Thursday, September 27, 2007

'Ode to Creatures'

Do you know that feeling when you are on a subway platform or at the edge of a tall building and you think to yourself, "What if I jumped?" I had that same feeling while visiting a crocodile and snake farm last week. 'What would these guys do if I just climbed over the fence?"

These pictures are dedicated to my friend David Hallgren whose intense preoccupation with snakes is both amusing and very, very weird.....

In Livingstone, we visited Victoria Falls, took a drive through a game park, and enjoyed a sunset cruise on the Zambezi River. There were hippos, giraffe, rhinos, loads of monkeys, and antelope. Rough life, eh?

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Welcome to the 21st Century!

Greetings friends.... Well, I have officially done it. I have finally entered the 21st century and created a blog. One simple request: all of you web-savvy friends shall not critique my lack of creativity....

This little monkey captured my attention while I was in Livingstone enjoying the "Tourist Capital of the Nation." Too bad I hadn't noticed its mama lurking nearby. I guess I got a little too close because she came after me, chattering, pointy teeth bared, and I have no shame admitting the fact that I screamed at the top of my lungs. A nice Zambian man (a nice, BIG, Zambian man) came to my rescue laughing all the way. Welcome to Zambian wildlife Carmen!

I have been travelling in the Southern Province for the last two weeks, teaching in local congregations, and enjoying what used to be the "bread basket of Zambia" before the draught hit in 1993. Tonga villages dot the rural countryside and I amazed by the creativity of those that live in these small communities. No eletricity, no running water, and complete dependence on the land. Foot-and-mouth devastated the livestock supply this year, but thanks to an EU re-stocking program people are receiving cows and goats.

These pictures are from Mazabuka the “Sweetest City in Zambia” (home of a massive sugar plantation)

I overheard someone say recently, “Yes, we laugh here a lot. If we don’t laugh we won’t survive.” I know that poverty and systemic injustice can be found anywhere, but the poverty is different here. Sometimes I feel like I am going to choke. Not just on the awful pollution (it is horrendous—the smoke from charcoal fires, dirty diesel trucks, and the copper mines form a permanent thick haze on the horizon), but on the pain of it all.

I continue to be grateful to be here, although, I admit that there are moments that I would give my right arm for good espresso or Italian antipasto. Go figure. Strange what you miss...