The Grotto

Bracing myself with arms on the railing of a small tunnel and feet on the far side, I watched a massive wave crash through the entrance sloshing water in our direction. I stood petrified as Lyle, also propped up across the tunnel, was engulfed. It was our own fault for crossing the barrier into the closed section due to the massive storm ravaging the Mediterranean.
Eight days ago Lyle and I arrived in Tel Aviv, 23 hours after leaving home to find Yuval, our Israeli friend and African travel buddy, waiting for us with a smile and a car opening his home to us. We spent a few hours catching up and dining on fine Israeli fare Yuval had prepared for us. Then, as it would for the next week, jet lag took over and we both fell into a coma only to rise well before the sun the following morning. Deciding to risk the road we headed into town to pick up our rental car and spent the remainder of the day wondering around Tel Aviv. Amazingly enough we only lost ourselves once thanks to a friend who warned us that all the signs included an English transliteration but the English translation can, and does, change from street sign to street sign and from map to street sign.

After another comatose night at Yuval's we cruised up north to see some sights. First there was Ceaserea, or as the locals say Qasarea, that was entirely closed except for the ancient theater due to the foul weather (the area was wet and we could fall, therefore it was closed). Next one the agenda was Haifa, a large modern sea port town built into the side of Mt. Carmel. We tried to visit the Baha'i Gardens and again were refused entrance due to the wetness (heaven forbid we slip a little). I was actually quite disappointed because, upon arrival, we discovered that the gardens are extremely beautiful. Further down the road was Akko, a major sea port during the Arab domination of Israel complete with secret tunnels and ancient fortress walls. Then the Grotto on the Lebanon boarder, fantastic caves eroded out of the rock by continuous wave action. Again, we ran into the closed off area due to the storm. This area, however, seemed a bit more understandable as the large waves rushing into the caves sent water splashing through the majority of the tunnel system established for viewing. The sense of danger and excitement had a strong grip on us and we stepped under the rope barrier, in time with the waves, and ran further into the tunnel where we found ourselves sandwiched between to caves both allowing large quantities of water to splash up and walls and into the tunnels. They set up the barriers for visitors to be safe and dry. In the end we where safe. . .

After our treck north along the Mediterranean we navigated east to Mt. Hermon for a snowball fight near the summit then south to the Sea of Galilee and Nazareth. We visited several Biblical cites and waded in the Galilee. One of our favorite adventures was a trek through a national park that followed a stream at the bottom of a canyon. Twice we had to strip down to our skivvies, descend a skinny latter, and swim through a cold pool in order to continue our hike.

Nazareth proved to be our favorite city of the North with colorful market shops, ancient bathhouses, a village reenacting Jesus's time, and churches galore atop the holy sites.

We ended our tourer of the North by heading back to Yuval's for a splendid dinner with him and several of his friend from college. We have found that in all our travels the time we spend with people, with locals is the most rewarding and our time with Yuval has not been an exception.


Off the Road Again

On one of our endless bus journeys in Africa we met an Israeli man who explained to us how he, after months of travel filled with glorious experiences, lost his awe and wonderment at the creation around him. It was then he knew it was time to throw in the towel, head home, and wait for the wonder-lust to rebuild. His words resonate with us now. Maybe we've seen too many wonders, maybe we've been on the road too long, or maybe we know the finish line is within arms reach. Whatever the reason we have lost our wonder-lust and now the mundaneness of regular life like, sleeping in the same bed, brushing our teeth together, and regular access to TP sound exciting.

After exploring Machu Pichu we boarded yet another bus, this one bound for Lima. Twenty-one hours later we stumbled off the prison in search of a home for the night. We quickly found room at the Stop and Drop Hostel and meandered towards the beach. To our chagrin the beach was hundreds of feet below us as we peered over the edge of a rocky cliff. We chose to wander the corridors of the cliff side mall instead of paying the taxi fare over the edge. We headed to the airport, and ultimately Panama City, the next day after whiling away the hours in coffee shops eating churros and playing cards.

With only nine days in Panama we had one goal: get our chill on. The first two days of "chill" were forced on us as we had that all too familiar gurgling down below so we hung around our hostel. With Lyle still feeling a little "unsettled" we boarded our final over night bus bound for the sunny islands of Bocas Del Toro.

