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It may already be three weeks since I left Zambia, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t think about Livingstone and the people there almost every day. It was an amazing experience and I hope to be able to do something similar again.

So for this last post on my experiences there, I want to share a bit of what life was like on a daily basis and then talk about how that life led to making very dear friends veery quickly.

As I think I have mentioned, during the time I was in Livingstone I was staying in volunteer house with as many as 40 volunteers. While originally I had hoped to be able to stay with a local family during my time there, I quickly realized that being with other volunteers was also quite valuable.

The location, was the Sunbird Guest House (http://t.hostelworld.com/hosteldetails.php/Sunbird-Guest-House/Livingstone/30773?source=adwordsdynamic&network=g&creative=80887456820&adposition=1t1&uniqueclickID=11154187602182511189&sub_keyword=_cat:hostelworld.com&sub_ad=b&sub_publisher=ADW&gclid=CjwKEAjwp56wBRDThOSZ3vqGzmESJABjNaj9I9ZoBJ_gcAJU97eTSz7CWstmSohXQpJ-kfXEfrtNtxoCEo_w_wcB) used by Dream Livingstone Zambia (http://www.dreamlivingstonezambia.com/), the local volunteer organization that handled our placements and the day to day things that needed to be done in Zambia, to house volunteers. IVHQ (https://www.volunteerhq.org/) handled everything prior to my getting to Zambia and does so for projects in many countries.

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Life there could be chaotic at times with 40 people, but there some good places to hang out and chill.

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That said, life there was not easy, but you got used to things like the following:

  • doing your laundry in a bathtub
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  • sleeping under a net in the top bunk
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  • sharing a tiny fridge and a not very large closet with 2-3 other people
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  • a pretty tiny bathroom – the almost always cold shower wasn’t that bad given how hot it was there
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  • a dining room that was so crowded that it was a constant challenge to get to and from the tables
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  • washing dishes with a sponge that had seen better days a long time ago</li

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  • learning to enjoy instant coffee
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    Yes, it was hard at times. But in comparison to the kids we were working with, it pales dramatically.

    And, if it weren’t hard, the friendships that were made in only a few short days probably would not have happened. I can’t list everyone here who I hope to stay in contest with because if I try to, I know I will miss someone and that would be awful. Thanks to things like Facebook, and other communication options, it is possible to stay in touch.

    And hopefully, as some of us continue to travel, we will have chances to see each other again. Just writing this is making me cry, knowing how much I miss each and every one of you who I spent time with

  • playing cards
  • watching sunsets
  • walking to and from school
  • splurging on expensive dinners
  • going on safari
  • hanging out on the swing
  • stargazing during the power outages
  • whitewater rafting
  • hiking around Victoria Falls
  • singing along with guitars and other instruments
  • exploring the markets
  • discovering village life
  • And doing other things that I am sure I am forgetting.

    Peace, and a hope that we will meet again someday.

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    For my last weekend in Africa, I decided to return to Chobe once again. I realize that it had only been a month since I was there, but I don’t know when I will be back in Africa and wanted to take in the wildlife one last time.

    This time, the group from the volume house that was going was smaller, there were only four of us, so we had tons of room in the van on the way to the border.

    Upon meeting our guide, we had our quick coffee and pastry and the set out on the boat cruise. For this part of the trip we were not joined by any other folks and we also were tolls tent only 2 others would be joining us for the game drives and camping.

    It was quite interesting how much the river had changed in only 3 weeks. We saw a lot less crocodiles, and the hippos were more active. Some of my favorites from this part of the journey are:

  • seeing a fish eagle with a fish in tow
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  • spotting a crocodile with a wide open mouth
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  • and a hippo fight – I can’t include the movie but these are shots before hand
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    We also saw another elephant crossing and and ensuing mud slinging, maybe rye next time you tire of political adds you can remember this picture and smile for a least a short time.

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    And, I saw a few new birds including:

  • the black backed night heron
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  • the goliath heron
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    And I got a couple of good pictures of some old favorites.

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    When we returned to the hotel for lunch, we met the two folks who would be joining us for the rest of our trip. In my opinion, we really lucked out, it was a woman who originally came to Africa as a volunteer years ago who was taking a young girl who was essentially her unofficially adopted granddaughter. So it was great to be joined by folks with similar mind sets as ours.

    Before we reached the park gates we were treated to a great treat of seeing wild (also known as painted) dogs.

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    We then began what turned into a tour of babies (and a few other things) with an elephant nursing and a baby hippo.

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    It seems not matter how many elephants I see, I can’t stop taking photos of them. Not sure what it is, but the results are often pretty cool.

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    The giraffes also work their magic on me fairly often.

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    Near the end of the day we finally spotted some lions, they were pretty far off, but we could see them, especially with our binoculars.

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    A little later we saw one a bit closer, but that was to turn out to be it for the weekend, despite searching (too much in some of our minds) a lot the next day. We did hear them from camp that night, but didn’t see them again.

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    But before heading to camp, we saw a few zebras and had some amazing views of the sunset.

