Going in One Direction >>>

Bunny bunny!! (That’s what I say as opposed to Rabbit rabbit [on the first day of the month]) We’re all being directional over here in RSA, ever since Mom said that Harry was “not very cute.” (And I was referring to Niall!) I have made it a goal to listen to One Direction in every country we visit, and, so far, I have! We heard “What Makes You Beautiful” at the Terminal 21 mall in Bangkok and walking down the street to dinner in Vientiane, Laos.

Right before takeoff, I listened to WMYB on the tarmac in New Delhi. In Australia, I heard WMYB (seem familiar?) while waiting to exit the aircraft in Darwin. In Botswana, I watched “Live While We’re Young” in Gaborone at the suggestion of a friend. In Namibia, we heard them singing WMYB (again!) at a mall in Windhoek, and I watched them perform WMYB on the Ellen Show and their official “Little Things” video at the Haven.

Today Dad was checking to see if our wi-fi worked, so he entered a word in Bing. Up popped an article where David Beckham insulted One Direction. Upon further investigation, it was discovered that that was a tabloid lie. (Whew. I was starting to hate him) Furthermore, One Direction defended Beckham on a Twitter fight with Piers Morgan.

Just in case you didn’t know.

Also, just in case you didn’t know, One Direction is a English-Irish boy band made up of Harry Edward Styles, Zayn Jawaad Malik, Niall James Horan (the lone Irishman), Liam James Payne, and Louis William Tomlinson.


If I was a Shark

If I was a shark, I would move to the Robberg peninsula in South Africa. That is where my family and I went today for a hike along the coast. The reason that I think that being a shark there would be a good thing is because there were a lot of seals frolicking in the water around the peninsula when we walked around it.

The walk was a fairly long one, being much longer than we expected. We started out walking and walking and walking by a cliff edge that dropped down onto seals in the sea below. The seals were surfing the waves and just having a good time, even without the beer. We walked some more and finally came to the end. On the end, there is a really good view of waves. Woohoo…not. However, there were some seals to watch play in the water. We walked along the coast at sea level for a while, going up and down several hills on the way, before coming upon the island. At the island, we went on a ‘danger zone’ before coming to the gap, where we went up and arrived back at the car. It was really fun.

That’s all for now, Folks!

Cango away from the Congo

Since we are not in the Congo, or anywhere near the Congo, there is no way that the Cango Caves connect to the Congo. However, they are in South Africa, far away, and still get visited by busloads of tourists, literally.

There were two different choices for the tours, the Standard Tour and the Adventure Tour. We chose the Adventure Tour.  The Standard Tour is, and I quote, ‘An easy walk through the first six and largest and most spectacular halls and continuing through to the “African Drum Room”. A few stairways.’ The Adventure tour, however, is different, and I quote again, ‘A challenging tour, with exciting passages and narrow chimneys, requiring a degree of fitness. For lean people only!’ I wasn’t sure if we counted as lean people, but we made it.

The first part was part of the Standard Tour, then we began doing interesting things. We went through a long, wide, and short passageway for a ways before coming out and going up a really skinny staircase. At the top, we went for a while before going up a really narrow chimney, going straight up. When we finished with that, we army crawled through a tiny hole and dropped back out at the top of the tall staircase. Then we went back the way we came.

That’s all for now, Folks!

…Where Thousands of Butts Have Gone Before

We first went to Oudtshoorn to check out the Highgate Ostrich Farm, but it was inexplicably closed. So we went to the Safari ostrich farm, where Mom, Ethan, and I rode ostriches while Dad took pictures (he’s already ridden twice before). Then we went back through Oudtshoorn to the Cango Caves, one of the Seven Wonders of Southern Africa.

We decided to do the 90-minute Adventure Tour verses the hour-long Standard Tour. That was probably our best choice because the path was very boring (except for the Bushman setting with a leopard in the background) up until the Standard Tour entered and the Adventure Tour began. “Watch out for the animals in here. We have crocodiles, snakes, and bats, so be careful,” our guide, Christopher, warned. Mom started freaking out when he laughed. “Okay, there are no crocodiles or snakes, but there are bats.”

First up is Jacob’s Alley- 172 steps- followed by King Solomon’s Mines. From there, we went up a steep metal ladder to the Lumbago Walk. Ethan and I were glad to be right behind Christopher. If we had been behind all the slow adults, we would not have enjoyed ourselves as much. The Lumbago Walk is basically a low area that ends up in the Crystal Palace and up to the Tunnel of Love. The Tunnel of Love is named because it “gives you a loving squeeze.” Ethan and I were fine, but some of the other members (possibly including our parents) were squished. Following being squished, we passed through the Banqueting Hall and the Devil’s Workshop before hitting the Devil’s Chimney. Ethan went first, followed by me, Mom, Dad, and the rest of our group.

The Devil’s Chimney is a ten-foot-long, two-feet-wide upward crawl. Mom had a hard time, but the rest of us came out fine. Then we slid on our hands and knees through the Postbox, meeting up with Christopher, who had taken the easy way round. We then walked to the Coffin, went in this time, and followed the cave (including the Tunnel of Love) back out.

My title today comes from when we were sliding down into the Ice Chamber, leading up to the Coffin. The rock was worn smooth because so many people had stood/sat/slid in the exact same places over the years, thus causing my quote that became my title.


Africa, Birds, Cats

So, the first thing on my list of three is Africa, and it’s pretty obvious that there is a reason to that, because, as you probably already know, we are in Africa. However, the other two entries on my list of three are harder to explain, and the easiest way to tell you about it is, I think, telling you the interesting parts of our day.

We woke up fairly early, had a leisurely time breaking fast, before getting into the care and heading east, towards Port Elizabeth. We arrived at the Crags, which is, I think, a small town on the N2 Road that has, near it, four different attractions. Those four attractions are Tenikwa, a cat center, Monkeyland, and Birds of Eden. Those you can probably guess the content of just by the name. We went to Tenikwa and Birds of Eden, but skipped Monkeyland because it seemed like too much money to pay. The last attraction in the Crags is an Elephant Rehabilitation Center where you can ride elephants for a large fee, and touch them for a fee. As I said, we went to Birds of Eden and Tenikwa, a bird place and a cat place.

We first went to Tenikwa, there, we went on a walk through and by the cages of cats such as the cheetah, the leopard, the serval, the African wild cat, and the caracal. Sadly though, we never got to touch them, which was a shame, but still, seeing them was pretty good too.

Birds of Eden was more than we expected it to be. There were lots of different kinds of birds free flying throughout a large mesh dome. There were birds of every kind, from the spoonbill to the parrot to the dove. It was very nice and I think that we got a lot of cool pictures.

That’s all for now, Folks!

Raining Cats & Birds

The Tenikwa Center turned out to be a flop. Even though the pictures used for advertisement purposes showed people getting up close and personal with the cats, we were never allowed to touch them. Our guide was asked the question “Where are cheetahs found in South Africa?” and couldn’t answer. They didn’t even have any black-footed cats, which are so cute! They did have marabou storks, meerkats, blue cranes, ducks, cheetahs, a leopard, caracals, African wild cats, and servals.

At Birds of Eden, we saw not only of the many types of birds but also the golden-handed tamarins, a primate species native to South and Central America, and a blue duiker, a tiny antelope that has been known to eat rodents. My favorite bird was probably the Galah cockatoo, which was our first and last bird sighting. It was the same one and hung out around the door area.

We then went on a hike to see another groot boom (big tree)in the forest. After that we returned to Knysna exhausted, esurient, and dying for a Cadbury bar.


A Hairy Hike on the Heads

Today was a day in which we didn’t do much, but the main thing that we did was go to the Heads. They are the two large points of land that keep most of the waves out of the Knysna Lagoon. Since they are large and tall, with good views, they are prized property spots, and there are a lot of large houses on the East Head.

The West Head is the one that we didn’t go to and is a National Park, hence the lack of houses. However, that lack is somewhat made up for by the fact that only a little ways down the coast, there is a small town called Brenton-on-Sea. Corresponding with that, there is another small town, this one on the Knysna Lagoon that is called Brenton-on-Lake.

