It is cold, I am at work and I keep thinking about being somewhere super exotic and seeing new things and meeting new people…a girl can dream!
I thought that for my Tuesday 10 this week I will share with you 10 of my favourite holiday photos. I love looking back over photos and I treasure them all.
I have just been looking through them and I realised that I have so many that I want to share with you so this shall be the Africa Edition! I will make this blog a new little regular. HURRAH!
So I was lucky enough to travel to Zambia and Botswana back in the summer of 2011. I went with the fabulous charity The Book Bus. The charity tries to improve lives one book at a time… could there be a more perfect match then The Book Bus and bluntsbookblog?
I started my time there with 2 weeks in Meheba Refugee Camp. I wrote a blog way back when about it here. It got me onto Freshly Pressed and in my best day I had 3456 views! I can only describe Meheba as the happiest place that I have ever been to. Yes they are refugees but they have all escaped their terrible pasts and treat everyday as a gift.
I will start my photos here:
1. African sunset.
On our first night we headed to the school playground opposite our camp site and met these two girls with the most beautiful hair! They walked towards us as the sun was setting, like only an African sky can, and asked for their photo to be taken. I love how the beautiful colours of the sunset peek through their braids. It was a magical first night in Africa. We met lots of children that we would spend the next 2 weeks with and the laughter could be heard for miles.
2. The Dancing Lady.
On our last day the Rwandan refugees invited us to their school to put on a show for us as a thank you for spending time with them. What they never understood was that it was them that deserved the biggest thank you from us. They danced and sang and performed for hours and we laughed and cried and realised just how much the past fortnight meant to us. I adore this picture. It captures perfectly the joy of the Refugee Camp. The joy that they have for living. It touched me. I never got to ask this lady for her name as after the performances finished we were lost in the dizzying crowd of people.
I think of her often.
3. Lord of the Flies.
One afternoon we weren’t teaching and decided to go exploring around the lake in the Refugee Camp. We had heard lots about this lake as it’s where some of the refugees (who are close enough) do their fishing, wash their clothes, and children ride in boats made our of hollowed tree trunks . It was spooky quiet as we went exploring. It was too hot to fish and all the children were at home helping their parents and doing their chores. We had the whole place to ourselves. I happened to hear a noise come from behind us and saw the lone figure standing at the top of a hill watching us. I was reading Lord of the Flies by William Golding at the time and this image made the book come alive for me.
After the two weeks in Meheba Refugee Camp all my book bus buddies departed and I made my way with Jackie and David and our driver Douglas down to Livingstone. The complete opposite end of Zambia. The Refugee camp boarders DR Congo in the North of the country and Livingstone is all the way down in the south towards Zimbabwe.
Down in Livingstone life was a touch more glamorous. We had showers opposed to a bucket of water and we had electricity. Whilst there were more activities and a town to explore I missed the simplicity of Meheba and the getting back to basics.
I was in Livingstone for two weeks. It was here that I turned 23. I ticked things off my bucketlist and made friends with the locals. It was heaven.
4. Stock check.
On my first day at ‘work’ in Livingstone it was a public holiday and school was not on! So instead of meeting the children we got the bus back into order. We sorted all the books and completely cleaned our beloved bus. I love this picture because it shows all the books (well a few of them) that have been loved by children all over Africa. It shows the Book Bus. This is what it does. It drives these books around and allows children, who sometimes have never seen a book, before to discover stories and far off places all through something that we in the UK now take completely for granted. I like to think that it sticks two fingers up to the kindle (I HATE KINDLES) and gets back to basics with what really matters: A good story and a lot of imagination. You can see me in the middle of all the books with my flowing green trousers.
Here I am with the babe of a boy Peter. This was taken on of our last days in Zambia. We had been reading a story about frogs and then we made our own frog masks. It included green glitter. The only way to get them to focus on the task was to promise them a handful of glitter each after they were finished. All the children stood in a line and received their share. I expected them to all pocket the glitter…but they had other ideas. To rub it all into their faces and if any dropped on the floor, they would roll around in it to make sure that they got every speck! It was hilarious and one of the highlights of the trip. They then spent the next 20 minutes pretending to be frogs. I though ‘what the hell’ and joined in!
