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February 2014

Why I love Cape Town

You have seen the picture of my view of the bay. My apartment is stunning and the art in it is museum quality. The sun shines every day and the only down thing is the wind. It is incredibly windy here. It has blown for two days and I can't open the sliding doors because it blows the artwork around. I am not complaining. I still love the sun everyday and the warmth. I have not forgotten that it is winter in the northern hemisphere and I am missing it. Talking to friends in London yesterday reminded me that I will leave here in a month and go back to much colder weather.

So in the mean time, I will tell you about my life here.

As you could see by the picture, we live up on a hill. It gives the best views to live high, but I walk a lot. Connie takes the car to work everyday and that leaves walking for me. To get anywhere, you first have to walk downhill to the main road. So that means at the end of the day you have to walk uphill. You would think it would get easier, but so far it hasn't.

One of the best things about living here is Francis. Francis is my housekeeper. I have never had a real housekeeper. I AM the housekeeper. This apartment is a duplex and Sandy lives next door. Francis comes and cleans for Sandy and does her washing, ironing, dishes, etc. So she would clean for me once a week. I said yes, okay. Then Francis asked could she clean two days and I said no, I didn't need that. So the next day she came to finish. Turns out she comes everyday. I have a housekeeper.

Francis is about 4 feet tall and 2 feet wide. She finally smiles when I make a joke. She has one child but she supports the 6 children of her sister who died from AIDS. She gets paid 150 rand per day, which is $15. I sent home some food with her the first couple of days. Stuff we bought when Sean and Jean were here that we wouldn't eat. She took it and told me the kids liked it. Now I buy extra to send with her, saying we don't it.

The best part is the ironing. You know we wear a lot of linen. I love linen and everyone always says how awful it is because you have to iron it and it wrinkles. I still love it. Now Francis does the ironing. I have always wanted someone to iron for me and I LOVE IT. She irons better than I do and I iron well.

So I have a housekeeper. How could I say no?

Another new thing: I saw my first pomegranate tree. I thought it was an apple tree and looked closely and saw pomegranates Connie says they grow in California too, If they were ripe I would have been tempted to steal one, but my soul is safe.

I love it here. I was a little nervous about living here and was looking more forward to London. Now I don't want to leave. I hate to go back to coats, rain and slogging around with wet feet.

There is more to love but that is enough for today.


Cape Town

we have made it to Cape Town. this is our final stop in africa. we traveled from chobe in botswana back to joberg to durban. packed up the beach house and took three days to get here.

we stopped in port elizabeth and stayed at mpongo game lodge. it was so awful and disappointing after being in chobe. there were 7 lions in a CAGE and two hippos and a croc in awful water. a baby giraffe in a pen with guinea fowl, rabbits, a cow and peacocks. it kind of felt like psycho when we got there. the night manager wasn't exactly warm and welcoming.

the second night was in knysna in cabins overlooking the ocean. really nice little places that were extremely cheap. $48 for each of us. the beach there was long and wide and we walked for a long time to stretch our legs after driving all day. a nice little restaurant that we could walk to and we were set.

the terrain getting here was really mountainous. little villages in the valleys and hillsides were very picturesque till you realized there was no electricity or roads to their houses. paths were all along the hills where people walked. it was miles to schools and towns. these people must lead a hard life. we went through one area that had lots of animals in little herds. goats, sheep or cows. there was always a shepard with a stick standing by. we were not sure if he was guarding them or just making sure they stayed together.

the small towns in between were full of people. each day we went through these towns we were amazed that there were so many people. unemployment is really high here but it seemed like no one was at work. the stores were full and there were lots of sidewalk tables filled with things. people on the streets walking between the cars and totally ignoring the four white people in our car. of course there is a KFC in every little town. sean tried one at a road stop once. he said the chicken was okay but the mashed potatoes were horrible. we later learned that it is pap, a kind of potatoe dish that is harder and can be molded into small mounds or rounds for grilling.

