Happy New Year!

Well, today is the last day of the 12th year of the 2000th year after Christ was born. I remember how at summer camp in 2011, there were people predicting about how the world was going to be overcome by zombies and end in 2012. So far, that hasn’t happened yet, and I doubt it will.

Today the plumber was supposed to come, he was also supposed to come yesterday but didn’t. Today, however, he did come, but more of that will come later. All of us went putt-putt-ing today and we went on the blue course…again! The reason that we had to go on the blue course was because the orange course is closed for renovations in the morning. Sadly, we didn’t know that sooner, as we probably would have waited the ½ hour to play on my (and Eryn’s probably, too) favorite course, the orange one. However, as we didn’t wait, we did the blue one, for the third time for me and Eryn, and the second time for my parents. After playing that round, we went back to our apartment and waited for the plumbers to arrive. Eventually, they did, and a little bit before they left, we left for dinner at Yindee’s. Now, we have hot water, and my mother is using that water to wash almost every bit of clothing that we have.

That’s all for now, Folks!

Two Thousand and Twelve Terrors

How was our day?

Table Mountain disappointed us once again this morning. We read the national park’s website and it was cold, the winds were gale force, and there was zero visibility. So we did schoolwork and read things like Last of the Mohicans until the maid came to clean the house (she always does on Monday). So we went mini-golfing. The orange course, the one we most wanted to go on, was closed, so we went on the blue for the third time. I lost, of course, but Mom, Ethan, and I each got a hole-in-one.

After that we tried going to Charly’s Bakery and Queen of Tarts for some sweet treats, but we finally settled with Gelato Mania. It was good, of course. Dad dropped us off at the library on the way home. First we had to look in Clicks. There was a birds’ nest with two fuzzy chicks on top of the Clicks sign.

The library had, unbeknownst to us, closed an hour earlier and we were stuck walking home. We stopped by the exercise station and ignored the rules (“No children under 15 years may use this equipment”) before walking the rest of the way home. There we found our water heater finally being replaced (today was our second day without showers). Later two men came and replaced the laundry machines. After that we drove to Yindee’s for another good supper.

And how was our year?

Most of us Earthians will live to see 2013. The world didn’t end on December 21, where the Mayan calendar ended.

Ciao!

Chapman’s Peak Driving Test

If you want to take an interesting and scenic driving test, you should go on the aforementioned drive. According to their website:

Chapman’s Peak Drive winds it way between Noordhoek and Hout Bay on the Atlantic Coast on the south-western tip of South Africa. Chapman’s Peak Drive is one of the most spectacular marine drives in the world.

The 9km route, with its 114 curves, skirts the rocky coastline of Chapman’s Peak (593m), which is the southerly extension of Constantiaberg and is a great hike for the energetically inclined.

Chapman’sPeakDrive is affectionately known as “Chappies” and is a must for anyone who is passionate about the majestic Cape Town scenery, with sheer drops to the sea below and towering mountains rising above you. The twists and curves in the road seem endless and it is a photographers dream. It is a paradise for motorists, sightseers, picnickers, runners, hikers and bikers (both the motorised and the manual varieties).

The drive offers stunning 180° views with many areas along the route where you can stop and take in the exquisite scenery or sit down for a relaxing picnic.

Today we went there. We went on the drive for the scenery, and it was fun…well, as fun as a drive can be. We drove from Hout Bay (Wood Bay) to Noordhoek (North Corner, interestingly south of Cape Town) along this drive to discover and experience the ‘must do.’ There were a lot of pull outs and we stopped at several to admire the view over Hout Bay and out over the Atlantic Ocean.

That’s all for now, Folks!

Table Mountain Trauma

Table Mountain’s website is very disappointing: at 6 o’clock, we looked online. The conditions at the top? Mild temperature, good visibility, medium wind. By the time we got there, it was cold temperature, zero visibility, and high winds.

How disappointing.

 

When we woke up this morning, we had to do without showers because none of us were big fans of cold showers. We had a typical breakfast (cereal, eggs, cheese, fruit, and toast) and then hung around the house until about nine. Then we went on a drive near Hout Bay on the Chapman’s Peak Drive.

We stopped at a mall at the end, where Mom, Ethan, and I got ice cream at Fruit & Veg City after Ethan bought a notebook at Pick North Pay. We then drove home around Table Mountain. After supper, we tried to go up to Table Mountain, but you already read how that turned out.

Ciao!

Why Yes, We Do Like Chocolate

The service at the Plumstead church was better than last time, and when we left we had several people ask us from whence we came (as usual). We said that we were from the United States since most non-Americans don’t know where Oregon is. One man, however, remembered us from last time and he talked about Oregon and Uganda and missionary work with Dad and Ethan while Mom talked about our trip with another man.

We returned home and I worked on Power Point while Ethan and Mom read and Dad napped. Around four we decided to walk to Gelato Mania. We walked through Green Point Park, which is having the Chariot Festival tonight, and across the eight-lane street before arriving. I ordered a scoop of Choccomania, Dad got a scoop each of Choccomania and Chocolate Brownie, Mom got a scoop of Chocolate Brownie in a cone, and Ethan got a scoop of Chocolate Hazelnut. It was so good.

We walked back through the park and, once home, Mom started making supper. Then she noticed the water on the bathroom floor. Turns out that the water heater has a leak (or something like that) and we won’t be having warm showers tomorrow. A plumber and a man who works at the agency who manages the flat, Jason, came and they got the water cleaned up while Ethan and I ate our supper of green beans, potato soup, and patties.

Ciao!

Maniacal Gelato

The gelato at Gelato Mania may not be a maniac type, but I played with the name to form my title to try to catch the eyes of the viewer. That is usually how I do my titles; I take something from my post and twist it to catch the eye of whoever is on the website. If you are reading this, there are two reasons: one; you periodically check, and two; the title caught your eye. Most of the time the answer is the first option, but I like to think that there are some people that read my posts because of the title.

There was some sort of carnival in Green Point Park today, but we didn’t go to it. We went right by it, however, on our quest to go to Gelato Mania, a gelateria that has a store in the V&A and out on the Green Point side of Sea Point. On the way to the establishment, we went right by the place where the carnival was taking place and a waterwheel. At the gelato place, we each got one or two scoops of delicious gelato before heading back to the apartment.

At the apartment, we found a problem; the hot water tank had hot water running down the side, and we didn’t know where it came from. We got a plumber and another man to come to the apartment, and they fiddled around with all the valves and switches and whatnot. Then they figured out the problem; the heater had burst, and what they were going to do about it; send someone in the morning.

That’s all for now, Folks!

Boxed Adventures

Today we went to the mall and, while the womanfolk went off to the hair salon to get their hair styled, my father and I renewed the quest to get boxes. Yesterday, we had gone to the mall, and, after looking all over the place, we couldn’t find any boxes of a big enough size. My father had, overnight it seems, decided to get two or three smaller boxes like the kind that they sold in the post office. We went there and were almost the first customers. Sadly, though, they were out of the largest boxes, the one we wanted, but told us that in CAN, we could find boxes that they had used for shipping.

At CAN, we went in, and, just like the clerk at the post office told us, there were boxes that had been delivered to CNA that we could use. What was even better was that those boxes were very durable and thick. After a round of mochas, we came back to our apartment and packed up two of the three of those boxes, using the third box as the one that we got in the post from the US. At the post office in Sea Point, not in the V&A, we wrote down all the details on a slip of paper and sent the packages off to the US.

That’s all for now, Folks!

Coffee, Cuts, and Cinnamon

Today was filled with haircuts (my hair looks straight now!!!) and sending souvenirs home. We’re just hoping that all three boxes make it to Oregon as there are three undeclared items that are also probably not allowed: two porcupine quills and one warthog tusks.

Both were taken from around Koster: Oom Dennis gave Ethan the tusk and we found the quills while on a walk around Oom Dennis’s old property. Some of the other things in the boxes include books that have been read by Mom, Ethan, and me, clothes from our camel trek in India, a shirt that I brought, the tie Dad got for Christmas, the bowl Ethan gave Mom for Christmas, and the guineafowl dessert bowls that Mom bought at the V&A. Most of it is fragile.

Between our haircuts and home, we met the male half of our troop at Mugg & Bean where I ordered a Mexicocoa and Mom got a Café Mocha. Dad had ordered the Mexicocoa earlier, as Ethan had the mocha. They were also sharing a banana chocolate waffle. My Mexicocoa came with whipped cream, chocolate chips, a cinnamon stick, and whole lot of nasty texture. (I didn’t really care for it.) Ethan wanted to try my cinnamon stick, so I gave it to him. “Ethan, I don’t really think you should—” Mom started. I motioned her to stop. Ethan bit it and, with extreme self-control, asked Mom for a sip of her mocha. I asked what he thought; he said it was disgusting.

We already knew that.

Ciao!

Botswana Observations

Eighty-five per cent of the country is the Kalahari Desert so the land and air is very dry for most of the year. That was a bit of shock for our skin, having just spent several weeks on the Australian coast. Botswana is the setting for the films The God’s Must Be Crazy I and II. If you have seen one or both of them you have an idea of the type of climate and terrain we experienced.

