Captain’s Log- 17 September 2014-News Flash-the Bush Pilots Wife

Cher with the dogs the day before her accident.

Cher with the dogs in the hammock the day before her accident.

Man, so much has happened since I wrote it is mind-boggling. One of the big things is that we have moved to a lovely mission station outside of Bunia called Nyankunde. It is a great pleasure to have a more rural lifestyle and have birds in the garden again. There was an Africa palm civet in the tree the other day and some guys brought a crocodile to sell me for fresh meat. It was still alive and very different than the Nile Crocodiles I had so much fun catching for many years. It was probably an African Dwarf Crocodile and I am kicking myself for not getting a picture of it. It was very dark, the whole belly being black. It’s teeth seemed smaller and there were a couple of spikey things behind its neck. It was a bit over a meter long. The guys were very afraid of it but I got it out to hold and examine. It was a female and very lovely. But they thought since I was a muzungu that I had unlimited funds and was stupid, so would pay $300 for it. I don’t and I am not, so it didn’t say with me. Sadly, it will probably be someone’s food for about $15-20.

New home in Nyankunde.  Love the place.  It fits us perfectly.

Cher has made our new house into a home in Nyankunde. We love the place and are so thankful to Dave Jacobsson and his crew of wonderful workers for the labor of love put into this house for us.  It fits us perfectly.

With our team before we got on the plane to go to Nairobi for an operation.  They were so great and helpful.

Cher and I are in the back of the Land Cruiser with our team all around praying for us and reading scripture over us before we got on the plane to medivac Cher to Nairobi for an operation. They were so great and helpful.

Another thing is that as we have moved, we are still unpacking and there is clutter around. Cher, my lovely bush-pilot’s wife, tripped and slipped and did the splits onto a cement floor and tore something in her leg. The doctors at the station hospital were very helpful but are more general surgeons and they admitted they were not orthopedics people. They did an ultrasound and saw what was at the very least muscle tear and hematoma and they gave her medicine for pain. Our team has been so incredibly supporting and helpful. The decision was made to medevac her out to Nairobi for an MRI as making the wrong decision would mean not walking right for the rest of her life. And I love the way she walks! The decision to medevac was definitely the right one. The MRI showed Cher had torn the hamstring muscles and tendons totally off the bone at the top so they had to be reattached. She was in surgery till about 12:20 last night and is doing well. Good spirits and the doctor has just come in to show us what the LONG recovery will look like. The Harvard sports medicine protocol for “Rehabilitation after Proximal Hamstring Tendon Repair Surgery” is pretty long and daunting, but we are into it. Cher is quite excited to think that after 20-24 weeks because it says she will be able to jog and jump and she didn’t do that before the accident!

Nice sunset from the porch

Nice sunset from the front of the house.

Thanks for your prayers. We are ready to be home in Congo!

Posted in Family, Medivac | Tagged , , | 15 Comments

Captain’s Log-17 June 2014-Eyes Wide Open

Scrub Mopane often keeps you from seeing things until you round a bush.  Vast vistas of grazing wildebeest is more an East Africa thing.  In the south this is the more common landscape.  You really have to look to see.  This is such beautiful country to me but it takes some getting used to

Scrub Mopane often keeps you from seeing things until you round a bush. Vast vistas of grazing wildebeest is more an East Africa thing. In the south this is the more common landscape. You really have to look to see. This is such beautiful country to me but it takes some getting used to.

It was a shock to me to find out that I was blind. And when I thought I had eagle eyes. It wasn’t till I first got to Africa and spent time with African trackers or hunters in an environment where spotting game in the bush was a way of life. Southern Africa is not like the open plains of the Serengeti where you can see for mile upon mile. Mopane trees or Miombo woodlands, often with thick undergrowth obscuring your view to mere meters is the norm. You might see 100 meters in wildlife areas, but much of the time it is less. Our guides would patiently point out an elephant only 60 meters away and I would stare into the brush and leaves trying to pick out what should be a pretty big thing to see without the slightest contact. As they tried to “help” me see, they would point out a tree, which I could see and then a particular branch and the dark area next to it, and maybe a tail flicker. Finally, after long minutes of groping with my eyes, I saw something…possibly an elephant. By this time they are saying, “Oh, look at the little baby!” and “Look how stressed they are. See the darker dripping down from the temples?” It was really embarrassing! Sometimes I found my self just saying, OK, I see now when I had no idea what they were seeing.

