Saturday, July 31, 2010
Sunday, July 25, 2010
From here on out I would resort to begging.The next night I pulled out my trump card using the time appropriate, 'for my birthday can kitty sleep in the car' number. He couldn't resist. Kitty was in, and slept happily kneading the furry blanket for the next three nights curled into a little ball of cuteness between us, though he was supposed to stay on my side. Kitty had been working his magic on Glenn during the days and as much as I would like to brag about the powers of my feminine wiles, I think kitty secured his own way onto the fleece blanket. He spent the next three days road tripping around town as a small extension of our little family.
So in the end our solar panels/batteries are in top working condition, blessed by two electrical engineers and for their time and attention Steve and Mike were 'paid' in kittle love dollars, a never ending supply of snuggles and purrs.
Grateful (again) for the love and help of strangers,
PS: Steve, we aren't worried one bit!
PPS: Mike, Thank you for loving our kitty, for your laughter and brilliant expertise.
Friday, July 23, 2010
People keep asking me if I am homesick. I bristle every time and generally ignore the question (if this is you, don't feel singled out…you're in good company). I know, it is silly, and my reaction petty; it is just a simple question…isn't it?
It is a loaded question. It is leading. What if I say no, I am not homesick? Does it mean that I don't love the asker? Does it mean that I don't miss the semi-stable parts of my life in Oregon?
The very fact that this question annoys me endlessly is interesting as well. Why is it so irritating? And WHY does it put me on the defensive?
After some thought I've come up with one word: perspective. I perceive the question as coming from a society/culture that emphasized rootedness above all else, a value that I don't seem to share. To me homesickness implies looking back, lamenting on what was, or might have been, like I am missing something, or worse yet, that I have abandoned something. A betrayal. The very nature of the word annoys me, sickness: a derangement or illness. Something wrong.
So no, I am not homesick and in this moment I don't feel the least bit deranged. I desperately miss my friends, and family. I miss spending days digging in the dirt tossing offending insects to my chickens, leisurely afternoons with my pals and even my produce guys at Rosauers who never seem to mind checking the cooler for a fresher whatever it is that I am after. I miss walking around town and knowing every other 3rd person, dinners out with friends and my fantastic book club ladies. I really miss the babies who have been/will be born while we are away. Surprisingly, I also miss the tears that have been shed in my absence. I miss not being there to bring food, lend an ear or provide a welcome distraction to my loved ones who are struggling with a loss. I miss running on the Old Highway near our house, breathing in the fantastic views of The Gorge, mountain biking in the evenings with friends and our weekends kiting waves at Newport. I miss Yuzen. Just about every aspect of my life at home is of my own choosing, so sure I miss the shoes that I stepped out of when we left Oregon, those cute strappy little numbers that would be completely out of place here on the Dark Continent. But I still can't say that I am homesick.
I will say that living in the past obscures your view of the present moment. We have all experienced this at some time or another. So as much as I miss what was, I don't want the past to diminish my experience of what is. This is Africa, a world away from my America, so I need to keep my eyes and ears open. I don't want to miss a beat. I am a stranger in a foreign land, but I am here, now and very much a part of this moment. I draw comfort from my past as well as the present and what happens today forever changes our tomorrow. The idea that home can be here AND there simultaneously means that now isn't an either or scenario. I don't have to choose. The question of being homesick implies that I miss there while I am living here and that simply isn't true. Right now, in this moment, I am ridiculously happy. I get to spend every minute of every day with the man I love. How can you not be present?
Ok, done ranting.
Loving you big time,
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
For many the concept of road food is synonymous with crinkly paper bags and usually arrives through the window of your car. Not for these kids. Road food is every day food. With markets as variable as the climate there are days when I have a bounty of fresh herbs at my disposal and days with nothing fresher than an onion or clove of garlic. Life on the road requires having a repertoire of flexible, standby meals when the fresh stuff becomes scarce. The following recipe from The Queen of Italian Cuisine, Marcella Hazen, is road food perfection: silky buttered tomatoes (canned or fresh) and pasta (fresh or dried), no cheese*, nothing fussy, just good food.
