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Jo Plumridge

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I am back from the wilds of Northern Botswana, Zimbabwe and Zambia. I had an absolutely wonderful trip and I think that the boys kinda enjoyed themselves as well.

We started off in Chobe where we went a bit mad on the old game drives which was well worth it as we saw six lions eating a poor unfortunate buffalo. Lions 1 - Buffalo 0! I have to say though that I felt very sorry for these poor creatures. There they were quietly enjoying a bite of lunch when about four safari vehicles descended on them to make matters worse two of the other vehicles (from a different lodge) were full of Japanese displaying their worst qualities. I have never seen so much video and camera equipment in my life!! We saw lots of elephants, nearly got squashed by a big bull, hippo, buffalo, giraffe, puku, steenbok to name a few. Driving up from Gabs we even saw elephant, giraffe and zebra on the roadside. And we saw a few impala. Let's just say that I could quite happily live my life without ever seeing one of those again! There are so many in Chobe it became a bit of a joke.

The most exciting news in Chobe is that a mother and baby white rhino have been spotted, it is believed that they may have come in from Zim or Namibia. Whatever, it's terribly exciting as they are the first rhinos to be seen there for many years. Sadly though, they will have to be moved as they are just not safe from poachers there.

Gray satisfied his appetite by eating most of the local animal population, developing a rather distressing habit of asking guides what said animal that had just been spotted tasted like! He seemed to enjoy kudu rather a lot yuck! Jase managed not to fall into any water ( a world first), although he was close on the boat cruise (more commonly known as the booze cruise). We spotted a rather different kind of wildlife that afternoon in the shape of the 12 Aussies who joined us. It absolutely poured with rain so the two nations did what they do best and drank. How no one ended up in the river is a mystery to me!

From there, we went over into Zim and up to Victoria Falls. There really are no words to describe this place. If you have never seen the Falls then it is one thing that you must, must do. They are quite simply awe-inspiring. The spray was incredible and I don't think I have ever got so wet in my life. We even managed to catch a very cliched rainbow over the Devil's Cataract. The Falls really are just stunning. We got picked up off the Zambezi bridge (where several mad people were wanting to do bungy jumps, quite, quite insane) by Jungle Junction which is the place that we stayed at in Zambia. There really is no where else like this place in Africa. It's on an island in the middle of the Zambezi and you have to take a mokoro to get there - slightly un-nerving when the water is very high and just a tad choppy! The place is like a little hippy commune with lots of cushions in the bar to relax on and hammocks all over the island. They even have this great wooden swing set right up in the trees. You can swim in the river and Jase and I also went and swam right in the middle of this set of rapids, where you can sit under a waterfall. Nearly lost my bikini in the process though! During a trip across a very precarious rope bridge, Gray managed to drop Jason's lens cap right in the middle of the Zambezi, where it has probably gone over Vic Falls by now. Just like the unfortunate buffalo that got its leg bitten off by a crocodile and then went over the falls. Not a good day for it! I have to say, I really didn't want to leave JJ at all, but I think the boys were ready for a bit more excitement so we had to go.

On the way back down to Gabs we detoured and spent a night at a very strange place called Planet Baobob on the edge of the Kalahari and the Salt Pans. Odd because we were the only people there and the bar was populated by cow chairs (they must have known Jase was coming!). But it was worth it just to see the stars. The San bushmen say that you can hear songs in the stars of the Kalahari and I could easily believe that when I looked up into the most incredible sky I have ever seen. PB was also a highlight as their sign on the road consisted of - wait for it - a giant concrete aardvark on the hard shoulder!

I got done for speeding twice in one hour but managed to wangle out of the 2nd one completely. The 1st time I had to pay a fine of about 20 pounds wish the English system worked like that! When we got back here I took the boys out rhino tracking and to watch the sunset which all went very well they managed to see 7 out of the 9 rhino here. Pretty good going! And Sergeant didn't even charge them! The boys left on Thursday and that night the vols all went to the restaurant to say goodbye to Barty, Geoff and the two Swedes who were all leaving. Tash (who runs the restaurant) decided to take it upon herself to get everyone plastered and kept giving us all these weird and wonderful shots. This was probably most amusing because Geoff doesn't drink. So after about 20 shots he was plastered and couldn't even walk. He just got redder and redder! Unfortunately the evening has left me with a huge bump on my head and a very sore arm after Barty dropped me on my head in the shower (water fight donít ask!)

So it's a bit like a ghost town here; Rich is away until Sunday when a new girl called Sarah arrives, and I am going to stay at Jo's till Monday so the Reserve will be dead as a dodo on the vols front! Still, at least I have got lots of work done; finishing off the adoption booklet, and designing a billboard to go at the airport I will see my name in lights before I leave! The sun is shining again and we are coming to the end of the rainy season having had a really good year on that front so at least drought shouldn't be a problem for a while yet. On that note, I'd better get back to it. We've got a wedding this evening and Glenda wants me to help her with the flowers my god, I'm even an expert in flower arranging now! Hope you are all well and good wherever you are in the world ñ and that the sun has finally come out in the UK! Although I doubt it. Getting geared up for my last month here at Mokolodi and all being well, I should be back in the UK on Wednesday 2nd May at about 8am oh joy! Somewhat gallingly Rich leaves the same day as me and gets home much earlier -the advantages of having mummy pay for a nice quick direct flight hey?! Can't say I am really looking forward to leaving Africa at all in the last couple of weeks I have come to realise how much it means to me and how little I really want to leave it. I know I'll be back, but it doesnít make leaving any easier. And I don't even miss London that much anymore!

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