It is critical that you see things like this old buffalo bull before he sees you.  Or at least before you are so close he thinks he needs to put a horn in you.  Buffalo don't mock charge.  When they come, they are coming all the way to you unless you stop them.  You are always "ON" where there is dangerous game.

It is critical that you see things like this old buffalo bull before he sees you. Or at least before you are so close he thinks he needs to put a horn in you. Buffalo don’t mock charge. When they come, they are coming all the way to you unless you stop them. You must always be “ON” where there is dangerous game.

The interesting thing is that now, as a licensed guide, I find myself on the other side of that, trying to help guests to Africa see what, to them, are nearly invisible sights. The instruction to see well becomes an art form as well as the seeing. Cher is always reminding me not to say, “Oh, look there,” Rather, “Look at 5 o’clock down between the tree trunk and the stone….” A few years ago Josh and I went on for what seemed like 10 minutes trying to get my sister, Lu, to see a leopard not 20 feet off the road. It was starring right at us. She could see nothing but bush. Leopards do have great camo, but it was probably as frustrating to us as it was to LuAnne, to not be able to get her to see this beautiful animal when she wanted to see it so much. We finally told her to just take a picture of this area of bush and then enlarge it later and then it would be obvious. Of course, the leopard ran off just as she looked down to get her camera and it was gone.

This is another very common landscape look in the south of Africa.  Do you see the 4 Zebra?  This is a great example of degrees of difficult in spotting things when the camouflage is so great.  You might only see the 4th with a tail flick.  And who would have thought the black and white was such good camo?

This is another very common landscape look in the south of Africa. Do you see the 4 Zebra? This is a great example of degrees of difficulty in spotting game when the camouflage is so great. You may only see the 4th with a tail flick. Who would have thought the black and white was such good camo?  Hint: the 4th one is at the back of the other 3.

I remember being out on an impala cull on Lemco Ranch in West Nicolson area of Zimbabwe in the 80’s. Culling is not hunting. It is purely game management. (Impalas reproduction is rapid. They can eat anything in the bush being browsers as well as grazers, so in a time of drought when specialist feeders are all dying off, the impalas carry on eating everything like goats and leave nothing for other species. You end up with thousands of impala and less warthog, kudu, even rhino as well as many other animals as food disappears. Some might say that we should just let nature take its course, but management has turned massive areas of cattle ranching into wildlife area as farmers see the financial benefit of having game instead of cattle. While culling is not hunting, you can certainly learn a lot about shooting and shot placement and other related skills that are requirements for a good hunter and guide as you do the management side of conservation. The culls are done at night with a light that you shine on the animals and then shoot. I started out shining the light back and forth in a smooth waving arc, trying to pick up the sparkle of eyes. Everyone was able to look at what I was looking at because it was predictable and following a path. I saw groups of impala and some Zebra and the odd thing.   I thought I was doing pretty well at this but after a short time Dudley Rogers told me to give the light to Choice, the tracker, for a while. The light was all over the place, way out in front then back close the tires of the vehicle then up in the trees and then back about 40 meters out on one side of the road and then 20 meters out on the other. It was fast and erratic and I was going crazy trying to follow the hectic path of the light. But Choice saw everything! And whenever Choice saw something he would stop on it and give a little shake of the light and hold for a bit to let us see what it was. We saw hare and warthog looking out of holes, baboon, monkeys and little night apes in the trees, antbears and brown hyenas, porcupines and pangolins that I had never seen during the day. The night came alive with a whole new Africa that I had not known before and I loved it. There was a deeper appreciation of my surroundings, knowing that there was always so much more around me than I was seeing. I just had to FIND it. After I got over the erratic-ness of the style I could see the reason for it.   I found myself taking on this new style of looking. It was a kind of splattering your vision around instead of staring at things. This is a totally unnatural, definitely learned, art that takes practice to get right.

