January 2006 (created 04-Feb-06 by Ken)
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There is a local New Years tradition with the kids here. On the 31st of Dec and 1st of Jan kids form groups and go around to houses singing songs and asking for either money or food. Similar to halloween except no costumes. They did have this cool puppet that danced as they sang. Fortunately we had been advised beforehand and had a good stock of candy available.
Bai Hoku is a field site in the park focused on gorilla and mangabey habituation. This was perhaps our third trip out to Bai Hoku but always before it was either Erica or myself with Charlie, and Charlie is too young to see the Gorillas (need to be at least 16 years old). So this trip I actually got to see the gorillas while Erica took Charlie to see the mangabeys. We will switch off next time. Seeing the gorillas is a very wonderful experience. First there is the challenge of finding them, then they tend to forage in pretty thick vegetation so seeing them even at close range is not always ...
Messy art arrives in Bayanga. Erica's tradition of having fun that requires getting very messy begins again. Here is a large bucket of sloppy wet clay that the kids could form into shapes and before long it was flying around like a food fight. Fortunately it was pretty much contained outside so fairly easy to clean up afterwards.. and of course the kids just loved it. Unfortunately I didn't get any good "after" photos.. this pic was taken of Benjamin and Sara at the still clean beginning.
Erica and I threw a small party for the people who work directly with our house.. two guards (Andre and Antoine), a gardener (BonAdventure), a nanny (Mama Angel), a cook (Papa Pierre) and a Sango instructor (Bertin).. and their families. All told we had about 25 people. We rented out a small restaurant very close to our house and enjoyed some food and drink together to celebrate the New Year. In this pic (from left to right) are Charlie, Dieu Merci, Carol, and Cristal (three of Mama Angel's children who Charlie plays with regularly).
Empty boxes remain the best toy on the planet. Here are Charlie, Benjamin and Gabriella hiding in an empty refridgerator box connected to an empty stove box.
Preying mantis in Sango is danga linga, and this danga linga decided to lay her egg sack on the handle of our new tea kettle. Now the tea kettle sits on science display in our house while we wait to see when the egg sack will hatch.. any guesses? The butterfly cacoon took over 10 days (so Derek was the big winner on that estimation). I'm told that in the US these egg sacks can take over 6 months.. I'm hoping in the tropics that is reduced to a much shorter time. Already it has been over 3 weeks and counting. I want my tea kettle back!
A picnic on the Sangha River with Thomas and his family. Thomas has a large pirogue with a small outboard motor so we all piled in and headed upstream. There are a number of islands within the river so we chose one with a nice sandy bank and parked there to play in the river. Erica and the kids caught some small fish and here they are checking them out along with Lisa who is staying with Thomas and his family. After our picnic we motored downstream to see the three hippos that hang out near the village. The hippos didn't seem very interested in having us around and actually ...
A tree house for Charlie and friends built by our local carpenter Moise. He and I struggled with the design for a bit then came up with this idea. I thought it worked out pretty good. Now we just need the swings that are rumored to be in Cameroon with the rest of our shipment.
Charlie and momma playing on Charlie's bed. Charlie still sleeps with us most nights, but has actually spent a few nights all by herself in her own bed. She has even had her first two sleep-overs, the first was when Gabriella spent the night then another night Carol stayed at our house.
The sign out on the "main" road that announces the presence of the Dzanga Sangha Project.
Charlie, Carol and Betina playing together in the new chicken coop I had built. We actually have 8 chickens in there now and planning to breed chickens for eggs and meat.
Gabriella and Charlie hunting tadpoles. A couple of local boys gave Charlie a live turtle and we found that the turtle likes to eat tadpoles, so once a week or so Charlie heads to this flooded boat by the river and fishes out a few tadpoles for her turtle to eat.
Carol and Charlie at the Dzanga Bai. On this trip we brought Carol and her mom Angel, it was their first opportunity to see elephants in the wild (apart from the three that have been hanging around our house for the past 2 months).
Thomas's cat had 4 kittens and we have arranged to take one of them when the time is right. Charlie picked this one on the blue brick with the orange face. This kitten also has what looks like a little black heart on her back so Charlie has already named her "Sweetheart". Thomas and his family are away for a couple of weeks but Charlie, Erica and I go down to their house almost daily to swim in the river and bring treats to the cats.