant, it is in a 45 degree angle at both ends...as he bites it off in sections. The alpha rhino poops in one place, after which he scratches the ground like a dog would after deficating. We also saw 2 lions copulating and Diane got to film her first pornographic film....which lasted 15 seconds after which the female rolled over on her back and went to sleep. Nature at its best!!

We were told during the mating season these lions will copulate 120-150 times a day, and ONLY when the female wants it. If he tries to initiate this, he may get seriously injured by the mrs. It may take as many as 3000 couplings for a lion cub to be born. Unfortunately, this male was shooting blanks. The breeding lion is enclosed in another area. We also say the oryx, impala, steenbok, and giraffes. For our coffee break, Louie took us high up so we could overlook a large area of Erindi. Up here we saw a black rhino roaming the bush, but we were not worried as he was 1/4 mile away.

When we came back for lunch we sat outside overlooking the waterhole and were fascinated by the interactions of 30-40 baboons who came to eat from the tree  by the waterhole. 

When they drank, they cupped their hands. Diane especially liked the one mom with a small baby. 

We also saw 2 giraffes licking the salt block. They approached the waterhole from far off. First we saw their heads above the trees and then slowly they approached.

For our evening game drive we chose to do the Telemetry Drive with Tim. His goal was to find the cheetahs. The animals are collared and so Tim plugged in Chester's number on his gps system and drove around pointing an antenna, stopping often to pick up the signal. We drove around for over 2 hours before we spotted them and even then they were so camouflaged the driver had trouble seeing them. 

We saw a honey badger which made Johanna very happy. The honey badger didn't give a shit. ( see You Tube video on honey badger). 
Look carefully...he's to the right of the picture.

We also saw lions, wildebeests, Eland, oryx, steenbok, and springbok. 

We ate dinner and during this time a large pack of wild dogs came to drink at the water hole. Just after dessert one of the employees announced that there was a black rhino right outside the restaurant. We ran out there to take a photo.

The next morning, we cancelled our walk with the cheetahs and went on our last game drive with Immanuel. On the way there John was very surprised by a kudu which ran right in front of him from inbetween the rooms. This drive was the same as the others except the driver spotted some fresh elephant poop and alas up ahead a short distance were 3 African elephants. We also were quite surprised to see the two cheetahs again...about 20 km from where we saw them the night before. During  the drive we stopped and got out and Immanuel set up a table and we could choose among coffee, tea, or hot chocolate. Amarillo was substituted for milk. It was during this time that Johanna got into a discussion with Immanuel about a woman's place in the world. He could not accept that a woman could work outside the home. He said a woman should cook and clean the house. The man should work. 

We had been here for two days and had gone on 6 game drives. By doing this we missed seeing many animals congregate around the water hole. So we told Tim we wouldn't be there for the afternoon game drive. Instead we sat on the deck overlooking the water hole for the entire day. We played with our computers and drank wine and really it was the first day we had done nothing. Little activity occurs at the water hole during the day. Many animals are active during the night and then find a shady spot during the day and go to sleep. But around 5:00 pm over the course of 45 minutes 3 elephants appeared and drank water and splashed sand on their backs and played. Over to the right there was a large group of hippos who had been laying in the sun all day and had just gotten back in the water. One of them called out to the elephants it seemed. One of the elephants walked over to the edge of the water and stood looking at the hippos for the longest time. Eventually he walked away. We saw wild dogs, hyenas, zebras, impalas, and wildebeests gather at either the water hole or the salt blocks. But the strangest sight was watching the hippos...who are supposed to spend 80% of their time in the water. One by one, very slowly, every hippo came out of the water and walked away from the water hole into the distant bush. We have no idea why or where they went as we left the next day without having a chance to talk to the guides.

07 October, 2014

An Oryx Holiday - Videos

Here are a few videos my mother has been working on from their recent trip (and they weren't quite finished when making the blog posts):