Our most outrageous and wonderful dining experience in Cape Town: SŸN at 47 on Bree St.

This is not our typical blog post. Sorry, there are no safari animal photos today. But we had the most fantastic dinner last night, and wanted to write about it before your chance to eat there too is gone!

 

SŸN at 47 is a pop-up restaurant less than a month old, and in about another month it’s shutting down for a bit in order to establish itself permanently in a new location. But trust me, you don’t want to wait for the new spot. Finish reading this review, and then click the link to make your reservation. It’s a completely unique and engaging experience in molecular gastronomy!

The climb up to the third floor only wakes up your appetite for the evening ahead. One of the many things we loved about this dinner was the leisurely aspect of it: we were there for the evening, and were able to slowly enjoy every bite and sip.

Chefs Warwick King and Rikku Ó’Donnchü work on either side of the counter in a semi-open kitchen, and it’s great fun to watch them as they put the finishing touches on each plate. At some point in the evening even a helium tank appeared, but I’ll say no more about that. Some things are better encountered first-hand!

We opted for the dinner of 11 tastings plus wine pairings. As each course was presented, our very personable and knowledgeable waiter Rufus explained the inspiration behind the dish, and the characteristics of the accompanying wine.

No detail was ignored during our three-hour dinner. To begin, the menu items were printed on an edible sheet, which became a taco shell of sorts for part of the dessert. The good quality napkins were rolled into short stout cylinders for an unusual look to the table setting, and the appropriate silverware was brought out for each dish – small spoons, knife and fork, even a tweezer-like device for the seafood. The different tastes were served in a variety of vessels: eucalyptus wood platters, custom-designed ceramic cylinders that mimic ashtrays, tiny clay flowerpots. All of it charming and playful, all of it brilliant.

At first appearance, each serving seemed but a morsel of food. By the end of the experience, though, we realized that the amounts were just right. Anything more and we would have been over-satiated and uncomfortable.

I’m not even going to explain each of the plates. Just look at the photos of this gorgeous food, and make your reservations. https://synpopup.com/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Adventures with the Animals: Part Three

More beautiful animals from Schotia Safaris Private Game Reserve. If you are ever in South Africa, you must visit!

Crocodiles

The crocodiles share a pond with the hippos, and neither seems particularly bothered by the other. In the first photos below, the croc in the rear is the female, and she prefers to spend her day with a pile of mud on her back.

Personally, I find the crocs quite sinister looking.

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Rhinoceroses

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As reported in My Port Elizabeth newspaper on May 31, 2013:

The Schotia Game Reserve – approximately 50 kilometres outside Port Elizabeth – reported today on the poaching of two rhino on the reserve.  It is not clear when the poaching occurred as both animals could not be located for more than a day leading up to their being located, late yesterday afternoon of the 30 May.

The bull, known as Clyde, was discovered first, heavily drugged and in a state of shock. An initial search for Bonnie, the female, proved fruitless and it was feared that she would be found dead.

Schotia immediately called for the veterinary assistance of Dr William Fowlds, of Investec Rhino Lifeline, who arrived supported by the helicopter services of Grant Soule of Aptrac. A short while later Bonnie, was found, very dazed in thick bush.

Both rhino were treated by Dr Fowlds and we can report that they have survived the night and have been located alive this morning.

Dr Fowlds said, “Both these rhino are extremely fortunate to be alive. It is suspected that they were darted by the poachers. Treatment of their damaged horn bases is expected to be successful but what is uncertain at this stage is how much internal trauma they have sustained due to the extended period they would have lain under potent anesthetic drugs. In previous cases this has led to death weeks and sometimes months later.  Both rhino have some trauma to their eyes which is being monitored. Blood samples have been sent to Cape Town in an effort to assess the degree of internal complications.”

The aftermath of this poaching event was that both rhinos are now sterile due to internal bleeding. Furthermore, Bonnie was pregnant at the time, but lost her baby. Thus, poaching has eliminated the possibility of an increase in the rhino population at Schotia Reserve.

Poaching has embraced technology, and the thieves now use GPS tracking and helicopters. They have also been known to pose as guests on safari drives, to scope out the possibilities at any given location.

