Visiting the "Mother City" and more...

Visiting the "Mother City" and more...

Friday, July 9, 2010

A week ago

I celebrated my Big 4-0 last week while doing the Big 5 safari. I was very excited to just be able to make this trip happen for the two of us. Tanja asked me before we left home, if I wanted or needed anything special for this usually week long festival, that I have had since a child.

I want to give a "shout out" to a few of our fellow travel mates that over heard us talking about my midlife milestone. After a night of bonding and comforting each other on the night sarfari we all eased into a nice formed new travel friendship. Tanja describes it as being on a highschool fieldtrip.

Our most enjoyable class clown from the Netherlands, pushed our teacher ( Safari guide) to the limit, by repeatedly saying... "please do not keep making those chicken sounds to the lions. They have a keen sense of hearing mate.... " ok ... "do not make the meow sounds either, " ... a few mins later ahh guys, how about No>>> "here kitty, kitty sounds either this is serious business and so on." you get the jest of our 50 yr old court jester. I was too cold and scared to even discourage him.

Joop and Rob, [from the Netherlands] Edwardo and Marcella, [Guatemala] and Tanja and I
spent 3 days together doing various adventure and fun activities. Well to my surprise on the 1st of July , the "Breakfast club" knocked on our door to our suite. There they stood with a lemon meringue pie and a bottle of S.A. flavored vodka... as they say here in Afrikaans; >>>Lekker [yummy].

Thank you guys for making my day even more special than I could of ever imagined.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

The Mayor of London, UK... speaks out.

This article was published in the SA Times and forwarded by a friend ours. Thanks Joel L...

This article has been written by the mayor of London.

This is a very interesting article written by the mayor of London!I wish you could have come with me yesterday as I ran through the delightful district of Westcliff, one of the richest square miles in Africa. The sun was taking the chill off the winter morning. The sky was blue. The urban forest of Johannesburg was a winter symphony of brown and green and gold.
Among the trees, on either side of the well-kept street, I passed the kinds of homes you normally associate with Beverly Hills. Here was the honey-stoned palazzo of a diamond executive. There was the schloss of the most successful boob-job exponent in the neighbourhood.
Each villa was the size of a country club, and through every set of gates you could see the carob-shaded tennis court or the ultramarine ping of the sunlight on the pool. Every property overtly proclaimed the determination of the haves to resist the depredations of the have-nots. Great brown Rhodesian ridgebacks snuffled behind the electric fences. Chubb security vans cruised quietly up and down. Fixed to the wall beside virtually every nine-foot impregnable gate was a sign announcing that any intruder would be met with an "Armed Response".
I wish you could have been there, to soak up the splendour of the lives of the affluent Johannesburg professionals. Then I wish you could have come with me to another neighbourhood, a township called Cape Flats, nor far from Cape Town. Then you would have understood the vast economic disparity of South Africa – the wealth gap that helps to prompt the security fences of Westcliff.
Here there was no tarmac on the streets. No one had cleared up the piles of rubbish. No one had painted the battered grey breeze blocks of the flats or mended the panes in the washing-hung windows. Of the hordes of unwashed kids who came out to compete for our presents – badges and trinkets – hardly any seemed fluent in English.
A nice one-eyed woman called Mary took us in to see her flat, and though she was immensely proud of her two chipped-eared china dogs, and though her lino floor shone with mopping, she had almost none of the amenities that are taken for granted by the poorest families in modern Britain.
She had no hot water. She had no cooker except for a couple of electric rings. She had no system of heating or air conditioning, and though Mary and her family were avidly following the World Cup, they were listening to the commentary on a crackling old radio. They had no television, and nor did any of the neighbours.
Above all, she had no job, and neither did her husband. It was years since he had last worked as an upholsterer for motor cars, and the same applied to all the hundreds of other men and women who swarmed out of their flats to welcome the delegation from London.
They had no job, and no hope of a job – and yet these people, Mary and her neighbours, were lucky by the standards of many in South Africa. Mary lives in breeze-block luxury compared with the inhabitants of the "informal settlements" – shantytowns to you and me – of which there are 230 in the vicinity of Cape Town alone, providing homes to about 500,000 people in a population of 3.5 million.
It is when you have such inequality, and such grinding poverty, you cannot be surprised that some pessimists have asked whether it was sensible for South Africa to take on the difficulty and expense of hosting the World Cup. That is why I have spent the past few days posing the legacy question to just about everyone I have met.
What happens on July 12, after the captain of the winning team has waved the Jules Rimet trophy in his sweaty palm? What will people say when the last fan has traipsed home and the last journalist has composed his last philippic against his defeated national team and when the last vuvuzela has parped its last melancholy parp? What will this World Cup leave for South Africa?
I have asked barmen and journalists and politicians such as the remarkable Helen Zille, premier of the Western Cape province. I have ended up feeling like those Monty Python characters who were so foolish as to question the benefits of the Roman Empire. The World Cup not only gave jobs and skills and hope to thousands of local people.
The tournament gave an absolute deadline to South Africa for the introduction and improvement of all kinds of infrastructure – not just sports grounds, but roads and bridges and airports and bus lanes that would otherwise not have been built and which will benefit the country for decades to come. Above all, the World Cup has given this country something intangible but priceless: a deep sense of pride that it has taken on something difficult and done it well.
When they look at themselves in the approving mirror of world opinion, South Africans of every race agree that the first African World Cup is a joyous success, and that success breeds confidence. The rand is rising. South Africans who left for Australia or Canada are starting to return to a country whose banking system largely escaped the recent crisis.
The sheer number of visitors – about half a million – will help to open the eyes of the world to South Africa and its potential for trade and investment; and get this – crime, the crime that has been supposed to be one of the drawbacks of living here, is down 90 per cent in central Cape Town, and there has not been a single serious incident of crime or violence in any of the fan parks.
Of course there will be disappointments, and no one could pretend that the World Cup will solve the economic or political problems of the country. But it offers a sense of unity and confidence to a place with a tragic past. It should help to build the taxpayer base that is so essential to narrowing the wealth gap.
It gives potential wealth creators at least some of the infrastructure they need. Fifa took an inspired decision to give the World Cup to South Africa, and South Africa has responded brilliantly.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Just Videos Enjoy!!!

