Filed under: church, friends, Hluhlu-iMfolozi Park, Kwazamohkuhle, South Africa, travel | Tags: ELCA, ELCSA, garden, South Africa, travel
The second week is underway for those who traveled from the Shetek conference of the ELCA to the Ondini Circuit of the ELCSA. We are playing tourist and have been to see some of the wild part of Africa. We made our way to the Hluhluwe-iMfolozi park two days ago, but today we must go back.
The scenery has been beautiful and the animals plentiful but it is time to get back.
Elephant and rhinos were on the road and we had to wait for them to clear off the road.
These rhinos were intent on their mud bath right next to the road. The male even charged another vehicle when it got too close.
As we leave the park we see some folks thatching a roof.
I get a kick out of the the signs on trucks that say “Abnormal/e” It’s their way of saying, wide or oversize load.
We make our way up hill from Durban. I didn’t realize how much we lost in elevation coming down hill to Durban. Going back up we knew we were climbing as we were constantly downshifting. Then when a truck would pull out in front of you, you had to wait for them to pass and then clear out of the way.
We make it back to the Centre so that Ted and Mark can put on a workshop for lay ministers. They kept at it until late at night.
Saturday found us finishing up projects at the Centre.
We got the plastic mulch put down in the high tunnel and put the last pieces on it.
The trench is filled and the area leveled.
This is our last day at the Centre. What we don’t get done today will have to be done by those at the Centre. We are going to leave some real good people behind. The will is there to get the job done. They can do it with the correct training and tools. We all wish them the very best.
Filed under: cars, food, Hluhlu-iMfolozi Park, Kwazamohkuhle, South Africa, travel, Wildlife | Tags: ELCA, ELCSA, elephants, Food, rhinos, South Africa, travel, wildlife, zebra
The second week is underway for those who traveled from the Shetek conference of the ELCA to the Ondini Circuit of the ELCSA. Today we are playing tourist. We have made our way to the Hluhluwe-iMfolozi park. The park lies in the heart of Zulu country and was once the sole hunting area of Zulu kings. This is Africa’s oldest wilderness area. Our day begins with a 5:00 a.m. game drive.
We climb into 11 passenger open air vehicles long before sunrise and head off into the chill of early morning.
Fog fills the valleys as the sun rises.
There is nothing like the sunrise over the thorn veld of Africa.
The hoot of a baboon brings us to a stop underneath a Eucalyptus fig, where the baboons are having breakfast.
Baby animals are everywhere. This zebra was the first of the day.
Soon we see a rhino family cross the road with oxpeckers on his back. Hluhluwe is famous for its project to save the white rhino which started in the 1950′s.
A hyena slinks through the thorn along the road.
We take a stretch break for tea and biscuits and then continue our tour.
Female and young Nyala are eating beneath the trees.
We see many kinds of birds, and so many elephants that we start getting selective about the photos we take of them.
Our morning drive is over. It’s time for breakfast and some time on the internet. then off for a nap.
Levi, Ron and I have a two bedroom place set into the trees.
A window sticker warns you to keep doors and windows closed to keep monkeys and baboons out.
Window screens are there to keep out monkeys and baboons. They do nothing to keep out insects and small lizards.
This troop of monkeys was playing just outside our door and came within a few feet of us.
Baboons crossed between us and our lodge, and played on the roof of Mark’s place.
Our evening game drive lasted until past sunset.
We saw lots more elephant, perhaps over 100. Also in evidence were rhino, cape buffalo and warthog.
We caught a sight of a male nyala, impala and gazelle, as well as a nile croc, bush baby and eagle owl.
Our day at Hluhluwe had come to an end. We had a late dinner buffet with roasted eland, served with cranberry sauce, as the main meat, got ourselves back to our places and ready for bed. Tomorrow we go back to Kwazamohkule.
Filed under: cars, Hluhlu-iMfolozi Park, Kwazamohkuhle, South Africa, travel, Wildlife | Tags: Cape Buffalo, ELCA, ELCSA, elephants, giraffe, Indian Ocean, rhinos, South Africa, travel
The second week is underway for those who traveled from the Shetek conference of the ELCA to the Ondini Circuit of the ELCSA. Today we are playing tourist. We left Kwazamohkuhle after chapel and headed down the road toward Durban.
Barb, Paul, Marcia, Loretta, Levi and Ted took the back seats as I drove and Jessica navigated.
Being a farmer I was tuned into the crops being grown along the way. The corn and soybeans seemed to be growing well. Most seemed to be nearing maturity, but some had only recently been planted. With all of the rain some did not look too good. There were spots that were yellowing from too much water. We did notice that no one seems to believe in end rows around here.
As we made our way toward Durban we started seeing some sugar cane growing. The cities didn’t look much different than many other southern cities. The houses may have been a bit smaller and more gaudily painted, but everything looked prosperous.