On the West Head, we walked to a view point at both the top and the bottom. We did the one at the bottom first. The way that we used to get to the bottom one was through a small system of caves and down a 5 foot jump. What we found out after we did that, however, that the path just continues and goes around the rock, not through it. On the top, we walked on a boardwalk to three different viewpoints; one facing the sea, one the other head, and the other facing Knysna.

That’s all for now, Folks!

We’ve Been Decapitated!


That’s a lie. If anything, we have been re-headed today after we went to the Knysna Heads for the view. After walking around on the East Head, we had our first real mochas since Chiang Mai, Thailand. They were delicious and came with (delicious) biscotti. We drove around a little bit more than headed over to Thesen Island to look at the Sirocco’s and Tapas restaurants. We decided that Tapas looked better, so we’ll (hopefully) be returning tomorrow night.
Ethan and I flipped, swung, and rode giraffes,  zebras, and lions with braided manes at the nearby playground. We checked out the multimillion-rand real estate and then hopped over to Clicks, where I agonized over which color of nail polish I should get once mine runs out (I narrowed it down to Violet Voltage and Twisted Pink). We returned to Haus Knysna after going the length of Rio Street. Mom made a supper of stir-fry for us after Silvia- our current landlord- stopped by to see how we were faring.
We’re doing well.

Stormy Storms River

Well, it may not be stormy, but, at the mouth, it sure has a lot of big waves. I know that because I stood in the middle of the mouth of the Storms River today, even though it is 9 meters deep. I could stand in the middle because there was a suspension bridge that spanned the river. There were sadly rules against jumping up and down on the bridge, which I thought were kind of sad, but they still were interesting.

The first place that we went to today was the bridge that spans across the Storms River on the National Road, N2. The interesting thing about that bridge is that it is an arch with a flat platform that forms the road. The builders formed the arch by having the two halves and building them upright, connected to the rock with hinges, before lowering them down so that they connected.

After that, we went to a big tree, and then we continued on to the park at the mouth of the Storms River, and we went across it again, this time closer to the water. In all, we had a fairly interesting day.

That’s all for now, Folks!

Tag, We’re It…

Well, we are now (sadly) gone from the Haven. Just like in the game of tag, we are now it, meaning that we will now be the subject of beggars and street sellers, all trying ways to separate people from their money.

When we woke up there, we had breakfast, and then left, taking leave of everyone there. We drove for three hours to go forty kilometers, but now that we are on tar roads, it is much faster.

Anyway, the place that we are fast approaching to is an apartment in the city of Knysna. Tomorrow I hope to tell you more about the place.

That’s all for now, Folks!

Bouncy Bridges

We’re going on forced death marches each day we spend in Knysna. Today our appointed death march was very short, though: 959 meters. That was at the Garden of Eden. We didn’t see any mammals (other than people) there. We did see mammals (rock dassies) at the mouth of the Storms River. We walked a kilometer each way to a suspension bridge that crossed the river. There were even baby dassies, but I didn’t see those. I was too intent on getting back to the car.
Ethan and I stayed on the bridges a total of five minutes waiting for the people to leave the pictures that Dad was trying to take. We held on to the cables, and I ended up with lots of dry salt on my hands—not a very nice feeling.
The suspension bridge was the second today. The other was over the Storms River too, but it was an arch, and cars could go on it. Legend has it that the man who oversaw all the construction (the engineer only came down from Italy for the laying of the arch) said that he would commit suicide if the arches didn’t come together perfectly. When they were lowered together, there was a half-meter gap. He dramatically jumped off the bridge, but a “private investigator” discovered that he lived and directed the repair.
Engineers also discovered that the center of gravity on the arch was a half-meter off center. Oops.

Unhappy at The Haven

Ethan was very sad to have to say good-bye to Sophia and Josi this morning… not. Josi didn’t even show up, and we only saw Sophia after breakfast when she showed off her aerials on the trampoline. Ethan probably was sad to say good-bye to Rocky, Socks, Teddy, Strider, Alto, the horses’ handler, Dayne, and the dog, Rambo.

We weren’t sad to leave the hubbub of the Christmas-party-holding company of forty who ate a lot of meat, bread, and croissants at breakfast. Our favorite village health researcher, Steena, had breakfast after we left. Last night she ate with Dayne. Matthew, the cook, walked by after taking our drinks orders (two still waters, one Appletizer, and one Red Grapetizer) and said, “Aren’t you part of the staff?” Dayne nodded and said, “Yeah, you can arrest me later.”

The staff table was mainly empty last night. Only Sharmane, the girls’ teacher, and Brandon ate while we were there. Sophia and Josi must have been kicked out because of the party.

We also said good-bye to Ashley, the other cook who made the lettuce-and-apple soup, at breakfast. He seemed surprised that we were already leaving for Knysna. We’re not already in Knysna, though. It’s six o’clock and we’ve been on the road since nine. Our GPS (aka the voice of the Australian Karen) predicts our arrival to be in three hours. That’s twelve hours of driving for only 470 miles (750 kilometers). That’s because we spent two hours (only forty kilometers, or twenty-five miles) on bad Transkei roads this morning.


Exciting Escapades in a Canoe

Today, unlike yesterday, I will go straight to the post after this sentence, skipping all of the unintelligent chatter that I have used lately to fill up my post with words, in short, it is kind of lame, so today, I won’t do it at all.

We woke up this morning, and after having a nice time breaking fast, we piled into the car and drove out of the boom gates of the Haven Hotel. Our destination was the mouth of the much-talked-about Mbashe River. We planned to take a canoe across the river mouth, and we did. My mother freaked out a lot because of the horror stories that we had heard from people about sharks in the river mouth. I’m happy to report that no sharks came up to us and we didn’t even see a dorsal fin. When we got to the other side, we walked a long ways along the coast until we got to a point, before turning back. We found lots of pretty shells and took some of them with us. When we got back to the canoe, we paddled in circles for a while before finally being able to go straight backwards towards the shore that had our car. When we got back to that shore, we drove back to the Haven.

That’s all for now, Folks!

All Fun & Games

Today after a total freak-out as we crossed the supposedly shark-infested Mbashe River, Josi and Sophia roped Ethan and me into playing Dot Dot, Statues, and Wolfie, Wolfie.

Dot Dot was the last game we played. It is the hardest to explain: one person was the ‘caller,’ and they chose what the subject was. It could be anything from types of fishes to colors. The people on the other end (usually Josi, Ethan, and me) would form a huddle and choose, say, their colors. In that case, Josi chose pink, Ethan chose black, and I chose orange. Then one person would tell Sophia all three, and she would choose one and call it out. She and that person would run to where the other stood, yell “Dot dot!”, and try to be the first to return to their place, once again yelling “Dot dot!” The winner was the next caller.

Statues is much simpler. One person is it. The others are at some point behind It. They try to be the first to touch it and say “Question mark!” But there’s a catch. (There always is.) When It hears anyone, they turn around. The runners have to become like statues. If It sees anyone move, that person has to return to the starting point.

Wolfie, Wolfie involves the three people who aren’t the wolf saying “Wolfie, Wolfie, what time is it?” The wolf can say anything from one o’clock to twelve o’clock. The others have to go as many steps as hours. The goal is to reach the wolf first and become the next wolf. However, the wolf could also say that it’s dinnertime, in which case the wolf tries to tag one of the runners before they make it back to their spot.

This sounds like it was all fun, but after a while two screaming hyper little girls can get on your nerves. Thankfully, Mom showed up and rescued us.


A Poem for Your Pupils

Two little girls screaming and playing

Horses trotting, galloping, and neighing

Ethan’s so excited to be here

He was thrilled with some horses to steer

Ashley makes us really good food

Visitors don’t want meals to conclude

Everyone says it’s always alright

Now they say it’s time for ‘good-night’


Horse, man, ship, horsemanship…

My father has joked several times that, because only girls do horsemanship at the summer camp that Eryn and I go to, it shows the cycle of a girl’s life: First they are into horses, then men, and then they want to go on a cruise.

Now, some of you out there might not think that is true, and I am fine with that, and I will not argue. However, disagree as you may, I still will believe that that is true. What, you might ask, is the reason off all of this useless blabbering, when all of you probably have more important things to do that read a page on a website. I will tell you why, because I will soon disclose the main article of this post.

