South Africa

South Africa

London - Prologue


December 2007

One of Life’s lessons is to make stepping stones out of stumbling blocks. We were scheduled to fly from Austin, TX to Washington DC, then on to Cape Town, South Africa. However, we missed our connecting flight from Washington DC. The airline said they could get us out on the following day, same time as originally scheduled – 5:20pm. Fortunately I studied various flight options to Cape Town before I left Austin. I said, “No, this won’t work for us. Get us out on a flight to Heathrow/London then on to Cape Town. After much investigation and discussion we got them to fly us to London then on to Cape Town. Unfortunately, our luggage took a different route and we were without it for 3 days.

While in London, we caught a cab to “The Eye”. It cost $280 for round trip taxi from Heathrow/London Airport to the “Eye”. Time is more precious than money so I bit the bullet and paid this “expensive” fare. The cabs are ALL wheelchair accessible! I love it. We ate a Wild Boar burger then got in line for “The Eye”. The "Eye" was fully wheelchair accessible.

After eating a wild boar burger, and riding the "Eye" for half an hour, we went to the Sherlock Holmes pub for Fish-and-Chips as well as a pint of Guinness. Then we caught a cab back to the airport. These cabs have all been wheelchair accessible since 2000.


One of Life’s lessons is to make stepping stones out of stumbling blocks. We were scheduled to fly from Austin, TX to Washington DC, then on to Cape Town, South Africa. However, we missed our connecting flight from Washington DC. The airline said they could get us out on the following day, same time as originally scheduled – 5:20pm. Fortunately I studied various flight options to Cape Town before I left Austin. I said, “No, this won’t work for us. Get us out on a flight to Heathrow/London then on to Cape Town. After much investigation and discussion we got them to fly us to London then on to Cape Town. Unfortunately, our luggage took a different route and we were without it for 3 days.

While in London, we caught a cab to “The Eye”. It cost $280 for round trip taxi from Heathrow/London Airport to the “Eye”. Time is more precious than money so I bit the bullet and paid this “expensive” fare. The cabs are ALL wheelchair accessible! I love it. We ate a Wild Boar burger then got in line for “The Eye”. The "Eye" was fully wheelchair accessible.

After eating a wild boar burger, and riding the "Eye" for half an hour, we went to the Sherlock Holmes pub for Fish-and-Chips as well as a pint of Guinness. Then we caught a cab back to the airport. These cabs have all been wheelchair accessible since 2000.


Cape Town


December 2007

After months of meticulous planning with Joni and Anthony, they came up with the itinerary below.

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What super friends! With lost luggage and changing weather, we didn't follow the itinerary exactly.

Our first Cape Town adventure was to have dinner at AFRICA CAFÉ (www.africacafe.co.za), which serves traditional foods from all over Africa. They have an incredible menu. The center woman, in the above picture, works at AFRICA CAFÉ. Her name is No-no. She is very sweet and couldn't keep her hands off me. They also sell hand made crafts as seen in the picture at right.

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The next stop was Groot Constancia Wine Farm where we were treated to an excellent breakfast, great company, and a fantastic setting. Wine making was one of the arts that the Dutch and other Europeans brought to South Africa.

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Anthony cooked Bobotie for us at his house. It was delicious. In addition to great company and tasty food, we had the opportunity to discuss life in South Africa. If you want a credit card there, you will have to pay 26%. You have no choice of cards with different rates. You will have to pay fees on your checking and savings accounts, regardless of your balance. Some government officials are openly corrupt. I'm glad I live in the USA. Anthony became paralyzed in a hang gliding accident and I recently went sail planing so we had as a common interest in flight. So in addition to politics, we discussed physics, flight, and Bernoulli's Principal.

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Texans are known for their BBQs. Every Texan has his favorite method of barbecuing and his own recipe for BBQ sauce. In South Africa,the tradition is something they call a Braai (pronounced brii). Some of the South Africans took exception to me comparing a Braai to a BBQ. They said a Braai is a much more social event. I have only included a few pictures here but take my word for it, there were many people - related and unrelated - at this Braai. It was held at Carl's parents house. See Carl below. Unfortunately, Carl was still trying to locate our luggage and didn't have much time to enjoy the Braai. Carl finally tracked down our luggage and retrieved it for us after it was lost for four days.


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No trip to Cape Town would be complete without a ride down to Haot Bay. These girls (above) were incredible. they spoke in unison on any subject. They sang songs in several different languages. Learn more about them at (www.thesoapgirls.co.za/). The picture on the right is one of many ship wrecks off the coast of South Africa. The seas get more dangerous the farther south one goes. An old sailor's adage is, "Below 50 degrees (latitude) there is no law; below 60 there is no God."

