Kilimanjaro time-lapse

I’ve had the chance to go out and capture a few time-lapse sequences of Kilimanjaro, usually at sunset, since that’s when it’s most often the clearest. So I put three of them together into a short video.

I’ll also take this opportunity to admit to a secret love of dreamy synth/electronic music – ever since I was a kid in the 80s and early 90s, when synthesizers were making their way into canned elevator music. In fact, I have a very distinct memory of swimming in the pool at my Grandma’s golf club in Arizona and hearing what we then called “New Age” music being piped out of the poolside speakers. I’m sure I had heard that style of music before, but maybe the setting was just right for it to find a place into my heart – bright sun, shimmering desert heat, cool water, navajo flute and electronic drum sequencer… can you blame me?

But I digress. All that is to say that I added some dreamy electronic music under this time-lapse video, and I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

Strange creatures in our backyard

For about a week, we had been hearing squeaks and squawks coming from one of the trees in our backyard. Neither of us could pin down the sound. Maybe a bunch of baby Silvery-cheeked Hornbills? We happen to have between 2 and 5 of the adult version in our yard on any given afternoon, and they make an almost pre-historic squawking sound. But why did they only start up at night? Maybe a large group of baby Bushbaby’s? We have a couple of adult Bushbaby’s that live in the trees in our yard, as well. But if I listened carefully, I could hear wings flapping occasionally. And the strangest thing was that it sounded like there were hundreds of them!

After a few nights of this, we finally adventured out with a strong flashlight, and it took me about 5 seconds to realize it was a colony of fruit bats! There are small fruits on the tree (it’s some kind of indigenous fig tree, i think), which they come to feed on for about 4 or 5 hours right after it gets dark. By midnight, they’re gone.

I spent the rest of the evening observing them from our kitchen window and trying to capture some video of them. The video isn’t the best, but it’ll give you an idea of what I was seeing, and it definitely captured their sounds accurately.

I didn’t realize fruit bats had faces more like dogs. You may disagree with me, but I think they’re kind of cute! Funny, Steve won’t let me keep one as a pet…

Water and gravity

The night before I arrived at RVA, it poured. Five and a half inches (almost 14 cm) in the span of a few hours. Because the campus is sitting on the side of one big hill, and this rainy season has been exceptionally rainy, the circumstances were ripe for the series of landslides that followed. One landslide happened a few miles away, and crushed at least one home, killing three girls from the same family. One landslide blocked the main road leading to Kijabe. And one landslide hit the very edge of the RVA campus, knocking down a corner of the perimeter fence and turning what was once a steep tarmac road into a river of mud and debris. I walked over to see this last landslide and was awe-struck by its power to make a place completely unrecognizable.

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Directly above RVA is the main railroad track connecting Kenya and Uganda. It was completely blocked by the landslide, but also probably helped to curb what could have been worse damage below.
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Note the railroad tracks in the foreground.
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If you look carefully on the hill in the background, you can see the brown trail where the avalanche of mud tore through the forest before it reached the tracks.
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You can be sure the family in this house was extremely grateful that the mud changed its course instead of destroying their home!
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A few curious RVA students came to check out the aftermath.
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What a powerful reminder of our frailty in the face of the unrelenting force of nature. The speaker at RVA’s service that Sunday referenced one of my favorite psalms from the Old Testament as he grappled with the recent events:

God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam
and the mountains quake with their surging.

Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall;
he lifts his voice, the earth melts.
The Lord Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.

Psalm 46:1-3, 6-7

Snow on Kili

Well, rainy season has begun – it usually runs from mid/late-march to around may or june, I think. Along with an incredible green that seems to appear out of nowhere over the course of about 3 days, Kili also becomes covered with a cap of white that makes it all the more stunning when the clouds clear.

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I assumed we wouldn’t see it much during the rainy season, but the weather patterns here often create clear evenings, where the mountain catches the last rays of the sun in a golden flare.

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I captured this one while shooting a time lapse of the mountain, and the glow lasted about 5 minutes in total (which made for less than a second in my timelapse, unfortunately). It was a complete surprise, because I really thought the sun had already finished setting. I’ve seen it happen since, and will definitely try to capture a longer timelapse of it next time!