Halftime Brazil vs Netherlands

Here Kitty Kitty...... Night Safari seeking Lions. Add Image

Capetown, Fanfest Dancing Tribesman

A look at the backside of Table Mountain

Capetown, Fanfest USA Match

Eastern Cape, Jeffery's Bay


July 07, 2010

Today we woke up to a wonderful surprise that the Internet is working again. Feverishly, we have been sharing the laptop to check face book and answer the emails from 3 days ago.

Tanja and I are in our last hotel. It is in a place called Summerstrand, that is located right on the Indian Ocean. It sits in a calm cove and has quiet "small" town atmosphere. The relaxation will do us some good. [My little German Princess is still a bit under the weather today. { day 3 so far.} I have nicknamed the illness the cape cough. Many visitors here, seem to have this dry non- productive bark.] The water is warm, but still not inviting enough to get us to wade out into the great whites' front porch. Port Elizabeth's local news reports not only include traffic, temperature and local happenings; but they also give the updated shark sitings.

We will try to report again soon, assuming that we have a Internet connection.
Tonight, we will be watching the semi final match between Germany and Spain at a local restaurant here in downtown PE. The winner will play on Sunday in the Championship against Holland, who beat Uruguay last evening.
On Saturday , the 10th we have our last set of tickets to see the game live. Secretly, we want to see the Germans play in person, but of course we are looking forward to seeing the best team end up in Jo burg...
I hope everyone in the USA had a awesome Fourth of July.

10:45 PM
Well my dream has come true. Germany sadly just lost to Spain 1-0 in the semifinal match in Durban... We mentioned earlier that we watched the match in a pub. Saturday is now bitter sweet as we will physically see the German's play Uruguay at 08:30pm on Saturday evening for the consolation match [3rd/4th place].

Monday, July 5, 2010

Big Thinkers

Elephants are amongst the world's most intelligent species. With a mass just over 5 kg (11 lb), elephant brains are larger than those of any other land animal. A wide variety of behaviors, including those associated with grief, learning, mimicry, art, play, a sense of humor, altruism, use of tools, compassion, self-awareness, memory and possibly language.

Well,Tanja and I had the opportunity to visit the the National Addo Elephant Park for a day. This will be a day, that I will never forget. While traveling through this park with our personal guide Etta, a conservationist that owned the Dung Beetle B&B. The education of this outstanding land mass, of a park started with our breakfast. Etta encouraged us to eat the little shrubs that she had cut from her garden and adorned our plates of eggs and kudo sausages.

As we munched, she told us how this "speck boom" what we call "jade plant," is used by the elephants and the local people when they have trouble producing breast milk. Very cool eh?
We thought the same.

Tanja wanted to know why elephants were so fat, being that they are truly only vegetarians.? Well, of course what other answer seems fitting is that they are not fat at all, "They are just Big Boned."

