Thursday, July 9, 2009

My 4th of July (Saturday)

Saturday, the 4th of July dawned bright and cool in the Gauteng Province, (both Pretoria and Johannesburg are located in the province and it is the only Province in S. Africa, to not touch a foreign border), of South Africa. OK, cool just might be too mild of a description! It was cold, not Chicago winter cold, but cool when you have acclimated to summer. Most of the houses in South Africa do not have a central heat source. What they lack in central heating they more than make up for with HOT water. Showers are lovely.

Our day started out with breakfast, cooked by Fanie and assisted by Elmarie. We had bangers (a pork sausage), fried eggs to order and toast with juice. Top notch cooking. After breakfast DH and I knocked out the dishes. We get it done in a hurry and without too much discussion. After breakfast we loaded up in the car to drop Thornton at his cousins. School is on holiday for a week or two more, so he is going to stay with them for a few days. So it was hugs and farewell to Thornton, we’ll miss him today.

Elmarie grew up here and showed us where she spent her youth. Some of the houses she grew up in and the schools she attended. Her father managed one of the gold mines here. The area is full of very large rolling hills and flat plains that are called the bushveld. Most of the homes here are either brick or stucco and the walls are very thick and the ceilings are high for the summer heat. Most of the roofs appear to be tiles. One of the interesting things here is the laundry. So far all I have seen are the front load washers, which aren’t all that unusual, but it’s the dryers that are different. They don’t vent to the outside at all. Instead they vent through the door, and the door is also the lint trap. If I live there in the winter my dryer would be running nonstop!!!

Next up was a trip to a different kind of orange aid! It’s fermented and tastes fabulous, It was great fun, for 30 Rand, we were able to taste about 12 - 15 different flavors and alcohol content. We spent about an hour tasting the products, the liquors at 11%, 15% & 24% alcohol, the Mampoers at 50% alcohol and the Adoonsi at about 5% alcohol. We were feeling pretty good by the time we were done! Some of the liquors were very sweet, and some tasted better than anything "orange" I’ve had at home! Of course we have a few bottles of the stuff. Sure hope I can bring some home.

Next up was the Elephant Sanctuary, and not too far up the road from the distillery!!! At the Elephant Sactuary we got to get up close and personal with the elephants; pet, walk, feed and learn about elephants for 2.5 hours. Our guide Sam-guide started out by giving us a brief introduction to elephants and the purpose at the Sanctuary. Next we were introduced us to the elephants and their handlers. There was only the thinnest of cables to keep the elephants inside. Here we got to pet the elephants, feel the skin, eyelashes, ears, tummy, knees, tail and a look inside the mouth. After the touching and feeling they have the elephants trumpet… what a sound that is. Several folks nearly lost their seats the first time, and the second time weren’t so surprised! This is where we were allowed to receive an elephant kiss A Kiss . If ever in the same situation, pick the elephant with the smallest trunk! Next up was a chance to take an elephant for a walk. You hold the trunk with your fingers and they follow you around, H Elephant walk (in some cases a little encouragement from the handler is required). We could have ridden an elephant for an extra fee, but we chose not to. The next step was a little elephant anatomy and a chance to feed the grand dame of the Elephant Sanctuary. All in all it was a wonderful afternoon learning about a very gentle giant. These elephants do seem to be very healthy, active and alert and I would also venture to say happy! Elephant 1

We headed back home for some dinner after a stop at the grocery store to pick up needed supplies. Fanie and Elmarie did the cooking again, and this time it was acorn squash, salad, roasted Portabella mushrooms and pan seared steaks. Delicious!!! We also had a “Milk Tart” for desert and a very moist cake that was cross between a sponge and pound. They were both very tasty.

Tomorrow, shopping at the Rosebank Mall in Johannesburg!!! Where there are African booths and art work.

1 comment:

Sandi said...

Wow, Beth!!! What an adventure you are having!! I've just read this post and am going to read more. Your photos are wonderful!! It's almost 4:00 a.m. so I am going to read some more of your blog and then call it a night.