Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Yesterday and Today

This morning as all morning so far dawned clear and bright. I waited a bit, before taking the morning photo. Looks very much like yesterdays. About the only things that change is how far out the cloud bank is, (it doesn’t come ashore) and the boats waiting for port entry. I asked my DH yesterday if the boats ever go the other way? They are mostly heading south, toward the Cape, but yesterday and today, most of them were going the other way, north…. Don’t know why.

Todays view: This MorningYesterdays view: Sunrise 6-29

I watched them bring in the shark net yesterday.There are sharks in the water here!!!

Shark Net

Yesterday and today were pretty similar. In the morning I walked along the promenade and the beach. Again intending to play in the tide pools, but the tide was high so the pools were unavailable. The surf was up again today as was the wind. I took some pictures of the waves crashing today.

Pounding Surf 2

Exploding Surf

and a gull in flight

Soaring Gull in South Africa
Yesterday, Brenda called and said she and her friend, Verna were running up to the La Lucia area. As the crow flies it’s only about 4 or 5 miles, but there is a very large freeway between here and there. There is a very large western type mall that just opened in April. Lots of shops, eateries and a movie theater! We just drove around it and made our way to a nearby fabric shop. No cottons or 'African Fabrics', but I did find a nice print of the “Big 5” plus the leopard -that may become a quilt. After that we stopped at the grocery in a smaller mall. Here the grocery does not stand alone. It is also in the mall. It is strange to be walking through an indoor mall and see grocery carts rolling down the middle. The grocery stores of course aren’t nearly as large… but they sure do have lots to choose from. I didn’t really get to explore, since I was with others… It was larger than our neighborhood groceries… and it would have been fun to look at more choices of products.

This afternoon I stayed in. I had intended to walk up to the village and explore some more of the shops. But the wind looked fierce and I wasn’t in the mood to overheat and then cool down too much, as it happens when the wind blows like this. This is winter here, although it is very similar to winter in San Diego, minus the rain. Warm in the sun and very cool in the shade. Although by looking at the construction crew building the new tower next door… You would think they are experiencing a Chicago winter, all bundled up, long sleeves and caps under their hardhats! The wind is cool but certainly not cold.

Tomorrow I will go to the village and get my nails done and maybe get some better black sandals. The American Consulate here is having a huge 4th of July party on Thursday and has invited all the local dignitaries and government officials. I have been invited, sort of. More like pressed into service. I get to be a greeter/conversationalist to keep the guests circulating. Guess I’m glad I packed something nice!!! I am going to take a camera… Not that I will know of whom I am taking pictures of, but just in case there is something/one interesting. The grounds are supposed to be spectacular.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Land of a 1000 Hills

Todays morning picture looks much like yesterday morning.
6-28 sunrise
However, the picture at the end of the day was a little different.
Today we went to Phe Zulu, a wild animal park/compound. We met up with another couple, Carl & Brenda for this little adventure. This is a Wild Animal Park, a little less grandiose than San Diego’s Wild Animal Park, but much more wild than a petting zoo.
It is on Zulu land, called Land of 1000 Hills. Phe Zulu 1000 hills We were introduced to Zulu culture via a little skit about courting and marriage. There was a story, some drumming and some dancing. We were given a small tour of a village, the huts and functions of the family members. Here is a picture of the chief, inside the Chiefs Hut.
Zulu girl Zulu Dancer Zulu Bride
Next we got into a Safari Jeep that seats 10 tourists, and set off with Tim our Guide. The road was a very rutted one lane Jeep track. On the tour we saw Water Buffalo, Springbok, Blesbuck, Impala, Zebra, Giraffe, and a Kingfisher. zebra KingfisherThe weather started to turn cold and very blustery. Our next stop was the Crocodile and Reptiles. I didn’t get any pictures of these… but I did really see anything photo worthy? One scaly lumpy toothy creature looks just like another… Tim, the guide brought out a couple of snakes… a black mamba, a puff adder and a spitting Mozambique cobra and let the audience members wanting to… hold a brown house snake, which I did.
After that we had lunch… crocodile and Springbok. The offer a feature, of eating with the Crocodiles, and Brenda and I would have done it, but it was just too cold outside. You really sit at a table with croc’s at your feet while you eat. You finish, you get a certificate. If we go back… we will!!!
When we left the Phe Zulu rain drops started to fall and we had some hit or miss rain on the way back. Once back, the ocean looked a lot like Lake Michigan on a cold and windy day, big choppy whitecaps and large waves.

choppy seas 6-28

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Saturday Notes and Pictures!

Today the first thing I did was take a morning picture of the Indian Ocean. Of course it's of the ocean, since that is just about all I can see out the windows!!!

sunrise 6-27

After coffee we went for a walk on the beach. We walked north, from the apartment along the Promenade, about a mile. It is a wide brick paved pathway above the beach, with a few stores and restaurants, but mostly a nice smooth path to watch the surf from. The surf is up; the weather is calling for unusually high/rough seas all along the coast.
wave power; wave crest
The north end the Promenade ends at a nature reserve called Hawaan Forrest Umhlanga Lagoon, which is a narrow footpath over the hills, through the trees and underbrush and foot bridge over a lagoon. I got an interesting photo of an egret on the edge of the lagoon and the beach and ocean behind it.
egret on beach
We don’t have that in Chicago!!! We wandered around the lagoon and on the beach all the way back.
We went to the village, local city center, for lunch and then a turn around the local shopping area. A bunch of open air malls, and one enclosed mall, but nothing like we call a mall.

