Thebe Dawn Drive and River Safari

16 June 2015

Yesterday we arrived at Thebe, a cabin/campsite based beside the Chobe River.

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Much like Elephant Sands, this too felt like a place of discovery, my first being the local’s lager!

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Then got my Western on

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I had opted to camp here, not only to save money but also because it’s something I’ve not experienced before, so after lunch I got straight on with pitching my tent:

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Not bad!

After that, it was pretty much just a chill out day, so after a bit of shopping on the local markets (where I bought an excellent spoon for making Nshema, as advised by Berri) we all went to dinner

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And then got a reasonably early night in anticipation of this morning’s Dawn Drive through Chobe National Park!

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Elephant Sands

14 June 2015

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Elephant Sands has been an incredible experience and I would recommend it to ANYONE who wishes to experience the true wildlife of Southern Africa without compromising the animal’s dignity, personal space or safety.

The wonderment began yesterday afternoon, when we arrived to the camp site with water pipe built in an area very VERY highly populated with wild African Elephants!

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Nshema with Berry

Back in South Africa, when I went to the marvellous Mzoli’s in Cape Town, I had something called Papa, a strange kind of starchy fake mash side dish!

As it turns out, this is a traditional side dish all over Africa, but goes by a different name depending on where you go. In South Africa and Botswana it’s called Papa, in Zambia its Slozi name is Wahobi, but it’s Zambian English name, somehow, is Nshema!

In my quest to take on as many new recipes as possible while on my travels, I tentatively approached Berry to ask if she might teach me how to cook this. Every night, after cooking for Paula, Dan, Matt and myself, Berry cooking Nshema for herself and the rest of the staff, so I’m confident she’s the expert. And lucky me, she very kindly agreed to show me!

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Today’s the day!

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The last 10 days have been an absolute blur of work, emotions, food and farewells!

I spent all of last week writing the most detailed handover possible for my replacement at work, and learned somewhere in the middle that almost all my flights had been cancelled so had to rebook them! Somehow, I found the time to do my farewell office cakes- tiny little individual chocolate sponge globes! I would love to say them were simple, but they kept going wrong and eventually took me 3 days to complete!

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Start again.

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Yusssssssss.

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As I’m leaving for the airport in about an hour, I don’t have time to give you a detailed recipe, but can briefly explain that for the “sea” I used white chocolate with blue food colouring (burnt the first batch, and learned on the second that blue food colouring works as a thickening agent… Did you know that?!) and for the “land” I used store bought roll out icing. I attempted to replicate the areas of the world I’m actually going to! Let me tell you, India is pretty hard to cut out of icing!

The Friday was my work/chums leaving meal! What a great nice! An array of 20 friends and colleagues were able to come out for it and show me a fantasically unforgettable evening! A great success!

Then came the Saturday, which was (so far as I was aware) the “family segment” that my sister had kindly taken the duty of organising. And organise she did! I was overwhelmed by all the surprises I had waiting for me!

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The dreaded visa

It’s hard to believe it, but in just 6 weeks and 5 days I will be beginning my adventure! I realise I ummed and ahhed about a variety of routes and may have left some confusion, so for clarity, here is my absolute plan of what’s what:

India

26th February I will depart London Heathrow at 8:50pm and arrive in Delhi, India, on 27th February at 10:40am! I will then engage in a month long guided tour of all the best bits, including a variety of beautiful temples and the Himalayas Mountains!

South Africa

Then, on 29th March I will depart Dabolim Goa, India Airport at 6:45pm and arrive Chhatrapati Shivaji, Mumbai airport at 7:55pm. Then at 1:35am (so, 30th March now) I will depart Chhatrapati Shivaji, Mumbai and arrive in O R Tambo Johannesburg Airport, South Africa at 6:55am. THEN at 10:45am I will depart O R Tambo Johannesburg Airport only to arrive, finally, at 12:25pm in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. Here, I will spend two months working within a Game Ranger internship, helping on the Safari and by the end have a FGASA qualification. Will it come in handy one day? Who can say!

Zambia

So! 25th May at 6:10am I will depart Port Elizabeth, South Africa, and arrive at 7:50am in O R Tambo Johannesburg, South Africa. Then I’ll catch another flight at 10:40am, which will see me land safely at Livingstone Airport, Africa, at 12:30pm. I’ll then be transferred over to an area of Zambia where I’ll be volunteering within the community. I will also drift over to Botswana for 4 days somewhere in the middle, to explore the Safari and go bush camping!

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And finally

Wednesday 17th June at 1:10pm I will depart Livingstone Airport, Africa, and arrive at O R Tambo Johannesburg, South Africa, at 2:55pm. I will hostel it up for a night, then 18th June I will get an 11:25am from O R Tambo Johannesburg, South Africa in order to arrive at Chhatrapati Shivaji, Mumbai at 12:05am (now, by all technicalities, on 19th June). Then, at 1:05am I will depart Chhatrapati Shivaji, Mumbai, arriving at Suvarnabhumi International Airport Bangkok, Thailand, at 6:55am!
After what I’m sure will be a memorable night on Khao San Road and a day tour of Bangkok, I will jump on the train all the way up to Surin where I’ll stay for four weeks caring for elephants!

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Love, Life, Food, Adventure

First and foremost, I would like to dedicate this particular post to my parents Dawn and Kevin Maitland, who are celebrating their 33rd wedding anniversary today. They are currently dining in the same Italian restaurant we went for Hana’s pre-wedding dinner just a few months ago. What a special restaurant!

Second, and with no less enthusiasm, I would like to give a great HOLLA HOO to my wonderful best friend Ali Cluney who is celebrating his birthday today. I can’t quite recall how old he is. 80 maybe?

I wanted to ensure I posted today, as it’s a significant memory, not just for my Mother and Father and not just for Ali but for me personally. And what better post for what I wish to blab about than this unusual salad I made for me and my Mum just the other day- The Thai Som Tum. Aka, Papaya Salad!

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