Friday, July 23, 2004

Time Consumption

Is it just human nature to make our lives hectic? I am in one of the most beautiful places in the world, in a small towm of no more than 10,000 people... probably 100,000 tops if you count the nearby "city" (which evidently is technically NOT a city until there's 1 million people there). You would think the pace would be a little slower... doesn't seem to be the case. Every day we wake up at 6 am, Jamie goes to work, I feign getting up and promptly go back to bed as soon as he's out the door. At 9 am, he comes home officially rousts me, I get dressed and we're off and running. I swear the phone does not stop ringing all day long. I have offered to get him a strip of velcro so that he can just attach the damn thing to his sideburns, but he didn't find that nearly as funny as I did. Geez... I'll work on the Madonna headset next. That should be REALLY funny. It seems to be rush rush rush all the time... I guess life in the sticks ain't so different from life in the big city - you just get a better view of what you're missing.

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Finding sore muscles

in places I didn't know muscle existed. We took our lovely hike along the Treur River and into the Blyde River canyon this past weekend - 17 km (10.5 miles) the first day and 13 km (7 mi) the second. My ass is still sore!! Most of the hiking was through rolling hills and valleys covered in long grasses, as most of the territory is considered savannah. It resembled soft fur on the back of some great beast - flowing, changing color with the wind, definitely needing to be stroked. As we came to about the third valley we saw the results of a controlled burn gone wrong. Nothing but charred remains as far as the eye could see, bounded by the towering granite walls of the canyons. Even among the destruction were the beginnings of new life - buddnig grasses, trees barely scathed by the heat... pretty crazy. In the midst of all of this, as we hiked along the river nearing sunset, we were cautiously eyed by a gaggle/herd/pride (what the hell do you call a group of baboons??) of thirsty baboons.. they quickly ran for the cover of the canyons as we grew closer, but I did manage to get a picture (which I'll post as soon as I get home). When we emerged from our trek, we did so at Bourke's Luck Potholes. My camera croaked on Day 2, so I don't have any pics of my own, but here's a great link:

Anyway, it was brilliant and wonderful and fabulous and then some.

This weekend we're off to Kruger Park to see how many of the Big 5 we can spot (elephant, rhino, lion, buffalo, and leopard). Then it's home again next Thursday. I cannot believe how quickly the time has gone by. It feels like I just arrived yesterday. I guess I'll let reality set in a bit later.. not ready for that yet. I hope all is well on the home front.

Friday, July 16, 2004


Did anyone else know that poinsettias were a tree, not just some silly potted plant we give each other at Christmas??? Hm.

Monday, July 12, 2004

The other side of the world...

I'm here!!! I got here last Wednesday. My luggage arrived on Thursday. It's truly been amazing. Woke up this morning, got dressed, had some breakfast, and Jamie and I took a drive around a new housing development on a game reserve in search of a giraffe. Welcome to Africa. We didn't find the giraffe, but we did see two ostrich, a heard of goats, some subspecies of "bok" (not springbok, but something similar, Jamie wasn't really sure), a red crested heron pecking at grain with a bunch of chickens and ducks, and a family of warthogs. Now for being such UGLY creatures, the babies sure are cute. All of this in a matter of 10 minutes and within steps of peoples rather large homes. Can you imagine waking up to that in your front yard? hm...

I thought that was pretty cool, but last weekend was even better. One of Jamie's friends has a house on a large plot of land in another private game reserve on the opposite bank of the river that borders Kruger Park. A group of us went out there to stay for a couple of days while the guys built a hide (kind of like a deer blind, but it's for looking at aminals, not shooting them). And THAT's where I saw a giraffe in the wild, calmly munching on leaves by the side of the road. The next morning we woke up to a lovely sunrise and 4 Kudu hanging out in the front yard. I'd never seen a kudu before, and I'll try to post some pics when I get back, but for now imagine an elk doubled in size, with antelope's horns, and white zebra-patterned stripes on its hind end. Very majestic looking creatures. One of Jamie's friends Lisa said that she could never leave here because of things like that. No matter how bad things get economically, or whatever, she'll make do because where else can you wake up to Kudu grazing in your front lawn? Who needs a lawnmower, when you've got kudu.

Another thing that is truly amazing is the complete lack of light pollution at night. I've never seen so many stars in my life. Not in Joshua Tree, not in the sticks in Texas, nowhere... it's amazing how cluttered the sky can be when you can actually see it. It's also pretty interesting looking at "new" stars. I've learned how to find due south without a compass, thanks to the Southern Cross. If I ever get lost in the southern hemisphere, I should at least be able to tell the lion about to eat me, where south is. I'm sure he'd be impressed.