On the way back to the apartment, we found a troop of monkeys. They are obviously not afraid of us… They did not run, but didn’t get any closer than about 6 feet. They are the Vervet monkey, weigh about 17 to 26 pounds, we saw about 6 or 7 adults and about 12 youngsters. They were so cute running and playing, reminded me of kittens. I got a couple of good monkey portraits!!! My first wild animals in Africa.
monkey 2 monkey 1
Tomorrow we are going up to Phezulu Park, just a bit under an hour away. It will be my first venture out of Kwazulu Natal since arriving.

Friday, June 26, 2009

A Walk on the Beach

Last night we went to dinner at a small Italian restaurant and sat outside. It was almost a mistake… the wind picked up and really shoved a lot of folks in doors. We stuck it out, and it was nice after the patio heaters were turned on. We ordered and split a green salad, based on the waiters’ suggestion. Good thing we did. It definitely was a salad large enough for 2. The salad was greens, goat cheese, cucumbers, tomatoes, slices of red/yellow peppers and some julienned carrots with a V&O dressing. For the main course I had a tuna, pancetta, caper with penne pasta dish. I would love to tell you the name of it, but I don’t remember. It was very good and light. Huge capers, not quite berry size, but large enough to stab with a fork.
The apartment (flat) is very nice. It is furnished in a very modern style, but very bright and full of natural light. It is on the second level, so not so high up. That is a much higher rent district. I need to remember to take a photo of the sea each morning because Durban is a shipping port so every morning there are ships, barges and other vessels waiting their turn to enter the port. I have only seen them go from east to west. waves and a ship
I took a walk on the Promenade this morning until I found a set of stairs down to the beach. I walked along the beach looking for shells or other beach memorabilia. One of the first things I found on the beach was a shell, actually it not just a shell it’s a “natural heart in nature”.
heart in nature
The beach has a line of rocks, hence the name ‘The Rocks at Umhlanga’ and the light house to warn the ships Beverly Hills Hotel of the rocks. One other item of note… the hotel on the far right of the lighthouse is called ‘The Beverly Hills Hotel’.I took several shots of the ocean and waves crashing because I know my sister misses it too. breakers
crashing wave

On my walk this morning I also saw a crab, bird and a butterfly.
crab bird ; butterfly Not the best images… but I am going to have to get used to the angle of the sun.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

The Long Journey

Chicago to Dulles-
An uneventful flight, and am I happy to say that!!! I hope everyone always has an uneventful flight where ever they go. Of course it was a short flight and between meal times, so of course only beverages were offered. I had water.
I made it out of the house on time… but traffic as always in Chicago is iffy at best… arrive about 10 minutes later than I had planned, but I’m happy I went with the guidelines for arriving. The line at check in was staffed by only 2 agents and both were on the phone with complications… 45 minutes later I was checked in. TSA Security wasn’t as bad as in the past, although taking off the shoes does make it difficult.
I did download 2 movies to watch on the plane, He’s Just Not In To You and Slumdog Millionaire. That is one of the neat things about having an iPhone… Movies on the plane and even though you have to watch in a really small screen, it’s often better than the movie supplied by the domestic airlines.
So now, here I sit in Washington DC’s Dulles killing time. I had a salad at a crappy little place at a really reasonable price, considering it is ‘airport’ food and only slightly more edible as a rule than airplane food. Even better, the lettuce was crisp and didn’t have that bagged flavor and although the tomatoes were pink, surprisingly they had flavor.
I have about another hour before boarding… so I get to watch people. Some interesting -some not, and of course some that are irritating. Can’t get the wi-fi (free) to connect… but if I really want to surf there is my phone, which I did use to catch up on email (reading) and any groups I belong to postings… no replies to any of them, because the iPhone keyboard really is virtual… you virtually hit every letter you don’t want intentional and the ones you do want virtually.
More folks are arriving at the gate, and they say it’s a full flight. Overnight, so they will feed us dinner and breakfast. So far I have to say that the gate personnel beat any US based personnel I have encountered in the recent past. The attendant noticed that I was in a center seat and has offered to find me a better seat… and I didn’t even have to ask. I must have looked very wishful.

