It’s Wednesday morning and the bags are being loaded onto the bus. We have gotten pretty efficient at loading, unloading, checking in and checking out of hotels. I think everyone is looking forward to not living out of a suitcase (myself included), but I don’t want to wish our trip away.
The last few days in Scotland have been really good–the countryside is breath taking, the visits interesting and informative–a dairy farmer yesterday said he was all for brexit because it would create chaos and change. It’s interesting when some people look forward to change and others fear it.
Yesterday’s final visit was with a family who has just been through the succession planning process–three brothers each got a pice of the farm and they are each doing different things with it. One brother (probably the more adventuresome) developed outdoor activities on his five hectares–and it’s become a destination now in Scotland. Hearing the family’s story and spending the afternoon with them was such an experience (not to mention the 20 or so who zip lined down the side of the bluff.)
Today is another full day of programming–the group continues to amaze me with their positive spirits and energy. They are hanging in and making the most of this journey.
We send all our love back home–we will be there soon!
Happy Monday! It’s a misty, overcast day in Scotland–what one would expect. It was a long travel night and day to get here. But we arrived in good spirits and ready for our second week–after a little time to decompress.
It was a bit of a cultural shock to get off the plane back to first world craziness. Africa does lull you into a slower pace and “Africa time”. We arrived at the hotel around 3pm yesterday and everyone dispersed to showers, shopping and enjoying Edinburgh for the night. Everyone needed a little time to take their breath and not be on a schedule (myself included) and this is the perfect place to do it.
I can’t wait to see what this week holds–I think it’s going to be another wonderful week of programming!Read More
We are week down and sitting back in the Johannesburg airport reflecting on our time in Africa (and buying last minute souvenirs–the shopping here is incredible!) The group is doing well, while missing family, dogs (the canines at the farm we visited today got lots of pats), and the comforts of home (there has been longing for sweet tea), they have hung together, propped each other up and really been open to the experience of Africa.
It’s sometimes hard to juggle programming, taking care of people and then blogging–this takes a back seat and I feel badly because I know you all are looking forward to reading what is happening here. Valerie has done an amazing job of posting here and on social media and I feel like I don’t hold a candle to her words. She captured Swaziland so well in her love letter–I can’t say much else.
Yesterday and today were a wonderful last memories of this place. Yesterday we spent time in Kruger National Park and saw 18 different species–we only missed a lion from the “Big Five”. Today we started learning about citrus and then our final stop was with a lovely farming family who provided us a wonderful meal and great tour of their grain and livestock operation.
I feel fortunate in so many ways. Grateful that this program allows for a trip like this–it is such an impactful learning experience for the group, thankful for this group of people who are on this journey and amazed at how we can travel around the world and find that our differences aren’t so great. A love for agriculture, for the natural resources that are a part of it and of the people that we become connected to because of this love.
Thank you Africa.Read More
I’m sure when I shared Plan B after Kenya fell through with the group they wondered where the heck Swaziland was?! Now, I would wager anything that they wouldn’t have traded the experiences in this country for the world!
Today was a stellar day of programming. We began by visiting a farming company–many small farmers have banded together to form “companies” (cooperatives). Sugarcane “aka Swazi gold” is the primary crop here and you can see it as far as the eye can go across the rolling landscape (we definitely aren’t in Belle Glade Toto!) We also visited a Farmers Federation and the 2nd largest sugarcane mill. We were struck at all these stops at how young the leaders were we spoke with and how positive, sharp and articulate they are.
To explore the culture–we stopped at a local grocery store. While there, we met a group of kids who never had seen a bus our size. Their awe was rewarded with all sorts of goodies.
Last night we were delighted by a group of high schoolers who danced and sang for us. They were amazing and really capped off an amazing day of programming!
The group is doing well. They acclimated to the time change and are in good spirits!Read More
As we all retire to our different guest cottages spread out across an old sugar plantation with the eyes of impalas reflected in our flashlights beams, I am thinking that everyone is having the same thoughts…missing home, but loving Africa…and oh by the way, sore as heck because we climbed a dam. Every single one of us, climbed a dam. That’s the group–all for one and one for all! And this is why I enjoy them so much! We complained, we cheered and we all climbed more steps then we may ever had before.
Before and after the dam experience , we learned a lot about Swaziland and its agriculture, it’s king and how this little country can seemingly work with others to get big things done. We saw the landscape change dramatically our our bus window and we even saw citrus that looked like Florida citrus ten years ago! Today was only the first day and we did so much–we will sleep well tonight! Onto new adventures in the morning! I will leave you all with pictures of the dam. Did I mention that we climbed up the entire inside of it??Read More
Today begins our first major day of programming–everyone is in good spirits and enjoying their time in Africa. Lots of good insights about their perceptions were shared last night. The beauty of this country is amazing–as are the people.Read More
After one of the craziest travel days–we all made it (along with our luggage) to South Africa. We were greeted by our local guide and also one of my best friends from grad school who lives and works here in Africa. We are staying in a hotel next to the airport so everyone can shower, eat and relax after an extraordinarily long travel day. We got on the plane last night in Atlanta in the dark and arrived here in the dark–its a very strange feeling! Tomorrow we will be up and on the bus pretty early to head to “The Kingdom of eSwatini” or Swaziland. We hope everyone is doing well at home!!Read More
Sooooo…you can plan, and plan, and plan some more….but the only thing I haven’t been able to figure how to control is the weather. With that, we boarded our flight to Atlanta and then were told that Atlanta is closed. Closed. No flights in or out. So they let folks off the plane. A few remained. And even some are taking advantage of the quiet time for a nap. Hopefully we’ll take off soon…let’s get this trip started!Read More