the last days drive was through the garden route. i was expecting something different with that name. we had seen many large fields filled with corn and beans. mostly commercial kinds of farms. each little plot in the mountains had their own garden of corn and other vegies, the garden route was beautiful but just not gardens. rivers coming down to the sea and creating great crevasses in the rocks. really pretty.c

cape town is gorgeous. our apartment looks out over the water with the new stadium on the left. the apartment is filled with african art and is really comfortable. i am learning my way around and getting used to the roads here. there is a neighborhood that i can walk too and buy the usual things we need. i can also hang out there. i will have the car when connie travels, but on most days she will go to work at an office. monday will start our life here. jean left today and sean leaves tomorrow. sean heads off to rome for a week in rome and then tunisia to see some friends. our three weeks is coming to an end. i think they had a good time and saw all that they dreamed of. sean went down in a cage and saw great whites today. he is sleeping and i haven't heard the stories yet.. you will have to wait for that update.


Chobe safari

I am writing this in Botswana at a &beyond safari camp. I won't post for a while since I am out in the bush but it is too exciting to not write it down. We have seen so many birds and animals that I feel like I am living in natural geographic. Yesterday I was 15 feet away from two female lions. They were in a tree right next to us today it was the a male lion under a bush so close.

The elephants here are so used to the vehicles that they don't shy away. There are 100,000 elephants here and it is wonderful to see the herds of moms babies and teenagers hanging out. The young males like to act like they are charging the truck (land rover). Then they run off and make loud noises. After seeing many herds yesterday we were getting used to elephants everywhere. It was still a surprise to go to bed in our tent and hear tham coming close. They walked by within 10 feet eating all the way. We could see their sillouettes in the moonlight. It was a thrill of a lifetime.

Our tents are furnished with wonderful beds and a bucket shower and flush toilet. How is that possible I'm not sure since they move camp every three days. We feel like we are so pampered. Food is great and plentiful and gin and tonics in the evenings. How could it get any better? Our guide knows everything about birds animals and trees.

Since here we have seen so many birds I haven't counted. Animals include lion, elephant, jackals, impalas, crocs, water buffaloes, warer bucks, warthogs, tortoise, monitor lizard, baboons, giraffes, hippos, kudos, sable antelope, and it just keeps going.

We have seen one snake and it was on the ground under the car. If you don't know me well, you don't know that I am terrified of snakes. I never want to see them and Connie is always teasing me that a black momba is going to get me. So one snake is enough.

I will write so much more but just starting. Lots of pics. Connie is going nuts with getting great pics.

Second night was amazing. there were only a few elephants outside the ttent and then the rain came. we had asked for windows open to see the elephants not thinking about rain. all of a sudden the rain is coming in on my head. had to move closer to connie to escape. so wasn't sleeping well when i heard a growl of a lion. believe me, you can tell the difference between a growl of a lion and noise of a elephant. then he roared!!! i thought he was in front of the tent. i woke connie and she said yes she heard but went rigth back to sleep. in the morning i was told it a was a kilometer away.. i didn't believe it. he was right out front, i'm sure. so i was nervous and didn't sleep well. we are wakened each morning by someone coming into the back of the tent bringing warm water to wash. i had been afraid that he would run into the lion. they look well before he starts out. it was an exhilerating night to say the least.

when i can, i will post more pics. we have so many great ones of the animals and birds. sean is having a great time. we both think of my dad a lot. i watched wild kingdom with my dad the whole time i was growing up and continued watching Nature on PBS. i feel like i have seen all these animals so much of my life. to see them walk right next to you is such a thrill. dad would have loved it.


