Are You My People?

“Are you my people? Oh, no, you’re the North Americans who signed in yesterday!”” exclaimed the wildlife ranger as we were enjoying sundowners on the second night of our self-drive through Botswana.  Still confused, we asked who it was that he was looking for?  “Oh, there were reservations for people who did not show up last night and I am worried.  It is the rainy season and the roads aren’t good.  People get in to trouble when they are stuckRead more

The Ultimate Homeschool Science Course

By the end of our trip, our kids will have spent 13 weeks doing wildlife research and conservation volunteering in Africa.  If you include the community volunteering, it rises to 18 weeks.  This struck me when we were working with a college intern doing a 12-week assignment cataloging wild dog pack dynamics in northern Namibia.  Our kids will have spent more time in the field than a college semester requires for a full-time internship.  Not a bad way for aRead more

Learning About a Genocide: Rwanda

Please note that much of the following description of our time in Rwanda may be very disturbing if you are not familiar with the Rwandan Genocide. We absolutely enjoyed Rwanda, but the history is full of pain. Now often considered the rising star of East Africa, Rwanda is a place different from the others in the area. It is a small country, about the size of Massachusetts, set high in the tropical mountains of the middle of the continent. SomeRead more

The Pearl of Africa: Uganda

We really enjoyed Uganda.  I’m not sure why it surprised me, but it did.  After nearly constant stress, frustration, and disappointment in Kenya, Uganda was a welcoming and gentle place.  Leaving Kenya we were harassed by two of the most obnoxious fixers to date.  Despite politely declining their services with increasing firmness, they men harangued us until I finally told one guy what an ass he was.  He responded with both racist and misogynistic antagonisms quite literally until we droveRead more

Volunteering in Kenya

When we made the decision to return to traveling, we knew that we didn’t want to move as quickly as we had during our first trip.  Moving through 39 countries in 24 months was much too fast.  Also, when we were first discussing the possibilities of what we would do while traveling, Mac had brought up a desire to give back to the communities through which we travel rather than simply consuming what they have to offer.  These two aspectsRead more

A Map, an App and a Portuguese Phrase Book: Getting to Mozambique

Leaving Madagascar, our life was impacted by three biblical events – a plague, a flood and a tempest – within 24 hours. After braving two hours of traffic in Antananarivo, we arrived at the airport only to be told that our flight had been cancelled because of a suspected case in the Seychelles had been traced back to Madagascar’s outbreak so they were no longer allowing entry from Mada. This meant that we were to be rerouted directly to Durban,Read more

Bashing Through Madagascar: An Epic Road Odyssey

Even after almost three weeks in Madagascar, the land remains an enigma. I am torn between loving it and being incredibly frustrated by it. The landscapes range from dusty desert-like open expanses with little but scrub and short dried grasses to thickly wooded rain and cloud forests, to the spiney forest of the south, perhaps the most bizarre environment I have ever witnessed (imagine 8-10 foot tall desiccated branching cacti bushes covered in three inch spines and red dust). EverywhereRead more

Fortune Favors the Brave: Malagasy Kids and Farmers

My father loved gadgets. When I was a kid, he had a Polaroid camera that was almost as big as a shoe box, but he would take it with us to family gatherings and events so that we could have pictures printed on the spot making the memories tangible.  I recall the snapping sound of the film being pulled out of the camera, impatiently waiting three minutes until you could remove the developing cover off of the image and theRead more

Waves of Leaving

We have begun this leg of our adventure in waves – waves of organization, waves of leaving, waves of good-byes, and alternating waves of excitement and melancholy. After more than a solid six months of planning and preparation, Colburn, the kids, and Fig all left Reno in late July to drive east and see his family.  Our truck, now nicknamed Olaf,  has everything we will use over the next year – a four person roof-top tent, camping gear, two jerry cans,Read more