My Brother, the Toilet

AUGRABIE FALLS, South Africa- A bird pooped on Ethan today.

He was alerted as to the presence of the poo by his mother. “Stupid bird,” he muttered. The rest of us were trying not to laugh too hard. His father smiled and said, “Eryn, now you have a post title: My Brother, the Toilet.” I smiled appreciatively, trying to step on Ethan’s shadow. The day was warm- a pleasant 31 Celsius according to the car- and we had driven 120 kilometers from Upington to the town of Augrabies, then on to the falls (which is a national park).

Augrabies is on the Oranjerivier (Orange River in the vernacular), several kilometers before the river becomes the border between South Africa and Namibia, and finally hitting the Atlantic Ocean. The Orange River starts in Lesotho and passes through Upington. From above, the river is located by following the green trail of vineyards.

My father, remembering the falls from a previous trip, had raved about the orange, yellow, blue, and green lizards doing push-ups. This was not to be seen; they were too busy mating with the brown females of their kind. Of other animals, we saw too many bugs, my father saw a fish, and he and I saw Bart Simpson’s face on the rocks across the river.

After having Heaven ice cream bars, we get back in the car and drive through moving water to get to Oranjekom, Ararat, and Moon Rock. Oranjekom and Ararat are both look-out points, but Moon Rock is a gray, round, smooth rock. The Klipspringer Trail follows the crest of this outcrop, but we didn’t hike all 39.5 kilometers for several reasons, including that parts of the trail were closed because the three-day hike is only open from April to October 15. (Ethan and I were not too disappointed.)

After an hour and a half (or thereabouts), we returned to the guest house and Ethan prepared to waterski. After a supper at Bi-Lo and seeing One Direction on the cover of Seventeen, we returned home to find Bishop, the huge dog, roaming free. Mother was petrified.


Falls ‘n Falls

Today we went to the Augrabies Falls on the Orange River and I skied. It was very hard, as I kept falling down, but in the end I prevailed and did it. The falls are very large ones and they are famous for the lizards that sit on the rocks and do pushups and other exercises.

Back to water skiing. I didn’t fall as much as I did yesterday, but as with yesterday, JJ pulled me on his jetski. There was a pattern, though; for every time that I fell, I did well one time. There are no stairs from the bottom of the canyon up to the view points, so you have to pretty much rock climb to get to the top again.

Ok, your imagination has probably gone wild by now, and that was my point. But now that I’ve had my fun, I’ll tell you the real facts. We did go to the waterfall and stayed there for a while, but we did NOT even touch the water, even though it was the same river that runs by the place in which we are staying. When we got back, I skied and did one full loop without falling three times, two times in a row, the other one was a different round.

That’s all for now, Folks!

The Quest for the Café with Mochas and Free Wi-Fi and for Chocolate Ice Cream

We spent this morning searching for a café that had café mochas and free wi-fi. We didn’t find it. The closest was ChocoLatte, which had mochas (hence the name) but no free Internet. At Coffee 4 U, they didn’t have wi-fi. I asked if they had mochas, and my reply was, “What are those?” I paused and then said, “Kind of like chocolate lattes.” Another pause, this time on her end, and then a nod.

“We have those.”

Well, you can’t really go with that. Another coffee shop, Arabesque (which is the same as one of my piano pieces back home), was closed while the Dried Fruit & Coffee Shop made Mom say, “Calling it a ‘coffee shop’ is a stretch.” This was all after Mom had given our laundry to the service at only 15 (about US$2.00) a kilo.

After returning home for a short while, we went back out and checked Gotti Ice Cream for chocolate ice cream. Everything there is bought in bulk. There were HUGE bags of red, brown, and orange Cheetos-style chips. We walked out, dismayed, and looked at Checkers. It was kind of daunting with all the Christmas banners with gingerbread men, dinosaurs, sock bunnies, and dolls hanging in your face. But we managed to find Kit-Kat King Cones.

Oh, well.

At least I know where, if I had a party for 100 people, to get enough Cheetos.


Windy and Wet Water Skiing

Today I went water skiing. In all actuality, this was my first time, but I like to think that I’m an old hand when it comes to skiing on the water. As it happens, since today is a Monday, the water-space was clear so there was only the wake of the jet-ski that was pulling me.

When you look at a good water-skier, you see that they get up out of the water quickly and go around and around, across the wake and back, until they are done and go back to the dock. Well, it looks so easy, but I have firsthand experience saying that it is not easy. For one, you have to get your balance just right so that you don’t fall forward or backward, and two, you have to hang on.

When I started with JJ in the jet-ski, he went fast and I fell. That happened a lot before I finally learned something and got out of the water but forgot to stand up more, so I was squatting on the skis, I fell. This went on for some time before I finally got up out of the water and skied a ways before falling down again. When I finished, I had almost done a full turn.

What happens behind all of those Pictures…

If my father puts the pictures up, you will see that Eryn and I went around and around in an inner tube in the river, however, what you don’t know is what it feels like. I’ll tell you, shall I?

You are on the tube and hanging on for dear life, the boat that is pulling you seems to be going faster and faster, suddenly, you are at the corner, the most dangerous part, and hang on and try not to flip over or fall off until they finish turning. When they finish turning, you go across their wake and seemingly fly across the water in the air, before falling back down with an ear-splitting crack to the water.

That is the main thing that happens when you are in the inner tube behind the boat. Mainly, if you don’t hang on tight enough and don’t balance correctly, you fall off. Today I fell off a lot, but each time I learned something new so that I could ride for a longer period of time the next time.

That’s all for now, Folks!

Swimming (on) Sunday

After shopping at Clicks- the chemist’s- and Game- the Target- and checking out The Pizza Place, we drove home to the guesthouse to wait.

And wait.

And wait…

Some more…

“They’re here! They’re here!” Ethan screeched. It was 4:30, and one man had arrived with the inner tube. An hour and a half later, Ethan and I had been jet-skied (without a life jacket. Gasp!) over to the sand, courtesy of Jay Jay. Besides Peter, Franco, and Carly, there were Carly’s friend (Nicki), Girl Cousin, Guy Cousin, and Girl Cousin’s Boyfriend (a.k.a. Muscle-Boy #2. The daughter of the guesthouse’s owner [her name is Lynda] also has a boyfriend, who we nicknamed Muscle Boy). I was the first one I saw fall off the tube.

Darn. When Girl Cousin, Guy Cousin, Girl Cousin’s Boyfriend, and the driver of the boat came over to “rescue” me, Ethan just randomly fell off the tube. Girl Cousin’s Boyfriend took my place on the tube and rode with Ethan. The boyfriend stayed on the tube. Ethan fell off. That was the one time I got to wave the red flag, which was put in my care once I got on the boat.

When Carly and Nicki went, I was sure one was going to fall off. No such luck. What about Girl Cousin, Girl Cousin’s Boyfriend, and Franco? Nope. What about Girl Cousin’s Boyfriend, Ethan, and Franco? No, once again, even though once they were really really close. Carly tried to waterski, but I wasn’t watching so I don’t know how she did.

For supper, Jasper cooked up some chicken and we had a braai (a.k.a. BBQ). I think I ate too much.


The non-Orange Orange River

The river outside the Waterfront Guestfarm is called the Orange River. The problem is, it isn’t orange, it’s green. That was fine though, all said and done, because it wasn’t that cold.

We started out this day going to church, and after a service, we left and said goodbye to all of the people at the church (about a dozen) and headed back to our guestfarm. When we came back, I saw some boys going into a boat, and looked down forlornly on them, hoping that one of them would see me and invite me to go with them on the innertube that was being dragged around from the back of the boat. They didn’t do that, but when I continued looking forlornly, the son of the host invited me to ride on the back of his jetski with him. I did that, and that was fun. When I got back, as soon as I started to sit down, I got invited to ride on the back of the same boat that I saw earlier. This time, they had their sister Carly with them, and Peter, Carly, and I all rode for a while.

By the time that they had to go, Eryn had ridden (and fallen off) and I had ridden a lot and made some new friends.

That’s all for now, Folks!

Soaked Saturday

We started out the day by being soaked- in sweat. The Seventh-Day Adventist Church in Upington has a fan, but it was not being used. Ethan was the only boy there, and there were also four or five girls. It was a very small church, with only about a dozen members. The sermon was, thankfully, in English, but just about everything else was in Afrikaans (but they kindly translated it to English for us).

When we arrived back at the Riverfront Guesthouse, there were five kids and their dad and his friend, plus the owner of the guesthouse’s son (Jay Jay), in the water on innertubes, and Jay Jay was on his jet ski. Ethan joined the excitedly, although his original intent was just to ride the jet ski. But then he wanted to waterski, and then he wanted to tube. Well, at least he got to tube with the four boys (including Peter and Franco) and the 12-year-old girl, Carly.

The group then invited me to ride in the boat, but that was too boring for me so I rode on the tube with Ethan. Of course he put me on the more precarious side, so I fell off.  The whole time I was worried about the nonexistent crocodiles thinking my toes were French fries. Then Carly and I went for a ride with Jay Jay on the jet ski. All this was done on the Orange River just outside the guesthouse.

And guess what?? Carly, Peter, Franco, and the rest are coming back tomorrow! Yay!


Fiestas after Siestas

There was some sort of fiesta today, but since we aren’t in a Spanish speaking country, it wouldn’t be called a fiesta. Nor would siesta be called siesta…maybe nap, or rest. In any case, we went to some sort of fiesta today at the new place that at which we are staying. The place is called the Waterfront Guestfarm, and every year they host an annual party. I guess it was our luck that brought us here on that one day in a year.

