We stayed at a new place (for us) called Salt Springs, which was hard to get to, but is Maasai owned and run (unique among the lodges there). It was more budget, but still very nice, and great service. They had a dining area that overlooked a big bend in the river, and you can just sit and watch for animals in the distance.
This was Toby's first safari, and he loved it. The monkeys were his favorites, and just riding in the bumpy car was his most favorite.
Mongooses and Rock Hyraxes (or Dassies). I think we had seen about 1 of each of these on prior trips. This time, they were out in droves and we saw more than 50 of each. Here is a picture of the little Rock Hyraxes up in the cleft. They are actually the closest cousin of the elephant, if you can believe it, and could rest on your palm.
We saw several hippos grazing out of the water, which is cool, since normally they are just ears and eyes poking out of the water. Possibly because it was the rainy season...
The first of our two companions: Abraham Paternoster, our friend who spent most of his gap year (before college) with us out at Kibuye.
And the second: Molly Shankles, who is starting med school in the fall and spent the last 2 months with us at Kibuye. They were both a huge blessing to us.
Probably the single coolest moment was this pride of lions eating a cape buffalo. As Abraham pointed out, it was one of the Big Five, eating another of the Big Five, so there you go. In fact, we saw probably about 20 lions, which is compared to less than five on any other safari we have been on. No leopards. They remain imaginary in our book. And cheetahs are getting more dubious as time goes on as well.
There is nothing like an elephant (or better yet, a family of elephants) slowly making their stately way across the savannah. We followed a great group of five for a while, and they can within about 20 feet of our vehicle.
|Meeting Maggie for the first time|
|Meeting Ben for the first time|
Posted by The Drs. McLaughlin at 7:20 PM
- Secretary Bird (huge 4 feet tall cockatoo-looking white bird)
- Grey-Crowned Crane (stately and 5 feet tall)
- Stork (you can choose which one. The Marabou stork is very iconic and stately, but kind of in an ugly way. The Yellow-Billed Stork is a favorite of ours.)
- Dik-Dik: these tiny antelope are about knee-high and always found in pairs
- Rock Hyrax: this little gopher-looking guy is the closest relative of the elephant
- Bushbaby: nocturnal tiny primate with giant eyes
- Meerkat: because of the Lion King, which really is an inescapable allusion for all safaris
- Warthog: it's cuteness is controversial (as in, Rachel disagrees), but when you see a little line of them running with their tales straight up, I think you'll agree. And again, the Lion King.
Posted by The Drs. McLaughlin at 12:39 PM
Posted by The Drs. McLaughlin at 3:51 PM
|The 2014-2015 Kibuye Hope Academy students|
Posted by The Drs. McLaughlin at 9:51 AM
|At Maggie's ballet recital|
|Breakfast in bed for a special birthday!|
|Ben loved to cuddle with Grandma|
|She worked on lots of sewing projects for me!|
|Grandma cleaned out her classroom and brought all the extra craft projects for the girls…big hit!|
Posted by The Drs. McLaughlin at 8:14 AM
Posted by The Drs. McLaughlin at 9:46 AM
All three proudly displayed on our new mantle.
The other project I've been thinking about for awhile is canning. Our power has been off a TON and so even though we have freezer space, I'm constantly worried about the state of things in the freezer. I had put some canning equipment on the container but had never tried canning before, although my mom has lots of experience. We tried a batch of pickles which basically turned out (not quite vlasic, but not bad). Then our dear house helper Salvatore has been sick for the last month so I have done a lot of scrambling to get meals ready, make spaghetti sauce, bread, etc. (again, SO glad my mom is here right now). Fortunately he is back now, but his absence inspired me to put away some "emergency stores." We mixed up a giant vat of spaghetti sauce and another one of a vegetable soup base. And here it is, yielding 5 quarts of spaghetti sauce and 8 quarts of soup base. All the jars sealed so it was an exciting evening. :) Some days I feel a little bit like "Little House on the Prairie," although honestly we're a long way from that. Nice to get in touch with my pioneer self!
Posted by The Drs. McLaughlin at 9:38 AM
Posted by The Drs. McLaughlin at 6:01 PM
We recently had the once-in-a-lifetime (probably) chance to spend three solid weeks together with my family--my mom, my brother Eric, and his wife Haidee. Since Eric and Haidee have gotten married, we have spent something less than 48 hours together, and that was before Toby was born. So when Eric emailed and said they were thinking of a visit this summer, I knew this was going to be a special time! They spent the last 2-6 years in Japan teaching English through the Lutheran church, but now are transitioning back to the US for grad school and such. SO they had more or less a summer vacation, 2-3 months worth of time off. And since my mom just retired this May, she had plenty to time to visit, too.
Everyone arrived on a Friday night flight with all their luggage, and we spent a few days in Buja on the front end, celebrating Mom's retirement, shopping, and playing!
Then we headed up to Banga on Sunday morning, the village where we had done our language school. Despite none of our plans working out (we had grand plans to show them the lovely singing at church, which for some reason was cancelled, and also to stay in the nicer guesthouse with generator electricity, which was full), they got the "real deal" experience of what life in Banga is like, complete with walks down the hill to mealtime, and power outages at night.
|Lunch at the Banga Guesthouse!|
|Kibuye Rock conquerors!|
|Tea party with the girls|
|La source du Nile|
|Congo River Basin|
|4th of July potluck!|
Posted by The Drs. McLaughlin at 12:02 PM