June 16, 2012 – Matopos, Zimbabwe
Today is sunny and we are planning on having a fabulous day at the Matopos National Park. With John driving the big LandRover, the rest of us pile into the back of the truck and take off with a picnic lunch packed. We are dressed warmly because there are no windows on the truck and while it is sunny, the breeze is still chilly at this time of the morning. About an hour into the drive, we stop to allow Aiden, Eric and AJ to sit in the top of truck. Aiden is so excited!! His eyes are shining like little olives and he has the biggest smile on his face. He is loving this time of freedom from car seats and let us know that he doesn’t want to use car seats ever again.
After a bit, we change positions and Juju, Morgan and I sit on the top and we feel the wind whipping through our hair as we dodge branches that threaten to knock us off the top. We laugh and enjoy the bumps in the road, hanging on to the grill around the top of the truck, which keeps us safe.
We arrive at a gorgeous location, named a World Heritage Site three times over: topography, culture, and something else having to do with the animals there. There are eagles of all sorts there…a veritable United Nations of eagles. Monkeys and baboons about and they visit us during our lunch time. We join a group of other Zimbabwean families and soon, the kids are all playing together, climbing huge boulders and rocks, trees and anything that they can get on. They chase each other and have an absolutely blast. Morgan, Aiden and I try our hand at canoeing and we laugh uproariously as we get stuck in huge weeds and as Momo gets soaked trying to paddle. She tells me this might be the first time she’s canoed and we are excited that it has happened here in Zimbabwe.
After a communal lunch of boersworst (beef sausage), peanut butter and jelly sandwiches (our contribution), salad, all sorts of cookies, tea, and water, AJ and Juju race Momo, Aiden and I in the canoes. My team loses but we have the most fun, I think. Eric is having a great time hiking with some men and he comes back full of information about what is happening in the area and with the folks we are meeting.
We soak in the sun on lawn chairs, chat with new friends, munch on snacks, and watch the monkeys play on the rocks while our children (resembling monkeys now that they are muddy and dusty and dirty) chase them and scamper around.
June 17, 2012 – Bulawayo, Zimbabwe
Church this morning was really nice, where we met up with folks we met yesterday and met some new people, too. When we were about to leave church, I looked around for Aiden and not finding him, started looking around. Momo found him sipping hot tea with a bunch of people, sitting in the middle of all of them and having the time of his life. I am so grateful that these kids are so ready to try new things, to make new friends, and to have fun. Momo has been great, too, helping out at a youth group meeting on Friday night with AJ and making friends all around. These three are really doing a great job at assimilating and making the best of everything.
One of the things we are getting used to is the power cuts. Wednesday is the only day we’ll usually have electricity all day long. Otherwise, we won’t have it on Monday morning, but will in the afternoon. We won’t have any on Tuesday. We won’t have any on Thursday morning, but will in the afternoon. Then, Friday morning we will, but none on Friday afternoon until Saturday afternoon. Sunday morning, we don’t have and we will on Sunday afternoon. And, no electricity means no water. So, we have to plan our baths and flushing of the toilet carefully. We are getting into a rhythm bit by bit.
This afternoon, we will be going to the animal orphanage to check out lions at feeding time and to have monkeys walk on us. I think the kids will love it!