Bocas proved to be a beautiful Caribbean beach setting. In our efforts to take it slow we stayed four entire days, our longest in one spot since our safari in Namibia. Our general pattern is to take a very long bus ride to a new place, usually over night, arriving with very swollen feet and bad breath then spend several hours walking around until we find a satisfactory (which means cheap) place to stay which greatly helps the swollen feet. Finally, we spend one to two days max exploring the local attractions in the area before we move on with another long bus ride and repeat. We found four entire days an adjustment but Bocas provided plenty for us to do. We visited several beaches where snorkeling offered a great view of star fish, sting rays, and a plethora of fish. We also went treasure hunting for shells and coral. During one of our snorkeling ventures I found a Queen Conch shell that was not only new, radiating a beautiful color array of white, pink, orange, and yellow from its underside, but still had a creature living inside. My excitement was obvious as I have always wanted to find such a treasure. We also spent several hours walking one island in search of a cave we had heard about from a fellow traveler in Uyuni, Bolivia. We had very little success, although we did eventually find a cave, but not the one we were told about. What we did find in our walks was a sloth with baby clinging tightly to its chest. Lyle even helped free one of its hands that had gotten stuck between some branches. It probably got stuck in its haste to climb the tree upon being scared senseless by our presence, but at least we saved it.

Besides our run-ins with nature we spent a great deal of time relaxing; reading, journaling, sleeping, scratching bug bights and going for swims across the channel just off the dock of our hostel (which we found out is illegal when a local law official waved us into shore near the police station and informed us we had to take a water taxi back to our hostel). Swimming the channel was too dangerous, therefore illegal. We thought about swimming it again in an effort to get our names in the paper, but we figured it wouldn't be big enough news to make it all the way to Anchorage (sorry Jon).

On the morning of day seven we took the same ten hour bus ride, returning to Panama City. The last activity on our list was visiting the Panama Canal. We chose to see the canal by train, traveling the hour from Panama City on the Pacific side to Colon on the Caribbean side. The train ride to Colon was nice, but not as exciting as we had hoped. Colon was a different story however. As soon as we disembarked a very large man, speaking ghetto English to our great surprise, began trying to sell us a day of adventure in Colon lead by yours truly also doubling as our body guard. Although he was entertaining, his price tag was far to high for us and we explained this to him. We only wanted to walk around the town, get some breakfast, see the canal, and take a bus home. He promptly informed us that we couldn't walk around town. "As soon as you leave the train station men will jump out of those building over there and they will cut you for a few dollars and then run back in. It's like a maze in there. The police don't even go in there," he said. I had my suspicion he may have exaggerated just a little to ensure our business but Lyle's research on Colon the night before confirmed the town was "barely under police control during the day and not at all at night". So, still unable to afford the day of adventures, we simply asked for a ride to breakfast, which the big man reluctantly gave us. When we entered the chosen eatery, a simple buffet joint, we found a police officer with a sawed off shot gun with a pistol grip swinging ever so slightly at his side looking ready for instant action guarding the door and then we were convinced this was no place for a couple crackers. We ate breakfast, took a taxi to the bus station and found a bus heading back to Panama City all within an hour. We were back in Panama City by 11 am looking for the next adventure.

With the extra time we visited the Panama Canal museum and watched sailboats and huge freighters pass through one of the locks before returning to our hostel for the night.

We packed our bags for the final time this morning, our eight month trip around the world has come to an end. As I think back on all we have done, seen, and learned I am extremely thankful for this time. It has been a tremendous blessing for Lyle and I. The lessons God has taught me and the moment when I see and feel Him loving and caring for me are numerous and will be continuing to work themselves out in my life for months to come. Traveling is such a gift, we don't want to take it for granted. We have loved every minute of it. But now we are ready to go home, which is another blessing as our flight leaves in four hours! I hope there will be more travels for us in the future but for now we will be happily singing "off the road again, can't wait to get off the road again . . . " changing up Willies tune a little.