Felix, one of our trackers.  I learn so much from these guys it is amazing.  Sadly so many have died of AIDS.  Choice and Felix are only a few of those.  This picture was taken on the PH practical in Hwange National Park.  A good tracker changes everything.  It is a real team thing that is a pleasure when you are working together.

Felix, one of our trackers. I learned so much from these guys it is amazing. Sadly so many have died of AIDS. Choice and Felix are only a few of those. This picture was taken on my PH practical in Hwange National Park. A good tracker changes everything. It is a real team thing that is a pleasure when you are working together.

Our eyes are tricky things. They don’t always go where we want them to, even if we know what we want from them. As a pilot, when I started “instrument flying” in the clouds, I was trained to scan my instruments instead of what is the common thing. If you do what is natural, you will fixate on one instrument and all the other things fall apart. We work at making our habits to look at the instruments and then outside. When we are in the clouds, we scan the instruments in a priority. First the Artificial Horizon (AH), which tells us our attitude in relation to the ground. This is primary. Then we go to the airspeed and back to the AH. Then the Directional Gyro, which tells us our heading then back to the AH. Then the turn and bank, which tells us how we are co-ordinated and back to the AH. Then navigation instruments and back to the AH. You want to almost gaze at one instrument while glancing at the others.

There is a way to look at the gauges and radios in a scan to not fixate on one thing  to your peril.  I had an old chief in Zimbabwe come to look at the plane.  As I showed him the cockpit is said "OH, So many watches!"

There is a way to look at the gauges and radios in a scan to not fixate on one thing to your peril. I had an old chief in Zimbabwe come to look at the plane. As I showed him the cockpit he said, “OH, So many watches!”

Then there is the perhaps not “politically correct” concept that it is possible to just look at things wrongly. I got a call from my friend, Trevor Lane, from the Forestry Commission of Zimbabwe. He was in charge of the wildlife department and had really built up their hunting side. Since he had a Cessna 206 that was US registered, I helped him from time to time to keep the aircraft maintained. He had just brought the plane up to Harare to drop off a client and was hoping to get a few things fixed while there. This client had just completed the hunt of a lifetime having shot a very nice elephant that had charged him and been charged by a lion as well, which he also shot at very close range.  He took a magnificent buffalo and had many African adventures with animals to make stories for around the campfire for many years to come.

Like your mom always said, Look both ways!  1 Peter 5:8

Like your mom always said, look both ways! 1 Peter 5:8

He had been taken to Meikles Hotel and, after calling his wife and telling her how happy he was, he took a refreshing shower and went out on the town to do a bit of shopping for souvenirs for his bride.He stepped off the sidewalk after looking the same way he had looked all his life and was instantly collected on the front grill of a city bus.   We drive on the right in Zimbabwe and he had looked the wrong way.

There are similar ways of looking at life. We often see all our problems and it is easy to fixate on them, often to our detriment. It becomes difficult to see solutions in the overwhelming flood of input we take on. Literally like an eclipse of the sun, which is giving off massive amounts of light being blocked out by something as small as the moon. Although this is fascinating to see on occasion, it is not where we want to live.   Besides just the pure enjoyment of a life spent looking to see more than we otherwise would, there is a satisfaction that comes from letting go of the things that actually block our view. A peace that comes with a proper focus on what is important. Maybe this is why the Bible says in Hebrews 12:2 “fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith…” (ASV). So we gaze at Jesus and glance at the troubles. I like that.

Mopane woodland.  Higher trees but still very broken visibility.  I love Mopane

Mopane woodland. Higher trees but still very broken visibility. I love Mopane.

Posted in Amazing Africa, Going Deeper, Hunting, Pilot Technique, Wildlife | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

Captain’s Log- 8 June 2014- Market Day

A Kikwembe shop full of colorful Africa fabrics.

A kikwembe shop full of colorful Africa fabrics.