Due to the prevalence of poaching, and the sophisticated methods used by the poachers, the owners of the reserve have asked that I not publish any photos of the rhinos to social media. Although I am disappointed to be unable to share the photos with you, I am of course honoring their request. I wish I could do more to help prevent this horrific criminal activity, which is unfortunately so lucrative and widespread.

And yes, here in Cape Town you can get pasta shaped like safari animals. And yes, I do have a package in my suitcase to take home for my grandson.

Hippopotamuses

Yes, that is the plural form in English. You Latin-speaking purists may go with hippopotami. Either way, I find these fellows bizarre and amusing. I would even go so far as to say they have a malevolent look in their eye, and I certainly did not get anywhere close to them (thank you, Canon telephoto lens.)

Hippos spend most of their line hanging out in the water, immersed up to their eyeballs. They can hold their breath for five minutes or longer when they choose to dunk under. And they are not the least bit threatened by the crocodiles sharing their pool, nor the reverse. Strange bedfellows indeed.

For as slow and lumbering as they appear on land, the hippos are right quick in the water. I completely missed the shot of one rolling over – my pics show nothing but foamy water. The blurry pic below is the best of the lot of a gigantic hippo yawn, and I included it because, well, take a look!

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I hope you’re not getting bored with my animal blog posts, because I’ve got two more. So keep an eye peeled to my Facebook page, or better yet, sign up on this site to follow me.  You’ll  make my day!

Adventures with the Animals: Part Two

More from Schotia Safari Reserve.

Wart Hogs

Maybe not quite as cute as Pumbaa in the Lion King…

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Antelope

This term refers to a number of deer-like animals that we saw on the game drives. Their characteristics are smooth hair, and upward-pointing horns. We learned that the horns that these animals bear are not antlers; antlers are shed and regrown seasonally, whereas horns are permanent and have blood vessels, which means they bleed when they break.

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Red Hartebeest
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Young nyala
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Impalas
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Antelope
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Giraffes

Tracking the giraffes is fun and really easy, for obvious reasons. Our guide told us that the pattern on their hides is as individual as our fiingerprints. I love the way their fur looks reddish in the sunlight.

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Notice the tongue?  It’s hard to believe that they can eat the acacia trees without doing themselves harm.

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Every photographer knows that chewing shots are not flattering to the subject!
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Those eyelashes!

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Thanks for reading! I’ve got so many animal photos that there will be two more parts to this blog entry. Please sign up to follow me, and you’ll get notified when they launch. I appreciate your time!

 

Adventures with the Animals: Part One

A highlight of our time in South Africa was our road trip east, along the Garden Route, capped off by 3 days at a game reserve. We decided on Schotia Safaris Private Game Reserve, a beautiful family-owned expanse of wild land and the animals who live there.

We stayed in a lovely thatched roof lodge, very spacious and comfortable, which was luxurious and  rustic at the same time. Although there was electricity, there was exactly one light fixture; the rest of the light was provided by oil lamps and candles, which made for a wonderful evening. On the other end of the spectrum, the bathroom was one of the most elegant we have seen in our travels, with a walk-in shower as well as a large tub. (Ironically, South Africa is in the midst of a drought, and guilt prevented us from taking advantage of the many deep soaking tubs in our hotels.) We hadn’t realized that we would be the only overnight guests at the nearly 4,000 acre property on our last night – we felt like the kings of the castle!

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I could try to describe the beauty of the place, and the stunning wildlife, but it’s much better to simply get to the pictures, isn’t it? Here they are.

The Elephants

The elephants at Schotia are stunningly beautiful and healthy. Here is the first one we met, ambling down the road to take a look at the visitors.

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Our guide Edward referred to this fellow as the Boss, for obvious reasons.  Edward reassured us that he was a very calm elephant and there was nothing to fear, but as he came within a few feet of us sitting in our open truck, I had a sense of his enormity and power, and sincerely hoped Edward was correct in his assessment of the fellow’s peaceful nature.

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He hung out with us for a bit, munching grass. He would scrape at the grass with his front foot, pull some out with his trunk, and then tap it against himself to knock off the dirt before popping it into his mouth.

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After a bit, he circled around the truck and ambled off. It took a while before my blood pressure returned to normal.

