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Casey And Melissa's African Adventure

The majority of our time in Africa will be spent with the Living With Elephants Foundation where we will be teaching the local children participating in the Elephant Outreach Program. (www.livingwithelephants.org)
"...the opportunity to touch, feel and walk with Jabu, Thembi and Morula in the heart of the Okavango Delta...learn about the natural history, ecology and behaviour of the African elephant...explore actions that encourage a more positive relationship between people and elephants..."

Diary Entries

Friday, 21 April 2006

Location: Thunder Bay/Fernie, Canada

Hello all! Just wanted to send out a thank you for visiting our site during our trip. We loved getting the messages, and hearing your comments about our photos and adventures (misadventures)! We are home safe and sound now, ready to get on with the next big adventure...jobs! Take care all, and we hope to see you very soon!

Thursday, 13 April 2006

Location: Maun, Botswana

Greetings everybody! Here is the last journal entry of the trip. I have been alone in Maun for the past two weeks almost. Fly made it safely back to Canada (Fernie to be exact) and is enjoying the snow and skiing as much as the apparently rainy weather will let her. I am definitely missing having a Canadian counterpart, but I will see her again soon enough!
I have been spending half of my time out at camp with the eles, and the other half wrapping things up here in Maun. I can't beleive how fast the time is going by, I will be back in Canada myself this time next week.
I had two groups out at camp last week, both from Matshwane Primary school, a private school here in Maun. The kids were fantastic, and the teachers...well, most of them were great to work with, others were just big kids themselves!
The weather has changed drastically. There has been hardly any rain at all, with cool nights and beautiful sunny days! I could handle this weather all of the time!
I finally followed through on something that I have wanted to do for a long time now, I got extensions put into my hair. They are all braided, and my hair is quite long now...a picture will be posted in the near future. All in all it took 18 hours, but I read 2 books, and my butt was only sore for a day after!
Anyway, there really isn't too much to report. I hope everybody is well, and we will be in touch when we are all back on the same continent...those of you who are on that continent. As I read over this, I can see why it was Mel's job to keep this journal up to date...let's just say my photo posting skills are better than my writing skills! :)

Monday, 27 March 2006

Location: Maun, Botswana

I DID IT!!! I finally won the battle with the internet. There are quite a few new photos posted on the site now, so take a look at them! As well as adding some new pages all together, I updated the Elephant Outreach Program folder with a couple of new ones as well.
Time is flying by in Maun. It is hard to beleive that Melissa is heading home on Friday afternoon, and I'm sure my time will fly by after that as well.
We have finished with the Elephant Outreach Program trips. We had our last group of students out at camp on Saturday. Things went fairly smoothly, as they should after 25 trips out in total! We did have some adventure though, during the elephant activity, we were surrounded by a small pack of wild dogs, it was pretty exciting because they are quite rare, and we haven't seen any yet.
Not too many other wildlife sightings, however, many insects are enjoying the new cool dry weather. Corn Crickets are invading Wilma's garden. She has hasked us to throw any that we see over the fence, but we told her it would not be possible (if you saw the size of them, you would surely say the same!!). There has also been an invasion of stink bugs. They were coming down like rain in some parts of town, and apparently the little beetles smell quite horrible, but Mel nor I can smell them.
I hope that you enjoy the new photos that we have posted, hopefully the number makes up for the lack of updates over the past couple of months!

Wednesday, 22 March 2006

Location: Maun, Botswana

I swear the email I sent out was not a ploy to get you to check out the site!!! Sorry about the photos, but it seems like Botswana does not want Casey to upload any photos (actually, she got one up!).

Since you are here, a short story to keep you entertained. We have been spending the last few weeks running Elephant Outreach Programs for the local school kids, and enjoying it quite a lot. There are new program ideas that we are trying out, and more that we are continuing to make.

Yesterday we decided to knowck off another tourist attraction off our list in Maun (there are only 3)... we went to teh Crocodile Farm with Robin and Brian (family of some of the people we live in the compound with).

