Friday, June 11, 2010

Day 18: Coming Home is still an adventure!

Ok, so it's always an interesting start when there is a 'day 18' to a 17-day trip.  That's the result of mystery electrical issues on a plane, I suppose.

We didn't make our connector in London yesterday.  We were told to be at the gate for boarding at noon, so we rushed through the meal Emirates provided and headed to the gate. We arrived just a few minutes before noon, preparing to rush.  Then we sat and waited.  And waited.  And waited.  Finally, we were allowed on our new plane.  And we waited.  Our pilot came on and announced that this just wasn't our day.  Two passengers hadn't returned to the plane, so the crew had to remove the four pieces of baggage associated with these people.  The crew could only find three bags, but they would continue looking.  The delay wore on, and after a while, the pilot announced that the crew were going to have to remove all of the luggage from the plane in order to find the fourth piece.  Luckily(?) the two passengers showed up right then.  They were allowed on the plane, and we finally took off.

When I asked, the flight attendant explained that the pilot could not radio ahead and ask to delay our connector in Heathrow.  However, she indicated that the pilot expected to be able to make up some time during the flight, and get us there faster than the projected 5h40m.  When she came around a moment later with beverages, I asked for some wine.  I'm not proud of what I did next: I asked for a second one right away!

About 5 hours and 40 minutes after take-off, we touched down in London.  We walked off the plane at 6:08.  Our flight had been scheduled to leave at 6:00.  We didn't know it at the time, but every Air Canada flight from London to Toronto yesterday afternoon was late.  Every flight, that is, except for ours.  We had been re-booked for a flight to Toronto the following morning.

In fairness, Emirates really stepped up.  In addition to arranging alternate flights (which really was the least they could do, seeing as they caused our delay), they put us up in a hotel, paid for a shuttle, and gave us food vouchers for dinner and breakfast. It was an airport hotel, half an hour or more from central London - and no-one near anything else of interest, and we were thoroughly worn out, but it was a shower, bed, and food.

I'm sure that plenty of people were experiencing mini-catastrophes that day, but two hit home for me:

The man in front of us in line to speak to the Emirates representative (the representative who eventually told us that we had been booked into a hotel for the night) was told that he missed his flight to the US.  Because his flight was booked separately from the Emirates flight, Emirates had booked him on to a subsequent flight, but would not put him up in a hotel.  We sat listening and wondered whether the fact that we were changing airlines spelled the same doom for us.  Was our trip about to add the new adventure of spending the night in the airport?

Then there was Mohammed.  I had briefly spoken to Mohammed during the delay in Dubai.  He was trying to get to his brother's wedding in Las Vegas - scheduled for Friday morning.  A rather significant concern was the fact that Mohammed had the wedding ring.  When we saw him in London, we knew he wasn't going to see his brother get married.  Mohammed's brother would have to marry his wife without a wedding ring.  We invited Mohammed to dinner with us, and he told us all about where he lived in Dubai (I'm thinking that would be a fun place to live for a little while), where he grew up in the US, and about his wife, whose best friend was a teacher from the US.  Mohammed assured Shaun that if she wanted a teaching job in Dubai, she would instantly have one.  Mohammed also gave a rather comic account of what it's like to go through American customs when you're Pakistani by birth, and have the name Mohammed Ali Khan - all three names are on the 'watched' list (or 'red binder' as Mohammed explained).  It was funny the way he said it, but awful at the same time.  The luck of light skin was being made very obvious as we compared experiences passing through customs...

Conversation flowed, the evening wore on, and exhaustion set in.  Eventually we went up to our respective rooms and prepared for the early wake-up.  All in all, it wasn't a bad evening in London.

Today, I'm happy to say, was uneventful.  A smooth flight home, Holly waiting for Jessica, and Shaun's mum waiting for us.  I wasn't looking forward to leaving that slice of paradise, but we're back in Toronto, and I don't really mind.

The post race let-down, however, is back.  What do I do now...?

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Day 17: In Transit - MISSING A FLIGHT??

I started writing this before we boarded the flight from Dubai to Cape Town, and this is what I wrote:

I haven’t slept or showered since yesterday morning, and now it’s…………..6:30 am local time. It’s 4:30 am South Africa time, and 10:30 last night back home. I’m not sure which time should matter to me at the moment…. Surprisingly, I feel pretty good.