Many places of business, including shops and hotels, display a picture of the president, Ian Khama. I don’t ever recall seeing a picture of a current US president at any US businesses or offices.

The way to identify large, long trucks on roadways varies from country to country. At home we are used to seeing “long load” signs on such vehicles. In Australia “road train” signs are displayed on the back and in Botswana these vehicles carry a red and white sign that says “abnormal.”

One of the ways Botswanans show respect is how they hand an object to another person. I will explain how this would be done by a right-handed person. The giver holds the object in his or her right hand and places the left hand on the right forearm as the object is given to the recipient. We observed this when waiters or waitresses served us and other customers food in restaurants and when store clerks handed us and other customers receipts and change.

We have read the first four books in the Number One Ladies Detective Series by Alexander McCall Smith. Mma Ramatswe, the main character, frequently likes to have tea at the President’s Hotel in Gabarone, the capital of Botswana. So when we were there we went in search of the hotel, as well as streets and towns named in the books.  We found Zebra Street, which is close in name to Zebra Drive where Mma Ramatswe lives and saw many tiny white vans that are mentioned frequently by the author. We had tea and cake in the corner of the balcony of the President’s Hotel, which has been named in honor of Mma Ramatswe. (See the photo section of our website for a picture of this yummy experience.) We also recognized Botswanan words from the books (Mma, Rra, dumela) while talking with local individuals.

Stop signs do not seem to mean stop, but rather slow down and proceed at your own risk. Jerry frustrated several local drivers by actually stopping at a stop sign.

A Change of Genes

We went to the mall today to get haircuts and new jeans. Obviously the hair salon was fully booked til 3:50 pm, and we weren’t going to be hanging out in the mall until then just for a haircut. So Mom and I went hunting for a new pair of jeans for me, but Edgars and Woolworths—the only stores that have jeans for girls my age—don’t seem to have any brains when designing jeans. At all.

So we found Dad and Ethan. Mom bought some jeans for Ethan and then made an appointment for our haircuts tomorrow. She also bought food at Pick n Pay. We returned home, and Mom took a walk to find a box for shipping things home. She visited CNA, where employees gave her a reference to a little shop up the street. She went there and found birthday candles, pink serviettes, and a box.

She dragged Ethan, Dad, and I up there and Dad paid for the box. We then had ice cream at the Venezia Ice Cream Parlour. I had Pineapple. It wasn’t very good.

For supper we had leftover chicken from Christmas, vegetables, salad, and some of my golden syrup cake which isn’t half bad drowned in a chocolate sauce.

Ciao!

Libraries and other Forms of Bookishness

My father has commented, on several occasions, that I am very bookish. That may be true, and is proved by the fact that today, the main things that I did consisted of reading one of the books that I got for Christmas and going to the library.

The library nearby has a lot of books, as do most libraries. I also noted that there were a lot of non-fiction and not as many fiction books. During the day, however, I was reading the book called Ivory, Apes, and Peacocks by Alan Root about his experiences filming and photographing animals in Africa. His experiences include getting such a big bite from a hippo that he can pass a Coke bottle through the hole, having a finger amputated from a puff adder bite and lots more, all just to get good movies and films.

That’s all for now, Folks!

Paragliding People

Me Paragliding with my Driver and Lions Head in the background

Me Paragliding with my Pilot, Grant, with Lions Head in the background

Today was a very nice day; there were almost no clouds, the sun was out, and most of all, I got to go paragliding. Yesterday, in a small present, I got promised a paragliding ride by whoever would take me, and finally, we agreed on Hi-5. Hi-5 is a paragliding company where you have to high-five your pilot at the end of the tandem paraglide.

We went up to Signal Hill, but the winds changed so we actually had to go to Lions Head. At Lions Head, I met my pilot, Grant, and we walked up the trail up to the first take-off point. Take-off was relatively easy, all I had to do is lift my feet up after the para-sail billowed out in the wind. On the ride, we went up, and then spiraled down slowly with a view of Camps Bay. At the end, we finished, and we got an SD card with photos and a video of the flight. I think it was really fun. There were a lot of other people flying, and the sails were very colorful. The one that I was using was red, white, and blue.

That’s all for now, Folks!

[title]

We watched Ethan paraglide down from Lion’s Head today after we watched and waited. Ethan and I got to sleep in til nine am. By then the police had found the little drowned girl’s body.

After Ethan landed, we had ice cream at Gelato Mania. I had a scoop of Chocolate Brownies and a scoop of Pino Penguino, which was hazelnut with a layer of Nutella on top. For supper we ate at a Cape Malay restaurant in a part of town with purple, pink, green, orange, and blue houses. We all had tasty chicken dishes of some sort.

Ciao!

Happy Holiday

Today was, as I’m sure you well know, Christmas. Ethan and I opened our stockings before breakfast. We each got candy, a pair of socks, and a puzzle book. I also got pink nail polish. After a breakfast of peach scones, eggs, cereal, and pineapple, we opened the twenty-two presents under the tree. Since we decided not to buy name tags, Ethan and I selected each selected two random presents under the tree. If there were no objections, Ethan gave one to Mom and one to me while I gave one to him and Dad.

My favorite present was first (and the world’s smallest present): a picture of me with Dad’s attempt at drawing the cover of Take Me Home on the back. One Direction’s second album’s music was on the computer. YAY!!!! Anyway, besides that I got a necklace, headbands, a Modern Family book, and a crossword puzzle book. I gave Ethan a chocolate bar, 32 rand so he could take someone mini-golfing, and F in Exams, a hilarious book with real test questions and real stupid answers. For Mom I got a dark chocolate bar, a little gold bar of chocolate, and a blue necklace. Dad received candy canes, an orange chocolate bar, and Don’t Look Behind You from me.

We tried to have a “traditional” Christmas dinner. Instead of turkey we had chicken, along with green beans, cranberry salad, and sweet potatoes with pecans and raisins. Later we had pumpkin pie with Grapetizer.

The whirring of helicopter blades reached us as we ate our pie. As we took our walk along the Promenade, we found that an eight-year-old girl had drowned and now they were looking for her body.

At 9 pm we Skyped my mother’s side of the family in California. When asked what we had for lunch, I replied, “We had sweet potatoes, green beans, cranberry salad, and chicken instead of turkey.”

“They’re not vegetarian?!” my cousin asked off-screen.

Ciao!

Christmas in Cape Town

Well, every time someone asks us when we are leaving, we say ‘January 2’ and then they say ‘Oh, so you’re staying for Christmas’ and then we reply ‘Yes, we are having Christmas in Cape Town.’ I think that there is also a song called ‘Christmas in Cape Town’ but I have never listened to it. Today, we had Christmas in Cape Town.

After waking up, I opened my stocking, which had candy and several pens. After my shower and breakfast, we took the normal and mandatory pictures, before going and opening the presents under the tree. My mother could have gotten table runners, joggers, and walkers, but my father just got table runners for her.  She also got chocolate, a wire basket, and two necklaces. My father got a buffalo skin drawing, chocolate, a tie, and a book. Eryn got hair things, chocolate, a book, and some other things. I got a ball that bounces on water, a book on chameleons, a book about Africa, a book on the ‘Best Wrong Test Answers,’ and chocolate. During the rest of the day, we vegged out and went for a walk. On the walk, we learned that a little girl had drowned a couple of meters down the promenade and that divers were searching for her body.

That’s all for now, Folks!

Suiker

Merry Christmas Eve!

We’re cooking food and producing presents by the second. I made a cake today. It was supposed to be chocolate but ended up tasting more like golden syrup (total sugar) of which we used 250ml. The Afrikaans recipe called for 250ml strooisuiker, which was interpreted as sugar syrup, which is really stroopsuiker (suiker means sugar). So we put a bunch of the golden syrup in and only realized our mistake when the cake and cupcakes were in the oven and I looked up the translation of strooisuiker on Mom’s phone: castor sugar, which is superfine sugar.

Once everything was out of the oven, we sprinkled on cinnamon and soaked it in a sauce made from sugar, butter, cocoa, cream, and cinnamon. The golden syrup made the cakes very absorbent and, in an hour, the sauce was absorbed. We added more to serve. I think we all enjoyed my cinnamon cakes, but I liked the ones Hannetjie (from Barchan Dunes) made much more.

We went on a walk on the Promenade after supper and saw the pretty rainbow, sunset, and pink clouds.

The present count is 21.

Ciao!

Christmas Eve

Today is just that: Christmas Eve. This is my 11th one that I have been present on, and I plan to give you, my gracious audience, an account of one of the more interesting particles of information that happened today while we were awake. However, before we get too far in this business, I will let you know that I can cook a little, and I helped with some of what follows:

Most of the day today was spent cooking in the kitchen. Eryn cooked up a storm of annoyance at me because I was always wanting to help her on the chocolate cake that she was making. I finally got to help my mother make the bread that she makes at home. We mixed all the ingredients together before braiding the dough to make good bread. When everything was finished and completed, we sat down to eat our Christmas Eve dinner. The dinner consisted of potato soup with grated cheddar cheese on the top, a salad made out of cranberry sauce, raspberry jello, and sour cream, last, but not least, we had peartizer to drink. It is kind of like Appletizer but with pears. If you don’t know what Appletizer is, it is 100% Sparkling Apple Juice. Anyway, back to the story: for dessert we had the chocolate cake that Eryn made earlier smothered in chocolate sauce. It was good.

