Returned Peace Corps
Volunteers of South Florida


TRAVEL: Prepping to Go in the New Year

By Greg Zell (Nigeria)

January 9, 2021 - The coming weeks are going to bring great changes in the travel industry with the advent of the vaccine. Travel thinks it will be a requirement from several sources. First, the USA with its virus record may not let us out without proof of vaccination; then countries may not let us in without proof; finally, airlines may require proof, especially on international flights.

Travel is monitoring all news sources to keep us updated. If you get some juicy info, be sure to share. We are all in this together. The pause has given us plenty of time to think. We hope to go somewhere the last third of 2021. Travel has 2 packages, one to Namibia, another to Victoria Falls, to rework and reschedule. 2 more trips under consideration: Senegal for a taste of French North Africa and The Gambia, to add a British touch; secondly, Belize, British but in Central America. A hoot: you better Belize it.

The vaccine is not the only med in the news. Early Peace Corps Volunteers in malaria countries were given hydroxychloroquine related drugs. It killed malaria and only made us ill in bed about half a day. Now it no longer kills malaria and has no effect on the virus. Travel will not venture into malaria country with any traveler who is not taking anti-malaria medication. Travel assists you in obtaining a prescription for a milder, short term drug, a generic version of Malarone.

Food and water are other avenues to illness in international travel. No one in any group going with Travel has ever got sick. We follow the science of CDC guidelines for Peace Corps Volunteers. This has caused titters from travelers in other groups. They had several queasy (or worse) days which we avoided. It is all laid out in a printed sheet you will get. Travel is personally in charge of water distribution.

Travel is not a travel agent. Our itineraries and arrangements are made through very experienced travel agencies. Together we make sure you see all you should see in a time frame of 13 to 15 days to accommodate working people when a couple of weekends are included. This makes our land package a bit less costly. Living out of a suitcase longer is not fun either. Travel is not a guide. Our travel agent outfits our package with the finest available. Our trips are designed for adults of all ages. They are not strenuous with a minimum of walking. The longest walk is usually to the airport gate. Travel uses the airport wheelchair service which racesTravel and everyone with me through security. If you have trouble getting in or out of a vehicle, there is always a large gentleman nearby to assist. You will never find a land package identical to ours on the internet.

 Scheduling in the new year is going to be tricky after dealing with all the virus issues. Every country in the world has its own high tourist season. We avoid that: too much $$$. We choose “bridge” seasons on either side of high season. Airlines should be offering all sorts of “bargoons” as incentives. Then there are weather considerations. Animals and tourists do not like rain. The drama of Victoria Falls depends on the rainfall in the north reaching the Zambezi River in the south. No one likes to be too hot or too cold. This is further complicated if we go into the southern hemisphere where the seasons are reversed.

All PCVs fall in love with their host country. Why not share that love by being a Trip Leader with assistance from Travel, of course. It really is not that difficult, maybe even some fun. Think back to all those balls you had in the air at the same time as a PCV. Fun, no? The pay for a Trip Leader is not good; Travel is a volunteer without pay. RPCVSF, a registered charity and official sponsor, gets no money from us.

Please send any questions or comments to

Returned Peace Corps Volunteers of South Florida, Inc., will be traveling again as soon as international travel is officially AND scientifically allowed. Countries must welcome us. We have always been guided by Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations for Peace Corps volunteers. Of course, there are no PCVs in any part of the world at the moment. Not much will happen till after the election which should filter out the political aspects of decision making.

Our former president, Tuey Murdock (Colombia) reports that Namibia, one of the countries we are considering, is in complete lockdown. Residents of Windhoek, the capital, are not allowed to travel outside the city limits. All school classes are virtual. There is only one international flight in and out of the country each month to Frankfurt (This was German South West Afrika) at a ridiculous price.

The news reports lots of virus around Johannesburg, South Africa, starting point for most southern safaris.

In the meantime, direct your questions, inquiries, and chats to and practice your phraseology with these Animal FunnerismsHere are some wonderful English language collective nouns for groups of animals you may see. For example, gaggle of geese (which you will not see).

Tower of giraffes: which you will see.

Zeal of zebras: which you will see. Zebra rhymes with Debra in all the world other than the USA. Also called a dazzle of zebras. Plains zebras have stripes down to their hooves; mountain zebra stripes end half way down their legs.

Parliament of owls: You could well see an owl but I don’t think we will catch a parliament.

Crash of rhinos: They tend to be solitary or paired so I don’t think we will see a crash.

