Saturday, April 28, 2007


To my fainthearted readers: This is Angelina (you couldn’t have guessed that) and Suzie holding an intellectual conversation for your benefit. Enjoy.

Ang - greetings from Scotland. It is frigid here.

Suz - NO IT'S NOT!! It's just less than 20 degrees C!!! This is SUMMER to us!

Ang - BUT the wind blows right through you. I was wearing a scarf and mittens while others were SWIMMING! Crazy Scots. (Mind you I believe they may have been slightly intoxicated.)

Suz – Last night she was wearing pjs, a THICK, FLUFFY house coat AND an extra blanket in bed along with all the other bedding!!!! Whilst I was sweating with the heat!!

Ang - So obviously I am alive and well (although there has ceased to be feeling in my feet- I believe they have been temporarily rendered frost bitten). I landed in Scotland yesterday after over 12 hours in the air over two days. For some reason security was a non-issue and I wasn’t stopped even considering the 5 knifes packed away in my luggage. (The Brits are slipping.) My host family (I’ll christen them the ‘Mad Scots’ from this point forward) took me on a photographic journey today. No fear friends, in my few weeks here I will have more pictures than my entire time in Africa! Having a blast and would recommend the place to anyone. (I would also heartily recommend fish and chips, pavalova and irn-bru. I have yet to try haggis…… I will update you as to my ‘first impression’. (YUCK!)

Suz - Hey! Haggis is a great delicacy over here!! And I bet you’ll love it!

Ang – The ingredient list includes sheep's heart, liver and lungs, minced with onion, oatmeal, suet, spices, and salt, mixed with stock, and traditionally boiled in the animal's stomach for approximately an hour. Sounds appetizing eh?!

Saturday, April 21, 2007


Got to go across the border for our African safari so I’ve been in three countries so far! We saw elephants, giraffes, hippos, crocs, lionesses, monkeys and almost a leopard.

The best quote came from Naomi after we saw a couple of young male elephants who were 1 to 2 years old. Our tour guide had said he could tell they were that young because they were so small. Naomi asked, “So is a big elephant bigger than a small elephant??” Hence the necessity of teaching that one math lesson on smaller verses bigger that I was complaining about.

Friday, April 20, 2007

the market

I love shopping. Shopping of all sorts. Clothes, shoes, accessories, groceries, furniture… Beg me long enough and I’ll even go help you pick out shingles.

I also love getting really good deals. You tell me you like something I own and I will promptly quote you the price I paid for it with a gleam in my eye (either that or you’ll hear, “Thanks, I paid way too much for it.”).

I’m one of those people who, when I find a defect in an item I am think of purchasing, I smile, quickly tuck the smile away and look for a manager. Attack commences immediately. First you must find something unique about said article so that none else can replace it. Second take much time fingering defect with a look of disgust. Start pondering, out loud, how you could go about fixing it and just how much trouble it will be, and how much extra it will cost you. By this time most normal managers will be quite willing to hack a minimum of 10% off the price if you, in exchange, will be willing to accept the purchase as a final sale. (Note to those who plan to put this strategy into practice: It doesn’t work at Winners.)

However, even though I love shopping bartering is beyond me. I, who paid an astronomical $5.00 for 2 fake precious moments figurines at a garage sale. My mom was disgusted at that purchase- apparently I hadn’t been watching her closely enough. To those of you who hate going to restaurants with me because of my passion for a deal (Jess) - go with my mom sometime. She’ll embarrass you to a far greater extent than I could ever hope to! She’s one of my role models!

So let me set the scene. Fifty stalls spread out in a meandering pathway sort of deal. Each shop is selling roughly the same things. Approximately 2 men are loafing about per stall, watching every move you make. You pause for more than a millisecond at any given item and they pounce, “Madame, do you like this bowl?! Yes?! You are my first customer so I give you local price!! I need money for transit to my village. What is your offer? How much can you pay?” I respond with, “No thanks.” “NO?! You like these animals? These masks? These baskets?!” And they keep going until the guys in the next stall have out drowned them with the same script.

