Monday, May 28, 2012

Southern Africa

I just returned from a month long journey through South Africa, Botswana, and Swaziland. I went as the drummer for the BYU Young Ambassadors. When we weren't busy performing our show or doing firesides, we did as many outreaches as we could fit in to our schedule. Most of our outreaches involved going to an orphanage,  playing with the kids for a couple of hours, reading them books, doing a little performance for them, then leaving them with books, toys, candy, or other things that we brought or that were previously donated. We also visited an orphanage/hospice for children and adults who had HIV/AIDS, a home for children who were recovering from severe burns, and a couple of nursing homes. We also did quite a few workshops with high school aged kids where we performed for them, and then taught them a song and dance of sorts. Getting to know the people of Africa was one of my favorite things about going. They made us feel so welcomed, respected, and loved, and we couldn't get enough of each other. We stayed with members almost every night we were there. I was especially impressed with the members of the Church there. I was expecting that while we were there we were going to have to try to help strengthen and lift the Church members, but in reality they did that for us. The Church is very strong there.

I didn't take may camera with me to our outreaches and so most of my pictures are of the more touristy things we did. We will start with my time at the Lion Park, where we got to play with lion cubs and feed giraffes. This was one of the coolest things I've ever done in my life.
Here he is just nibbling on my leg.
Now He's gnawing on my arm. Believe it or not, lions have very sharp teeth and their jaws are actually quite strong as well...
A tender moment with the giraffe.
That tender moment turned in to quite the romantic exchange.
Working on his roar! Or yawning. Probably just yawning...
Best Friends.
Going in for the close up.
I got too close... Right after the last picture was taken, the lion jumped up and chomped at my face.  Luckily I was quick as lightening and escaped with my life. This pictures was taken in the process. There were signs all over that said that the park could not be held responsible for death or injury caused by the animals.

We also got to spend the night at Kruger National Park, one of Africa's largest game reserves. We went on an early morning jeep ride through the park to try to see as many animals as we could. We ended up seeing quite a few that were way off in the distance, but the jeep I was in also came upon a family of rhinos sleeping in the road. We almost got close enough to touch them.
The wild Kruger National Park

This is a watering hole we stopped at. I took this pictures because there was a hippo sticking his head out of the water. I can't seem to find the hippo anymore... can you?
These are white rhinos, not the endangered black rhinos.

These next pictures were taken from the bus on our way out of the park.

While in Swaziland, we took time to go to a cultural village which showcased traditional Swaziland homesteads and living conditions. At the end of the "tour" of their culture, they put on a 45 minute show with some traditional song and dance. Their signature move was to kick their leg aggressively over their head then rhythmically slam it back down on the ground. This was repeated many a time throughout the 45 minute presentation by both male and female.

During a 3 day stay at Durban, we were given a couple hours of free time one afternoon to play on the beach. As much as I really don't care for water, swimming in the Indian ocean was great. Even though we were getting into winter weather in Africa, the water was plenty warm and delightful. Here is a picture of the beach we played on.

These next two pictures are of the scenic coast we drove along on our way from Durban to Cape Town. 

While in Cape Town, we took a ferry to Robben Island, the place where Nelson Mandela was incarcerated for 18 years during the apartheid era.
This was taken from Robben Island looking back on to Table Mountain in Cape Town.

On our last day in Africa, we stopped by Cape Point. This is where the Indian and Atlantic oceans meet up and is also one of the most southern points of Africa. They say that at certain times you can actually see a pretty distinct line where the two oceans meet, but we were unable to spot it. I was skeptical of that, but it was confirmed by people who had been there before and had claimed to have been able to see the line. I was able to see that the two different oceans were different colors, though. Again, I've never been a huge fan of the ocean, but I will say that this was one of the most gorgeous places I have ever been. I'm sad that I'm not skilled enough with a camera to really capture it's beauty to do it justice, but just believe me that it was breathtaking.

The point that I hope to make here is that Africa is amazing. I'm expecting to get my hands on some more pictures of some other things we did on tour, and once I do I'll add another post about it.


the Mom said...

Wow, you took some GREAT pictures!

Glad they didn't have to leave you for dead at the Lion Park... Perhaps you didn't know that they're called "wild animals" for a reason. :|

Got a kick out of your not being able to find the hippo sticking his head out of the water in that shot that you took -- haha! I hate when that happens!

And you probably inherited your lack of love for the ocean from me. Sorry. Usually, when I see pics of ocean cliffs, all I can think of is someone crashing to his death. But your pictures definitely show the beauty of that area. So glad you were able to be there!

Clay and Katy said...

Amazing!!! Sounds like you did some incredible things while you were there! The animals were beautiful and the scenery looks gorgeous! What a wonderful experience! One I am sure you will remember for a long time!

Steve and Nicole said...

These pictures are incredible! I'll have to show Steve when he gets home.

I want to go there now, It's gorgeous. Those last pictures of the ocean, I want to live right there :)

And all the animal pictures are awesome. Nice picture-taking skills TJ!

Lyndsay said...

You got some AMAZING pictures!! I will admit that Africa has never been on the top of my places to visit, but I'm changing my mind on that. It looked absolutely beautiful and the descriptions you gave on everything made me want to go there. What an amazing experience!! I'm so glad you got to go.

Andrea & Zach said...

That looks awesome!! The hippo is a little to the left of the rock! Good call getting the picture!

Wilson Family said...

very proud of you for posting so quickly just like you promised!... impressive. and you took great pictures. love the one where you are looking at the lion with an almost child like attitude and disbelief - but you are the one on his rock you know ;) how cool. i'm so proud of you for having a talent that could allow you this opportunity and amazing experience.