Things have changed a bit.  It's now 10:42 local time in Dubai, and we are back off the plane.  After 2 hours of waiting in the plane while they tried to fix an electrical issue (and don't get me wrong - I want them to take all the time they need!), the 'solution' is they are prepping a new plane and working on teh old one.  Whichever is ready first will be our place back to London.  Whether or not we catch the flight from London to Toronto for this evening......well, the airline projected a departure of noon, but another passenger told me that one of the staff told him that 1pm was optimistic.  If we leave at noon, we should catch the transfer.  Otherwise.....? 

Cheryl and Ron, if you're reading this, we'll keep you posted about an airport pick-up in Toronto.

On the bright side, I just got a folder back that I left on the original plane from Cape Town.  It has my Comrades bib number in it, so I'm very happy to have that back.

Day 16: The Last Day in Cape Town...Until Next Time!

We had tentatively planned to leave the apartment at 8:15 this morning. Or, at least, I was told that’s when ‘we’ wanted to leave. I later discovered that the actual plan was to leave at 8:30, but Shaun and Jessica were sick of my laissez-faire attitude on vacation. 8:15…8:30…it’s all the same! ;) So, we were on time this morning as we headed out to the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront.

The V&A Waterfront is part of a massive redevelopment of Cape Town’s (you guessed it) waterfront and harbour area. To be honest, the rest of the harbour area isn’t so hot, but the V&A section is really picturesque

and the harbour even boasts a resident Cape Seal population!

We wandered through another market, and made our way to the Two Oceans Aquarium. What an incredible aquarium!!

A tank of Nemo fish!

A massive eel:

Young sharks:

All kinds of other cool things:

including a blind, tongue-less toad!  Ok, this needs a little more context. A poor toad was run over by a car. Somebody found the injured toad, and it was nursed back to health – sort of – at the aquarium. The toad can’t be released back into the wild, because it’s blind in one eye, nearly blind in the other, and missing its tongue. Amazingly, though, it’s a fat, healthy-looking toad (to my eyes, anyway). It shares a tank with another toad who isn’t blind but has very poor aim with her tongue. I’m guessing the crickets that go in that tank as toad food figure they have the best of a bad situation….

Continuing along – the biggest crabs I have ever seen!


Finally, my personal favourite:

After the aquarium, we slowly made our way back to the hotel to prepare for our departure. Amier, our taxi driver from day one, came to pick us up as we repeated the first day in Cape Town, but in reverse.

All told, we spent roughly four days in Cape Town, and three of them had beautiful sunshine and cloudless skies (for part of the day). Not bad, based on the local appraisal of the weather! We also spent fourteen days in South Africa without getting mugged, threatened, attacked by rabid animals (the key risk my travel doctor warned me of) or raped (the key concern of Shaun’s travel doctor).

As I leave South Africa, there are a number of things that still don’t make sense to me:

1. Many bathrooms, including showers guest houses, provide bars of soap. Not liquid, single-serving soap, but shared bars of soap.

2. Many bathrooms have cloth towels to dry your hands. No paper. No air dryer.

3. South African highways have frequent ‘picnic’ areas along the highway. Sometimes these are no more scenic than a bridge underpass…

4. South African highway speeds are not consistent. Sometimes the left lane (the slow lane when driving on the left) has a faster speed limit than the right.

5. The main highways have signs warning drivers to yield to pedestrians crossing ahead. The speed limit is 120kph!

6. ‘Children crossing’ zones have a reduced speed limit – 90kph. These are school zones!

7. Posted recommendations suggest reducing fuel consumption by driving at 100kph, but the speed limit is still 120.

8. Highway ‘accident zones’ are posted – including ‘high accident zones’ …..where they really want you to have a collision...?

9. Highways suddenly change direction at an intersection. Sometimes these changes are not posted, even though the original road continues straight.

10. Rangers, tour guides, etc become ‘friends for the day’ and spend all time with their clients, including meal times (when their North American counterparts would give them time to themselves…)

Maybe I'll be able to solve these conundrums next time I'm here? :)

One last amusement for any healthcare-working friends...for that matter, anyone in Toronto who is reading this.  I saw this sign as we went through the Cape Town airport on our way out:

I guess their approach to SARS is just a little different than ours... :)

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Day 15: A Table and a Prison

Oh, Cape Town and its crazy weather!! Woke up this morning to reasonably bright skies (by Cape Town standards); maybe we could get up to the top of Table Mountain today? :) As we left our apartment to head downstairs, though, it was raining HARD. Depressing! We picked up the car from the parking garage, and…the rain had stopped. How do people live like this? ;)

The first ferry to Robben Island (home of Mandela’s prison) wasn’t until 11am, so we spent the first part of the morning poking around Green Market Square – a large outdoor market featuring ‘classic’ African goods (carved masks, beadwork, and the ‘original’ African sandal, made out of old car tire…). I was very tempted by a cool looking game involving seeds and a board of ebony wood; the instructions indicated that the purpose of the game was “to pass the time” and “make people happy”.