That’s all for now, Folks!

Tomorrow we can say ‘Tomorrow is Christmas’

Eryn might have mentioned in her post for today that I keep saying what I have put in the title of this post, so I will try not to repeat it too much. The time being what it is, I will probably not have the ability or time to make this post a long one, for I cannot type fast on the keyboard that we have. Also, the time is running short, so I will probably have to-soon- go on to doing what these posts are supposed to do: tell what happened in the day so that you (the reader) can understand what is happening on this trip that is happening. Now, I think, would be a good time to continue on, but before I do, I will tell you that our Christmas tree looks the same as it did in one of the previous posts, disregarding the fact that there are now 16 presents under the tree. My father thinks that that is too many.

The days seem to grow longer, but that may be because I (and probably some other members in my family) am getting a bit anxious about Christmas. Today, though, it seemed long because, partly, it was long, and partly (the other part) it was because Eryn and I had to sit around at home waiting for the parents to come home from a shopping expedition. When they finally arrived at home, we were back in business, however, so there was a remedy to that longness. Earlier in the day, before the shopping expedition, we all went up on to Table Mountain, using our year-long valid tickets that we can use any time until the 17th of December in 2013. Where was I? Oh yeah, at the end of the shopping: When they came back, everything was remedied, and when we had putsed around or a while, I made a reservation for dinner at Posticino, a restaurant in Sea Point, where we ordered stuff in likeness to when we were last there several days ago.

That’s all for now, Folks!

Time on the Table Top

Today we returned to Table Mountain. There was no tablecloth while we were up there, which was a relief. (It made it uncomfortably warm, though.) We saw no wildlife except for birds, butterflies, and painted yellow klipspringers to mark the trail. Oh, and people.

We also saw a fire on another hill, which Mom reported to the manager. Within minutes helicopters were out pouring water on the fire while we licked at our soft-serve chocolate ice cream. It turns out that she wasn’t the hero and that the rangers had already sent out helicopters and fire trucks and that there was another fire, too.

The fog on Cape Town finally cleared. It had come sometime during the night and the foghorn in the Green Point Lighthouse had started. A man asked us if an island he saw in the bay was Robben Island. He lived in Joburg but had lived in Port Elizabeth—a few hours’ drive from here—for a while. He had never been to Cape Town before. That’s like you and I not going to the one of the biggest, prettiest city in our state. For you Oregonians, that would probably be Salem or Eugene.

We came back to our flat, ate mini chocolate cakes, and Mom and Dad went to Pick n Pay to buy food for Christmas while Ethan and I did schoolwork at home. Once they returned, Ethan made a reservation at Posticino, one of the best pizza places in Cape Town (we agree!), for 6 pm. Well, would you look at the time! 5:36!

Before I go, though, Ethan’s getting veeeeery excited about the amount of presents under our tree (sixteen) and the fact that “tomorrow we can say that tomorrow is Christmas!”

Ciao!

Gelato and Ice Cream

We have exploited many ice cream and gelato places in the area surrounding our apartment. There is one down the street from our house called Gelatos at Newport, and the other one that is nearby is one up the street of whose name is escaping my mind right now. There are also several at the mall, and one of the we have gone to twice: it is called Gelato Mania.

Today we went to the one nearby whose name has escaped my mind up the street. We went there after going to church and, as Father calls it, putsing. The gelato place at Newport is one that we have used twice already. The scoop in the not-so-round type of scoop, so when they have chocolate, I have confided with my family that it looks like baboon poop. On the bright side, it doesn’t taste like baboon poop.

That’s all for now, Folks! (TAFNF!)

Yum @ Yindoo’s

After church at Mowbray, which was almost exclusively black except for the organist and her husband (and us and some visiting women) and where the sermon was about the end of the world, we returned to our flat in Mouille Point and “putsed” for a while—reading, playing Solitaire, napping.

Mom and Ethan thought we were going to go up Table Mountain even though Dad had told me minutes before that we were going to get ice cream—which we did, of course. We went to the Venezia Ice Cream Parlour, which is said to be one of the best ice cream places in Cape Town. We’d already been there, so we knew that we preferred Gelato Mania (one of the other Top 10).

Mom got a sugar cone with Oreo, Dad got a cup with Tiramisu and Chocolate, Ethan got a sugar cone with After Eight and Chocolate, and I got a sugar cone with Cookies & Cream. Ethan’s After Eight was surprisingly good.

We walked back home along the promenade. At home I made dinner reservations at Yindoo’s Authentic Thai Cuisine Restaurant. At Yindoo’s, we had a bunch of starters plus green curry and sweet-and-sour vegetables. It was probably the best sweet-and-sour I’ve had outside Thailand.

Ciao!

Clouds and Fog

As I am writing this, I am hearing a sound at regular intervals. That sound is the sound of the foghorn, and it is blowing because there is fog out over the harbor and some of Cape Town. Today, we went to several places, but I am going to mainly focus on the part where we went to Signal Hill for a picnic dinner.

We were going to go up Table Mountain for dinner, but the line was way too long, so we went back down and over to Signal Hill. On Signal Hill, there were a lot of people, and we were lucky to get a table to sit at. Looking down on Cape Town and all the suburbs, we couldn’t see any water at all. The reason being that there was so much cloud cover that all of the water was covered. Now, the foghorn is going because there is no way that a ship can see a lighthouse until it is too late.

That’s all for now, Folks!

Cupcake Craze

We got cupcakes today!!! We got eight, actually: four at Hmmmm and four at Charly’s Bakery. My favorite looking ones were from Charly’s: a pink monster with eyes on a vanilla cake, a red velvet cupcake with a rose petal, a chocolate cake with a Blizzard-like white hat and eyes, and a plain-schmain chocolate cupcake. From Hmmmm we got to carrot cake mini-cakes and two chocolate mini-cakes. We ate the Charly’s cupcakes today: Ethan had half of each of the chocolate ones, Mom had half of the white frosted chocolate and half of the red velvet, Dad had half the monster and half the other eyeballed cupcake, and I had half the monster and half the red velvet.

For supper we were going to go to the top of Table Mountain and watch the sunset but the lines were too long so we went to Signal Hill instead. There was a rug over the harbor but no tablecloth over Table Mountain. It was cool since you could see the city’s lights through the clouds. Now, because the lighthouse’s light may not be visible to ships at sea, the foghorn blows every thirty seconds.

That can be our lullaby tonight.

Ciao!

If it has a Head, it probably has a Rump

A quick biology lesson for all of those out there: a regular lion has both a head and a rump. Most lion carvings have both as well. The question is if a large mass of rock called Lion’s Head has a rump. As a matter of fact, it does. Signal Hill has another name, and that name is Lion’s Rump. This useless blabber about rumps of lions is annoying, though, and is probably wasting your time.

Today we climbed/hiked/walked up Lion’s Head, also known as Leeukop, which means Lion’s head in Afrikaans. It was a lot of fun in parts, especially when the climber had to climb up a vertical rock faces. There was a point in time where there was a fork in the trail, one way going straight up and the other going to the side and up slowly. Eryn and I went up the vertical part using attached chains and pegs, while Mother and Father went the slow route. At the top of the vertical part, Eryn and I found a tree to rest under, and we did that for ten minutes until the parents finally came. From there we continued to the top of the mountain. From the top, we could see for a long ways in every direction. We could see Robben Island out in the ocean, and Table Mountain and the Twelve Apostles in the opposite direction. We could also see city center and the castle. From there, we went back down the way we came up, and when we got to the bottom, we hopped in our hot car and went back to our apartment.

That’s all for now, Folks!

Half-Way Day!!! :D

Today, in honor of the half-way mark, we climbed Lion’s Head. Well, that wasn’t really in honor of, but we did it anyway.

So far we’ve visited seven countries in six months. My favorite place so far has been Thailand, but Upington—with its croc-free Orange River and good food—is a close second. Early next year we’ll head north to Dubai for a week then cross the Atlantic to spend three months in Argentina, Chile, and Peru. We’ll then fly back across the ocean to Morocco, where we’ll spend a month, followed by France, Switzerland, and Greece.

In Thailand, we got up close and personal with tigers and elephants. We enjoyed mochas in Bangkok and fried bananas at Doi Suthep, with green and sweet-and-sour curries in between. Then we experienced the Drama of the Indian Visas, which saw us fleeing Thailand as our visas there were about to expire. We chose Laos, just across the Mekong from rural eastern Thailand, and rode in the jumbos, ate ice cream at Swensen’s, and took a hike to a waterfall in the jungle.

We returned to Bangkok to pick up our visas really quickly before hopping on a plane to India. Because we were a week late, we didn’t spend much time in New Delhi—it was only a few hours before we rode a train to Agra, where we saw the Taj Mahal. Soon after we visited Jaipur, where we watched the Olympics, Jodhpur, where we visited a village and schools, and Jaisalmer, the fortress city and our starting point for a camel trek.

We returned to New Delhi and flew to Sydney two days later, where we spent a week freezing. We warmed up in Darwin before heading south to Tennant Creek, Alice Springs, and eventually Ayers Rock. From the rock we flew to Perth, drove up to Gnaraloo, then drove back down to Perth before jetting off to Johannesburg.