After driving for 2.5 hours and taking naps for some of the time, we arrived in Upington and went to the mall. At the mall, we went to several stores to look for items of which we were in need. We bought the always-needed candy, sunglasses for Eryn and mother, and more data for the phones. After doing that, we continued to the guestfarm in which we are staying.

When we got to the parking lot, it was full of cars and we had to go around to the back to get parking space. As I said before, it was an annual event that the family hosts every year and we were lucky to come on that day. After checking in, we went to our rooms and went to dinner, which we had at the party. We ate chicken and ice cream and I drank an appletizer before we went back inside to the warmth of the rooms to go to bed.

That’s all for now, Folks!

Foxy Friday

J. was wrong on this day, October 26, Anno Domino 2012. It happened that he and his wife, son, and daughter were taking a morning drive in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park on the South African side when they came across a dog-like creature walking, laying down, and then watching while her three pups played around he
J. claimed it was a black-backed jackal, and his family originally agreed. After looking through the binoculars and checking the guide books, it was established that the dog was, in fact, not a black-backed jackal but a Cape fox. This idea was firmly dismissed by J., and his wife accepted this.
Until she didn’t. His wife, S., looked through the binoculars and checked and double-checked the guide books. J.’s children, E. and G., knew that it was a Cape fox. S. knew it was a Cape fox. J. didn’t believe for a long while after S. had finished exclaiming, “[The pups] are
so cute!!”

When we arrived at Waterfront Guest Farm here in Upington, South Africa, we found the once-annual “market” going on. There was food, things to buy, and ice cream. We had chicken and salad, and Ethan and Dad had ice cream. We can still hear the tittering of the girls my age as they talk outside. They were sort of wrestling on the grass, and one ran into the back of my chair. Dad said, “Ethan, they’re flinging themselves at you. Not that they have very good aim, but, still.”

Ethan was blushing.


Leopard, leopard, sitting in a tree…

We saw another leopard today, and like most of the pictures that everybody has, it was sitting in a tree. Most of the time he (or she) was laying down on a branch, but from time to time, it twitched. My father commented on how it would be fun to be a leopard; take a nap all day and tease tourists with giant cameras by being still until the tourists are about to leave and then twitching, making them try to turn back on their cameras and start shooting at the slightly different posture.

Today we also saw several lions, and tried to get pictures of some, but most of them were in the bush, way at the back. However, when we went on our routine evening drive, we saw a lioness that was sitting on the outside of a piece of bush that she was hiding in earlier that day.

As an afterthought, I would hate to half to walk across the bush all day, because lions can be 3 meters from where you are standing and still be perfectly camouflaged.

Lions and tigers and bears, oh my!

Well, we saw lions, but for bears and tigers, they were as scarce as boar feathers, if you get my drift. If not, then what I mean for you to understand is that we didn’t see any. Not at all surprising though, considering that tigers and bears don’t live in Southern Africa, or at least they didn’t when I last checked. Still, however, as I said in the first sentence, we saw lions.

In all actuality, we only saw two, but since we saw those two four different times, it seems like there were more. It was a pair of lions, male and female, and the male one wasn’t that old, so didn’t have one of those giant black manes that the lions of the Kalahari do, but still there was some dark hair in the mane. He and his female were, um, procreating, to put it one way, and stayed in that area all day.

We also saw an African Wildcat, which are about the size of a regular cat, and some people cross-breed them with normal cats. However, the one we saw was, as far as I know, pure bred. It had black stripes on its legs up to the knees, and was gray all over besides that.

That’s all for now, Folks!

Today we saw a CHEETAH!

It was running away from us at the time, but we still got some okay pictures. We were going up the side of the river when I said in a somewhat bored tone, “Oh look, there’s a cheetah.”

And my mother was like “Where, where, where, let’s take a picture!!!!!!”

But by the time the cameras were rolling, it was moving up and out.

Later that day, when we were driving back from yet another drive, having seen nothing new, really, after stopping to comment on the dead giraffe, we saw a car hailing us, saying that there was a pair of lions up one kilometer. We continued, and after only half a kilometer, we saw the pair of lions, a male and a female. The male had mane, one of the black ones that are unique to the Kalahari, and the girl looked just like all of them, female lions, that is.

That’s all for now, Folks!

This is Kgalagadi Transfrontier National Park

Some of you know about this park and probably, when any of you went a while back, you knew it as the Kalahari Gemsbok National Park. Now, however, it is called the Kgalagadi Transfrontier National Park, being from the fact that it is in two countries, but has gates to three; Botswana, Namibia, and the Republic of South Africa.

Today we went to that park and are staying here for 4 nights; one night at Mata Mata, two nights at the Kalahari Tented Camp, and one night at Twee Riverien (two rivers).

When we legally left the Republic of Namibia, we arrived at the Mata Mata camp and turned right, going along the river road to see as many animals as possible. We saw the ever-present springbok, the gemsbok, the wildebeest, the jackal, and the vulture. What surprised us all was the quantity of vultures that was in the park, there was almost one in every tree, so many that we didn’t take too many pictures, knowing that they all would be there tomorrow in their camel-thorn trees.

That’s all for now, Folks!

Notable Notes on Notably Notable Namibia

After 25 days in Namibia, I have come up with several notes on the notably notable Namibia. Then again, having been here only 25 days, I doubt that anything that I have to say is noteworthy, but still, I will tell you what I have come across:

In Namibia, you are a park worker, a tourist, or a miner. As far as I have seen, there are lots of mines that need workers. There is also so much land mass dedicated to National Parks that there are lots of jobs available because of that. And last, in part because of that land mass, there are lots of tourists flocking to Namibia to see either dinosaur tracks, the ocean in Swakopmond, or jostling one another to get into parks such as Sossusvlei and Etosha. Indeed, as far as I can tell, there are only three other kinds of jobs that I can think of, and two of them cater to tourists. They are 1) Owning places to stay for tourists 2) Being a waiter at a restaurant, 3)Owning a farm out in the middle of nowhere and farming cattle, sheep, or goats.

That is my main note on Namibia, live long and remember, all who have ears to hear.

Walking, Running, Jumping

We are at a new place tonight and it is in the Kalahari Desert. It is a farm that farms sheep, cows, and goats. Some of the female goats are pregnant, and others have newly born kids. Of the sheep, as far as I could tell, there were no lambs, but since we were so far off, it really is hard to tell. Of the cows, we saw few, but we still saw lots of cow pies on the path.

Anyway, we went on a walk just to walk, and when we got to the first hill, I ran up it.  We continued on like that for some time, before turning around and heading back to our temporary home that has a zebra skin on the floor.


Once upon a time, there was a man named Joe. He was a very holy person, but didn’t get baptized until he was 21. Now it came to pass that he drank some, even though he went to church every Sunday. When he went to church and got baptized, the priest said to him, “You are now Bon. You will not drink, you will not smoke, and you will to do drugs.”

When Joe got home, he opened up his fridge, and took a bottle of wine from the shelf. He filled up a bucket with water and put the wine in it. When he finished, he then said to the wine, “You are now orange juice!”


How can you tell the difference between a mountain zebra (Hartmann’s) and the plains zebra (Burschells)?

The plains zebra is white with black stripes, while the mountain zebra is white with black stripes.


How do you make a cat bark?

You pour petrol over it, blowtorch that, and it goes WOOF!

How do you make a dog meow?

You slice it in half with a chainsaw and it goes reeeooow!

Flay the Vlei

Vlei is pronounced flay and today we went to a vlei, two vleis to be exact. Their names were Sossusvlei and Deadvlei. Since the park is a long ways away from where we are staying now, we left early in the morning to get to the park when the gates open so that we could do the dunes while it was still cool outside. When we got into the park, bought our permits and drove to the parking lot at the end of the tar road, we started walking the five kilometers to the vleis.

At first we walked along the road, moving to the side when the shuttles went by. One might ask why we didn’t us the shuttle, and the answer is because my father wanted to walk, which was fine by me. About a kilometer in, we started walking away from the main road and towards some dunes that looked big. We walked towards those and then climbed them, only to see that there were still a lot more dunes to go across. This went on for some time before we finally got to the vlei, which means marsh in Afrikaans. The first one, Sossusvlei, was, of course, dry, and we walked across it to the parking lot. From the parking lot, we went to the road and over to Deadvlei. The walk was two kilometers, but we made it. On the other side of the vlei, there were little black spots moving up a big dune. When Eryn identified those as people, we realized just how big those dunes were.

That’s all for now, Folks!

Here We Come…

We finally officially immigrated into the Republic of South Africa today, although we kept switching back and forth between South Africa and Botswana on the road today. We have a few more visa troubles, but these are relatively minor compared to the India troubles. (Thank goodness.)

Thundering Thursday

KGALAGADI TRANSFRONTIER NATL. PARK, South Africa—After the thunder and rain had passed and Mom had crept over to my bed in the middle of the night to look at the waterhole, Dad’s phone alarm went off at 5 am.

We were on the road with all our stuff by 6:37 am after having had breakfast, showers, and packed luggage. We saw the female lion walking up over a hill, but the male lion (this was the mating pair) was nowhere to be seen.

After passing familiar landmarks such as the giraffe carcass, dead eland, and steep turnoff up to a lookout, we finally arrived on new territory. Three kilometers later, we turned onto the Dune Road (South) and drove between the Auob and Nossob Rivers. We saw many secretarybirds and rocks that looked like animals, plus ostriches and a gemsbok, but not much else until we hit the Nossob River valley.

We turned north, away from Twee Rivieren, and drove for 12K before U-turning south. We passed a snake eagle drinking from a natural puddle (!!!) and our first interesting animal of the day: (well, animals) a small pride of lions sitting in the shade. We kept going and found another cat 20 kilometers down the road: a leopard.