Arriving at the Croc Farm Gate, it was hard not to stand with an open mouth staring becasue the first staff member we saw was missing an arm! Not very good advertising!!! It looked as though it was a fresh injury, and I no longer wanted to go visit the crocodiles. When we met the youngest ones, we all pet it, Casey for the longest while I tried to get a picture. Even though it was only 4 months old, they still looked pretty vicious. We survived the experience, and we all left with four appendages. An interesting industry, but pretty gross if you ask me! The adult crocs were as wide as kitchen tables, and the longest one we saw was about 3m. HUGE... SCARY... so happy that they were in fences.

Monday, 06 March 2006

Location: Okavango Delta, Botswana

For those of you wondering what we have been up to lately, we have been busy taking local primary and private schools to the Elephant Outreach Program in the bush. They have been going quite well, and we have been filling a lot of our spare time with new programming ideas, and making new activities for the kids to enjoy, as well as to keep the program different for us.

We were in need of an adventure, seeing as the trips were going so well. There has been a lot of rain this year, the locals say the rains this year are like the rains that they experienced here in the 70’s. The bush tracks have been very wet, but passable... and we have only had to fly with one group. Since then, we have started driving again, and although the tracks are drying up a bit, they have deep ruts making the drive very slow-going.

The last trip we did went very well... great teachers, students, and a very fun program. Everything was going very well until we started the drive back to town. We were about an hour into our trip when there was a huge crack... oh boy, our back axle broke. The driver turned around to face us and he said “That is a BIG matata!”. What to do... we had a radio with us in case of emergency. Well this was an emergency, so the radio came out. Only our luck, there was no signal on the radio. Not even a little bit of fuzz when we held down the button. I climbed on top of the car in hopes of receiving a signal above the trees. No luck, just a funny pose like the Statue of Liberty. Casey and I decided that we had to start walking to see if we could find a better signal. We were 15km away from the buffalo fence, and if all else failed, they have a radio there that can reach town. It was already 2:30pm, and we were hoping to have the kids rescued by nightfall. Not only because of sleeping arrangements, but because only 2 kms before we broke down, we had a water crossing, and there was a HUGE Hippo living in it! When it gets dark, these beasts come onto land to look for food. The cute “Hungry Hungry Hippos” are not very cute and actually very dangerous.

We would not start walking without Mike, the local coordinator, as our body guard. We left the students, their teachers, and the driver with the truck as we started to walk... so happy that this was in the heat of the day on a sand track... now we were really in the bush! Only about 15 minutes up the road some dialogue started to come through on the radio. Casey stopped there and did not move again, until we were able to get through to Doug or Sandi (or anyone for that matter) for help. A few messages were sent about our matata, and then we received confirmation that there was a vehicle on its way to rescue us. Now it was just a matter of waiting... a little worrisome because waiting times in Africa are always unknown, and could last a LONG time!

This must have been a record fast waiting time... when you say there are kids stranded in the bush, people seem to move faster! By 5pm we were all loaded into another vehicle on our way to Maun. We finally arrived at 7pm to drop off the kids to their parents, only three hours late. Of course, they were ok with it once they realized that everyone was ok.

There are still a few groups to come, and some wrapping up work to do before we head home. The temperatures have dropped significantly, and it is quite hard to get the kids motivated to do anything away from the campfire. Hopefully it will warm up a bit, but not too much; we are enjoying the change... and no bugs!!!! When you think that things in Africa are getting a little boring, there is always an adventure waiting around the corner!

Monday, 20 February 2006

Location: Maun, Botswana

When we arrived in Maun in November, we noticed certain things that we just attributed to us being in Africa. However, after travelling through a few different countries, we have discovered that it is not Africa, it is in fact, only in Maun...

Only in Maun...
*Only in Maun do pickup trucks pack in so many people that the back end is nearly dragging on the road.

*Only in Maun can you be driving along the highway and witness a goat giving birth on the edge of the highway. (luckily the grass is much longer now, so we can't see many goats at all!!)

*Only in Maun does a vehicle accident attract crowds of 100 people in a circle around the vehicle to get a very close look at what has happened. (that means lifting tarps to view the carnage that has been covered up by the authorities!)