We barely made it to the 11am ferry (I think we boarded at 11:02…) and so we headed on the rough seas to Robben Island. That island is farther out than I expected, and although it is in Table Bay, the water doesn’t seem much calmer than out in the ‘real’ ocean.
I’ve never been to Alcatraz, so I have no comparison, but I can’t think that anyone would have had much chance of escaping from Robben Island. I think the South African government agreed, as the prison itself didn’t look particularly forbidding – not really what you would expect to house their most ‘dangerous’ criminals.

Upon arrival, we all boarded buses for a tour of the Island: Robert Soubhoukwe’s solitary prison house (one of the first revolutionaries, before Mandela), the houses of the prison guards, and a quick stop for what was billed as the most beautiful view of Cape Town, which was pretty spectacular!
Our guide made an effort to discuss the way the countries of all the tourists on the bus impacted the history of Robben Island – either as a political prison or before. He was pretty flattering toward Canada, citing the largest anti-apartheid marches in the world (outside of South Africa) in Vancouver. He was less flattering about the loud and annoying Aussies who were on the bus with us. He cited their country’s impact as the importation of Eucaplyptus trees which devastated the island environment….

Seeing the political prison, and Mandela’s cell in particular, was moving. We also saw enlarged versions of actual prisoner ID cards – they had to carry these with them at all times.

Our guide in the prison itself was a former political prisoner at Robben Island, and he spoke candidly about his experiences in the prison. I suspect that he was less candid about what brought him to Robben Island. He was a part of the military wing of a banned political party. He claimed that his role was to guide fighters smuggled in from Botswana(?) to caches of weapons in South Africa. Personally, sounds to me like “I worked in a strip club as a coat-check girl”, but I didn’t challenge him on his claim.

Even before it was a prison island, Robben Island was used to isolate other populations...

We got back to the mainland with a view of the top of Table Mountain, which we’ve learned is a rare site in Cape Town (especially in winter!), so we raced across the city in a cab to the cable car – it was open!!

The cable car ride is….interesting….even for someone who doesn’t have any issues with heights. Toward the latter stages of the trip up, it felt like we were moving nearly vertical, and I really got a sense of just how high the top of Table Mountain is (1000+ metres). The views from the cable car and the top, though, made any small coronary episodes on the trip up worth it! The views of the city, the harbour, and the surrounding mountains and ocean are phenomenal! Absolutely beautiful!!
There are also numerous Dassies scampering around the top of the mountain. Dassies look rather like short, groundhogs, or large guinea pigs. Their nearest relative in the animal world is the elephant?!?

Wandering around the top of Table Mountain gives more breathtaking views no matter where you turn.

Then we were forced inside by the cold and rain. Surprisingly, the café at the top doesn’t offer the best views, but it didn’t really matter, all the windows were fogged up anyway.

Jessica was frozen from the cold winds at the top, so she jumped in a cab back to the hotel. Shaun and I decided to brave a walk back to the hotel. The views of the mountain made it worth it, but the endless fumes from passing cars detracted from the experience (I don’t know what is different about their car fuel, but the exhaust reeks!).

Henry and Shamiel, the super friendly concierges at our hotel, recommended Africa Café for dinner. We ate in the Zulu room, and were served a communal feast (only communal among the three of us). Sadly, I didn’t feel eating with my hands was really suitable, as the dishes included rice and couscous, without anything like injerba or naan to scoop it up. Jessica is braver than me or Shaun; she didn’t touch her fork until dessert!

As we were preparing to leave, six or seven of the staff (cooks, servers, hosts) paraded into the room singing traditional African songs, dancing, and keeping the beat on a hand-held drum. What a perfect way to end the evening!! :)

Monday, June 7, 2010

Day 14: Tour of the Cape

Apologies. For some reason, photos won’t upload to the blog today, so this will all just be text. Hope it isn’t too boring… :)

Our tour guide met us in the lobby of the hotel this morning, and then walked us out to his… Uhhh……..? Much later in the day, our guide explained that if he is taking four or more people, he takes a bus, but three or fewer, he brings his car. The three of us were his only clients today. At least we got the new (since December) vehicle. Before that, he had a “tiny Fiat”. Still, we had booked, and he showed up, so we got in and started the tour.

