Sunday, December 4, 2011

Thanksgiving - Zimbabwe style

I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving and found lots of things to be thankful for!  Here in Zim, we had a great weekend - the International school even had Thursday and Friday off in honor of the holiday. We hadn't been out of town for awhile, so we opted for a weekend trip to the Eastern Highlands.

But first, let's not forget that yummy meal!!  We decided to do the big Thanksgiving meal on Wednesday evening so we wouldn't have to lug everything along with us to cook in the mountains (though the leftovers came in very handy!) We celebrated with fellow Americans Sheryl and Vaughn and Vaughn's dad, Michael (Kenyan - enjoying his first Thanksgiving dinner) at their house.

David demonstrating his turkey carving technique (note the kids' facial expression)

That's better.  Yummy - what a great meal!!

The candle was passed to each person to say something they're thankful for. Zavion got to go first since he's the youngest. He did a great job and said this; 'I am thankful that I have lots of toys and can give my extra toys to kids that don't have enough.'  He was a bit confused as to the timing of the holiday, however, as Thanksgiving, according to him, 'is supposed to be cold and rainy/snowy, not sunny and hot!'  It does take some getting used to... but I think we can manage :):)

And then, we were off. We left Thursday morning for the mountains. Unfortunately, Eliza had been recently sick and her tummy wasn't feeling well on the drive. Katy sat with her for awhile and had me drive. Five minutes into my drive and I get pulled over by the police. Apparently, I was speeding (the verdict is still out on that one) and had to pay the (whopping) $15 fine. Oh well...

Here is where we stayed - the lovely Springhide House- a private, self-catering house near Troutbeck in the Nyanga National Park. Lovely.
The House

The view!

Our bedroom
      
Playing in the huge garden

There were plenty of beds for everyone, but the big boys wanted to sleep in the tent in the house. Here, they are all enjoying some tent time!

The weekend was wet, cool and cozy. And we were without electricity for most of the weekend. I never would have thought, after just days earlier sweating in the heatwave that had settled itself over Harare for the past month, that we would be happily cosied up next to a fire. And I loved it. I'm finding that years in Seattle has turned me in to a kind of cool weather gal. And I love being in the mountains. You see, to me, the mountains are my church - they feed my soul and it makes me happy to be among them. And though I love Harare - the climate, the friends, the work - I've been aching to be in some more varied topography. So an escape to the mountains for the weekend was perfect!
  
And the fact that it was cool, misty and rainy may have turned others away, but it was perfect for me. Yea, so we didn't get some of those splendid views that you get on more sunny days, but the mountains, to me, have so much more character when they're shrouded in clouds dancing through - in and out- affording occasional glimpses of the hills beyond.

We were even treated to a magnificent thunder and lightning storm on our night of arrival and, as usual, Mother Nature, in all her glory and power, never ceases to amaze me. This storm was incredible - some of the loudest, longest thunder I can remember and lightning that was so close you could feel it. I wondered at one point, immediately following a simultaneous lightning and thunder strike that reverberated in my ribs, of the flammability of a thatch roof. In my semi-conscious state, and deciding that thatch was decidedly flammable, I started devising our escape plan... :)

During one of the dry moments, I took a solo hike up the hill next to the house. Beautiful views looking down-



Evening view - just before the big storm blew in.

On Friday, there was a dry-ish spell. David went golfing, Vaughn & Miles stayed around the house with Sheryl & Michael and Katy & I took Zavion & Eliza to Troutbeck for some horseback riding!

Waiting for the horses - Z and E chasing butterflies
       
Having fun around Troutbeck Lake

Modeling their fashionable helmets 

Zavion atop his trusty steed

We had assumed that the kiddos would either be on horses with us or with a guide. BUT, they got to ride their own horses - led by the guide on his horse. The kids didn't miss a beat and were so brave!!  They chatted happily the whole time - making up stories about their horses (Mist and Surprise who are, according to E and Z, in love with eachother.)  At one point, they tried to demonstrate their bravery by not holding on and putting their arms in the air - a practice we nervous mommies quickly discouraged!! They had a great time, though :):)
         


See that tiny, red dot down on the green? That's David. The kids were so excited that he got to see them on the horses!

Saturday consisted of a nice hike and scavenger hunt from the house. We found all sorts of creatures - frogs, dung beetles, caterpillars, chungalolos, etc.  The kids also found everything on the scavenger hunt list except a black mamba and a human skull (David's contributions to the list...)

Setting off on the scavenger hunt/hike

Looking for the elusive human skull...

 View shots


 Checking out the local wildlife



The rest of the afternoon consisted of playing with the baby chicks and exploring the foggy abyss...






On the way home, we stopped for a break at Nyongombe Falls (under a blue sky!) and enjoyed lovely views of some of the rock outcroppings that Zim is famous for.


          

See David?





Another great weekend in Zim:)



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