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The woman above created beautiful works of art on ostrich eggs. She sells them to fund conservation efforts for seals. That's Carl behind me. In the picture on far right that's Laurence holding me on ledge, on the road to Boulders Beach.

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After Hout Bay we drove to Boulder Beach, far right. The beautiful, yet extremely cold water, keeps some swimmers away.

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The sign above reads, "Please look under your vehicle for penguins". These little guys are everywhere. They were here long before settlers, were brought to the edge of extinction, and are now making a comeback.The penguins want their beach back.

Table Mountain


December 2007

In addition to Table Mountain, another famous landmark/activity in Cape Town is the Robben Island Ferry. Joni got tickets for us in advance. We were waiting for the ferry, right on time. Just when we were suppose to board the ferry, we heard an announcement that it was cancelled due to technical difficulties. It was not possible to schedule a later ferry so we wandered around the Waterfront and into a Model Ship shop. I have a fascination for tall-ships and all things nautical so this shop provided an amusing diversion. Cape Town would never exist as it does today if it weren't for intrepid explorers and sailors. Cape Town was originally developed as a victualling station for Dutch ships sailing to Eastern Africa, India, and the Far East more than 200 years before the construction of the Suez Canal in 1869. It was a time when ships were made of wood and men were made of iron. I have sailed on tall-ships and thought it about time I buy a sextant. They had sextants already packed, ready to purchase. So I bought one and brought it home. When I opened it, I found it all in pieces. I emailed the company but they never responded.

That's Laurence, above, with four of South Africa's most famous men. Can you name them? After Laurence and I went shopping at the Waterfront, we were joined by Joni and Carl for lunch. I had to laugh at the crayfish sign. When I was a kid we caught crayfish in the local pond. Those crayfish were no more than 3 inches long. The crayfish on this sign looked like a lobster.

We were sad to say good-bye to Joni and Carl. They are good friends and gracious hosts. Joni dropped us off at the Cape Town airport so we could fly to Johannesberg, and then on to the next leg of our trip - a real African safari.

Table Mountain


December 2007

In addition to Table Mountain, another famous landmark/activity in Cape Town is the Robben Island Ferry. Joni got tickets for us in advance. We were waiting for the ferry, right on time. Just when we were suppose to board the ferry, we heard an announcement that it was cancelled due to technical difficulties. It was not possible to schedule a later ferry so we wandered around the Waterfront and into a Model Ship shop. I have a fascination for tall-ships and all things nautical so this shop provided an amusing diversion. Cape Town would never exist as it does today if it weren't for intrepid explorers and sailors. Cape Town was originally developed as a victualling station for Dutch ships sailing to Eastern Africa, India, and the Far East more than 200 years before the construction of the Suez Canal in 1869. It was a time when ships were made of wood and men were made of iron. I have sailed on tall-ships and thought it about time I buy a sextant. They had sextants already packed, ready to purchase. So I bought one and brought it home. When I opened it, I found it all in pieces. I emailed the company but they never responded.

That's Laurence, above, with four of South Africa's most famous men. Can you name them? After Laurence and I went shopping at the Waterfront, we were joined by Joni and Carl for lunch. I had to laugh at the crayfish sign. When I was a kid we caught crayfish in the local pond. Those crayfish were no more than 3 inches long. The crayfish on this sign looked like a lobster.

We were sad to say good-bye to Joni and Carl. They are good friends and gracious hosts. Joni dropped us off at the Cape Town airport so we could fly to Johannesberg, and then on to the next leg of our trip - a real African safari.

Safari


December 2007

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After CT, we flew to Johannesburg. We stayed at African Dreams B&B then went back to the J’hb airport in the morning to catch the City Bug Mini-bus to drive to Nespruit. From there, our guide Craig, with Nkomazi Safaris, took us to stay at Grand Kruger Lodge (www.grandkrugerlodge.co.za/). What a great place! It was next to the more than 7,000 square mile Kruger National Park. When we tried to book our safari, Lelanie, from Nkomazi Safaris, said we would have to make a cash transfer to pay for the safari in advance. My friends said it sounded like trouble and I should look elsewhere. I was finally able to get Lelanie to accept my credit card. As it turns out, cash transfers are common transactions in Africa. I'm just more comfortable with credit card purchases. Both Nkomazi Safaris and Grand Kruger Lodge provided outstanding service and I highly recommend them. Lelanie worked closely with us to fit our safari into our itinerary rather than just offer nonnegotiable dates and set activities like other companies. In addition to the day Kruger Park trips, we scheduled a sunset drive. We saw great herds of animals then. The lodge also has a world class chef.

