Sunday, January 31, 2010

Going to Zambia? It's a Long Story!

Brooke and I are finally headed to Zambia! We leave on Thursday, February 4 and will be there for 3 weeks. (Missing the Superbowl. Luckily, the Vikings are not playing. I imagine that scene in Rainman where Tom Cruise pretends to be with the Nielsen tv ratings company so Dustin Hoffman's character can watch The People's Court as Brooke and I go door to door in Luanshya trying to find the game, when I start shouting 8 minutes 'til kickoff and have a breakdown.)

Many of you might remember that we were going to go to Zambia shortly after we arrived back in South Africa last September. Weel due to visa issues and passport problems that trip was delayed. Then due to Peace Corps issues it was delayed again. We finally got approval to go last week and we are really excited. We almost had one more delay when we called the airline to reschedule our tickets and they told us one of our flights was suspended! Brooke called the airline's main office and after being on hold for 10 minutes was told they don't know why the tickets were suspended, but if we went to the airport they could sort us out there. Brooke quickly asked what airport and the response was, "any airport." Surprised by this answer Brooke asked if the Kruger airport would work and again the agent said yes. So we quickly arranged to get out to Kruger airport (it is about as far from Hibbing to the Hibbing airport as it is from where we stay to the Kruger airport and the airports are similar in size.)

We got to the airport and found an amazing ticketing agent there. After giving our ticket information she said she would have to call the head office to find out why our tickets were suspended. We said we tried that and they told us to come to the airport! She called the head office and after being on hold for 10 minutes hung up! Then she pulled out 'the manual.' It was as thick as Gone With the Wind, with pages the size of a road atlas. She quickly started flicking through pages and typing on her keyboard, and after only about 5 minutes said she managed to get them unsuspended. All that was left was rebooking and we were good. She started typing again after asking us dates and times then asked why we weren't able to travel the first time. We told her why and she said, "Well, I don't want you to have to pay for the rebooking so I will just put funeral." She finished up and gave us our new itinerary and showed us the rebooking fee was supposed to be R650 per ticket (about$200 for both tickets). We were amazed! Let's just say the customer service we have come to expect in South Africa was less than stellar so when something like this happens you are truly amazed! Not sure how often we will get to post while we are there, but I'm sure we will post when we can.

We would like to thank all of you who continue to pray for us during our time here in Africa. When things like the customer service miracle happen it is clear that we have many people praying for us!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Game over

Getting up in the middle of the night to watch the game isn't as fun as one might think. Especially when the Vikings lose. Now the game's over and it's getting light outside...gonna to be a great day at the office! The upside of it is that right now Jed's getting out the razor to shave his playoffs beard. :)

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Goodbye, Shanti

Today we got a call from Jed's mom. Shanti's been sick, and today she had to be put down.
The vet thinks she probably died of natural causes, as her kidneys were slowing shutting down, an apparently common way to go for 8-9 year old Siamese.

She was a great cat, and we're definitely going to miss her. We've been reminiscing about how she loved to play soccer and fetch little balls of paper, how she was always falling off of things, how we didn't miss her tail at all. (She had a tail, remember, it was just really short.) We remembered how Jed misspelled her name once and then Kim and Mike called her Shati from then on (ugh!), and her adventures flying to North Carolina and back (escaping in the airport, meowing the whole flight, etc.), the awesome cat tree Jed built for her (which he called her skyscraper), how she loved to drink out of the sink, and one of our favorites, her somersaults. I remember when I first adopted her, before Jed and I were married and I was living alone in North Carolina...it was so comforting to come home to someone...she always ran to do the door meowing when I walked in. Pam said today she appreciated the same thing, especially when Wally was working afternoons.

I'm so glad she got to stay with Jodi, Jamie, Jordan, Taylor, Morgan, and Carter for a while. And Pam and Wally, too. Everybody took such good care of her. And thanks to Pam and Jordan for being there with her today at the end. Bye, Shanti!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

A good day

Today we celebrated Eunie and Eunice's 19th birthday. After a shopping spree (courtesy of my generous parents) in Hazyview where we bought new school uniforms including shoes, shirts, and socks, we brought a feast back to E&E's house. Older brother Oscar and nephew Gradually joined us for chicken, rolls, and chippies, plus pink cupcakes (which were a hit) and ice cream. They loved it. (As usual, Gradually ate like a horse...unbelievable.)

I'm don't know when it happened, but I sure do love these three special kids. Like most orphans, Eunie and Eunice are a couple of years behind in school, but they were both thrilled to show us their marks a couple of weeks ago...they passed grade 9! (Just imagine for a second that they have no mom or auntie to take care of them. They are raising Gradually, doing all the cooking and cleaning, maintaining a garden in their yard, and somehow managing to stay in school. Incredible!) Gradually is really healthy these days and at eight years old is starting grade 4. He'll be studying English for the first time this year (which Jed and I are thrilled about, of course). Five new matchbox cars made his day today. And watching him smile when Jed gave him a big hug made my day.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Kruger Park

From this weekend's safari...

View from my seat


Hyena

Rhinos


Lions lounging (from a distance)


Baboon


Marabou storks



Rock monitor


Kudu

Cheetah (my first!)


From Jed's Facebook status: "Went into Kruger National Park this weekend. We saw cheetah, lions 4 times, several rhino, over 100 elephants, around 500 cape buffalo (buffalo sex, and fighting), Hyena, all kinds of different birds, (including bird sex, Southern Carmine Bee Eater, Southern Ground Hornbill my favorites, and what looked to be a mass migration of Marabou Storks as well as 2 endangered saddle billed storks (there are less than 100 in Southern Africa), around 100 baboons (including baboon sex), 1000s of impala, hippos, wildebeest (gnu), zebra (including a zebra fight), black backed jackal, Kudu!, Waterbuck, nyala, giraffes, monkeys, warthogs (with babies), steenbok, duiker, mongoose(s), tons of vultures and many different eagles. I enjoy every time I go into the park, but this was the best so far!"