It’s Monday 18th June 2007 and the Popes go South


It’s Monday 18th June 2007 and the Popes go South

Kakumbi ClinicA varied week for me this week.  On Tuesday, Amanda and I attended the opening of the Kakumbi clinic renovations.  It was due to start at “1100 hours” and with our snacks we arrived on time.  At 1130 the officials from the council and health department arrived but the Chief was not there and we could not start without him to officiate.  It was then stated that it was up to the lodges to collect him so three of us drove the thirty minutes to his “palace” to do this.  He was in a big meeting and we were told to wait.   My heart sank, knowing this could be a long time. So I explained to the Nduna (attendant) that everyone was waiting and after a short audience with the Chief off we all went.  Starting some two hours late there were lots of speeches and clapping.

So who was behind all this?  The safari operators pool together and arrange to have a doctor in the Valley throughout the year.  They do stints of three to six months, working at the local clinic as well as attending to the lodges and their requirements.  This is really a great insurance when there is a serious health problem at a lodge.  For the last six months Johnny Bell has been the doctor – for his second stint.  With his partner Grant O’Brien they have raised a considerable amount of money from their friends and have completely rebuilt the clinic.  Hand basins now stand in every room, walls were moved around to create private rooms, and the roof changed from asbestos to iron sheets (and is now bat proof!).   I know that is was a very difficult process for them as building here is not easy for many many reasons (availability of materials, lack of enough artisan skills, a different sense of urgency being just a few).   But what a result and the staff are delighted.  Hats off to Johnny and Grant!!

Lion at Rojo  Ellies at Rojo

Every Friday we have the management meeting at “RoJo” (our house).  As we all arrived, we saw our guests in front of the house – watching lion!!  It was the pride that I talked about last week – still hanging around in the area.  There have been two buffalo kills since then.  Wonderful to be able take a lion photo from your bedroom!  We have a lot of game everyday – especially elephant (see pic) and giraffe – that come to drink at our small lagoon.   But not often lion….

Mosi-Oa-TunyaRobin and I had to fly to Livingstone for a meeting.  I had been putting this off for months as…well you know….there is always so much to do!  So on Friday I said “lets go tomorrow”, and come back Sunday.  We did.  It is easy – some two and a half hours away (by plane).  Closer than Chipata by road, our nearest town.  But having said that I only go to Chipata every four years or so!  We stayed at the fabulous Tongabezi – friends of ours – and had a wonderful time.

 A long hot bath watching a spectacular sunset over the Zambezi, candlelit dinner on the deck, a long sleep and then as a treat – the next morning,  a fifteen minute flip in the helicopter over the Falls.  Then back home to the Luangwa in time for a farewell sundowner party for Johnny and Grant.

Asking around this morning for game viewing news – Simon radioed down a funny story…  Well Issac may not have thought so funny.   He was setting up breakfast on the terrace at Nsefu, just before dawn.  Suddenly Ackson, the watchman, started shouting “go away, go away”.  Looking up he spotted eight lions walking towards him along the edge of the river.  

They saw Issac, heard Ackson and decided to divert to the bar and drink at the waterhole.  The guests, in their sleepy state, were confused as to what was going on…..and one, still asleep, dreamt that it was for them`– telling him to get out of camp.  This led to much laughter at breakfast.  Anyway – next time you have lion walking towards you – just shout “go away”! It works.

So have a wonderful week, and for a teaser on next week’s Its Monday, Tena Tena have found a month old leopard – photos on the way down but too late for this week.

Cheers,

P.S. Check out all the news from African Wild Dog Conservation in their current newsletter.

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