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There She Goes Again

Discovering myself, one trip at a time.

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Sep '11


Up really early and head to Sossuvlei to see the sand dunes.


The "roads" we traveled.


Sunrise at Sossusvlei

Have to wait a bit for the sun to come out from behind a cloud so we can see the gorgeous colors.


As we waited for the sun to rise above the clouds the rays coming through were beautiful.


It was worth the wait.

We seem to be a very well suited group.  All of us have Canon’s and we’re all snap happy.  We pass through a parking lot, near Dune 45, which is full of cars.

Dune 45

See all the little people climbing Dune 45?

You can only go further than that if you have a 4-wheel drive.  It’s 5km from the parking lot to Sesriem, Big Daddy and Big Momma dunes and the Dead Vlei.  I’m so glad we’re in a 4-wd.  We see people walking, I cannot imagine doing that.  It’s already hot and once you walk the 5km you still have to climb a dune and/or walk out to Dead Vlei. And then you have to walk back 5km!  They have shuttles which cost about $40 US ONE WAY.

4 Wheeling

See the "road"? That's why you need a 4-wheel drive.

Sossusvlei Green Tree

I did NOT expect to see green in the dunes of Sossuslvei.

Sossusvlei landscape

Stark and beautiful.

Regan, Annelie and I walk halfway up Big Daddy.  I don’t feel the need to continue on, especially when I see you have to go down then back up.  I thought climbing the dune would be two steps forward, one step back.  It’s not, it’s just forward, forward, forward with your feet sinking in.  Regan tells us to put our feet into footprints which are already there, the sand will be more compacted.  Speed Racer Charles is ahead of me so that works out well.  He decides to go all the way to the top, the rest of us decide to go down to Dead Vlei and wait for him.  I was concerned about going down the dune but it was actually a lot of fun.  You run down.  I was afraid I’d go face first but you’re leaning back so it’s fine.


Put one foot in front of the other...

Not quite at the top

The top is that peak way off in the distance. I'm fine stopping here.

Dead Vlei is incredible.  I already have a thing for dead trees (they’re great to photograph).  They’re all over here, in this stark, otherwordly landscape.  We leave around noon (we were here before 7:00) and it’s H O T.  There are people just arriving to climb the dune, I cannot imagine how unbearable that’s going to be.

Dead Vlei

View of Dead Vlei from the "top" of Big Daddy.

Dead Vlei

Dead Vlei

Eish 2 O

You need lots of this here.

We get back to camp and have a few hours to vegetate before we go out for a sundowner.  I try to take a nap but it’s too hot to even sleep.  Even lying on the porch/deck of my tent didn’t work.  Eventually we head out for sundown and drinking – yeah Amarula!   We head to the highest point in the area and have a great view of the sunset.  Alfred has made us a plate of snacks, one of which is homemade potato chips.  I don’t know what he’s put on them but they are incredible.


Fancy in the desert.


Amarula and a sunset

I could get used to traveling like this.  I’m already loving that there are only three of us.  There’s loads of room in the truck and when I see the larger groups all I think is how glad I’m not traveling like that.  They’re fine in some places but I think in Namibia smaller is better.  And a 4-WD is a necessity.

Sep '11

Start of Diverse Namibia tour

Finally saw Frodo the cat this morning.  He came to the window while I was showering.  He loved the mouse toy so at least that wasn’t a wasted thing to bring.

Frodo the Cat

Frodo the cat, enjoying his mouse toy

The drive to Sossuvlei on over gravel roads, I think that’s what most of the roads in Namibia are.  We stop to take some photos and when we get back into the truck (Land Cruiser) Regan announces that we have a flat.  He changes the thing quickly, obviously this is not his first flat tire.

Flat tire

First day, first flat (actually our only flat)

Namibian Road

The Long and Winding Road. That leads away from our lunch spot...

The sky is hazy.  Apparently there are wildfires in Botswana and the smoke is being blown into Namibia.  It started yesterday at about 10:00 in the morning.  That’s when I landed and explains why I have yet to see the big blue Namibian skies.