We drove up to Gaborone and eventually ended up in Namibia. In Etosha we saw a leopard and many, many elephants. We were in Swakopmund for my birthday, after which we made our way to Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park where we saw our first cheetah and yet another leopard. We then visited Upington, where Ethan learned to waterski. After a night at Witsand, we visited Oom Dennis, Tannie Marietjie, Griet, and Dinky.

We finally made it to Kruger where we saw two leopards, six cheetahs, a bunch of lions, and many more elephants. Working our way down the coast, we jumped on the trampoline at The Haven, saw penguins at Boulders, and visited the southernmost point in Africa.

We’re now in Cape Town where we’ll be celebrating Christmas in five days. We’re also imagining our snowy home…

Ciao!

Cursing Cobras

I am not sure about you, but I do not believe that cobras can talk. So the title that I aforementioned is not a true one, but, in theory, I should get partial credit, because the people that ride on the Cobra roller coaster curse while they wait for the ride to drop out of the sky and spiral around and around and upside down before finally going back to the starting point.

Wait, wait, wait…you probably don’t even know what the Cobra roller coaster is, let alone Ratango Junction. I will tell you, then, so that I know that you know what I am talking about. Ratango Junction is a theme park in Cape Town near the Canal Walk shopping center. It has lots of rides that you can get wet on or stay dry on. The one that I am going to be focusing on today is the Cobra, the one that the rest of my family was too afraid to go on.  At the beginning of the queue, there were several real live cobras in cages, and then there were a lot of people waiting in line. After waiting for an hour, the rider goes forward onto the platform and gets onto the seat and buckles up. Then the ride winches you up, up, up, and then plummets down. Then there are a lot of twists and turns and upside downs, before finally arriving back at the starting point.

That’s all for now, Folks!

The first Successful Human Heart Transplant

That is what happened when Christaan Barnard and his team of professionals transplanted a heart into Louis Washkansky on the third of December in 1967. The donor of the heart, Denise Darvall, had been killed in an accident, and after five months of waiting, Barnard’s team was ready to operate.

The first thing that had to be done in the procedure was to have the kidney taken out and sent across Cape Town to another hospital where there was a ten year old boy who needed a kidney transplant. Then, they cut out the heart. They put it into a bowl of liquid that was ten degrees celsius and got it over to where Dr. Barnard was waiting with his patient, and there sewed the heart into place with silk thread, before wiring up his sternum and stitching his chest up.

In the pictures on the museum wall, there was a picture of a German Shepard that had the head of a miniature poodle grafted on to the top. That mix lived for nine days, while Louis Washkansky lived for eighteen days, surpassing the expectations of Mr. Barnard. By the way, Washkansky was ill before he got the surgery, so he probably would not have lived very long.

That’s all for now, Folks!

Riding in Ratanga

“Turn your wheels! Turn your wheels! Turn! Other way! Other way! More! More! More! Use both hands! Other way!”

That’s what Dad and I are listening to as Mom and Ethan bump each other with sparking cars. That’s also what the woman who runs the bumper cars for little kids is saying. We’re at Ratanga Junction near the Canal Walk mall. So far I’ve been on four rides (five times total) plus the bumper cars. The first ride was the Bushwacker, which all of us but Dad rode.

Next we walked to Monkey Falls, but I didn’t want to get wet and Dad’s not a fan of roller coasters. So Mom and Ethan went. Later I went with both of them and screamed for the first time in years. I dragged Ethan into a log again.

After Mom and Ethan got wet, we strolled over to the Cobra where Ethan got in line and we sat in the shade. We waited for half an hour listening to Adele, Katy Perry, Beyonce, and, yes!!!, One Direction.

He finally got his turn and we headed toward the Diamond Devil, which Ethan and I rode. We decided to get soaked in Crocodile Gorge. There are real crocs in a pond, with a sign:

Danger! Crocodiles

6     7 people eaten

Afterwards, we had ice cream. That was when we decided to return to Monkey Falls. One Direction played “Live While We’re Young” while we stood in line.

Oh, here come Mom and Ethan now.

Ciao!

Decisions

Quote

“For a dying man it is not a difficult decision because he knows he is at the end. If a lion chases you to the bank of a river filled with crocodiles, you will leap into the water, convinced you have a chance to swim to the other side.”
                          -Doctor Christiaan Barnard, the first surgeon to perform a human-to-human heart transplant

 

A Heart-to-Heart Talk

Groote Schuur is not pronounced “grote shur.” It is pronounced gru-uteh sku-ur. It means “big barn” in Afrikaans. (The g is pronounced like in gemsbok.) We visited the hospital today for a heart transplant… museum tour. As you should know, Dr. Christiaan Barnard was the first person ever to perform a successful human-to-human heart transplant. The patient had diabetes and was terminally ill—they were also white and it was apartheid, so they fit the bill in that respect.

Mrs. Washkansky drove home from the hospital on December 2, 1967, tired. She had just visited her husband, Louis, and she knew he was in safe hands. The wailing of sirens alerted her to a crash on the side of the road, and she, being a sensitive woman, averted her eyes. It was just too late, though—she saw the bodies of two women lying in the road near the bakery. A caramel cake was scattered across the pavement.

The women were Denise and Myrtle Darvall. They had been visiting some friends for tea and had decided that a cake would make a lovely addition. Denise and Myrtle crossed the street from their car and emerged from the bakery minutes later, caramel cake in hand. They looked both ways before gingerly stepping onto the road. Then Denise was flying across the street. Her mother fell to the ground, killed instantly by the drunk driver, who didn’t see them. Denise hit the wheel cap of a car across the street—the car that she had just been riding in.

She was just twenty-four and her life looked just about done. Her brain was severely injured and her skull damaged. An ambulance rushed her to the Groote Schuur Hospital, where she was received in the resuscitation room. She breathed sporadically and her pupils were dilated. Doctors pronounced her brain dead. But her heart was beating soundly. Dr. Barnard knew it was his chance, and he took it, asking her father, Mr. Edward Darvall, if he could use the girl’s heart for a human-to-human heart transplant—an experiment.

Mr. Darvall could have said no. He could have refused—but he didn’t. He let his only daughter’s still-beating heart be put in the chest of an old man who would die anyway.

And it worked.

For eighteen days.

Louis Washkansky eventually died from pneumonia because his body was weakened from the Immunosuppressant drugs he was on. It was a life well lived, though. The next patient lived eighteen months, and the longest surviving heart transplant patient was South African who, more than thirty years later, is still alive and well.

Ciao!

Tele-Pathetic-ness on Table Mountain

We made up a new word. It is tele-pathetic. Eryn was trying to say telepathic when everything got mixed up and she ended up saying tele-pathetic. I am thinking that it means something along the lines of communicating pathetic-ness. Anyway, I should probably go on to what we did today.

We went up the first cablecar early in the morning, and then we went towards Maclaers Beacon, the tallest point on the whole of the mountain. At that point, we ate some snacks and looked out as the fog, or ‘table cloth’ started covering the mountain. Right before the tablecloth came up, though, I saw a klipspringer on the rocks below and ran to tell my father, who immediately went and took pictures. Then the tablecloth came. We went hunkered down to stay away from the wind and Eryn and I read from our books while my father rested. Then we walked back to the cablecar station and went down.

That’s all for now, Folks!

Massive Mesa

We finally went to the top of Table Mountain, one of the new seven wonders of the natural world, today. Some of the other seven include the Amazon, a waterfall in South America, Komodo Island, a bay in Vietnam, and an island in South Korea.

We got in the queue at 7:15 this morning. Ethan and I hunkered down and read our books—he read Under the Blood-Red Sun while I finished Lost in the Barrens. When we had each turned the last page, we switched. We were on the first cable car up at 8:05. The whole ride is only supposed to take four minutes, and everyone who’s near a window gets a 360-degree view as the car spins throughout the ride.

Once at the top we looked down at Cape Town and then walked for about an hour to the tallest point on Table Mountain, Maclear’s Beacon. Ethan and I added a stone to the top of the post on top of the cairn, making the mountain an inch taller than it used to be. We hung out there for a while before the tablecloth started coming in. It came on fast: as soon as Devil’s Peak was covered, we started seeing clouds and feeling a chill. Ethan found a klipspringer, the first for all of us, but we could only really see its silhouette because of the clouds.

We eventually returned to the station. Ethan and I searched for good Magnums in the café, but they only had Almond, Classic, and Biscotti. I like Biscotti, but Dad doesn’t really. So instead we ate the mint Tim-Tams in the backpack Ethan carried. We decided to leave the mountain at about one because it was really cold with the wind and clouds and you could only occasionally see Cape Town through the clouds.

The ride down on the Visa-branded, protea-spotted cable car was uneventful. We saw several people abseiling down the cliffs. At the bottom we stopped a minute to thaw, and soon we were sweating and sunburnt (technically we were sunburnt before the tablecloth came in, but whatever). No more people could go up to the top except the staff.

Dad didn’t really want to leave so soon.

Ciao!

