PART TWO:Our World Challenge Month In Africa: An Unexpected Journey
Written by the students of Sydney Tech High School and Sydney boy’s High School
Chobe Safari – a true experience of African wildlife
After what seemed like a 10 hour bus ride we finally arrived at what had been built up to be one of the great sight-seeing destinations of Africa – Chobe National Park. It did not disappoint.
After our arrival we met with our team leaders for a quick discussion before jumping into the pool for a relaxing swim. We then received a 2 hour talk from our In-country agent about everything from rhinos to her dogs, Ketchup and Chips. When it was time to go to bed we all settled down, extremely tired from our long journey. We woke up early at 5 in order to head out on the morning safari. A moment clearly etched into mind was when we were nearly attacked by a wild elephant after one of our leaders sneezed aggressively at it. The game drive was capped off with the spotting of a lion. Afterwards, some of our group went shopping for more food, while the rest of us lay around the swimming pool. Unfortunately, we were not prepared to leave for the river cruise and had to leave the food in the middle of the camp. While we were out enjoying the sights of hippos and crocs and meeting others on the cruise, our food was being savaged by animals. Thankfully a local came and saved most of it. We were triumphant at the animals we had seen, but also disappointed at not being able to go fishing (which was deemed unsafe) and losing our food. All in all, it was a great time as we were able to experience Africa’s wildlife and see many of their native animals.
A taste of African community life in Mwandi Village
The Mwandi Village Project was our last big challenge before R&R and going home, so everyone had built up a sense of excitement and anticipation regarding it. After leaving Chobe, we crossed the border into Zambia on a very busy old transport ferry, which carried gigantic trucks across the river with an armed guard, and was going to leave regardless of whether everyone stepped on. The drive to the village in a fleet of pink dilapidated taxis was surprisingly relaxing save for the many potholes, and I slept in and out of views of lush trees and grasses sweeping by and school kids walking beside the road. Mwandi Village was small and interesting, and we stayed on the property of the wonderful Paula. During the days we would leave in the morning at 8 to go to work with Gabbi, our guide for the trip. Gabbi was fluent in English, a brilliant speaker and a very interesting guide who we all liked. Walking off the single main road, we entered a whole other side to the village with wandering dirt paths through family settlements made up of mud huts and grass fences. Building the mud hut itself was hard work but very satisfying; termite-mud clumps were put in a wooden frame to make walls, and then more mud was thrown against the walls to smooth them out. We didn’t finish the house but we made a lot of progress towards finishing it. Walking back after work everyone would end up playing with the cheeky village kids, who would ambush us, or come and hold our hands. Some of the people we met in the town we are still in contact with today, such as Tracey the shopkeeper. The days at Mwandi seem to meld into a big lump in my memory, and it was definitely one of the most enjoyable experiences of the entire trip.
Sooka – an overnight stay in a small traditional village
Midway through our Mwandi stay we had the opportunity to go to Sooka, a small village 15 kilometres away. After the short hike we arrived at the church where we would be staying. Entering the village, we could see that the homes were spread out and sprawled throughout the area. Soon after, local village children showed up wanting to play with us. Bringing out the football and rugby balls resulted in a game of soccer happening between some of us, while the others slept. With the evening approaching, our hike leader, Gabbi, took us out to collect firewood. When we ended up walking to a dead tree about 50 metres out of the camp we were a bit surprised by his definition of firewood. However we all had great fun taking turns at swinging the axe (which was obviously safety officer approved) at the tree albeit not making much progress. After we were all exhausted, we stepped back and watched Gabbi take it down within a few swings. After that we settled down for the night, with an excellent dinner prepared by the ladies of the village. It consisted of fried chicken and nshima which we all scoffed down having only had food we cooked ourselves for so long. We set up our sleeping mats and bags in the church and set down for the night with a storm outside. In the morning we attended the local church service. We put on our least dirty clothes and waited for the start of church which happened almost an hour late. The service was interesting, with two languages being spoken and a rendition of Smash Mouth’s All Star being sung for the local community who responded by blowing us away with a traditional song. After the church service it was time to say goodbye to the village of Sooka and make the two hour trek back to Mwandi.
After our village work we caught a bus from Mwandi to Livingstone where we were set to spend the last few days of the trip with some free time and a trip to the world’s largest waterfall – Victoria Falls, before the long flight home.
Thanks for following us on our journey!