Dulles to Dakar, Africa-
Ok, I am not a world traveler and haven’t taken a commercial plane out of the country and can’t remember the last time I flew with an airline other than US. This plane was an Airbus 600 something wide body. It was full, well maybe a seat here and there, but no stretching out in empty seats in the middle.
Talk about food, we no sooner got in the air, than the drink carts started down the aisles, beer and wine are part of the meal in all seat classes, but sadly not for me. I had water. I even bought a bottle in Dulles and brought it with me. Once the drinks were passed out, the ‘hot’ food carts started up the aisle. Yep hot and you had a choice between chicken and beef. I took the chicken. I must have been hungry, I ate just about everything. No boxes, real meals, entrĂ©e, bread w/butter, side salad a slab of Tillamook cheese and some crackers w/a Twix bar, and dessert with real silverware. That was the best meal. I think we had more drinks offered during the flight, but I watched a movie and read my book. The flight was smooth all the way.
We made a stop in Dakar, for about an hour and a half. I chose to not look at my watch all that often. I really didn’t want to know how much longer I was going to be in that seat!!!

Dakar to Johannesburg South Africa-
Once again no sooner do we get into the air than the drink cart comes around. All breakfast drinks this time. I am staying away from caffeine since I will hopefully sleep on this leg of the journey, so no coffee or tea for me, wish I had thought to bring some decaf tea bags with me, (oh well next time). I did get some water again, and a cup of apple juice. It tasted like apples, but it was much too sweet for me. As soon as drinks were done, the food trolley came down the aisle. It was a choice of scrambled eggs or waffles. I chose waffles, because heavy starchy food always makes me sleepy. The waffles weren’t waffles, (rather pancakes rolled up with blueberries inside). Not too bad, as blueberries are not a favorite berry of mine). Along with the pancakes, of course some maple syrup, a croissant with butter, mixed fruit bowl, yogurt and orange juice. As soon as breakfast was done, a cabin steward came by and slammed down the window shade. If I hadn’t been so tired and had the window seat, I would have enjoyed looking out the window at the changing terrain below. I did manage to sleep, about 2 hours, but it caused my neck to tighten up which these days mean a headache, one that doesn’t always go away. So I tried to doze without causing further neck problems or pain, not really possible. So by the time I landed in Johannesburg, I didn’t want to do anything except lay down. However, not to be the case. We had to go through Passport Control and then to collect the luggage and then to Customs. No difficulty in either location… breezy. One of the nice things about foreign country airports, the provide luggage carts so you don’t have to try and haul/balance all you crap. I loaded one up. Much easier even than luggage with wheels. The next stop was the last leg and checking the luggage again. I forgot I was supposed to see about getting on an earlier flight …. So I had to sit in the Jo’burg air terminal for 2 hours. Not too bad.

Jo'burg to Durban-
I was so tired I could have stretched right out on the floor or the naked metal benches. But I didn’t. I had a backpack and a small rolling duffle. I stacked them up and rest my head on my arms on top of the bags. Perfect!!! I dozed in 10-15 minute intervals and felt much more capable after a couple of those. The time passed pretty fast and we loaded up. I know there were at least 2 other flights (maybe even 3) to Durban while I waited. Our flight was full. Ok, I was so tired I was asleep before the flaps of the plane were pulled back!!! Next thing I hear, a food cart! Offering food and drinks. I took a bottle of water and declined the food. This was a box meal. The flight was only 70 minutes. In the US you only get a bag of peanuts and a cup of coke (Southwest) other airlines it’s bring your own!!! The box meal was a chicken salad sandwich I think. I was too tired to care and was asleep again in seconds. Next thing the wheels were touching ground! We were here!!! Off to get my luggage and let my DH take over the care and decision making until I had a decent nights sleep!!!
I left my house near Chicago at 7:30 am on Tuesday morning and I landed in Durban, South Africa a bit before 9 pm Wednesday evening. There is about a 7 hour difference in the time. I got a good stretch of sleep during the night and I have had a small nap today. I am hoping by tomorrow I will be about caught up and raring to go…

The view out the livingroom window after sunrise
and the veiw of the local shopping didstrict.
shopping dist.


Monday, June 22, 2009

Time is getting short....

Ok, today is for tying up all the loose ends.

Axel 'the monster dog'-
day 4 b

is going to the kennel, with a stop at the vets for a months worth of food and a stop at Petsmart for a regular E-collar. He has some major allergies, one of which is mold and with all the rain in the north eastern part of Illinois.... mold is in the air. So he is worrying his feet.

Making sure that the cat, Spaz -day 8
has all the things he will need...(the pet/house sitter came by yesterday for final instructions and key), clean litter, food and water.

Checking that all the stuff outdoors is either nailed down or put away, so that it won't interfer with the mowing crew,


last but not least my visit with the Chiropracter and massage therapist.... (which is done).

I still have to finish filling the suitcases and a little light house keeping before I leave, but I think it's all under control.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

3 days and counting...

I am supposed to be preparing for a vacation. But a 12 hour power outage has thrown a bit of curve in the preparations!!!! It's amazing how much we depend on electricity in our daily lives. I spent last evening reading email and surfing a bit of the Internet (Nexrad Satellite weather maps) on the cell phone (iPhone -old one) and doing a little old fashioned book reading.

Of course without electricity there wasn't any air conditioning, but behind the storm was much cooler weather, so it was windows open for keeping cool. But the downside to that is, every little noise outside makes the dog... BARK, (it's a big bark).

Well since I'm behind... for the day before I even had coffee... I'm off to get started. I have a full agenda... packing, cleaning, and sewing.