Everything I had hoped for; everything that I had dreamt of.
A beautiful location, languages, and culture. Delicious food and even more delicious sights.
From my last blog update I had mentioned in detail the plans that Melanie and I had laid out for our trip to Africa. Did everything work as planned? Heck no! But, things went as smooth as we could have ever hoped for. No muggings, no robberies, no injuries, and no sicknesses; that is a win in my book of travel for sure!
We traveled and added (both officially and unofficially) a few countries to our lists of countries visited. There was United Arab Emirates, Zambia, Botswana, and Zimbabwe, with Tanzania coming in dead-last as an unofficial foray only.
We were very blessed to have wonderful weather and wonderful company to enjoy it with. Melanie, Kate, Brendon, and myself enjoyed a 60-kilometer bike ride through the African bush, a fishmarket barter-n-grill by the lake, a wild 1-2-3-day bus trip(s), visiting Victoria Falls, driving through Chobe National Park in a truck searching for elephants, and fishing for tiger fish on the Zambezi.
Melanie’s favorite part was watching elephants, hippos, giraffes, impala, kudu, water-buffalo, warthogs, and more on our safari drive. We had an amazing front row seat to see some amazing-African-mega-fauna. At one point a big elephant somewhat-charged/challenged the truck we were in…from about 20 yards away. Definitely cool.
My favorite part would have to be broken into two separate areas. The first of the two experiences I loved was visiting a real Zambian rural-as-anything-bush-village. I was amazingly awed and inspired by Kate (the friend and Peace Corps volunteer we visited) and her village and living circumstances for the last two years. Her house put a lot of my life into perspective and made me even more thankful for what I have here in the Upper Peninsula. A shower that you don’t have to heat yourself on a fire, nor ladle onto your head, is a magical experience that we take for granted every day. I will try my best to remember these small things in our lives and how not-so-small they are for others around the world.
The children in Kate’s village struck a chord on my heart. We didn’t speak the same vocal language, but we could communicate through pantomime, gestures, and lots of smiles. I don’t know why, but I definitely felt more comfortable with the children in her village than with the older adults. It’s probably because I was able to relax and let my guard down around the children and just be silly. Not speaking the language didn’t feel uncomfortable with children; however, with adults it was a bit pressed and stressful as I didn’t know how I should interact.
My goal is to take this experience that I was able to share in with Kate, Melanie, Brendon, and the villagers and use that experience to help display perspective and global understanding in my foreign language classroom. I want to teach and show my students the “big picture” understanding of cultures and travel and why foreign language is so important to me and the world we live in. Unfortunately, I think at times this is something that must be experienced and that falls a bit flat when it is taught in a traditional environment. Yet, no doubt, I will still strive to show my students as much as I can.
Back to the original thought I had before the tangent led me astray. My favorite parts of the trip- after the authentic experience of visiting the village. I would have to say my second favorite experience was having the chance to go fishing on the Zambezi river. I was very lucky to fish in the presence of elephants, crocodiles, hippos, and giraffes. I didn’t catch a single thing, but it was totally worth the price of the trip. I had two fish hooked and close to the boat, that eventually popped off the hook. It was a bummer, but an experience that I will cherish for a lifetime. I’ve already decided someday I will return and conquer the Zambezi and the Tiger fish. If you are not an African-fish-connoisseur, then I implore you to take a gander looking at the Tiger fish. It’s a gnarly piece of meat that I almost boated twice! Next time for sure.
In the weeks and months upcoming I will probably be releasing footage of Africa in small chunks here and there. Check out my YouTube channel to see what there is to offer. So far I’ve been able to get one video up of the fishing adventure (misadventure perhaps).
Two weeks felt rushed in Africa and if Melanie and I have the opportunity again (for a big international trip) we will probably opt for three to four weeks to truly capture the essence of the place. Traveling is a very special opportunity that I am so happy to have shared and continue sharing with my wife, Melanie.
In other news, it’s April 13th and two weeks from Saturday starts Michigan trout season. I am beyond excited, jazzed, and geeked, to get back out on the river and catch some fish. I think I might do a video on the trout opener that is a stream-to-table-to-mouth montage of events. Just one trout or two to feed Melanie and I on a bed of steamed rice and I will let all the others I catch go back to doing their trouty things. We’ll see.
"Tiny salmon swimming in a stream, tiny salmon chasing that impossible dream..."
C'est la vie.