Had a nice day at the Market or “Soko” talking to people and helping friends find things. Kent wanted to get some kikwembe cloth for his wife and daughters. He is color blind and wanted specific colors for his wife, so thought Cher could help. There are some amazing prints that mix colors and patterns you wouldn’t believe. What you might at first think is just an interesting pattern is actually a picture of a woman spraying perfume on. Kent could see the hidden pictures before we could. There are obvious patterns of course. Anything from chickens, coffee beans or barbed wire, to pictures of political leaders, Jesus or AK 47’s. When you have a hundred ladies at church, in all these different colous it is quite a spectacular.

Some lady passengers arriving in Tchabi wearing Kikwembe fabric cloth.

Some lady passengers arriving in Tchabi for a celebration, wearing Congo cloth.

I went off to get vegetables and meat. I had a great talk with the fish guys. They told me that there was a fish that burnt you when you touched it. I know this fish from the Zambezi. It is a catfish that has some very high voltage as a defense.   I have a friend who caught one once and trying to take it off his line got zapped and fell out of the boat into the croc infested water. He had to be helped back in the boat.

The fish section of the market.  Big tilapia, Nile perch, and many other fish form Lake Albert.

The fish section of the market.  Big tilapia, Nile perch, and cat fish form Lake Albert.

The market is always a great cultural experience and I love it for that.

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Captain’s Log – 15 May 2014 – Turkey on the Med

Beautiful carpets everywhere,  how can you choose just one?  They are all so nice.

Beautiful carpets everywhere, how can you choose just one? They are all so nice.

Cher and I had the wonderful opportunity to attend our MAF managers conference in Turkey a while back and it was a real treat in many ways. We were outside of Antalya on the Mediterranean Sea. It was a beautiful setting up against some amazing mountains that ran down to the water. Pine trees and pinnacles, snow and sand. It was an unexpected pleasure. Being with many old and new friends from all over the world was also great. We found out that Perga and Antioch were not far off and we were in what was Pamphylia and Galatia in the Bible in the area where Paul was on his first missionary journey. The whole area was steeped in generations of history.

Downtown Antalia old town with the mosque and historic towers.

Downtown Antalya old town with the mosque and historic towers.

As we got into our room and settled in for our stay, I opened the desk drawer and found a little sticker that had a circle on it and a little green arrow like a compass heading. No real explanation but after a few seconds I twigged to the reality of where I was and knew instinctively that it was a compass heading for Mecca. As I thought of what all this meant and how it was to orient a person to his new surroundings, I was struck by the importance of this lesson from our Muslim friends. To know which way I was to orient my life in this world. Sometimes it is necessary to do this numerous times in the day. I don’t need a compass heading per say but I do need to reorient my direction of thought to what is important, who I serve, who is ultimately in control. There is a peace in that. It reminded me of being with my African trackers who always seem to know which way is home as if they had a built in compass. No panic of getting lost. When God is everywhere all the time and he loves us, then living in that wonderful truth changes our peace of mind level radically and is something worth orienting yourself to many times a day till you live in the reality of it. That is a habit worth developing!

Cher dips her feet in the Mediterranean Sea for the first time.

Cher dips her feet in the Mediterranean Sea for the first time.

Cher and I had a chance to go into the “old town” to the Bazaar and shop around. We love oriental carpets and enjoyed the art of it all.  Turkey was full of good surprises for us.  We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.

We finally pick a lovely Kirdish carpet from a very friendly man in the bazaar.

We finally pick a lovely Kurdish carpet from a very friendly man in the bazaar.

By the pool with gorgeous mountains out back of the hotel.

By the pool with gorgeous mountains out back of the hotel.  I kept looking for Ibex-didn’t see them.

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Captain’s Log- 10 May 2014- Manna from Heaven

As I prepared the plane for the morning flight I noticed a lot more people working in the “garden” around the airport. Every little shrub had a man or woman apparently trimming or cutting, many on their knees in the grass. Upon closer inspection I noticed the many shed wings on the ground and twigged to the fact that everyone was collecting flying ants, or termites. There were thousands everywhere. People had bags and water bottles full of them. It was great fun. As I pre-flighted the plane I found them all over the windshield and tops of the wings, stuck in the remains of the rain from the night before which is what brings them out. Stuck on their backs in the water from the night before that brings them up out of the ground. ( Can’t believe I don’t have a picture but I left my camera at home.)