This walking bridge across a deep cut was interesting. As we neared the Indian Ocean all eyes turned toward the coast.
After having lunch in Stanger we made our way to the beach to play in the ocean.
The sand was so hot it burned your feet until you got close to the water.
The waves were really coming in so taking a swim was out of the question. Some of the kids got wet when they were not planning on it.
We said good bye to the ocean and headed northwest along the coast.
All the fuel pumps we saw were full service. There would be someone there to direct you to a pump and pump your fuel. Usually someone washed your window also.
We saw many crews out mowing grass along the road, but rarely saw a tractor powered mower, or even evidence that someone was baling the hay. The grass was cut by a gas powered weed eater and raked up by someone with a small rake. There was usually someone there to sweep the grass off of the road also.
People were walking on the roads everywhere. Busy roads had fewer people on them, but it was not unusual to see someone crossing the busiest of roads. When traffic slowed down people were selling fruit on the edge of the road, or if you had to come to a stop, would approach you with bags of fruit.
Most of the larger roads were toll roads. We usually managed to have the exact change for a toll so we kept moving right along.
As we made our way further west the sugar cane made way for large plantations of fast growing trees. You could see the fields that had been recently harvested and some that were planted not that long ago. Plots of trees were in all stages of growth.
Our goal for the day was the Hluhluwe game park. We were going around to the northwestern side to go into the Memorial gate. The roads got smaller and livestock again became a presence on the road. Mark almost got kid on the grill when a young goat dashed across in front of him.
We checked in at the park gate and made our way up to Hilltop Camp. Last time when Mark was here they saw only one elephant. This time we were greeted by herds of them.
We had to wait while they crossed the road, and then stop and wait again.
We also saw rhinos, cape buffalo, wart hog and giraffe before we even reached the camp.
This giraffe was eating right at the side of the road.
We made our way to Hilltop Camp, got our room assignments had a wonderful prime rib buffet for diner and then headed off to bed. Tomorrow’s wake up call is 4:15. The morning game drive leaves at 5:00 a.m. It’s going to be a short night.
Filed under: Ag education, church, Corn, Farm, food, garden, harvest, Hluhlu-iMfolozi Park, Minnesota, rain, snow, South Africa, Soybeans, travel, weather | Tags: Agriculture education, children, Corn, farm, Food, garden, harvest, rain, Soybeans
Sunday, January 30. The forecast is for snow and 15 people from the Shetek conference of the ELCA are supposed to fly to South Africa on an agricultural mission on the 31st. We cannot miss that plane so we start our adventure early.
When you are planning to be gone for two weeks the last thing you want to hear is that there is record snowfall forecast for those you love and leave behind to deal with. That is unfortunately what we had to do.
This is the third trip from the Shetek Conference of the ELCA (Evangelical Lutheran Church of America) to the Ondini circuit of the ELCSA (Evangelical Lutheran Church of South Africa) and the first time I will be joining the group. It is my first time in Africa and the Southern Hemisphere and I am looking forward to the trip. Our mission is mainly agricultural as we try to improve agricultural practices in the area. Past groups have helped to irrigate and start gardens. There has been varied success. Our mission is to continue and expand those projects. We are helping give the people of the Ondini Circuit knowledge they need to feed themselves. We give them a start, and they must continue the project.
The Ondini circuit is located in the Zulu midlands, an area of South Africa between Lesotho and Swaziland. Major towns in the area include Newcastle, Ladysmith and Dundee. More specifically we will be in the area of Loskop, Winterton and Estcourt. Our work would be centered on the Kwazamokuhle retreat and agricultural center.
Much of Africa has seen an AIDS/HIV epidemic and those left are burdened with the orphans that are left behind. Compound that with the flight of talent from the area, which has very few good jobs, and you are left with many people struggling to survive. There are also many in the area who consider jobs in which you get your hands dirty to be jobs they will not do.
The Zulu midlands do have many things going for it. The climate is mostly wonderful for the growth of crops. The wet season provides much of the water needed to grow crops, but the dry season can make plant growth chancy. Projects that bring water to the gardens can provide the opportunity for local folks to grow food year round. While we were there people were harvesting potatoes, sweet potatoes, pineapple, mangos, pears, grapes, beets and many other food crops. The sugarcane, soybean and corn fields were looking great. We saw fields that were all the way from recently planted to nearing maturity. The rainy season has brought on an abundance of foods.
Our hopes are high as we packed our bags with items we would need. Local churches had donated bibles, catechisms, and bible school materials. All members of our group were packing two suitcases bulging with materials we needed for the trip, I planned on leaving most of what I took along behind. The U.S. Agriculture Department frowns upon the bringing of soil, plants and animals back from Africa with all of its potential for diseases not found here. Because of that, those who worked the fields planned to leave boots and shoes, plus much of our clothing behind.
I hope you will follow me as my future blogs explore our South African Adventure.