Socks, Alto, Strider, Teddy, and Rocky are the reasons that I am writing this the way I am, well, mainly Alto, Strider, Teddy, and Rocky. To further your waiting, I will just tell you that the fences around the Haven that are supposed to keep the horses in are partly electric, a fact that I learned the hard way. Anywho, I will finally continue: As I was saying, Alto, Strider, Teddy and Rocky are the main reasons that I am writing this post this way, the reason: we rode them. In this case, we is the inclusion of Eryn, my mother, and myself, and the exclusion of my father. The reason for that is that Socks, the fifth horse, is sore from some surgery and is unrideable.

We rode out the gate and onto the left of the three roads heading off in different directions. After spitting out a lot of spiderwebs that had, until recently, spanned the width of the path, we arrived out on a beach on one side of the Mbashi River Mouth. We rode up the coast for a ways, until Shark Island, before heading back and taking a shortcut back the the Haven.

That’s all for now, Folks!

P.S. Our guide’s name was Dayne, pronounced Dane.

A Haven Holiday

Ahhh… It’s good to be back at the Haven Hotel. It has had some changes since my father and I were here, but is still the same idea.

The Cafeteria/Buffet: In the main building, they have a dining hall, which seats a lot of people, but as this is the low season, not very many tables were full.

For the Kids: There is a playground and a trampoline right down the steps from the pool, and Eryn and I think that they are a lot of fun, especially the trampoline. There is also a pool which is fairly clear.

Places to Stay: There are about 31 cabins to stay in at the Haven, some of them are near the coast, some are several houses away. We are staying in the one at the corner, closest to the pool and the beach.

Horses: Right now, the Haven has 5 geldings. Their names are Socks, Teddy, Strider, Eltor, and another, of whose name I forgot. Socks just had surgery and is unrideable, so only three of us in our family can ride tomorrow with a guide. I hope on of them will be me.

Canoing: There are canoes to use in which you can paddle around in both the lagoon on the beach and also to go across the river. I think we are going to do that.

Thankful that the Day is Finally Over

After a long, grueling death march to the waterfall, Ethan and I played Monopoly (it’s the South African version, so instead of railroads it has international airports in Durban, Cape Town, Bloemfontein, and Johannesburg, instead of waterworks it has ‘water board,’ instead of just English it has both English and Afrikaans, and instead of dollars it uses rand in denominations of 1000, 2000, 5000, 10000, and 50000).

Earlier on the trampoline, I had watched Ethan jump while Josi, the five-year-old girl who lives here, talked to me. She informed me that Sophia is seven, when their birthdays were, and that she’s homeschooled. She also told me a joke:

There was a family on a plane that was going to crash. The parents and pilot were worried they were going to die, so they talked about what they wanted to do most. “I wish I could have my baby,” the pregnant mother said. “I wish I could be a dad again,” said the dad. “I wish I could fly more planes,” said the pilot. Then the mom, dad, and pilot got in the parachutes (there were only three) and jumped out of the plane, leaving the four-year-old son up in the air. When the mom and dad got home, they found the boy in his room, watching TV. They asked him how he got there, and he said, “Me no stupid, me no dumb, me hang onto Daddy’s bum. When he go toot, I go zoom! And that’s how I get home so soon.”

Now Ethan and I returned to the trampoline, soon to be joined by Sophia. She told us the horses’ names (Socks, Elter, Teddy, Rocky, and Strider) and that Socks was sore and couldn’t be ridden because he had an operation a few days ago. She asked, “Are our horses boys or girls?” I asked if they were both. “Just guess!” she said. Ethan answered, “They’re all boys.”

“How’d you know?” Sophia asked. Ethan smiled. “I read it on the website.” Sophia groaned. “Why’d my mom have to put it there? It’s broken! Are you mad?” This last part was to Ethan, because he was starting to go down the slide on the play structure. (Sophia had told him before that it was broken.) After some more Monopoly, we went back out, this time with the intent to play table tennis. The table wasn’t down there, so we told Sylvia at the front desk. She said she would have Dayne and Brandon take it in.

So Sophia, Ethan, and I played Clue and Scrabble. No one won Clue because, well, we all accused incorrectly. I was winning Scrabble when we stopped with 121 points. Sophia had 78 and Ethan had 77 (although Sophia only got that many because I helped her). Then we went back out to the trampoline and jumped some more. Josi came and joined us. We stayed like that until it started getting dark.


A Safe Haven

Ethan is SO excited: we’re finally at the famed Haven. Apparently it was his favorite place when he was in South Africa back in 2009 with Dad. There is a pool, golf course, trampoline, table tennis set, and beach here, along with many types of animals including white rhinos (which are still hunted in this national park) and zebra. The male zebra, Zebbie, who was hanging out with the horses three-and-a-half years ago,was shot on account of his “amorous escapades” with the horses and donkeys here. So Ethan was a little disappointed that they hadn’t trained Zebbie to be ridden.  We had a supper of lettuce and apple soup, bread, pumpkin, potato, spinach, rice, and a bread-and-butter bread pudding with custard. Yes, I did say “lettuce and apple soup.” To be totally honest with you, I would not advise it to you unless you  love creamed spinach from Safeway. But the dessert was delicious, and we left totally stuffed.


Dark, Damp, Dreary Driving Day, or When at the Haven Hotel

The Haven Hotel is a Hotel in the middle of a game reserve on the Wild Coast in South Africa. It has lots of stuff to do, from horseback riding to golfing, from cycling to canoeing. My father and I have been here before for two nights, and now we are back with the rest of our family for four nights.

We drove a lot today, and as soon as we got off of the N2, the road quality went down and down, as they say on their brochure, ‘To all those who braved The Road, A warm welcome to The Haven Hotel.’ As we have braved the road, we are now here, and are having a good time. Eryn and I are staying in the room that my father and I stayed in last time we were here, and my parents are now sleeping across the hall in the other half of the duplex.

Tomorrow I hope that we will be able to horseback ride. I hope that that will be fun. That’s all for now, Folks!

Falconry and Snakery

Now, perhaps you have heard of falconry, but you have probably not heard of snakery, the reason being that it is a word I made up just now, to describe something that happened today. However, to aptly put a definition to the word that I so thoughtfully made up, I will have to tell you the things that my family and I did today.

We woke up this morning, had breakfast, surfed the web, and then were off. The first stop was the laundry place so that my mother could have some clothes washed by the worker thereof. We then continued on to a place called Falcon Ridge, where they have raptors that they fly around and give demonstrations. When we arrived, there were already a lot of people sitting about, but we did get some seating, which was good. When it started, they flew around an eagle and several kites, and threw some chicken necks to them. From then, they flew an owl, and in that demonstration, I got to hold the owl as it came in for a landing. For the rest of the show, they flew Harris Hawks, the exotic hawks from America, a peregrine falcon, a fish eagle and others. When it was done, I got to hold the peregrine falcon, which is that fastest animal on the planet.

When we finished at Falcon Ridge, we went down to the reptile place, and there, I got to hold an alligator, since they couldn’t have crocodiles, and lots of constrictiors. It was a lot of fun, and I liked it, especially when I scared my mother with the alligator.

Some R&R

After our long and grueling hike yesterday, we need some rest and relaxation. We got to sleep in and have a late (9 a.m.) breakfast. We left to give the laundry to the laundry company.

Then we went to Falcon Ridge, home to raptors of the world. We saw a peregrine falcon (Squawk), a spotted eagle owl (Hooter), an African fish eagle, two kites, two Harris hawks, and a Wahlberg’s eagle named Hugo. Ethan held Squawk and Hooter. During the sister Harris hawks’ demonstration, all four dogs stayed well away. Allison, one of the bird handlers, said that even the youngest dog, Kaecee, had learned to stay away from these raptors because they had both ridden on his back at one point.

At the next place, we got to touch and hold a tailless whip scorpion, an alligator, a leopard gecko, an African pygmy hedgehog, several types of snakes, and a tarantula. The owner (we’ll call him Rick) had a black mamba, but obviously we didn’t get to cuddle with her. He also had puff adders, and he decided that Dad hadn’t seen a puff adder yesterday; he’d seen a berg adder.