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We also visited the nearby Addo Elephant Park, which is part of South Africa’s impressive system of national parks.  Although there is a larger herd (currently 750 elephants, which originated from a herd of 18) at Addo, many of the elephants have undersized or no tusks at all, due to the relatively small gene pool in this isolated community. It was enthralling to watch the herd gather at the watering hole for a drink.

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The babies! Just so adorable!

As I mentioned, in Schotia we were not constantly bumping into other groups; not so in Addo.  As we watched the elephants drink, we had to jockey for position with at least a dozen other vehicles. An animal sighting would cause a traffic jam as everyone tried to get a good view from their cars.  (Under no circumstances are visitors allowed out of their cars at either reserve. They’re cute, but they’re wild animals!)

Back at Schotia, one morning we discovered a large branch of an acacia tree blocking the road. Edward told us this was the work of the elephants, who regularly knock over trees for a variety of reasons. As a brilliant means of natural elephant repellent, the Schotia folks placed bee hives around the trees, because elephants are afraid of them. Ridiculous, right? But apparently effective.

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On one of our game drives, we passed the carcass of an elephant.  A couple of years ago, this elephant was constantly breaking out of the reserve, and was teaching the other elephants these bad habits as well.  This is dangerous for the neighbors, and ruins crops on their farms. Sadly, the elephant had to be killed. The body was left so that the carcass could provide food for other animals as it decomposed.

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I didn’t take this picture intentionally, but I decided to include it here because this is how Craig and I spent our days. Our guide probably wouldn’t recognize us without out cameras against our faces.  We each took thousands of photos in just a few days – thank goodness for digital photography!

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Another real highlight of our time at Schotia was seeing the lions.  There is an older male lion, and his two children, male and female. The first evening we spent at the reserve, we heard them roaring in the distance – it was exhilarating to hear! (The reserve is divided into a couple of very large sections, and there is no chance of the predatory animals reaching the guest housing.)

The Lions

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Papa Lion shows his age in his hind quarters, which are much thinner than his son’s.
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Isn’t she stunning?

The lioness had a successful hunt one evening while we were there. All of them had a big meal, and then didn’t want to move the next morning!

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The huntress has not yet cleaned the blood off her paws.
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Father and son, having their postprandial snooze.

 

The Warthogs

I got a real kick out of watching the warthogs.  They are such comical looking animals! There were loads of them at Schotia, and they mingled in with most of the other animals. I really don’t see how they manage to close their mouths, with those tusks sticking out!

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I’m going to sign off for now, and I’ll come back soon with more animals: hippos, giraffes, and antelope. Here’s one last picture for today:

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More about this fellow next time!

A Look Back: One Year of Being Homeless, Jobless, and Uninsured

On June 28, 2018, my husband Craig and I packed our bags into a rental car and drove away from Doylestown, PA, our home for the last twelve years. One year later, it’s time to take a look back.

A quick recap of our journey, geographically speaking: we visited friends and family along the east coast of the US, and then boarded a plane in Florida and headed to Ecuador. A couple of days in Quito, and then our long-awaited trip to the Galapagos Islands. We spent nine days on a small boat, sailing from one island to another, viewing the different species, snorkeling, and getting seasick (one of us, anyway.)

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The Pacific Ocean in a tranquil moment.

Next, another road trip along the Avenue of the Volcanoes in Ecuador. I had no idea there were so many volcanoes in the world! I also had no idea how high altitude (13,000 feet) can sap the strength from your body and the oxygen from your lungs. We next visited a stunning waterfall and a town known for its hot springs. Cuenca saw us settle in for a month, followed by another month in the beach town of Olon.

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Nope, not Switzerland – Ecuador!
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Olon is a popular surfing spot.

In late October we caught a flight to Guatemala, and spend a wonderful couple of months in Antigua. Here we learned that explosives are an integral part of holiday celebrations in the area. It was all fun and games until a roof caught fire and burned down four or five buildings on New Year’s Eve.

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Most of Antigua was destroyed by a powerful earthquake in 1775, including this beautiful cathedral.
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A beauty queen at the Kite Festival in Guatemala.
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Iglesia San Pedro Apostol

A highlight in the New Year was a brief visit to Cuba. Our cruise ship stopped in Cienfuegos and Havana just long enough to give us a taste of the island, and we promised ourselves we would return for a longer visit.