It was lying in the fork of a tree. Dad thought it had a kill nearby (he still thinks that, in fact), but we looked and looked and couldn’t find one. We also saw a pretty red slender mongoose there and at a tree later, where a man pointed out the lions sitting in a bush.

We didn’t see these mysterious lions until our evening drive, when we once again saw the leopard. We also saw an eagle trying to catch a Cape cobra for dinner. However, it took too long and the gate was going to close soon. So the other three satisfied themselves by looking at the leopard again, which had changed trees and gave a nice silhouette.


Wet ‘n’ Wild Wednesday

It actually rained today! Real, live  rain fell from the sky in the Kalahari! Maybe this will be the once-in-a-century when the Nossob River floods. It last flooded in 1963, so there’s a chance.

This morning we left the Kalahari Tent Camp at 6 am. By the time we returned for a late breakfast, we had seen an African wild cat, the same two lions mating, a troop of five spotted hyenas, giraffes, and a Cape cobra. That wasn’t the only snake, though! On our evening drive, we saw a white snake. Of course, we don’t know what it is, but, still.

Mom was totally freaking out, but that is to be expected. On that drive we once again saw the two lions, plus some kudu, which are very rare in the park, and lots of black-backed jackals plus a steppe buzzard. We also saw lots of vultures, but couldn’t find the kill that they had found. That was disappointing.

At the waterhole down in the river valley, we thought we saw lions tonight. Sadly, they were just eland, which would have been great in daylight because we’ve only seen about seven or so eland here. But oh, well. There’s always tomorrow.


Triple Tuesday

We have now seen the three big cats of Africa: lion, leopard, and cheetah. We saw two of these (lion and cheetah) today. We saw the cheetah just as we set out this morning from Mata Mata Camp at 7:34 am. It crossed the road and went over the rise to our left. By 7:39 am, when the car behind us pulled up, the cat was gone.

Ethan got to put the black dot up on the magnetic map. I put up two brown dots for the giraffe sightings. So far, we have seen 25% of the giraffes in this park. Eight giraffes (three male and five female) were brought in from Etosha a while back. After being kept in Mata Mata to adapt, they were eventually released into the wild. They now number around forty. We saw ten, including two babies (plus the carcass, but I don’t count that).

Neither of us put up the red dot for the mating lions because it was 6:49 pm and we had to be back in the Kalahari Tent Camp. So today we saw three of the ten animals on the board (the ten are: lions, cheetahs, giraffes, leopards, honey badgers, caracals, African wild cats, spotted hyenas, brown hyenas, and meerkats. I really want to see a caracal because the dot is pink). We also saw a red hartebeest, blue wildebeeste, a herd of springboks with a whole bunch of adorable skinny baby, ostriches plus some ostrich chicks and their parents, black-backed jackals, white-backed vultures, tawny eagles, fork-tailed drongos, gemsbok, and a stick Dad thought was a chameleon.


Mammal Monday

My day started off with being awaken by the alarm flies, which sound like mosquitoes, causing me to hide under my sheet in mortal fear and lose valuable sleep.

When I officially woke up, someone was using the sink incorrectly, causing the water to thunder onto the metal sink. After breakfast, Mom discovered that our lizard friend had died: his head had been squished in the bathroom door, leaving blood all down the edge of the door. It was awful.

Before we entered the park, we had two more reptilian encounters: a Kalahari tent tortoise  was crossing the road, and so was a large snake. The tortoise was small and we had to keep moving it back so we could take pictures. Ethan was holding it in his hand when, all of a sudden, it pooped on him! I was more amused than he was.

The snake reared up next to the car, causing Mom to scream. I think it’s too bad that it didn’t stop so we could take pictures. Dad and Ethan think it was a kind of cobra.

We left Namibia and entered Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park. We’re still not officially in South Africa yet, but in several days we’ll leave the Twee Rivieren camp and be in the RSA.  Today we saw springbok, gemsbok (after all, this park used to be the Kalahari Gemsbok Park), ostriches, white-backed vultures, swallow-tailed bee-eaters, sociable and non-sociable weaver birds, blue wildebeeste, meerkat (I didn’t see these, but everyone else did)’ ground squirrels, eland, black-backed jackals, and a giraffe carcass.

At reception at Mata Mata, there is a metal map of the park with different colored magnets where people have seen meerkats, lions, cheetahs, leopards, brown hyenas, spotted hyenas, African wild cats, giraffes, honey badgers, and caracals. Ethan was thrilled to put up a purple circle in honor of his sighting. There was also a brown circle for the dead giraffe. I wouldn’t have thought at counted as a sighting.


1,001 Namibian Nights

Tomorrow we drive into Kgalagadi, a nature park in Botswana and South Africa. That means we’ll be officially leaving Namibia, but not entering South Africa.

Namibia was our home for 26 nights. We stayed eight places, the longest being in Swakopmund (nine nights). Our shortest stay in one place was at Onguma Bush Camp, right outside of Etosha. We celebrated three major milestones in Namibia: Day 100 (September 28), my thirteenth birthday (October 14), and One-Third of the Way Through (October 20).

We visited two major places of interest: Etosha National Park and Sossusvlei. Cape Cross, where the Cape fur seals are, is also a major landmark. It’s on the Skeleton Coast.

Our first place to stay was Weaver’s Rock. Ethan finally had friends in the form of Dominick and his older brother after being little boy-deprived for three-and-a-quarter months. There were five dogs: Choc, Nala, Lilly, Tasso, and Bonzo. (Those were my favorites, from first to fifth.) The food was good, and our showers, like here at Kalahari Farmstall, were fire-heated.

The next night was spent at on Onguma, a kilometer or so from Etosha, and there I went on my first night game drive. We saw bush babies, kori bustards, a bat-eared fox, springbok, and zebras.

In Etosha we saw the first leopard for any of us. It was promptly a female in the minds of Mom and me. She had killed a kudu and was eating it by the Nuamses waterhole. We also saw 134 elephants, 90 giraffes, 17 lions, 12 rhinos, and five spotted hyenas, along with many, many springbok, black-faced impala, gemsbok, ostriches, kudu, zebras, blue wildebeeste, and red hartebeest. We found one dead snake on the road.

Next we stayed at Dinosaur Tracks Guest Farm (the farm’s official name is Otjihaenamaparero). We visited the tracks multiple times, mainly because of the cell service. The dog, Bella, was sweet but fat.

After stopping at AiAiba and playing with the meerkat, Mitjie, we arrived in chilly Swakopmund. There I had my birthday and we lived in a real house, perfect in every way except for the need of a heater and quieter neighbors.

Two nights ago, we were enjoying the good food and company of Wilheim, Hannetjie, Olf, and the three dogs (Coco, thirteen-year-old Polly, and three-year-old Lucky), and enjoying the not so good company of the cold-shouldered meerkat.

Finally, we stayed at Kalahari Farmstall. This stay was mostly to get near the Kgalagadi border and to rest up for the long, long days ahead. So I need to get some sleep.


Realm of Relaxation

Today and yesterday were boring days, except we celebrated a major milestone today: we’re one third through this trip!

Yesterday we recovered from the grueling energy wasted at Sossusvlei. After sleeping in and having a breakfast of bread, eggs, fruit, tea, and hot chocolate, we lounged around the building, doing schoolwork, reading, imagining flying eggs (don’t ask!), and eating avocado, cheese, and crackers.

In the late afternoon, we got off our butts and hiked up one of the smaller mountains. It took us about an hour and a half both ways, but we often stopped to wait for everyone to catch up, or for Ethan to throw rocks at things and miss. We stopped at the top to admire the view, and Ethan tried to kill a lizard to feed it to the meerkat.

(After all, the best way to one’s heart is through their stomach, right?)

Ethan failed, and we all trooped down the mountain to Wilheim, Hannetjie, and Wilheim’s longtime friend, Olf (he said his name was like wolf, but with no W). They were easily speaking Afrikaans, but when we arrived for a dinner of pizza, something quiche-like, salad, tomatoes, potatoes, and vanilla ice cream with kiwi, all spoke English (which we liked!).

Olf appears to work more at Barchan Dunes than at his job as a doctor in Windhoek. He and Wilheim told jokes, explained Namib-German customs, and made the meal generally delightful.

This morning after breakfast, we set off for Kalahari Farmstall, a farm with geese, cows, goats, and sheep 17 kilometers from the South African border crossing, Mata Mata, into Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park.

We had apple pie for dessert.


Dune Day

Wilheim says that one week, he took guests to Sossusvlei three times. “After that, I was done with Sossusvlei,” he assured us at supper. “But my wife just gave me bad news: I have to take guests there next week.”

We had just finished talking about what we thought of the park. We had gotten up at 4:30 in the morning and gotten back at 5:30 pm. Those thirteen hours had been about 38.5% (five hours) driving, 38.5% climbing the dunes and visiting the vleis, 15% (two hours) eating ice cream and using Internet at Sossus Oasis, and 8% (one hour) exploring Sisriem Canyon.

Once we finally reached the parking lot for the dunes, we got out and walked along the dunes five kilometers to Sossusvlei and the parking lot at the end (we didn’t drive because we don’t have a 4×4). A vlei (pronounced flay) is a marsh, but Deadvlei and Sossusvlei don’t see much water. Deadvlei is more picturesque because it has a lot of dead trees in it and not much else.

By the time we got back in a shuttle bus, we had walked 7 kilometers. We got back in our car, stopped by Dune 45 (Ethan climbed it), and climbed through Sisriem Canyon to a little pond with fish (!!!) in it. We threw rocks in for a while and then got back in the car to get ice cream at Sossus Oasis.