"I'm itching myself all over. I feel like a monkey."
Our new Israeli friend


The Big Push

Twenty four hours on the double decker bus with restless leg syndrom and a terrible sugary cookie to nibble on. In South America you´re not supposed to flush TP. Who knew there was a road all the way up to Machu Picchu? Don´t put all your cash in one place. The Salar De Uyuni, Bolivia is the largest salt flat in the world, four times the size of Lake Iliamna, ¨islands¨ in the lake have coral formations covering the rocks and the flats are 11,995 feet above sea level!! I have a bladder the size of a mustard seed.
With a day to kill in Salta, Argentina we decided to obtain our Bolivian visa, a wink and a nod allowed us to recieve them the same day! After wandering the streets and climbing the local statues and sipping sweet drinks in the the town square we made our way to the bus station in the dark to spend our second night on the bus, this time destination Uyuni. We again hit the ground running, sucking the marrow out of the day as I like to say. We found accomodations and then set out to find someone to show us around the joint. By night fall we had a deal secured and we were off after sunrise for a journey into the barren hinterlands of the Salar de Uyuni. These meager pictures have trouble showing the vastness and ruggedness and brutality of these barren wastelands that are so full of gentle life and quick to judge those who don´t take it seriously. Words and pictures barely scratch the surface of the extreams of the place, vast seas of brilliant white salt flats, pink flamigos acting like life is so good at 13,000 feet in orange water with green grass; blue skys; and blistering white salt flats, volcanos jutting up in all directions, islands in the salt flats with ancient coral encrusting the rocks with cactus growing out of them and mini ostretch type birds pecking around miles from the nearest inhabitable land.

After three days of touring, sleeping in hotels made entirely of salt and huddled in a Land Cruiser with six other chaps we were on sensory overload and were almost greatful not to see another mind blowing vista. Fortunately the schedule in the train station didn´t match up with reality in our favor and we had an extra day in Uyuni to digest the previous three. After the burning cold of night set in we huddled in the train station with the other tourist heading down the trail and the locals sleeping on the benches scattered around. As expected the train was an hour or two late and we whiled the time away talking about different trails explored with the other tired travelers.
The train was pleasant and a few hours of sleep were afforded to each of us and soon we were rolling into a town called Oruro where we had the challenge of finding a bus to Copacabana on Lake Titicaca. We quickly found a bus through La Paz, which a local boy kindly sent off in style by peeing on the back tire. Again my expectaions were blown out of the water as we passed the shores of the giant lake. It was even bigger and more beautiful than I had expected with the Andes mountians in the distance and tiny hamlets dotting the shore in cozy hilly niches. Copacabana was an unknown to both Heidi and I and we were taken with the town immediately and decided we could spend more time than we had exploring the place. Sailing was on tap the first day and we used several hours out on the lake figuring out how to run the ship and getting every inch of exposed skin brilliant red despite the layers of sun screen applied. The following day we rented bikes and peddled down the road seeking the floating islands. Heidi´s bike broke on the first hill, half the handlebar ripping off the center post. A little Alaska modification and we were off again albeit a little unstablely. The floating islands turned out to be a tourist trap, literally, they were all trapped there. So we enjoyed the view and the sore bottoms from the hours of riding and headed back to town just in time for yet another bus taking us to Cusco, Peru.

Saving a few bills on a hotel we slept on the bus as we crused towards Cusco in the dark. We woke to giant terraced mountians drifting past our windows and wondered at these people´s tenacity to farm such steep rugged ground. Cusco bustled with activity and all the vendors salivated as we passed their doors baiting us in with the different deals of the hour. Machu Picchu was firmly in mind as we avoided all the touts and found our way out to the small town of Aguas Calientes where we would search for the old city. On the train ride we fell in line with a couple Yanks and ended up staying at the same hostel, enjoying dinner together and exploring the ruins with them. The highlight of the tour was climbing Wynupichu, the mountian on the far side of the city, and immagining how they built the lower city let alone the terraces and watch towers on this far spire. Simply amazing in scope and detail of the craftsmanship and location of the whole place.
Sensory overload set in long ago and I am struggling to take in yet one more incredable and unfathomable sight. In all our wanderings and traveling people ask us over and over what our favorites are and again and again we come back to people. Relationships are what make this whole deal worth it, they are the only things that will last. Heidi and I think back over the months and so many people come to mind, Mona, Muhamad and Mason in Egypt, Dave, Karen and the gang in Burma, Dave and Mark in Mexico, Yuval in Malawi, so many strangers we call freinds. Why has God allowed us this opportunity to go and to see. A vast majority of the people we meet could never and will never have this opportunity and yet we do. A verse Heidi and I repeat over and over ¨to whom much is given, much is required¨.
¨Dont buy any sunglasses within 150 mills of the ground, in La Paz I saw too many dogs cocking their leg towards them.¨

Peter the Kewi


Swollen Posterior

Our computer is checking out, check back for pics, sorry.