Memory of elephants: We should see several groups. Savanna and maybe desert adapted.

Muster of storks: Definite probably.

Implausibility of wildebeest: Quite plausible; also called (gah nu) gnu.

Ambush of tigers: Not this trip: an Asian animal.

Harem of seals: There is one in Namibia and then some.

Cackle of hyenas: We hope to see them on the hunt. Fascinating to watch.

Shrewdness of apes: Nope. Maybe a baboon or three.

Barrel of monkeys: See shrewdness of apes.

Pride of lions: You already knew this one. We should see several prides.

Namibia 2019

Travel is organizing a repeat of our great 2016 safari to Namibia for approximately two weeks during April 15, 2019 through May 15, 2019. Travel needs 4 more interested people to ask the travel agency to put it together with exact dates and pricing. For more information, click here: >>> NAMIBIA 2019.doc

Marge and Greg do Bangkok and Indochina

For the Travel Article, Please Click Here: >>> Marge and Greg do Bangkok and Indochina.docx

Arrivederci, Roma by Greg Zell


 Our farewell dinner for our Italy tour was at a large restaurant in Rome which featured live opera singing on stage with 2 women and 2 men. For the finale, the emcee announced a special treat. He left the stage, sent a gentleman nearby up to the stage, made his way through all the diners to the back of the restaurant, and pointed at me to go up on stage. He got us in a huddle and said, “In a moment, the music will start up. Do not make a sound. Just mouth the words as best you can.”

     “Ladies and gentlemen. I give you the new Three Tenors.” The music came up. I started mouthing and gesturing and gesturing almost violently, pseudo-Italian style. When the last high note came, my eyes were bulging and I felt faint for loss of breath. We got a standing ovation. As I made my way through the crowd back to my table, people were yelling, “Bravo! Bravo!” and reaching out to touch me. This had to be a set-up but no one would own up to it. Our guide said, “We have a star among us.”

Immediately following this page are two articles about the recent group trip to Haiti

RPCVSF Visits Haiti by Greg Zell


Mountains Beyond Mountains by Hyon O'Brien

RPCVSF Goes on Safari to Namibia

By Greg Zell (Nigeria 62-64)

Travel Coordinator, Returned Peace Corps Volunteers of South Florida, Inc. 

     The group met up in Johannesburg and went straight to Tribes restaurant in the Emperor’s Palace casino complex for drinks and a bit of ceremony to initiate the 3 newbies to Africa. Now that they were going to be Africa hands, they would no longer say, “Johannesburg. From now on it would be, “Joburg. At dinner, most tried the ostrich steak fillet (farm-raised, of course) with berry sauce, washed down with a splash of South African bubbly. Both were proclaimed “delicious.


            Next morning was early, the first of many, for an hour and half flight to Windhoek (vind hook), the pretty capital of Namibia. We were met at the airport by Stewart, our fantastic guide. A 34 year old native of Zimbabwe, he said he was on his way to becoming a hooligan when he decided to pull himself together, started studying wild life and went to guide school. All his younger siblings have African names. For him, his mother just liked “Stewart. He started by setting us straight: Some of you have heard of Africa time. Namibia was a German colony. We do everything on German time. And so it was. We boarded our “safari Ferrari, as he called it, actually anenclosed air conditioned Toyota Land Cruiser for 7 of us and Stewart. Off we went on a short tour of the charming capital. Before heading to the coastal dunes, largest in the world, we stopped at a grocery store for Stewart to fill our coolers with lunch goodies and drinks. Our lunchtime routine: Stewart would pull up under a nice tree. We all pitched in to set up the folding table and chairs, unpack the coolers, chow down, and repack.

          The dunes are national monuments. Climbing on them damages them and so is prohibited. The government has set aside one dune for turistas to climb. The wind was blowing the sand around this day. We decide climbing was not a good idea for people with glasses or contacts. We head for our lodge to begin another routine. All our lodges, except this one, were beauties, but all had a view. We would find a cozy part of the lodge facing west, order a drink or two from the bar and have a Sundowner followed by buffet dinner and a bottle of South African red and one of white, all included in the price of travel. This lodge was a “soft camp, units built of wood frames sheathed in canvas with a permanent bathroom + toilet. When the canvas is made to look like a tent, this is called a tent camp. Ours was a soft camp. Overall, the set-up was satisfactory BUT the wind was blowing. The canvas flapped all night making sleep very difficult for still tired people.