We finally left Sossus Oasis two hours later and eventually got back to Barchan Dunes Retreat. We got all the sand off and had supper with the other guests, Hannetjie, and Wilheim. It was really good (again), ending in another delicious cake, this time chocolate, that attracted two of the three dogs, Coco and Lucky. Coco is big and brown with soft fuzzy hair, while Lucky is one of the black-and-white dogs. Wilheim shared his cake with them, but only after they sat when he told them to and “shook hands” when he told them to.


Falling Flat

We bid good-bye to Swakopmund, the ducks, the male cat, and Nala, the female cat, today.

We took the C14, which listed as the worst road in Namibia. We drove past mountains and river beds, cliffs and grasslands to the sign that said TROPIC OF CAPRICORN. We stopped and took pictures, naturally, and then got back in the car. For being in one of the hottest parts of Namibia, it wasn’t that bad. It was in the seventies and sunny, bringing welcome warmth after  week in chilly Swakopmund.

And then it happened: the near-inevitable sound of a tire hitting a rock wrong. It was the back left tire, and it was killed. It hit another rock, and Dad eased the car off the center of the road. We emptied the trunk, putting the suitcases in the front seats and the 20 liters of water in the middle. Dad got the temporary tire (it had pink stripes on it) from the back and put it on.

Four cars drove by, three passing us and one going the other way. Half the cars stopped, and both were passed us.

We finally got going again and dug into the focaccia bread and read about what to do with Budget in the event of a flat tire. Once in Solitaire, we got a new tire and petrol and continued on our way to Barchan Dunes Retreat. Once there, we were greeted by two dogs nad a meerkat who is scared of people. Wilheim and Hennetjie own the place (although Wilheim jokes that he’s the servant), plus there  are horses and game (zebra, springbok, kudu, gemsbok [oryx]).

Our rooms are 500m from the main building, but it’s no problem.

Hennetjie made supper, and it was delicious: for the appetizer, an asparagus casserole with pickles and grape tomatoes; for the main course, a small side salad and green beans, carrot, and potato wedges; and, for dessert, cake that was sooo good, even though I don’t know what it was, and rooibos tea.


Mambas to Meerkats

Wikipedia says that: The meerkat or suricate, Suricata suricatta, is a small mammal belonging to the mongoose family. Meerkats live in all parts of the Kalahari Desert in Botswana, in much of the Namib Desert in Namibia and southwestern Angola, and in South Africa. A group of meerkats is called a “mob”, “gang” or “clan”. Meerkats are primarily insectivores, but also eat lizards, snakes, scorpions, spiders, plants, eggs, small mammals, millipedes, centipedes and, more rarely, small birds. Meerkats are immune to certain types of venom, including the very strong venom of the scorpions of the Kalahari Desert, unlike humans. Meerkats are small burrowing animals, living in large underground networks with multiple entrances which they leave only during the day. They are very social, living in colonies averaging 20–30 members. Animals in the same group regularly groom each other to strengthen social bonds.

In case you haven’t guessed, there are meerkats where we are staying right now. Well, actually, there were meerkats, now there is just one meerkat living in the maze of twisty little passages, or twisty little maze of passages, or little maze of twisty passages, or- you get the point. It lives in a maze of tunnels in the shade of a small acacia tree in the middle of the driveway. As I was saying earlier, there used to be more, as in one more, but it died at nine years of age, leaving the one year old to fend for itself in the world of humans.

Tonight when we were having dinner, our host told us to be careful about snakes and scorpions around our house, which is half a kilometer away from the main building. The reason being that since there aren’t meerkats to eat all the bad things, the bad things like it there. As an afterthought, meerkats even eat mambas!

That’s all for now, Folks!

Wakey, Wakey, Eggs and Snakeys!

Today we saw a lot of snakes; from boomslang (tree snake, literally) to black mambas to zebra snakes. All of those are deadly poisonous, but luckily, none of us got bitten because there was a wall of glass seperating us from the snakes. How, one might ask, and the answer is ‘We were at a snake farm.’

As you heard from the first paragraph, we went to a snake farm. That snake farm had more than snakes, though, it had lizards and scorpions too. However, snakes were what they had most of.

After paying the admission fees, we went in side and turned left, going into the left wing of the complex. In there were snakes that I had never heard of before, so I skimmed through that before going to the middle part, where there were boomslang and zebra snakes. I looked at those for a while, quietly laughing when the boomslang tried to go through the glass, before moving on to the right wing. In the right wing, there were two black mambas, several scorpians, and several pythons. Both of the black mambas had shed recently, so there were skins on their floors. When we finished that, we left, sadly not paying the money to hold Dodo the python

An “Africana” Adventure

Because I had so many Namibian dollars left (each is worth about US$0.13), we needed to go shopping today because, unlike rands, Namibian dollars are useless over the border (rands are pretty much equal to Namibian dollars, so here they’re interchanged. Yesterday I got change back in Namibian coins and a 20-rand note).

We started out going to a shop, but we stopped to look at the people selling “Africana” on the side of the road. They were selling everything from trinkets to baubles to textiles to fabrics. One of my favorite things (though I didn’t buy it) was the hippo with its mouth open. There were many, many carvings of it on the curb.

The man from whom I bought stone giraffes said that his name was Robert, he was from the Caprivi Strip (in the north-east corner of Namibia), and that he had carved the giraffes by hand. In reality, his name probably wasn’t Robert, he probably wasn’t from the Caprivi, and he most definitely didn’t carve the stone because he got all his things from the trailers behind all the other sellers, and the stuff was most likely imported from Zimbabwe.

Ethan bought a kudu leather bracelet and a stone leopard, too, before we moved on, passing a primary school. One of the kids said to Ethan, “Cool hair, dude!” (That’s because he’s gelled his hair up in a spike.)


Quad Biking: Not for the Quesy of Stomach

Today, after lots of work on my part, Erym, Father, and I went quad biking on the dunes to the south of Swakopmond. The retailer that we used was Outback Explorers, and we went for an hour and a half. The first thing that we did was get our helmets. Since they obviously didn’t want us to get our hair on the inside of the helmets, they made us put little orange hair nets around our heads to protect the coating on the inside of the helmets. My father was the first one to get his helmet, and it was blue. I was next and got a dark gray one with a retractable visor since I didn’t have sunglasses with me. Eryn got the same style of helment as mine, but hers was bright orange. Once helmeted, we walked over to the large assortment of quad bikes. There were blue, red, and dark green. The dark green and blue ones were Yamaha Grizzly quads, and they had automatic shifting. The red ones had manual shifting and none of us wanted to go on those. Since this was our first time on quads, we got the three blue quads in the front of the garage while our guide went in a red quad.

We left in a large cloud of red dust, our wheels spinning to find purchase on the slippery sand. We followed our leader and drove up the dunes towards the biggest ones that we could see. Them being the closest, they also blocked out everything behind them, so saying that we went towards the biggest dunes that we could see isn’t that hard. We went for forty-five minutes before stopping and the guide took Eryn and I both on joy-rides while he made Father follow behind him. Lucky.

We rode back in silence, save for the roar of the engines and the sound of squeeky brakes. We went across the river again and when we got back, we were all glad that we had quad biked.

That’s all for now, Folks!

The Little ATV That Could

NEVER drive this ATV under 16 years of age.

That’s what the ATV that I drove today over the sand dunes said.

Apparently we went so slow that our guide, Gideon, didn’t take us on the whole 90-minute route (but it took us 90 minutes anyways). Halfway through (45 minutes, naturally), we stopped after Ethan and Dad were rescued from the sand.

Gideon took first Ethan, and then me, up the steep dune and around and down and just about every preposition except through. Once we were done, he took Dad, except Dad rode on his own ATV.

We all had blue ATVs because we’re not experienced drivers. Gideon’s, naturally, was red (for experienced riders). I didn’t really want to go fast, but you have to go to get up some steep hills, where the sand loose and deep. But my ATV never got stuck. It could always get over the dunes.


Top 5 Lists for Australia


Like the US, Australia is a large country. We had to prioritize what parts of the country to see and how to minimize travel time and costs between those locations. We hope to return to Australia some day to see and experience more.

Prices for everything are high compared to the US, and especially higher than India, where we had just been. I guess you could say we experienced sticker shock the first few days because of the huge difference between Indian prices and Australia prices after converting both to US dollars. So our challenge was to find fun but not-so-expensive activities. As you probably noticed from Eryn and Ethan’s daily posts, we visited many parks with playgrounds, national parks, and beaches, all of which had features that were unique to Australia.

Government regulations sometimes seemed to focus on the not-so-important. Patrons of bookstores are not allowed to sit on the floor, according to a rule by the Australian equivalent of OSHA. Train passengers may be fined for putting their feet on seat cushions.

The typical operating hours for shops and restaurants on Sundays caught us by surprise. Many shops close midafternoon and many restaurants are closed on that day.

Avoiding sunburn was a challenge. Australians enjoy many sunny days (yeah!) and the ozone layer in that part of the world is not as dense so sunscreen is extra important.



Ayers Rock at sunrise and sunset 

View of the Opera House and Harbor Bridge in Sydney Harbor from a ferry on a sunny day

Indian Ocean beaches in Darwin and the northwest coast, especially at sunset

Similarities to life in the US – After being in Asia for two months and knowing we would travel to Africa after Australia, we really appreciated being a place for a few weeks that seemed more like home.

Watching the humpback whales play in the water breech at Gnaraloo Station on the northwest coast

Eating in Australia

Foods new to us:

Anzac biscuits – This is crisp oatmeal and coconut cookie was sent by women to solders in the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) during World War I because the ingredients do not spoil quickly. And the general population quickly discovered this tasty treat.

Lamington – This is a favorite sweet of Australians and our family. It consists of sponge cake (regular or orange flavor) dipped in chocolate and then covered with flaked coconut. Eryn and I want to find a recipe for this when we get home so we can make some of this yummy food.