Armed with our backpacks and a wad of local bills we headed out into the jungle seeking adventure. It wasn´t long before we were fishing for peranas and stringing up our hamocks for the night. After a restfull slumber in the swing my itching backside roused me from the dark side and into the light. It was a bum full of bites (incidentially only the left side) not to mention my back, one or two on each finger, my elbows suffered the same fate, it was grand. Six days later and my back side still yearns for a good scratch but to no avail, it is insatiable, the bugs have won this battle.

Heidi and I landed in Manaus in the Amazon startled at the amount of concrete stranded in the jungle. Accesable mainly by boat and plane the explosion of a city hemmed in only by the water itself barely holding back the burgeoning metropolis, docks and boats spilling out from every inch of shore line and buildings claiming endless acres of virgin forest. Fortunately for us a pleasantly long boat ride stole us away from the ruccus and lights of a restless city to the apparent tranquility of Amazonia. We found a local boy to show us the ropes and in three days time he turned us raw Alaska kids into jungle rats. After his school of jungle medicine, gator snatching and snake charming along with erecting an efficient shelter in 37 seconds flat we fealt ready to shed the trappings of normal life and try our hand on the other side. . . but alas it was time to return to the city, I guess it just wasn´t our shot.

With a day to kill in Manaus waiting for our flight, Heidi and I set out with our rafts to ply the waters of the mighty Amazon, to find the very birth place of that goliath river. The Negro River runs black with the acids of decaying leaves and debris tumbeling downstream and the Solimoes River is tinted white with silt and clear water running off the Andes mountians far to the West. The point where they meet just below Manaus, the meeting of the waters as it were, there is a veritable line in the sand, a very distinct diliniation where the rivers greet each other and not for another fifty miles down stream do the waters fully integrate into each other morphing into a milky brown color. It was this line, this meeting point, that we sought. Setting out from the shore in a light headwind feeling strong we urgently paddled for the middle. After being pummled by the wind we pressed on and a full two hours later we revled in our presence floating above this line, albeit uncerimoniously and a little anticlimatic. Thankful for even the diminishing breeze at our backs we paddled on for the shore that we had left hours before. As expected the wind shifted before too much progress was made and we fealt a strong cross wind pushing us downstream. By the time we fought our way to a decent take out point we were thankful to be free of the wind and water and the sore bottoms that the boats were forcing apon us. We did not feel victory over the mighty river but it had not beaten us either.

A red eye flight wisked us back to Sao Paulo and shortly after an over night bus helped us on our way to Iguazu Falls. Wandering the streets at six in the morning we settled on a quaint little joint and promptly fell asleep. Not wishing to waist the day we soon ran off to visit the Brazilian side of the rushing waters and Heidi and I both came away in awe of Gods creation and the amazing beauty He has made! The following day Argentina side fealt our presence as we wistled our way around the grandure of the Big Water, as the natives call it. Not to be missed was the boat trip to the very base of the falls and a little pummeling by the falling water. On one of the train rides in the Iguazu park we fell in step with a New Yorker and enjoyed the evening with her learning about her life and sharing a great Argentinian steak only to find out that the last bus to Brazil left an hour and a half before dinner was over. Most of our belongings in Brazil and us trapped in Argentina didn´t feel so good, fortunately a cheeper than expected taxi ride brought us home safe and sound.

So this brings us to today, this morning we fought our way into Argentina to purchase a birth on a bus heading for Salta, Argentina and the adventures we may find on the altiplano of central South America.

Deep in the Amazon jungle
¨This is just like Disney Land only real!!!¨


Bushman Talk

Bummer no pictures!!

So Heidi and I play this game "slug bug" but when we came to Brazil there were three VW buses on every street and my arm was getting sore so we decided to change the rules up a bit. Instead of punches we throw smooches. We spend quite a bit more time making out on the street than we ever have before, I think its been good for our marriage, you should try it.

After a week of hanging with Mom and Dad Wilder and Nathan Robertson in Namibia, Heidi and I said our last goodbys and beet feet for Cape Town. After a breakdown on the bus we rolled into Cape Town late and roamed the streets avoiding the hippies and weirdos with our new Isreali friends and found a bunk bed for the next few nights. We soon decided on a plan for our stay which included a vehicle, duct tape, a large roll of TP and water guns but we couldn't find a car so instead we went swimming with the great whites, cage match, as I like to call it. What happens is they put one person in a cage with a shark and the one who comes out in one piece wins. Heidi and I are still in one piece (in actuality they put just the people in a cage for the sharks protection).

