Monday, November 29, 2010

Thanksgiving weekend spent with.....lions?

     One of the interesting traditions that we have had over the last two Thanksgiving breaks is to be on the road!  Last year, we were newly engaged and headed off to Texico, New Mexico, to celebrate the wedding of our friends Corrie and Grant.  We spent Thanksgiving Day in Amarillo with the Richardson family...and then drove around Amarillo searching for a canyon just outside the city....but once we found it, the park was closed because it was too dark to see anything!
     Fast forward to this year....we are married and living in Maputo, Mozambique.  We don't really have enough time to fly home for Thanksgiving, so we decided to drive to South Africa and spend our long weekend in Kruger National Park, one of the largest nature reserves in the world with over 7,330 square miles of protected land for the African animals to live on without the threat of poachers and "big game" hunters.
     We stayed at a beautiful lodge called, "Tinga."  We had a blast!  We saw lots of incredible wildlife, birds, and landscape.  Our daily schedule included an early morning "game drive" from 5:30am - 8:30am, then back to the lodge for breakfast.  Usually from 10am or so until 4pm, we swam or napped or watched out new favorite TV series, "LOST," which somehow neither of us has ever watched!  Then around 4:30pm we would head out again for another 3-hour "game drive" searching for wild animals.  Supper was around 8pm, then we would head to bed around 10pm and try to get some sleep before our 4:45am alarm.  It was a refreshing five days.....with lots of "down time" to read or watch movies or nap during the heat of the day.
     Here are a few of the hundreds and hundreds of pictures we took during our time inside Kruger National Park.  Hope you enjoy!
We entered the park at the Paul Kruger Gate, which is in the southwest section of the park.  There are 9 different gates to enter the park. 
We took our game drives in a sweet-looking LandRover made specifically for looking at the animals.  I need one of these trucks for back in the States!

Us, on a bridge over-looking the Sabie River, at sunset on Saturday night.

Our Saturday morning drive found us face-to-face with three lionesses (female lions) looking for food!

Lucky for us, they were looking for something with four legs and not two!

We saw wild dogs....very rare, as only 400 or so are known to live inside Kruger Park.

This elephant came very close to our truck...and hardly even looked at us.  I don't think he has much to be afraid of.

Giraffe are abundant in the park, and always looked graceful as they walked around.

This baby baboon was the cutest thing we saw!  

One of many beautiful sunsets in South Africa....we loved it there.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Are THESE Cinnamon Rolls?

Chris and I have been in quite the baking and cooking mode the last few weeks.  When you don't have the convenience of running out and getting Pizza Inn or Pasados (two of our most missed restaurants) then you learn how to cook.  For you guys who know me well, you know that I haven't been known for my culinary skills.  BUT...I have tried to turn over a new leaf here.  Why not use another country and a new environment as a "test tube" of my ability to cook from scratch?!

This past weekend Chris and I were craving some southern favorites...peach cobbler and cinnamon rolls.  We found some easy recipes online, so we decided to use them.  Chris made our peach cobbler, but I noticed that it tasted a little funny.  Chris was SO proud of it that I ate it without saying a word.  I thought, maybe we need some more peaches in it.  Then Sunday we decided to make cinnamon rolls.  As he was putting the cinnamon on the dough I asked him what he was using.  His response: "Cinnamon!"  I noticed that the rolls had the same weird smell as the night before, but I couldn't figure out what it was.  So we baked the rolls, and they came out looking amazing (except for this weird smell).  I took a bite and was completely disappointed.  I said: 'They taste like taco meat!!" Chris responded: "I think your taste buds are messed up."  I was already feeling a little weepy, so the combo of the cinnamon rolls tasting horrible and my not understanding why EVERYTHING tasted like taco meat (the peach cobbler included) sent me over the edge.  I cried and cried and cried...over cinnamon rolls.  I was SO disappointed!!!

Last night we were making our shopping list for the week, and I decided I was going to buy some new flour. I was convinced the flour was the culprit for making everything taste like taco meat. So I smelled the flour, and it smelt fine. So I decided to smell the cinnamon to see if something was wrong with it. sniff told me that whatever we had been using to spice up our peach cobbler and cinnamon rolls was in fact NOT cinnamon.  I told Chris, "This isn't cinnamon!!!" He assured me it was. I said, "Cinnamon doesn't smell like this! This smells like taco meat!" The writing was in Portuguese, so after a little investigative skills, we determined that what we had used to add some spice to the cobbler and make our cinnamon rolls was in fact CUMIN and NOT cinnamon!!!  So...yesterday, instead of making cinnamon and sugar rolls, we had made cumin and sugar rolls!!  :) :)

I don't think we have laughed SO hard in a long time.  I felt a little redeemed that maybe I could in fact make cinnamon rolls that tasted good, and Chris is going to try the cobbler again.  Moral of the story...if you live in a foreign country, make sure you smell your spices before you use them. You just might make cumin rolls instead of cinnamon rolls! :) :)

Friday, November 12, 2010

Catching Up

Yes...I's been a while since we have posted.  Please forgive us for that.  We've had alot of changes over the last few weeks, but they have all been good.  First, we finally got moved into our new place, which will be home for the remainder of our time here.  It was such a blessing staying with the Lechners when we first got here, and I loved every moment with them. Angie was such a blessing to us (especially Amanda) during our first few weeks of pregnancy.  I don't think I felt good most of the time we were there (the bouts of morning sickness and food aversions were NOT fun), but she was SO kind and understanding during all of it.  If I took a bite of her food and said: "Umm...I don't think I can eat this right now."  She never got frustrated or hurt..she would just remind me that she has four children of her own, and I was not out of my mind. :) :)  I don't know what I would have done if God hadn't allowed for us to have that "oasis" while we were getting used to a new country (at least for Amanda) and a new place in life.  Chris and I will forever be grateful!!

But...we have adjusted well to our new place AND we have a vehicle which allows for a little more "freedom."  We even took a trip this week to South Africa for a border run and some MUCH need American food, which came in the form of McDonalds.  I don't think I have ever craved or loved that place more!! :) :)  I was quite the cheap "date" during our little get-a-way...we ate McD's 3 times.  You may think: "A little obsessive!"  Well...this 14 week pregnant gal has been craving it for over 6 weeks it was a little overdue!! :) :)  We had a wonderfully relaxing time there, and we came back refreshed and ready to finish the week.

In a couple of weeks we will head back to South Africa for a trip into Kreuger Park, which is on of the largest game reserves in the world.  So, though we don't have any recent pics, be looking for some in a few weeks.  We will also post some pics of Amanda's growing belly :)  I'm in the stage where you look at me and think: "IS she pregnant or has she just gained alot of weight in her tummy?"  I'm officially "out" of my regular pants, and into the wonderful maternity pants.  Since I'm a little vertically challenged, I'm sure I will be "popping" in a few short months :)  So, as the baby pooch gets bigger, I will fill in everyone on what it looks like. :)

That's all for now...more to come soon!!