Weaving with Zulus

We went to the mountains again to break up the trip to joberg. we did the other end of the mountains right off the freeway. the roads were much improved without the potholes. the place we stayed was so nice and we had our own bedrooms and bathrooms. saw a sunbird first thing in the morning and saw a very large cheeky crow walk across the lawn talking all the way. he was huge.

you had to use a guide here to see the San paintings. we hired a nice man named Wiseman. he was zulu and very good about telling about his culture. he offered to take us to his village to see the craft center where we could buy local baskets. we, of course, were thrilled.

the center was a large room with baskets all along the walls. outside were women sitting on the ground weaving baskets. it was difficult for me to go in. i looked around, chose a couple of baskets and went right back outside. i greeted all the women and asked if i could sit next to one and watch. they were so sweet and friendly. the woman was surprised when i asked to try, but gave me her basket and told me where to put the needle. it was about 6 inches long and heavy steel. i was doing well when she took it from me and showed all the women. there was much chatter in zulu and they decided i could do it well. she didn't take it out when she took over to weave. so somewhere there is a zulu basket with my weaving in it. when the shoppers were done and came out the money was distributed to each of the women who had sold a basket. there were many smiles and lots of ??? don't know the name of what women do with their tongues to make a joyful noise. i have heard it many times outside the door of a delivery room when a new baby was born. so i chirped right in with joy for them.

i explained in sigh language that i was a weaver and there was much discussion about it. i told them how i wished i could sit outside with my friends and weave because i am always alone weaving. they were poor and had very little but they were very happy and welcoming to me. it has been a highlight of my trip.



Safari Weekend

this was our first weekend of doing safari. we went to a park about 2 hours north of our beach house. umfilozi national park was right on the river. our camp had four cabins around a main house. it came with two cooks and our own naturalist guide. (it wasn't expensive).. it slept 8 and there were only four of us, so sean and jean had their own cabin. sean chose the one furtherst away from the ladies. ( think that was saying something?) we took all our own food and the lovely people there did the cooking and clean up. the man's name was New Year.. he was born on the day.

our first animal was a wart hog at the gate to the park. he was sleeping right outside reception. we drove into the park about 2 km and saw a lion sleeping in a tree. it just kept getting better... zebra, impalas and around the corner a huge elephant.

we had to drive down a rutted dirt road to our camp and saw two elephants on the way. we decided to do a morning walk with our guide at 5:30 the next morning. we all went to bed early. i was wakened to scratching and "chittering" on the wall right above my head. connie said.. they can't get in. i wasn't convinced. i didn't sleep well. turns out it was bats that slept in the walls.

i'm not sure if any of you have been on a walk in the bush. this was my first experience walking.. i have drven through the parks but walking is a lot different. first of all the guide carries a gun. we had rules.. quiet walking and talking, move fast when told and click your tongue when you wanted attention from the guide.

connie was taking lots of pics... she's the designated photographer. we got a lot of lessons on poop (toilet) and tracks (spoor). then we walked. the birds were great. they are so colorful here and their songs are beautiful.

it is a little scary walking in the bush.. actually i thought it was really scary. we walked along and saw elephant.. huge. wart hogs, impala and then a black rhino. i asked if they were dangerous... very agressive. connie is taking pics.. i am backing up. rhino is looking. wart hogs turn and run and rhino is moving and connie is taking pictures.. i am wishing i stayed home.

then we walk on and look for elephant that we heard. the elephant snuck around behind us. the guide called him a cheeky bastard. we slipped away. we are walking quietly and i am behind the guide. all of a sudden, he say come now and starts running. we ran for a while and i am wondering if this might be a trick for the tourists or the real thing. it was an elephant, very close. ... too close. then it was to the hippo pool. by now i am hot and dehydrated and tired. my nerves are done. this took three hours

afternoon nap and woke up to three elephants right outside our cabin. the picture above was taken from the deck. we were thrilled. connie got videos.

during the night an elephant came up to sean's cabin. he said it was so close he could smell him. it was really dark and he could see his outline in the dark. he said it was thrilling and terrifying. he went to bed.

it was a great weekend. i passed on the second morning walk, are you surprised?

there are lots more stories that you will hear from each of us. we had a relly fun time and we're so impressed with the parks here.

tomorrow off to the mountains again. then victoria falls and another game park. the adventures keep going.