Sunday, June 16, 2013

Mountain Climbs and Other Perils

You might remember from past blogs that Tom and I have been scouting for new land on which to build for phase 2 (or is it 3, 4 or 5) of the orphanage.

We will eventually run out of space on our current land and it (while a huge blessing) has never been ideal for all our big ideas of energy efficiency, sustainable farming, etc.

The kids here are getting older and will need more space for sports and physical activity and we will need more farmland to feed all the ever-growing stomachs.

So, we had been working on a lovely piece of land right on a river. But! That land may soon lay under water due to an energy corporation coming in to build a dam. So, it was back to the drawing board.

Tom located another nice piece--also on a river--and has been working through the red tape and other cultural issues so we can one day hold the title to about 50 hectares (123 acres). Not as large as we'd like--but way more than we have now.

The other day, as we drove up from Lusaka Tom pointed out the future land to me and mentioned that he'd have to head down there one day soon to take some measurements. I said I'd be happy to go with him and once he had shown me the river, I could sit on a blanket under my pretty, purple umbrella to read a book. I would pack a picnic lunch for us both to share and it would be almost romantic.

Are you guessing already that things didn't quite go as planned?

Thursday morning I woke up early and put together a simple picnic lunch of chicken salad with bread and/or crackers along with sliced tomatoes and cucumbers.

Troy was coming with us and we all worked together to make sure we had sunscreen, hats, sunglasses and anything else we might need for a day's outing. I packed my bag carefully with my Kindle, iPhone, and crossstich project. I was all ready for a peaceful day by the river. (oh, how wrong I was......)

When we pulled up to the headman's house there was already a crowd waiting for us. Thankfully we managed to convince most of them that they didn't have to walk with us.

I was excited to see the river and we headed out right away. I was wearing jeans and a loose fitting shirt and felt good. The sun was up and high in the sky, but since this is our cold season, it wasn't too bad. At the last moment I threw one of our water bottles into my bag. Boy, was I glad for that later.

The river was beautiful! Tom pointed out where we might be able to install a water wheel to produce our own electricity. We saw many little water pools where kids might be able to swim. (This was before our guide pointed out where crocodiles live when the water is high. Oh, my! I'm sure Tom has a plan for them)

It was lovely and peaceful nonetheless.

Then we began discussing where to go next. Tom wanted to show me the hill where our house could sit one day. Our guide shook his head doubtfully. "There's no road," he insisted. These are not words to discourage Tom. "Onward and Upward!" is his motto.

So onward we went. 

The path disappeared and we began slogging through grass that was above our heads. It was hard going as the grass often lay on the ground and concealed logs, rocks or holes in the ground that threatened to trip us up. The grass itself conspired against us as it would snag our feet and so every step had to be carefully placed. It was by no means a walk in the park. It was more like swimming through a hay field.

Tom was so good to reach back and help me over difficult ground, Lord love him. I'd love to say I was a gracious lady the entire time, but as grass and thorns sliced my hands, and my foot snagged in a snarl of grass roots yet again, I was occasionally closer to someone wearing a pointy hat rather than a safari one.

Eventually we made it to the base of the hill and began the climb up. I had hoped that the tall grass was only at the ground level, but alas, it continued on all. the. way. up. It was awful.

I kept muttering, "I was supposed to be reading a novel by a river bank under a pretty, purple umbrella".

Halfway up we sat down for a breather, and oh, my! The view was amazing!

This picture was taken at the top when we finally made it up there. This would be the view from our living room. The sun will go down right there.

We could have stayed up there for a long time, but by now it was 1:30 and we were starving. We still had to get down the hill and then walk the 3/4 mile back to our car. 

Everyone knows that hiking downhill is always harder (though mentally it's a bit easier since you're almost done), but this one was extra hard because of the tall grass. It was like trying to walk down a hayfield. Very slippery. I fell over and over again. My poor body was so confused. Falling is not the norm by any means.

Finally we reached the bottom of the hill. Oh, Thanks be to God!

After a brief rest we began the 1 mile walk back. Our water was long gone so we were eager to reach the car.

Our lunch was also waiting in the car, but with a huge crowd gathered around, it would have to wait. Troy and I rested in the car, and surreptitiously nibbled on crackers while Tom handed out work assignments, until we were finally able to get on the road toward home. 

I guess next time we'll try the picnic idea again.

Just to give you an idea of how far we walked, here is that picture again:

Next time (and yes, there will be a next time), I will take a walking stick and some gloves. Any other hiking tips?


  1. Wait til burning season when the grass is gone.

  2. Heather E.June 16, 2013

    Holy Cow! That's a trip. It is beautiful though. Is it very far from where the orphanage is now located?

  3. AmysAdventuresJune 16, 2013

    It's about an hour and 20 minutes away.

  4. AmysAdventuresJune 16, 2013

    Yes, and then wear very old clothes because there will be ash everywhere.

  5. In what direction if you don't mind us being curious? Also on the Luapula river or is it another stream? Love from Flanders.

  6. AmysAdventuresJune 16, 2013

    Just past Mwense. Actually quite close to Musonda Falls so it is the river coming from that dam. Not the Luapula.
    I imagine I'll be writing more about this land over the next months/years and will have plenty of details.
    Much love right back at you! The kids cheered this morning when we told them you'd be here in a couple weeks.

  7. You could take a cickle and let Tom cut the way through for you. Don't know what you could do for all the stuff that you trip on.... my, I'd be falling down all the time too. Just keep stepping high, and know that once Tom is finished with it, it will be like heaven!!


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