All that to say, I do actually have one more post of our trip to Africa. Once our time at The Esther School was over, most of our team headed to Lusaka (capital city of Zambia) to stay at the Chaminuka Lodge for a few days. It was part vacation, part debriefing, part opportunity to shower... I'm glad we went there before heading home because had we headed straight for the airport upon leaving TES, it would have been MUCH harder to leave. But knowing we were headed for some down time made leaving the actually campus easier, and after a couple days at Chaminuka, we were really ready to head for home. On my next trip to Zambia, I hope to visit Livingston and Victoria Falls, but this was a good experience for our first trip. ;)
TES Summer Camp Team Friends: I don't know if Sarah ever sent any of you the pictures from the lodge. So, if you see a picture in this post you'd like, let me know. Or if you are looking for a particular photo, let me know and I'll see if we have a picture of it.
We took a bus to Lusaka and then on a VERY BUMPY UNPAVED road into the compound. It's a HUGE park where native animals live...all the meat-eaters are caged, but the herbivores are free to roam around the park...except that there are snakes that are free-roaming, too. Obviously. All the employees of the lodge also live on the compound and the lodge itself is pretty nice. It's like an all-inclusive safari of sorts. Cabin-like hotel rooms, restaurants, safaris, horseback riding, boat rides, swimming, art walks, cheese tasting, etc. all included in your price. The only thing that costs extra is the cheetah walk (more on that later). We did 3 safari rides, played tennis, went on a boat ride, enjoyed HOT showers, and went on a wine/cheese tasting. The guides on the safaris were GREAT and FUNNY and we felt very safe while we were there.
They have only one elephant left, and she is lonely. They are trying to get another one, but I imagine that process moves even slower than everything else in Africa.
At first glance, you might not see an animal in this picture. But look again. There's a giraffe. Our guide saw this giraffe from SO far away I truly didn't believe it was there. I thought he was just joking around with us. But then we chased it into these trees. And it wouldn't come out. So the guide got out of the jeep to try to coax it...um, just because it lives inside a 4000 acre fence doesn't make it tame! And THEN the guide says to Sarah, our official photographer, "Come on! Get out and get your picture!" So there I am, in Africa, with wild animals and potentially pythons all around me, watching my daughter GET OUT OF THE JEEP! You know how on rides at Disneyland they always say to keep your arms and legs inside the ride at all times? I really thought that applied to a safari ride, too. Apparently not. So Sarah got out and chased a giraffe in the acacia trees in Africa. Heavens. We all survived.
There were so many types of impala and antelope...I lost track...but it was awesome to see them!
^^That's a picture of the other half our team in their safari jeep.
^^That's Brynn & Sara, two college girls (cousins) who were super sweet and fun and we miss them!
^^African Lynx! I found these animals fascinating. They have never lived in the wild and have always had food provided to them...yet their instincts to kill to eat and protect their food are SO STRONG that they still pace alongside each other on opposite sides of the fence, ready to take the other lynx out in order to get their food.
We found baboons!
And on our morning safari we also found a giraffe and this time no one got out of the jeep!
We also got to take a boat ride on a man made lake on the compound. It was so beautiful!
And then the girls went on the Cheetah Walk. I figured, I don't like to pet domesticated cats, why would I pet wild ones? We were told this was the experience of a lifetime, and while that's probably true, they weren't all gushing about it when they got back.
I have to admit, that's a pretty cool picture. It was taken by the Cheetah handler. The story is that when these Cheetahs were cubs and he was training them, he spent so much time with them that his fiance said, "It's the Cheetahs or me." And he choose the Cheetahs! :O
Two quick memories to share that have no pictures:
1. On Sunday, our team worshiped together in an ensaka and it was truly one of the most beautiful worship services I have ever been blessed to be a part of. The pastor who was part of our team "organized" it, but in reality, it was led by the Spirit, who gave us songs, Scriptures, and moments to share and bless one another. It was a wonderful way to debrief.
2. I spent some time walking around the lodge with the girls and a few of the other girls on the team. Watching monkeys play and run onto the outdoor restaurant to steal food was great fun! We talked about how to evaluate what God had taught us on this trip and I will never forget those moments of me being able to share my heart with teenagers and they were actually listening.
By the time we headed to the airport on Monday afternoon, we were ready to come home. A long flight to Dubai, following by a flight more than twice as long to Seattle and we were back with Ed in the van for our drive home. The little girls greeted us with chalk drawings on the driveway and posters in the living room. So good to be home. And forever changed. And definitely planning to go back someday.