A winter sunset near my parents' house in Bavaria. The sun is gone as early as 4pm at this time of the year, making the days quite short, and it is way too warm for snow at the moment, which makes it even darker during the long nights. At least we got to see some blue sky and sunrays today!
Christmas traditionally is a family holiday, and so we left Gaborone to spend some time with my family in Bavaria, and to celebrate my grandmother's birthday. It was great to catch up with everyone, who has travelled from various parts of the world to our hometown, and to eat lots of homemade, delicious food... Hope everyone had a peaceful Christmas!
The sky is on fire. A burning, red evening sky over Gaborone. These days, the light over here is just incredible. The rainy season has started for good and different layers of clouds break the sunrays in various colors, making it most spectacular during dusk, like this flaming red, orange and pink.
After an informal dinner with lots of last-minute strategizing, I returned to the ICC on Friday on what was supposed to be the last day of negotiations. Througout the morning, we camped out in front of the meeting room where Ministers from major countries tried to come up with a deal.
It was a day spent waiting, with rumours flying up and down the corridors, interrupted by the occupy COP17 that happened in the afternoon. I was watching from the gallery when it started and the amount of cameras present was just incredible. After about two hours, the group of protesters were removed, leaving us with more hours waiting, trying to find out what's happening in the Indaba. The plenaries were short and without much news, indicating how difficult the negotiations were at this stage. Around midnight the news were that the stock-taking plenary would not happen until the next morning, so I went back to the hotel eventually after saying goodbye to the amazing Germanwatch team, and leaving for the airport in the morning. Turns out, I didn't miss out on the news while traveling, but was able to follow the final night via twitter and the livestream, before finally, finally, a decision was made. I guess this is as close as you can get to political power play and international climate diplomacy in the 21st century...
Here's a picture of the sun setting over that bridge at the ICC in Durban. COP17 didn't end on Friday night as discussions were still ongoing, and I left way after sunset on what was supposed to be the last evening. In the end, a solution was agreed upon in the early hours of Sunday morning, making this the longest COP ever. For full coverage, see here(in German) and here. (Apologies for the late post, but I had to fix my laptop that had died somewhere on the way in Durban.)
I am still in Durban and running around the ICC, climbing over the bridge, organizing things, attending meetings, and hoping for some successful outcome of the COP17. In all this craziness, I hardly know what the weather is like during the day, and I certainly didn't have time to take any scenic pictures (yet). So here's a photo of the sun setting behind the high-rise buildings in Valparaiso, taken during my trip last year. Enjoy your weekend und den 2. Advent!
A peaceful, quiet evening sky behind the high reed at Gaborone dam. Love the fluffy little clouds up there - these days it's more about big mountains of thundery clouds piling up all over the sky as the rainy season has (finally) started. Happy weekend!
when I left the house this morning I realised I am left with no fuel in my car, no credit on my phone, no cash in my purse, and no way to get money from the bank account. I panicked. then I managed to send "callme" messages from my phone. luckily, a friend came to the rescue and seriously saved my day - thank you! little did I know that even though this crisis was solved, many others would follow.... sometimes I just can't wait for a day to be over.
This past weekend, we went to Botsalano with a group of friends. It was a sort of farewell for dear friends who are leaving Botswana soon, and so everyone joined in for some time in the bush. After setting up the tents,
there was some frisbee action,
a game drive with a tiny little mini giraffe,
and then a rainy Sunday morning breakfast.
With all the heat we had in the past weeks, the rain actually felt really nice, and I am kind of looking forward to some more!
Sunset over the Chobe River during our boat cruise last weekend. It was an incredibly hot day and only started to cool down a little in the evening, so it was great to be on the water and get some breeze on the boat. There were many fires over in Namibia, and a lot of smoke in the air, but the colors of the sky and the reflections on the water were amazing as always.
We visited the CARACAL Biodiversity Centre in Kasane, where they have a variety of snakes, birds and other animals. As the Chobe National Park is so close, many animals do venture outside the park, and snakes in particular like the food options available at the lodges. So whenever a lodge finds a snake on its premises, they bring them to the biodiversity centre. There, visitors and schoolclasses can learn about snakes - which ones are dangerous and which are not. We got to hold a young python, who is actually quite pretty and didn't fell cold at all. However, you could already feel its strong muscles, which they use to kill their prey by constriction and clearly, I am not exactly comfortable holding it.
The other one is a brown house snake, which apparently is the best remedy against rats and frogs around the house, and is completely harmless to humans. It showed us a little trick, making a knot into its body and releasing itself like a true escape artist. Despite this, I am not sure I'd like to have a snake in my house - but it definitely was a very interesting snake session!
This may seem like a quite touristy place, but it is actually very informative and most snakes are released into the wild after a while.
While in Kasane, we went for a boat cruise on the River Chobe and saw plenty of elephants. They say there are about 30.000 elephants in the Chobe National Park and I guess they must be about right. The land is very dry, so they all come down to the river in the afternoon to drink. Some are even brave enough to cross over to Sedudu Island through the water. Below are a few of them, including a striped African elephant and a very cute baby giant.The water is so low at the moment - the big ones can actually walk across!
This little one was maybe a few months old, but following his big mother around just fine and oh so cute....!
Sunset over the Lago Cocibolca on the way back from Isla de Ometepe. I stayed with a friend there last year and we spent a beautiful, quiet weekend on the island under the volcano. During the return trip on the ferry in the late afternoon we watched a spectacular sunset while swaying on the waves. I really liked the atmosphere in Nicaragua, the nature, the beaches and the small-town live.
"Dear valued customer. Please be advised that fuel prices will be adjusted upwards effective 11th November 2011. The adjustment is as follows: petrol 40t per litre, diesel 51t per litre, paraffin 50t per litre." - sms currently circulated regarding increase of fuel prices - I didn't want to buy fuel, but I was stuck near the petrol station on my way home anyway. edit: this is the third time that fuel prices increased in Botswana this year
While some are spending their time searching for elephants in the North, others have to stay at home and work. COP17is just around the corner and things have started to get quite busy.
In the evenings, I'm "working" on something else: the annual craft market is coming up and I will share a stall with friends, where we'll sell some handmade accessories. So overall, I don't really have time to be too jealous of the travellers ( I'll meet them in Kasane for the weekend in a couple of days anyway!)
The nearby Mokolodi Nature Reserve is a great place to take visitors for a first impression of wildlife and bush in Botswana, and we tend to go there every other month. This Saturday, we drove around the lake, saw a waterbuck looking for young leaves, watched a tortoise crossing the road, and came across an ostrich, who was taking a dust bath on the tracks. Then we went up the hill and watched the panoramic views from the top before heading to dinner. As always, it was a nice afternoon there and every time we are amazed how close we are to the wilderness and the bush.
A fiery, red and purple sunset at the Gabs dam. A few days ago I went there for a birthday party and we enjoyed a couple of sundowners in this beautiful evening light. Somehow the colors of the sunset are even more intensive if there's water around, or maybe it was because of the thunderstorm later that night.
I went with some friends to Bahurutshe, a cultural village not too far from Gabs. The place is run by a retired woman, who is committed to keeping the traditional rituals and culture alive. We were greeted by a group of villagers from Mmankgodi and learned about the wedding ceremony, life in the olden days and how to ground millet Setswana-style. It was an interesting experience and a good way to get some more insight into traditional Setswana culture.