Bobby, our tour guide, seemed a touch different right off the bat, but I couldn’t place what it was until he mentioned that he isn’t originally from Cape Town. He hails from...................................Chicago. Chicago?!?! How did we get the only travel guide in Cape Town who is from Chicago? Amusingly, he refers to himself as an “Afro-American”.

To be clear, Bobby was a very friendly man who had led a very interesting life. He has travelled a lot, and lived all over Cape Town. He pointed out several of the places he lived, and often explained the circumstances around it – with whom he lived, the years, whether he was house-sitting for a friend or whatever, and whether he was overdue to visit that friend – all those details you don’t really need to know about a tour guide… He was very knowledgeable about the area, and gave us a unique tour. It just felt a bit like he was trying to be our uncle, or friend…(His clumsy attempt at setting up dinner plans with us later in the tour didn't help shake that feeling...)

The tour started with a trip to Table Mountain. Sadly, the funicular was closed today due to wind and rain – the usual Cape Town weather, as we were told. :( Fingers crossed that tomorrow or Thursday dawn clear! With a little extra time on our side, we drove through Camps Bay and Clifton neighbourhoods, and made our way to Hout harbor for a seal cruise. Before the cruise, we saw the fattest seal ever! Sitting on the concrete, being fed raw fish from the mouths of a couple of dockhands…One suggested that I climb on for a photo, but the thing looked kind of sad and gross, so I declined.

The seal cruise was fun! I have lots of photos I’d love to share…..let’s see if I can describe them. LOTS of seals flopping around in the water. The stench of kelp in the air. Rough seas, and at several points it looked like our boat was going to collide with the rocks… It was also a nice break from Bobby, who was still pretty awkward.

Back on dry land, we continued through Scarborough (much nicer than the GTA version), and into one of the informal settlements for a quick township tour. Bobby had previously worked in the townships, so had some understanding of how they work, and this impromptu excursion provided an interesting look into the life in those areas. Bobby also explained there are two main causes of the townships:

1. 500 new people come into Cape Town every week looking for accommodations, and the affordable housing market can’t possibly keep pace with that;

2. Rent for a basic flat in Cape Town in R3500 per month. Minimum wage is R1400 per month. Lots of black Africans are working jobs that pay closer to R800 – R1000 per month, and these are the ones who can find work! (Official unemployment in the townships is 25%, but Bobby suggested that the real number could be as high as 50% without counting the people who have stopped looking for work.)

Getting this street-level view of how life is for so many people really highlights just how well we have it in Canada. Jessica put it well the other night when she remarked that she’s heard people refer to places like Canada as lands of opportunity, and she’s never been sure how to react, as we do have to work hard to accomplish what we do. It’s simply not the same, though, as township-style living just isn’t a reality for the poor in our cities. In the brief time that I’ve been here, I’ve grown so accustomed to it that it no longer shocks me. Not sure how I feel about that….

Finally, we arrived at Table Mountain National Park. BEAUTIFUL!! (A nice thing to follow the township experience.) Not much fauna left in the national park there (though we came across a troop of baboons at the entrance), but the place is renowned for its flora. Apparently, there are 1500 plant species in that little peninsula; equivalent to all the species of plants in the UK! The views from the lighthouse at Cape Point are spectacular (once again, I wish I could post some….perhaps I’ll try updating the blog with photos tomorrow…?). Aside from the stench of kelp in the air, the Cape of Good Hope is fun. True tourists, we got our photo taken in front of the most photographed sign in South Africa (“Cape of Good Hope: The most south-western point in Africa”).

Near Simon’s Town, we stopped at Boulder Beach to see the penguins!! They are very inquisitive birds, and I found that they came right up to me….when I had the gate of a fence and my camera as bait. By this time, it was raining a fair bit, so we didn’t stay long. Besides, Bobby wanted to show us more places where he had lived, or nearly lived, or currently lives….

After five generous tastes of wine (Jessica was sleepy, Shaun was in a very chatty mood), we piled back into the car for our trip back to the hotel. Maybe it was the wine, maybe it was the promise of the end of the tour; either way, I was legitimately liking Bobby by this time so we chatted away a fair bit as Jessica dozed in the back seat.

