November 2005 (created 03-Jan-06 by Ken)
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Playing a game of chase with Gabriella, Benjamin, Kato and another boy. If only I could patent the phrase "nannie nannie pooh pooh you can't catch me!!" I could be a rich man. Benjamin (5) and Gabriella (7) are Thomas's children. Thomas and his wife Lena are Swedish Baptist missionaries and a very nice family to spend time with.
Erica and Charlie looking out over the Dzanga Bai. This was our second trip out to the bai and we figured out that to get to the bai meant walking thigh deep through a river so we just dressed Charlie up in her bathing suit and let her walk in that. She loved it. As you will see by all the photos we go to the bai as often as we can.
Charlie and I were invited to join Lena for lunch. Clockwise around the table are: Charlie, Gabriella, Benjamin, Lisa, Ellen, Sarah and Lena. Lisa is staying with Thomas and Lena just to get a sense of what it means to be a missionary in Africa, and she helps Lena teach things like sewing and money management to the Biyaka (a group of people with strong ties to the forest). Ellen is the Swedish tutor for Gabriella and Sarah. Each year Thomas and Lena get a volunteer tutor to come out and help them educate their children. Benjamin is still too young to go to school, he will start ...
This is Erica and Charlie swimming in the river that you need to cross to get to the Dzanga Bai. As part of our walk out to the bai we now often stop here along the way to play in the river. It is quite cold water so the sun needs to be shining in order to fully appreciate the plunge. We always walk with either a guide or a guard who is nice enough to keep a lookout for elephants and other animals that may wish to join us in our swim.
A picture of daddy and Charlie enjoying a peaceful moment at the bai. Erica, Charlie and I had spent the night in the bai because it was nearly a full moon and we wanted to see and hear the elephants all night. In the background are Leoni and Micheala, two volunteers helping out with Gorilla studies at the Bai Hoku camp within the park. We really didn't sleep much as the elephants were regularly trumpeting and making all sorts of wonderful sounds. In the morning there weren't so many elephants in the bai, but grey parrots came flocking in to drink and chat along the edges. Parrots also make great sounds and they squack and chatter amongst ...
This is just a bridge that you need to cross on your way from Bayanga into the forest, but I thought it was interesting.
Here in the Central African Republic (CAR) people mostly speak either French or Sango. Since most people, especially the kids that Charlie really wants to play with, speak Sango I decided to hire a tutor to help me start learning the language. Bertin was born here in Bayanga, his dad works for the park as a guide, and he was available to help teach me as he was on vacation from his high school in Bangui. While it is still too early to claim much ability with Sango I do have lots of words floating around in my head. What I need to do most at this point is just use it.. which seems easier ...
No real story here, I just thought it was a cute picture of Erica and Charlie.
One day at Chez Thomas the kids pulled out hockey sticks and a ball and started to play a furious hockey match. Erica and Charlie joined in and I took it upon myself to be the sports photographer. It was great fun with lots of laughter and only a few bruised shins.
As part of our Sango studies Bertin took me for a pirogue ride up the Massapoula River, a small tributary near our house where people harvest the Raffia tree to make wine. The pirogue itself seemed a tippy means of transportation yet while I sat trying not to move Bertin and his buddy were running up and down the boat paddling, steering and laughing. The Massapoula has a lot of raffia trees, but I wonder about the sustainability of harvesting raffia wine. Raffia wine is basically just the sap from the raffia tree...
A forest friend who came to visit our house. Fortunately I was told that the snake was there before the guards killed it (snakes are pretty much killed on site for the most part). This one was fortunate to be captured and released a few miles from our house.
This is a picture of a tourist camp called Doli Lodge which is very near our home. The lodge can accomodate up to about 40 people and this building right on the edge of the river is the bar and restaurant. It is really a beautiful place and on occasion Erica and I will sit here and take a beer while watching the fishermen move up and down the river in their pirogues.
There are really very few fruits and vegetables available in the local market so we decided to start our own garden. It looks a little bit like a cemetary here but it is getting better. We are trying to grow melons, egg plants, basil, tomatoes, onions, zucchini and cucumbers.. unfortunately we are finding that there is one particular insect that really loves to eat the melon leaves.
Thanksgiving was meant to be quite a grand affair. We invited Thomas and his family, Paul and his wife (American Baptist missionaries who live with Thomas) and a number of the people who work for the park. There was a ton of food prepared and it seemed we were set for a wonderful feast. It turns our that it was one of Diane's ancestors that actually helped make Thanksgiving a national holiday in the US. We were about half way through dinner when I noticed a few ants on the floor. As I looked around I realized that the walls were crawling with ants. Army ants ...
As I'm not really an official member of the WWF crew here in Bayanga I really don't have access to a vehicle to get from place to place. Rather than buy a jeep or something I decided to buy my first motorcycle, a new Honda 175. I have probably wanted to buy a motorcycle all my life and this seemed the most appropriate moment. For the most part I am only driving short distances and there really aren't many other vehicles on the road. The hardest part about riding a motorcycle here is the sand and mud on the road that make it hard to get traction. This was a posed photo ...
Bombs away! Charlie learning to do cannon-balls into the SofiTel pool. The SofiTel is a hotel in Bangui along the Oubangi River and when we are in Bangui we often come here so we can take a dip in the pool. Charlie even did her first "head-first" dive into this pool, with careful coaching from mamma.
In general I can't say that I'm very fond of Bangui. It is a typical large capital city with too much traffic and too many people. Public transport consists of small taxis that either you can hire privately to take you from one place to another or you accept to get crammed in with 7 other people and pay much less.. but that has nothing to do with a soccer match. While in Bangui one time I was informed that there would be a national level soccer match at the old soccer stadium (a new one is being built that is quite impressive, but not yet finished). I asked a couple friends to come along and paid ...
Charlie.. whatever you do.. DON'T SMILE!!!