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    At camp, we once again had great food and an awesome fire. In addition, we had a full moon that night to enjoy.

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    Amazingly, it was quite a bit warmer than three weeks earlier, which meant I slept a lot better and was thus ready to go looking, unsuccessfully as noted above, for lions early in the morning.

    Despite searching so much, we did get a few other treats, including an amazing sunrise to go with the sunset from the night before.

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    I was the first to spot both a black backed jackal and a new bird, the southern carmine bee-eater, which was migrating through at this time.

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    And we got a very special treat of seeing a baby giraffe among other giraffe phot ops.

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    Plus a few more zebras and another super cute baby elephant.

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    We also witnessed a very unhappy elephant, the videos of whom I can’t include here, but suffice it to say, there was quite a bit of trumpeting going on.

    Finally, we were treated to one last view of a large group of elephants, yes including a baby, near the river giving us some great photos with reflections in the pools along the banks.

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    With the first week (well partial week due to the holiday and orientation) of volunteering behind me, it was time to play tourist for the weekend with some fellow volunteers. Given his much I enjoyed all of my safari excursions last year, it made sense to jump right in and head to Chobe located in Botswana.

    In order to get to and across the border with time for a boat cruise before lunch, we needed to be up just as early as on a work day as our van was scheduled to leave between 6:15 & 6:30. The driver was a bit late, but I think all 13 of us were squished into a 9 passenger van and on the road by 7.

    The boarder crossing was essay, but a bit different than when we came in from Zimbabwe last year. This time we had to exit Zambia, then get a ferry across the river where we met our guides who drove us the short distance to border control in Botswana. First there was an initial check of our passports to make sure we had not been to any countries with diseases they are trying to keep out of Botswana, then we got our official passport stamps. Just like last year, we needed to “clean” the bottoms of our shoes in some pretty mucky looking water.

    After a short drive, we reached a lodge where we had a quick snack compete with real coffee and real milk – decadence after a week of instant coffee with milk powder. Soon after that we boarded a small boat and headed out into the Chobe River.

    Many of the animals were the same as what I saw last year, but it is always interesting to try to add to the list as well as see the same creatures doing different things. He memorable sights of this part of the trip were

  • the elephant crossing
  • hippos lounging in the mud
  • a baby crocodile
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    And of course thee were plenty of fish eagles.

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    We then headed back to the lodge for lunch where we all gorged ourselves, most of us hitting the main buffet twice and the dessert bar at least once. After a week of white bread for breakfast, and launchers full of processed carbs such as white rice and pasta we welcomed those vegetables and feta cheese, and the meat eaters among us welcomed those selections as well. I particularly liked the warthog stew and also found the fish quite nice as I hadn’t has any for a while.

    After lunch we split into two safari land vehicles and headed out over land for more adventures. Some of the memorable moments of the afternoon were

  • the elephant greeting
  • a baby monkey
  • lots of kudu
  • warthogs sunbathing
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    But the best was left for last. With sunset fast approaching, and a need to be off of the roads by dark, our guide somehow, with his years of experience, found some lions. We saw five of them, a single female first, and then a group of four. Later we found out that they we’re part of a pride of 8.

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    Because of the time, we were only able to snap a few quick pics before heading to our campsite. Yes, those of you who traveled with me last year read right, campsite. The kind with real tents and food cooked over a fire that I recall saying I would never stay in on a safari a little over a year ago. We did have guides with us, so it wasn’t the self camp thing, but I must admit I was a bit nervous before hand about sleeping out in the wild.

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    Dinner was excellent and the campfire was delightful. But at 10 PM it was time to settle in for the night, bundling up to try to stay warm. Surprisingly I slept OK, we did have some mattress pads provided so we weren’t sleeping right on the tent floor. But around 4 AM I woke up cold and hearing something howling outside (later I found out it was a hyena) and am glad I didn’t know that at the time. Of course, even without this, there was no way I was going to get up to use the “facilities” until it started to get light.

    After a quick and light meal it was back I to the vehicles for a morning game drive. Where, amazingly, we saw more lions. This time we even saw another nursing to her cubs, very special.

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    And a lion greeting.

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    The other main sightings of the morning were lack backed jackals and of course numerous lilac breasted rollers.

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    We returned to camp for an early lunch during which we were graced by elephants right on the outskirts of the site and a striped kingfisher, who at first seemed out of place since we were quite far form water, but it turns out that this one eats insects.

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    After lunch we were back on the road for a bit more than four more hours during which we saw a tawny eagle almost carry away a francoline, but the eagle was young so its lunch got away.

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    We also saw plenty more zebra, elephants, giraffes, and different types of antelope, as well as an osprey who was migrating through at this time of year.

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    Most memorable during the afternoon was the moment at the end where we saw two young male giraffes mock sparring, with the young female standing nearby looking as if she just didn’t understand the guys – after all, boys will be boys.

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    And, even with the camping, and the hyenas, I will be going back to Chobe one more time before I leave Africa.

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