Rick even had a diamond-back rattlesnake and a California king snake! He said that rattlesnakes and puff adders are popular pets in South Africa. He also said that there are some snakes who give live birth. This includes the puff adder.

So today we got to see some Raptors & Reptiles.


In Egypt…

The Sphinx, our first and original destination, was all but ignored when we were in front of it. Once above, though, we sat on the Sphinx’s head and ate snacks. Ethan and I played 20 Questions, and it was a baboon. We saw two later on the hike after passing Breakfast Stream and a kilometer or so of trail. We went down a steep hill for about two hours. Mom’s knees couldn’t take it, so she had to use a stick.

Dad was lucky enough to see a puff adder. He told Mom about it, and she freaked out.


Drakensburg Death March

My story begins on a bright and sunny day when a tourist family of four decided to go up into the Drakensberg Mountains and take a hike. The four main people in my story have the names of Jerry, Susan, Eryn, and Ethan. They are a family of four and the parents are Jerry and Susan, who have the two others-Eryn and Ethan-as children. However, back to the story.

The family got into their Nisson X-Trail and went to the mountains. When they arrived, they paid at the front desk and started walking. The path that they chose was the one up to the Sphinx Rock. Round trip, that was 4 kilometers. When they got to the sphinx, however, they kept going, and continued up and around, until finally they arrived at a large and green meadow at the top of the mountain.

This meadow was a brilliant one, bright green grass, and bright flowers of every color that you can imagine. They kept walking, as usual, and when they got to the end of the meadow, they went down, down, down, to the valley below.

They continued at this for some time, and the only excitement was when the father saw a puff adder and Susan freaked out about that. Sadly, however, Eryn and Ethan were down below and wanted to see the puff adder. By the time that Ethan had ran back up the stairs, the adder was gone, never to be seen again.

That’s all for now, Folks!

Dreary Drakensberg, Drizzly, Dark, Damp…

Now, I don’t know if I told you yesterday, but I will tell you again; the Drakensberg Mountains are wet, and with a cloud cover, they can be very dark. Today was somewhat of an exception, but not overmuch. There were a lot of clouds above us while we drove around, in a fruitless search for something to do, but, surprisingly, it was dry.

I might as well tell you about our day, seeing as though I haven’t written much yet maybe I’ll tell you…

…and so we go.

We went out about 11 o’clock to go to the Superspar to by some groceries. We did that, and got ice cream (Magnum, of course) and when we were done, we left. The drive that followed was a fairly short one, and went through lots of villages with buildings made of thatch and cow dung. I think it would be kind of cool to live in a house like that. When we got to the End of the Road in Alaska, we pondered on going into the park and paying a few, but the womenfolk of the family vetoed it, and so begun the long drive back. Oh, and, in the last sentence, I meant Drakensberg, sorry.

That’s all for now, Folks!

Drakensberg Down Day

Today was a ‘Down Day,’ which means we did schoolwork, sorted pictures, and surfed the web until 13:00.We left for the Spar (a grocery store) in Winterton and to look at Cathedral Peak. We didn’t enter the Drakensberg UNESCO World Heritage Site, one of seven in the world to be chosen as a World Heritage Site for three reasons (in this case, geology, vegetation, and archaeology), because we weren’t wearing hiking shoes and it was four o’clock.

So we drove back to our house, stopping occasionally to look at birds, and working on a newspaper crossword brought from home.


Life Stories…

Eryn and I have been laughing and joking about how when we meet someone from out of the current country, we tell them our life story and about the trip. Well, usually. Today at dinner was a good example of that. We went to a place called Mistyque, which is also a lodge, and sat on the table next to an older couple from Germany. The talked to us, but after several conversations, our life story hadn’t leaked out. In the end, it did, and surprisingly, I was the one to tell it. When we left, the host, named Lee, asked about the trip, and when I was the one who informed him on everything, he called me our ‘tour guide.’ That was fine by me, though, as far I as I remember, most tour guides get paid, but I guess I get what I get…

That’s all for now, Folks!

Dinner & Dialogue

“Ah, he’s your tour guide,” Lee said. Ethan was explaining where we were going on our trip to the German couple at the table next to us. We were dining on pasta, chicken, and fish (not each for everyone!) at Mistyque restaurant. The German couple—I’ll call them Mr. and Mrs. Smith—went on holiday for six weeks every year. Their favorite places in South Africa are Kruger and the area around it.

As Mr. Smith and Dad were talking, Ethan and I were predicting that our “life story” (going around the world for a year) would come out. We didn’t know that it would, in fact, be Ethan who would reveal this deep, dark secret of ours. Actually, Mrs. Smith asked, “So, are you on a world tour?” To which Ethan enthusiastically replied, “Yes!” He listed off all the countries, much to my chagrin (I love to be the one to list the fourteen countries), ending in, “So maybe we’ll get to Greece, but with all the unrest right now, it’s hard to tell.”

The Smiths have traveled extensively, visiting places including Cuba, South Africa (of course), Turkey, Chile, and Spain. We swapped travel stories throughout dinner, but finally had to leave, using the excuse of “getting the kiddies to bed.”

When we were checking out, Lee talked to us more about what we were doing, why, etc. He said that Ethan was big for eleven (ha) and that, if we had had any Steelers gear, he would have given us dinner just for that. Turns out he’s a big Penn State and Florida fan after working in Pennsylvania. He told us that Oregon was playing Stanford tonight. If it’s the Ducks, I’m cheering for Oregon. If it’s the Beavers… maybe not.


Calling Cameras in Kruger

Today we left Kruger. While in the park, we feasted our eyes, ears, and noses on the park. We saw lots of animals, we heard the bird calls, screaming cicadas, groaning hippos, and roaring lions, and we smelled the flowers (the park was in full bloom from the recent rains) and dead hippo. The primary point, though, was the animal life. We saw more of any animal than in any of the other parks, excepting gemsbok and springbok, which we didn’t see, and giraffes (in Etosha we saw 91; we saw only 75 in Kruger).

Here is my total:

2,781 black-faced impala
564 African elephants
483 blue wildbeeste
419 zebra
94 Cape buffalo
75 giraffes
67 Nile crocodiles
59 hippos
48 waterbuck
27 lions
13 white rhinos
11 bushbuck
10 spotted hyenas
8 African wild dogs
8 nyala
7 scrub hares
6 cheetahs
2 small-spotted genets
2 honey badgers
2 leopards
1 large-spotted genet
1 Sharpe’s grysbok
1 black-backed jackal

Beyond these, we also saw baboons, vervet monkeys, leopard tortoises, banded mongoose, a duiker, three steenbok, ground agamas, and, apart from the many types of birds including the Southern ground hornbill, Marabou stork, pied kingfisher, Egyptian goose, helmeted guineafowl, and Verreaux eagle-owl, my very favorite animal sighting: a puff adder.


Light Shows

When we were in India, there were lots of ads for light shows around the forts that were numerous. However, I think that the light show that I am experiencing right now, as I write this is better than any of those would ever be. It is a light show similar to the one that we saw in Graskop. To cut the suspension that you are most likely feeling right now, the light show is one of lightning. There is lots of lightning left and right. We have not attempted to take a picture yet, but we might. It is a very nice looking kind of lightning, and while lightning flashes on either side, we are driving towards the sunset.

That’s all for now, Folks!

A Desolate Drive

Today, in the afternoon, we went on a drive. The sunset drive is what it was called, and there was a sunset, which was pretty, but there were few animals.

We started out by getting on the truck. Since two of the reserved people were no-shows, we waited a while, before leaving. But just as we were about to go out of the gate, the two others came and got on because they had just arrived. Finally, however, we left.

On our drive, we saw several animals, including impala, zebra, wildebeest, elephants, waterbucks, baboons, vervet monkeys, and two leopard tortoises. All of those are very common except for the leopard tortoises, but you can see those if you look hard enough. In the end, though, we saw several scrub hares in the shine of the flashlights.

That’s all for now, Folks!

Sorry at Sunset

Tonight we saw a caracal! And a leopard! And a serval! And a civet!

