Monday, November 4, 2013
Wednesday, October 30, 2013
We have just returned from 16 days in Mozambiuque, which along with Angola (which I will also get to visit while on sabbatical) has long held an important spot in my imagination. Dreams of climbing Mt. Gorongosa to go find a Greenheaded Oriole go way back for me. Unfortunately the long civil war prevented any such trips. Fighting ended in 1992 (the year I left South Africa) and the country has since opened up to significant tourism efforts, and the coast has endless miles of gorgeous beaches and warm blue waters. Unfortunately this trip did not take us as far north as Gorongosa, but we were able to explore the southern coast from Ponta d'Ouro to Vilankulo. Along the way we swam with dolphins (multiple times), saw hundreds upon hundreds of Humpback whales headed south to Antarctica, enjoyed some very beautiful beaches, ate incredible seafood, and I got to make photos. Cool research trip for sure. I am especially drawn to photographing "monuments" at the moment. Must be a David Taylor influence. The Portuguese colonial architecture adds a flare to the country that is different to any other place I have visited in Africa. I expect I will find something similar in Angola.
Many South Africans have moved to Mozambique to open beach lodges, and apparently during SA school holidays the influx of South African tourists is truly daunting. Fortunately we did not have to experience that, and in terms of tourists, we saw only a few. We really enjoyed the country a great deal. People were super friendly and we even got to use a little of the Portuguese we have been learning. It also felt very safe and unlike South Africa there is apparently almost zero violent crime. I hope to return again, hopefully to make it to Mt. Gorongosa. Unfortunately, in the middle of our visit, new reports of fighting in the north was in the news. I truly hope this is not the case as the evidence of how much the country has already suffered is very apparent, even 20 years on.
Posted by Ian van Coller at 6:23 AM
Wednesday, October 2, 2013
Just back from a three day trip to Joburg and Pretoria. We had lots of errands to run including getting Visas for our trip to Mozambique next week. Can't wait. Never been before. Joburg was as crazy as ever, especially after having gotten very used to small town driving in Bozeman (and here in Vaalwater). Since I grew up there the traffic has become truly insane--both the sheer volume of it as well as the crazy taxi drivers who are a law unto themselves. Avoid rush hour at all costs. It is all rather stressful if you are not used to it. Thanks Siri for keeping us on track.
Posted by Ian van Coller at 7:27 AM
Sunday, September 29, 2013
Saturday September 28th
We are settling in nicely to our routine on Lindani Farm where my parents live. It is situated in an area of South Africa known as the Waterberg and is about a three and a half hour drive north of Johannesburg. Our closest town is about a forty minute drive away. The kids’ homeschooling is coming along well, and I think we will have two budding naturalists by the time our five months here are done. We may all know a little Portuguese by then too, thanks to Pimsleur.
My older brother has a farm adjoining my parents. He makes his living by raising Cape Buffalo. This is serious business as disease free Buffalo are very desirable. A bull sold two weeks ago at auction for $4 million (US dollars). I think that was a record. Depending on the quality of the animal, prices can range anywhere from a few thousand dollars into the millions. There is much speculation here as to whether the market represents a bubble, but nevertheless prices just seem to keep going up. My brother’s prize bull was killed a few months ago, gored by another of his very cranky bulls. Estimated loss of the one animal: $800,000.
My brother truly loves his Buffalo. Each of his 100+ animals is named, and he speaks to them as one would a much beloved family dog. He has been building his herd for many years now, carefully selecting for quality as they breed. About twice a year he will sell several animals, picking the lowest quality animals to part with so that the quality of the herd is always being raised.
This morning the whole family was up very early to see the Buffalo he is selling be tested for TB and a few other diseases. This entails a scratch test similar to that for humans--administering a scratch on the skin and then reading the results several days later. So the Buffalo had already been darted with tranquilizer the preceding Wednesday and now they had to be darted again so that the Vet to read the skin scratches. The whole process involved significant manpower because each animal needed to be carefully monitored while it was sedated--making sure it was upright and breathing properly.
One of the female Buffalo called Big Girl is apparently resistant to the sedative. In the photos above you can see Lindsay (who is the local Buffalo whisperer) trying to coax Big Girl to the ground (the dart can also bee seen in her hind quarter). Not something I would want to try myself. These are not animals to be trifled with. A large bull can easily toss a full sized car. With the help of Manie, Big Girl finally came to ground and the testing finished. I was amazed to see once the tests had been checked, an antidote to the tranquilizer was administered, and literally within seconds the Buffalo were on their feet again. It was a great experience for us and the kids, not soon to be forgotten.
Posted by Ian van Coller at 5:52 AM
Saturday, September 21, 2013
I have started working on my cardboard box still life series again. This gorgeous Lilac Breasted Roller presented itself on the side of the road last week and I thought it the perfect subject to start the work again. I am sorry it lost its life to a car though.Hopefully I can find enough material to keep the series going.
Posted by Ian van Coller at 6:55 AM