*Only in Maun will you get an evil glare from an immgration officer or store clerk when looking for assistance during working hours!

*Only in Maun can you order a meal from a restaurant and wait for over an hour to then be told that what you ordered is not available!

*Only in Maun can you go to a store to buy a product, see that the store has the product in stock, but then be told when you want to buy it that it is just not possible...with no real reasoning given!

*Only in Maun can you live on the edge of town and get full cell reception (which is an occasion in itself!) and then go into the middle of town and get NO cell reception.

*Only in Maun are there donkeys ALL OVER the road! If we were to count the number of donkeys that we see in one day, it would most definitely be over 50!

*Only in Maun is the school bus for the secondary school a nice big shiny flatbed truck!

*Only in Maun do headlines read:
"Donkey's have last laugh on our streets"
"Donkey rapist strikes again"
(notice how they are all in regards to the donkey population...I'm not joking when I say there are ALOT of donkeys!)

*Only in Maun do horses walk through the bank parking lot, and then into the middle of the busiest street in town, and nobody but us thinks that they are slightly out of place.

I hope to include a photo page that will display all of the things we have pointed out...and I'm sure that there are many more. We tend to spend a majority of our day discussing the many traits that make Maun a one of a kind 'urban village'!

Tuesday, 14 February 2006

Location: Okavango Delta, Botswana

HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY!!!

Sending our best wishes for a day filled with chocolate and love!!! We flew back from the Delta today, what a wicked experience. I sat in the front seat with the pilot, and Casey occupied one of the four seats in the back. A great way to see the area!

Tomorrow we are back to camp to start our first school group of the new year. We are very excited to use some of the new games we have made for the program. Talk to you soon with an update!


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Recent Messages

From Leah
Hey Gals!
Glad you both made it back to Canada and all is well. I still don't see a braided Ringham photo though....I'm waiting!!
Leah
Response: Sloppy....look in the random shots folder, it's there!! :) talk to you soon...where are you now?
From Julien
Great Job! I am impressed you kept the diary up to date till the end! I am even more impressed by the job you did for the program! Thank you! (now I am telling you... you are both... fired!!!! congratulations ;^D )
Response: Julien.
We had a fantastic time working with the program! A dream come true for both of us really. And even though we are both back in Canada now, I can guarantee you that as many times as you fire us, you are not going to get rid of us! Keep in touch!
Cheers,
Casey and Mel
From Leah
Hey Ringer!
Braids eh?? AWESOME!! I want to see a photo NOW!!! I'm so freakin' excited!!! Enjoy the rest of your time in Africa and safe journeys home.
See ya soon!
Leah
Response: Sloppy! I can always depend on you for a message when I come to this site...I'll post a braids picture when I get back to fast internet on Wednesday!! As well as some others. Talk to you soon.
From Liisa Sefton (Brouss
Hey Casey! Great website! I'm so thankful my mom sent me this link! It sounds like you've had an amazing life experience. I've enjoyed reading your journal. Hope to stay in touch with you. Liisa
Response: WOW! Liisa! Nice to hear from you! It has definitely been an amazing experience. I would love to keep in touch...I hear about you through my mom and dad, sounds as though you are well. Thanks for sending a message!
From Harv Dog
Hey Ringer, Happy Belated Birthday! I hope your trip back to the C-dot (Canada....I hope you figured that one out) is MAGICAL...I have a loooooot of gossip for you when I get back! Here's a hint - I don't know if I have a job yet! Yay cutbacks! Anyway, I'll talk to you soon, enjoy the rest of your trip! Love ya kiddo!
Response: Harv dog! Good to chat with you yesterday! Good luck on the exams, and with the boy, and I look forward to getting caught up at one of our parks in the near future! Love ya!
From TB Mom
Hey Case:
May your birthday with the eles be forever etched on your heart! I thought of you all day here and we'll celebrate when you get back! Enjoy your last week in Africa.
Hope spring skiing in Fernie is all you hoped for Mel!
A Blessed Easter to you all!
Lots o' love, Mom
Response: Mambo!
Thanks for the message...the day was absolutely amazing. Sunrise with the eles was a definite highlight! they are amazing animals! I got a birthday kiss Morula as well!
From Leah
HAPPY BELATED BIRTHDAY CASEY!!
Hey Sista, sorry I am alittle late, I had a busy weekend and didn't get acquainted with which day it was again until tonite. Hope you had a good one. Sounds like the remainder of your time in Botswana is going to exciting as well. Have a great time.
Cheers, Leah
Response: Thanks sloppy! It was a great day with the elephants! I will be in touch when I get home...come to OPE for a visit!! :)
From Pepe
Casey- so good to hear that everything is going well, and that you're coming home soon. It made my day. Mel- I hope you're enjoying hitting the slopes out west.