A Day in the Life…of a Prisoner…again

Today we went to another prison. After about three months of being free, we got forced back into the confinement of being a prisoner. Luckily, our time as prisoners was very short, for we were on a tour. What is interesting is that the tours are given by political prisoners that used to live in the Robben Island National Maximum Security Prison. That is the prison on Robben Island that is in the middle of Table Bay.

In WWII, the island was used for large guns that could shoot 50 kilometers at ships, and in sinking all enemy ships, protected the city of Cape Town and the surrounding suburbs. After that, part of it was used as a Maximum Security Prison for anit-apartheid black and colored men. The women, white, and colored people were kept on the mainland, at least 8 kilometers away. Nelson Mandela was kept in the prison, and he has been a president of South Africa since his release.

We first arrived on the island by boat, and then were quickly herded to several buses, which we promptly had to get in to, and then went off for a tour around the island. When we finished with the ride, we went inside the prison and met our guide, who spoke loudly. We first went into a large-ish cell that housed sixty people. Then we moved on and saw the courtyard, where the likes of Nelson Mandela turned big rocks into little rocks, and finally we got to see the cell where Nelson Mandela  was kept.

That’s all for now, Folks!

A Caroling Concert

The Cathedral Church of St. George the Martyr is in need of a new roof, so volunteers and the children’s choir put together a series of programs called Raise the Roof. It was directed by Mr. Richard Cock, and the audience joined in singing eight of the seventeen songs.

Our director introduced the organist, who played three solos, saying, “You haven’t seen him yet but you will soon—that sounds like a spiritual verse, doesn’t it?” The organist played two songs that were in my parents’ wedding. The last song the choir sang was “Jingle Bells,” with the audience yelling “hi!” and ringing their keys along with the song. The dean thanked everyone necessary to thank, including the St. George’s ambulance for the lady who fainted in the choir.

We walked back to our car in the evening warmth and drove to the V&A Waterfront for supper. We went to the Waterfront earlier to leave for Robben Island where we took a bus tour of the whole island and a walking tour with Sparks, an ex-political prisoner from the island, of the maximum security prison which held political prisoners only. The security dogs had bigger lodgings than the prisoners.

Ciao!

Plumstead and Promenade

Today we went out to the Plumstead Seventh-day Adventist Church for the service. It was a ways away, but that was fine. The church was fairly large, and had a mixed congregation. We got to sit in the second-to-front row because there were no other seats available for four people. It practically became the front row when all the people in the row ahead of us left.

Across the street and meadows from our apartment building, there is a promenade, backed with a wall that is right in front of the ocean. The evenings are a very nice time to be there as the sunsets are magnificent. Today we went on two walks along the promenade, one to get gelato from a local gelateria, and the other one to admire the sunset and the ocean. It is a very pretty ocean, and at sunset it is very nice.

That’s all for now, Folks!

I Had a Great Idea For a Title, But I Forgot What It Was

Today we went to church in a little town called Plumstead. It really is tiny—because we didn’t want to go through an intersection on Main Road, we turned right ahead of time. We drove down the street 500 meters and passed through Plumstead, which we had only just entered on the highway.

After church, we went home where we read and sorted pictures. Two hours later, we walked down the street to Gelato’s at Newport, where Ethan got chocolate fudge and Oreo ice cream, Mom got chocolate fudge in a cone, and Dad and I both got Bar One and chocolate fudge. The ice cream wasn’t so eager to melt this time as it was last time, so we walked a ways down the Promenade before coming to rest on a bench. Ethan tried to get wet from the waves.

“Why do you have water dripping out of the front of your pants?” Dad asked. Ethan blushed: “It’s not on the front of my pants!” (it was).

We returned home and I looked online for supper. We ended up going to Jewel of India, nicknamed Cruel to India by reviewers and Drool of India by Dad. We ordered three mains, plain rice, a platter with some samosas and things like that, and garlic naan, just like we did in India. The naan, samosas &co., and sauces were good, and so were the paneer (dish with cheese) and chicken curry. The aloo gobi (potato and cauliflower) had some weird spice in it, making it rather unenjoyable.

We drove home from the V&A after Ethan had checked the hours of Mugg & Bean, home to the Mexicocoa and Caribbean mocha (it has coconut). We went for a walk on the Promenade, called Dad’s dad, and returned to our warm apartment.

Ciao!

I Hope We’ll Have Good Weather

Our original destination for today was Robben Island, but that didn’t work out well so we headed to the Castle of Good Hope instead. It took thirteen years (from 1666 to 1679) for the Dutch East India Company to build the five-pointed fortress. The original fortress was made of mud and timber, but this building, restored in the 1980s, is made of stone and will last a good while.

During the Second Boer War, part of the area was used as a prison, complete with a torture chamber. There were three options of torture (usually consecutively): whipping you with a cat o’ nine tails from forty to 120 times, hanging you upside down with a hook for an hour and then dropping you on your head (a little girl finally understood: “So this is where bungee jumping was invented!”), and confinement in a small room with nineteen of your closest friends and no food, water, medical treatment, or light for twenty-four hours before being hanged or sent to Robben Island for hard labor. There was no chance to defend yourself, so if you were accused you were doomed.

Thunderstorms were predicted for today. We saw not a drop of precipitation. The sunset was beautiful as we saw it from the V&A because there were lots of clouds. We went to a Christmas concert where we held candles after 8 pm and heard an apparently popular South African singer named Jimmy Nevis, whose most popular song is “Elephant Shoes”. He chose the name because when apparently when you mouth ‘elephant shoes’ it looks like ‘I love you.’

Ciao!

War-Waging Wax

Today we all got to hold live candles at a Christmas concert at the V&A Waterfront. We went there because my mother wanted to listen to some Christmas music near Christmas. We are also going to go to another concert at a church in downtown Cape Town. I think that, in the next concert, there won’t be candles for people to hold.

When we first got to the amphitheater, it was packed. We finally found seating, and sat and read for a while, waiting for the program to start. At the start, there was a pop guy that I knew nothing about, but that is not saying much, because I know nothing about pop music. During his music, they passed out candles, and when he was done, we lit them. The wax ran down the side, and if you weren’t careful, you’re fingers got burnt. After several more songs by a choir, we left.

Earlier in the day, we had gone to the Castle of Good Hope. It once stood on the edge of the ocean, but now, it is a long ways inland, due to people carting in rock and soil to make the city of Cape Town bigger. We had decided to do the 11 o’clock tour. When we got there, it was free, which was nice, and when we got inside, we waited for our guide. Our guide arrived, and split the group into two parts: Afrikaans and English. Sadly, the English side was a lot bigger, and I again regretted not having learned Afrikaans when I had the chance. Our guide took us through an arch on a pathway made from bricks made of wood and showed us a cross that South Africans made for lost comrades.

He then took us to a pool that was green and said how the first governor chose the pool to be only for his family to swim in. Now, however, I doubt many people would want to swim in it. We then went on to see the torture chambers, where our guide told us about how the chamber was used: for holding people in awkward positions and then flogging them with a cat-o-nine tails. We then went on to see the ramparts, where there were a lot of cannon, and finally looked at the prison. Some of the doors had names of fake hotels written on them by bored prisoners being sarcastic about their miserable living conditions.

That’s all for now, Folks!

Two Oceans, One Aquarium

Today we went to the Two Oceans Aquarium in the V&A Waterfront Mall. I had been there before so I remembered some of it, but I didn’t remember all of it. That was proven true when there were things that surprised me about the aquarium, like the penguins and the jellyfish.

We started out this morning after a standard-fare breakfast: toast, cereal, and fruit. We drove in our little gray car to the mall, parked, and went on in to the aquarium. There were whale rib bones at the first exhibit, talking about whaling, and from then on, there were large tanks of fish. There were giant crabs, which freaked my mother out, small sharks, jellyfish, rockfish, etc. We saw a lot of fish swimming around. Eryn and I wondered what we would do if the entire tank on each and every tank collapsed simultaneously. We both agreed that we would go to the nearest stairs or go outside. That was proved to be a good idea later when we saw the predator exhibit, which had turtles, sharks, rays, and other colorful fish. Later, we watched the fish in the predator exhibit get fed, and African Penguins get fed. In all, it was a pretty successful day.

That’s all for now, Folks!

A Box and Blue Stingrays

We spent another day at the V&A Waterfront, but this time it was in the Two Oceans Aquarium. We walked through the Atlantic and Indian Ocean displays and the tank with the sign “Nemos”. There were huge eels and little octopi, white jellyfish and pink seahorses, rockhopper penguins and tree frogs. Quite a mix, I suppose. We saw the feeding of the African penguins at 2:30. They were fed dead fish from a bucket. The oystercatcher hanging around found a fish on the ground and poked the eyes out. Once the fish could no longer see, the bird ate parts of the fish after rinsing them in seawater.

By three, we were sitting on the steps in front of the I&J Predator Display. Our presenter, Yvonne, talked about preserving fish, etc. (She really did say “etc.” a lot.) She also introduced the little five-year-old green turtle Cannelloni, who had gotten on the wrong side of a shark’s teeth before during feeding time. So she was put in a cage with blacked out walls. The ragged tooth sharks circled the yellowtail tuna and blue stingrays, never eating. Yvonne said, “These sharks are too small to eat you whole or take chunks out of you.” “Aw,” murmured the disappointed little girl in front of me.