We stop in Solitaire which is such a cool little blip on the map.  It’s a “town” of five people.  I think it’s also where old mechanical things come to die.  There’s a place called Moose McGregor’s Desert Bakery which supposedly has the best apple pie in the world, we’ll see about that.  I run around taking lots of photos then go into the bakery.  First thing I see are these massive loaves of bread which smell incredible.  Moose (the name fits) tells me it’s tomato, black olive and onion bread.  I’m sold.  I also get a piece of apple pie – which is huge, it’s not a typical slice of apple pie, and a brownie.  The bread is actually hot.  Not warm, hot.  And the pie lives up to it’s reputation.  As does the bread (which we devour later in the day).


This pretty much says it all.

The man himself

Moose, the desert baker

Dead Slow

Not sure what this means but I found it entertaining so of course I took a picture.

Moose's Apple Pie

That is one massive slice of pie. And yes, I ate it all by myself.


Yummy. Had I known how good it was I'd have bought every loaf he had.

Talk about being in the middle of nowhere, that’s the address of our camp.  Middle of nowhere.  I can’t believe Regan knows his way around here.  There are no signs and everything looks pretty much the same to me.  It looks like we’re just going through fields.  Speaking of which, I didn’t expect the landscape of Namibia to look like what we’ve seen so far.  I wasn’t expecting any vegetation, or mountains and I’ve been wrong on both counts.  We come around a mountain and there’s our camp.  Kulala Adventurer Camp.  It’s six tents with bathrooms off the back of each tent.  And it’s all for us, we’re the only ones here.  Four of us (me, Annelie, Charles and our guide, Regan) and three Wilderness staff – Claudia, Moses and Alfred.  Claudia is the waitress, Alfred the chef and Moses, well I guess he’s the guy who does everything else.   Pretty amazing.  Our view is of the sand dunes and mountains.  What a combo.  Tonight we get our first intro to click language (Damara).  We learn how to say porcupine in click.  Good thing porcupines come up a lot in my vocabulary.

Our camp

Camp Sweet Camp


Overlooking our camp, sand dunes off in the distance

Tent Sweet Tent

Home Sweet Home for the next few days

Sep '11

Off to Namibia!

4:30 in the morning is early.  Who picked these crazy flight times?  Oh wait, that was me.  Quick shower, throw everything in the bag and I’m off to the airport.

Cape Town from the air

Cape Town from the air. That's Table Mountain on the left side of the photo.

The flight to Windhoek had about 25 people on it.  Arrive and as we’re driving to Windhoek – the airport is over 25 miles out of town – the landscape is unreal.  Brown as far as you can see.  And mountains.  Scrub bushes here and there.  It reminded me a lot of Kruger actually.

Check out downtown.  If you  like shopping, this is the place for you.  Lots of clothing stores and a huge mall.  The Pick and Pay could be a US grocery store.  Feels like I’m at a combo Whole Foods/Safeway.  Exciting day.

Fidel Castro Street

That's something you don't see every day, especially as an American. Fidel Castro Street.

Sep '11

Last day in Cape Town

Today was museum day, which turned out to be good since most of them were free. It’s Heritage Day, whatever that is. Took in the Bo Kaap museum followed by the Castle. The Castle is huge but they haven’t done much with it. You can walk around the walls and look at the city and Table Mountain and walk the inner yards but not much more than that. Next on the agenda was the District 6 museum. There were quite a few people there. We weren’t sure what was going on but the museum itself was fascinating so I didn’t pay much attention to anything else.

It’s really hard to believe that people were just thrown out of their homes and relocated, based solely on their skin color. They have banners, similar to the AIDS Quilt, where people have written down their memories/experiences of District 6. I heard someone playing a guitar and look down to the main floor. A man was telling the story of someone who lived in District 6 and was forced to move. The story is incredible, very moving, and the man telling it has a great voice – for both storytelling and singing. What I remember most about it was that the main character had homing pigeons. When he moved he took the birds with him and kept them confined for over a month so they would know where their new home was. Finally, one day he let them out only to have not one return. He drove by his old home in District 6 and they were all there.

District 6 Museum

Street signs from District 6. The man tasked with removing them hid them away rather than destroy them as he was ordered.

When we’re leaving we run right into a protest march. It’s people who were removed from District 6 and want some form of compensation for their losses. What was most incredible to me is that the march had police escorts. 20 years ago the police would have been beating and arresting people for doing this. How far this country has come in such a short time.

