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A Little Taste of Zambia   

By Clare Radford (Bishop’s)

Lighting up the water as if it were on fire

Lighting up the water as if it were on fire

This morning we are leaving for Zambia. It is crazy to think that we have just gotten home and that we are already leaving for another adventure in less than 40 hours! The education crew has really cracked down as we try to accomplish as much as possible. I am extremely happy about the progress we have made! The units look fantastic, though I’m so sad I won’t be able to see them in action.

We arrived at Zikomo Lodge in the late afternoon. As we got closer to the lodge we slowly left the busy streets and villages behind us, gradually emerged into the safari. When we pulled up to the lodge we were greeted with drinks and wet towels by the staff, as well the owner. The wet towels felt amazing after the long hot drive, wiping off the thick plaster of dirt from our bodies (the only downside of driving with the windows open down the dirt roads). Victory, the owner, bought the land in 2006, turning it into a beautiful resort. After introductions were made, we were surprised by Victory with an amazing gift. Those of us who were supposed to be sleeping in tents were being upgraded to their newly built family chalets. I wasn’t thrilled at first, as I had been hoping to experience sleeping in a tent while the lions roamed around us. Once I took my first shower outside under the stars, however, I quickly forgot how I had initially felt about the change.

Once we got settled I went for a short walk over to the river to watch the sunset, where I found pods of hippopotami talking amongst themselves. As I watched the sun slowly set, I couldn’t help but make up conversations of what they were saying to each other,

Youngsters: “Call to the others, let’s go! We’re starving!”

Head honcho: “Patience young ones”

I laughed to myself as I took in the assortment of reds and oranges that lit up the sky. I have seen my fair share of beautiful sunsets at my family’s cottage, but as the sun got lower and lower, the colours became darker, lighting up the water as if it were on fire. It is hard to believe that there could be another place so peaceful, especially after coming from such an oasis in Livingstonia. However, in Livingstonia we were completely secluded. Sitting here, out in the open, listening to the hippopotami has helped remind me that there is still so much out there that we haven’t seen, so much out there that we have yet to experience.

Following a night of listening to the animals calling out to one another while laying in my bed, waking up at 5 am was far from difficult, in the hopes of seeing some of the animals we had heard that night. At around 5:30 am we left for breakfast. We had what the Zikomo Lodge guides called “first breakfast” which consisted of a quick bowl of cereal or porridge and a slice of toast with a cup of coffee before heading out. The sun was rising as we began our first walking tour of the South Luangwa National Park. I wish I could go into every detail of our day, but even going on and on would not give it justice. I will, however, give you a short description of the variety of animals we saw. Numerous baboons, who didn’t seem to be phased at all by our presence, pukus, a type of antelope that gracefully leap out of eye-sight in seconds and impalas, which are a darker coloured antelope. Hippopotami, crocodiles, elephants also graced our day. We also saw guinea fowls, a bird that closely resembles a chicken and a hyena who had just caught his dinner. Warthogs, all of which we called Pumba, as well as giraffes, zebras, cape buffalos, and many different types of eagles, all of which helped make this an incredible experience. Even though we saw a wide range of animals, some in our group were somewhat upset about not encountering any lions. I can’t say I didn’t feel that same way. Having said that, after an evening of sitting next to the river with the hippopotamuses and listening to a local artist and his band, I had time to reflect on how grateful I am to be here and how much I appreciate to have the opportunity of being able to come on a trip like this.

 

 

A Hidden World Found Within

By Clare Radford (Bishop’s)

Where it all began

Where it all began

Today we left for our first adventure to Livingstonia, which is a village located halfway up a mountain. The 5 am ‘cock a doodle doo’ that normally wakes me in anger was a nice way of getting out of bed and shortly after we were herded out the door. As we drove out of Makupo, the villagers had already started their day. The group, on the other hand, was still groggy and ready to get more sleep. We did, however, watch the sunrise, but soon everyone was napping. As the others slept, I couldn’t peel my eyes away from the window. As we zoomed past what has now become so familiar, the landscape changed into heavily forested areas. My imagination began to stir up thoughts as to what one might find in such thickly wooded area. I later found out from one of my colleagues that the Canadian government donated the trees. As we continued driving past the woodland realm, my mind began to paint a picture of the fantastical world that might have been found within. My imagination brought me into dreaming of a town full of tiny people who’s houses were up in the thickly intertwined branches and the world below had unexplored portals where others had gone and never returned.

When we started to get closer to Livingstonia, I felt like we were on a roller coaster, going up and down, round and round. I didn’t mind, although when we reached the plateau of the mountain and the bus started to climb up the steep stoned path, my heart started to throb. I don’t think any of us had expected what was to come. Dr. Stonebanks made it clear to us that at any point we could get out and walk up. Our group took this as a challenge to be the first group to make it to the top together in the bus. At times you could see that some were struggling, as the bus made its way up the bumpy, uneven road. We pushed through, however, and I am happy to say we made it to our destination in one piece.

With the adrenaline rushing through our veins as we got off the bus, solid ground had never felt better. As we slowly recovered, we all walked down to the main seating area and took in the beautiful view. I wish I had words to describe the landscape but even the photos we took hardly capture the true beauty the land shared with us. After we got settled in, we had the most incredible dinner of our trip so far. Everything was freshly grown from the owner’s garden. We ate salad, sirloin steaks, and seasoned potatoes. There was a short moment of silence as everyone began to eat, taking in the old flavors we used to be so familiar with. We ate until our stomachs hurt. After the amazing meal, some of us went and sat by the fire while others went over to the bar. I decided to head back to our lodge to journal and reflect. Sitting on the porch under the stars, in complete silence, other than the voices of the others at the bar, I thought to myself that there was no better way to end the day.

I awoke the next morning in a daze, and initially I was not completely sure where I was. As I unzipped the tent I was blinded by the sun, but slowly found my way to the railing of the balcony and looked out upon the breathtaking view. I gradually made my way down to the main lodge to have breakfast, which consisted of over easy eggs, homemade toast with jam, and coffee. We had a relaxed morning, which I think everyone needed, before hiking up the rest of the mountain to see the village of Livingstonia. At Lukwe Lodge, I thought that the view couldn’t get any better; but as we made our way up the mountain, the scenery became a little clearer, and we could see across Lake Malawi and even more of the beautiful mountain terrain – possibly concealing the unknown creatures.