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Yes, there are loads of old American cars in wonderful shape.
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Che Guevera is a beloved hero.
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The Havana Opera House.

Post-Cuba, we flew home for a visit to our families in New Jersey. It was a lot of fun to see friends and families, and to enjoy our grandson, a precocious three-year-old. Then off to Portugal for six weeks – a month in Lisbon followed by a road trip to see the smaller villages in the north.

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A whimsical gargoyle

Bulgaria was one of our more eclectic destinations, and we enjoyed it thoroughly. Only thirty years out of communist domination, it was telling to see the difference in the attitudes of the people of different generations.

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A typical massive statue from the Communist era.
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The businessman who displayed this statue did not have a very positive image of America.
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A small portion of the artwork at Rila Monastery.

We had originally planned to spend time pet-sitting in England, but that fell through for a variety of reasons. We then decided to also change our plans of spending a month in France helping out at a chateau, and we reworked the next part of our trip completely. We’re very glad we did, as France is now experiencing record-breaking high temperatures. I would never have survived 114 degree heat.

Instead of Europe, we chose to spend a block of time in South Africa. We’ve been in Cape Town for five weeks, and also took a road trip east along the Garden Route to visit a game preserve.

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Table Mountain as seen from the roof of our first apartment in Cape Town.
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Even the food trucks in Cape Town serve excellent coffee.

So – what’s it been like to live out of a suitcase for an entire year? One thing I can tell you, I’m pretty sick of my clothes! Since we changed plans mid-stream, this rendered the contents of my suitcase at best inappropriate; at worst, ineffective. We hadn’t expected Portugal or Bulgaria to be as nippy as they were when the sun goes down – gosh, I wished I’d brought a hat and gloves, and I got really sick of this blue sweater.

I’ve only used my swimsuit in the Galapagos, but at the price I paid for it, I’m certainly not leaving it behind! On the other hand, there were a number of items I jettisoned along the way: pants that were too baggy after I lost twenty pounds; a shirt with bloodstains I couldn’t remove (he was three years old and crying after a terrible fall – you’d have picked him up too), my beloved gypsy shoes that were so worn the leather split at the sides. (No worries – I found an identical pair online!)

And shoes – I miss my beautiful shoes! As any traveler knows, shoes are the thing that weigh the most. Airlines nowadays are merciless about the weight limit on bags, so I’m currently carrying only three pairs: low boots, nice-looking sneakers, and leather slip-ons. It’s hell, I tell you!

WhatsApp is a lifesaver, and if you don’t have it on your phone, download it immediately.  It provides high quality video chat capabilities for free over wifi, and often works on data as well. This has saved me a fortune, since calling home costs 25 cents per minute. That doesn’t sound like much, until you FaceTime with a three-year-old who spends the time giggling and saying “Poop, poop, poop” for the entire call. Potty humor is more palatable when it’s free.

Looking ahead, we are visiting the Zimbabwe side of Victoria Falls, and Chobe Park in Botswana, in mid-August. Then it’s north to Ethiopia to tour the Omo Valley and Lalibela, home of the ancient rock churches. I’m really looking forward to that! This will be followed by a month in Montenegro, on the Adriatic Sea, and then an extended visit to Italy, which we have yet to plan. (I’m open to suggestions. And visitors.)

I wrote the following on January 2019, as I reflected on our time away from home.

Being away from home for Christmas is weird. Being someplace warm for Christmas, although admittedly pleasant, is weird too. Being a pastor who just retired, and not having any worship leadership responsibilities on Christmas Eve, is even more weird. Not being with the kids, and not being immersed in the chaos that is Christmas with the DiMeo/Hammell/Leith family is – simply not right.  It was a very odd holiday indeed.

Couple that with the fact that Craig and I were both felled by colds that lasted from Christmas till beyond the New Year, and you’ll have an accurate image of our holiday.  Craig didn’t seem to mind it all too much, but I was fairly miserable. Here we are on January 15, and I feel as though the world didn’t have a Christmas season this year.

Not doing that again! I have insisted on a trip home for Christmas, because it is simply too awful to spend the holidays without family. At that point it will have been seven months since we were in the US, and that’s long enough! Craig is lobbying for a year’s extension added to our two-year trip, but I’m not agreeing. I want a home. Stay tuned.