Protest March

District 6 Protest March

Sep '11

Robben Island

Boat Note

We found this written on the barf bag.

There were 4 prisons on Robben Island (although he told us this he only went into detail about 3 so I’m not sure if 4 is correct). Maximum Security was for political prisoners. Until the 90’s they were actually categorized as terrorists. Medium Security was for the worst of the worst, the murderers, robbers, rapists. You know – people you’d only want in a medium security prison.

Maximum security prisoners did hard labor. Harvesting kelp from the frigid, rock-laden ocean and working in the lime quarry. I’m sure they had other awful jobs for them but those were the two he talked about. Medium security prisoners worked in the village (because they’re such safe guys), doing construction and other tasks. The first year the prison was in operation they had both black and white wardens. The white wardens were given guns, the black wardens had only batons. Also, the black wardens got summer uniforms in the winter and winter uniforms in the summer. They only had black wardens the first year, they felt they were becoming sympathetic to the prisoners so they went to all white wardens.

The medium security prisoners were used by the wardens to torture and harass the maximum security prisoners. I keep wanting to say “black” prisoners but there were more than blacks there, there were colored people as well. But only men. There were white “terrorists” and even women terrorists but they weren’t kept on Robben Island.

The wardens made one man dig a deep hole. They then had him stand in the hole and filled it in so only his head was sticking out. This was in the peak of summer. When they asked him if he was thirsty and he replied “Yes” they had the medium security prisoners urinate on him. They also kicked him so much they put out one of his eyes and shattered his jaw.

Our guide inside the prison was Jama, he was an inmate from 77-82. In the prison itself you were either housed in a one-man cell (if you were someone they wanted to keep away from others because you had influence) or you were in a room with up to 30 other prisoners. All they gave you was a mat and you slept on the floor. The group cells had a bathroom with two toilets and you were allowed to shower as often as you liked. The showers used seawater, that must have felt wonderful.

Robben Island Prison

The Prison

Group Cell

A group cell on Robben Island

Mandela's cell

Mandela's Cell on Robben Island

The lime quarry eventually came to be referred to as the University of Robben Island. Mandela explained to/convinced his fellow prisoners that the guards weren’t inherently bad, they were just uneducated. He and other prisoners began talking to the guards and eventually won many of them over. The guards would smuggle in pens, pencils and paper for the prisoners. How this man spent so many years locked away and didn’t become bitter and full of hatred is incredible.

Lime Quarry

The lime quarry at Robben Island.

Once we returned to the city I wandered about a bit before heading over to check out the flower market.

Bead Elephant

This massive elephant is made entirely of beads (and wire, of course).

Table Mountain with the Lego Man

A Lego Man, hanging out on the V&A Waterfront

Legoman Coke factoid

The Legoman is, in fact, not made of legos.

Long way from home

I am, officially, a long way from home.

Wow, I really need to go check out the flower market in San Francisco.  This one is only one block long and the flowers they have are amazing.  The protea’s are gorgeous and come in so many different colors.  I’d never seen a protea, or known what one was, before this trip.


Protea's are gorgeous flowers

I hadn’t had enough of flowers yet so I strolled through the Company Gardens.  Yet another gorgeous place.  As I walked in a security guard was feeding two squirrels.  They’d actually run up his legs looking for food.  When I stood near him one crawled up me.  I wasn’t quick enough to get a good photo – actually the squirrel was way too fast no matter how quick I’d been.

Squirrel Man

He's fed the squirrels so much they run up and down him for food.


They even checked to see if I had anything for them.


These are some tame squirrels

Table Mountain Tablecloth

This reminds me of home.

Sep '11

Jenman tour ends

At first I couldn’t remember what I did today.  Then I looked at my photos and though “how the hell did you forget that?”  We hiked up the Gorge to the top of Table Mountain this morning.  Started out and the sky was clear and blue.  Halfway up the clouds started coming in.  We all keep going and good lord was it tough.  Steep up the entire way.  And big rock steps most of the way.  Holy shit.  Get to the top, check my phone (not sure why I did) and Todd had called to say “The cable car is closed because of wind, you’re going to have to hike down.”  Oh shit.  Down was actually easier than up although I wouldn’t rush to do it again.  By the time we got to the bottom the sky was clear again.  The cable car never did run though, the wind didn’t let up.


