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Monthly Archives: January 2010

I’m Guilty

I’ve been thinking about this for quite some time but it really hit me hard while travleing in South Africa – we are all very guilty of being way too opionated. Yes, I’m guilty of this, too. And, I bet you are, too. Hearing our South African driver talk about the blacks and hearing his prejudices, I realized it would be very hard to convince this person otherwise. Well, in thinking about it, I’m the same. Shame on me. I’m a democrat and when I hear about anything the Republican party does I turn up my nose. I’m right and they are wrong, but it’s not that simple.  Just because someone is a Republican doesn’t make all their idea flawed, I just don’t agree with some of them. But shouldn’t I be educating myself more, should I ask how their thinking, ideas came about – what’s the background, experience, reasoning. Someone mentions Sarah Palin and I turn off my ears, I’m deaf. Well, maybe I should read her book, understand what appeals to so many people; understand why we differ. I’m sure the opposing party (and this doesn’t just apply to politics) should do the same. Otherwise, we’re just like the Nazis or any other zealots, we can’t and shouldn’t be the same BUT we have to listen better and be more open to opposite opinions; ultimately finding a middle ground. That is one of the reasons I think our country is in the quagmire it’s in today. We all need to stop – listen – ask why, how, what – and acknowledge our fellow women’s thoughts, feelings, and reasoning.
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Posted by on January 30, 2010 in Uncategorized

 

Afterthoughts

the only item that detracted from our vacation was that Tigger escaped while we were gone, set up a trap and bingo, we have our whole family together again!!
 
Coming back from South Africa I had lots of thoughts around how lucky "we" are – we being US citizens. We have so many resources, beauty, culture, sites, roads, transportation, access to education, etc.
While other countries have much of this too, they don’t necessarily have true freedom. While we have too many lawsuits, we do have governance which allows for us to express our thoughts freely, go where we want to, and most importantly we can vote without being shot at. But do we take advantage of these freedoms – NO! I’m so embarrassed by our voting participation when I talk to non-US people. We’ve become so apathetic. Sad really.  
 
 
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Posted by on January 20, 2010 in Uncategorized

 

Photos Up!

Just loaded a few of the 1000’s of pictures we took. also still waiting to get Vanessa and Jan’s. will update when I get those. As always, it’s exciting to view pictures from a trip and think about all of our wonderful experiences. Someone asked me what was the one most memorable moment.  I had to say, that besides the animals (just couldn’t pick one!!), jumping off a 2 story ledge was crazy and exhilerating. Standing on our eliptical machine looking down from the 2nd story from our home, I realized just how crazy it was!! This morning I realized just how glad I am to be home though; the fog was laying in the valley below our home and the sun was raising behind the mountains….just beautiful,
 
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Posted by on January 15, 2010 in Uncategorized

 

Our Last Day in ZA

unfortunately, i’m not home yet! had to continue on to Seattle to go to work, so had another 2 hours flight in addition to the other 22 hrs – ugh.
Our last day was special – started with great brunch with Alexander, Claudia and Emma. Yoghurt, eggs, fruit, etc – yummy.
Went back to house to change since decided to hike up the Lions Head (700 meters). Driving to this mountain along the coastline, we saw several cars stopped along the road and decided to find out what everyone was looking at. LUCKY – there were whales – not sure if Right or Humpback but they were very close to the shore and we luckily had binoculars along and could really see them up close.
Then hiked to top of Lions Head which included ladders, rocks with handles to assist, and narrow pathways along extrememly steep drop-offs.
Home made crepes and we were off. Thankfully we had 6 hr layover in London, couldn’t check our baggage through had to pick up and recheck due to security and then they had us line up (men and women separately) again at the gate to re-check everyone. Otherwise, made it back to SFO without a hitch.
Hopefully all of our luggage arrived with no breakage; i don’t know since i had to rush off to catch the SEA flight.
Hope you’ve enjoyed this travel log, as i think of other comments on this trip and other events will be adding to this blog.
really appreciate your comments and feedback.
 
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Posted by on January 11, 2010 in Uncategorized

 

Food in South Africa

most of the food we’ve had has been very delicious. They are real meat eaters here, so Joe is in heaven. he has tried several of the local dishes like Bobotie (we joked it’s the ZA version of Haggis but not really). The seafood has been very fresh and well prepared. Even had pizza several times and very thin crust with so many selection of toppings it’s hard to pick. They are many fast food places and everything does have a lot of sugar (like ketchup is much sweeter) and chips only come with flavors, couldn’t find any plain. You can get everykind of soda US and European, same for candies.
Breakfast is always granola with yoghurt followed by hot breakfast which is selection of eggs and meats with mushrooms and tomatoes (the English influence).
Prices are rediculously low outside of the cities and very high in. Wine the same. AH, yes, Wine. in one word Wonderful. we’ve tried to taste a ZA orginal – Pinotage – everywhere. and since i love reds, i’m in heaven. then the Ports!!! another big sigh of wonderful ymmy flavors. Port tasting was so amazing with up to 12 different kinds available in one tasting experience.
luckily we stopped at a champagne cellar and tasted and purchase a bottle of sparkling wine (can’t really call champagne since not from that region in France) called "Claudia". That’s Alex’s wife’s name so she was very surprised when we brought this back for her from one of our trips.
Strangely we haven’t seen hardly any blacks at any of the restaurants or B&B’s we’ve been to, very few colored (asian, indian, etc) either. It feels strange since the majority of people are black not to see them in restaurants. At the malls (of which there are many, and we went to a couple) it was very mixed crowds.
 
