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Saturday, November 10, 2012

MY VISIT TO ROCKTAIL BEACH

Parent Visit to Rocktail Beach


Greetings all.  I just got back from seeing the girls from Africa and as one of the first parents back, I wanted to give a quick summary of our time their, how the girls are doing and share some of what will be many photos and stories to come as the other parents come back and post too.

Of course it was great to see my daughter Francesca, it’s been too long and being able to see her there in Africa, hug her like crazy will be a moment I will always remember.  So how are they all doing?  Incredible is the word I would use. This is a group of wonderful young ladies.  A really close knit, powerful and wonderful team.  All of them were happy, thrilled to be at the lodge we all stayed at and shining from the fresh and appreciated showers and accommodations a nice reprise and upgrade from the camping, hostels and lesser luxuries they all experienced in Zambia and Mozambique. 

The days at Rocktail were full with activities and very well organized.  The facilities, tour guides and company was more than expected.  Over the course of the five days we got a taste of just about everything.  The girls even continued with class work during that time and the parents all got to participate as well.   All the girls had presentations during the four days to the parents and shared some of the work and concepts they were working on from science and literature classes they were taking.   The teachers and staff were all great as well.  It was nice to be able to meet and talk to each of them. 

In terms of activities we went whale watching and saw several hump backs on the way down the coast with several young ones in tow.  We also saw some amazing breaches as well.  It was almost as if the whales were putting on a show for us that day!  We stopped at a nearby reef to do some snorkeling in very clear water.  Afterwards we all had a wonderful picnic at the beach.  In the afternoon we got a taste of scuba.  Some of the girls were already certified.  For those of us new to the sport, their was a discover scuba class and ocean dive provided which allowed me and others a chance to try it out.  It was totally unexpected on this trip but a wonderful bonus and chance for most of us to get a real taste of scuba and the incredible views at a nearby reef.  I’ve always wanted to try and after this experience will certainly be getting certified to do this again with Francesca in the future.

In the evenings after dinner, we all had a chance to join the research efforts along the coast and join in the shifts up and down the coast looking for, monitoring and tracking both Leatherback and Loggerhead turtles. I’ve included a few photos of the turtles we got to see laying their eggs.  A really special and unique experience everyone really enjoyed.

On our last full day we all rode along dirt roads to a nearby Zulu village.  We stopped at a school along the way were the group was able to meet with the teachers and children.  The girls had an assignment where they shared certain prepared exercises to teach the kids principles on water and cleaning as part of a joint effort TTS has with an organization call Project WET.  We also go to join in some singing and playing with several of the classes.  We then visited a local clinic, enjoyed a lunch at a nearby traditional community gathering area and finished up at a local community center put together by a wonderful man Eugene.  He built the area for the kids of the village including a petting/observation area to learn about farm animals, a community hall and a dance area where we were all treated to a very special show of local dance by several of the students who had just got out of school.

On the final day as we call headed out of Rocktail, we got a chance to meet up with and see the girls’ Overland vehicle, their driver and cook.  “Big Blue” as they call it!  It was interesting to see the girls get so excited about rejoining their big bus that has carried them through so much of their journey.  It was like they were all coming home!  After giving the parents a quick tour of their bus and some final pictures, we all had our goodbye hugs, kisses and handshakes. 

It’s hard to summarize into a few words and pictures just how wonderful the trip really was.  For those parents who were not able to go on this trip, I want you all to know just how wonderful it was to meet your daughters and also let you know just how well all the girls are doing.  Like many of you, I have been worried and wondering just how my daughter has really been doing.  The calls and limited access made it hard to feel comfortable at times with Francesca being so far away.  After the trip and seeing her, getting the time to really catch up and talk to her and all the girls together, it was wonderful to see how happy, energized and really great they are all doing.  They do work hard and are challenged every day, but they are learning so much, have a great team around them and are truly in a special place.  I feel much more comfortable about the experience and glad to see everyone doing so well.  This is really a special group of young women and I am so glad to see them doing so well and really proud of my daughter and all of them for how well they have done.

I’ve attached a few photos of the trip and girls.  Many more to come soon.  Its was great to meet all of you who were there and will always be a trip I remember.

Warmest,

John C.




















3 comments:

Jeff said...

John C - thank you for the update and pics. Jeff K

jennifer royall said...

John -- what beautiful photos! Sounds like you had a blast. I'm so glad you were able to join the group and really appreciate you sharing your thoughts and photos!! You all were certainly lucky with the whales and leatherback sightings. WOW.
Jennifer

Kim LaMarre said...

Great update, John. We really appreciate a parent's perspective, and the pictures of course!