It was our last day at the Zikomo Safari Lodge and so we packed up our tents and went to have breakfast. It wasn’t long before we were heading for the bus to leave. We made it out of Zambia without getting lost at all!! This obviously cut the length of the trip dramatically. I still was amazed at the border system they had in place here, where you literally climbed through an opening in a fence. It is crazy comparing this to what is in place in Western societies. I took this long bus journey as an opportunity to talk to Dr. Stonebanks about next year with ECCOPs, Praxis Malawi and the possibility of going up north for my practicum. There is so much to think about for next year and I haven’t even left Malawi yet! He was right in saying it is a love-hate relationship doing work like what is happening here. It is stressful/time consuming/ frustrating at times but I can`t help but absolutely love it, and through the struggles and sleepless nights I will become a better person and a better teacher. When I am back in Canada I will have to go through and organize all of these thoughts and ambitions for next year to see what is possible. All I can do right now is aim high and see where life takes me…
It is amazing how many opportunities I have been given this trip alone. Corinne and I have also been asked to help in the creation of the Board of Governors for the new school. Another experience I am ready to jump on! I have learned more than I could express and I know while reflecting about it in the weeks/months/years to come I will continue to learn. I am so thankful to everyone who made this possible.
Today was an absolutely perfect day! While we were sleeping in the tent we could hear all of the animals calling and walking by. It turned out that it was the hippos in the river beside us and some lions that were walking through the campsite. At 5AM we went to have some awesome breakfast then we were off on a SAFARI! The sun was rising as we began our tour into South Luangwa National Park. I can`t go into every detail of the day as I could talk forever while giving it no justice. Over the two days we went on 3 safaris which included two sunrises and a sunset. Rather than putting my language art skills to shame by attempting to describe such an remarkable experience I will just list the main animals that we saw and you will just have to go on safari yourself to understand why I can`t put it into words.
Lions – eating a buffalo so close you could hear the crunching of bones and tearing of flesh
Zebra – running through the dry empty land
Giraffe – a whole tower of them eating from the trees
Warthog – running around with their tails sticking up into the air
Elephant – trumpeting at us for getting too close to the babies
Hippo – my alarm clock as well as my tea buddy every morning
Puku – a type of bounding antelope
Impalas – a darker coloured antelope
Lilac breasted roller – the most amazing bird I have ever seen with 7 colours covering its body
Crocodiles – watching as our jeep went through its river
Southern carmine bee eater – a stunning red and blue bird
Kudu – an antelope with stripes on its back
Waterbuck – the backsides look like a white toilet seat
Cape Buffalo – some of the biggest in Africa
Baboons – everywhere we looked
Guinea Fowl – the funniest chicken-like bird running around
Eland – a big grey antelope
Many different types of storks
Many different types of eagles
As you can tell we had VERY successful safaris and an experience that will stay with me forever. After an amazing few days of safari we got some down time to attempt to absorb everything that we had seen. This seemed impossible as I was on such a high from it all I felt as though I was in shock. I still find it difficult to comprehend that it was all real and those animals free, and yup they could have eaten me if they desired. In the afternoon we got to watch an awesome local drama group who put on a play about learning from the bush. It was incredible how they mimicked the characteristics of each animal perfectly and how they used song to transition from scene to scene. I could not stop laughing the entire time. Afterwards we had our dinner and waited to see if we could watch the hippos passing but we were all exhausted from the fun of the trip we headed to bed. What an amazing week…wow.
We were leaving for Zambia this morning and I was so excited I woke up at 3:30 and couldn’t fall back to sleep. It wasn’t too bad though as Frank was in the same boat and we kept each other company. After doing my usual Mel updates I had nothing to do so I cleared up the hostel. By the time 4:30 rolled around I had nothing more to do so I thought I would take the opportunity to talk about Warepigs. The village has a pig hut close to the hostel where 1 or 2 pigs live along with a few piglets. During the day you see the piglets squeeze out of a hole and run around the area while you hear the barnyard squeals of the pigs inside. As evening takes over, the squealing becomes more intense as if there is some form of torturing ritual occurring. This is not the end of the dismay, at night it is a whole other story. The squealing subsides and the strange growling begins. It is not the typical piggish grunt that we are used to hearing but more of a cross between a spooked horse, and an enraged bear with only a hint of pig (just to remind you of its daytime form). The more I think about it the freakier it gets. I have come to the solid conclusion that the big pigs morph into horrific Warepigs. If you have seen the movie `The Village` (appropriate title and all) I am picturing the monsters that hide in their forest and attack people. Don’t be fooled by the piglets either, no longer are those sneaky creatures cute in my mind. The piglets are the Warepig`s spies that can escape during the day to scope out the area and report back. I have yet to decipher their master plan, but I am onto them. The lesson of this story is: DON`T TRUST PIGS!
