Elephants!

We were so excited to return to Chobe Park in Botswana, with our American visitors.  We had been there in July, and returned in August.  This time, the water level was lower on the Chobe/Zambezi River, and there were more animals coming out of the bush to the river for water and green grass or leaves.  During the boatride portion of the safari, we were IMG_0518privileged to see the elephants cross the river from the bush to an island, where there was plenty of fresh grass to graze on.  They lined up on one side of the river, and just stood there.  Our boat, and several others hovered in the area, watching.  Finally, one elephant “stuck a toe” in the water, and gradually, they all began moving into the river. elephant crossingThe little baby elephants used their trunks to hold onto their mothers’ tails, and stuck close behind them.  As the first group crossed, more and more elephants gathered, down a path through the bush, from along the beach, some moving at a stately pace, and some running.  As they emerged onto the opposite bank, their hides were a glistening black, instead of the dusty gray they had been before the crossing.  The elephants moved up the bank, nibbled on some grass, and promptly began throwing more dust and dirt over their backs, quickly returning to the usual dusty selves.  The dust is a natural sunscreen for the elephants’ hides.

IMG_0545During the driving part of the safari, we came so close to the elephants – some were eating leaves off of trees alongside the track, some stopped in the middle of the road, and stared us down!  Some were way off in the distance.

Our group stopped along the beach, near several groups of bushes and trees, for a “bush-stop,”  IMG_0888(known as a “pit stop” in the US!), for a cold soda, and a chance to stretch our legs, and of course, take pics.  Here is our group – Lis, Tim, Judy, Martha, Joe, Mike and Sarah.

Driving back to the park entrance, we continued to see elephants, alone, or in groups, eating, walking, or just standing there.  We left the park, drove along the highway for about 20 minutes, and as we approached Immigration,elephants and trucks prior to crossing the border from Botswana across the river and into Zambia, we saw a herd of elephants attempting to cross the road between some huge tractor trailers.  The lead elephant walked right up between IMG_09132 trucks, started bellowing, stamping, and all the elephants were agitated.  Finally, they backed down, turned around, and went back to where they came from!  It was a great elephant ending to a fabulous day!

Lake flies in Samfya

I went back to Samfya (I first went there in February – it’s in the northern part of Zambia, in Luapula Province )in early August for a few days, to help some friends close up their house.  55 house carportThey had lived there about a year ago, and are now donating the house they built to the local Bible College.

One evening, on our way out to dinner, (all the dishes, pots, and most of the furniture was packed up!), they told me that the lake flies were out.  Apparently, they swarm several times a year, usually just from dusk to dawn.  IMG_0705I heard tales of how thickly they swarmed, what a mess there was (of dead flies) in the morning, etc.  I believed them, but “seeing is believing,” and until one sees them, it’s hard to understand the scope of the infestation!

When we got back from dinner, I realized that I had unintentionally left a light on in the bathroom, and the lake flies were attracted to the light.  One of my friends kindly went into the room, closed the window, sprayed with an insecticide, and turned off the light.  IMG_0699This is what greeted me the next morning on the bathmat.  There were a lot more of the dead flies on the bare floor, and you can see by the depth of the pile,IMG_0708 that there were thousands of these flies – they look like tiny, leggy mosquitoes – really tiny, so to get piles like this, there were really a lot of them!

I opened a window in the kitchenIMG_0711, and the window bar left tracks on the window sill – you can clearly see the depth of the flies left on the sill.

Thankfully, the lake flies only come occasionally – no-one would be able to withstand the quantity of them, in one’s hair, nose, through the window screens and mosquito nets, etc.  I have heard of people leaving town when they arrive, and I can understand why!