Monday, July 23, 2012

Zip-lining at Malolotja

Kari and Anna, some friends from Cincinnati, have been visiting us for the past two weeks, and on Saturday we took them zip-lining. Despite some pre-zip-line nerves, we had a great time. 

Jack is something of an expert at this point.

Throwback to the days of playgroup, 5-year-olds, and juice boxes

Monday, May 14, 2012


Last week we had our first experience with Mozambique, one of the countries bordering Swaziland whose 1,535 miles of coastline contribute to its vibrant culture. We went with two other families from Swaziland and we had an excellent time.

A (very) brief history of Mozambique:
The Portugese began to occupy Mozambique in the early 16th century and, despite strong resistance from natives, continually gained power until Mozambique ultimately became an overseas province of Portugal in 1951. The FRELIMO party, a group of Mozambican natives angered by Portugese presence, was formed in 1962 with Eduardo C. Mondlane as its first president. They lead Mozambique in revolution from 1964 to June 25, 1975 when they gained their independence. In 1976 the RENAMO party was formed and carried out guerrilla warfare against the FRELIMO throughout the 80s, including blowing up bridges and tampering with rail lines; they were also accused of a 386 person massacre near the village of Inhambane. Despite the fighting between the two parties (which lead to the flight of hundreds of thousands of Mozambicans to surrounding countries), by 1992 a treaty was signed to end the war. The first, multiple party election in Mozambique was held in 1994 where a FRELIMO president was elected, and the FRELIMO party has continued to hold power through to the present.

These days, Mozambique is home to a large fishing industry which counts for about 1/3 of the country's exports. (Needless to say, we filled up on fish during our trip.) However, the country's largest industry by far is agriculture in which about 80% of the Mozambican population is employed. Some of the most common crops are corn, cassava, coconuts, peanuts, cotton, sugar, and cashews. Despite this, Mozambique still faces a problem with food shortages, and many inhabitants struggle to provide enough food for themselves and their families.

Because Mozambique was a Portugese colony, Portugese is now the official language. 

We spent the first night of our trip in Maputo, the capital of Mozambique, with the Peace Corps Director there. Maputo is a huge costal city, much of which was designed by the Portugese architect, Amancio d'Alpoim Guedes, who also designed a large part of Waterford's campus. While we were there, we toured the city and visited a few markets. Something that caught my attention in Maputo: it's possible to buy nearly anything along the road (if you need a new front door, I know a place).

The rest of the week we spent at the beach in a lodge near Inhambane. Mozambican beaches are known for their beauty, and this one definitely didn't disappoint. Between the palm tree lined horizon and the early morning sunrises over the Indian Ocean, we had some great views at our disposal. We also had opportunities for some excellent snorkeling where we got to see tons of fish and coral, and even a star fish about as long as my arm. 

Mozambique has definitely been one of my favorite places to visit so far, and I'm awaiting a return visit with high anticipation.

To learn more about Mozambique, visit these web sites: 

Sunday, February 26, 2012

We are KaMhlaba

Every year, Waterford organizes an event called UWC (United World College) Day where students from all over the world share aspects of their culture such as traditional dress, food, dances, and music. The Waterford student body currently represents about 70 countries in total, which makes for a very interesting  festival.
The day begins with the Parade of Nations, where students from each country come forward introduce themselves, followed by dances and performances from different cultures. The rest of the day students have stalls where they serve food from their countries for everyone to sample.

The lack of American "traditional dress" created some interesting costumes this year..

I really enjoyed UWC Day this year. It was fun to see everyone representing their home countries, and there was some really great food! While UWC Day allows all of us to showcase our own cultures it also teaches us that we are KaMhlaba- all of one world.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

St. Lucia, SA

Last week we visited St Lucia which is located in South Africa on the coast of the Indian Ocean, and we had a great time! One of the more popular beaches in St Lucia, Cape Vidal, had clear blue water and was great for snorkeling, and there was also a rock beach which had some really cool tide pools and coves. Along with its many beautiful beaches, St Lucia also has a large estuary which is home to many hippos and crocodiles. Every once in a while some hippos even come into town in the evening.

On the way home we stopped at Emdoneni Lodge, about 45 minutes out of St Lucia. Emdoneni is not only a lodge, but an animal rescue facility. There they breed and rehabilitate African Wild Cats, Servals, Caracals, and Cheetahs. Some of the cats, because they are used for breeding purposes and will not be released back into the wild, are tame and visitors are able to pet them.  (Read more about Emdoneni here.)

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Return to Kruger

Last weekend we took another trip up to Kruger, and we managed to see all of the Big 5. If you want to read more about Kruger, you can read my post from last time we went here.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Pasture Valley Children's Home

Clare is currently on break from school, so she and I took the opportunity to volunteer at Pasture Valley Children's home for five days, and I'm so glad we had the chance to do so. Pasture Valley is a dairy farm, plant nursery, and children's home run by Peter and Michelle McCubbin near Nhlangano, Swaziland. While we were there, we stayed with Gail and Mike, a couple who live and work at Pasture Valley. They were great hosts, and we really enjoyed spending time with them.

The children's home consists of three houses- Stella House, David House, and Timothy House- where the children live with a housemother, or make in siSwati (pronounced mah-gay). The aim of the set up is to make the children feel more like a family. Not only are the children a family, but everyone else on the farm is a part of the family as well: Peter and Michelle are Babe (pronounced bah-bay) and Make, and Gail and Mike are Auntie and Uncle.
Currently, there are 34 children, ages 2-18, living at Pasture Valley. Most of the children are orphans, many due to AIDS; some are HIV positive themselves. Despite the many hardships these children have faced, there are always smiles on their faces. Though some people would look at these children and say they have nothing, I would disagree. Though they don't have many possessions, they are surrounded by people who love and care about them, which is something money can't buy.
The girls really enjoy playing hand games. They tried to teach me a few, but I didn't catch on very quickly.

As you can imagine, being a home to 34 children, Pasture Valley is hopping during break time. Between farm chores, preschool, swim lessons, and other activities, there's hardly a dull moment. We had a great time helping out and getting to know the children, and I'm hoping we'll go back to visit sometime soon. To learn more about what goes on at Pasture Valley, visit their website.

Clare and I with the McCubbin family and Gail and Mike

The children of Pasture Valley

In addition to her work at Pasture Valley, Gail also works with the Bambanani Project. Bambanani is a siSwati word meaning “supporting one another for a better tomorrow” or “holding hands.” This organization helps to train women in traditional and non-traditional handicrafts and create a market in which they are able to sell their products. To see more information on the Bambanani Project visit this webpage.
A few of the beautiful necklaces crafted by the women of the Bambanani Project