Vegemite – The dark colored spread for toast or bread is salty and flavorful, even if not to our liking.  All of us tried it and opted out of additional servings.

Crumpets – Even though we have all been to Great Britain, we had never tried this type of griddle cake. We discovered that they taste better if toasted slightly and then topped with jam.

Damper – This bread is like a large scone and cooked over coals from a campfire. Mel from Ambelindum Station cooked ours over campfire coals in a large cast iron pot. We smeared it with cream, butter, and/or jam which made it even more delicious!

Tasty cheese – Yes, this is really a type of cheese not just an adjective. It tastes similar to cheddar cheese.

Weet-bix  – This is a common, hearty breakfast cereal made by Santarium Company. I grew up eating Ruskets, a very similar cereal made in the US so this cereal brought back many memories. Eryn and Ethan tasted it, but decided to stick with another cereal with fruit and more flavor.

Dune 7

Wikipedia says that: Dune 7, which is the highest dune in the world, not Big Daddy, as it’s the seventh dune past the Tsauchab river before dune 45 on your right handside toward Sossusvlei (note that this should not be confused with another “Dune 7” found in Namibia, near Walvis Bay

We didn’t go to the big dune 7, but we did go to the other Dune 7 just east of Walvis Bay, which is south of Swakopmond. We drove the 45 minutes to get there, and when we got within sight and saw tiny dots moving slowly up the side, the people with the sharper eyes identified those as humans, and then we started thinking of the long climb ahead of us.

Gravity was against us, when we were going up, what with slippery sand and all, for every two feet that we went up, we went down one. That was very tiring. Unless it has been really windy or a lot of people have gone up the part that my father and mother went up, you can see their zigzags as they went up the mountain. As I was the first one going up the slope and was about a third of the way up the slow climb when the others started. Since it is a lot faster going along the top, I went up to the tallest point, which is pretty high, stood there, and walked almost all the way back to where I started when I met Eryn coming up. My father came up too, and we started what you might call rough-housing, as in I would try to push him off to one side, but he always succeeded in pushing me over.

When we went back down, I decided to do something really fun to get down: rolling. If any of you ever feel the urge to roll down the side of a tall sand dune, resist the urge. It is most uncomfortable and you get sand in places that shouldn’t get sand in them. Needless to say, I got down eventually, walked back to the car, and we were off.

A High Hike

Dune 7 is 388 meters tall and the tallest sand dune in the world. We climbed Dune 7 today.

Of course, it was Walvis Bay’s Dune 7, not Soussusvlei’s, which is the real Dune 7. The one we climbed today was much, much shorter.

The first fifteen feet of the dune were covered in glass shards and bottle caps. After that, it was clean, sparkly sand up to the very tip-top, which only Ethan visited. (Well, there were things like socks and toilet paper strewn across the dune, but other than that it was clean.) The climb was long, and each of us stopped every so often to rest and catch our breath.

At the top, however, if you wanted to catch a breath, you caught that and a lungful of sand. Mom finally finally finally caught up with us at the top and exclaimed, “Whew! What a hike!”

She was the first one to go down, too, after she convinced Dad to give her the car keys so she could get the camera out of the car and take pictures of us coming down the dune. Dad and I jump-walked down like normal people, but Ethan got covered in sand because he rolled.

After we finished teasing my brother about the cute girl in the pink shirt and he finished begging to go quad riding on the dunes, we left for home and stopped only to take pictures of flamingoes. For supper we had cake and ice cream for my 13th birthday.


You’ve got Gas!!

You probably do, but since my mother says that that is inappropriate, so I won’t talk about your flatulence. However, I will talk about gas, or fuel, to be biologically correct.

We left our flat to go towards Henties Bay, which is north of Swakopmond. On our way, we stopped at a Shell station to fuel up and top off the tank. When we got there, Lots of servers wanted us to go to their pumps, and my father chose the one that he thought would be the fastest. When we pulled up behind an old gray car, their hood was put up and the attendants started dinking around with the engine. While they were doing that, other people appeared and surrounded our car and started washing the windows and pouring water over the car itself. We sat through that, and when we finally pulled up, our car was almost spotless. While the tank was filling, they attendants asked if they should do stuff with the engine, and this time, we declined. When my father got out to pay, the gathered attendants tried to guess where we were from, and when he said yes to America, they started singing the national anthem.

That’s all for now, Folks!

A Day in the Life…

Of a Cape fur seal living at Cape Cross:

0:13- Hunger overtakes reasoning and I slide down to the water for a midnight snack.

1:01- I’m shamed as my friends discover me in the water without them.

1:34- After some good-natured fighting, we climb back onto shore and fall asleep to the sound of our fellow species bark-bark-barking.

6:27- The sun rises, bringing light back to our little world.

6:30- After some more stretching and scratching, my friends and I maneuver around big bad bulls and piles of females to the Atlantic Ocean.

6:41- We finally arrive in the ocean. The waves are hard, but I love it. A big wave comes and I’m knocked back a meter. (I am, after all, a metric seal, being born and raised in Namibia.)

6:43- We find a big school of fish- breakfast for all!

7:59- The cold isn’t what causes us to drag our wet bodies out of the water; it’s fatigue. After all, we haven’t even slept five hours today!

9:16- After an hour of sleeping, I’m bored. I go stir up trouble in the big meanie’s territory, and he chases me up the sandy hill to the boardwalk where those nasty two-legs are. I hide under the walkway and finally go to sleep.

14:48- That’s more like it! After a good nap, I yawn, and those things the two-legs carry- shutterflies, I call them- start click-clacking. There is one small two-leg with brown hair above me and she aims an especially large shutterfly at me. I hear the two-legs around her call her “Eryn,” but the way they say it- at such a low tone- makes me believe it’s an insult. I see my buddies down on the beach and head toward them, avoiding the bull that sent me up in the first place.

14:55- Friends are finally reunited, and we all go in the ocean and try to find the school of fish that we found this morning. Well, we can’t find it, but we do ride some pretty impressive waves (and look pretty impressive ourselves, if I dare say so myself).

15:26- We’re exhausted and flop down on the rocks. We’re cooled off every 10 seconds or so by the pounding surf.

18:44- The light around me is dimming, and it seeps into my dreams. I’m surrounded by water, deep, dark, and cold, and I know that out there is a shark that wants to eat m-

18:45- I’m jolted into reality by a wave breaking on my face and one of my friends hitting me with a flipper. I lie on my back and observe my fellow animals. Some two-legs up on the boardwalk have covered what are, I think, their faces. I can’t think why- the stench maybe? But we smell like roses!

19:02- The sun finally sets. I splash around in the water a bit and then slowly, tiredly, make my way up the hill, passing skeletons and warm hairy bodies as I go.

19:09- I get my last glimpse of October 13. It was a good day, as days go.


Flamingo Fun


We finally finally finally went to the river to see the flamingoes. We think at there were two types (greater and lesser) because there were the big white birds and the smaller pinker birds.
To get to the mouth of the river (coincidentally, “mund” means mouth, and the river is the Swakop. So “Swakopmund” means “mouth of Swakop”) we had to park at the aquarium and walk past the Tiger Reef Bar and along the beach. We watched the cormorants, seagulls, and blacksmith lapwings wade/dive in the water. The flamingoes spent most of he time with their heads submerged.
There were at least two dead flamingoes at the edge of the river, which has turned into a lake because it doesn’t have enough water to reach the ocean. Apparently a favorite Namibian pastime is racing the water from Windhoek to the ocean along the Swakop river after the first big rains.
We also got to see the flamingoes fly a bit, too, and the undersides of their wings are pinker than their bodies.
After that, we got more groceries, dropped those off at home, played on the playground, and finally had supper at 22° South, which is the restaurant in what used to be the lighthouse-keeper’s house. No one is allowed to go up to the top of the lighthouse because it is still used by Walvis Bay. We couldn’t eat in the building, either, but that was because we hadn’t made reservations.

Stories, Stories, Stories

A lighthouse is supposed to provide light for the passing ships to show that there is land there. Today we went to a lot of places and there are many stories that I could tell. What follows is but one of the great multitude that should be voiced:

Ethan woke up, freezing cold. Why had he been so careless the night before and not put the covers on straightly and correctly. He turned, and saw Eryn sleeping there so peacefully in the other bed, so opposite of how she was when she was awake, before going back to sleep.

When Ethan woke up for good, it was several hours later and he was well rested, seemingly ready for whatever the day might throw out at him. After taking a shower and, of course, styling his newly cut hair, he left the bathroom and hurried towards the dining room from which delicious smells were coming. He ate breakfast hurriedly, pausing only to laugh at some weird jokes that his father told him, before going back to his book that he was reading.

He read and read, and when he looked up, he saw (and heard) that his parents weren’t home, and gleaned from Eryn that they were at the Laundromat, doing laundry. Since it was freezing cold again and since his jeans were being washed, Ethan curled up on the couch and did his homework like a good little child, waiting for his parents to get home.

When they did get home, they doled out all the clothes to their rightful owners before the whole family left to see flamingoes at the head of the Swakop River. They stood there and watched flamingoes for a time, before going to the Fruits and Vegies Market on the main road to restock on food. There, they got candy and soda, fresh loaves and apples, and anything else that they needed. They finished that and got home only to unpack the groceries and leave again for dinner, going to a lighthouse that was somewhat Italian with a lot of seafood. When they were done, they left and went back home.

That’s all for now, Folks!

Crystal Clear

There are lots of different kinds of crystals, and today, we saw a lot of them; the reason being that we went to the Krystal Gallery in Swakopmond. The Krystal Gallery is a large building that houses lots and lots of crystals, ranging in size from the size of a fingernail to ten times my size. Today we saw mainly the larger ones.