Path? What path?

Cape Town view

View of Cape Town. I'm about halfway up the Gorge.

Table Mountain hike

Great, rocks.

Table Mountain

The end is in sight! And it's sunny!

Happy hiker

It looks like I'm having fun, right?

Top of Table Mountain

I made it!

After the “short” hike I gathered my things and moved to my new home, La Rose in the Bo Kaap.  It’s amazing.

La Rose

My new home

Home Sweet Home

My room is the top window.

Slip and Slide

A Bo Kaap slip-n-slide. I am pretty sure this is not normally here.

Bo Kaap

Houses of the Bo Kaap. All the crazy colors work here.

Wandered around Cape Town some more.  This has to be one of the more bizarre things I’ve seen.

African Art

What the heck?

Bike route

No cars, just bikes here please.

Sep '11

Cape Town tour [This entry rated PG-13]

Holy cow, what a jam packed day.  I’m going to describe it in pictures.

Touching Table Mountain

Without my help, Table Mountain would obviously float away.

In Simon’s Town we stop in Jubilee Square so we can see the statue of Able Seaman Just Nuisance, a Great Dane. During WWII this dog was the much-loved mascot of British sailors based here. He was actually enrolled in the Royal Navy and given a title (Able Seaman). When he died he was given a full military funeral which was attended by 200 members of the British Royal Navy. And people think I’m crazy about cats.

Able Seaman

Able Seaman Just Nuisance, a canine member of the Royal Navy

Please don't feed the vagrants

We need these signs in San Francisco.

Boulders Beach penguins

I want a penguin.


This guy has something to say and is going to make sure you listen.


What are you looking at?

Monkey hiker

Do they carry backpacks too?

Along the way we come across two baboons on the side of the road. I’m not sure what the one was doing to the other (looked like regular grooming, there was no crotchall activity) but the one lying on the ground, who was quite obviously a male, was enjoying it. Boing, boing, boing. Should have shot video.

Roadside Baboon

Not sure what was going on here but someone was enjoying themselves.

Cape Point

Proof that I've been there.

Cape Point

At the South-Western end of the world. Well, sort of.

Continue on to Cape Point where we all hike up the massive hill to the lighthouse.  On our way to the we see more baboons and baby ostriches (with their parents, of course – they’re much too young to be out gallivanting on their own).

Chacma baboon and baby

Now I want a baby baboon.

Chacma baboon

Not a bad place to spend your afternoon.

Baby Ostrich

One of these as well, please. Too bad they lose the spots when they grow up.

Get to the Cape of Good Hope for the obligatory photo op

Cape Hope

And now proof that I've been to the Cape of Good Hope

then continue driving up the coast and on to Chapman’s Peak Drive.  It’s a toll road, the weather really gives it a beating and it takes a lot to maintain it so that makes sense.  They even charge cyclists – 20 Rand.  We see quite a few cyclists riding it.  Makes me miss my bike but I’m not sure I’d want to ride this road.  It’s a massive sheer drop down to the ocean.  None of my photos do it justice so you’ll just have to imagine what it looks like.

Back in the city the entertaining landscape continues.

Unfinished freeway

This freeway is missing about a two block section. They never bothered to finish it.


I've seen a lot of stop signs but never one like this.


Don't think I'll be going here for a haircut.


Truth in advertising

Movie theatre

They show art films, obviously.

Sep '11

Cape Town

An early start, we’re driving almost 500km today and will arrive in Cape Town by the time the day is over.  Woohoo!  First stop, Ronnie’s Sex Shop.

Ronnies Sex Shop

Just what you expect to see in the middle of nowhere.

It’s actually a little coffee shop with a bar where people have left just about everything – bra’s, hats, shirts, you name it it’s hanging from the ceiling.  And the walls are covered in writing.  They repaint the walls by the bathrooms once a year but the rest of the walls stay the way they are.  Story is that years ago Ronnie and his friends were drinking (isn’t that how these stories always start?) and at the end of the night his friends thought it would be funny to modify the sign.  It’s said Ronnies on one line and Shop below that.  They added Sex after Ronnies and Ronnie’s Sex Shop was born.  Business increased immediately so they’ve let it stay Ronnie’s Sex Shop.