Now back to my day, we first had to go to Lilongwe to trade our bus back to good old Shake and Break before we were actually on route to Zambia. We got to the border and had to fill out the forms to cross. It was the most slack border crossing I have ever seen! The security looked at my passport; I paid $50 and walked into Zambia. It wasn’t too far of a drive until we were on the dirt temporary roads heading to our campsite … and then we got lost. We wound up in a small town where we asked for directions which then ultimately made us backtrack onto more temporary roads driving further and further into Zambia, where we eventually headed into a village. Worried we were lost again we tried to turn around to find some people to ask for directions … and then we got stuck. The more we tried to move the deeper into the sand we went. While a few villagers tried to help, I kept the children entertained by teaching them Jump On It and the YMCA, needless to say it was quite the sight to see. After many attempts and many more villagers later we were out of the hole! Everyone erupted into cheer but were silenced as the bus sank into another hole… and then we got stuck again. After the sun had gone down and a lot more pushing, we were out and on the main dirt road once again. We went down the road that felt like a safari until we reached Zikomo Safari Lodge/Camp. They welcomed us with lemonade flutes and face cloths and a delicious meal; you could not get better service than that. We set up the tents in the dark then headed straight to bed. Well… after the guard told us we were being too loud from laughing of course.
After our weekend trips, we are often drained and tired from the excitement and the traveling. Mondays are often our most slow day of the week since we try to organize ourselves and get back into work mode. This week we felt an extra pressure to be effective since we were conscious that we only had two days of work which concluded the end of the first phase. As a matter of fact, these were Jae’s and Linden’s last days of work.
By the end of this miniscule work week we wanted to have finished all the units including the extra ones and separately go over them to make sure that every subject area was well covered throughout the year. In my case, mathematics is my secondary focus so I had to make sure that every topic included in the progression of learning was taught and that a certain progression of skills and knowledge were respected. It was interesting to go through all the units and see what the other groups had come up with in terms of topics and teachable ideas. It was the first time that I was seeing the whole year in such detail since we had worked in alternating teams and worked on three or four units each. As I read through them, I realized that there were either some mathematical concepts that were over used or that some were ignored. I needed to go back and change some of the mathematical topics while trying to make sure that they fitted well within the unit or to find a way to do so. Luckily it wasn’t too difficult and I managed to make changes that everyone seemed to agree to.
The whole thing was a race against the clock, in reality we didn’t even have those two whole days since we had a traditional dance to attend. It was an interesting experience but I felt that for some of us it just made the level of stress go higher realizing that we had en even slimmer window of time in which to be productive.
I am happy to share that with everyone working exceedingly hard, we managed to meet all of our objectives. We successfully completed phase one and were able to leave the hostel to go to Zambia and enjoy our last weekend trip.
I got up even earlier today as I couldn’t stop thinking about work. I finished up the editing and typing up the unit plans to be used for today. I then checked LEARN and emailed Mel as usual. This brought me to about 5AM and so I decided to catch up on writing blogs. By 6:30 I had finished those and was completely up to date so I thought I would write in my journal. By the time I had finished people were up and we had breakfast. I then went to visit Dr. Stonebanks and Arshad to keep them posted on the plan of action and we were off to the school once again.
Today was one of the less exciting days in the sense of workload. We had to go through the Progression of Learning to ensure we have everything we need in the curriculum. This took the whole morning but it was something that needed to be done. After lunch I spent the afternoon typing up all of the notes from the morning and preparing the documents for LEARN once again. I then sent the off and completed my work for the day. While I was doing that the others were formulating 2 other units to add as backups for Thomas when he is teaching. They did a great job and got the two done. While we were all working Roxy and Elise began the interview process with us Praxis Malawi folk. They asked insightful questions and were professional but fun about the situation. I was the first one to be interviewed and didn’t know how in depth I should go in my answers so I was the shortest interview, but hopefully they got something out of it.
When I went to send everything to Mel in the evening I found out how much work she has been doing back in Canada. She has got all sorts of media attention and awareness growing. Apparently we might have a Skype interview with McGill social media relations next week to talk about the project. It is great to have such an active person back in Canada to be doing such awesome work there; it really helps the process here in Malawi. We went to the school site once again and a 3 foot wall had been built with the pile of bricks we previously saw. I obviously used this time to run around the soon to be school while Dr. Stonebanks jokingly yelled at me to ‘sit down young lady’. I was so happy with everyone’s work I couldn’t help but be a goof with the kids that were there as well. We then saw where Thomas may be living next year and the general layout of the houses ECCOPS will be building! It is all very exciting!! Plus, Zambia tomorrow! I cannot wait!