Friday 15 May 2009

Elephants, pythons, Zimbabwe .. and more .. to be continued ...

Dear Mr Postman ... another letter for you to hold for my mother .. some reminiscences of times in or of Africa ...
This is an Indian polo elephant playing?! .. a car pushover ....

I now feel bad .. I should have asked Twumwaa for more of her stories .. but I felt there was so much to tell and so much to hear about .. and more importantly so much to take in - that I definitely wouldn't have been such a brilliant listener .. and I so much want to hear her life story - it'll be so interesting. The other thing I didn't mention is that she studied political science in Montreal .. so has spent time in Canada .. and I suspect (to my chagrin) can speak French passably well!

Anyway we had enough interaction to keep us laughing happily while we both reminisced about Africa .. and I learnt microscopically little of the Ghanaian way of life - but something!! We talked about her name and where it had come from .. and why .. I understand her parents named her after her great grandmother on her father's side. Then we moved on to her brothers' names .. also Ghanaian ... however they were both born on Wednesday .. and so have similar names to tie in with the lore of the "The Ghanaian Day Name".

This information is provided by the Traditional Ghanaian Names site: "The Ghanaian Name Day is the name assigned to the child born on a specific day of the week which also includes characteristics of the child born on the specific day of the week. This day name also called the Kradin name, is carried on throughout the life of the child, and amazingly accurate as horoscopes in the western world. " The same site provided the following information ..

Male names for Wednesday are: "Kuuku, Kwaku, Kweku - and mean Mischievious, vicarious, vigilant and daring"; one of her brothers is called Kwaku, the other Kweku .. -it would muddle me ... but I'm only an English lady called Hilary, which means 'happy' .. so perhaps there's logic here too in our lore ......while Twumwaa was born on Saturday and her family name is "Ama" which means ... "Possesses the medicine for snakes bite, able to reverse crisis, thorough and painstakingly scrupulous, Saturday is also God's Day".

We've had brushes with elephants .. and in Botswana I've been separated in a convoy of 4 vehicles by a herd of elephants .. headed by the matriarch = they are the controllers in the elephant world! They say elephants don't forget .. ok I can vouch for their short term memory! .. the march of the elephants continued and we couldn't break it - which meant in the days before mobile phones we really were cut off & we had someone else's children with us?! Well we sat & waited .. but to no avail they were simply not letting us through - & obviously we can't go across the bush ....eventually a space occurred and we went .. but the matriarch followed us bellowing away, ears flapping ... I can't say I was too happy, on the other hand I'm here to tell the tale.

This story was reported the other day .. these are great pictures by Barcroft Media - so appropriately titled by them .. so please have a look at the others! ...The Daily Mail: Elephants march through hotel lobby after it was built on their migration trail

Let the porter grab your trunk: An elephant wanders through Mfuwe Lodge, in the South Luangwa National Park, Zambia

The animals came in two-by-two: Hotel staff and visitors have got used to the elephants' impromptu strolls through reception

It is not every day that guests in a hotel would expect to share the foyer with an elephant, or even a herd of elephants. However, Will and Guy have learned that in the Mfuwe Lodge in the 9,500 sq km South Luangwa National Park in Zambia, it is a common occurrence. The herd, numbering ten, is led to the lodge each day by the matriarch, Wonky Tusk.
The hotel was unwittingly built on the route to the herd's favourite mango trees and the elephants have seen no reason to change the path trodden by generations before them.

Migration route: The hotel was built directly in the path of the elephants' route to one of their favourite foods - mangos

Andy Hogg, 44, director at Mfuwe Lodge, said the herd appears every November as the mangoes ripen, 'This is a totally natural phenomenon, the elephants come here of their own accord and it is certainly a rare but magnificent sight.'

After this we went from the Okavango Delta, via the Chobe river and the pan handle into Zimbabwe and Wankie game reserve, now called Hwange .. this time I'd switched vehicles and the kids were with us again .. and we broke down!! Their parents and friends were ahead ... they'd got fed up of Mike bird-watching every 20 feet .. and had decided to head for the camp in Bulawayo for the night - it was some distance still. We could have been stuck there ..
I suddenly remembered this story .. so included it .. as I thought it was so great when I heard about it .. tomorrow I'll finish my journey with our Hwange rescue .. and bring in the python tale too .. I did manage to bring snakes in .. as Twumwaa possesses the medicine for snake bites .. except pythons do bite, but don't poison .. oh well the connection is near enough - when you're in sunny San Diego away from the home front ..
Thank you Mr Postman for keeping this letter safe for us .. I haven't told my mother about the elephants' migration route yet - and that will amuse her ..
Hilary Melton-Butcher
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Daphne @ Joyful Days said...

Wow, what a grand adventure! I've been on Safari in Africa but didn't get close to elephants - both a pity and a relief! You have such a full life, and it's great that you talk to people you meet on the way - that can be the best way to 'see' the world!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Daphne .. so glad you enjoyed the tales .. yes life is a grand adventure .. and I've been lucky .. and did closer to elephants than is sensible I think!!

I love talking to people .. not all the time.. but you never know who you're going to connect with .. and I learn so much

& as you say I 'see' the world ..more people should try it ..

Great to have you here commenting...
Hilary Melton-Butcher
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Peter Baca said...

Hi Hilary,

Really enjoyed the story about the elephants that stroll thru the hotel! I thought that was fascinating behavior by the elephants.

Unfortunately, my experiences with elephants have been in the zoo. Actually rode one with my son!

Best Regards

Pete Baca
The Car Enthusiast Online

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Pete .. thanks for that .. to me too it was an amazing story.. why should we humans break up their journeys of a generational lifetime of route .. it's learning curve for us .. I hope?!

It'd be good if you could take your sons to Africa sometime - for a real safari ..

though I missed those too .. the real safaris were before the late 1970s ..

All the best - Hilary Melton-Butcher
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Liara Covert said...

This is a truly uplifting story. It is great when human beings live in harmony with nature. They ride elephants in eco-parks where elephants are given certain freedoms. This hotel in your story takes freedom that to a new level. It appears humans do not attempt to control the elephant but simply work around nature. This is an example of harmony, or an effort to create it.

Jannie Funster said...

Hello. I have been following your comments a little on Dr Covert's blog and wish you well and peace on your journey. Liara is a very very special person, as we all know.

She will steer us all well.

Saw Disney's "Earth" movie a couple of weeks ago, was so sad about the little elepphant who got separated from his mama and went in the wrong direction on his migration. Africa seems such a beautiful yet sometimes harsh place. Then again, I grew up in Canada and know about the harshness of COLD! All relative, eh?


Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Liara .. thanks for your comments .. personally I don't think they should have built the game lodge or camp there .. but it is amazing how the elephants just come on doing what they've been doing for thousand of years ..
and how the humans have accepted the extraordinary situation.

Thanks for enjoying the post
Hilary Melton-Butcher
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Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Jannie .. nice to meet you .. yes Liara is great and seems so genuine .. I'm so pleased I've connected with her and can learn from her in the times ahead.

Thanks for your thoughts for my journey .. I'm uplifted by readers like Liara and yourself and other blogging friends who've been so kind and thoughtful.

Africa is I guess like a cold Canada .. nature is nature and it'll do what it does (if we humans allow it!) .. glad you like the little elephant .. it is terribly sad - as they do remember ..

the real Africa is better .. I've spent a brief holiday in Canada .. in the Rockies and Vancouver Island .. we need to see ..

I hope you'll visit again - it's very kind of you to leave a comment for me .. thank you
Hilary Melton-Butcher
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