October 2005 (created 04-Jan-06 by Ken)
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What more fitting place to have a going away party than out at the PIC beach. Many friends came to wish us a bon voyage as our last days on Saipan grew near.
For our last night on Saipan we moved out of our house and slept at PIC. Erica did the bulk of the work getting our house packed up and dividing our stuff into piles, one to return to Madison and one for Central African Republic (CAR). My major task was wrapping up stuff at work and keeping Charlie busy so she wouldn't realize we were having a massive garage sale that included many of her toys. At least by our last day we had gotten enough done to be able to relax by the pool and have some fun. Here are Charlie and Amon taking a slide down the new addition to the PIC waterpark.
On our way to CAR we set aside some time to visit with family. Our first stop was in Sunnyvale to see my parents. It was a nice visit that included a birthday party for Charlie, many walks to Washington Park down the street to swing and watch squirrels, a long walk up in the mountains where we saw deer, an owl, turkeys and lots of farm animals and much more.
After visiting with my folks for a few days we drove down to Oxnard to spend a weekend with my sister Judy and her family. Here is a picture of Charlie with David, Judy's youngest son. It was getting close to halloween so lots of pumpkins available. At Judy's we also spent a lot of time visiting parks as well as playing on the beach. Unfortunately we were there for such a short time we didn't get to see her other two sons Steve and Mike, and we only saw her husband Bruce briefly as there had been a death in the family and so he was gone most of the weekend. Judy and I ...
After Judy's we jumped on a plane and flew to Madison to spend some time with Erica's family. Roger and Melissa are running a very successful crop-insurance business with the help of their younger son Griffen. We also got to spend some nice time with Erica's sister Nuppie and her boyfriend Dan. Our visit included lots of fun activities including a boat ride on the lake near their house, hunting for fossils, a walk at Devil's Lake, a visit to Roger and Melissa's cabin, and a chance for Charlie to ride on Megan's pony - Scooter. Megan is Griffen's companion for many years...
After Madison we flew to Cameroon where Erica was scheduled to be in meetings for her first week on the job. We arrived in Douala then a WWF car took us down to Kribi on the coast. While Erica passed the days in meetings, Charlie and I took walks along the beach and checked out what the fishermen were catching. Here is just a sample of the baracuda that were being sold. Erica's meetings were pretty brutal, lots of long days. Charlie and I rented a small motorcycle one day which was a lot of fun but then it broke down the next day. We went to a waterfall where ...
After Cameroon we flew to Bangui, the capital city of CAR. We spent nearly a week in Bangui buying some things that we thought we might need in Bayanga. The WWF office in Bangui also serves as a guest house for visiting project staff with a large room typically set aside for the PTA (Principal Technical Advisor - Erica) and additional guest rooms behind the office. This is a picture of Erica and Charlie dancing in the rain behind the WWF office.
Finally, after nearly a month of traveling, we were on a small 4-seater plane heading to Bayanga.. our new home for the next two years or more. The small inset photo shows the Bayanga Elementary school. In the larger photo you can see the end of the airstrip in the lower right and the Sanga River flowing from right to left. Across the river is fairly undisturbed tropical forest and part of the Dzanga-Sanga Reserve. The town has around 5,000 people and this picture captures most of the town. Out of the picture to the right is a small hill where the WWF project has it's office ...
It turns out that our pilot is the father of Frederic Jr who works in Bayanga for GTZ (a German development organization). Fred and Fred Jr invited us to join them on our first walk out to the Dzanga Bai. Here is a photo of Charlie and I at pretty much the start of the trail where it is necessary to walk about 100 yards down a stream that gets to thigh depth. The bai was fabulous and we have now take that walk about every other week.
And here is our home in Bayanga. A pretty large three bedroom home with kitchen and large living room, but best of all is a huge terrace out the back that is screened to keep out the insects. We spend most of our time out on the terrace where we look out over dense tropical vegetation and often see monkeys and hear elephants. Hard to see the elephants, which seems odd given their size, but they stay just far enough away from the border of the vegetation that at most you catch faint shadows of movement and see the rustling of vegetation. The front of our house was ...