Any trip to Cape Town would be incomplete without a hike up Table Moutian so we made the trek on the morning of our departure for Johannesberg. The slight breeze and warm temps in town didn't give us any warnings of the gale force winds of the antarctic express chilling the mountian top. A half hour on top is all we could muster and down we trotted back to our hotel and in Lyle and Heidi costomary fashion we ended up running for our bus. It was firing up the engine as we pulled in.

We didn't leave any love in Jo'berg. The concrete jungle held nothing but our limp sleeping carcases for a little slumber and then strait to the airport for us. As we tried to send packages home we found ourselves running for the ticket counter again clearing the wire by mear moments. It seems the story of our trip, running the last few days or moments in a country or city only to just barely miss or make the time line. We are just savoring the moment, sucking the marrow out of the days, thats all.

A short hop over the pond landed us in Sao Paulo, Brazil and all the passengers clapped as the wheels touched down, curious, no one ever does that for me . . . were these folks not really sure if we would make it? After a few nice locals in broken english and both of our words in Portugese, a bus, three trains, and a longer walk than necisarry we entered Lime Time hostel for a few blissful nights, in the dorm. Soa Paulo is a city by all measures and we are ready to leave. We prefer the real jungle. Amazon river here we come. Tomorrow we go to Manaus for a walk about.

After spending time with the family in Namibia we had a bit of a reality check and real life hit us in the face for just a moment. We contemplated returning to real life were we don't get to spend all our time together and we need to make money instead of just spending it. Its a weird thing, we're going to try and forget about it until we are forced to remember.


Kudu!?! Where!?!

When I was younger my brother and I would spend hours talking about hunting, drooling over pictures of trophy animals, and sighing with resignation knowing these animals where just out of reach. We were wrong though!
Lyle and I spent three peaceful days in Nkhata Bay, Malawi enjoying the enourmous lake, the slow pace of life in a quiant little town, and the inexpensive dining. We were surrounded by Cichlids (a type of small colorful fish - for those of you like me) on a diving expedition and these same Cichlids can be purchased in the States for outrageous prices. We dremt of catching a few and selling them on e-bay to help fund our trip but figured they wouldn't last in the mail. We also observed fish that swim upside down there entire life, eating algea off the undersides of rocks. Amazing, God's creation is amazing!!
On Sunday, just before leaving Nhkata Bay we went to a local church which involved walking "down town" until we found someone dressed in their goin to meetin duds and following them. We ended up in a Christian church, right faith, wrong language. A helpful young man came and sat next to us, translating the entire sermon. After the service the Pastor and his wife invited us to their house for a visit, drinks, and lunch!! The afternoon was a precious gift, Lyle and I were again able to connect with local people, not of our own effort but God's. I felt just like the Israelites when God chose them and picked them out of all the nations to be His people. We were walking around looking for breakfast when God placed just the right person for us to follow in front of us and the rest of the day He planned for us, a day that focused on Him, His people, and forming relationship. That Sunday I felt like God said, "This day is for Me and I will pick you up out of all worldly distractions and keep you focused on Me." What can you say to that except "Ok, God"!!!

After our rest in Nkhata Bay we headed for Victoria Falls via bus; one full day to Lilongwe, Malawi, one full day to Lusaka, Zambia, and one full day to Livingstone, Zambia and we were there.