Case- I don't see any photos of the Pregger Ass charging at you. ha ha ha

See you soon, I'm out
Response: Sorry Pepe. I was just a little too scared to get my camera out for a picture! I'll talk to you in a few weeks...when it's ALOT cheaper!! :)
From Auntie Annabelle
Hi! Looking forward to seeing you soon, Enjoyed the pictures, you both look very happy . Have a good trip home . Love you both.
Response: Thanks for the message, hope you enjoyed the pictures. See you soon!
From Brother Rob
Hey gals! Looks like some cool stuff. The journals were great, but the pics really add to everything you´ve been telling us about. Enjoy what´s left and have a safe trip home!
Response: Thanks Rob, I'll talk to you soon. I saw the pics of where you are moving to, looks interesting. have a good rest of your visit in CR
From Leah
Hey Gals!
Awesome photo additions! It makes me so envious of you both and what a crazy adventure you both have been on. Good times, I'm sure. Mel have a safe journey home and Ringer enjoy the rest of your time...what will you be doing? I've got some cold beers and a patio waiting for you, your stories and photos when you return.
Cheers
Leah
Response: Sloppy! I'm glad that you enjoyed the photos! I'm going to be spending my time out at camp, volunteering at the University of Botswana in the Library, and volunteering with an NGO that works with street children in Maun trying to re-integrate them into schools and society. So I'll be busy! I'll be in touch when I get back! Cheers!
From TB Mom
Hey Case:

So good to talk again today! Love your new pictures...I feel a fond attachment to Jabu, Thembi and Morula too. Amanda says we thought we had pressure when all you wanted was a puppy! Elephants won't fit anywhere here, too many Hondas in the garage! Mel, hope you have an uneventful trip home, and we'll miss your spring overnight visit :(
Lots of love, Mom
Response: Mom, Very good to chat to you too! The elephants are definitely very fun, if only Air Botswana didn't have such a strict luggage allowance!
From Caitlin
Hey Case!

Talked to Jerry the other day and he got me pretty pumped to work at Ope again... I'm still undecided because of summer courses, but I might be there in September! But most importantly, we have to plan another trip!!! So crazy to think your time in Africa is almost over... what's your plan once you come home?

Lots of Love,
Cait xoxo
Response: Cait,
I will be home in T-bay for only 6 days before I get in my little car and drive to the park. I start at the permit office on the 26th! I hope you come for the summer...i'm planning on getting internet again, so if your courses are distance, you can always use my 'pute! miss ya!
Casey
From mommy fly
hey girls! You'll be happy to know that the 2 moms got all caught up on the phone last night so we won't have to communicate on here. So bye Nancy! So great to hear the kids nsinging this morning on the phone. It was so thoughtful of you and I told my 2 choirs about it today. Hug each other for each of your moms. Love you both. Mommy Fly
Response: Hey mom. Glad that you enjoyed the African choir even if for a short time. Have a great trip, and I will see you on Saturday.
From Leah G
Happy St. Paddy's Day Girls!!!
Response: Thanks Leah! Hope you are well in the winter weather. I hear there is still a bit of snow left...maybe it will be gone by the time I return on the 19th of April!
From TB Mom
If you haven't already heard, as old T'wolf groupies, you'll be happy to know they won the Queen's Cup here last night! On to the National Championships in Edmonton. Did you hear that news on the radio?
Love, MOM XXOO
Response: Mombo Queen...thanks for passing on the news...maybe I'm just bad luck!! They always do well when I can't go to games!
From TB Mom
Greetings Ladies!
Spring is coming to Northwestern Ontario! It's beautful here today, maybe warmer than your last reported weather in Botswana. Thinking of you today and sending you lots of love. We need a new elephant story...
Love, Mom XXOO
Response: Mom,
We are warming up here, however last night's rain cooled things off. Good to hear that spring is on its way! Elephant stories will come soon, we are only seeing them once a week now. Only two more visits before Mel leave, and then only two more after that...how time flies when you're having the time of your life!
From Harv-Dog
Hey Casey, I got your postcard today, thanks so much for sending it! Also, update on the exchange, I am the newest student of University of Technology Sydney, so you better come visit me next year! Hope things are going well, and I'm glad you didn't get eaten by hippos! Talk to you later!

