Nominal Nation Visits

On the left is Malawi, where I spent 12 days. On the right is Mozambique, where I spent 5 minutes taking the following photo in a village (thanks to Richard for pulling over and letting me take a picture in Mozambique):

Kind of funny as the people in this village speak Chewa and Portuguese (and no English at all) while the people on the other side of the highway speak Chewa and English (and no Portuguese at all). I tried my Spanish out on them. They speak no Spanish at all.

This is me in the plane waiting for passengers to load and refuelling to happen while in Lusaka, Zambia. I spent 30 minutes there, but I wasn't able to form a deep connection to the people of Zambia.

I had a 6 hour layover in Nairobi. I actually walked from the plane to the airport on Kenyan soil and I ate a late lunch there. A tourist visa was kind of expensive and I was told not worth the effort since I was in Nairobi.
Life Goal #5 Visit every country in the world 
So, should I check any of these countries off on my list of countries? I had to switch trains in Brussels, Belgium once where I left the train station for 2 minutes to look around. I went through Swedish customs and immigration late one night on a train trip from Denmark to Norway and my train travelled through Sweden for some 8-10 hours.

Maybe, if it comes down to crossing off #5 or not and it comes down to whether I visited Mozambique or not, I'll cross it off, but for now I won't count Mozambique, Kenya, Zambia, Belgium and Sweden.


Arriving at Kamuzu Airport

The second female president of an African nation happens to be flying in first class on my flight from Johannesburg to Lilongwe on April 1. Joyce Banda, president of Malawi, has just completed a several week foreign tour.

As we land, I could see a large welcoming assembled on the tarmac. An announcement is made that there is a VIP on board and that we will have to remain on the plane until the VIP is escorted off the plane. Puzzled looks are exchanged among the passengers as military, press and a red carpet converge on the plane.

My window seat on the left side of the plane allows for a full view of the ceremony which includes choirs singing, a band playing, a short speech and a walk past a long line of uniforms.

A huge crowd women and men wearing Banda's party colour (orange) and her printed image and party symbols on their dresses and shirts is assembled. I'm told that this is a huge waste of human resources as they have likely been waiting there all morning and have come in from around the country.

President Banda ascended to the presidency as she was the vice-president when the former president, affectionally named Bingo, died last year. They were from opposing political parties and so she represents an even smaller portion of the popular vote than her predecessor. She is struggling against inflation (about 90% over the last 12 months), hunger, corruption, and the other normal challenges of governing the world's 9th poorest nation.


Wild African Animals

Prior to going to Africa, I had Amber's blessing to buy a 300 mm zoom lens for my camera. Oh, I wish I had made a better effort to actually go and buy it. Anyway, I got these shots of animals in the iMfolozi-Hluhluwe Game Reserve in South Africa. Thanks to the Waldron family for taking me along!!

elephants - didn't see many, and all from a distance

giraffes - very fun to watch in herds

baby zebra - note that it isn't "zee-braw," but rather "zeb-raw"

white rhinoceros - we saw a total of 32 of these, often on the road, so we had to turn around in this instance, we didn't see any of the rarer black rhinos

leopard - cool sighting since it is rare to spot during the day, not sleeping

leopard tortoise - it was moving

cape glossy starling - very pretty

warthog - lots of these in groups, they kneel when they eat and their tails go up when they move, like a flag on an a banana bike

baby warthogs

guinea fowl

vervet monkey - they are like squirrels

wildebeest - among my favourites, so wild looking

cape buffalo - this one was super old and haggard looking

dung beetle - very fun to see it working

impala - very prolific

baboons - a family with red butts

showdown - cape buffalo vs. white rhino, the rhino backed down

nyala - this is a female, the males are darker and have long horns

Football (50mm f/1.8 AF)

I brought my camera to my friend Carl's son's football practice in Amanzimtoti, SA. I had a blast photographing these intense 8-year-olds.

An Evening in Durban, SA

Despite my assertion that I didn't have to be treated like a tourist, Carl decided that I must experience an evening in Durban - I think he just wanted an excuse to show off this super gorgeous city and get out for an evening. For this, I am very grateful.

We headed out after 7 pm, already nearing my bedtime, and drove the 30 or so minutes into downtown Durban (which appeared a strange fusion of Guatemala City and New York City). He parked at John Ross House, a tower, and we shot up the elevator to the 32nd floor where the Roma Revolving Restaurant sits. Roma is very tacky. Very. I'm sure the food and service are very nice, but the decor... eek.  But we strolled through and scooted up a narrow stairwell and emerged onto the roof, the location of Gino's Sky Bar.

The 360° view of a lit up port city is quite stunning. I would have brought my better suited Nikon and probably would have stood trying to capture the dazzle if I had, so I grabbed a bit of media with my iPhone and sat down for a drink with Carl. I had a Castle Milk Stout, a local South African beer - served far too cold, but it went down well enough.

It was quite windy at the top of this building next to the Indian Ocean. Carl was beginning to get cold, so we didn't hang out any longer once our drinks were done. Plus we had some food to go buy.

We drove a few blocks down the road to the Britannia Hotel where according to National Geographic, the best cultural culinary experience can be had. We ordered at the take out window - I had the Mutton Bunny Chow (see photo below) and Carl had the Chicken Kebab Bunny Chow. I went into the bar to pay for the food and was very impressed with the waitress's acute ability to recognize talent: "Are you a model?" she asked.

Presenting the receipt, we grabbed our sweet smelling bag of food and headed to the shore. The beachfront in Durban is lined with shops, a waterpark, aquarium, hotels, eateries, etc. just like any ocean city worth its salt. We walked until we came to a pier with an open air food court and after assuring the guard that we would clean up our mess afterwards, we unwrapped our bunnies.

Bunny Chow is a traditional dish originating in Durban. It is a 1/2 or 1/4 hollowed out loaf of bread which forms a container. It is then filled with delicious curry - I'd wager that the curry is better is South Africa than it is in India thanks to the fusion of cultures and ingredients. You then tear off bits of bread and eat your curry with it.


Great chat during the chow, then we checked out the pier and saw the tankers and freighters waiting to be called into port and the massive waves crashing into the base of the continent.

So thanks Carl, I think I may have an overwhelmingly positive view of Durban now, but I have an idea of it at least.

"Are you a model?"
"Yes, yes I am."