Not. We did see a sunset (good, since it was a sunset drive), impala, zebra, blue wildbeeste, waterbuck, hippos, the dead hippo with the dozens of Nile crocodiles, scrub hares, and birds, but we didn’t see any carnivores. We saw a leopard tortoise, which Cecilia, our driver, told us was one of the Little Five, whose names mimic those of the Big Five: leopard tortoise, ant lion, rhino’s horn beetle, buffalo weaver, and elephant shrew.

Cecilia seemed genuinely sorry that we didn’t see anything interesting after waiting an extra fifteen minutes for the last two people to arrive. We were heading out the gate when someone pointed them out.

Before the drive, Ethan and I had swam in the pool, seen many of the bushbucks who live in Letaba Camp, and watched a crested barbet gobble up a mopane worm.


Hippo Holidays

Hikipo, the hippo, was a happy hippo. He lived in the Letaba River and had lots to eat at night. His only annoyance was that Jopapi and Manolu, his friend, kept on fighting in the day. He kept telling them that someday, one of them would die from their fighting, but they didn’t listen.

One fateful day, however, everything changed. Jopapi had started another fight with Manolu, and they were snarling. Or snarling as much as two hippos can do. Their mouths were wide open when suddenly, Jopapi pierced the skin on the top of Manolu’s leg. Manolu went down like a flash, and he never got up again. Hikipo was in anguish, and he went all the way across the river and stayed there. Jopapi, however, stayed near in victory, while the hippo that he killed turned into a bloated corpse. Crocodiles were an ever-present annoyance; they kept trying to bite him to see if he was dead. When it turned into night, bugs screamed and fizzled against everything, annoying him when he was out grazing.

That may not be a true story, but the outcome is the same, and there are annoying bugs around.

That’s all for now, Folks!

Animated Animal Sightings

“Ooh, look, some of those impala are preggie,” Mom said.

Preggie?” I asked.



Ethan laughed. We were driving from Letaba rest camp after resting (it is a rest camp, after all!) up after our tiresome drives this morning. We got up at 3:30 to go on a morning drive, and we saw eight lions, thirteen elephants, twenty-three giraffes, a small-spotted genet, and a Sharpe’s grysbok. We returned to bungalow 117 and had breakfast before finally leaving Olifants.

The drive was about forty kilometers, and we saw Cape buffalo, elephants, hippos, crocodiles, elephants, wildebeeste, zebra, impala, giraffes, waterbuck, a male bushbuck, and lots of different types of birds. The next drive was when we saw the pregnant impala. We also saw a new animal for Kruger: banded mongoose.

When we drove up after I shouted “Stop!”, they ran up to the car, mouths wide open. These squeazels (as we’ve dubbed them- a cross between squirrels and weasels) were bigger than any we’d ever seen before. Just as I rolled down my window to take a picture, they retreated into the shade. After many repeats of this, we discovered that it was a raptor of some sort that was scaring the mongoose back and forth. We left after having taken lots of pictures.

On the bridge over the Letaba River where you could get out, we saw baboons, waterbuck, birds (of course!), and a couple who told us about crocodiles trying to get at a dead, bloated hippo. So after we were done on the bridge, we followed them and saw the hippo. There was another live hippo next to it, and we were told that sometimes the crocs tried to eat it, too.


Lots & Lots of Olifants

Today we saw over one hundred elephants in all different places. The first sighting was on the tarred road at a dam. One herd of elephants had just finished playing in the water, and we stayed and watched the next herd move in. The hippos in the dam had moved off to one side, as if they were afraid of the elephants (a sensible move, since a full-grown bull elephant could easily squash a hippo). We also saw a marabou stork there. On our morning drive at Lower Sabie, we learned that marabou storks pee on their legs to keep cool.

We continued on to a gravel road, where we came across three separate elephants, plus impala, two steenbok, waterbuck, giraffes, vervet monkeys, and a giant eagle-owl. We drove to part of a river where there was water (!!!) and stopped there, watching a herd of 33+ elephants drink. Mom was worried the whole time that an elephant would take it into its head to knock our car over. (None did.)

We saw some more elephants as we continued on, stopping at a bridge over a river to get out and look at birds. We continued on and arrived at camp around 1 o’clock, where I got to put up three dots on the sighting board: one for Cape buffalo today, one for elephants today, and one for a leopard on our night drive yesterday. We got Magnums (biscotti for Ethan, Mom, and me, and Death by Chocolate for Dad) and sat at the view point.

From there, we could see for miles—excuse me, kilometers. We saw giraffes, impala, hippo heads, waterbuck, zebra, and nineteen elephants. Eighteen of those crossed the river in two separate herds, and one was a lone bull wandering on the far side.

Oh, did I forget to mention what the name of the river was? And our camp?

Olifants, meaning elephants in Afrikaans.


Today We Saw a Leopard…


… tortoise. It was actually moving pretty quickly at the Elephants waterhole, where we did see elephants.
After going back onto the tar road (H2-1), we drove for five minutes before coming to five stopped cars.
“Leopard on the right!” Dad exclaimed.
“Yeah, right,” was the general reaction.
“What are you looking at?” Mom asked. “Uhm, there’s a leopard on each side. One just killed a warthog, I think…” was the helpful answer from a nearby car.
The leopard then crossed the road from left to right, causing some squealing. We backed up to look for the other leopard, but we couldn’t see it. The people in the car overlooking the leopard waved us up and pointed out the leopard to us. It was laying against a rock, with its spots providing good camouflage. We dubbed him Kinky, after his tail.
Suddenly we heard some squealing and turned to see a large, bleeding warthog run away, leaving us wondering why the leopard didn’t just kill it outright.
Kinky didn’t even blink.
Eventually he got up and walked down the road a kilometer before disappearing into the veld.
We continued on to Satara, where Mom, Ethan, and I had supper before all of us went on a night drive with twenty of our new closest friends.
My wish list for the night drive included  caracal, serval, rhino, and lion, because, if we saw the last two, we would have seen all Big Five (elephant, rhino, lion, leopard, Cape buffalo) in one day.
So we started out by seeing… IMPALA!!! (Gasp.) Then we saw a steenbok, some wildebeeste, a giant eagle-owl, and some more impala before coming across our first carnivorous mammal: a small-spotted genet. It was small and in a tree, but we saw it. Our next big animal was a male lion and another lion (but we only saw its eye-shine).
We saw hippos, a bushbuck and her baby, wildebeeste, and impala before I saw a large-spotted genet. (No one else did because I forgot to tell City, our driver, to stop.)
Even with all the racket we were making, we still saw a cat-like figure crossing the road: a leopard.
So I didn’t get to see all Big Five in one day, but seeing two totally unrelated leopards was awesome. We’ve gone to three game parks (Etosha, Kgalagadi, and Kruger) and we’ve seen at least one leopard in every one.


My alarm clock when off at 3:25 this morning. This was, sadly, no accident. We had a morning game drive to catch at four a.m. It would last three hours and we were supposed to see rare animals like leopards, genets, servals, and caracals.

We didn’t see any of those cat-like animals, but we saw three others: lions, hyenas, and cheetahs. The first we saw of these was a spotted hyena, which we saw after a marabou stork, steenbok, and some impala. It was walking towards a family of six cheetahs (a mom and her five cubs). The cubs were a few months old. Martie, our guide, said that the group she took on the morning drive the day before hadn’t seen the cheetahs, so she didn’t mention it to them when she stopped by their car after we saw the two female lions dozing on the road.

They moved off, but it wasn’t because they were intimidated by the two barking African wild dogs. “I don’t know what to say because I’ve never seen anything like this,” Martie said. “Usually wild dogs just move away from lions.”

Later on the tarred H4-2, Martie pointed out a bird and said, “We rangers have funny little things for birds to help us remember their names, like this one. We say it goes, ‘My mother is dead. My father is dead. Everyone is dead dead dead dead.” (“Dead dead dead dead” is the sound the bird makes.)

So our total before 7 o’clock this morning was…

1,000 impala
15 baboons
13 African elephants
08 nyala (“They aren’t usually seen this far south,” Martie said)
06 cheetahs
02 spotted hyenas
02 African wild dogs
02 lionesses
02 African fish eagles
01 bushbuck
01 common duiker
01 brown snake eagle
01 magpie shrike


Driving Day, dark, damp, dreary…

Well, on the bright side, today wasn’t all like that, but the first part of our morning drive was all that is listed above. I’ll begin this by telling you how it all started.