Once we got home, we opened our box from home-home. There were books for school, notebooks, presents from relatives, a Lego magazine for Ethan, three magazines for me, and candy canes from our renters. Thank you to everyone who donated stuff to make the box overflow!

Ciao!

The Hobbit

Today was the first day that the Hobbit movie came out, and we watched it in cinemas in 3D. The sad thing about the movie is that the directors put the movie into three parts, and we only got to see the first one. The second one comes out next Christmas. It is a long time to wait. Still, however, to help use up a small fraction of that time, I will tell you what we did today.

Today we woke up, had breakfast, and jumped into our car to go to the mall. We were going to go there to find an internet café that had mochas and upload some pictures, but we couldn’t find any and gave up on that. Then we all went off by ourselves to find gifts for other people for Christmas. We did that for a long while and then rendezvoused at the cinemas at the pre-arranged time to watch the Hobbit in 3D. It was really good. When the movie finished, we got some ice cream and groceries and then went back to our apartment and had dinner.

That’s all for now, Folks!

Movie Madness

When Ethan gets back home, he wants to read Lord of the Rings. He was inspired while watching The Hobbit: An Unexpected Adventure this afternoon. It started out with an old Bilbo Baggins writing to Frodo, his nephew, and ended with the same Bilbo, but younger, saying, “I do believe the worst is behind us.” It’s the first part of Bilbo’s three-part story based on The Hobbit. It was good, even though the whole time after the goblins, I was thinking, Put on your ring! Put on your ring!
We spent the whole day in the Victoria Wharf Shopping Centre. First we walked around looking for a place to drink mochas with wi-fi. Try as we did, we never found that place. So, after leaving Spur, Dad returned to the car, Ethan wandered off by himself, and Mom and I looked at the various stores on the first floor. Eventually, we came out of Edgars, where we found Ethan waiting for us. He and I bid adieu to Mom and went down to the ground floor, where I discovered a Clicks. Inside, I found my Twisted Pink nail polish, but it cost a whopping fifty rand (about US$5.50). I saved my money for later.
Ethan and I split up, and I headed to Exclusive Books, where I browsed the bookshelves, looking for, and finally finding, a certain book. I also learned that the bookstore has The Far Side books. It also had 50 People Who Stuffed Up South Africa, which is the partner of 50 Flippen Brilliant South Africans, part of our homework curriculum (courtesy of Dad).
By 12:55, I was at the Nu-Movie cinemas where we watched the movie. Afterwards, Mom went shopping at Pick n Pay and Dad, Ethan, and I had ice cream at Love Revenge Cappuccino. Each had two of tiramisu, crème brulee, and Nutella.
Ciao!

Memorial, Garden, Ice Cream, Dinner

Those were the things that we did today; we did the Rhodes Memorial, the Kirstenbosch Gardens, had ice cream, and ate dinner. I will list them out in an orderly fashion, so that it is easier for you to read what I am about to say.

Memorial: The Rhodes Memorial is a memorial for Cecil Rhodes, the founder of Rhodesia. It has a lot of lions in it, and you can climb all over them. The problem is that they are made of metal and hold the heat, so it is hard to climb on them comfortably.

Garden: The Kirstenbosch Gardens have a lot of biodiversity and different species. There are snakes (one of which we saw) and gardens and lawns. There are, luckily, trees in the spacious and large lawns, so one can sit in the shade and take a nap, or talk with friends.

Ice Cream: There is an gelato place right down the street that actually has a flavor of gelato that they have in Italy-besides chocolate, that is-straciatella. I had it and chocolate fudge and they were very good. There was a restaurant next door, and it had a bakery and lots of tables.

Dinner: For dinner, we went to the place right next to the gelato place and had pretty good stuff. They had salads, burgers, wraps, curries, pastas, and lots besides. I myself got a salad, and it was pretty good, for a salad, that is.

That’s all for now, Folks!

Gorgeous Gardens

Today we went to the Rhodes Memorial and the Kirstenbosch Gardens. At the memorial, we found a four-fingered handprint, which Ethan and I tried to figure out.

At the gardens, we walked around smelling, touching, and looking at the plants. Dad pointed out the Skeleton Gorge. At one point, Dad and Ethan saw a black mamba or a mole snake—they’re not sure which. After walking around for a while, we rested under a tree. Ethan played with a bug, Dad napped, and Mom did Sudoku on her phone. We eventually moved on, and the two people who had been watching us immediately moved in.

We walked down a path for a little bit and stopped by a bench. “I’m tired already,” Dad said. He and Ethan finally got up though, and Dad randomly hugged me. “Cool!” Ethan exclaimed. “Can I hug Eryn too?” I gave him a death glare, and Mom burst out laughing.

We would’ve had ice cream at the tea room, but Dad has personal issues with places that don’t let you bring computers in. So we drove back home and walked down the street to Gelato’s at Newport. Then we returned to clean off the fast-melting chocolate ice cream. Ethan and I did schoolwork before we headed out to dinner at Newport, the restaurant right next to Gelato’s. Dad had pasta, Mom and Ethan had salads, and I had the sweet and sour chicken with rice. The stuff in Thailand was better.

Now Dad’s eating the Turkish Delight Tim-Tams (Mom and I hate Turkish Delight), Mom’s once again doing Sudoku, Ethan’s reading Artemis Fowl: Lost Colony, and I’m writing and anxiously waiting for our renters to Skype us.

Ciao!

Many Mini Marvels (Isn’t it Marvelous??)

I won at mini-golf again!

Of course, you know what that means. The winner averaged 3 points per hole, with 54 total. In second place, we had 69 points, followed by a close third with seventy. I got seventy-four. In the first half, I actually beat the 3rd placer. But obviously that was not a permanent thing.

We played after spending late morning and early afternoon in the center of town, looking at the Country’s Gardens, the castle, the cathedral, and the Green Market Square, where we looked at the necklaces, paintings, and shark skulls. We decided not to tour the castle today and opted instead to get ice cream: chocolate chip for Dad, mango-strawberry and chocolate chip for Mom, walnut coffee and chocolate chip for Ethan, and mango-strawberry and chocolate almond for me. We also got flowers—a king protea, ten pink roses, and some other flowers—for our flat.

Ciao!

Many Mini-Golfers

Today, after waking up and walking around city center for a while, we, as a family in whole, went putt-putting. I have wanted all of us to go mini golfing for some time (2 days) and finally, I convinced my father and sister and mother to come. I said that it wasn’t going to be windy. I was wrong.

That may have helped my score in the end, but it ruined other people’s scores because they didn’t take into account the wind, and therefore missed the holes. We had a lot of fun, though, and this time, unlike the time when my sister, mother, and I went, we did the blue course, not the orange course. This time, it was harder, but that was okay, and expected. Still, however, I think that my personal favorite is the blue coarse, because I got more hole-in-one’s.

That’s all for now, Folks!

Scratch Patch

Really, who would name a post ‘scratch patch’ besides me?  I guess that shows that I am original and strange, Eryn would agree with that sentiment. However, though Eryn might think it an important topic for me to discuss in my posts, I will not talk about my strangeness and my originality.

Today we woke up, and went to the V&A Mall at around 2pm. We first passed through a place where my father and I went last time we were here and looked at the Scratch Patch where I had gotten some stones in a bag. We then went to a craft center, where we looked around, before heading outdoors by the wharfs and quays. When we emerged from the building, the first thing that we heard was the sound of the Red Bull Flugtug. The point of the Flugtug is fairly simple: build a human propelled aircraft and push it off a 6 meter drop into the ocean. We never got to watch any of it, but I still think that it would have been fun if we did. What we did get to see was a giant rubber duck that was attached to a yacht and floating, I think it would be cool to have one of those.

That’s all for now, Folks!

Deaf at Dinner

After doing nothing for half the day except baking (and eating) muffins, walking down to Clicks, forgetting the credit card, freaking out, and poring over 2011 editions of Reader’s Digest, we drove down to the very full V&A Waterfront. Instead of heading over to the Victoria Wharf Shopping Center, we stepped in to the craft market. We got ice cream (chocolate and peanut butter) next door at the food warehouse, all the while having our ears blasted out by the annual Red Bull Flugtag, which is, according to the website, “where self-taught pilots meet homemade aircrafts.” I don’t really know what happened, but the Angry Birds placed second and Bull’s Eye placed first.

And the music was really really loud—I mean eardrum-busting. We got to listen to it some more during supper, which was pizza, caprese, and chicken salad. Mom and Ethan went to Pick n Pay while Dad paid the bill. Then we went to the Reader’s Warehouse (or something like that), where we looked at the unorganized uninteresting books, including Diary of a Wimpy Kid and Dork Diaries. We bought nothing.

Ciao!

Helderberg, a Story

Well, if you have read some of the previous chapters in my family’s saga, you will know that Helderberg is a college that is above the town of Somerset West, looking out over False Bay. You would also know that we met up with Andre and Rebecca Joubert at the college and chatted with each of them for a while.

We went today to the college of Helderberg on the slopes of the Helderberg mountain today to go to church. We went to church and got really hot and sweaty, because it was crammed with 600 people and the air was still and muggy. Once finished, we got outside, my father  chatted with some old acquaintances before we left. We then went to a Thai restaurant and ate, before come back to our flat, where we vegged for a while, viz. we sat around, sleeping or reading.