We stayed in a very comfortable bungalow. I told Leon, the owner, that I couldn't get into the shower. He got me a hand held shower nozzle the very next day - it worked great. Craig told us not to go out after dark as 2 chaps were eaten by man eaters a couple of years ago. We were also told that after dinner in the main lodge, we should have a security guard walk ahead of us to our bungalow, shining his flashlight on the path. When we asked why, we were told this is to scare off snakes. I asked what kind of snakes they had and Craig said, "We have black mambas, green mambas, puff adders, spitting cobras..." about a dozen in all. We're pretty sure we didn't read about that in the tour guide but it may have been in the extra fine print. We were told, beforehand, that this is not the best time to come on safari as the temperatures can be very hot and all the new green foliage may hide the animals. To make a long story short, we had hundreds of wildlife photos, as wildlife were easy to see. I tried to limit my posts here to one photo per species. We also had perfect weather. We were awakened at 4am, and gathered into the truck, at top, to leave the lodge at 4:30am while the temperatures were cool and animals were feeding. This guy, in the middle picture below, is a wart-hog, the preferred food of leopards. They like to live under the bungalow porches because they know leopards are afraid of man - well, not all leopards. Craig told us two weeks before we got there a leopard killed a wart-hog under a porch and made a horrific sound.

Our guides were very knowledgeable and had keen eyesight. We saw herds of animals but I chose to post mostly individual shots. We also saw other animals, including crocodiles, but we didn't get shots of all animals. The last line of photos requires some explanation. That yellowish bird is a weaver. Whenever someone would leave a lunch table, these birds would swoop in to clean up the left-overs. That dark colored giraffe above is a male, the other a female. The male was more amorous than the female, as is often the case with humans. Since we left the lodge at 4:30am each morning, it was still cold so they passed out blankets to passengers - including Laurence, my travel buddy.

The lodge and bungalows had porches on them under which the warthogs lived in order to avoid leopards. Two weeks prior to our arrival a leopard killed a warthog under one of the porches. They say the sound was horrendous. In the far left photo, Laurence pushed me to make contact with our warthog visitor. The warthog pushed back. I figured it wasn't safe to play with these guys. In the center, above we have a sausage tree. Next to it, the road was flooded as we were there during a rainy summer.

On the left is Stanley who worked at Kruger Lodge. Stanley is Zulu. One day we were talking and I told Stanley I have traveled in 40 countries. He said, "We should call you Sizwe (pronounced seas-way). It means one who visits many nations. In the center are our new friends John and Glennis from the UK. On the right is a snail we saw on the walk. I placed a 6 inch eye glass case next to it to give perspective. It is the largest snail I've ever seen.

On the subject of rhinos, did you know that there are five living species of rhino. The two African species are the White Rhinoceros and the Black Rhinoceros. The main difference between black and white rhinos is the shape of their mouths. White rhinos have broad flat lips for grazing and black rhinos have long pointed lips for browsing on foliage. The name White Rhinoceros was actually a mistake, or rather a corruption of the word wijd (wide in Afrikaans) because of their square lips.

As an unexpected benefit, we were educated about bio fuels. The price of sugarcane has gone up since it was identified as a source for bio fuels. As a result, much of it is grown around Kruger Park. Unfortunately, sugarcane fields attract many rodents, which in turn, attract many poisonous snakes, which in tern take a toll on human life. The fields also require huge amounts of water, which is pumped from rivers, which lowers water tables, which concentrates crocodile populations, which eat more people.


Epilogue

"It cost so much to be a full human being....One has to abandon altogether the search for security, and reach out to the risk of living with both arms. One has to embrace the world like a lover, and yet demand no easy return of love. One has to accept pain as a condition of existence. One has to court doubt and darkness as the cost of knowing. One needs a will stubborn in conflict, but apt always to total acceptance of every consequence of living and dying." Morris West: "The Shoe of the Fisherman" I think this quote is an appropriate epilogue. We went to places in South Africa that others would have feared to visit. Our luggage was lost for four days and we managed to adjust, to improvise. We were told this is the worst time of year to go on safari because of the super hot summer and inability to see animals in tall grass. It turns out the weather was ideal and we saw plenty of animals. Sure, it is wise to seek console before traveling but I assure you, there are no guarantees in life. Live before it's too late.

Safari


December 2007

Image
After CT, we flew to Johannesburg. We stayed at African Dreams B&B then went back to the J’hb airport in the morning to catch the City Bug Mini-bus to drive to Nespruit. From there, our guide Craig, with Nkomazi Safaris, took us to stay at Grand Kruger Lodge (www.grandkrugerlodge.co.za/). What a great place! It was next to the more than 7,000 square mile Kruger National Park. When we tried to book our safari, Lelanie, from Nkomazi Safaris, said we would have to make a cash transfer to pay for the safari in advance. My friends said it sounded like trouble and I should look elsewhere. I was finally able to get Lelanie to accept my credit card. As it turns out, cash transfers are common transactions in Africa. I'm just more comfortable with credit card purchases. Both Nkomazi Safaris and Grand Kruger Lodge provided outstanding service and I highly recommend them. Lelanie worked closely with us to fit our safari into our itinerary rather than just offer nonnegotiable dates and set activities like other companies. In addition to the day Kruger Park trips, we scheduled a sunset drive. We saw great herds of animals then. The lodge also has a world class chef.