         We head up the Skeleton Coast stopping to see a fishing vessel caught on the reefs since 2007 being slowly disintegrated by the Benguela Current and wave action 24/7. Outside the scenic oceanside town of Walvis (vall fish, the Afrikaans pronunciation of the English corruption of whale fish) Bay we have lunch at The Raft, a restaurant on pilings over the water. The icy Benguela makes for fine oysters on the half shell. Heading north, we visit a seal rookery with more seals on shore and in the water than our imaginations could conjure. A lot of seals produces a lot of waste which makes for lots of odor which lives in turista memory.

         In Damaraland (home to the Damara tribe), we see elephants, not ordinary elephants, desert-adapted elephants, not a sub-species, just adapted. They require far less water than ordinary elephants and get some from succulent plants. The countryside is very dry. Central Africa has been suffering from a drought for the last 5 years or so. We are at the end of winter in the southern hemisphere in desert and semi-desert. From sundown to sunrise, we are quite cool. In the sun, we get to the high 80s. A road sign marks crossing the Tropic of Capricorn into northern Namibia.

          Next stop, Swakopmund, the resort city of Namibia, home to descendants of the original German settlers and winter destination for many German tourists. (Every street sign says “strasse”). We stay at the Hansa hotel built in 1905 but beautifully restored. (Hansa means Germany in Old German.) In the lobby, a voice calls out to us. “Are youAmericans? My name is Jahana Hayes, I am America’s teacher of the year doing a StateDepartment tour. Her beauty fits the hotel. We have another great meal washed with a South African red and a white at The Tug, a boat in the harbor. A highlight of the trip is a side excursion in a dune buggy-like vehicle into the desert with a crusty Scot via Australia. He would spot a rise or mark in the sand, tell us there is an animal under there. We would get out of the vehicle. He would line us up to form a sun block. Animals living under the sand have no natural protection from the sun. He and his crew would dig a few inches until they found a critter which they showed us before returning it into the ground. They even found a deadly sidewinder snake. To give us a stir, he would hot-dog on the dunes. This was special. In town, I felt if I hollered,“achtung” I would bring the entire city to a halt. Nicely, one of our group spoke Germanwhich was a good icebreaker with the locals.

          Off to Etosha National Park, one of Africa’s oldest and largest where we have 3 game drives. We see 14 lions, with one noshing on a kudu (large antelope); 2 black rhinos; 2 leopards; jackals; baboons; warthogs; guinea fowl; impalas, elands, kudus, springboks, steenboks, dik-diks, and oryx; giraffes; elephants; zebras (ordinary and mountain); several species of mongoose, more birds than we knew existed, skinks, geckos, and wildebeests (gnus). On our last game drive, we go to Namutoni, a park entrance in the far northeast corner. Here is a restored former German fort, used originally to subdue the Africans, then to house WWI enemy nationals who might stray into German territory, finally by South Africa for any troublemakers demanding independence. Our lodge, just outside the park, was straight from Architectural Digest.

         Last stop is Africat Conservation Game Reserve, This is a huge electric fenced reserve where the animals roam free. 6 cheetahs greet us. We are lead into a blind which they call a hide. A leopard on the other side never sees people but hears the arrival of a vehicle and so knows it is going to eat. We peek at a sandy hill topped by what looks like a stubby dead tree, From an underground tunnel, a hunk of mule appears in a tree hole. The leopard retrieves it, lounges on a limb, and dines. These animals cannot be bred or released back into the wild. Their mothers were killed before they were taught by mom to hunt. They will never learn, cannot teach any young and so cannot go for bush. Lions and wild dogs are kept in holding pens out of public view.

         Back in Windhoek, we stay in a very new Hilton. Our farewell dinner is at Joe’sBeer House, one of the citys most popular restaurants. Most opt for roast oryx, the national symbol of Namibia. I pass. Game is too tough for me unless ground in a burger. The game we have been served at every meal is from older animals sent to hunting reserves as a form of culling. A few awards were given out: Best Dressed Male: Ted; Best Dressed Female: Lisa; Best Shopper: Maria; Earth Mother of Africa: Marge for her years of service; The Order of Women of the Bush was awarded to Corina and Natalie who met the bush and loved it.

        The safari was a great success.. No one got sick because everyone followed Peace Corps/CDC protocols for eating and drinking in Africa. My formula: an unusual county, a good group of travelers, and a fabulous guide. (Stewart was the best of all my excellent guides.) Even our Africa hands had never seen anything like Namibia. “Amazing” was the word most often heard.

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