An Open Apology

I meant to write a post four days ago (December 20, 2013). I really did. I wanted to point out that we’ve been home a whopping six months. I wanted to remember how a year ago we thought we were tough because we’d passed the halfway mark. I wanted to say how good it is to have a real, 12-foot Noble fir Christmas tree instead of a plastic tree my height.

But I didn’t. And I’m sorry. So I’ll do one now.

We’re at home, not in Cape Town. The view out our dining room window is of our dying grass instead of the promenade and the Atlantic Ocean. We have large presents under (beside, rather) our tree in place of the very small ones last Christmas. The best difference of all, though, is that my grandparents are going to spend Christmas with us.

In the last year, we touched thirteen countries on four continents. In the last six months, we’ve adjusted to “normal” life and lost our tans (that was a big tragedy). We didn’t go camping in the summer (silent rejoicing) but Ethan and I did go to camp. We may not have used our canoe at all but we hiked to multiple lakes.

Cupcakes and gelato have become dietary staples, and pizza drowned in vinegar has become the norm (at least for me).


The second half of the trip was probably more stressful for us, between worrying about jobs and cars and school when we returned, to the Amazon trip, Morocco, and our house in Semur-en-Auxois being flooded.

But who’s to say it wasn’t the better half?


Skiing, Skidding, and (Not Enough) Sleeping

Yesterday we started off our day hoping to go up Table Mountain after two days of it being closed. Lots of other people had the same idea, apparently, as by the time we got there at 9 a.m. (one hour or so after opening time) police were directing traffic and the line of cars stretched from the lower station to Kloof Nek Road. We gave up and drove up towards Lion’s Head to the Visitors’ Centre, where we turned around and headed back down to Kloof Nek. We waited for the traffic officer, Munde, to give us a sign to go forward, which he eventually did. We went and were going to do a sort-of-U-turn when BANG!!!

Out of nowhere comes a man named John and his little blue car. One of his tires burst in the collision. Our bumper was damaged, making our scratch from a shopping cart disappear. We were so close to not having to pay any extra on the Hertz car (we didn’t get insurance). Five hours.

Later at the airport, Dad took care of the Hertz business while Mom, Ethan, and I lounged inside the terminal. Eventually we checked in (no visa problems here!), went through security, ate salads at Mugg & Bean, browsed the books at Exclusive Books, and finally boarded our flight to Johannesburg. It was relatively uneventful. We landed on the Oliver R. Tambo International Airport tarmac at approximately 8:30 p.m. In the line for Immigration we eavesdropped on the British and Australian people’s conversation before officially leaving South Africa for the second time this trip.

Our flight to Dubai was about eight hours long. I watched four episodes of Modern Family and part of Brave. Sleep, staring out the window at the sand, lights, and sunrise, and eating are included in those eight hours as well. Oh, and I also watched a 45-minute One Direction video!

We got through the Dubai airport with now real issues except lack of sleep. All of us piled in a taxi and we rode for about twenty minutes before arriving at our Hilton. There we waited for two hours before both of our rooms were ready. After showers we met in the lobby and caught a bus to the Mall of the Emirates. We had a quick supper of sandwich-like things at a restaurant before Ethan and I hit the slopes at Ski Dubai. My only complaint is that I didn’t get gloves and my fingers are still swollen. I think it’s silly that they called any of the runs a black, claiming that they have the only indoor black run in the world. There’s a sign saying “Experts Only.”

Well, then.

I guess that proves it.

I’m an expert.


Cape Chaos

Today was our last full day in Cape Town. Tomorrow we fly to Johannesburg at five o’clock, continuing on to Dubai. We spent it lounging around, enjoying our warm showers, this morning and then revisiting the Company’s Garden, Signal Hill, and Gelato Mania, which was closed. The line up to Signal Hill was long and painful.

“Why are we doing this?” I griped. “For one last look,” Dad replied. “You’ll never forget this,” Mom added.

We walked around the top of the hill one last time and then drove down. This was after our visit to the Company’s Garden, where Ethan fed lots of pigeons. We then tried Gelato Mania before heading home for supper, where Mom fed us sweet-and-sour rice and vegetables with oranges. We then stood out on the Promenade and watched our last Cape Town sunset.

Now we have to fully pack.



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.


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.


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.


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.


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.



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.


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.



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.


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!”


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.


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.


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…


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.




“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.


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.


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.


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.


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.’


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!


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.

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.)