Meanwhile, here are a few more photos. The next blog post will highlight our safari adventures.

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Another section of Rila Monastery.
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Assisting his owner in earning a few coins.
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A photoshoot in a park in Coimbra, Portugal.
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Close-up of a fresco at Rila Monastery

Yesterday we visited Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens – they are stunning!

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Into the Sunset

We had such a nice time today, watching the paragliders taking off into the sunset from Signal Hill, and heading out toward the beach at Sea Point.

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We watched a number of successful take-offs, and we have to assume the landings went just as well, although we couldn’t see them. It was fun to have the close-up view of people’s faces and body language as they ran as fast as they could, sometimes with a little help from the crew, and then became airborne.

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After watching 7 or 8 takeoffs, I began to think that I might want to take a try at this!

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Once the sun dropped below the horizon, it was time for the crews to pack up and go home. I would tag the paragliding company if I knew their name, so if anyone recognizes a familiar face or company logo, please comment.

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All Around the Cape

It’s been a busy week.  We rented a car, and that of course obligates us to get out and about. So – here are some of our fantastic destinations.

Sea Point

Sea Point is a suburb of Cape Town, and is just around the corner from we were are staying.  We visited one afternoon just before sunset, and here’s how it looked.  Gorgeous!

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Table Mountain

Personally, I’m not wild about cable car rides. The alternative is a 2 hour hike, which the official website describes as follows: The duration belies the strenuousness of the hike. The cable car it is!

Once the doors of the car are closed and it begins to climb slowly, the operator instructs the passengers to keep their hands off the windows, and to let go of the rail.  These instructions seem counter-intuitive, and it is a struggle to obey. The operator needs to repeat the statement twice more: let go of the railings, because the floor will begin to rotate. It’s a bit disconcerting, but does provide spectacular views.

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Standing in the Victoria & Albert Waterfront, looking toward Table Mountain, you can see the cable car station at the very top right of the plateau.

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Once you arrive at the top, you are free to scamper all over the plateau. There are marked paths, sort of, and signs instructing visitors to remain inside the designated areas.  Of course there were the free spirits who had not yet learned they were mere mortals. See photo below. Fortunately there were no accidents the day we were there, but we did pass a monument dedicated to all those who had died while hiking the mountain.

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The parent in me wanted to scold her, and order her back on the path immediately.

The views are breathtaking. Remember to click on the photos to enlarge them.

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Simon’s Town

This is a sweet little coastal town which is home to a naval base, and has an active harbor.  It has a number of nice restaurants on the water, and Dutch-inspired architecture.

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Hout Bay

This was another scenic spot on the water, plus it has seals!

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There was a crazy man inviting tourists to get their picture taken with this giant beastie, or to be photographed feeding it. Clearly he doesn’t actually believe those warning signs about wild animals biting. This quick video captures the depth of the man’s insanity.

Chapman’s Peak Drive

I first drove Chapman’s Peak Drive in 1993, by myself, in a car with the steering wheel on the right and the stick shift on the left. At the time, it was not a toll road, and it also had not been improved to protect cars from falling rocks.  There were minimal safety precautions, and if a car went off the edge, it stayed there – it was simply too difficult to retrieve it. The drive has been greatly upgraded. The views are breath-taking (in a good way) and I heartily recommend it as a stop on your Cape Town trip.

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At nearly every scenic overlook and rest stop, one can find a couple of souvenir vendors.  There are hand-carved figures made of wood and ostrich eggs, and spectacular beaded creations, all available for very little money. We make it a practice not to bargain too hard. A dollar either way doesn’t mean that much to us, but for some of the vendors, it is very important.

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The large white objects are ostrich eggs.
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I watched the seller making these clever beaded animals. He told me he was from Malawi, but couldn’t survive there so he came to SA. This was the only way he could make money – by using a skill his grandmother taught him when he was 8 years old.
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Hand carved? I really can’t say.
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This vendor had a truckload of pieces for sale.

Cape of Good Hope

Table Mountain National Park is a vast piece of land that runs from the city of Cape Town all the way to the tip of the peninsula. We picked a sunny day to make the hour and a half trip. It was a bit breezy at sea level, but when we reached the peak where the lighthouse sits, the wind must have been gusting at 50 mph.  Even though we were freezing, we didn’t want to leave – such views!