Tired, and hungry too, Jerry Reeder rubbed his eyes as his computer logged off. It had been a trying day, but he had finally managed to book all of the reservations for Kruger National Park away in South Africa. As it was a Sunday, he was at home, so when his children called for supper, he came readily.

10 Months and 10 Days Later…

Ethan woke to the beeping of his watch. It was 3:30 am, time to get up. He sighed, tired and hungry, missing a good chunk of the night’s sleep. Still, however, today was different, as today he was going to go on a morning drive out on the roads of Kruger before the gates opened for other people. When he got up, he went with his parents and sister to the truck, hoping for an interesting animal.

3 Hours and 5 Minutes Later…

They were back, Ethan was tired, but he was happy, and in his mind, he relayed the following episode:

Shining eyes were what they were looking for, and they found it. The first major animal was a spotted hyena, a little bit further on was a family of six cheetahs; five cubs and a mother. They all took pictures, and when they were finished, moved on. The next interesting animal that they saw in the now light bush was a lion. It was lying close to another, and moving away in the background were several wild dogs. Those were the two most interesting sightings, though the others ranged from elephant to steenbok.

That’s all for now, Folks!

Lots of Baby Hippos

“Look at it! It’s a baby hippo,” Ethan cried. “Sssh,” Dad hissed. “And what are you talking about? That’s no ‘baby hippo.’”

It wasn’t. It was a warthog, our third one today (and our third in Kruger, too). We saw more when we stopped to look at some vervet monkeys.

Warthogs weren’t our only W-animal today. Guess what it was, please. Walrus? Whale? Warbler?

Think again: wild dog. Officially known as the African wild dog, it was a first for all of us. It was called the ‘wild African dog’ on Fox News when the station reported on a group of the mauling a little boy to death on the USA’s east coast. These six were more docile. There was even a puppy!

Later on we visited the Hippo Pools, where we saw some hippos and a snake coiling around its food. We’re not sure what type of snake it was, though. On the way back up to the Crocodile River Road, we saw a car pulled over and stopped to see what the fuss was about. Turns out there was a smallish pride of lions near the road.

After Hippo Pools we visited the Crocodile Gate camp where used the ablution blocks and bought drinks (yellow fruit juice for Mother, 330 milliliters of Lime & Soda for Ethan, a can of Rock Shandy for Dad, and an ‘Orange Flavoured Drink’ by Fanta for me) and chocolate chip cookies. It was on the road up to Lower Sabie camp that we saw the first baby hippos.

We saw more at the Sunset Dam, where they were all silhouetted. Our plans for watching the movie after supper were dashed because no movie was showing. So now I’m writing instead.


Darth Vader

Since we went to three waterfalls yesterday (Mac Mac, Lisbon, and Berlin), I will mention that we visited those and Bridal Veil Falls this morning before driving to Kruger National Park.

After going through Numbi Gate and Reception, we drove several kilometers to Pretoriouskop, seeing [my first] four waterbuck along the way, plus an impala and several Cape glossy starlings.

After getting another Kruger guide book (the GPS [whose current voice is the Australian Karen] pronounced it “KROO-jer.” It’s pronounced “KROO-ger”), we got back on the road, not knowing that, before arriving at the Berg-en-Dal camp, we would see seven rhinos, eight African elephants (including two little ones who were play-fighting), two honey badgers (which are usually nocturnal), a pride of ten lions made up of three lionesses and their seven cubs, six of which were jumping around (Mom, shockingly, called them “feisty”) playing with someone’s tennis shoe, a mother and her four spotted hyena cubs, and innumerable kudu and springbok.

We arrived at Berg-en-Dal seven minutes before the gate closed. We put our stuff in our chalet and then had supper at the restaurant. For dessert we had chocolate cupcakes after Dad opened his presents (a movie, a pair of rhino, elephant, and lion socks, a South Africa polo shirt, comics from home, and a Cadbury bar). So he is now 52 and a very ou vader. Not Darth Vader, mind you, but ou vader, which means ‘old father’ in Afrikaans.


Wild African Dogs

Yes, I know that they are actually called African Wild Dogs, but BBC News, in the article about the little boy being mauled to death, calls them Wild African Dogs. Anyway, today we saw our first wild dogs.

We were driving down the road in our dirt stained gray x-Trail when, after hearing several times that there were wild dogs down a ways, we came upon a plethora of cars sitting by the side of the road. After waiting a while, we finally got to pull in to the best spot on the lot, by slowly acquiring better and better spots to look at the dogs. I want one. We got some good pictures, but most will be throw-aways. But on the bright side: WE SAW AFRICAN WILD DOGS!!! When we finished, we left, and by that time it was actually noon.

That’s all for now, Folks!

A Park called Kruger

Named after Paul Kruger, Kruger National Park is one of the largest game parks in Africa. It has a diverse environment, and this time of year, everything is green. Lucky for us, the grass is fairly short so you can see shorty creatures, but still, it will take a while before I can get used to spotting animals in a bright green background.

We left the Wild Forest Inn this morning, and after visiting a waterfall, we were on our way to the Kruger National Park. We went in the Numbi Gate and started driving. Contrary to what everyone else in the family thought it would be, the first animals that we saw were actually Waterbuck, not what they thought it would be; impala. We drove and got to Pretoriaskop, where we bought a book, before heading down south to Berg-in-Dal. On the way, the three most interesting things that we saw today were two honey badgers running around (sadly we didn’t get any pictures), several lionesses with 6 cubs, and a hyena mother with three cubs suckling. We saw a fourth hyena cub a little bit down the road, but we didn’t know if it was hers.

That’s all for now, Folks!

Diesel’s Dialogue

The people the people the people, people I’ve never seen before! They’re at the door!!! They’re small, which means I can jump up and lick their face. They taste like rain. What? Where are they going??? Back out???

Oh, here they come! (Whew.) I was worried I would never see them again. Oh, no! Where’s my stick?! Who took it?! What? Is it these two new people and the two who came in later? They’re all sitting at a table and—

Oh, look, it’s Alicia Keys on the TV. What? Where’d the TV go? Why is it all dark? Oh, mistress is lighting a candle. The food smells good, but my stick is better. Where is it? I swear I just put it here—

Oh it’s right here on this chair. C’mon. Hey, play with me, Small Non-Person! Please! Oh, please please please play with me. I’m so lonely. Even the men cussing at the bar don’t look at me. Please play with me! I’m so lonely and bor—

The TV is back on! But where is my stick? I put it on the floor! Where is it? Oh, it’s under that other table. Well, big person, don’t think you’ve fooled me! There. Ha! You see, I am smarter than—

Don’t you dare blow on my face Big Person!!!!!!! Here, I’ll blow in yours! How does that feel? Okay, I’m tired now. I’ll just lay right down and take a nap with my stick next to m—

Mmmf yffl… hmm? What’s that? My stick! My precious stick! Where did it go???!!!! Help me, please! I’m looking all around the table but I see no stick, and—

What? You’re leaving? Mistress called me over and I didn’t even get to say good-bye. Well, I’ll say it now:


Diesel the Dog

Diesel is the dog that was at the pizza place that we went for supper. Since the place was actually a pub, there were men at the bar getting drunk and not censoring their language (which was English) in front of Eryn and I because we were children.

Anywho, we went to the pizza place because the place called the Glass House was closed on Thursdays, weird, right? We finally, after getting soaked asking questions, arrived at the pub and were greeted happily by the door by a dog with the name of Diesel.  Since it had a cut off tail, so when it was happy, its whole butt wiggled. Strange. He had a stick that was partially burnt that he kept placing in weird places like behind my butt on my chair. In the end we teased him by, when he wasn’t looking, hiding the stick.

That’s all for now, Folks!

Wonderful Weather

Weather differs throughout all of Africa; in Egypt it is hot and deserty, in Upington it is just right for people who have been to India recently, and here, in the Highveld, (pronounced high felt), it is cold and wet. It may not be too cold to Oregonians who have just come, but for us to enjoy all of this, we need to climatize some more.