Bobby added one more impromptu excursion to our tour before dropping us off at our hotel. To put it in context, allow me to relate a conversation from earlier in the day when we were talking about the different neighbourhoods around Cape Town.

Jessica: Is there a Gay community in Cape Town?
Bobby: What?!
Jessica: Is there a Gay community in Cape Town?
Bobby: Why? Oh, sorry, too personal…

So, Bobby drove us through the closest thing Cape Town has to a Gay ‘quarter’. He pointed out the raciest bars, and told us about the time he went to one with his girlfriend. “Thankfully” she was there to “protect” him, as – the way Bobby tells it – he is a magnet for men. Just imagine what might have happened if his girlfriend hadn’t been there….he might have been hit on! ;) Fact is, homosexuality clearly isn’t as accepted here as in, say, Toronto. Back in Kariega, Ranger made the comment that animals couple up ‘a man and a woman, the way it is supposed to be’ (thanks, Glen, for teaching me about bonobos to know that isn’t true…). Today, Bobby told us that “apparently 10% of men in Cape Town are gay…though I can’t understand why they are with so many women around!”

I think I’ll leave you with that. :) Have a wonderful evening!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Day 13 The Final Destination ;)

For the first time, this trip felt like a road trip today. We left De Opstal Country Lodge in Oudtshoorn shortly after 10 this morning, and we finally arrived at our hotel in Cape Town at 7:30 this evening. Tiring!

A day at De Opstal wouldn’t be complete without something that makes you scratch your head (see our host’s details about Swartberg yesterday…), and so it was this morning as we checked out. Yesterday, one of the staff suggested that we put any laundry in the bathroom tub, and it would be washed while we were out – free of charge. Today, as we walked to the car for the final time, Madelein, our host, ran out of her office as she had forgotten to charge us for the laundry. Now, the laundry bill was R100, which is roughly equivalent to $15 Canadian, so we didn’t challenge it. After all, the final bill (including laundry) for the three of us, including breakfast both days, dinner one day (including a bottle of wine), a picnic lunch yesterday, snacks for the road today, a bottle of wine when we arrived, and accommodations was around $400. Nevertheless, it was a little absurd.

The next several hours were filled with an awe-inspiring, beautiful, unchanging drive through desert mountains…

Problem is that even those get boring after a while when there are no baboons to liven up the trip. To be fair, the drive wasn’t entirely unchanging. Roughly two hours away from Oudtshoorn, and hours more away from anything else, we came upon:

World famous? Who knew?!!

Then it was a very long drive to Cape Agulhas – the most southern tip of Africa!

It was crazy windy!! Who would have thought that the ocean could produce so much wind?!? ;) Ok, maybe all the sailors whose ships have been lost off the Cape knew that – more ships lost there than anywhere else on the coast of Africa. Probably right up there with the southern tip of South America for most ships lost anywhere in the world…

In its inhospitable and rugged way, it was very beautiful!

As far as we know, this ship was not lost off the Cape….yet….

The town of Agulhas is a rather isolated but friendly community. They were very friendly at the grocery store as we purchased most of their decent produce….they probably don’t eat that stuff anyway. I was reminded again why restaurants are so inexpensive here – good food is cheap! :) I’ve decided I want a job where I continue to be paid in Canadian dollars (and at Canadian wages) but I get to live and spend in South Africa. That would work out well, I think….

Nothing else particularly exciting as we made our way to Cape Town – our final destination city for this trip. I will be sad to leave this beautiful country…unless something happens in the next few days to help South Africa live up to its reputation. Let’s hope that it doesn’t!

We may not be the only ones staying here, but we have once again found a fantastic place to stay in Cape Town – the Harbouredge Apartments. Our concierge, Henry, is exceptionally nice and friendly, and the suite itself is great! For those who know, similar to Minto Suites in Ottawa….only nicer!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Day 12: Ostriches and Cango Caves

It gets a whole lot colder up here in the mountains that down at the Indian Ocean. The walk to breakfast this morning was chilly, and we all huddled up by the fire in the breakfast room while drinking hot tea and coffee to warm up. The sun brings heat, though, so it was already t-shirt weather by the time we got to the Cango Ostrich Farm.

The Cango Ostrich Farm is a working ostrich farm in rural Oudtshoorn that has also opened its doors to tourism. As such, it’s kind of what you would expect of a tourism-oriented working farm in rural Ontario; interesting, but pretty sketchy and unpolished at the same time. Happily, ostriches have bigger eyes than brains (Literally! Each eye weighs 60g, whereas the brain only weighs 30g.), so it doesn’t take much to make them amusing.