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Posted by on January 10, 2010 in Uncategorized

 

Expressions on South Africa

So far I’ve documented what we’ve done and seen without a lot of expression of my thoughts and feelings about ZA (South Africa). this is a country still learning how to cope with democracy and equal rights. ZA has had only 15 years to learn how to change people, cultures. Think about the US, we’ve had so called equal rights for 10’s of years and still…minorities and women still don’t get paid the same as white males, there are still racial issues. So, you can’t expect too much. Having not lived here I’m sure I’ve missed a lot but again remember these are my impressions. What I see is still a great divide between the have and have not, exploitation, but also what we may take for apathy but may also be cultural, tribal. Many southern cultures are much more laid back.
The townships are a safe haven; living in one room houses a family can still have ‘comforts’ like a TV, aircon, etc even though the toilet is down the block and is a portapotty. The next step up in our perception of better housing brings with it a lot more responsibility and takes away the ‘family’ of neighbors and friends. To work here, you may have to take 2 or 3 taxis, costly a great percentage of wages – making it a difficult decision — work away from home with commutes for many hours, or stay at home and ‘survive’ with social assistance.
there are many good people who are trying to make a difference. we met an import/export business owner who has ’employees’ in a township near the Cape Town airport manufacture items in their home.
our drive from Jo’berg who was a retired, white policeman, had quite a different outlook. he stated that all blacks have horrible depth preception because their mother’s carry the babies on their backs to keep their hands free to do all the work since black men are very lazy.
then there is the hotel/restaurant which my nephew and his wife run. being in the hospitality industry they are looking for people who are interested in creating a wonderful customer experience to create repeat business and build a good reputation. this has proven difficult at times because many employees just don’t have the same sense of responsiblity and drive, definitely not the type A personalities that are needed in such industries.
like in any society there are many extremes. but here you see it in those who are enterprising and have a lot of drive and those who are taken advantage of. with the many natural resources (gold = money, diamonds, copper, etc) a few people are very, very rich while others barely survive.
we have not seen any beggars in Cape Town or Jo’berg (not like i saw in Jakarta), there are many hawkers who come up to your car at stop lights to sell newspapers, curios of all kinds, or offer services like parking assistance. i consider these people very enterprising and we’ve tried to support them.  but there are definitely ‘middle men’ who are directing many of the hawkers and street side vendors’ efforts and making a lot of money.
ZA is at one side of the pedulum at relates to equality. 80% of the people here are black, 20% are colored (asian, indian, etc) and white. so as an employer, i have to represent these same percentages for my employees. this forces employers to not always take the best employee. plus, the employment laws are weighed very much in favor of the employee. for example, Alex had video of an employee stealing from the hotel and still couldn’t fire that person, he had to go to court. Equal rights are in their infancy here and with time, hopefully, will moderate.
this is a beautiful country with visual wonders and amazingly friendly, trusting people. the B&B we stayed in Citrusdal turned out not to take credit cards (it is very costly), so the innkeeper offered to have us send a bank transfer when we returned to Cape Town. we ultimately paid in dollars but hardly could believe that we would be so trusting to let us leave and send money later. every inn we stayed at collected our name but no other information and we always paid upon departure, we could have stolen away during the night. This trust is mainly outside the major cities. you go from crime riddled to virtually no crime within a 50 km of leaving the city. in the cities it is truly is scary, robberies, muggings and rape are pervasive. security is BIG business, with everyone offering ‘armed’ response. we are staying in a gated community and that how the whites live. kids are taxied to school, they are not free to ever walk alone. even adults are told continually do not go anywhere, bike, hike without many other people with you. a real loss of freedom.
overall, our impression has been extremely positive and would recommend a trip here to anyone and everyone. we took 3 weeks and could have used about another week, but then again i’m now excited about getting home to my own pillow, our animals and friends!!
 
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Posted by on January 9, 2010 in Uncategorized

 

January 8th

Taking off from Citrusdal we drove about 60 km to Clanwilliam (notice the Scottish name, they immigrated to this area). In the late 1800 they discovered a plant with a tasty leaf – Rooibos. This the area in the world this plant grows and is harvested and distributed worldwide. They collect the leaves and lay them on large flat areas where they ferment and then they dry. Went to the factory and tasted many different flavors and products.
Driving due west we came to Lambert’s Bay, a very old fishing village. There we visited Bird Island where 10s of 1000s gannets live – just amazing to see so many birds in one place. Looking in our DK tour book we found the name and location of an open air restaurant. Following the directions the road went from paved to dirt and no houses in site, but we believed ….. in 5 min we came to Muisbosskern Open Air Restaurant around 1 PM – lots of cars in the parking lot. Walking in the main guy told us we were not too late – it was a seafood buffet with crayfish, 5 different types of grilled fish which all tasted great but no idea what they were, corn on the cob, sweet potatoes, chips (french fries), salad, fresh slabs of bread which you sliced yourself with marmelade and butter. So the feast began. As we were eating the main guy brought us each another crayfish (size of small lobster and similar in taste and texture). Vanessa and I were full and went to sample the fruit and out comes the meat much to Joe’s delite. Lamb, chickens, steak, and more. In addition, they had a vanilla custard to put with the fruit salad and some kind of honey pastry. We rolled out of there finally around 3 PM and since we came an hour late were only charged the meal without crayfish.
Our GPS directed us to a toll road for the shortest distance south, turned out to be a very well maintained gravel road following the coast and taking us to Paternoster. Paternoster is an another small fishing resort but all the building are white washed, reminded me of Greece. there we walked the beach for hours collecting seashells, dined on the beach and stay at a very nice B&B 20 sec from the beach.
Our last stop on this outing was to stay one night at Buffelfontein Private Reserve. our rooms were 1st class in a building with only 5 condos with 2 rooms each, each facing a small body of water and with thatched roofs. I know i’ve mentioned, it but they have the thatched roofs everywhere, on all kinds of buildings.
 
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Posted by on January 9, 2010 in Uncategorized