We stayed in a very comfortable bungalow. I told Leon, the owner, that I couldn't get into the shower. He got me a hand held shower nozzle the very next day - it worked great. Craig told us not to go out after dark as 2 chaps were eaten by man eaters a couple of years ago. We were also told that after dinner in the main lodge, we should have a security guard walk ahead of us to our bungalow, shining his flashlight on the path. When we asked why, we were told this is to scare off snakes. I asked what kind of snakes they had and Craig said, "We have black mambas, green mambas, puff adders, spitting cobras..." about a dozen in all. We're pretty sure we didn't read about that in the tour guide but it may have been in the extra fine print. We were told, beforehand, that this is not the best time to come on safari as the temperatures can be very hot and all the new green foliage may hide the animals. To make a long story short, we had hundreds of wildlife photos, as wildlife were easy to see. I tried to limit my posts here to one photo per species. We also had perfect weather. We were awakened at 4am, and gathered into the truck, at top, to leave the lodge at 4:30am while the temperatures were cool and animals were feeding. This guy, in the middle picture below, is a wart-hog, the preferred food of leopards. They like to live under the bungalow porches because they know leopards are afraid of man - well, not all leopards. Craig told us two weeks before we got there a leopard killed a wart-hog under a porch and made a horrific sound.

Our guides were very knowledgeable and had keen eyesight. We saw herds of animals but I chose to post mostly individual shots. We also saw other animals, including crocodiles, but we didn't get shots of all animals. The last line of photos requires some explanation. That yellowish bird is a weaver. Whenever someone would leave a lunch table, these birds would swoop in to clean up the left-overs. That dark colored giraffe above is a male, the other a female. The male was more amorous than the female, as is often the case with humans. Since we left the lodge at 4:30am each morning, it was still cold so they passed out blankets to passengers - including Laurence, my travel buddy.

The lodge and bungalows had porches on them under which the warthogs lived in order to avoid leopards. Two weeks prior to our arrival a leopard killed a warthog under one of the porches. They say the sound was horrendous. In the far left photo, Laurence pushed me to make contact with our warthog visitor. The warthog pushed back. I figured it wasn't safe to play with these guys. In the center, above we have a sausage tree. Next to it, the road was flooded as we were there during a rainy summer.

On the left is Stanley who worked at Kruger Lodge. Stanley is Zulu. One day we were talking and I told Stanley I have traveled in 40 countries. He said, "We should call you Sizwe (pronounced seas-way). It means one who visits many nations. In the center are our new friends John and Glennis from the UK. On the right is a snail we saw on the walk. I placed a 6 inch eye glass case next to it to give perspective. It is the largest snail I've ever seen.

On the subject of rhinos, did you know that there are five living species of rhino. The two African species are the White Rhinoceros and the Black Rhinoceros. The main difference between black and white rhinos is the shape of their mouths. White rhinos have broad flat lips for grazing and black rhinos have long pointed lips for browsing on foliage. The name White Rhinoceros was actually a mistake, or rather a corruption of the word wijd (wide in Afrikaans) because of their square lips.

As an unexpected benefit, we were educated about bio fuels. The price of sugarcane has gone up since it was identified as a source for bio fuels. As a result, much of it is grown around Kruger Park. Unfortunately, sugarcane fields attract many rodents, which in turn, attract many poisonous snakes, which in tern take a toll on human life. The fields also require huge amounts of water, which is pumped from rivers, which lowers water tables, which concentrates crocodile populations, which eat more people.


Epilogue

"It cost so much to be a full human being....One has to abandon altogether the search for security, and reach out to the risk of living with both arms. One has to embrace the world like a lover, and yet demand no easy return of love. One has to accept pain as a condition of existence. One has to court doubt and darkness as the cost of knowing. One needs a will stubborn in conflict, but apt always to total acceptance of every consequence of living and dying." Morris West: "The Shoe of the Fisherman" I think this quote is an appropriate epilogue. We went to places in South Africa that others would have feared to visit. Our luggage was lost for four days and we managed to adjust, to improvise. We were told this is the worst time of year to go on safari because of the super hot summer and inability to see animals in tall grass. It turns out the weather was ideal and we saw plenty of animals. Sure, it is wise to seek console before traveling but I assure you, there are no guarantees in life. Live before it's too late.