We got buzzed in to the gallery and paid the N$64.00 to get in before heading off into the ‘cave’ that was supposedly an exact replica of the one in which the largest crystal formation was found. It was a long passage. A twisty little maze of passages, or a maze of twisty little passages, or a little twisty maze-
you get the point. When we got out, the first thing that we saw was a giant crystal formation about ten times my size and it was green. It was sitting there and we took several pictures of it before looking around the cavernous hall some more. In the center, there was another large crystal formation sitting on a pedestal in the middle of a small fountain, and right beside it, there was a carving made out of emerald and something else that was black, making it very pretty. There were more crystals throughout, and upstairs were displays of the nicer looking specimens, like pyrite, black tourmaline, and watermelon tourmaline. When we finished up there, we went back downstairs and Eryn and I got some small tumbled rocks before we all left and went back to the car to drive away.

That’s all for now, Folks

A Downtown Day

We did another part of the Swakopmund Triangle today: the lighthouse. It is, in fact, a pizza and gelato place (22 Degrees South) that we will visit in the future.

We were going to do another part of the triangle- the river with the flamingoes- but Mom and Dad took too long shopping. So instead we had a Cadbury bar, supper, and walked down to the beach where we found the other end of the crayfish exoskeleton (we found the head yesterday).

We also checked out the Hansa Backerei, where Dad bought two black forest tortes, which were so good. After the seeing what the lighthouse was all about and playing on the playground right beside it, we visited the Kristall Galerie. It’s home to the largest crystal in the world and lots and lots of amethysts. There was also a ‘rock garden,’ where Ethan and I selected polished stones to stick in a small bag.

Then we went to Karakulia Weavers after browsing through the leather shop next door. We saw people making yarn, weaving rugs with things like elephants, footprints, and leopards on them, and making the finished product perfect. Ethan tried to make yarn too, but he wasn’t that good. (Of course, he was better than me, since I didn’t try to.)

We returned home where we did homework and sorted pictures until supper.


Cat Scratch Fever

A song and a sickness. Today I only worried about the fever. There are two cats where we are staying, and the male one, the one with the fluffy tail, likes to scratch me. Luckily, the fever is not very harmful, so I don’t have to worry. Anyway the point of this paragraph is that there are two cats here.

The two cats are black cats, and one of them is like my cousin’s cat named Jade; the reason being that they both are black and follow people around everywhere and love to be rubbed. Today I saw and rubbed both of the cats a lot, though the male one scratched me and drew blood twice. My favorite is the female, for when we go inside, she waits patiently by the door until one of us goes back out again, or until it is dark.

There are also two ducks here; one female and one male. The female one is brown (ugly) and has a cut-off wing so she seems lopsided in everything she does, including chasing the male. The male one is prettier, and seems to tolerate having the female chase him, though at times, he has to run away and jump into the pool for an escape route when the female gets too vicious.

That’s all for now, Folks!

Food’s Our Friend

Now that we’re in our own little house, we had to go grocery shopping. Well, we couldn’t find any good fruits or vegetables at the Spar, so after visiting the jetty and river in Swakopmund, we stopped by Food Center- Fruit & Veg City on our way home. They had rows and rows of gummies and Jelly Bellies and dried fruits and nuts and popcorn and chocolates… it all looked delicious. The cheapest thing was sesame seeds, at N$3.99 per 100 grams.

We also looked at the cake and baked goods. I decided that the chocolate mousse cake looks good. We’ll probably be having that on Sunday. There were also US$0.50 brownies! And cookies and breads and pies and cupcakes and all sorts of wonderful things. And all of it was (almost) dirt cheap. So we think we got a good deal.

(Besides the good looking stuff, there were also some disgusting things, like grapefruit [which we had to get] and crème soda milk. Ew.)

Not to say we bought so much ‘junk’ food. We only got a few Tangy Toppers (sour gummies), a handful of Jelly Bellies, a twist, a big flaky cookie, a brownie, and a slice of apple pie. And we’re sharing that between four people. So don’t get the wrong impression! We’re not getting fat.


Mitjie Mouse

Mitjie (pronounced MIC-key) is the name of the meerkat who ‘owns’ AiAiba lodge where the Bushman paintings are. He was lying on the floor next to Cecilia, our waitress, when we arrived. When Ethan squatted down and said, “Hey! Meerkat!” the meerkat ran over with its mouth wide open.

Mom was worried that Mitjie would break skin, giving Dad, Ethan, or I rabies or something, but he never did. His mouth can’t open very wide, and his teeth aren’t very sharp.

Besides a meerkat, which made Dad’s life worth it, we also saw Bushman paintings of giraffes, springbok, kudu, mountains, and people. Once back at the lodge, we ordered ‘lunch:’ a Greek salad, four servings of ice cream, and juice. Dad got grapefruit vitamin-flavored juice, I got apple, Ethan ordered juice with ‘A Touch of Lemon,’ and Mom got orange juice. Dad, Ethan, and I had chocolate ice cream with canned peaches while Mom had plain old vanilla with chocolate sauce.

And then, out of nowhere, Mitjie reappeared! There were three little boys there, two who ran screaming to their mom (one climbed on to the table) and one who tried to approach Mitjie but ran away. Mitjie gave chase, and it was hilarious.

We then drove on another rocky road to the soundtrack of “Oh mercy! Jerry! Whoa!”

We’re now in Swakopmund, which is on the coast. We had pizza, salad, and part of a Cadbury bar for dessert.


A Letter

Dear Danny the Dinosaur,
You left many footprints on hills in what is now Namibia 300 million years ago. Today we went up to the tracks just so we could get Internet connectivity. That seems like a waste of time, but we have no cell reception at the B&B so therefore Dad cannot make a hot spot.

So we went up the hill and checked our emails. While Mom and Dad were checking theirs on the computer, I played Hearts and Sudoku. We then searched for the elusive cat-like footprint in the ground that Mr. Strobel had shown us two days before. We couldn’t find it and finally left the area at 6:12 pm, eighteen minutes before supper was to be. (I’m sure that you, Danny, could have found the print. You might have even eaten the poor mammal!)

After a supper of ‘comfort food,’ as Mom called it, we talked to Mr. Strobel in Afrigermish, which is his mix of Afrikaans, German, and English.

It’s very hard to follow. He ended his end of the conversation with, “You understand?” We all nodded and said yes multiple times just to reassure him. As soon as he had left the room, I turned to Dad and said, “What???”

Now it’s time I finish writing, dear Dinosaur. Have a good night, or, should I say, have a lekker nacht!

Signed, Eryn the Human


A Rocky Road

Not to be confused with Rocky’s road (Rocky is our neighbor), which is paved, smooth, nice, and lovely.

We went on a rocky road from Omaruru back to Dinosaur’s Tracks, to the soundtrack of, “Oh, mercy!!! Oh goodness!!! Hhhhhhhh!!!” (That last bit was Mom breathing in sharply.)

It was worst, probably, when we were talking about SeaWorld and Disneyland and breakfast with the [Disney] characters. Dad said, “That’s where you shove toast into their mouths and they choke!” And he proceeded to demonstrate the choking.

“JERRY!!!” Mom squealed. We were going down a steep hill at 80 kilometers per hour and there was a little river at the bottom of the hill. I grabbed my seatbelt for dear life.

Once we were past it, I announced, “For the record, I just saved the computer.” No one bothered to thank me. Mom just said, “Please go more slowly.” Ethan screeched, “WHEEEEEEEE!!!” Dad stepped on the gas to get up the next hill.

All in all, it was a very entertaining ride that opened with a huge bump and Mother hurting her neck on that bump. Dad asked, “Isn’t it just like a ride at Disneyland?”



Mitjie is a young meerkat that is a pet at the AiAiba Lodge in Namibia. We first met him when we went into the lodge and saw him lying on his stomach on the gray concrete flooring of the lapa. Opposite of my mother’s directions, I sat down, and it came to me. Right as the employee said ‘Don’t worry, it doesn’t bite’ guess what, it came up and bit me on the leg. Not very hard of course, but still enough to be a surprise. As it turns out, its open mouth seems to go before everything that it does, and his little teeth bite into whatever moves. It never broke the skin, so it was pretty harmless. When my father sat down, it ran to him and sank its jaws into his skin, taking off maybe the first of seven layers of skin. We both played with him, before heading off on a walk to see the bushman drawings that the lodge is famous for. Right before we left, though, some warthogs went across the yard, and the meerkat, since it is a baby, started suckling on a warthog. When it bit the warthog on the nose, the all ran off, and we did too, but in a different direction, towards the hike.

When we came back, the meerkat was nowhere to be seen, but when we looked around after ice cream, there it was, digging holes in the ground. It came to us and we petted it, while it bit us. By the time we left, I wanted a meerkat for a pet.

A Dino Day

This morning we went up the hill to the dinosaur tracks. We stayed there for about two hours because there was cell reception, so Dad checked his emails.

We then retired to our rooms until five pm, when Mr. Strobel took us up to the tracks and talked in detail about the dinosaurs who made the tracks.

He also told us about all the snakes they get at their house, like the cobra under the china cupboard and the mamba in the dog’s (Bella’s) box. He also told us of a camper who ran screaming with a gun because of a snake. That snake was actually a millipede.

After a delicious supper of chicken schnitzel, potatoes, broccoli, and cauliflower, Mr. and Mrs. Strobel sat down at the table and we talked for about an hour. Mostly we discussed rain and what the animals, trees, and burglars are like back home in Oregon. Mr. Strobel asked us to send him some rain.