When we were driving through the foggy passes, my parents commented on how it looks like Scotland. All you have to do is trade the cattle for sheep and it will look perfect, with rocky crags, small forests, and hilly meadows. If not for the fog, I think it would be the perfect place to live. The fog is like rain, without the gravity. It hangs there, and your vision is so limited that you can’t see 20 feet to either side unless the wind picks up and you can see farther because the fog clears.

That’s all for now, Folks!

Out from Oom Dennis’s (and Tannie Mariejtie’s)

Canimambo is a Portuguese-Mozambican restaurant. The three of us had chicken, while Dad ordered a Greek salad.

This came after hours of driving from Oom Dennis’s house to the Wild Forest Inn here near Graskop. We finally left Koster after getting the tire changed, saying good-bye to Tannie Marietjie’s parents, Tannie Marietjie herself, Griet, Dinky, Bessie, and the other dogs, and Oom Dennis, and buying groceries at Choppies. We drove through Pretoria to see the jacaranda trees, which had just passed their prime but were still pretty, and the Union Buildings (government offices).

The weather- thunderstorms and in the 60s- came as a bit of a shock after warm Upington and Koster. It seems like Oregon…


Dog Day

There were seven dogs: Tikki, Bloemie (meaning ‘flower’ in Afrikaans), Bokiche, one Ethan nicknamed “Biggie,” and the other three: a little old dog a year or two younger than the blind and deaf Bokiche, a spotted mutt in the back (I’ll call him Captain), and Biggie’s sister. Biggie and his sister (I’ll call her Rooijana) are the puppies of Mr. and Mrs. Koster’s Bessie and Tannie Marietjie’s brother’s dog (I’ll call him Dennye), making them the siblings of one of Mr. and Mrs. Koster’s other dogs (I’ll call him Max).

Biggie looks almost exactly like Dennye, except Biggie is slightly smaller and is more yellow than gold. Rooijana looks like Bessie and Max; all three are black. Bloemie was the cute Jack Russell terrier. She joined Rooijana and Biggie in licking Ethan’s face dirty. He had, after all, tried to drown himself by attempting to swim across the dam, so it had been clean.

When Oom Dennis and Dad had discovered the front right tire to be a bit flat, we decided to pay Tannie Marietjie’s friends a visit. Who knew that they would have seven dogs?

Tikki and Bloemie fought the most. Well, Bloemie fought Tikki the most. She would grab one of Tikki’s ears and hang on, swinging to and fro. When we arrived, Bokiche’s look-alike disappeared into the house after barking at us. It took us a while to realize Captain’s presence. He never came out to play. Bokiche never really interacted with us, only smelling my hand.

Now Ethan and I want dogs even more…


What does a Fish say when it Runs in to a Concrete Wall?

There’s a joke in there, and some people think it is a bad joke. I think it is a good joke, but that could just be my opinion. The answer to that joke is ‘dam’ it could be taken as a bad word when said, but my mother would get mad at me if I wrote it here. However, that joke has no meaning to you, unless you know what we did today.

After vegging around for half the day, we left Dennis’s house for the dam. At the dam, we got out of our car with the soft tire and I swam in the lake that was formed by the dam. I wanted to swim across, but my parents stopped me, sadly. Eryn thinks that I would have drowned, but she is wrong and she knows it.

When we were finished with that, we went to the house of one of Dennis’s friends, where there were 7 dogs!!! I never heard what 6 of their names where from the owners, but the little puppy was named Blowme, and it was my favorite. I played with them all for a while while my father and Dennis and someone else changed his tire. When we were finished, we went back home.

That’s all for now, Folks!

Lion King

I like to think that there was a king of the lions that we saw today, but I’m not sure. There were lots of different colors of lions, from white to Kalahari black and gold to plain old gold. The main family that we watched had all of those colors, and there were eight of them.

We started out the day with breakfast, brekkie as they call it in Australia, as usual. Then wasted several hours with reading and stuff, though some might not call it wasting, before heading off in our car towards the lion farm. The farm was nothing like I expected, I think that I expected to see lions roaming around the bush, looking for new tourists to eat, or something like that. However, it wasn’t anything like that. There were lions in their own separate small cages, separated by kin. If we had known this, I think Eryn would not have been freaking out about us being eaten by lions. I think she was already thinking towards her will and testimony, but since she doesn’t have any of those, that would be kind of hard. We rode in the back of a bikkie to see the lions after seeing all four of their dogs and a rat. When we were finished looking at lions and them looking at Dennis’s dog, Dinkie, we went back to their house before driving back to Dennis’s house.

That’s all for now, Folks!

Dinky’s Daring Day

“Look at that one! It’s getting closer,” Ethan said. He was, of course, referring to a lion at one of Oom Dennis’s friend’s house. The friend just moved in to the house with his wife on Friday. Their granddaughter, Karina, was staying with them for the time. She showed me the mouse and her room.

The main lions we looked at were in a cage with ten, but we only really saw eight. Dinky was with us, and somehow she got out of the truck and ran. The lions instantly perked up and started walking the fence line. Poor Dinky freaked out and cowered under the truck. Oom Dennis picked her up and put her in the back. She is seventeen years old (119 dog years).

What experiences she must have had!


Stuck With Stables

“Do you get stuck often?” Mom asked.

“Yes,” admitted the 8-year-old girl. Her dad had gone to get a tractor and some help, so she, her younger sister, and the four of us were waiting for his return. It had started when we had spotted some zebra and driven forward. Dad had asked, “Is that a warthog hole?” Francois nodded, and we drove around the back to get a better look at the entrance.

And we did, in fact, get closer- much closer- than we had intended. With a ker-chunk and a clunk, we had caved in the warthogs’ lounge. Francois thought that by gunning the engine he could get us out, but the bakkie’s back left tire was firmly stuck, and the front right tire was six inches off the ground.

That was when he left to get help.

We captured the whole affair on camera. By the time we got back in the bakkie, Mom in the front because she can’t handle standing in the bed, we had captured about five minutes’ video and lots of pictures. We also took pictures of the sable, since Francois’ property is, after all, named Sable Hill. I saw my first (and second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth…) sables there. There were also nyala, kudu, red hartebeest, wildebeeste, cows, and, as pets, an ostrich, three meerkats (two adult females and one baby boy that they had just bought today), numerous chickens, a squawking bird, and four dogs.


The Koster Episode

“You must be the family’s clown,” Tannie Marietjie’s mother said. I rolled my eyes.

Him?” (Personally, I think that Dad and I are funnier than him.)

She ignored my comment and kept on talking, telling us about the Koster family—and, yes, we’re staying near Koster. Tannie Marietjie was a Koster, and the town was established by her great-grandfather. On the wall, there were pictures of just about everyone in the Koster family, including a wedding picture of Oom Dennis and Tannie Marietjie.

“It was pure agony,” she was saying. Mrs. Koster was referring to her husband taking her on a drive in his bakkie on a new road on their property. The agony-causer pointed out this road from the top of a hill after he had driven Tannie Marietjie, Ethan, Mom, Dad, and myself up it, followed by Tannie Marietjie’s brother’s dog, two of Mr. and Mrs. Koster’s three dogs (one was named Bessie), and Griet, Tannie Marietjie’s four-year-old Saint Bernard-great Dane.

On our way down, we saw some unnamed antelope bounding away, and Bessie and Griet pursued them. Bessie eventually joined the other two dogs in following the bakkie, but Griet was a long time in coming.

And then we saw her, bounding down the hill, tongue out, feet pounding the dirt, panting. She jumped into the cows’ water trough but didn’t jump into the concrete dam because it was too high.

When we returned to Mr. and Mrs. Koster’s house, she showed us a bird book and fed us ice cream.


Warthogs, Meerkats, and Porcupines

Okay, though I said it in the series of warthogs, meerkats, and porcupines, how I am probably going to write it is in the form of porcupines, meerkats, and warthogs.

Porcupines: This afternoon, we went on a walk with Oom Dennis on his old property that he had sold. I know that sounds illegal, but we did it anyway. We walked after parking the car along a river, which anyone from Oregon would call a stream or a creek. We walked and walked away from the car, oohed and aahed at lemon trees and fig trees before crossing the river and turning around. When we were almost there, we saw and picked up two porcupince quills.

