Monday, February 23, 2009

A full week of classes!!!

Amazing! We had all our classes last week. It was most glorious.
Since the last two posts had a combined 6,532 pictures, this post will have combined 0 pictures.
And I'm not sure who keeps reloading this page, but we're up to 1116 hits. Nice job. It makes me feel worthwhile.
Anywho, classes began last Monday like nothing happened, other than the many smashed windows across campus. On Thursday, a representative from the ministry of education came to the university to address the students. A few of us went to watch. It was amazing. This man stood up there and scolded the students for striking, even though he refused to meet with them the entire time up to the strike. Communication seems to be a big problem here, as simple disagreements would be easily solved if the parties involved started talking. So, the students were understandably annoyed by this incompetent individual, so in the question answer portion, they just mocked him and told him exactly what they thought.
On Saturday we volunteered at the SOS Children's Village again. These children are amazing and hopefully I'll be working there a few days a week. I also dropped off a volunteer application at the Ditshwanelo Human Rights group. ( One of my friends is already volunteering there, so hopefully I shall join.
The strike could possibly begin again this week. However, the university seems to be taking a more harsh stance. Last night students were apparently peacefully marching around and a bunch got arrested. Today some were disrupting classes and more got arrested. This seems to go against many rights of the individual. The students are now mostly angry that their student government, the SRC, has been suspended by the university. The simply want them reinstated. I really hope they don't go on strike again though, as do many students.
Anyways, now that classes have started, so has the work. I just finished a paper on the Phenomenological approach to religion, I am beginning a paper on the role of women in Botswana, and have a presentation on military coups in West Africa. An interesting note: since 1952, there have been 85 successful military coups in 33 different countries in Africa. That is an astonishing number. In Latin America, every country but Mexico has had a coup since WWI. It is a quite interesting topic. I won't bore you with details, but let me know if you want more info.
I am tired so I shall sleep soon, but check out this band called Bishop Allen. I was introduced to their music this week and they are quite good. Here's one of their songs, Abe Lincoln on YouTube:
***Make sure you make it to the end of the song. It's the best part.****
Enjoy the week.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

PART 2: Aventures continue

If you just started reading, this is part 2 of the adventures. You can start here, or at part 1. It doesn't really matter.

After a peanut butter and granola break I'm back.
So I took way too many pictures. I am narrowing down 1100 pictures to only 60 that I am putting up. It is too many. I am sorry. I hope you enjoy anyways.
And never expect to see this many photos again.

We next went to ride in mokoro. These are dugout canoes. It was cool. Not great. Only one picture was worthy.
After our mokoro ride, we went on a real boat cruise of the delta.
The pictures will amaze.
This is a fish eagle. It is also the best action animal picture I have ever taken. Seriously. It's pretty awesome.
Spectacular sunset Baboons!

You may have realized that no elephants have been pictured or mentioned in either of these blogs. That is because we didn't see any in the beginning of our trip into the delta. Finally as we were driving out we spotted one.
After we returned to Maun, six of us split off to explore more of the north. We stayed a night in a hotel, then rented a combi to drive us to Kasane, which is in the very northern corner of Botswana. It was a LONG drive. 600km. 9 hours.
The ride was entertaining though. We had to stop at the foot and mouth checkpoint to get our luggage checked and shoes sterilized.
The roads were also, at times, impassable. We had to drive on dirt on the side of the road to make it past.
I blame the elephants for the road quality...

We saw around 25 elephants while driving to Kasane. And we weren't even looking for them. You could just look out the window and say, "hey, another elephant," and some people would look. I still think they're cool.

Eventually we made into Kasane that night. In the morning we went exploring in the town and managed to find the police station, outside of which is an old boabob tree. This tree was used as a jail years ago.

While looking at the dead tree, a policeman called me over to ask what the group of us was doing in Kasane, and specifically at the police station. I told him we wanted to see the jail tree, and he told me to see the one behind the police station. Skeptical, I wandered around back with Max and saw the most amazing tree I have ever come across.

It was huge. That is Max to give you a scale.

It was hollow inside. What's in there Rebecca?


This tree entertained us for a while.

Until our boat cruise into Chobe National Park.

Chobe is the third largest national park in Botswana, but boasts the largest elephants concentration in the world. That's right, the world. In the dry season, it is estimated that there are around 60,000 elephants in the park. While it is the wet season, there are still a fair number of elephants roaming around.
Anyways, right off the bat we are met with some amazing wildlife.


Elephant with looming thunderheads. I tried for a while to get a photo of the elephants with lightning in the background, but I have decided that it is impossible. I love this picture though.

Then we witnessed the elephants crossing the river. It was quite cool, as the elephants would bob up and down in the water, breathing through their trunks.

Then there was just a ridiculous amount of animals in one place. Here is 3 elephants, 2 impala, and 2 baboons.