A couple more shots of Kili from a few days ago. These were taken right outside our compound. Thankfully there is a big field that offers a pretty good view.
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Early morning, around 6:30.

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Later in the afternoon.

How can you not want to climb it after seeing this??

A hike down to Rapid #10

Right after Victoria Falls, the Zambezi River runs through a deep and narrow gorge. Many people go white-water rafting down this gorge, where there are 23 rapids, many of which are class 4 and 5, and a few class 6. (The rafts portage around the class 6 rapids as they are too dangerous.)

On our last full day in Livingstone, we hiked down into the gorge where we were told there was a great swimming hole of sorts right after Rapid #10. Some people from Overland Missions had hiked there before, so they knew where to go and joined us. Rapid #10 is also where some of the rafting expeditions begin, so the path into the gorge has been improved with the construction of wooden ‘ladders’ at the steepest points.

At the top of the gorge
at the top of the gorge

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the swimming hole (lower left) is only accessible during dry season - once the river reaches its maximum level, it covers that entire area

the swimming hole (lower left) is only accessible during dry season – once the river reaches its maximum level, it covers that entire area

Our descent
we begin our descent

Ladder? Stairs? Not really either, or maybe both.

ladder? stairs? not really either, or maybe both.

It was certainly easier than sliding down loose dirt and pebbles…

it was certainly easier than sliding down loose dirt and pebbles...

…but it still wasn’t easy.

... but still a challenge

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Needless to say, our quads were SORE the next day

needless to say, our quads were SORE the next day

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At the bottom.

if you look closely, you can see two from our group in the lower left corner

if you look closely, you can see two from our group in the lower left corner

looking towards rapid #10

looking towards rapid #10

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The swimming hole was green from algae, but as it was surprisingly clear, the group decided it was still swimmable.

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Steve and I found a spot along the river to swim in.

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We startled a really interesting lizard, and Steve managed to get some great closeups of it.

we startled a really interesting lizard, and Steve managed to get some great closeups of it

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Also, for you geology enthusiasts out there, the black rock surrounding the swimming hole held a wealth of geodes.

for you geology nerds out there, this black rock held a wealth of geodes.

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i probably could have spent the entire day admiring their various shapes and sizes.

I probably could have spent the entire day admiring their various shapes and sizes. I was hoping to find one with amethyst crystals in it, since Zambia does mine some amethyst. But I didn’t. Just white quartz, I think.

We started back up not long after lunch, but I only snapped two photos of our ascent. It was too grueling to take more. It didn’t make me feel better that we were quickly passed by two Zambian fishermen, who I’m pretty sure didn’t stop to rest the entire climb. Amazing.

starting the climb back up. i didn't have any energy to take photos of our ascent.

Victoria Falls

On Thursday we went to Victoria Falls. We had originally planned to ride the elephants, so we woke up super early. But when we got to the pick-up point for this activity, we realized it would only be an hour-long ride instead of the anticipated 3-hour ride. So we decided it was too expensive for such a short time and went straight to the falls instead.

Because of this, we got to the falls much earlier than we would ever have done otherwise. But it worked out extremely well because I’m pretty sure right after sunrise is the perfect time to view the falls. I didn’t realize that the rainbow created by the mist moves with the sun, so the angle of the early morning light made for some incredible photos.

my first view of the falls. i will never forget it.

my first view of the falls. i will never forget it.

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Looking down from the top of the Eastern Cataract:

at the top of the Eastern Cataract

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Facing the falls and walking along the Zambian side (only one half of the falls – the other half is in Zimbabwe):

facing the falls

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i loved the constant rain shower created by the mist

i loved the constant rain shower created by the mist

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looking across to the zimbabwe side of victoria falls

looking across to the zimbabwe side of victoria falls

Victoria Falls is one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the world and is three times as high as Niagara Falls. Its average volume is less than that of Niagara and IguaƧu Falls, but that is only because the Zambezi River, which feeds it, is a very seasonal river. At the end of the dry season, around October or November, there is hardly a trickle across the entire mile-wide face of the falls; at the end of the rainy season, around April or May, you can’t even see the face of the falls for the mist created by the huge volume of falling water. We came at a really good time – not too much water, but enough for an incredible experience and some beautiful photos.

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