Simmering the tomatoes slowly with butter and onion yields a sauce that is delightfully smooth, complex and oooh-so-good. No matter how long it's been between market stops, I always have onion, I always have butter and never let my stash of tinned tomatoes drop below a half a dozen cans. It doesn't get easier than this, even on the road.
Marcella Hazen's Tomato Sauce with Butter and Onions
Adapted from Marcela Hazan's Essentials of Italian Cooking
Serves 4 as a main course
28 ounces whole peeled tomatoes in juice, not puree (San Marzano, if you can find them) OR 2 lbs fresh plum tomatoes, halved
5 tablespoons (70 grams) butter
1 medium-sized yellow onion, peeled and halved from root to sprout
Salt to taste
Put the tomatoes, onion and butter in a heavy saucepan (it fit just right in a 3-quart) over medium heat. Bring the sauce to a simmer then lower the heat to keep the sauce at a slow, steady simmer for about 45 minutes, or until droplets of fat float free of the tomatoes. If using fresh tomatoes you may want to increase the cooking time slightly. The texture of the tomatoes should be very soft, but still a little chunky. Stir occasionally, crushing the tomatoes against the side of the pot with a wooden spoon. Remove from heat, discard the onion and add salt to taste. Toss with spaghetti and serve. This recipe makes enough sauce to coat 1 lb of pasta.
This sauce is even better simmered over a campfire, but then again, everything tastes better cooked over hardwood.
* Despite my propensity to smother pasta in parmesan, I think this dish is better without it. Try it both ways and let me know what you think.
Saturday, July 17, 2010
Tuesday, July 6, 2010
We saw a leopard! We were driving down the final dusty stretch of road leading into the Moremi Wilderness, near the south gate entrance. Glenn pointed out the 'dog' in the road up ahead as a sign that we were nearing the park. I said, "I don't think that is a dog, it looks like a big cat." We drove a little closer and could see that it was a leopard stalking his dinner and paying us no attention, whatsoever. Just when we had almost 'forgotten' about seeing the more elusive animals, there they are. Such is life…send out the thoughts and they will manifest. Now I can focus my attention on Africa's wild dogs, one of the most endangered species on the continent. Here doggie, doggie, doggies.
On our first night in Moremi we were welcomed by a couple of spotted hyenas. By the look of things, they own the campground, making their nightly rounds kicking up anything they can easily drag away, sneaking into tents and pretty much scaring the bejezus out of the campers. I have to admit, it was one of our most entertaining nights yet.
Of course, in a campground, you are rarely the first person to spot a 'visitor'. You can see the flashlights from every other camp scanning the bushes long before the little fuzzer strolls over your way. From the radius of a dozen flashlights we could see the glowing outline of a spotted hyena trotting closer, followed by shrieks, hoots, clanging and all of the other silly things people do when they are scared; so you're rarely surprised.
All of this started going down around dinnertime, another boon to being vegetarian: stuff isn't so much interested in our leafy offerings. All we had to do was wait it out. The African's really put the carne in carnivore; these guys cook up a veritable barnyard slaughter at every meal, so GP and I sat back with relative ease (except for one small incident) to watch the antics unfold. There were screams, herds of people shuttling one another to and from the bathrooms, men barking, people chasing the hyenas around in their cars, a flashlight 'laser' show scanning, scanning and all sorts of diversionary tactics. Those poor hyenas…the madness they have to put up with every night just to get a shoe or two.
After an hour or so the mayhem subsided and out came the cameras. But my favorite part of the entire evening was listening to Glenn shout over to the camp across the way, "Hey, he wants to go back to South Africa with you and be your dog", or "neighbor, your doggie's hungry," or my favorite, "fluffy wants a pet, here he comes." He was shouting this with such glee that I could not stop laughing. It was scary only because we don't have experience with these particular animals and what you hear about them is often so misleading, but watching other people who are more scared than you are, takes most of the scary away. They were just being hyenas!