At times, we saw scores of them in little family units and bachelor pods as well. Most impressively we saw a big male in heat that deemed the road his for some 15-20 mins.
Because elephants are so closely knit and highly matriarchal, a family can be devastated by the death of another (especially a matriarch) and some groups never recover their organization. We got a chance to see that at this park... What a special day it turned out to be.

I hope these pics do the gentleness of these animals some justice.

Lets Talk Soccer

We have been planning for over 4 years to travel to Africa. Soccer was the first and foremost thing to do while here originally. Later we had dicussions about what kind of other activities we wanted to take advantage of... Nervously, we had visions of dirt roads and people walking barefoot and possibly even seeing the natives carry items on their heads. Well we were right to some extent, but wrong on so many other levels.

The Fifa President, Joseph Blatter, ordered that all of the stadiums were to be completed by
Dec 09. Let me tell you, that they[football venues] are absolutely spectacular! So far, we have been to 2 matches and we have cheered and jeered amongst the best fans from around the world.

Really quickly, I would like to touch upon the infastructure in S.A. >>>>>
The highways are actually smoother than a lot of the roads we have in Chicago land area. There are dangers associated with driving besides being on the opposite side of the car such as: watching out for baboon crossings; in addition to being mindful of the local township people who are constantly walking right on the paved driving surface with no reflector tape...[wearing dark clothes at night] Scary!!! Some on them even have their young babies strapped to them while crossing 4 and 6 lane highways.
The Internet is hit or miss but, it is like the land of milk and honey once we get it back all is forgotten that it was array.

A quick review for the non-soccer fan reading this blog.

A soccer match last about 90 minutes in length. There are 11 players on each side, with 13 back-up players to be precisely used as if, in a chess match. Every 4 years, the World Cup is a culmination of some 140 countries battling it out, on the pitch. The final month of the tournament pits the best 32 teams in a random playoff. This is when the fun begins in my opinion. The true soccer purist watch and stay tuned for every qualifier and knock out phase match, but we are here in S.A. just for the main course only.

The Africans have done a superb job making this month long celebration a wonderful time for visitors. The atmosphere seems to have just the right amount of tribal influence, mixed in with the modern facilities of the west. The quality of the food has been outstanding. I must say that it is a bit difficult though, if you are a vegetarian. Nothing appears forced or overbearing [ you know like visiting Mexico] and the people all seem to want to invite us into their homes to meet their relatives. Their genuine spirit and pride of how their country has changed is apparent everywhere...

The world wide fans were hesitant and sometimes afraid from the press reports leading up to the games seemed to be the story on the foreigners minds. In the last week and a half, I must add that we have not seen or been in any uncomfortable situations of security. [I feel like we are prepared just in case]

Back to the football (soccer)...

A few days ago, we got the opportunity to witness the best game of the tournament, being displayed from just 16 rows away on the 40 yard line. The Samba style of the Brazilian nation team fought it out with the Flying Dutchman of the Netherlands. Besides the fans from their respective countries, Vuvuleazas and local South Africans filled the small 46,000 seat stadium in Port Elizabeth. After all of the twist and turns, and a few penalty cards had been given, the Dutch team came out on top... It was a very special feeling to not only see the worlds' favorite[Brazil] get upset, but to see them actually preform live.

Tanja and I arrived at the end of the the 1 round, of the 4 segments. We attended a really crucial match involving Spain and Portugal. (See post labeled- Vuvuzealas). The passionate fans, adorned in their country flag colors, dressed up like we do at home for Halloween; hoping to get a treat of staying alive, in this "lose and go home phase." Meanwhile, the USA was playing in this same sudden death phase at last week. Unfortunately, England sent them packing.
Here is a taste of how loud it was in the stadium...

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Arriving in P.E.

Africa's own " windy city," a.k.a. Port Elizabeth is the 2nd largest city in S.A. . Located on the Eastern Cape, It has also been deemed the "friendliest city".

The temps are a 10 degrees warmer than our last location. This active port and and popular seaside getaway lies directly on the Indian ocean. We flew here on June 30; approx. 500 miles from Capetown. So far, we have partaken in a variety of adventure activities just within the first 4 days. First up were the the Safari Parks. I would say it was a little dangerous, as we were in Lion country until 10 pm at night without a gun seeking out the king of the jungle; to shoot with a Cannon EZ Shot...
*** Notice how we are reacting when a Rhino decides to check us out.
Schotcia Game Reserve

It was a bit scary from time to time as we acted like Steve Irwin ... [***Messing around with nature.] Enjoy the White Rhino...

No words just pics.......

Capetown and surrounding areas on the Western Cape