Africa Story #15
Honesty and Appreciation
I'm also proud of my traveling friends and their participation.
Women's lib in Africa is about 30 years behind us but women are really trying to make themselves more self sufficient and figure out ways they can make money.Prostitution is a big one unfortunately, especially at truck stops,and a very sad one for many reasons including the high incidence of aids.AIDS education is growing and condom dispensing machines are EVERYWHERE giving away free condoms but the biggest problem is still men's reluctance or refusal to wear one.
have found to make money is through "women's markets".These are smart women that have bonded together and sell various items cooperatively within one space.I preferentially shopped at women's markets knowing their dilemma.
I've mentioned a time or five that it was REAL hot in Africa but despite the heat, we braved the elements with a goal of shopping.Well at least that is what the men called it. Ilooked at it as an unselfish act to help others in need.I personally sacrificed myself quite a bit to help their economy and was only held back by my luggage weight restrictions.I want all of my clients to feel good that I put your money to good use.
This women's market was a few rough and poorly constructed shacks sitting side by side.Don't judge a book by its cover though as this outdoor market sold Fabulous Fresh Fruit with a capital F plus fresh macadamia nuts.All just sold for a few Rands equivalent to pennies.The bananas had been picked only hours before and the freshest Macadamia nuts I have ever eaten were roasted to perfection. Yum X a million.The peanuts were also fresh and when ground into peanut butter had the richest flavor I've ever eaten and was a rich chocolate brown color.Again a big YUM.
Where ever we went,toddlers ran to us excitedly looking for handouts.We were pre-instructed however by our troop leader to please NOT give the kids money directly as it encouraged more begging.
In Victoria falls the women's market was a big metal corrugated building that had no ventilation or electricity and felt like a sweat shop.Remember the 114 degree weather when you picture these poor women in this building ALL day.Each woman had a few feet of space and they covered the dirt floor with a sheet to display their wares as best as possible.Their items included a wide array of beautiful hand carved wood pieces including wall art, animals and salad tongs, beaded animals, purses, jewelry, fabric, metal sculptures, tapestries and various other trinkets.As we walked into the building, the women and children quickly crowded us all begging for us to come and look at their little space.Sadly there were about 20 women in the back of the metal building that probably didn't get to show their products very frequently because the temperature grew hotter the farther one walked into the building.
It was so hot in the building that ironically I was happy to go outside and cool down to 114 degrees before returning for more shopping ( I mean Africa's economic development).
we were told we had 1 hour before our bus left for the airport and if anyone wanted to do any last minute shopping, they had better do it now.I had bought a small cloth purse with an elephant print on it the day before and regretted not buying a few more for gifts, so this was my opportunity.Yes or No should I go or not.The pressure was on.Do I help their economy further OR sit by the cool pool and have a frozen margarita?It was a very hard decision and one that was a big gamble as this was the ONLY stop so far that we had a real swimming pool not filled with monkeys and elephants AND electricity 24 - 7.Did you guys know that it takes electricity to have an air conditioner AND to make ice?And ice is necessary to make a decent blended frozen margarita----so you see how big a dilemma this was for me. I decided to postpone the margarita for the next stop, hopefully, and chose to decrease the weight in my purse by getting rid of a few more heavy green backs.I knew right where my favorite women's market was but knew it was also unfortunately the metal sweat box.I was on a mission however.
My goal was to buy from as many different women as I could versus spending money with only one woman. See how unselfish I am.Since everything is on the floor, there is really no place to put things down.Things got confusing quickly. I picked out several items including a beaded rhino sculpture, a wood carved hippo, beautiful table runner and wall hanging and four purses including one elephant purse identical to my own.