We departed to this sunset (I told you there would be many sunset photos)

We left Kasane on a 6am bus. We got up around 4:50 to shower, pack, and catch the combi which was supposed to pick us up at 5:30. It didn't. Luckily two cabs drove by and we made it in time.
We took the bus into Francistown, where we stayed for a day and a half. There really wasn't much to do other than be amused by signs like this one.
It was also interesting to see the difference between Francistown and all the other cities in Botswana. We literally saw 15 white people in the two days we were there. This is much different from Gaborone, where there are many rich business people, and Maun and Kasane, where there are many tourists.
We eventually took a sleeper train out of Francistown into Gaborone. Here it is.

Now I am back at the University. Classes start again on Monday. This next week will not be as entertaining as the last. But this should suffice for a while. I hope you hung in there and enjoyed it all, or at least the pictures. That's all I'd look at too.

Adventures in the North, aka SO MANY PICTURES

This should be the most visually pleasing blog yet. That said, it will probably take me all day to upload all the picture which you are going to see. I also took over 1100 pictures this past week, so you will see the best, most interesting ones of the bunch.
It is also VERY long. Sorry, but it should be worth it.

For the past week I have been traveling around northern Botswana, seeing the sights, eating the eats, and NOT drinking the water. There's cholera and the only sort I like is Love in the Time of.
We flew out last Saturday from Gaborone on this plane:

It was a hour and a half flight and we arrived in mid afternoon in Maun. This is a very happening city, full of tour guides and rich people wanting to see wildlife. Maun is situated on the edge of the Okavango delta. At the airport we met our two safari leaders, Joe and Chippy. While we were told we would be riding trucks into the delta, I didn't quite expect these vehicles:

Surprisingly comfortable, off we went toward the delta. Along with the two trucks our group rode in, there was a support vehicle which carried the cook, our food, tables, tents, ect.
Right off the bat we hit a rainstorm, forcing us to close to flaps, ruining our views of the country:

But not for long:
That is a man riding a donkey. They were moving very fast.
One of the many villages we passed on the way to the delta. They all were made up of mud houses with thatch roofs. They also had many goats, donkeys, and cattle. These animals made us have to stop a number of times as they have the habit of crossing the road. No one knows why...
The sky looked beautiful, so I snapped a few shots of it.

I took many pictures of the sunrise and sunset this trip. I don't know why, but the sunrises and sunsets are more vivid and vibrant down here.
After two hours of driving, we reached the very fringe of the delta reserve. Here we set up camp and went on a night drive, hoping to catch sight of some mysterious nocturnal animal.
We didn't.
However, we did eat dinner around midnight, discovering the cook was quite proficient, then went to bed. We were provided with tents and as a pre-bed treat, we were reminded that we were camping in the wild. We were told not to get out of our tents until we were told it was ok to, just in case there was a lion roving around. Our guide, Chip, told us that he has many times awoke to lions prowling around the campsites.
This was going to be an awesome experience.
We awoke at 6am to eat breakfast (yogurt, tea, cereal, toast) and head into the delta. On the way we saw:
Giraffes! (This picture isn't great. Just wait for more further on down)

Footprints! These are quite cool. In this picture there is prints: 1. Lion 2. Elephant 3. Giraffe
I doubt they were walking together.

Impala! (We got our fair share of impala. We quit taking pictures of them early on. They must have been sad)

A beautiful landscape!

This is a zebra. It has a large wound on it's side. Our guide told us that it had probably been attacked by a lion but escaped.

These monkeys were adorable. The were all over the trees.

Hippos turned out to be surprisingly shy. We could only get good shots from afar. This one was particularly happy to be photographed.

I didn't quite know what wildebeest would look like. I had always heard about the great wildebeest migration, so these animals will later be part of it.

This is one of my favorite pictures I took. This monkey was just sitting on this post staring into the distance. There were many monkeys behind this one that I could have taken picture of, but this was too good to pass up. It just has such human-like features, it is amazing.

Hey! This was the other vehicle. They had Joe as their tour guide. Chip was better.

Once again, I couldn't pass up the sunset photos. Those are hippos in the water.
Some more impala. Action photo this time.
Entertaining sign at one of the bathrooms we stopped at.
Ahh!!! We found a great sign.

These next few images were some of the best.
I'm going to tell you right now we didn't see any lions. Now, this is disappointing, but it turns out the next animal is more elusive. Since it is the wet season, the grass is high, so the lions who like to sneak up on their prey are easily hidden, from both the prey and us.
We were driving to take our mokoro ride (dug out canoe) when someone shouted that there was something in the tree. Instead of stopping, our guide Chip floored it and sped off in pursuit of the vehicle infront of us. After catching them, we sped off back to the tree equally as fast, in reverse.

Up in this tree was the most beautiful animal I have ever seen.

The leopard is quite rare to find. Not only is it endangered, but they live alone. Lions live in prides, so it is common to see 10 together. It is not so with the leopard.
I'll let the pictures do the talking.

Right after we saw the leopard, we drove into a clearing with 15 giraffes. I repeat, 15. It was amazing.
Very quickly the day was made quite amazing.

I am going to stop here and upload this entry. I don't want to lose it all. And there's still 41 pictures to go. (hello rest of the day)