Friday, July 10, 2009
A lot has happened since I left Botswana mid-May, most of it in a whirlwhind of hellos/goodbyes, catching up, driving, camping, driving, hiking, and driving some more. From Pennsylvania to Alaska, I covered just over 6,000 miles, with stops along the way in: Goshen, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, CO Springs, Denver, Yellowstone, and Montana. From Montana it was a straight shot up through Banff and Jasper Parks in Canada to pick up the Alcan Highway a bit west of Edmonton. Four days after leaving Montana, we arrived in Anchorage, and despite the beauty and fun of the trip up, it felt good to get out of the car and to be at the final destination.
Since arriving in Anchorage, there’s been a lot going on, including, thank goodness, the acquisition of a job. Probably the most fun and challenging thing that I’ve done so far though, is to get a floatplane rating added to my pilot’s license. Yesterday I took (and passed!) my floatplane checkride and afterwards had the opportunity to take a beautiful flight up a valley south of Anchorage to a lake with a lodge on it for some delicious ice cream. So…I’m not getting bored yet. I’m also still in the process of a lot less fun things, like finding an apartment, getting a driver’s license, registering my car, etc. For the moment I’m crashed on the friend of a friend’s sofa, which is fine as far as it goes, but it will be nice to find a place and get settled in.
Check out some pictures, if you so desire, that I’ve put up on google. And of course write me emails when you get the urge.
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
Friday, May 8, 2009
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
Tuesday, April 7, 2009
Last week, we received a call from the clinic in Seronga, a village at the top of the delta where the Okavango River begins to fan out. They had a patient that urgently needed to be transferred to the hospital in the nearby village of Gumare. The flight from Seronga to Gumare is only 15 minutes, but the only alternatives are a 4-hour boat ride or a grueling, bumpy gravel road to the nearest ferry crossing (1.5 hours) followed by a 2 hour paved road trip. On average, we move about 2 patients a month along this route.
I headed for Seronga as quickly as I could, and was soon kicking myself for not bringing my camera. The upper regions of the delta are always the most beautiful because they always have more water than the rest, but this time it was spectacular. The water at the top of the delta was higher than I have ever seen it, and areas that have clearly not had water for a long time were completely flooded. Every rainy season, heavy rains in Angola funnel into several large river systems, one of which is the Okavango that feeds the Okavango Delta. When the water from these rains (the yearly “flood”) makes its way down to Botswana about 3-4 months later, the delta fills up once again and provides the moisture that sustains huge amounts of plants and wildlife. By all accounts, this is an amazing year for water in the delta. The rains over the delta itself coupled with heavy rains in Angola have brought water levels that haven’t been seen here since 1963, and the main part of the flood hasn’t even arrived yet! While this is causing some problems for a few villages (if you’re fast you might catch the article about it in the Ngami Times), for the most part it is a huge boon for wildlife in the area. This flood should rejuvenate groundwater levels after many dry years as well as provide water much further downstream to areas that have been dry for a long time (here is an informative article for anybody interested).
Flying to Seronga and Gumare gave me a chance to see this record flood firsthand and enjoy the beautiful scenery. Just for fun, I’ll link to a pretty picture of the delta from space and a cute article about the “Babes of Botswana.” Enjoy, and keep well.
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
Monday, February 2, 2009
On the way back from my vacation in the states, I stopped in Europe to spend a week with some former Flying Mission friends in London and Switzerland. I flew into London and spent a long and hurried day seeing the sights there before flying with two friends down to Zurich, Switzerland. In Zurich, we met with two other friends and drove down into a small town in the Alps, where we stayed at wonderful little cabin right at the bottom of a ski slope (it’s nice to have friends with connections!). There we enjoyed an amazing weekend of downhill skiing, sledding, cross-country skiing, snowboarding, and fantastic company (I’ve posted some pictures from this Swiss weekend on my google photos). I then flew back to London and very reluctantly boarded the plane to Johannesburg, eventually making my way back to Botswana. So I’ve now been back in Botswana for several day…almost completely re-adjusted to the heat, and back in the pilot’s seat loving my job.