I opened my elephant purse and pulled out cash to disperse to the many women.I thanked everyone and tried to make a quick escape to get back to the hotel in time for the airport shuttle.One women, I estimate to be in her 60,'s, was following me saying something I didn't understand.I turned about and saw she was holding up another elephant purse like mine.I told her no thank you that I had purchased enough but she kept following me.I don't remember what she said for me to re-evaluate the situation but I realized she was not trying to sell me another purse.She was trying to tell me that this was MY purse.Yes----- my purse that had EVERYTHING in it.It contained most of my money, my travel documents, drivers license, cell phone, my PASSPORT and most importantly-----lip gloss.I can't truly imagine what would have happened if I had returned to the hotel before realizing the error.The tour group would have to go on without me to catch the flight and I would be stuck in Victoria Falls by myself, without ID,looking for a US embassy.
She wanted me to then come to her space, but being out of time, I instead simply reached into my purse, found a $20.00 bill and gave it to her. I then ran to get transportation back to the hotel.In hind sight I should have done more but was so overwhelmed with the potential gravity of the situation I think I was numb for a little while.
I find it interesting that many people that have the least, are the most generous and honest.I think we can all learn a lesson from this fabulous women.
To be continued...
Sheree Everett DVM
Africa Story #16
My dream of traveling to Africa and being able to observe the wildlife in their natural habitat has been a dream since childhood. Mark another one off of my bucket list.The entire trip was amazing but I thought after three weeks I was REALLY ready to come home.I missed Klamath, my friends, the team at EVH, my work, patients, clients and most of all my dog Morgan.Since dogs were usually used more for protection than pets, I was not able to get my dog "fix" along the way.This finale week however turned out to be one of the highlights of the trip.The Cape town excursion showed a very different aspect of southern Africa and was like going to sleep in Death Valley and waking up in Seattle.Culture shock.
The first day we strolled through Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens. The gardens were amazing and contained many unique plant species. The gardens are located where dinosaurs literally roamed over 200 million years ago and several life-sized metal dinosaur sculptures decorated the landscape. A very unique aspect of these botanical gardens is their cultivation of several plants species These are the same species that dinosaurs actually ate.Pretty Kool with a capital K. These plants are very prickly and resemble a pineapple plant to me.
We also visited the Cape of Good Hope and actually stood at the most southerntip of the continent. It was a very windy day but the view was breath taxingly beautiful.
Different areas of Africa, like everywhere else in the world, are very diversified with respects to the animal species that thrive there.We all associate southern Africa with elephants, leopards, cheetahs, rhinos, crocodiles and some gorgeous birds but I was also surprised by a few other species.
I laughed and said it looks like an ostrich.Of course said the troop leader as if it was a duh moment. Whoops but my ignorance was showing.Seeing an ostrich in the bush AND then later others grazing along the Atlantic Ocean was one of the many surprises on this trip but the biggest surprisewas being surrounded by little African penguins.What a treat!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!The babies were especially cute and so much fun to watch. The sanctuary included many plastic domes on the beach to promote breeding.
African penguin is also known as the Jackass penguin for its donkey-like bray and is confined to southern African waters. As all penguins, it is flightless, with a streamlined body, and wings stiffened and flattened into flippers for a marine habitat. Adults weigh on average 4.9–7.7 lb and are 24–28 in tall. They have distinctive pink patches of skin above the eyes and a black facial mask; the body upperparts are black and sharply delineated from the white under parts, which are spotted and marked with a black band. The pink gland above their eyes helps them to cope with changing temperatures. When the temperature gets hotter, the body of the African penguin sends more blood to these glands to be cooled by the air surrounding it. This then causes the gland to turn a darker shade of pink. The African penguin is a pursuit diver and feeds primarily on fish and squid. Once extremely numerous, the African penguin is declining due to a combination of threats and is classified as endangered."
You can see in one of my pictures a penguin under someone's house.I guess they do a tremendous amount of damage to peoples properties seeking out dark holes.The analogy is probably similar to many people's thoughts towards our deer population in Klamath.Although we love them, they are considered a nuisance in many areas.Dozens frequent my yard daily and although I have never really considered them a nuisance, I do consider them very poor gardeners.
To be continued...
Sheree Everett DVM