An Amount of Animals

The total animal count at Etosha was (approximately) as follows:

881 springbok
379 Burchell’s zebras
132 elephants
84 giraffes
39 ostriches
17 lions (including one cub)
12 black rhinos
5 spotted hyenas
1 leopard
0 cheetahs

Most of these animals were seen at the 20 waterholes (Wolfsnes, Okaukuejo, Chudop, Ngobib, Kalkheuwel, Batia, Springbokfontein, Goas, Nuamses, Moringa, Rietfontein, Charitsaub, Salvadora, Sueda, Aus, Olifantsbad, Gemsbokvlakte, Ombika, Newbrownii, and Okondeka) we visited. Besides the ten species mentioned above, we also saw greater kudu, gemsbok, blue wildebeest, black-backed jackals, black-faced impala, red hartebeest, Damara dik-diks, steenbok, warthogs, and banded mongoose.

We saw many birds besides ostriches, the most common being guineafowl, Gabar goshawks, and francolin. However, we also saw secretarybirds, kori bustards, a Ludwig’s bustard, pale chanting goshawks, cattle egrets, a marabou stork, blacksmith lapwings, doves, double-banded coursers, hornbills, a Verreaux’s eagle owl, an African hoopoe, crows, crimson-breasted shrikes, violet-eared waxbills, and weaver birds. Of reptiles, we saw little lizards in and around camp and, most significantly, a dead snake on the road.


Tracks in Rocks

Eryn figured out what makes an Australian accent an Australian accent; make all the vowels into a long ‘i’ sound, so the title of this post would be pronounced something like ‘trikes ine rikes’ or something like that. I don’t know why, but Eryn was saying stuff like g’day mate or other such phrases in her new and weird attempt at an Australian accent tonight at dinner.

Today we went to see the dinosaur tracks that the farm is famous for. There are two main places where tracks are visible. One of them just has several sets of small tracks, and the other has a lot of big tracks. When we went this morning, we first stopped at the little tracks, to see what they were about. They are about three inches long from the tip of the largest of the three toes to the heel, and their stride is about one foot. After looking at those tracks in the sandstone, we continued up the tilted rock and came upon the big tracks, which are maybe a foot from the tip of the largest of three toes to the heel with a stride of about one yard. There were also several other sets of prints, or ‘spoors’ as our host calls them, and we sat up there and looked, while also using the phone reception that was so scant and spotty in the valley. In the evening, we went up there again and our host told us more about the sandstone and the ceratosaurus tracks.

Snakes, snakes, snakes…there are lots of snakes. Though only about 25% of the snakes in southern Africa are poisonous to people, there are still a lot of those type. Most of the ones that aren’t poisonous to people are pythons or small snakes. Our hosts have encountered snakes on various occasions, and the following are just some of those adventures:

In the campsites, there are some showers with water, along with toilets. Sometimes, when people leave those places, they don’t close the doors all the way. There was a woman who either did that, or someone in her party did that who went in to take a shower. Now, in the shower there is a big stone block that you can put your feet upon to scrub your leg without having to double over. This woman was taking a shower, when suddenly, out from under the rock, came a millipede. Now, of course, this woman probably had been stressing about snakes, and the sight of something coming out from under the rock was too much for her. She screamed ‘SNAKE’. At the house, Reinhold, our host, heard that scream and grabbed his revolver to go and shoot the snake. But when he got there, all he saw was a millipede.

We had a good laugh about that one, my family and I, remembering the first time that we had gone to Costa Rica and the parents had stressed to us about how there were lots of poisonous snakes there and if we saw one, we should get them. What happened was this; on our first day, we stayed in a treehouse. Eryn and I were playing down on the forest floor, when, suddenly, Eryn saw a millipede at the bottom of a small trench. The same thing happened for my father as it did Reinhold, and we have remembered it ever since.

Before dinner, Reinhold showed us a picture of a python coiled up in the grass and said, “Mary, the python” we laughed at that, and then he went on to tell us that Mary was a python that was shedding, and since they shed over their eyes, too, Mary stayed by water all the while. He told us that she sat there by the dam for a week before she finished shedding and left, never to be seen again.

Once, in the house, Reinhold and Adele thought that they heard a snake under the couch. Adele got down on her stomach by the china cabinet and proceeded to shine a light under the couch. The snake, however, was actually under the china cabinet, and when she got down, it spit it’s venom into her face. She immediately washed her face, and then they started to chase it out of the house. They chased and chased, and when it got near a big battery, it accidently touched both terminals at once and caused an explosion, blowing itself to kingdom-come while it was at it.

The black mamba is one of the most poisonous snakes in all of Africa. Once upon a time, there was a black mamba. It wanted shelter, so it went into the dog box by the screen door to the house. The owners heard the noise, but when they looked, the dog was in the box too, so it might have hurt the dog. After getting the dog out slowly and carefully, they took a shot, and that mamba didn’t see another day.

Those are four of Reinhold’s snake stories, I would bet that if I asked him, I would learn more, but then I might bore you with all of the stories.

That’s all for now folks!


Some people say that dinosaurs did exist, some people don’t, but nonetheless, there is some evidence that they did indeed exist, along with the fossils that have been dug up and put into museums. The evidence are merely tracks, made a long time ago by something walking across Namibia, though I doubt that the area that we call Namibia was actually called Namibia. Anyway, that place is called Dinosaur Tracks Farm, and rightly so, for it is a farm that has tracks that are like no others that there are today.

We left Etosha National Park this morning and went south from Okaukuejo Rest Camp towards the Andersson Gate. We, after stopping twice, once at a watering hole and once to take pictures of two hyenas by the road, arrived at the gate and left the park, on the road south. As the drive was no great distance, we arrived at a reasonably good time; one o’clock. We met with our hosts, a tall, old man and his wife, before settling into our rooms, reading, and napping. Tonight we had a good dinner of macaroni with cheese and tomato sauce and a salad. When we got back to our two rooms on the block of four rooms, we got ready to go to bed. Tomorrow we will go and see the dinosaur tracks and probably take a lot of pictures.

Wolfs an’ Lions

Of course, there aren’t wolves here, but what I’m talking about here is a watering hole called Wolfsnes. But sadly, we didn’t see any mammals there; only birds. However, we did see a lot of mammals at another waterhole, called Okondeka.

When we first got there, the only animals that we could see were zebra, wildabeeste, springbok, and ostiches. Then, suddenly, out of the bush, a lion springs up, and all the animals run and flee as it stands, only to sit back down again and the plain falls back into its usual sounds and sights. But no, it is not to be, for right as everything gets settled down, another lion pops up, this tme, right in the middle of all of the animals, scaring them off in all directions. Then the lion lays back down and all returns to normal, this time to stay. The lions seem to be asleep, but no, when we pull up a little, there, right beside the first spotted lion, is a cub, just sitting there. When we look right, there are three more lions sitting under a tree and napping. Since those are far away and hard to take pictures of, we head back to the camp.

That is the end of that tale, hear and remember.

Ways of the Waterholes

We went on two drives today. The first one was in the morning, starting at 6:30. On this drive, we went to four waterholes: Newbrownii, Gemsbokvlakte, Olifantsbad, and Aus. At Newbrownii, we saw kori bustards, gemsbok, guineafowl, springbok, and jackals. At the next stop, Gemsbokvlakte, we saw first a lot of jackals, then a hyena, then vultures, and then the dead zebra.

At Olifantsbad and Aus, we saw red hartebeest, kudu, impala, and more guineafowl. We returned to the camp for breakfast, and then we paid a visit to the Okaukeujo waterhole, where we saw zebra, kudu, wildebeeste, springbok, gemsbok, and 29 elephants.

We returned to the Okaukeujo waterhole after a drive up to Wolfsnes and Okendeka waterholes where we saw lions and a cub, ostriches, and a gemsbok with a curly horn, a birthday call to Mirinda, a dip in the pools, and supper. We all enjoyed our Magnums (Death by Chocolate for Dad and Ethan, Mint for Mom, and Chocolatier Collection: Biscotti for me) and watched 16 giraffes come and go. There were also the typical jackals and a handful of springbok.

One of these antelopes almost died when the lion pounced. In its place died a wildebeest. Mom, Dad, and I snuck off to see how long it would take Ethan to notice our absence. It was a new record: eight minutes. We’re now quenching our thirst with refrigerator-chilled, good-tasting, bottled water.


On Okaukeujo

We could have seen the leopard again today, but we arrived ten minutes too late. We visited the Nuamses waterhole at around 11 am and saw the dead kudu and a hyena hovering over it.

Before Nuamses, however, we’d visited four waterholes.

We left the house at 6:30 am so we could be out the gate as soon as possible. We passed a sign, and Mom said, “Isn’t that where we’re staying tonight? Okaukeujo?”

“Yes, but it’s oh-kah-kwee-oh, not oh-cocky-joe.” We went east to Rietfontein, where we saw a male lion. Then, at Salvadora, we saw birdwatchers drinking their coffee. We scanned the trees for leopards but found none.

At Charitsaub, we saw a group of five lionesses. They were covered in blood, signs of a recent feast. They became alarmed when a hyena walked into the area to share the food, but it realized that it was outnumbered. At the last waterhole on our early morning drive, we saw a lone black-backed jackal.

Back at Halali, we had breakfast and finished packing. We were on the road again by 10:30. We visited Goas, hoping to see a dead gemsbok and lions feasting on it, but all the animals were alive and healthy. Darn.

We had to stop on the road to let a herd of 60 elephants go by, and then we continued on our way to Rietfontein, where we saw only springbok and elephants, Salvadora, where we saw cattle egrets, and Charitsaub, where we saw two of the five lionesses of before. There was also a lone bull elephant.

