Thursday, December 31, 2009

Christmas in Darkest Africa

Preamble…. We have been without Internet for a couple of days, so I am very behind postings… and will have to start crowding... to tell everything!!! I will say that my visit this time is going by so very quickly!!!

On Christmas Eve our Rental Car, (more like a ‘glorified’ roller skate),

was delivered on time, right to the condo. It is what they called a Kia Picanto. The car conveniently had 5 doors; 2 for us to use and 3 more to get the luggage in and out. The trunk space was negligible would hold maybe 5 grocery bags and a gallon of milk. Good thing we didn’t have any kids to ride with us… they would have had to ride on top. We loaded and headed for Pietermaritzburg, a bit over an hour away. One of the other oddities was the turn and windshield wipers were reversed in this car. Most vehicles here seem to match the US except you drive on the other side of the car. We met Fanie and Thornton there put our stuff in just about all the remaining room in the bakkie (pickup truck) and turned in the rental car. On our way out of town we stopped at a grocery store and completed the overstuffing of the bed and capper on the bakkie, and I do mean stuffed!!!

We then took off for Darkest Africa. See here for a map on Google,  (campsite A). The drive was about 2 hours more and it was too dark to take photos on the way in… so we headed right up to the main house… met the property owner (Pete) and several other family members and friends, also there to have Christmas. Pete served all of us weary travelers and family a meal of cold sliced venison (game from the Farm), a roll and cold pickled beets. Then off to the rondeval, I didn’t think to take a picture of ours, which is a bit different than any I could find on the Internet…. The building is typical to South Africa; it is round with a thatched roof. Ours was approximately 40 feet across and the walls maybe 11 feet high, and built below grade on two thirds with thick stone wall about 8 feet up… and the rest of the side was screened, the remaining third was screened from top to bottom with screened a door set off to one side. The full wall screens could be pulled up similar to Roman shades, to facilitate any cool breeze or for easier access. There were 6 metal bunks… moveable, so we moved 2 together for a double…. Sort of… and the kids used them as intended…. We made our beds and pretty much fell into them. When lights out came it was DARK!!! DH has a bit more respect for my little travel size Maglight!!! He had to make a trip to the outhouse in the middle of the night. When I say dark, think no electricity…. No street lights, no over glow from nearby town, nothing human…. Really DARK inside the rondeval, outside it was star or moon light only, and filtered by trees.

In Africa, in the summer the sun rises early. The sky starts to lighten at about 4:30 in the morning and full sunrise is around/about 5 am. So, you have to sleep past daylight to get enough rest if you go to bed late! We all got up around 7-ish…. I took a walk with my camera… and caught a couple of pictures. My first encounter was with a Millipede… or in Zulu a Shang ga lo lo, (I have spelled it phonetically, because I don’t know how to spell it in Zulu). This guy was about 6 inches long and moving at a good pace.

We had a delicious breakfast and then down to the rivers edge, which is named the “Boesman’s River”. Where because of the rains was a mixed with silt for silky brown color… The butterflies all came to drink from the rivers edge. I saw at least 6 varieties, but only a few showed their wings… There were some really bright birds too. The Yellow Weavers, which build nests hanging from the ends of branches, and the entrance, is from the bottom, so snakes can’t get in. Another interesting fact, the Weavers strip the leaves from the branches so they can see the snakes…. I saw another bird, but it stayed in the shadows so I couldn’t get a good picture to share. It was brown, red and blue! Along the other side of the river was a shear rock wall that there were swallows nesting, and skimmed the river all day. I have posted a few pictures on my Flickr page.

Soon, folks we met at the house the night before started showing up. They had to get the lamb on the spit and the vegetables in the oven… Around noon, everyone else arrived and we waited for the lamb to finish. Next the tables were set up for an informal Christmas buffet, which had lamb, venison, waterbuck, 3-bean salad, more pickled beets, butternut squash, carrots and potatoes roasted in a stone oven! Everyone had their fill and then there was dessert!!! A real Pudding Triffle- complete with pecans and brandied cherries with vanilla ice cream. Talk about a laid back Christmas. Antoinette, Pete’s daughter, had a small gift wrapped for each guest. It was so nice to feel welcomed and included!!! I wish I had known, so I could have brought something up for her, too!!! We had a gift for Pete, because DH has been to the Farm several times since coming to Africa and wanted to show his appreciation for allowing him to be there.

So far the biggest disappointment here has been that the box I shipped at the beginning of December still has not arrived!!! It has most of the Christmas gifts and the tree in it!! We may have Christmas 2009 in late January 2010.

I more to tell but it has to wait… this is already getting wordy, (nearly 1000). But yesterday I found a quilt shop!!!


I want to give fair warning. I am planning a giveaway for January!!! Details, coming around January 3rd… so stay tuned.

More LATER!!! oh and Happy New Year!


Karen S said...

Just think how nice that Land Rover is going to be after driving around in the roller skate!

I'm glad you had a merry Christmas in Darkest Africa (it's really a place!!!) and wishing you a wonderful new year! Hopefully that box will arrive before you come back!

-karen in cold, snowy wi

Meg said...

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year... Miss you... I have been looking for you on Skype on my phone as the laptop's power supply has pooped out..

Muah... Meg

Pegg said...

Hey Beth!

Of course we all miss you and will be thinking of you at bee today. Drove by Axel on my way to the boat yesterday, waved hello, poor boy! Loving your stories, Happy New Year!