Now these men I have just described are the nicer ones. Eighty percent of the men don’t even bother waiting for a spark of interest. They start right into their sales pitch, moving through every item in their inventory until they hook you or you have walked past their booth.

The actual bartering. A real challenge as how does one evaluate an item taking into account local currency, time spent and artistry. I’m afraid I got royally gypped but I had fun being gypped!

victoria falls

We descend steps and walkways made with concrete and small chunks of stone that are slippery from condensation. The air is beyond humid and breathing is hard. It feels like a layer of dust is physically clinging to the inside of my throat. We get to the first overlook on the mainland. Mist billows around us. My raincoat is zipped up as high as it will go and the hood is pulled as tightly around my face as possible. (I look like the ultimate dweeb.) We hit the bridge and water is hitting us at enormous speeds, water is seeping in under my chin and in through my pockets.

Halfway across the footbridge we turned around and saw a rainbow which was almost a complete circle with the bridge going through the centre of it. We arrived on the island and walked around trying to find the perfect picture for Gwen and Chad.

Scenic Outlook #1: Came across a guy sniffing white powder. We beat it out right quickly.

S.O. #2: I was brave and went off the path to see the mighty Zambezi roaring off into the distance… saw the bridge where other people are really, really brave (stupid?!) and jump off.

S.O. #3: Water cascading down the hill toward a square of paved stone jutting out into the abyss of mist. I was afraid the current would pull me over the edge so I looked at the mist from afar.

S.O. #4: More jutting out pavement with no railing around! I had a conniption for you Mom!

On the bridge back over to firm solid ground the wind driven ‘mist’ seriously tried to launch me into the gorge, so I felt it necessary to walk with feet planted wider than shoulder width apart, hand clenching the moss covered steel bars (placed @ 4”o/c), hunched over as to lower my centre of mass and with eyes pinned on each anticipated step forward. I hear a throat being cleared. I look up. I have, quite unconsciously and very adeptly, blocked off the bridge to those wanting to traverse the opposite direction. I apologized profusely and pried my fingers from one side of the bridge long enough for the traffic jam to clear.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

hosteling with kids

Sitting in a concrete, dug out area in the center court with dorm rooms surrounding. Half clothed (more aptly- immodestly clothed) people parading around. Water falling softly. Beats from the on-site bar. Dim lights flickering from the giant tin salamander hanging from the ceiling. Hay roof soaring 20’ above me. Stairs ascending to the ‘tree top view’ suspended from the peak. Thick timbers criss-cross from floor to ceiling. Caleb, Shoshanna and Naomi arguing from our shared dorm room (who gets the top bunk, the best shelf…).

[A note on sharing a room with three kids under the age of ten. They get up really early. My internal alarm now goes off at 6:00am. I tried sleeping in this morning as we have 'shifted' cities and I have my own room. I was up, showered and dressed by 7:45. Deffinately a habit I should bring home with me. However I'm not holding my breath.]

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

travel woes

The goal: Tip top of the north western province (the bush) to the population dense, garbage filled, and materialistic metropolises of the south.

The method: green land rover.

Estimated duration: 3 days.

External conditions: bumps, ruts, pot holes, washed out sections…. The first half on sandy gravel the second on pavement of sorts.

Internal conditions: Five adults, 3 children, 1 baby and luggage. How to fit? Three in the front, 4 plus babe in the back and one plus luggage in the trunk. More luggage belted on the steel rack bolted unto the back. The only way into the trunk seat is to wiggle like a snake over 4’ of luggage, swing your legs up and around and somehow fall (with your rear pointing down) into your seat.

My traveling companions were Mark and Pam with Caleb, Shoshanna and Naomi. Gwen and Chad with Denalyn and little ole me!

Now that the driving is completed I can say that it was an adventure and definitely brought back memories of our family trips from long ago. Just imagine a bunch of tired, cranky and whiny people. Lots of memories….