Couple interesting tidbits about ostriches:

- The female sits on the nest during the day, and the male does at night. The female’s grey feathers blend into the daytime desert landscape, and the male’s black feathers blend into the night.

- One ostrich egg is equivalent to 24 chicken eggs.

- At the turn of the twentieth century, a handful of long, white ostrich feathers was worth a large house on with property, so ostrich farmers in South Africa got rich in a hurry. The collapse of the ostrich market was due to, among other things, the rise of cars. Women stopped wearing ostrich feather hats because they couldn’t fit in cars with roofs, and the feathers would get blown around in the wind in cars without tops.

- Ostrich meat comes entirely from the rump of the animal. There is no breast meat, as the breast muscle develops for flapping wings.

- Ostriches feel as strong as horses when you sit on them….

Ok, fun, but absurd at the same time. On to the real reason we came here – the Cango Caves!! These were incredible! Our guide wasn’t the most enthused person in the world (with the usual irony, she complained about other people complaining…), but like ostriches, the Cango Caves don’t rely too much on the guides to be impressive.

Concerts used to be held in this hall, until the vandalism got out of hand. Attendees would break off pieces of the cave to bring home as souvenirs….
The Caves have three main types of geologic formations:

- Stalactites: Water drips from the ceiling that deposit mineral crystals in a structure hanging from the ceiling
- Stalagmites: Water drips from the ceiling that deposit mineral crystals in a structure growing up from the floor. (When stalactites and stalagmites meet, it is a Completed Column)

- Flow Formations: Water seeping through a crack in the ceiling to form a curtain of mineral deposits

The caves were discovered over the course of several years, because clay walls blocked many of the caverns and passages from one another. Currently, several other cave sections are being explored, but are not yet open to the public.


When we arrived at De Opstal last night, our host asked us if we were going to visit the Swartberg Pass. The three of us looked at her blankly, and explained that we didn’t know anything about the Swartberg Pass. She replied that she would tell us all about it at breakfast, but that it was a ‘must-see’. At breakfast, Madelein didn’t tell us a thing about the Swartberg Pass; just repeated that we had to see it, and promised to make us a picnic lunch. Unlike the details of the attraction, the picnic lunch did show up, so we decided we would check out the Pass. Not much else to do in Oudtshoorn once you have been to an ostrich farm and the Cango Caves (I didn’t end up going crocodile diving…).

Swartberg Pass is a road through the Outteniqua Mountains that was built in the last 1800s….and at times, it looks like it hasn’t been updated since then. The unpaved, single lane, packed gravel route is held in place by stone retaining walls that are crumbling with age. In the passenger seat, there were times I could look through the holes in the road supports to see a VERY STEEP drop to the bottom of the mountains….a very long way away.

Shaun was a marvelous driver on the way up, and Jessica was equally skilled on the way down. My part was taking way too many photos to post.

When we got to “Die Top” (either written in Dutch, or a very forbidding sign), I climbed the final few hundred feet above the road.

On the drive down the other side, we came upon a random little collection of a few buildings that advertised hot drinks and food. In true ‘mountain’ style, we drank our tea and burned coffee out of tin cups, and looked out upon the incredible sights.

Later, we came upon a couple troops of baboons, and a couple of young antelope-type things. The rest of the drive was pretty uneventful. I may even have fallen asleep in the back once the ‘only’ view was the mountains in the distance.

Dinner tonight was a venison (springbuck) appetizer and ostrich main dish. My dessert was never delivered, but that’s ok because I am so full from stuffing myself eat every meal. Shaun and Jessica shared a dessert platter (which they generously shared with me when mine never showed up). Actually, maybe it wasn’t so generous, as a good chunk of the dessert remains untouched a few feet from me; the ladies have already gone to bed….

A quick note about the kudu and venison I am eating.  Hunting-oriented game parks cater to people who want a trophy: horns, stuffed head, etc.  These reserves end up with large amounts of meat left over than can't be transported back to the home countries of the hunters, and so is locally butchered and sold to restaurants to serve.  I'd probably try it either way while I'm here just for the experience, but I also rather enjoy knowing that these animals lived free, 'wild' lives until the moment they were killed.  The ostrich, on the other hand, is all farmed, but see my note above about the relative sizes of ostrich brains and eyes.....

Tomorrow, we are heading to the southernmost tip of Africa! :)