As he is just so cute I will throw in another Peter snap.
6. A ‘normal day’ at work.
We taught most of our sessions in the school playground as the weather was just so lovely and there were too many children to fit inside one of their classrooms. One class we visited had 200 of them crammed in, sat on shelves and peering through the window. That needs to change!
We brought our bamboo mats and a bag stuffed full of books, paper and craft materials. This class I am with in the photo was a class of older boys . They were obsessed with geography so we spent the morning looking at the world map. They taught me about Zambia and I taught them about the UK. We then made postcards and they took them home and gave them to their family.
7. Forever young.
I turned 23 whilst in Livingstone and I had been biggin myself up the whole time by being all like ‘ Yeah I’ll do a bungee jump on the day. Easy peasey lemon squessy. No biggy.’ Inside I was screaming..’no no no no you silly girl!’ I booked it so I had to! I remember standing on the edge to scared to even breathe. I stuck my arms out to the side and they were shaking so much I looked like a bird about to take flight. I couldn’t think straight. They counted down from 5 and all I could think was ‘ahhhhhh i’m going to vomit’ and then whoosh I was gone. It was incredible. Amazing. Stupendous. One of the best things that I have ever done. My new friends cheered and I felt like a superhero. I then got back to the camp and slept for 3 hours. The adrenaline drop knocked me out! I woke up with a buzzing in a left ear but went to an African drumming class that my new friends arranged for my birthday evening. That was a great day!
Another one because I was so very brave!
On our last weekend we didn’t have to go into school so a big bunch of us hop skipped and jumped over the border into Botswana to explore the local wildlife in Chobe National park for a Safari. We managed to see it all. (Expect Rhinos ((because this park don’t have any)) and the cheetah ((because they are just cool and secretive beasts)) we even saw a baby lion cub eating from a dead elephant.)
8. Standard family walk.
I love elephants. Well actually my baby sister Camille, who is obsessed with Dumbo, loves elephants and I promised to get her some cracking elephant shots. This was the best. The sun was beginning to set behind us so you can only really see the outline of the daddy, mummy and baby elephant. They crossed our path (or should I say we crossed theirs) didn’t care about our jeep (nor should they) and made their way to pastures new. I nearly cried.
9. Fly away home.
The sun was beginning to set and we were racing (within the set speed limit) back to camp as our tummies were rumbling and we were exhausted after spotting animals all day long. The sun sets in Africa are some of the most beautiful that I have ever seen. No light pollution, no car pollution just deep purples, oranges and reds as the sun goes to sleep. I watched this flock (I have no idea if it is a flock) of birds as they swooped and played together in the sky. It made me sad as I thought in 5 days time that will be me going back to the UK and our sunsets aren’t so great!
I couldn’t pick between the two sunset photos. Which do you prefer?
10. Richard Of York Gave Battle In Vain
The Victoria Falls are magnificent. I didn’t even see them in full power as it was the summer. You walk across a bridge and just get absolutely drenched. On my second day in Livingstone I got sick and threw up whilst teaching a class and had to go back to camp. Here I stayed in bed with a fever for 2 days. I emerged feeling better and rested but almost cried when I realised that I had missed the trip to the Victoria Falls. So on my last day I jumped in my favourite taxi with the Disco man and headed straight for the falls. We blasted the best African tunes and sang them at the top of our voices. I told him where I was going (of course, he is a taxi driver) and he said that he has always wanted to visit them. I asked if he was new to the area but he told me that he had lived here all his life but could never afford to go. For a non Zambian resident it costs roughly $2 to visit for the whole day. For a Zambian resident like Disco man (which he insisted on being called) it costs about $0.20 cents. I told him all was going to change and paid for him to come with me and we saw the falls for the first time together. He didn’t want his photo taken but he did take this cracker of me getting soaked by the Falls and standing IN a rainbow. We spent 6 hours walking around, paddling at the top and exchanging stories about our lives. We laughed and we cried. It was beautiful. A pure and honest human experience of two people from completely different parts of the world exploring it together.
I miss you Disco man. I miss you Africa.