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After we took a funicular most of the way up, there were still a few stairs to climb.

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The other version of this sign says, “Baboons are wild animals and they BITE!”
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I took this photo on a previous visit to the Cape. I watched this baboon run up to a startled kid and snatch the ice cream from his hand.

Alas, there wasn’t a baboon in sight. I had really talked them up to Craig, insisting that we take every energy bar and cough drop out of our bags, since they are, um, highly motivated by food. However, to make up for the lack of baboons, we were treated to the sight of an eland antelope – believed by some to the the world’s largest species of antelope. He was quite an impressive sight!

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Eland Antelope in the protected fynbos (fine bush) that it eats.

I get a thrill out of seeing the exotic animals in a new place.  Okay, I get a thrill out of  any animal, including dogs and sheep. Like this little billy goat with his beard waving in the breeze. And look at these goofy ostriches on a farm we spotted as we headed back to the city. So funny!

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Have you ever seen a dassie? It’s a rodent/rabbity little thing, but the info center sign said it’s closely related to the elephant!

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Boulders Beach

I saved the most fun critters for last.  Boulders Beach is the home of the African Penguin. They have their very own sanctuary and are carefully protected. There are little huts for the penguins to nest in if they choose, and a beautiful clean beach for them to frolic on. In these pictures you can see the mature penguins, as well as the babies, which have fuzzy brown immature feathers.

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It’s easy to see how the beach got its name.

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Twins!
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African penguins have a distinctive pink marking around their eyes.

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In the next few days, we’ll be heading to Muizenberg Beach, known for its colorful changing cabins, and the wine region, for a tasting tour.  Check back soon for more photos. And it’s almost time for the “one year on the road” blog entry.  Yikes!

Back in the Mother City Again

I’m so happy to be back in Cape Town, South Africa – this is my fourth visit, and I’m excited to have Craig meet my friends and see all the sights with me.  We’ve been here ten days so far, and here’s what we’ve been up to.

We’re staying in an Airbnb apartment in Zonnebloem, in the Cape Town City Bowl, right in the heart of things. We’re on the eighth floor, and although the place is very small and has a few flaws, I cannot fault the view.  Lion’s Head on one side, the city on the other, and Table Mountain from the roof.  We’ve been waiting for just the right day to take the cable car to the top of the mountain, but today isn’t it – there are gale force winds up there, and the park is closed.

We’ve been doing a lot of wandering around the city, going out every day for a little walk or coffee, maybe meeting up with friends for dinner and some music.  Here are some of the distinctive sights and people we’ve bumped into.

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This performance troupe was busking at the entrance to The Company’s Garden, a lovely botanical garden that dates its beginning to 1644. Their outfits and beadwork identified them as Xhosa. The girls kept the rhythm along with the drummer by stomping their feet, and making their ankle bracelets rattle.  These were cleverly made of recycled aluminum cans.IMG_0071

In St. George’s Mall, we came upon a piece of the Berlin Wall that was gifted to Nelson Mandela in 1996. The inscription below the wall describes in detail the situation in East Berlin prior to the removal of this barrier.  If you click on the photo it will enlarge so that you can read the plaque.

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Here are photos of a couple of other interesting snippets of life in the City Bowl: a vintage arm-wrestling platform (the plaque shows very specific rules!), St. John’s Methodist Church, and some great street art.

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We took a day trip to Robben Island, the notorious holding spot of political prisoners who were arrested during the apartheid regime. (If you are unfamiliar with the history of this policy of institutionalized racism, click here for a brief description. It is important to be familiar with apartheid and its abolition, as this is a key piece of the current situation in SA.)

Robben Island is 4.3 miles off the coast, and less than 2 square miles. Nelson Mandela spent 18 years of a 27 year prison sentence on this island. Tours are conducted by former prisoners, when possible, or newly trained guides as the former prisoners age. Our guide on this day was jailed for 7 years, after being charged with terrorism, subversion and the like. He described to us the torture methods that were used during his interrogation, which I will spare you, and showed us a chart that itemized the food prisoners were given on a daily basis. This too was determined according to race, with Bantus, black people, receiving less than mixed race people. It is hard to comprehend the kind of intentional cruelty that went into every aspect of life on this island prison – indeed, toward all aspects of life in the whole country. Robben Island was closed in 1996, and has since been declared  a South African National Heritage Site as well as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

IMG_0113IMG_0097IMG_0115IMG_0099It was a relief to get back on the ferry and return to shore. The launch point for the tour is the Victoria & Albert Waterfront. When I first visited Cape Town in the 90’s, it was just a couple of shops and a few restaurants. Now it is a jumping place – loads of shopping, restaurants, art, a kiddie train, outdoor sculptures, street performers, and more.  It’s a fun place to spend an afternoon, especially on the off season, when it’s not too hot and crowded.