Our time in Livingstone was filled with beautiful scenes, hair raising adventures, and lots of water. The shear power and majesty of Victoria falls left us breathless and soaked to the bone. We peddled our bikes in the pouring rain; we learned how to play a Swiss game; we had breakfast on Livingstone Island on the very edge of the falls; we jump off a 111 meter high bridge; and we floated the Zambezi in our rafts gliding by Hippos and Elephants! Our time soon ran out and we headed to Windhoek, Namibia where those animals I thought out of reach suddenly and majestically came within our grasp. Lyle had secretly planned a hunting safari for me in Namibia. Nathan, my hunting partner of old, and Mom and Dad Wilder had made plans to join us. We picked Nathan up first and, with the excitement of seeing family for the first time in six months, I could hardly take it waiting for him to emerge from customs! We rented a car and spent two days exploring the Namib Desert. Nathan kept exclaiming, "Wow, I'm in Africa", it was great to share his enthusiasm. We picked up Mom and Dad Wilder after our frolic in the desert and headed out to the Eland Pro Safaris Ranch.
The hunt started out slow, leaving us with no animals after the first day and a half. But we were hunting Africa, seeing animals I'd only seen in books or wildlife shows. So, no one cared. . . to much. We just enjoyed catching up with each other and sharing experiences. Then things started to heat up. Mom Wilder was the first of us to get her animal. She had never killed a big game animal and she hadn't shot a rifle in 30 years, but she hit the bulls eye with her practice shots and soon took pictures with her trophy. I couldn't have been more proud of her. Nice work Mom!! Lyle was next, then Nathan. We all started coming back to the ranch house with big smiles and lots of whistles and whoops, except me.
The African wild life successfully evaded me for three and a half days of our four day hunt. Then it all came together after Lyle said, "go ahead, shoot it". It was a black wildebeest, an animal I had not drempt of hunting, it was the last day of the hunt and it was a huge old male so I bagged that sucker!
After taking care of the wildebeest Nathan and I headed out with our guide for one more try at the elusive Kudu, the animal I really desired, the animal that had been running through my dreams all week. We headed to a popular Kudu watering hole hoping for the best. What followed could take me an entire entry to describe with all the details and exhilarating emotion. Suffice it to say a beautiful, majestic Kudu bull stepped out into the opening around the watering hole with a commanding air and sense of superiority that reminded me of Bambie's dad. . . then I shot him. I though I would never be able to hunt African animals in Africa. I had come to peace with the fact that I would not go home with a Kudu, but my dreams came true and I was able to hunt with Nathan, Lyle, and Mom Wilder who took their own trophies and make precious memories with family. How spoiled, how blessed am I? I deserve none of this yet God pours out His blessing on me, allowing me to fulfilling my dreams and goals. How great He is!

"There is sand in all my crevices"



It Was The Salad

Sometimes fiction is stranger than truth, but I still think it was the salad. Remind me to tell you about the safari and the last drive out of the park.
As you can see we made a connecting flight into Kenya, although a day late and a lighter wallet to show for it. We hemmed and hawed at the price of hotels and ended up sleeping in our new friend Mason's apartment that we had spent the last few days looking for. It was another late night discussing if humans are basically good or not, his hot date with a local girl the next day, ultimate truth, and any other topic that came up.
Kenya caught our attention right off and we enjoyed the greener pastures. The persistent touts finally broke down my walls and we gave in to a taxi ride from the airport. It was strait to Africa Inland Mission base for us as we tried to connect with friends as we had done a poor job of announcing our arrival. Of course all of my college friends were out and we headed to the youth hostel to sleep off the restless flight. Three days later after fantastic evenings with friends we got the inside scoop on a safari headed to Amboseli National Park where the elephants and zebras roam. We made the trip with two brilliant British folks and thoroughly enjoyed their company and accent! It almost doesn't matter what they say, their accent is so mesmerizing. It was two days in the park for us and from the time we entered it was just like the films, animals everywhere, we were amazed at the sheer numbers of different animals we saw and so close we could almost taste them. Heidi was envisioning hunting every one I just know. We were able to see a lion, buffalo, zebras, hyenas, impala, gazelle, elephants, warthogs, wildebeests, fox type animals, countless birds, and I'm forgetting some I'm sure. The accommodations were fantastic including all our meals and even turn down service on our bed!
After a superb evening in the hotel we made a late breakfast and headed out on our last game drive on the way out. As we were well away from the hotel I felt that blurp in my stomach, you know the one, so I decided to move to the back of the open bus and let the little gas bubble be free. The only problem with the idea was that the salad the night before had done some magic on my insides and they had turned to jello and well I think you get the picture . . . We made full speed back to the hotel where I promptly changed my shorts.
So with that behind us we walked across the border to Tanzania and hop, skipped, and jumped our way to the far side of the mountain. Kili dashed our hopes this time not by its height but by the size of the price tag to walk its slopes. The park fees killed us and we decided to trod a different path and made our way to Zanzibar for a couple days of fun in the sun. In my own naive way the heat at the equator surprised me and the lack of electricity didn't allow us to be cool. One night was enough. After waking buring the night in a pool of our own sweat we decided to move on to higher and cooler ground. A boat and a train took us to the south of Tanzania where we climbed on the mountain near Mbeya then headed south here to Malawi. We have found a place to rest here on the shores of the mighty Lake Malawi after two days of fighting our way to this ground.
So here we sit and soak in the sun and tranquility of this place and wake to the sound of the fishermen paddling their dugouts home from their labor at three in the morning shouting their catch. Rousing to the sound of singing in the town and washing on the rock below our love shack. Its nice here, I think we'll stay for a while.
"Oh no!" I whispered "I just pooped my pants" with that distraught look on my face and her trying to hide behind a hand as she giggled.
Lyle Wilder


