Friday, April 11, 2014

Harare in the beautiful bloom of the Jacarandas

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Soon the first blossoms begin to appear

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some where in the Fourth Street* though it's not really clear

(*this photograph is actually Prince Edward St--not too far from Harare's Fourth St.--at sunrise.)

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Then tree after tree in the Avenues so neat

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Burst into flower in the hot October heat....

(This is the Avenues in Harare, Colquhoun St to be exact.)

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...Purple blossoms flutter in glorious array
on the corner close by bunches of colourful flowers...
a sight to remember for everywhere
purple Jacarandas coloured the Summer air.

(Every summer, Harare bursts into a symphony of Jacaranda trees. Absolutely beautiful.
This is also the Avenues area of Harare.)

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Tree after tree in the avenue and street
show their deepest purple where white clouds and blossoms meet

(This is Lomagundi Rd. in the Avondale neighborhood.)

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The purple blossoms with flats and houses blend
a feast of beauty so colourful and rare
filled with wonder at the City so fair.

(The Avenues neighborhood.)

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A high wind and a shower of rain
produce a purple carpet once again
as the blossoms fall to clothe the damp earth...

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Oh lovers of beauty raise up your banners
in tribute to the City's early planners
for to them and to nature we are ever in debt
for as magnificent a picture as the gods ever set.

Like the poetry?
It's from a poem called Jacaranda Time by Robert Cornell
written specifically about Harare's Jacaranda trees. The full poem can be found here.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

The most amazing animal you've never heard of--the pangolin!!

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Meet Marimba, the Pangolin!

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What on earth is a pangolin you ask?
Why the most adorable and amazing animal you've probably never heard of.

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When someone first mentioned the pangolin and its rarity--it's rapidly disappeared in its home in tropical Asia and Africa--
I honestly thought they either couldn't pronounce penguin or were playing a strange practical joke.
(Random fact for you: their tongues are longer than their bodies!!)

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Then I met this lovely lady...and fell in love. Pangolins are amazing and so cool!

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Beautiful isn't she?
Her scales are keratin--the same material that people have horrendously hunted rhinos for--and is the only known mammal with this adaption.
Pangolin comes from the Malay word meaning "something that rolls up."

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They walk on only their hind legs, holding their front legs (arms?) to their chest.
It was so intriguing to watch, just mezmorizing.

Check out how they balance and walk here:

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Unfortunately pangolins have largely disappeared because the Chinese believe their scales have medicinal qualities which has resulted in poaching similar to
 rhino horn poaching and their meat is considered a delicacy.

They classified as an endangered species. There is an international ban on their trade.

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Isn't Marimba a beauty and just so interesting? 
Wild is Life is trying hard to do its part and save the few pangolins left in Zimbabwe.
In fact, legally, the president of Zimbabwe owns every pangolin in Zimbabwe and regularly receives reports on their health to help combat their trafficking. The man holding her? He's her handler who is with her every day to ensure no one poaches her.

For more information on pangolins, here's their wikipedia page.

Check out some fun facts about pangolins here!

CNN recently wrote an article on them: "The most trafficked mammal you've never heard of"
(From the article: a pangolin--a rare, scale-covered mammal, about the size of a house cat, that's so bizarre it almost forces your brain to flip through a Rolodex of more-familiar images. It could be described as a walking pine cone or an artichoke with legs- a tiny dinosaur or friendly crocodile. The pangolin possesses none of the cachet of better-known animals that are hot on the international black market. It lacks the tiger's grace, the rhino's brute strength. If they pangolin went to high school, it would be the drama geek--elusive, nocturnal, rarely appreciated, and barely understood. When it's frightened, it actually curls up into a roly-poly ball. The pangolin could go extinct before most people realize it exists. Or, more to the point: it could go extinct because of that."

Spread the news about pangolins--let's make sure everyone knows about how awesome they are!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

The Signs of Zimbabwe (the southern Africa Edition)

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One of Africa's most amusing and endearing features?  Its (creative) signs!
Like this one from Boulders, South Africa--I had no idea penguins bite and I admit it sent me into giggles.
(Check out the penguins here.  Be ready for an avalanche of ridiculous adorableness.)
(For the Senegal/West Africa edition of creative signs: go here!)

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All over Zimbabwe are animal crossing signs (elephants, wild dogs, cattle...).

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I was so shocked to see the actual animal being warned about near the sign!

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Nothing like an (inappropriate) pun to sell some eggs in downtown Harare.

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Mana Pools National Park, Zimbabwe -- I think it should more correctly warn you that the deadly hazards are lions, elephants, etc...

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The ex-pat in me found this one particularly amusing in a very junior high type of reaction.

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Cape Town, South Africa -- totally made my morning when I drove past it.
Nothing like a Chuck Norris reference to make you chuckle.

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Well, well, Gaborone, this is a bit risqué! Apparently Botswana has a certain type of humor. 

Nandos, the South African chicken food chain, has a history of pushing boundaries in its advertising.
It aired a commercial called "Last Dictator Standing" (see video below)
that was never aired in Zimbabwe after Nandos workers in Zimbabwe began receiving death threats.

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During Zimbabwe's presidential elections, I thought this was one of the more clever ads.
It shows the leaders of the MDC-T opposition party examining the election manifesto of ZANU-PF, the ruling party of Robert Mugabe.

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Approximately 30 feet away from this sign was an entire braiding extravaganza in Gaborone with approximately 20 woman getting their hair done.

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