~Shannon
Response: Shannon, I'm glad to hear it made it there safe and sound! I will be in touch soon!! Love ya!
Casey
From Tim
Well our journey is finished, so now its up to you to keep us entertained. I'll pass on the photo of donkey raping however.
Response: I can't believe you are finished... back in London? Did you make it to Antarctica... never mind, I'll just have to check it out for myself!
From ry
Mel and Casey

just wanted to say hi

Things in Fernie are real snowy (again).
Mel check your email and its 36 and counting.
Bye
Response: Hey Ry - I don't think it is a problem with my email, possibly Africa? I received the one form your hotmail account...

Hopefully it stays snowy! See you soon!
From Karen and Ernie
Casey: Just received your Mom and Dad's Christmas note (Feb. 23/06). Guess with you out of the country they are just having so much fun that it now the mid winter note!!! We enjoyed reading about your trips and the elephant camp there, thanks for sharing on your adventure page.
We are buried under 4 feet of snow here outside Algonquin the most snow we have ever had in the years that we have lived here. Ernie is taking me away to Arizona soon and hope by the time we return the white stuff will be gone. Take care and enjoy the rest of your adventures. Karen and Ernie
Response: Karen and Ernie. Have a great time in Arizona. This summer we will have to get together for sure...I'll be back at Ope. Talk to you soon.
From Melissa
Who says there wasn't anyone called St. Christopher!!! If the patron saint of travellers isn't looking after you than I can't imagine who is. You are definitely developing a sense of huror...God love you, you're in our prayers. Love Aunt Donelda & Uncle Ed
Response: Enjoy the trip to Colorado... be sure to have a few drinks for me, maybe P&G can go to the same pub we went to last time late into the evening (late enough to miss a morning of skiing!) Also, be sure to visit the Crystal Palace again! Don't worry, we are safe!
From Dia
Ok I don't know if this is going to post cause every other message of mine hasn't posted but I thought I'd give it another shot. Mel I LOVE my b day gift. You are so wicked for remembering and it made it in perfect timing. I just got it today the 20th so with 3 days to spare. I love all the pics on the site and I wish I could've made it there to spend some time with you. Can't wait till April 1st!
Hugs, Dia oooooooo
Response: Hey there D... hope your bday was FANTASTIC. Keep April 1st or 2nd open!!! Talk to you soon!
From Diana
Hi Mel (and Casey) - am loving the updates and esp the pics- you girls look gorgeous and very happy!

Some Aussie goss for you- Colleen's engaged! She and her boyfriend Paul (not from uni) have been travelling around Oz for 6 months and he finally popped the question. Now everyone can know about it :-)

Take care,

Di xox
Response: Hey there Di... always great to hear hte news from Oz. Congrats to Colleen from me! When am I going to see you in Canada???
From Grandad
Hi Girls : Your diary is good reading. Casey Your Dad is forwarding for us to you something that should help keep the wolves from the door love Grandad & Granma
Response: Grandma and Grandad,
How are things in Bracebridge? I heard from a friend in Gravenhurst that you got a big dumping of snow last week! Melissa and I are busy with work with school kids until the end of March, it is great to be back out at camp with the elephants!
Talk to you soon!
Love,
Casey