The other day I took Calli and Andrew’s dog, Hunwick, for a walk. We went to the golf course and as we walking down the road that leads out of it I noticed Hunwick locked onto to something in the grass and was slowly heading toward it. As I stared in the same direction and thought to myself “hmmm that look a little bit like a snake”. A second later I was quickly pulling the dog back towards me before it reached the head of the maybe snake. And indeed it was a snake.
From my internet research I think it’s a Rhinoceros Horned Viper. (Still need to double check with someone who would know for sure) Venomous, but pretty timid, luckily for us. Keeping a safe distance (and trying to hold back the dog that wanted nothing more than to get the snake) I watched it cross the road and head into the jungle. Pretty cool.
We definitely experienced a lot of new things our first few weeks here…
I’ve found 2 main types of critters that like to call our house home as well… Ants (who I fight tooth and nail to be rid of) and geckos. The geckos I don’t mind so much, but it is quite surprising to grab and broom and find one hiding in it. I do my best to catch them and put them outside, but I think it’s a loosing battle (with both the geckos and the ants…).
We have a bamboo tree right outside of our patio that weaver birds have built nests in. Almost every morning I sit on the patio watching and listening to them.
There’s a beautiful beach called Colas that isn’t too far from our house and isn’t too difficult to get to (i.e. doesn’t require off road driving, that has to wait until we get our own car). The Friday after Teun and I arrived we went there in the late afternoon. As we were walking toward the beach Teun spotted some movement a ways off by the trees…it was a mother and baby elephant!They were headed toward the beach, but soon spotted us and headed back to forest, too bad, but it was a magical moment.
We spent a couple of hours at the beach enjoying the cool breeze and beautiful scenery. It’s truly amazing to have these huge stretches of stunning, white sand beaches all to yourself.
We spotted two more elephants on the drive home.
The first Saturday night we were in Yenzi there was the “Les Bal Des Majestes” where everyone was encouraged to come wearing traditional clothes made in town by a local tailor. At first Teun and weren’t planning on going because we didn’t have any attire, but after meeting Christina at the open water sports day earlier in the day and having her offer to let us borrow a skirt and shirt from her and her husband, we decided it would be a good chance to meet people. So off we went to experience our first Yenzi night out. Christina and Calli had matching dresses made just the day before the event (aren’t they cute?!). Teun (much to my chagrin) even entered us into the competition for king and queen (even though we had no chance of winning, but we did get awarded the “judges prize” because we participated in the event after only 3 days of arriving). It was a fun night and great to see so many nationalities celebrating together. Close to the end of the event the king and queen were crowned and sat on their thrones in front of the whole crowd.
The next week I was invited to picnic lunch on the beach (Colas) with Cali and Michelle and their kids. It was a beautiful day, bright blue skies.
And we can’t forget about all of the elephants!
The first two weeks we were here we saw elephants almost every day! It helped that we were seeking them out 😉 we would take drives in the evening before sunset trying to spot wildlife. Some we saw just across the road from the housing camp, some in tall grass as we drove to or from the beach and some in our own yard!
Elephant family staring suspiciously at me as they decide when to cross the street and wander through Yenzi.
Then there was the afternoon that I received a telephone call from my neighbor that there was an elephant outside. I jumped up from my computer and looked out the window, there was a huge bull elephant 10 feet away, walking toward the bamboo tree!
He spent 10 minutes munching on it while I snapped pictures (from the safety of my house and patio, not that the mosquito netting would stophim) and then he wandered away to find food at other houses. I spotted him again a while later around the corner helping himself to someone garbage.
And I’ve spotted other beautiful creatures just walking around camp.
The birds here are amazing! Usually I’m too slow to get a decent picture, but sometimes I’m lucky.
There are lizards everywhere!
Haven’t seen too many creepy insects (yet), but a few big grasshoppers, butteflies, dragon flies, and a praying mantis.
The jungle is just a few minutes walk from my doorstep (and literally on the doorstep of some of the houses). We’ve seen monkeys several times, but I haven’t been able to get a good picture yet.
One of the, many, things we wanted to do while here in Gabon was to go camping. And we just did our first trip! We went with a group of 9 people (6 adults and 3 children) to Pointe Pedras. A scenic beach right next to the jungle. The ladies went earlier during the day and set up the campsite, the men joined after work. The drive to the campsite is a bit different, first some tarmac, then laterite and finally sand. Going from a plain landscape through dense bushes which try to hide the path going to the beach. Soon after our arrival and some walks on the beach the prep work for dinner started which actually means gathering wood to build a fire for BBQing (and keeping the elephants away). Everyone brought some delicious items which were BBQ’d and accompanied by various salads etc. Then the night falls and a beautiful sky full of stars appeared. Also making it pitch black dark and very difficult to see your surroundings. This is not a bad thing if there weren’t any elephant tracks and manure around us….they are around us and are very difficult to spot but before you know they are right in front of you! Before bedtime we did a little walk on the beach and found fresh hippo tracks but didn’t hear anything. Unfortunately the hippo had set off, probably annoyed about the people sitting around in his spot….. Before we all gracefully retired we put some extra wood on the fire, just to make sure we wouldn’t be surprised by a nightly visit of an elephant which will start shaking the tent, or trampling us. That is the reason we bought a roof tent….
After a hot and some what humid night, resulting in a sweaty night of some sleeping and mostly avoiding touching each other. We don’t need more body heat! The true beauty is when the sun rises and you can hear the monkeys in the trees jumping around with some parrot noises here and there.
We decided to get up early and walk to the lagoon and hope to see a surfing hippo or maybe an elephant. They tend to go out early to avoid the direct sunlight, or for that matter the people trying to spot them…. unfortunately no signs of wildlife at this lagoon. After a delicious breakfast containing fresh coffee, cinnamon rolls and scrambled eggs and some monkey entertainment we decided to walk over to the other side. There was a breakthrough where the river flows into the ocean this provides an interesting interaction between the salt and freshwater and brings in nutrients for the saltwater species. Usually a good fishing spot or an easy way for wildlife to hop between the two. We spotted elephant and hippo tracks, but again the animals were probably hiding in the woods. Unfortunately no wildlife, most likely because of the sun starting to burn quite hot, it is the equator after all. We knew they were around, fresh tracks gave away their presence but didn’t reveal them as the tracks ended in the water where they wandered off…
After the walk we sat down and watched the children play. The little girl in the photo, Liefie started to practice her surfing skills and balance. She must have some Australian bloodlines.
There will always be an end, also for this trip. We packed up the stuff and only needed to take down the swing, which was knotted up to the tree….
On Wednesday the 4th of March we flew an hour south from Libreville down to our new home in Yenzi Camp in Gamba.
We fly over one of the most beautiful national parks in Gabon, Loango national park, on our way down to Gamba. (When it’s a clear enough day) You can see the beautiful coast, lagoons, marshes, and jungles of the national park and the area we’ll be living in from the plane. It’s pretty awesome.
The first view we had of our house was from the plane. Of course at the time we didn’t know which house was ours, but looking back on it we can see in the pictures we took while flying.
We were very lucky that we were able to move into our new home the day we arrived, most people get stuck in a studio or other temporary accommodations when they first arrive because their house isn’t ready yet. There’s a few different types of houses in Yenzi, but we’re in one of the newest built of houses. It’s a 3 bedroom, 2 bath house. Since we don’t have any children we technically should be in a 2 bedroom house, but this was what was available so that’s what they gave us. Although we may end up moving to a two bedroom still.
This is a video I made of our house the day we moved in, so excuse the mess and for filming in the wrong angle 😉 All of the furniture is temporary, provided by the company until our shipping container arrives.