Up next on our agenda is a day of climbing about an hour away. Jamie keeps telling me the name of the place, but as its in Afrikaans, I can't even begin to make sense of it, so I'll tell you more when we get back. Next weekend we're taking a 3 day, 50 km hike through a gorge. Then the following weekend heading off to Kruger Park for a couple of days. Somewhere in the midst of all of that is a day or two in JoBurg, and possibly a quick trip to Cape Town. I won't be disappointed if we don't make it there though. There's so much to see and do here.

Well, we're off to the tourist office to try and book a 2 day horseback journey into the local mountains. *sigh* I hate my life. (maniacal giggle - HAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!)

Monday, July 05, 2004

Only me....

Well, I should be well on my way to South Africa right now, at least somewhere over the Atlantic Ocean. That, my dears, is not the case. Let me back up a bit and tell you about my week.

As most of you know, Al and I drove out of Los Angeles last Saturday heading for Phoenix to spend some quality time in the bistering heat with Kev and Amy. That being done, tearful goodbyes over, I headed out alone on the open road towards Texas early Monday. I stayed in a lovely motel in the quiet metropolis of Van Horn (which consists of a strip of motels and a Mexican food restaurant that is evidently a frequent haunt of John Madden's) all situated in the lovely desert an hour and a half on the east side of El Paso. (As a side note, I had to Frogger my way across a two lane highway to arrive at the lovely establishment where I ate my evening meal.) I left town at 7 am the next morning, to witness my first Texas sunrise in nearly 10 years. There's something to be said about coming home, but that's another story for another day.

West Texas sunrise

I spent the next three days in New Braunfels catching up with my oldest and dearest friend Julie (we've known each other since 3rd grade), and San Antonio with my mom and sister Cheyenne. Friday afternoon, I headed out towards Fort Worth (finally!!). For some reason the anticipation was really getting to me. I always swore I'd never come back here, but I couldn't help feel a sense of relief as I exited the highway. Whether that was due to the relief of finally being at a destination, or something deeper, I'll have to examine later.

SO the plan was to unpack my poor little car and hand the keys over to my sister, unpack all of my boxes into their proper locations in my new room at my father's house, and repack for South Africa... all in 36 hours. I did it- I got all my stuff unpacked, handed the keys over to a 16-year-old that was ready to burst with excitement because she finally had a car, and even got all of my errands run for all of my pre-departure stuff. Yes, since Sunday was the 4th, I spent all day Saturday getting prepared for my 3 am departure on Monday morning - traveler's cheques, photocopies of tickets and passports, last minute shopping, packing.. all was done by 9 pm. Perfect!! I spent the 4th doing some last minute packing, reading and hanging out with my fam...

Then disaster struck around 8pm. I was gettng all of my bags together and to the entry way so they would be ready to go at 2:30 am when we had to leave the house. I pulled my tickets out, and my photocopies of my passport... but NO PASSPORT. In my excitement, I had left my passport on the glass at Kinko's. Stupid stupid stupid stupid. That's all that went through my head for hours, since I happened to go to the only non-24 hour Kinko's in Fort Worth, Texas. Plus, since it was a holiday, they closed at 6pm, 2 hours earlier. After the realization of what I had done sank in, I just sat in the Kinko's parking lot and cried. I feared the worst -- that no one turned my passport in, and I would have to cancel my trip. I was devastated and dreading the phone call to Jamie. Thank god it was 4am where he was and I got voice mail. I definitely couldn't have handled his misery on top of my own. I went home, cried some more, then came to the sudden conclusion that there wasn't a damn thing I could do that night (other than calling Kinko's corporate trying to find a manager's phone number.. oh, wait! I did that!), so I quit my snivelling, watched Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory and went to bed.

As usual, things have worked out ok... just not exactly as I had planned. My worst fears were never realized. I got to Kinko's at 7 am this morning (yeop, missed my flight), they did have my passport, and I was able to reschedule my flight for tomorrow. As for today, I'm not leaving the house. I'm afraid I'll lose my head. All my luggage and documentation is staying right where it is near the front door. My passport is now glued to my left hand, where it will stay for eternity. It might make a few things difficult as I am left handed, but whatever...

Stay tuned, I'm sure I'll do something else relatively stupid soon and I'll have to brag to someone. :)