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A view of the waterfront with Table Mountain in the background.

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Doylestown has mules; Cape Town has rhinos.

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South Africa`s four Nobel Peace Prize Laureates: the late Nkosi Albert Luthuli, Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, former State President FW de Klerk and former President Nelson Mandela.

Right next to the waterfront is Oranjezicht City Farm Market, a foodie paradise.  We nibbled our way through the place, and brought home lots of goodies as well.  We were surprised to learn that the olives were grown locally. Plus flowers – so beautiful!

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Although the blue, purple, and hot pink flowers are dyed, the red ones in the upper right are natural.

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The beautiful protea is the national flower of South Africa

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thus far we have only been to one beach spot, to admire the sunset while waiting to meet a friend for dinner.  Sea Point has a nice pavilion with plenty of seating, which is great for watching the waves and birds. We were fascinated by the paragliders sailing above the beach.  Nope, not trying it! After sunset, we walked one block up hill from the beach to Mojo Market, which is a very fun place to get food and drink of any kind, plus there is live music several times a week.

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I’ll be back soon with more of beautiful Cape Town. Meanwhile, I’m going to go plan a safari!

Color My World

Guatemala is an endless tapestry of texture and color.  The women for the most part wear the most beautifully colored outfits, and I never get tired of admiring the work that has gone into these fabrics.

This group of ladies were about to participate in a religious celebration. A statue of the Virgin Mary is carried through the streets. These women were the advance guard, so to speak, carrying flowers, icons, and incense burners.  This type of clothing is for special occasions, clearly.

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The cheerful lady in the front in the picture below reminds me of my grandmother, with her pleasant smile. Obviously, the gals were having a good time. You can see the smoke from the incense burners in the left rear of the photo.

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The little kids here are so cute they’re killing me.   The mothers and fathers expend so much effort to have the little ones shine.  Some of these photos were snapped while the kids were going about their everyday business with mama; others were taken at a festival where the kids were going to be blessed in church and then have their portraits done.  Sometimes people don’t like to have their photos taken, but on a day like a festival everyone is having fun and happy that you notice their beautiful children.

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For the most part, only the females wear the traditional outfits.  The boys are usually in jeans and T shirts, although in some of the villages the men still wear stunning handmade shirts and pants (to do some very dirty work!)

Here are some close-ups of the stunning designs.  The two on the left are now tucked in my suitcase.  Give me credit for great restraint – I wanted one of everything!

 

Teenagers everywhere are the same – gotta have a cell phone!  Notice how the girls tuck them into their belts.

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Different villages specialize in different kinds of embroidery, and those in the know can recognize a woman’s place of origin by the pattern of her skirt or top.  One area creates the most beautiful birds!  Yes, okay, we bought a couple of these too…

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Craig asked me how to tell if the work was really done by hand, or rather made in a factory some where.  I showed him how to turn it over, and check the back side for knots, etc.

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Much of the stuff in the markets, although gorgeous and colorful, is made in China and sells for a small fraction of what the original handmade items go for.  And the handmade items are, by American standards, extremely inexpensive!

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In addition to those who embroider, there are skilled weavers who spend many hours a day in this posture, kneeling on the floor working on their backstrap looms.  The tapestry that you see on the loom below takes about three months to complete.  Ana has been working on this piece for about three weeks, eight hours a day.  She says she doesn’t mind the long hours, though, because she enjoys her work.  She is a stunningly talented craftswoman.

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The piece below is one of Ana’s creations, and shows the national bird of Guatemala, the quetzal, woven in the bright colors favored by local people.  And by certain tourists from Pennsylvania.  Yup, bought that one too.  We may not have a home, but when we do, it’s going to be breathtaking!

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