elEven minutEs

We headed for the airport with five hours to spare and chilled in the lobby of the airport with our new Egyptian friends for an hour. We were eleven minutes late checking in for our flight to Nairobi and the ticket counter lady was stone walling us.
Initially, I believed that after serving others in the jungle and helping different organizations the time here in Africa might be less gratifying. Over the past week we have had numerous gratifying and meaningful interactions with the Egyptians and tourists alike in this country! Heidi and I have been blown away with the opportunities to share ourselves and our thoughts with people, at the same time receiving more than we could possibly give. In Aswan my huge obnoxious beard brought about an interesting conversation with a devout Muslim man and two days of apartment hunting with our brilliant friend Mason brought about several late nights discussing everything under the sun. We have been blessed and challenged beyond our expectations!

We decided to join the herds of tourists enjoying the Nile valley from the deck of a boat and so we boarded the vessel "The King Of The Nile" to travel up stream to Aswan. Three days of sheer bliss is actually much too generous but we soaked in the flavor of the valley and watched life pass by on the banks of the river that breathes life into this land. Having a place to store our gear for three days and meeting fellow adventurers and "soft" tourist was well worth the price and Aswan greeted us with open hands (asking for "baksheesh",tips, often : ) Two of our favorite days passed in Aswan starting with an idyllic feluca (sailboat) ride preceded by fierce haggling over the price. We asked them to take us across the river to a beautiful sand dune that we wished to jump down and it was all that we hoped for!

After playing with some kids in a Nubian village we sacked out for the night and slept fitfully for three hours until we were startled from our slumber by a knock at the door alerting us that our bus was about to leave for Abu Simbel, a famous ancient Egyptian temple. After three hours on the bus down to Lake Nasser we rubbed the sleep from our eyes and peared at the towering colossi of Ramses II. Two hours later we were herded back onto the bus for the long ride back. Still attempting to be the non-typical travelers we left the tour near the Aswan High Dam to float the Nile back to town. With five hours until our train was to take us to Cairo we plied the waters and pointed our bow down stream. Local feluca drivers exhibited the gamut of emotions, from cheering us on to one man trying to run me down, with two hours to spare we landed in Aswan and proceeded to prepare to leave. After a comical dinner party with fascinating fellow travelers Heidi and I ended up running down the platform to catch our train just in the nick of time.
After boarding the train we ended up sitting in the wrong seats on the train and had the greatest conversation and eventually two days with a local Egyptian woman named Monna! She literally took us under her wing and answered all of our ignorant questions about her culture, country, and politics and many other things besides. She treated us to lunch and an evening of conversation with her and her friend Muhamad. Her great sense of humor and intelligence won us over. We learned so much about her in such a short time and treated us like a true friend, thank you Monna!

So yes, we missed our flight by eleven minutes and now we are stuck in Cairo.
I think when we get to heaven God will say to Dave "Well done, you have used up the earth I gave you, you have gone and done as much as you possibly could!"

Karen Eubank


Camel Spit

Armed with a very little knowledge from late nights in the book stores reading guide books and not wanting to waist a single day, we hatched a plan to go into the heart of the tourist trade and visit the massive towering pyramids. We knew enough not to trust all the crowds of Egyptians trying to sell us a ride on their donkey or the folks trying to usher us into their shop, but we were duped before we even arrived at the pyramids. Being the thrifty traveler we rode the subway most of the way then a cheap group taxi and that is where we were taken. He befriended us on the way and ushered us in the ally way only to empty our pockets with sweet tea and cheap talk. We did ride a camel and a tired old horse through the blowing sands and thoroughly enjoyed our whole experience except for that sick feeling in my gut at paying double for a our excursion.
There are four pairs of underwear on this manikin . . .
Our time in Thailand wrapped up with only a few loose ends that Heidi and I had to pass off to other people taking our place. After only a week of traveling and seeing the sights we realize how much more rewarding working with a group like the Free Burma Rangers is. Their mission and values are easy to take on as our own! Heidi and I felt such a connection with our new friends at FBR and we are thankful to be involved with such a needed organization. We believe it was a total God thing for us to be there when we were and to do the things we did.