Termites are a wonderful food source. Very fatty. There have been times when we were driving at night in the rain and have run through a cloud of thousands of termites. Thinking we could just brush them away with the windshield wipers only succeeded in smashing them across the window as if we had taken a cube of butter and smeared it on. It was impossible to see and no amount of plain water would wash it off. If you fry them up in a pan they are buttery like popcorn and taste quite delicious.   So on this morning our workers were picking them off the wings of the plane as they fueled it up for the day’s flights and plopping them in their mouths, wings and all, with great smiles on their faces at the quite literal windfall of free food.

It was just great to get in the plane again and pull away from earth into a puffy-clouded sky with 40 miles of visibility. I found myself saying “It’s a beautiful day at the office” to my front seat passenger, as is my habit. And it really was just wonderful to circle gently around the clouds to a clear skies. I love my job!

We were flying up to Faradje for Samaritan’s Purse, who are helping the local community with malaria prevention and its women & children affected by the LRA. They always do a great job and it is good to be assisting them with transportation.

Elephants of Garamba

Elephants of Garamba-  36 is my count.

Faradje is close to Garamba National Park and we often see lovely animals in the area.

UPDATE:  Emmanuel De Merode is doing well and looking forward to coming back to Congo as soon as possible.  We wish him good health and safety as he does.

Posted in Adventure, Amazing Africa, Mission, Wildlife | Tagged , , , | 7 Comments

Captain’s Log-18 April 2014-Emmanuel De Merode-Ambushed on Goma Road

Chief Warden, Emmanuel De Merode of Virunga National Park in front of Mt Makeno in East DRC

Chief Warden, Emmanuel De Merode of Virunga National Park in front of Mt Makeno in East DRCongo

You have seen posts here of my friend Emmanuel, the Chief Warden of the Virunga National Park. I have had the opportunity to help him with his aircraft maintenance and doing some checkout for him in the parks Cessna 182. He has a huge job protecting this important area of Congo. Virunga was actually the first National Park in all of Africa and is yet still very unknown. It is an amazing place with gorillas, multiple active volcanoes, elephants, lakes and snow capped glacial mountains.

Emmanuel at the funeral of one of his other rangers.

Emmanuel at the funeral of one of his other rangers.

There has been much violence in the past years. Rangers are targeted regularly by militia groups that roam the park and over 120 have been killed in the last 15 years. A bit more risky than a Parks post in the States!

The story as I heard it this week on Tuesday Emmanuel was returning from Goma to the station at Rumangabo when he was ambushed by AK wielding gunmen who, shot up the parks vehicle as he drove alone, hitting him 4 times. He was somehow able to get out of the vehicle and shoot back a bit but realized he was hit and then fell down. A motorcycle driver came down the road at that point and the men ran off, leaving Emmanuel for dead. This man, no doubt had a hand in saving Emmanuel’s life. The FARDC then took E. to a ranger station and they drove him back to Goma where he was in theatre at HEAL AFRICA hospital until after mid-night.

Emmanuel was in serious but stable condition. I was able to talk to him in the afternoon and he seems to be in good spirits, although naturally weakened by his ordeal.

I ask you to pray for his healing and protection as he mends.

Some of the rangers from Rumangabo station who we went with to see the mountain gorillas.

Some of the rangers from Rumangabo station who we went with to see the mountain gorillas.

You can follow the parks web site by clicking on the Gorilla blog logo at the side of this page.

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Captain’s Log- 4 March 2014-My Sister LuAnne

Mozambique Mosque

Mozambique Mosque  Picture by LuAnne Cadd

As you might know from reading here, I have a lovely and talented sister who is responsible for many of the wonderful photos on my blog.  There is a link to her blog in the column to the right.  I was just checking out her recent trip to Madagascar and I was blown away by the truly great pictures she takes.   It is fun for me that I have been with and around and in many of the pix, especially the wildlife ones.  But there are so many striking pictures of the world that amaze and astound.   It makes me smile to see them.  Check it out at:  http://www.luannecadd.com/

Mozambican men bring the boat ashore after a day on the ocean

Mozambican men bring the boat ashore after a day on the ocean.  Picture by LuAnne Cadd

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