At the next waterhole, Newbrownii, we watched the elephants, ostriches, zebras, gemsbok, and springbok be “feisty,” as Mom puts it. And then they all ran to the left side of the car. A lion was on the move.

Even though we watched for the better part of an hour, the lion didn’t kill anything, which was disappointing.


Rhinos Roaring Rapidly, Racing, Running, Raging

Did you know that rhinos can roar and growl? I didn’t, but tonight I got proved wrong at the Okaukuejo Watering Hole. Okaukuejo is a camp situated in about the middle of the park going east to west, but it is just south of the middle going north to south. We are staying here for two nights, just as we stayed at Halali two nights. It seems to be a bigger waterhole, but the pool is a bit smaller.

Anyway, back to the rhinos…we had seen none at all today when we arrived at the Okaukuejo Camp. We ‘nested’ and Eryn and I swam in the three small pools. When we were done and got back, Mother had a meal cooked and ready for us. We ate that and then hurried to the watering hole for sunset, but NEVER forgetting Magnum Bars in our haste. When we got to the water, we saw several giraffes, a gemsbok, some springbok, and some jackals. We then sat down to watch and wait to see what would happen when it got dark. An hour later, three rhinos were around the watering hole, two of them were fighting, and the other was taking a drink. The fighting ones were growling and roaring at each other, and then, when the little one charged, the big one fled, but came back and beat the little one and got the rights of the watering hole.

A Lazy Leopard or Uno Unicorn

Dad says that she wasn’t that lazy, but how hard is it to move a kudu fifteen feet? I could do it.

Okay, that’s because I stand on two feet, not four, and would pull with my hands, not my teeth.

But on the bright side: we saw a LEOPARD!!!!!!!!!!!!!! She was at the Nuamses waterhole, which is five kilometers off the main road. I was surprised at how few cars were there, although there were six nonetheless. She had just killed a kudu and it was lying dead with its back feet in the water.

She tried pulling it several times to no avail. She eventually bit the kudu’s tail off and ate it. Finally, after an hour, she pulled it behind a clump of twelve-foot trees. Then she walked off, which seems very risky because a lion or a group of hyenas could easily walk in and say, “Hey, I want some kudu!” and then eat it.

We saw four more giraffes and a herd of 23 elephants at the Goas waterhole. We also saw a gemsbok with a broken leg. We returned after seeing the leopard, and, too our great surprise, the gemsbok was still there and alive!

Yesterday we saw a real live unicorn. How awesome is that???


A to Zebra

Between today and yesterday, we have seen no fewer than 27 giraffes and two lions, both adult males. We’ve also seen two bush babies, a whole troop of mongoose, starlings, a few ostriches, and a million trillion each of zebra, springbok, rooibok (a.k.a. impala), gemsbok, and kudu. We saw most of these animals at the Chudop waterhole.

We visited several other waterholes and saw nothing of interest. In between two, we saw two elephants trying to hide in the shade.

Once at Halali Camp, Ethan and I swam and then Dad bought all four of us Magnums.

At the waterhole, we saw two rhinos, a few jackals, and two springbok, plus lots of little birds. We could hear the lions roar but left at around 10:00, before they got to the waterhole.


You will never guess what WE saw today!!!

Guess what!! we saw a LEOPARD!!! It was sitting on the ground near a watering hole trying to figure out what to do with its kill, a kudu, which was five times its size and bulky, too. We watched it for nigh on two hours, and what it succeeded in doing at long last was dragging the kudu behing the tree, eating the entrails, and leaving. Though that was the only new thing that we saw today, we did see other animals, such as gemsbok, springbok, impala, zebras, kudu, elephants, giraffes, and rhinos.Most of them were just sitting under trees, but some of them, like the elephants, were playing in the water, which was mostly mud.

When we got back from our drive, Eryn and I swam, ate burgers, and then went to the watering hole to sit through three hours of sitting and seeing only a couple rhinos and jackals. While we were sitting out there, we heard thunder, saw lightning, and felt a little rain, but other than that, it was a regular night by the watering hole.

When in Etosha National Park

As I have said before, Etosha was the biggest game park in the world before it shrank. Still, though, even now there is a fair amount of land; 22,912 square kilometers. Thus far, we haven’t seen much of it.

We started out the day at Onguma Bush Camp and left pretty early, set on getting in the gates soon. We got in the gates fairly quickly and the first animals that we saw were Damara Dik-Diks. We saw a bunch of those before moving up on the size a couple of times. We saw a giraffe! Not that they’re that rare, but seeing on is still kind of nice. We then went in to a rest camp to try to pay for the park and when we came back, there were banded mongooses in the grill of our car. They got scared by us and ran off, but not before we could get some pictures.The next place that we went to that was exciting was a watering hole that had zebras, kudu, gemsbok, impala, springbok, warthogs, wildabeest, giraffes, and even lions! We took pictures and waited to see if the lions would do anything, but they just sat in the shade of an acacia tree. For the rest of the day, we drove around, trying to find something to take pictures of. For the rest of the time, the only new animals that we saw were red hartebeeste. When we got to Halali Rest Camp, we ‘nested’ and swam in the big pool before eating dinner and going to the water hole, and only seeing jackels, rhinos, and impala. What made it even more annoying was the fact that the spot lights kept getting turned on and off, so some of the pictures turned out badly.

When at Onguma

So, we’re almost to Etosha National Park. It was the biggest game park in the world at 100,000 sq kilometers, but now it isn’t, because it shrank down to only 22,912 sq kilometers. Anyway…we are at Onguma Bush Camp and Eryn and I just swam in their pool, which actually wasn’t that cold. Onguma is situated just outside of Etosha and tonight we’re going to go on a game drive on this side of the big fence.
Later that day:
We went on our game drive, and we were the only ones on it. We got in a big truck that seats eleven passengers and went out the protection gate that keeps the animals out of the campsites and started driving. The first animals that we saw were some zebras that were standing in the middle of the road. Our guide didn’t stop for those, but instead opted for stopping to look at bushbabies. We saw those and moved on, seeing only a bat eared fox and some springbok in the remaining time. It got pretty cold, and Eryn and I pulled on the blankets that were provided. When we got back, we were really tired and went straight to bed.

Top 5 Lists for India


Heat – We thought Thailand was hot but soon learned after arriving in India that parts of Asia can get even hotter. Temperatures of 100’ F or more were common and most buildings do not have air conditioning.

Difficulty crossing the street on foot – Being a pedestrian in India is scary. Refer to Jerry’s post about driving in India for more details.

Garbage and smell – Most of the cities we visited in India have not figured out a good way to deal with garbage and waste water. Garbage in the streets was a common site and cows (considered holy in India) freely roamed the streets and walkways. We learned to step carefully to avoid cow pies.

Constant pressure from street vendors, drivers, and children in the street to buy something – Most of the time just saying no or walking in a determined manner was fairly effective when we were not interested in their products or services. At the India Gate in New Delhi an older woman wanted to put decorative Henna dye on Eryn’s hand for a fee. Eryn said no but the woman rather forcefully grabbed Eryn’s hand and almost started to apply the dye. Fortunately the woman understood we were not interested when I rather loudly said NO and Eryn was able to pull her hand away. Hired drivers can often earn a bit of extra money if they “just stop by” a bazaar that sells souvenir-type items with their unsuspecting foreign passengers. They ask their passengers to “just have a look for a few minutes” before proceeding on to the originally planned destination.  We experienced this with two drivers during our stay in India. The first driver believed us when we said we were not interested in going into the bazaar. The second driver and some bazaar salesmen were more persistent, but finally got the message that we did not wish to shop there.  

Staring at white females – Many young men in India stared at Eryn and me, which was very uncomfortable. And because of Eryn’s age, they stared at her more often. In addition to staring, they would also take photos of us. They would pretend they were taking a picture of something else with their cell phone and then at the last second point the camera at one or several of us. Maybe famous actors and actresses are used to this, but it made me feel uneasy.



Overnight camel safari

Delicious food such as garlic naan, mango lassi, and aloo ghobi

Intricate marble and sandstone carvings such as the Taj Mahal

Visiting the Bishnoi villages where we saw two schools and inside a family’s home

Beautiful colors of women’s clothing, tapestries, and towns. Jaipur is called the pink city because many buildings are painted pink, a color that absorbs less heat from the sun. Jodhpur is the blue city. Many years ago the homes around the fort were grouped according to caste.  The Brahmin caste, which is the highest caste, painted their homes blue. Now anyone can paint their house blue and quite a few of the residents have done so. Jaisalmer is the golden city because the rock used to make the fort and surrounding homes is yellow.

Eating in India

Before our trip we had eaten and enjoyed quite a bit of Indian food, thanks to local restaurants and friends like the Bird, Colburn, Henriksen, and Sukrutham families. While in India we enjoyed many tasty paneers, curries, aloo ghobis, masalas, lassi drinks, and dals. The descriptions below are Indian foods new to us or variations of familiar favorites.

Garlic naan – This bread is extremely tasty when chunks of fresh garlic are added to the top of the dough, baked in a tandoori oven and then topped with butter. A few restaurants we tried did not have or use a tandoori oven so we discovered the hard way that using the correct type of oven is essential.

Chapatis – We had previously eaten chaptis made with wheat flour. And while in India we enjoyed wheat chaptis with potatoes and onions added for extra flavor. Also, the Bishnoi village woman we visited made chapaties from millet flour because they did not grow wheat.

Pakora – This appetizer dish consists of deep fried vegetables with crunchy coating. It tasted best when served with a green spicy sauce

Chai tea = This became one of our favorite breakfast beverages.

Snack foods – We tried many types of packaged snack foods made in India, such as crackers, chips and snack mix. The most widely available flavor was masala and spicy tomato was a close second.