We finished the day with a walk towards the library, followed by a small dinner. In all, it was a fairly good day.

That’s all for now, Folks!

Got Blue?

We went to the Helderberg church today and saw several people that Dad knew back when he worked there. Since tomorrow is graduation (it’s usually towards the end of October when the high schoolers can help out, but the new head changed everything), the church was packed. First four rows were for the graduands. Or, as the sign said, First four rows is reserved for graduands. Dad said that the service was a nice mix—familiar order but definitely African.

After church and meeting Dad’s old (literally) acquaintances, we took doxy (our malaria medicine) and headed to a Thai restaurant for lunch. Alas, Thai food in South Africa is not the same as Thai food in Thailand. The green curry didn’t have the little (or medium, either) eggplants in it that we’d grown accustomed to in Thailand, and the restaurant boasted a “masala curry.” In case you didn’t know, masala is a type of delicious desert tea in India. (It may also be a Thai curry, but it’s curiously named.)

We drove back to Cape Town from Somerset West and, after Dad had taken a nap, we went for a walk. I was wearing my blue shorts, blue button-up shirt, blue flip-flops, and I still have blue nail polish. And my eyes are blue.

Ciao!

Putt-Putt Police

Mom, Ethan, and I went on the “more easy” mini golf course (the other option was plain old “easy”) today. None of us beat the Junior’s or Men’s record of the day—41—and none of us beat the Women’s—48—either. Mom earned 57 points, Ethan was second with 66, and I won (by getting the most points, of course) with 83. My worst two holes—numbers 14 and 3—were cut short by our 10-hit limit (thank goodness).

Ethan was the only one to hit a hole-in-one—coincidentally on #14, which, as you should recall, I bombed. Mom got 5, making our average for that hole 5.33. My best holes were 12, 13, and 17. I scored 2 on each of those. On 12, each earned a 2. For 13, I actually received the fewest points while Ethan got 3 and Mom got 4. On 17, Mom and I got 2 while Ethan got 3. Mom’s best holes were 1, 8, 12, and 17. Her average for the first nine was three.

Her worst holes were 3, 14, and 16—she got 5 on each. Ethan’s best hole was 14 (getting the only hole-in-one) while his worst was 3, where he got 8. (Yeah, 3 was not our best hole…)

Ethan was sometimes a little too flexible about how far away his black golf ball was from the edge of the course, so I—the honorary Putt-Putt Police—“helped” him place it in the correct position.

Ciao!

Today we Puttered around…Literally

Our Christmas Tree, Before and After

My aforementioned title is, for once, the truth. We did putter around, but probably not in the sense that you are thinking of. As I write this, I see that my hand and arm are covered in glitter, and I know how it got there. However, more of that later. Anyway, we were saying…oh, yeah, about puttering.

Now, to answer one of your probably questions, we actually did a lot of things. And though I said my title was true, it may be misleading. The reason for that is because we, as I said before, did many things, but my mother, sister, and myself all went across the street and putt-putt-ed. That was really fun. From a vantage point atop a small hill, it looks like it is an easy putt-putt course, as there aren’t any large things. However, once on the greens, it starts to be harder. There were lots of slopes, pipes, blocks, and drop-offs, all of them trying to make it more difficult for the player. However, we perservered, and finished.

We also bought a Christmas tree today. Not a live one, but a fake one. Eryn and I set it up after dinner. We also got a bunch of ornaments, and a lot of them exude glitter, so that answers why my arm is glittery.

That’s all for now, Folks!

Anti-Arctic Antarctica

A while back, I figured out why Antarctica is called what it is called. The reason: because it is the opposite of the Arctic. I actually figured that out a long, long time ago, but still, back to topic. So, in two sentences, I have described the title of my post, one actually, because the first one was just fluff. Anyway, the Antarctic is in the title of my post not because we went there, but because we heard about it. In the following paragraph I hope to tell you how we heard. All ye who have ears to hear, live long and remember.

After waking up this morning and going to the Home Office twice to get an extension for our South African visas, we went up to the top of Signal Hill. From there we could see for a long ways. Out in the ocean, there was Robben Island, which housed a prison. Directly opposite of that, there was Table Mountain. When we were looking out to sea, a man next to us on the lookout commented on how the red ship that was steadily moving away from the wharfs was the boat heading for Antarctica, and how it had his son on it. We chatted with him for a while, before leaving the hill and going back to our apartment.

That’s all for now, Folks!

Fotographic Fun

We didn’t really do anything spectacularly interesting today, but we did extend our stay in South Africa to January 2 after learning that our visas would expire December 20th. So we applied for extensions and finished paying after three hours in and two visits to the Home Office. In between those two visits, I made brownies. When they were cut, there were twelve.

Now there’s none. (They were very good, if I may say so myself, even if they were from a Pillsbury mix.)

We stopped at Signal Hill on the way home, where we finished off the brownies, read more (in my case, 50 Flippen Brilliant South Africans, including the likes of Chad le Clos, Nelson Mandela, and Winston Churchill, an honorary addition), and finally left to stroll on the Promenade. Ethan and I played Escape on the playground, but he accused me of cheating (liar!) because he couldn’t cross the monkey bars.

He went to check the times and prices for the putt-putt place down the street. Meanwhile, I was photographed by the guy wearing a blue shirt. He was part of a photo shoot but apparently had gotten bored and was taking a picture of anything and everything—including me standing dead still at the edge of the Promenade, staring at the water, and once in a while looking back for Ethan.

The brother in question finally returned, told us all we needed to know, and we returned to our flat.

Ciao!

Come to Cape Town!

We finally arrived in Cape Town, tourist (and legislative) capital of South Africa. We also visited the most-visited attraction in all of Africa… and you thought it was the pyramids! It’s the V & A Waterfront. All my friends know about the Egyptian pyramids; none, until now, know about the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront in Cape Town, South Africa. The area has hundreds of shops and restaurants, the Two Oceans Aquarium, and, yes, a harbor.

After checking out that, we finally went to our oceanfront flat, on Mouille Point. It’s near a pool, playground, picnic area, and putt-putt course. We’re near the Green Point lighthouse, which didn’t prevent a shipwreck on July 1, 1966, during a winter storm. Speaking of winter, there are snowflakes on the light poles. And I’m sure that Santa still comes from the North Pole, not the South, even though it’s much, much closer.

After nesting and my heart being broken because there’s no wi-fi (a.k.a. no Skype with home), we returned to the mall where we first had supper at San Marco and then went grocery shopping at “Pick North Pay” as Karen (our GPS) likes to call Pick n Pay. By nine, we were finally out of there. (What a relief.)

Ciao!

Pretty Little Penguins

I think Bella, my stuffed penguin from home, is much cuter than the African penguins we saw on the beach at Simonstown today. We drove from our B&B in Somerset West to our original accommodations, where we had a breakfast of toast, fruit, cheese, chocolate muffins, and orange juice. We said good-bye and, after I downloaded Grace, Gold, and Glory on my Kindle, were on our way.

After several traffic delays, we arrived at Boulders Beach in Simonstown, where we saw lots of the African penguins. From there we entered Table Mountain National Park. We drove to the Buffelsfontein Visitors’ Centre, where we got our keys and a map. We then drove to the death march start near the original Cape Point lighthouse. It was too high, making it hard to see with fog and mist, so the new lighthouse is down about 150 meters or so.

We walked up the hill, envying the people riding on the Flying Dutchman tram, all the way to the lighthouse. We then went a little farther out on the point, as far as us mere mortals are allowed to go. (We also saw three tourists illegally pass that point.) We climbed back up to the lighthouse and went to the gift shop, where Ethan bought a bottle of seawater. We slowly slowly returned to our car, stopping at almost every viewpoint along the way.

We then went to the southwesternmost point of Africa, the Cape of Good Hope. We took a picture, examined a dead bird, and then went on to Olifantsbos Cottage, where we’re staying the night. Ethan and I constructed a fort against the side of a boulder on the beach made of rocks, sticks, and boards washed up on the beach. Ethan’s worried the tide, which comes right up to the bushes, will wash it away.

We had pasta and zucchini for supper, after which we went out to the beach for a sunset walk. We heard the baboons on the hill calling to each other as Ethan and I showed the parental units the fort. Ethan wanted to race to Dad, but I didn’t want to. “Why don’t you race?” he demanded. “Because this is a non-racist country,” I replied sarcastically. In the end, I did race… and won, of course!

The little bugs on the sand drove us insane… and away from the beach, so we retreated to the cottage where we enjoyed a Cadbury bar.

Ciao!

When in Cape Town

Well, for the first time in all of our lives, we, as a family, are in Cape Town. Now, for those of you who don’t know, Cape Town is not actually a town, even by English standards. That aside, (the English standards, I mean) it is a city because it houses a lot of people. We were pretty lucky in choosing our apartment, as we are right on the beach next to a lighthouse. Last time I was here with my father, we stayed a little bit up the road.

