Wednesday, April 23, 2008


Hooray for South African public holidays, of which there have been many in the past two months (the Garden Route trip was possible with only 3 days of vacation time spent)! And the trend continues next week, when there are three public holidays during the week. So, I can take 2 days of vacation time and get another 10 days off for play and sightseeing. Highway robbery. But who am I to ignore the opportunity? It would be foolish. The highway is just BEGGING to be robbed! :)

So, on Sunday, I am off to Kruger National Park for a 6 day safari adventure. Kruger is in the north east corner of the country, bordering on Mozambique, and is a HUGE park, apparently. Tons of flora and fauna, and home to the big five, as well as hundreds of other creatures. I am going on a budget tour thing, by myself for a little head space, staying in a tribal village one night, and then in a tent in the park itself for the rest. Should be interesting, though loud, i am told, with roaming hyenas and other yipping, annoying beasts wandering around camp. We shall see!

Am also pretty excited to get out of the city for a bit. If i have to be woken up in the middle of the night, bettet to be woken up by wild dogs than rats or car alarms.

So this is what is going on. Otherwise not much new. Work continues on-- things are busy, but it keeps me interested and engaged. Social life continues to satisfy, especially after last year in Peru-- I imagine I am easily satisfied after that, but even objectively, there is always lots to do and people to hang out with and/or meet. In fact, I am actually looking forward to doing this safari thing by myself. I would have been happy to have someone join, but frankly, I didn't look too hard, and am looking forward to a little quiet/nature/simple time.

So will write when i get back, after the 3rd of May or so. Hopefully I will return refreshed, rejuventated, and my camera will be filled with pictures of big animals, and me giving them thumbs up for being awesome. One can only dream at such a photo collection.... :)

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Garden Route Rocks!!

In a nutshell, the Garden route :

- is the most beautiful car trip I have ever been on
- spans the coast to mountains, hills and plains, rocks and vinyards.
- is breath-taking on so many levels
- contains cool animals such as penguins and ostiches (thumbs up!)
- is fantastic!!!!

Well let's also talk about Cape Town which, for those of you have seen the pics, is an absolutely beautiful city-- a perfect storm of sun, surf, and mountains. I really loved the city, and plan on starting a petition to get the CIVICUS office moved there. Striking when we first got there was also the lack of security measures. You could go around MUCH more easily than in Joburg! You could walk in the street!! It was such a weird feeling after two months living in such a security-conscious city, and very welcome!

In the middle of Cape Town is a giant mountain. I am not sure what the logic was in settling in such an awkward location, but nowadays it makes for some pretty amazing views. It is a flat mountain (hence the name, Table Mountain) which you can see from wherever you are in the city, and which is sometimes covered in a layer of clouds, called the table cloth (wokka wokka) . On one side of Table Mountain you have the city and the harbour, and on the other you have some amazing views and spectacular beaches. Awesome awesome awesome. Again, pics say it all, but it really a very nice city, and is so close to so much other natural beauty in the area.

Which leads me to the Cape of Good Hope. After about three days in Cape Town, we then rented a car and started our drive to the Garden Route, starting first with a drive down to the Cape, which as everyone knows is the southern most point on the continent. And seriously--- as cheezy as it sounds, to stand on the edge of this continent, knowing that the only thing between you and Antarctica is, well, nothing--- that was really special for me. And in any case, aside from any surreal import you may assign the place, the scenery is amazing. Again--- check the pics. Blue sky, blue water, white beaches, rolling hills, jutting mountains. Stunning.

From here we went to the wine region of the area and imbibed accordingly. Stunning, almost pastoral views, relaxing vinyards, delicious wines, etc... Took another day along the coast, saw penguins (thumbs up!) and meandered around the rolling waves and rocky coastline. Next day headed up the Overberg through Route 62, which took us inland and into the mountains--- more like an altiplano really. Stunning in its big-sky-ness, wide expanses, we drove through the clouds at some points, etc.... Lovely. Back down to the coast for most of the rest of the trip, before heading back to Joburg on a plane from Port Elizabeth.

So that it is the trip in a nutshell, itinerary-wise. (If anyone is travelling here and wants a more detailed idea of where to go and what to do, let me know--- i have LOTS of ideas!) But there is no way to talk about the amount of breath-taking scenery you can see in this area. They say it is one of the most beautiful places on earth, and i can totally see why. Seriously. Awesome.

Otherwise, things are good. Big news on the day-to-day front is that i have a car! I decided to chicken out and go for an automatic--- i just couldn't see myself learning to drive a standard car on top of the security and driving on the other side of the road, etc.... I am happy with the decision. So got a '91 Honda--- a bit of a beater, but drives well, and am hoping it will last for awhile. Got some help from a friend of a friend who is a mechanic, so feel like, with his help, i at least made an informed decision. So now in the process of registering it in my name, getting insurance, etc.... Weird to think i have a car now. Still getting used to the idea! :)

Anyway, nothing much else going on. Am happy and healthy and doing well. Lots of get togethers, parties, etc... One of my roommates moved out last week, so we had a big bash for her leaving. Now have a young British kid in her room--- he is nice, easy going and should be a good addition to the house. Have another potential vacation break at the end of this month--- can take 2 vacation days off, and then with the public holidays, get 10 days off total. Seems it would be a waste not to take advantage, so i will see if i am able to resist the temptation (I doubt it). I looked at one point into going to MAdagascar, but couldn't get the flights to work date-wise. Bummer. So may go safari-ing in Kruger park to the north east of the country, or to Mozambique. We shall see!!

So that is my update. Hugs and hope all is well with everyone! :)