After chasing our tails with the Brazilian Embassy we finally freed ourselves of their grasp and abandoned the big city, Cairo. We took an over night train "saving money on a hotel" but believe me that plan did not pan out as the bus careened through mountain passes and over giant pot holes tossing us to the ceiling. We did enjoy a pleasant day in the tourist trap of a city called Hurghada. After surveying the property we promptly donned our swimsuits and swam out to an old boat that had sunk in a storm, then over to the adjacent property and snuck through the gate. I gave Heidi her first windsurfing lesson in the light breeze off the Red Sea. The kiddie water slide was fun then we retired and nursed our sunburned bodies in our hotel room. The next morning we made our way into town and caught the first bus out of that town for Luxor.

At this moment Heidi and I are exhausted after a tiring day of driving our bicycles all over Luxor exploring the valley of the Kings and other nearby sights. Over the loudspeaker the Muslim call to prayer is lilting through the air adding a surreal feeling to the hot evening sun peeking through the cracks in the un-finished, semi-covered roof we are sitting on. All this after a fitful nights sleep on this same roof of our hostel listening to the sounds of a city like a child that will not close its eyes to rest. Thankfully Heidi has seemed to recover fully from her duel with the little malaria bugs. We must be careful as sometimes those little creatures hide in the liver and make a nasty come back down the road a piece.

"Cheap rubbish for sale" he said with a smile "why should I lie!"
Bazaar shop owner in Luxor


Poke Me, Prod Me

Yesterday Heidi and I experienced the Thai health care system. We were very pleased with the whole experience and we heard today on the final results from the tests. We know for sure it is not twins!!

These few weeks we have been out of the jungle have been punctuated by huge transition for Heidi and I. It is interesting to say the least to go from the jungle where at most moments we are within easy striking distance of the bad guys and many of the people have fled within the past month or year. There we were sleeping on the floor, eating much the same thing every day, walking anywhere and everywhere you needed to go. Maybe living simply is the best description, the only concern is where the bad guys are, how to help the good guys, food, shelter, and a bath now and then, that is all. The contrast to here in the city is so vast, we have not a drop of fear in our veins, all of our needs and many of our desires are easily met, a warm comfy bed waits for us and a hot shower. The deadliest issue around is driving the streets and those pesky mosquito's buzzing around. If you walk through the markets there is more food and trinkets and JUNK than I ever knew existed. Heidi and I have asked ourselves over and over why we are the ones that come and go so easily and in reality have this seemingly perfect life. We keep repeating the truth to each other "to whom much is given much is required and we try to do more and give more, and ask God to show us how to do it better.
Through our time in the jungle both Heidi and I waited eagerly for the day when we would see an elephant. There were numerous signs of their presence but all we managed to see were their mountainous piles of poo and the gigantic foot prints they left behind. In order to satiate our desire for the mighty elephant this past Saturday we joined the other tourists and went for a ride on one of the beasts. The crazy tourist type folks we met and the giant animal between our legs made for a great day and a fun adventure.

As for the hospital visit Heidis test came back negative for Malaria, Typhus and Dengue Fever (sorry no baby either) : ). Praise God we are in a place where we have doctor friends who speak English and deal with these problems every day. The Malaria is a tricky one and several varieties do not show up on the tests so at this point we have not ruled it out. Heidi feels fine today but yesterday she felt quite ill. Please pray for her health and a fast recovery!
My beard is getting obnoxious and hot and not fun. Heidi is getting board of the three shirts she has (especially now that I have washed them with my clothes and marred their brilliant colors). We lost over ten pounds each in the jungle but the ice cream twice a day hasn't helped keep it that way. Thai parking tickets are 12 dollars, don't be alarmed if they keep your drivers license until you pay.
From what I can tell people are getting decapitated all the time in here but the Saints have never been in the Super Bowl, I gotta go!