We started out the day in Cape Point, which we had gone to yesterday, and where, last night, Eryn and I built a fort on the beach. We took a walk to a shipwreck and I gathered a few pieces of souvenir shipwreck. That was fun. When we got back, we got in the car, and, not seeing any baboons, we left. We then went to the de Gama Cross and the Dias Cross. If you have read your history book, you will know that Dias was the first person the round the southern tip of the continent of Africa. Vasco de Gama also rounded the tip. We then drove and drove and drove to the north, and finally arrived at the world famous V&A Waterfront Mall.

A surprising fact about the mall is that it is the most popular tourist attraction in all of Africa. What’s interesting is that people don’t know about the mall, but they do know about places such as, say, the pyramids. Anyway, we shopped for a bit and then went to our apartment, checked in, nested, then went back to the mall for dinner.

That’s all for now, Folks!

Penguin Protection Program

I am not sure if that is a real thing or not, but it is close to a real thing because it something like what they had at Boulders Beach in Simon’s Town. Boulders Beach is a beach (really?) on the edge of Simon’s Town, which is the home of South Africa’s Navy.  At Boulders Beach, here is a resident population of penguins that nest there and live there. There were a lot of penguins just standing on the beach when we were there, so it wasn’t that interesting. However, they are really interesting to watch when they are swimming, as they seem as though they have rocket propulsion.

On the other side of a chain of rocks is a shallow lagoon where little kids can play. What Eryn and I found to do there was to go through the little paths between the rocks and try to hide from our parents. It worked out great, and when I tried to find out a way to go through that Eryn hadn’t gone on, I ended up really wet. I had accidently misjudged the distance between the rock and the water, so I had to crawl on top of the water, supporting myself with my hands and toes. It was really fun. Sadly though, Eryn was following me, but wimped out and went an easier way.

That’s all for now, Folks!

In the Land of Lady Gaga

We’re now in the same country as Lady Gaga after five-and-a-half months of (totally distant, as opposed to just distant) separation.

We’re also in the same town as Andre Joubert and his wife, Rebecca. Mr. Joubert taught with stuffed animals (like snakes and road kill) at Helderberg College when Dad did, back in 1980. (See? My dad is still alive after Noah’s flood!) After chatting to Mrs. Joubert- the president’s secretary- we walked over to their house, where we found Mr. Joubert. We exchanged snake stories, including my dead puff adder from yesterday, and then he pulled out a large plastic container, undid the hole, and invited me over to see. “Cool,” I said. In the background, Mom said, “Was that a good cool or a bad cool?”

He showed them the item, too, and Mom just said “Oh.” She was probably relieved that the big fat puff adder wasn’t rearing up to bite us. Instead it just flicked its tongue and gave us the evil eye. After talking about puff adders some more, we left to our accommodations here in Somerset West. For supper, we ate at Spur, whose subtitle is “Steak Ranch.” We didn’t have steak, though. Ethan had a chicken burger with Appletizer, Dad had a Greek salad with a thick chocolate malt, Mom had a chicken wrap with a chocolate shake, and I had the same wrap with a mango shake. For starters, we had “Mexican nachos.” Dad said that Spur (which is Indian themed, each restaurant having a different name—we ate at Sunset Bay) is the South African version of what they think is an American restaurant, like Red Robin. They were pretty close, actually, right down to the Oreo shakes and falling-apart-too-easily wraps.

Dad let me have his “cherry on top” [of his malt], saying, “It’s an albino.” It was a marshmallow.

Ciao!

Stupido Staffo

Content: A long time ago in a galaxy not far away, my father taught at a college on the continent of Africa, in the country of South Africa, in the province of Western Cape, in the city of Somerset West. That narrows down the choice to two options, one, Stellenbosch, and two, Helderberg College. The answer, and some of you out there probably already know it, is Helderberg, and he taught here as a student missionary. His field of teaching was the one of computer science, and he came to where we are now to teach.

We, by the way, are in Somerset West, and are staying at a nice guest house on a hill in the middle of town, looking out over False Bay. The reason that False Bay is called False Bay is because it is too shallow for a big ship, and they would run aground in trying. One of the byproducts of the shallowness is that the water is warm, and also that there are a lot of little boats plying the water.

We went up to the Helderberg College today, and met with several people of my father’s old acquaintance. Two of those people were married, whose names were Mr. and Mrs. Joubert (prounounced yo-beart.) The last time that I was in South Africa, my father and I came and visited with Mr. Joubert, and looked at his massive collection of stuff, including a blue whale rib bone and a lot of pinned insects. He was a really fun guy to be around, still is, as a matter of fact. What was really fun was watching my mother freak out when he produced an old oil container that now houses a very large puff adder. I think that it was really cool. Mrs. Joubert was different, but she had a lot of stuff from when my father was there, including an old staff and student directory, that, as a key to what was in the book, had a person silhouetted and two words underneath, ‘Stupido Staffo.’ It was very interesting.

Bitey Fishes and Rusty Mushrooms

We slept in til eight today, so we had a late breakfast and, by default, a late start. We decided to visit the lighthouse first and then do the death march in the afternoon. Before climbing to the top of the lighthouse, though, we stopped by the Meisho Maru (sure sounds like mushroom!) wreck where Ethan climbed and I petted fishes (although they tried to bite me in return).

At the red-and-white striped lighthouse, we climbed as high as we could go. The museum was closed, but Ethan and I entertained ourselves with 20 Questions until Dad—who dislikes 20 Questions—told us to stop. I got black rhino correctly, but Ethan couldn’t get tsessebe, oribi, or Cape turtle dove. (The tsessebe and oribi are both types of antelope that live in South Africa.)

We returned to our chalet and then headed out on our “blue” death march—our other options were the 10.2-kilometer yellow death march or the 4.2-kilometer red death march. Thankfully, we chose the blue, which is only three kilometers. After crossing the road, we saw a sign that read

Archaeological and Historical Site

Strictly No Entry

Trespassers Will Be Prosecuted

Ethan freaked out and refused to move and “break the law.” We finally made him go, and when we went down a fynbos-covered dune, I found a dead puff adder. It was squished for some reason, but I picked it up and it is sitting ten feet away from me right now in our chalet. Ethan refused to touch it.

We went to the blowholes, which don’t really blow, and finally passed the lagoon and reception before returning to Chalet 2. After much searching, I decided that we would just have to wing it for supper. We enjoyed pasta and fish at SeaGulls’, where I called a friend from home.

Ciao!

The Mushroom

The Japanese ship, the Meisho Maru, is a ship that ran aground in 1982, and some of it is still there at Cape Agulhas, the Southernmost Point in Africa. Eryn fancies that the name of the ship means mushroom in Japanese, something that I wish to dispute with her. The main part that is still there is the bow of the ship, facing seawards, like it always hoped and still hopes that someday it will be able to return to the seas. If it ever goes out into deeper water, it will promptly sink, as however high the water is, it is also that high in the boat.

We went at low tide, and that was a good thing, because it meant that there are stones that are right beneath the surface of the water at that time that lead to the ship from land. Methinks that someone put them there, but you never know. Anywho, those rocks were very helpful to me because I wanted (and succeeded) to go and climb on the wreck for fun. My father got a lot of photos too. The main of the ship has a 2 inch coating of bird poo and rust, but that was okay, since you have to walk in the ocean to get to and from the wreck. The wreck even had a tower on the main deck that I climbed, sadly, though, it wasn’t that high up. If you look in the picture, you will see me climbing the poles on the top deck.

That’s all for now, Folks!

No More “Nice Knysna”

We finally left “nice Knysna” today after saying good-bye to our landlord, Silvia, and packing all our stuff. It was a relatively short drive (five hours) to Cape Agulhas, the southernmost point of Africa. (Not, however, the southernmost point on our trip. We’ll be experiencing that in South America.)

After a quick stop at Fruit & Veg City for fresh veggies, milk, and koeksisters, a South African sort of sugary greasy donut, we passed only two car accidents while the GPS directed us to the national park. Once there, we got photographed next to the plaque where the southernmost point of Africa is. Then we got back in our car and drove to Cottage 2, where we’ll be staying for two nights.

We took a walk down to the beach, where we found small fish, starfish, and sea anemone skeletons. We also saw lots of dead bluebottle jellyfish. For supper, Mom served green beans and a vegetable stew on rice, finished with a (delicious) coconut-cashew Cadbury bar.

Ciao!

The Southernmost Point in the whole of the Continent of Africa

That is where we are now, and where we will be for two nights, including tonight. We arrived here at about 2:30 pm this afternoon, and, after checking in at reception, went to the southernmost point in Africa. It is mainly a cemented pile of stones with a plaque on it, saying that that was the southernmost point in Africa. Also, at the bottom, there was a blue sign that said, on one side, Indian Ocean, and on the other side of a line in the center, Pacific Ocean, marking the boundary between the two oceans. There is also a big lighthouse that you can climb and I think we are going to climb to the top of it tomorrow.

However, since you probably don’t know what happened before we arrived at our chalet, I will tell you what we did in the morning, skipping over most of the driving parts. We started out the day waking up in Knysna, but not to stay. We packed up and were ready to go by 9 o’clock and when we said goodbye to our hostess, we left. Our first stop was for fuel in the car, and then for a little bit of food. Those were probably the interesting things that happened during our drive.

That’s all for now, Folks!