As we were driving Todd suddenly pulls off the road.  There are so many wildflowers everywhere that even he is amazed.  Hard to believe it’s only like this for the month of September.  I timed this trip right although I could stand for it to be a wee bit warmer.  I’ve been wearing my sweater every single day.  Hope I remember this when I’m sweltering in Botswana.


Wildflowers as far as the eye can see.

Continue driving and I can’t believe how gorgeous this part of the country is.  It rivals New Zealand and I never thought I’d see anything that did that.  There are mountains EVERYWHERE.  The Cedarberg are gorgeous.

We stop in Stellenbosch for  a wine tasting, which of course I care nothing about.  However this winery also makes cheese and they have a cheese tasting as well.  Six or seven different kinds, two goat cheeses and the rest were feta.  They have a cranberry feta which tastes more like a dessert than a cheese.  Y U M.

As we get close to Cape Town we start seeing massive shanty towns.  They’re not just a problem in South Africa, they’re all over Africa period.  Anywhere there’s a city to work in poor people come.  They can’t afford housing so they find some metal and build a makeshift home.


Township outside Cape Town. Notice all the wires coming off the power grid, all bootleg.

More Townships

The Townships seem to go on for miles.

New Township Housing

They're trying to relocate people to these types of homes but as soon as they move someone out of the shanty into this someone else moves into the shanty. Vicious circle.

Human Settlements

This seems very District 9.

If the Government tried to raze the townships they’d have riots so they try to build decent housing for people who can maintain it but right behind them is someone else to live in the shanty.  I don’t know how in the world you stop/change this.  I think it happens so quickly here that they can’t get ahead of it.  And as long as the people living in the shanty’s have even the most sporadic work people are going to keep coming.  A huge percentage of them are illegal immigrants.  And the US thinks it has an illegal immigrant problem.

Lis and I take a stroll down Long Street and this is my first Cape Town experience.

Pseudo Tyler

My welcoming committee

We run into Jim and Carol and decide to eat at Long Street Café, where I have a Long Island and nacho’s.  The food takes so long to arrive (is that why they call it Long Street?) that my buzz is completely gone.

Sep '11

Headed for Kleinplaas

On the road again…  We leave Storms River and shortly thereafter turn off the main road.  I’m wondering where in the world we’re going when I see signs for bungy jumping.  From the highest bridge in the world.   Well the highest bridge that you can bungy off of, probably not the highest  bridge in the entire world although it could be.  I’m not bungying, I’ve been there done that and don’t need to spend the money.  Lis, Marco and Christian, all go and love it, of course.

After the leap of faith we drive and drive and drive until we arrive in Oudtshoorn where we go to the Cango Caves.  I didn’t take my camera thinking “I’ve seen caves before.”  Mistake.  Glad Lis took hers.  This place is enormous!  I have to say though, it was nice just walking around and being in the moment instead of snap, snap, snapping away.  Not nice enough that I’m going to stop carrying a camera, of course.

One more stop before we settle in for the night, this one at an Ostrich Farm.  Ostrich’s eat lots and lots of rocks.  They’ve found just about everything in an ostrich’s stomach.  Wood, metal, lipstick tube, bottle caps, you name it they’ve probably found it.  Those birds are dumb.  And their design is defective.  Their digestive system is so bad they have to eat the rocks to process their food.  What the hell?  Who came up with that?

Ostrich kiss

Jim getting some lovin'.

Ostrich feet

How long until some crazy person makes shoes that look like this? Who's the guy who did the lobster shoes? Here's a new idea for him.

Ostrich whiz

I'm only sharing this with you because ostrich's have the weirdest butts EVER. They unfold, or something bizarre like that.

We learn that dark ostrich’s are male and the lighter ones are female.  Also, if you’re buying ostrich make sure you can stick your fingernail underneath the little ridges.  That’s where the feather was and there should be a break in the skin since they’d have pulled the feather out.  If not, it’s  not real ostrich.  It takes months for ostrich skin to go through all the processes before it can be used as material. And it’s the second most durable skin in the world.  First is the Kangaroo, third is crocodile.