Monday, April 16, 2007


Well term just finished last week. It's been really strange just how silent the school grounds are without them. One thing I've really enjoyed is not being on someone else's eating schedual. I can actually eat when I want and what I want. (Being limited to Leah's pantry.)

Saw my first mission hospital plus (the highlight!) I saw a new hydro station being built in that same area. Quite amazing. The project has been going on three years and has been built entirely with donations from private donors. Mostly christians. No worries I took lots of pictures and have detailed explanations to go along with them. They have these super cool automatic slit exiting gates that float!! Yah- you had to be there.

Went out and looked at the stars for a bit tonight. Amazing just how bright they are when civilization and its fake lights are no where near. We clammered to the top of Jill's truck out on the airstrip and just gazed. Getting off was a challenge and only one person was injured.

Funny how we are so much in awe of feats of engineering (such as those cool bridges down in the highly populated ares of the southeren states that I have been trying to get decent pictures of for ages and never quite manage!!) and how we recognize that something so intricate must have a designer. Yet so many find it hard to believe that the stars, our universe and (most amazingly!) us, who are infinately more intricate than anything we ourselves could design, have a creator. Why am I not more in awe of him??

We had a pool party today. A multitude of salads, sausage from the farm, mega desert selection and cold water. All this with the dry season's wind starting to rustle through the tree's and sending a shiver through us (a cool 30 degree's at midday today).

Signing off for another little while. God bless!

Sunday, April 1, 2007

farm visit

Took the grade 1 and 2’s to the farm last Thursday, big animals and tiny children. Opportunities were many for Angelina’s overactive imagination and protective mother instincts.

We approached the pigpen with much banging and thrashing about, as you never know where army ants may be marching. Seventeen children and 3 adults crowd around a narrow opening from which waifs a must unpleasant odour. This odour is commented and expounded on by each and every child present. From the back of the pack I spot the objects of this bouquet for the senses: A honkin’ big mama pig and her wee ones.

You would think that distance would be one thing that the children would crave, especially in light of the aforementioned comments regarding the STINK! One adventurous child at the front of the pack asks our tour guide, “Can I hold one?” Within minutes three squealing piglets were being clenched by tight fingers as far as possible from the bodies of the holders. Amazingly only one piglet was dropped. Miss P----- performed a daring rescue as it tried to rush through her legs. After the piglet was safely deposited in it’s home I applauded her efforts and insinuated that she had, had previous experience catching pigs. She confided in me that this was in fact her first catch and was one borne of desperation.

At the horses our tour guide again took initiative and let all the kids into the fenced area while the teachers were too far behind to object to any possible safety hazards or to instil in the children a fear of anything 10 times their own weight. By the time we arrived inside the gate children were running, yelling, petting, walking behind the horses and generally not thinking. One would think that the tour guide would have been safety precaution enough but seeing as he didn’t speak the same language as 75% of the children he was commandeering you can understand our nervousness.

As we left the area (with all the kids in one piece minus some socks that got scarred off when the horses ‘charged’) you can be sure that I delivered a stellar speech on proper safety precautions one must take when on a farm. Slightly humorous, as I am a city girl who has no idea about farm life and even less of an idea of what constitutes high risk activity on a farm. Along that train of thought I’m not too sure I’d even be a fair judge of what is high risk in any situation. My motto: better safe than sorry!

Next we watched the cows being milked, again, eventful in my imagination and uneventful in actual catastrophic happenings. Did force Yahia to hold my hand as he kept running behind the cows and straying into off limit areas. Nothing much happened at the lambs/sheep. I must admit that I was wincing in pain for the lambs our kids got to hold. The bleating coming from those poor things as their limbs were being held in a splits position.

Stopped by the orphanage and introduced our kids to their kids. Not much bonding happened. Likely because of the relative closeness in age they needed more time for warming up to each other. We had taken the 3 and 4’s on the same tour last week and their favourite part of the trip was the orphanage. They all adopted one of the wee ones and piggy backed them round and had a jolly good time.