27 July 2009

The Need for Structure

I only have a one-way ticket for Namibia at this point. One might say, "How adventurous! You're just going to show up on the Dark Continent and see what there is to do?"

No. I seem unable to resist the urge to keep planning a bit more about the early stages of my time away from the U.S. Maybe my impression of the program[me]s I'm looking into is wrong. Maybe it's misleading advertising on their part ("Book now, spots go quickly!"). Maybe knowing I need to be in Lima, Peru on December 15 imposes a structural requirement. Regardless, I feel that there are some things I need to solidify now. I guess having a ticket out of Zimbabwe is necessary for the immigration officer I eventually meet to allow me into the country in the first place.

Yes. Zimbabwe. In early October I'll be near Victoria Falls, performing various duties on a Lion Rehabilitation & Conservation Project for about two weeks. Before I get there, I've decided to become a "working guest" (not to be confused with a guest worker) for a couple of weeks in early September at the Harnas Wildlife Foundation, 100km North of Gobabis, in Namibia. Since the whole Africa phase has morphed into a David Dolittle period, I'm thinking of taking a break between Namibia and Zimbabwe in Cape Town for a week to get certified for open water diving. Who knows, maybe one day I'll end up spending five or ten weeks monitoring sea turtles in the Seychelles.

I have managed to convince myself that the Cape Town portion of my southern African travels will be free of planning (outside of the SCUBA class). I'll hopefully be couch surfing in Cape Town, and I look forward to meeting locals rather than staying in hostels or hotels. Hmm... now that I think of it, maybe I'll do Vic Falls right after spending Harnas and then go to Cape Town for, oh, a while.

23 July 2009

Decisions! ... Decisions! ... Decisions!

(...to the tune of Tradition! of course)

It's not entirely clear where one should go when one wants very much to play around with large felines more or less on their terms and do work in a hot climate on animal and nature conservation. Zambia, Zimbabwe, Namibia, South Africa? Although I started off really wanting to take care of lions and work on rehabilitation, breeding, etc. with them, I have grown more and more fond of cheetahs in reading about them and looking at footage of these cats.

"Volunteer" opportunities exist, but duplicates crop up and vary only slightly in cost. Speaking of cost, well, let's say it's not cheap to have an experience of a lifetime. Don't get me wrong, I'm sure there are experiences of a lifetime that cost nothing at all. Just not these. I fully expect the African wildlife portion of the upcoming 9-month journey to be the most expensive. Let's hope that turns out to be the case.

As of now, I'm hoping to start in the western portion of southern Africa and work my way east. Flights to Namibia from Seattle seem to be cheaper than flights to Livinstone, Zambia (or even Lusaka), so the adventure will likely begin (or continue!) there.