Ostrich’s can live 60-70 years which makes what we heard next horrible.  Ostrich meat has to be processed before the ostrich is one year old.  Otherwise it gets too tough.  So no ostrich destined for a plate makes it past one year.

Standing on ostrich eggs

Ostrich eggs are incredibly durable. I'm standing on them and I'm not petite flower.

Oudtshoorn’s primary industry these days is ostrich farming.  They have a hell of a time with bird flu though.  Infected birds migrate down from Europe, leave infected poop and stupid ostrich’s eat it, get infected and have to be killed.  They just had to kill 50,000 of them and since they’re infected they can’t be used for anything, they’re all burned.  Bad European birds.

Other nifty ostrich facts:

  • They have 17 vertebrae in their  necks which means they can turn their head around 360 degrees.
  • They have no vocal cords so can’t really make any noise.  The males sometimes make a sound which comes from their stomach but that’s it.  Well aside from the snap their beak makes when they eat something.

Frances rode an ostrich, she was the only one under 75kg which is the weight limit.  You hold on to their wings.  Bizarre.  Lis and I got ostrich massages.  That means we held a bucket of food, backed up to a fence and a bunch of ostriches came around our heads from both sides to get at the food.  It’s hard to keep your eyes open when there are lots of ostriches reaching around you.  I’d rather have gotten a hug but what’re you going to do.

Ostrich massage

So that's how you get an ostrich massage.

Lis Ostrich Massage

Lis getting her ostrich massage. Look at the guy on the left. How can he swallow with that much food in his mouth?

Finally arrive at Kleinplaas, our home for the night.  It’s like a little apartment complex.  They certainly do have unique “hotels” here.  Ate at a great restaurant which I don’t remember the name of.  Need to google that next time I have internet access.  I had a starter of Camembert cheese which was big enough to be an entrée.  And there was a salad on the side.  Remembered once I took a bite that I don’t like Camembert.   Ate most of it anyway.  I need to  learn to use my utensils like everyone else in the world does.  They look so much classier than we do.  Although I think holding a fork upside down is just plan stupid.  Maybe I’ll start practicing.  Why is the US so behind the eight ball on that and the metric system?  Are we just trying to say “we’re the US, we don’t have to do what the rest of you do?”  We’re apparently the only country left in the WORLD who isn’t on the metric system.

Sep '11

Tsitsikamma Waterfall

Did an “easy” (at least that’s what we were told) hike to a waterfall.   If you consider rock scrambling and thinking you’re going to fall to your death easy then this is the walk for you.  Not sure if I’m glad I did it but I’d have been pissed if I hadn’t because, you know, I can do everything.  Let it never be said that I’m not stupid when it comes to personal safety.  Since it was “flat” I wore my Keen sandals instead of hiking boots.  Dumb move.  Oh well, I made it back alive.

Easy walk

When I heard easy walk this was what I expected.

Easy walk

Does this look like an easy walk to you?

More rocks

Or this?

At the waterfall

I made it!

Waterfall waves

Just across from the waterfall you have pounding ocean waves.

Once we returned I took another long walk, this one actually flat, to the restaurant where there’s wifi available.  I found a friend on the way.

Mr. Grasshopper

He is one massive grasshopper. And photogenic as well.

I was able to downloaded mail and tried to upload pix for this blog with limited success.  Most importantly however, I downloaded the Codex for VIDX so I can watch Big Bang Theory episodes (thanks, you know who you are).   I thought TRX’ing by the Indian Ocean would be cool so I hiked over to where the camping people are staying and hooked the TRX up to the truck.  The pix would be AMAZING, had I switched the camera from manual to auto focus.  As I was walking back to my place I stopped to take pictures of the roiling, angry sea.  Turns out it was really angry because shortly after I got home it started raining.

I had purchased a bottle of Amarula and I started watching Big Bang Theory and imbibing.  YUMMY.  Finished the bottle (only three glasses worth) and wasn’t feeling anything, until I stood up.

Shortly before 7:00 there was a knock on my door.  Opened it to find a soggy Todd saying they had an emergency, needed to put everyone indoors, the wind and rain are too much for the tents.  So now Lis is staying with me.  We watched even more Big Bang Theory and then went to bed, because we’re wild women.