The next morning I woke to a lion roaring…in our camp! The neighbors said they could feel it in their chests. Of course, I sleep just this side of comatose or death, so the fact that it woke ME gives you an idea just how loud it was. In the morning we heard reports from two other campers that the hyenas had raided their tents. One guy walked by wearing two different crocks (one less pair of Crocks in the world is not a bad thing). Apparently the hyena entered the tent with the guy's wife in it! These are no petty criminals, but seasoned campsite robbers…and entertaining beyond measure.
After a week in Moremi we are back in Maun for a few days to restock, recharge and get our front wheel bearings tightened. From here we are going NW into Botswana's Tsodilla Hills, the 'Louvre of the Desert,' to check out the San People's stone art. Apparently the villages along the delta are renowned for their basket making, so there will be a bit of shopping along the way. Maun is considered the tourist hub of the delta, so we are looking forward to getting back into the villages and away from the haunts of the rich and paranoid.
We love you big time!
Here are some of our photos from our time in the delta. For more photos go to: http://picasaweb.google.com/Corrincphillips/TheOkavangoDelta?authkey=Gv1sRgCIKchfaNttWlOQ#
Saturday, July 3, 2010
The other day we were driving from Francistown, Botswana, crossing the border at Plumtree and heading east into Zimbabwe toward Hwange Park. We had heard mixed reports on Zimbabwe, so we didn't know what to expect. But, just like the other crossings, it was laughably easy. We were even waved through, past the vehicle search bay and welcomed whole heartedly by the border guards.
It was Glenn who initially brought this to my attention our first afternoon in Hwange National Park. "You know that lovie feeling you immediately get with some people." He said as we stopped for lunch, "Well, I feel it now here with Vincent and Molly and had it back in Francistown when we met Steve and Mike" (see previous post). Yes, and don't forget last night where we stayed on a beautiful renovated old hunting lodge owned by Clive, June and their three smooching little pigs. Seems like nearly every person we meet these days gives us that lovin' feeling.
A couple weeks ago Louise (my darling Mother-in-Law) and I were emailing back and forth. Our conversations kept coming back to our experience with the African people. From Cape Town to Victoria Falls (where I am writing this post) we've had nothing but incredibly positive, memorable, heart-warming experiences. Louise had mentioned this fact to Betty Ann, a dear friend of hers, who has traveled extensively through Africa, visiting many of the places we have. Not having been to Africa herself Louise inquired about the nature of the people and Betty Ann suggested the draw is likely the African's sense of authenticity. Louise sent me another email asking if that was it. Was it their authenticity that appealed to Glenn and me? Yes, It is. Betty Ann is right on. But there is something else there, and underlying feeling that daily conversations matter in some emotionally significant way…it is a genuine regard, or interest in one another.
There is a way of being that is devoid of cultural reserve, expectations and ego, like the veneer has been peeled back and you are exposed in all of your genuine glory. There are no fears of inadequacy, cultural expectations or self doubt, there is only pure goodness. Now imagine that radiant being crosses your path and shines all of their beauty onto you. You light up. That is what it is like, everyday. Of course not every African is like this, but a disproportionate number of them are. And we are soaking it up!
We want to live this way. Glenn has adapted so completely that I have begun calling his Chatty Cakes. He takes time for EVERYONE. I know, it is sweet, but sometimes I am in a hurry to go and have to stand by and listen to his inquiries into his new friend's family, and how their day is going, etc, etc. Here, greetings happen before any business is conducted and he is a master of the greeting. I am yet to catch up, but I will. He is a highly evolved human being.
We are loving every minute of this new way of being.
Sending you radiant love and pure goodness,
Corrin + Glenn
"Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind"
- Dr. Seuss
Photos to come (unfortunately the upload wasn't happening, so check back later): Us with the pigs, Molly and Vincent in their 'new' chairs and the ultimate butt scratch in Hwange
More photos of us with June's pigs, Molly and Vincent and our time in Hwange National Park will posted as soon as we have an internet connection that is fast enough to upload…which may not happen while in Zimbabwe.