Fairy Tree…

Fairy TreeI took this pic on the way back to Bulawayo from Samahuru Clinic. This grove of trees is near a borehole and the water table is probably shallow. Looking right into the sun and the camera resting on the bonnet, I got the strange shading at the bottom of the frame. Ill put it through software sometime to improve it. I love the colours where the sun shines through the trees. Although there are lot of faults with this photo, it remains one of my favourites.

African Playground…

Our African playground is vast, and endlessly entertaining. Not many video games here…kids improvise, learn to socialise.

Swing in treeMost of my photos are taken on our travels around the country – I screech on brakes when I see a photo opportunity, but I cant really set it up at all. Often, we are driving when its the best light – morning and evening – and if we have our clients with us, we can hardly stop all the time and haul out the camera.  I’d have loved this one to have a child swinging….but I sure wasn’t going to go over and sit on THAT swing!

BaobabsSoccer is played ubiquitously – usually with a ball made from multiple plastic bags tied one on top of the other.

The first photo is taken in Tsolotsho (not far from where Cecil roamed) and the second one is taken in Gokwe North


I’ve been working on my portraiture again…Meet Milo, my sister’s dog.

SpecialMilo, of mixed heritage, is all character…(cos) Everything is wrong – he was meant to have longer legs – his tail bends over his back and when he looks up, his ears look like that strange character in Lord of the Rings. He has never let any of these trifles block his path into our hearts though!

MiloOld and fat, he is getting on…

MiloHe had a stroke recently and walks a little lopsided. Sometimes, when you call him, he bounds up, aiming for you and then something takes control, and whoopsie, he heads off to one side!

Poor old guy – he is a treasured member of the family and has brought lots of joy and laughter to his home.

Gokwe North – Black Baobabs and Vuvuzela’s…

Our work takes us all over Zimbabwe, and occasionally to neighboring countries. Most of the time, the place has no water, often for miles. We are fully equipped with camping gear….and luckily most of the places are fairly remote.

In late 2009 we did a contract in the Gokwe area, siting about 20 boreholes due to the cholera outbreak.

Rushing to make it from Shingayi business centre to the main hospital at Nembudziya, we came across some baobabs. We had no time to stop and gaze in wonder or take photos. I should have because the light was just right, low and sloping and tinged with red. So when we got a call from a client repairing a dam in the area, I jumped at the chance to return and see the baobabs again. I couldnt remember what it was that made them remarkable…but I knew I wanted to get back to see them again.

When we arrived at the site in Gokwe, not much had been done by way of setting up camp. Only two tractors and a handful of workers stood under a big tree…( we passed their lorry with Nissan huts etc way back down the road.)
We went out for a drive, to glean any information of other boreholes in the area; depths, water yield, age. I photographed these baobabs:

BabobabsbaobabsbaobabsBaobabsWomen washingstopped and spoke to the women at the boreholes close by and then went up to the business centre to garner more information.

ChildChildRural borehole ZimbabaweI got some lovely evening shots of the huge Mopane trees near the dip.

Rural Cattle Dip ZimbabweWith the late afternoon sun shining through the dust:

Rural Cattle Dip Zimbabwe

It is a short distance across the dam site and to where the construction workers and our guys had pitched their tents.

Vimbe DamAbove is the dam site and the little white dots you can see in the background are the tents and construction equipment.
Will wanted to set up our tent close by.
“No.” I said. “ I want to go over there…” I pointed to a cute little place in a grove of Mopane trees a distance away.
I get the “What the hell?” look men are so good at. Or maybe its a “for goodness sakes” look, because it came along with that resigned expressions men are taught at their bachelor parties.
Annoyed I add, “Well some privacy would be good…”
Same look.
“I would like to fart in peace…”
So we set up our little two man tent where I wanted  – it looks like one of those SANParks camps doesn’t it with the swept out areas? Actually it was like that – we just backed the car into the gap in the middle of the seclusion and erected our little tent. We blew up the mattress and snuggled down to sleep in the pristine Gokwe silence. (We didn’t take the roof top tent because the car uses SO much diesel.)

Toyota Hilux
It had been a long drive – we left Byo early in order to be able to fit in a conference with the client in Gweru so I’d had to stock up with liquids when we arrived and of course, needed to visit the bushes…
Well, when the inevitable happened, the reverberations could be felt at the business centre four kilometres away…according to my dearly beloved…

He ducks and hides, thinking he is back in the Rhodesian war….he says.
“No more photo opportunities with Mopane leaves…You’ve blown them all off!!”
Very funny. On and on he went as if this were a memorable occasion!
Here we have a boring consultant in uncontrollable giggles over a tiny byproduct of digestion.
I’m very pleased, after thirty years of marriage, to still be able to entertain my own husband so royally.
What I hate about men, is the self satisfied, smug expression they have after producing a vuvuzela-like fart. They punch each other on the shoulder with a “good one chum…” or wave their hands in front of their noses – really pleased the stinkier it is.
Sometimes I wonder why we take our mattress pump with us on trips sometimes, and yet one tiny little peep from me is blown out of all proportion.

We went to find the strange baobabs – about twenty five kilometers out of our way. And the reason they are remarkable? They are black!

Black baobabsArmed with my pics, I’ve since investigated this and apparently its a fungus infection that some baobabs get when they are stressed. First noticed in the Beit Bridge area in the early 1980’s I spoke to a lady who has been studying them since then.

This one is right next to several  healthy ones.

Black baobabsBlack baobabsBlack baobabsThese huge crusts are the fungus…and you can see, the tree isnt that old. There are about twenty five baobabs in the area with about five of them diseased.

Black baobabs

Gokwe district

Our job takes us on some interesting roads:

GokweThis is climbing down one of the escarpments found all over the Gokwe area.

Below is a pic of a place where the animals have been licking the rock, probably for millennia…GokweIts quite a nice view from here (looking north)GokweThis pic was taken an hour or so earlier – slightly to the right of the view above.GokweThat minibus is nearly MIA in that pothole, and I cant remember what it looked like when it got to this one  – bottom left! I think there were three people on top of that minibus! GokweMost often in this area, everyone drives in the ditch!

The roads in these two pics below are what we commonly drive on! I’m always wary of Mopane veld – a burnt Mopane stick slips through a tyre very easily  – something to do with both the carbon and the hardness of the Mopane heartwood.

Gokwe P1080500This road (above) is a fairly substantial one – often the bushes scratch the side of our car.

TsolotshoSome are pretty sandy! Tsolotsho

Samahuru Clinic…

We got lost on our way…what fun. This clinic is not very far from the Gwayi Conservancy! Waaaay past Tsholotsho. Although we measured the distance very carefully on the satellite image, knowing the roads are not marked….we overshot by a few kilometre and had to ask the way. Of course someone offered to go with us….if we would just stop off at her house to collect her bag….if we could kindly pass by her friends house too! P1080785The roads are a little hard to follow, since they go around pans – cross over each other! Peter out…Samahuru ClinicBut the trees – are drool material! Samahuru ClinicSamahuru ClinicAfter wondering about for a while, we came upon this dip and immediately knew where we were – cos it shows up clearly on the satellite image – just down the road from the clinic and schools.P1080738P1080708A short drive to the clinic from there…P1080684Imagine being lucky enough to live along this road! P1080686The SDA (Seventh Day Adventist Church) built this clinic and the two schools nearby. (Don’t you love that tree!)P1080690Lets hope they get water here!