Meerkats: On our way home from Oom Dennis’s old farm, we went and turned into a private game reserve called Sable Hill, we drove up their driveway and when we got to the top, we saw that the owners had multiple pets; four dogs, several birds, an ostrich, stuff like that, but what was most exciting for me was that they had MEERKATS! In case you haven’t read the rest of my saga, I will tell you that I like meerkats as pets from the first time that I saw them at the AiAiba Lodge in Namibia. Since then, there has only been one other place that had a meerkat, and that one was unfriendly, these two, however, were nice. When we came back from our drive (paragraph 4; the next one) we found out that we were wrong and there was actually another one, this one was a male baby and tiny, being only 3 weeks old. We all got to hold it.

Warthogs: Once on our drive, the awesome people in the back (me, Eryn, my father, and the two daughters of the owner) hung on as we sped (40kph, or about 20mph) up the hill to see the sables. We saw those and when we were finished, we continued and after seeing lots of plains animals, we looked at a warthog hole. To get a closer look, we drove very close, and just as were were about to move on, there was a big thunk and were were stuck in a hole up to the chassis. To cut a long story short, we got out via a tractor and moved on with our lives.

That’s all for now, Folks!


That’s what I’m going to call all of the birds that we cannot name. We have seen lots of those birds, so with me, Birdy is a popular name. Some of the examples of when we didn’t know the names of the birds was in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier National Park and when we saw a woodpecker doing, guess what?, pecking wood on a dead tree to find insects in it. Another time was this morning when my father saw and took pictures of a bird in Oom Dennis’s yard, that one, however, we had a name to, but I forgot it. Nonetheless, I will try to get it for you on the morrow.

That’s all for now, Folks!

A Day on a Farm, and other such Stories

Bob woke up, tired and hungry, and tried to hang on to the last moments of his dream, when he was a captain on a large sailing ship, and instead of sailing on water, they were flying. Going fast and smoothly, being on what he dubbed a man-of-sky was the best experience of his life, even though it was only in a dream. He stayed in bed and read on his kindle before being forced to take a shower by his parents. As he broke fast, he noted that Maritjie wasn’t there, and figured that she was at work. After breakfast, he went with Dennis out to see and feed the chickens, which looked like ostriches, and the tortoise.

When finished with that, Bob got into the back of Dennis’s bakkie, or truck, and went to town and the cow pasture. At first they went to the town, and got stuff at the post office and a little shop. When finished, they went out on an unpaved road for a while before, after stopping once, arriving at the cow pasture, where there were a lot of cows. After giving the cows some more food, they left and arrived back at Dennis’s house.

In case you haven’t figured out, Bob is I and I am Bob, the dream is fiction, but the rest was truth, except for the name.

Ethan Probably Had a More Interesting Day Than Me, But Here’s What I Did

After having breakfast with Oom Dennis (Tannie Marietjie was gone) and Bucky, the bird, Mom surfed the web and Dad worked with money while I read a book for school. Oom Dennis took Ethan to look at cattle.

Dad searched for better cell reception, but instead he found a grasshopper with bright green and pink wings. It was so pretty!!!

Once Oom Dennis, Ethan, and Dinky (the dog) returned, we had sandwiches and then watched an episode of Poirot. We had watched one episode last night, but Mom had missed it. She saw this one, though.

Five people died.


Ou Oomitjie Dennis

That means old little uncle Dennis. He may not be little, but still, sometimes it just is a diminuative, though that doesn’t properly describe him either. He is a big man with a lot of hair, that I can say without any thinking. He has long hair and an even longer beard.

Well, to put it in short, we are now at his house after a very long day of driving. I have been counting down the days until coming to Dennis’s house for a long time, since Australia actually. At his house, he has several pets, including a tortoise.

The reason that we call him Oom or Oomitjie (uncle or little uncle) is because here you call respected older people Oom or Tannie (uncle or aunt, respectively).

Witsand has witsand

Afrikaans lesson for the day: Witsand literally means white sand; wit=white, sand=sand

Today we drove a lot to go from Upington to Witsand. As I said before, witsand means white sand in Afrikaans and we saw that it did, actually, have white sand. But, as you have no context, I will tell you how we got to where we are now.

We left the Waterfront Guestfarm this morning with the plan to go to Witsand and do both it and Roaring Sands (the lesser known parts in the same area) before we went to bed tonight. We drove and drove and drove after we checked out of the guestfarm in which we are staying. When we arrived several hours later, we checked in to our chalet and went immediately to Roaring Sands. There, my father amused himself by tossing me down the slope of sand. When we finished with that, Eryn and I swam in the pool before getting one sandboard and going to witsand. To get to Witsand, you have to walk down a path before getting to some small dunes with white sand, seeing in the distance the big white dunes. We stayed in the small dune area and I tried sandboarding. It was fun.

That’s all for now, Folks!

With the de Klerks

KOSTER, South Africa- “We have arrived!” Ethan told Oom (‘uncle’ in Afrikaans) Dennis. We were told to wait in the Wimpy parking lot. And wait we did… eventually Oom Dennis came and, with Ethan in his bakkie, he showed us the way to his house, which is on his wife’s parents’ property. She came to the house after dark, accompanied by Griet (which means ‘Margaret’ in Afrikaans), who was the big dog that had shied away from me earlier. The little dog, Dinky, was very friendly and very pettable.

Ethan tried to pet Griet, but she was very skittish and seemed uncomfortable around Oom Dennis (indeed, Tannie [‘aunt’ in Afrikaans] Marietjie, Oom Dennis’s wife, said that it had taken Griet a while to get used to her husband). The chill was beginning to get to us, and we moved inside. After showing the pictures of the Cape cobra and its annoying bird friend and the white snake, Oom Dennis deduced that we had seen an adolescent albino python. “I’ll need to think about the bird,” he said.

I set in on my Time magazines while Tannie Marietjie and Mom started supper, which was a squash soup and bread. We talked and talked and talked and talked and talked… and talked. Tannie Marietjie said, “I wish I had asked you earlier to bring me a Hershey’s bar from America, but I wasn’t sure if you’d have room. We’ll have to make another trip to the U.S. so I can taste a Hershey’s bar again. I wonder what they have in those that they don’t have here…?”

I said chocolate, thinking of the ‘chocolate-flavoured sauce’ of last night. Dad pointed out that they most certainly used chocolate in Cadbury bars. (I’m still not done with my Cadbury Bubble bar from my birthday; I’m savoring it.)


Glenda, Grass, and Thick Lattes

Of course, that is the opposite order in which those three things happened. The thick lattes- more like chocolate pudding than the mochas we were expecting- were relished at Choc-O-Latte in Upington before we went to Woolworths and Pick ‘n Pay. Then we drove for 220 kilometers to Witsand (literally, white sand). After stopping at our first set of dunes, we went up a little rocky trail to Uiskykpoint.

On the way, I tripped and tried to grab a rock for balance. Instead, I hit a thorny plant and scraped my wrist on the red rocks. I spent the rest of the hike pulling out stickers. At the top, we looked at the view and took a picture next to one of thirty cloth flowers put up around South Africa. An interesting story…

After dipping in the dirty pool (it was too cool for our tastes) and grabbing a sandboard, we went to the actual witsands. All of us but Mom took off our shoes- an important detail that you’ll need to remember for later.

I was the official photographer of Ethan as he tried to sandboard. He tried three hills before finally finding a good one. He went down this one three times and I went down once. After the last run, he walked through the grass, and I followed.

“Ow!” I cried. A tip of grass had broken off and was embedded in the arch of my foot. After much muttering, I pulled it out and continued on. Little did I know that, at just about the same time, Dad had stepped on a stick and it had gone in deep. It was on his heel, causing pain with every step. In fact, it still does cause him pain.

However, he got some relief when he sat down at the computer on the picnic bench outside. Slowly, steadily, a little steenbok crept up to the little pond and drank. I called her Glenda, and she stayed for about five minutes before returning to the bush. We might have seen her this evening as we drove to the restaurant (where Big Bang Theory and That ’70s Show were playing, making us embarrassed) for ice cream, because we passed springbok, steenbok, and a rabbit on our way there and back.