I wasn't born in Africa, but Africa was born in me.
I'm so completely in love with Africa, the 3 months I spent in Mozambique were the best months of my whole trip, and some of the best times of my life. I got such a calling whie I was out there, I felt so completely at home and know that I want to spend a lot more time there after university. I've literally never been so upset to leave a place, I sobbed for days when I left the bush and was on the coast again waiting for my flight.
As for my flight, I ended up coming home 2 weeks early! I was supposed to go to the border at the end of July to get a new visa, but we went to Tanzania at the end of June to check and it turns out British passport holders can't get visas at the border...Mozambique seems to make up the rules as they go along! So I had to change my flights and come home early, which wasn't great but it meant I could surprise my family! I told my dad that I was coming home early and he made up a story about friends coming to stay and told my mum so they could go to the airport to pick them up, and I walked through arrivals! It was wonderful to see all my family and friends again, and seeing my mum's face after being away from home for a year was amazing.
While in Mozambique, I spent a few days on the beach where my dad used to live, hanging out with the dogs and cats and eating a lot! I then caught a lift out to the bush with Garth, who I spent a lot of my time with and became good friends after 3 months! It was a 12 hour drive to the camp in the Niassa reserve, and it was nice to have someone to chat to and pass the time. This leads to my next exciting piece of news; I was given a Samango monkey by some friends, to take out to the bush with me to try and teach how to be a monkey! The monkey came in the car with Garth and I, and made for a very interesting 12 hour drive...
Dobby the monkey was rescued after he was seperated from his mum close to the town my friends live in. He was only a few days old and was very small and very weak. My friends took him in and hand-reared him, and saved his life! When I arrived, I took over and took him out to the reserve with me. He was about 4 months old when I met him, and had never had the chance to be a monkey. So we had to teach him how to climb a tree, how to eat wild figs and leaves and flowers, how to catch insects- and the rescued African Wildcats we have in camp taught him how to play! It was so wonderful being surrogate mum to a monkey, he was very naughty and very cheeky but that's what being a monkey is all about. He slept on his teddy bear in a tree at night, away from the leopard that likes to roam around, and during the day wandered around camp stealing food and playing with us and the cat. He had so much to learn, but we got to know him well and it was funny to see Garth climbing trees to teach the monkey what to do! He became an independant little monkey, and by the time I left we were able to leave him alone for a few days if we went to another camp which was perfect. He'd still come and sit on me for a cuddle and would sit on my shoulder in the shower and loved sitting in the sun and picked for fleas/ticks. My hope is that as he gets older he'll realise that he's a monkey, not a human, and will be accepted by a troop.
I was so happy out in the camps, surrounded by lions, leopards, elephants, and a huge range of animals. As camp was completely open, any animal could walk through! We had a family of bushbuck take up residence, a Civet cat who liked to visit at night, families of elephants come and eat the figs and drink from the pond and wreck the garden, a leopard who walked past everyone's houses at night and a few lions pass through! We always have troops of baboons, Vervet and Samango monkeys live in the fig trees above camp and always raid the kitchen and lounge whenever they can! It was such a magical place, I never wanted to leave. It's mainly a hunting and photography camp, so getting to join in on drives to see the many animals we have in the concession was amazing, and we'd find somewhere special up an inselbeg to climb up and have drinks or even dinner some nights, and watch the special sunsets of the African bush.
We have a huge team of Anti-poaching scouts, who patrol the concession looking for signs of activity of elephant poaching. Thanks to their efforts, we have the highest density of elephants in the whole of Mozambique, and as the reserve lost half of its elephants in the past 5 years, it's an incredible achievement. It's such a magical place, and seeing elephants every day in great numbers is an incredible sight.
I have so many stories and so many photos, but all in good time! For now I'm slowly unpacking my bag and sorting through the thousands of photos I have of my trip- and preparing for university!!
Photos to follow....