South Africa Trip – June 21-30, 2014

Jun 30, Mon: Great walk on the beach although the wind was blowing at about 20 mph. Added to the rigor of the exercise.  Tested the water and to our amazement it was quite warm. That current from the northeast is remarkable, especially compared to how cold the Pacific Ocean is.  We get so used to it and forget that other’s are warmer.  We were famished after the walk so dropped off the dogs at Mirijam’s and had lunch at Roxy’s. Delicious!

A little gardening work at home clearing the dead ferns and I was spent.  Found 5 or 6 more avocados hiding on the ground.  The monkeys somehow had missed these, probably because they haven’t been by for a few days.  Caught a glimpse of an Olive Thrush (a bit like our Robin) but the camera was inside, and I missed the photo.

Jun 27, Fri – Sun: Mostly our days consist of walking on the beach with Rassie, shopping for food, preparing and eating meals, drinking nice South African wines or local craft beer, spending some time on the computer and reading.  Sounds like retirement to me.  By Saturday evening, I had finished Deception Point.  Fabulous story; great character development, gripping plot, vivid settings and fantastic suspense. Brown is a brilliant writer.  How time flies.  I’ve been here for two weeks now.

Here are some nice chotskies Eva has in her house.


These wire beaded animals are 2-3 inches



This one is almost 2 feet talk, with orange beads and is very nice when backlite by the sun.


Carved and painted Guinea Fowl, 2-3 inches tall.

Just starting to read Robert Ludlum’s The Bourne Betrayal, by Eric Van Lustbader, who ghost wrote with Ludlum when he was alive and now continues the adventures in the same vein.

Jun 26, Thu: Grey rainy day today.  Great day to read my new book, Dan Brown’s Deception Point. Literally all day. Except when the sun came out in the afternoon, I actually got a picture of the Black-headed Oriole and the Fork-tailed Drongo.

Black-headed Oriole

Black-headed Oriole

Around 6pm, we headed over to Rod and Addie’s to watch World Cup Soccer, US vs Germany. Boring match even though Germany won, they both advance to the next level.

Jun 25., Wed.:  Another beautiful day of 84 degrees.  Headed to the beach this am with Rassie and Tommy.


Although we took back a bagful of broken shells to leave on the beach, we ended up collecting just as many to take home!
We watched a fascinating feeding frenzie on the beach.  Several drills got scent of a discarded crab carapace and descended on it in no time.
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We didn’t stay to see how long it took them to devour the exoskeleton, but it was amazing to watch.

After a great lunch of soup and salad, on the covered patio next to the pool, we headed into
20140624_124952 town to visit Theona and Jimmy at their jewelry store.  Wow! What beautiful designs.  Michael kept trying to get me out of there before I fell in love with anything.  After stocking up on good South African wines, we headed to the used Bookstore and got another Lundlum novel (The Bourne Betrayal) and one by Dan Brown, Deception Point, that we hadn’t yet read.  We’re all stocked up now.  Nibblies and wine and a Skype call with Aariel and Gavin.  So cute!  Miss him so much.  Then a call to Barbara.

Jun 24, Tue:  Finally photographed the Hadeda Ibis,
much prettier than the Sacred Ibis (White with a long black naked face and neck).  It’s call is very noisy and harsh, a bit like a crow but more Haw than Caw and sharper.  They fly over is flocks of 5 or 6 in the morning and evening making a lot of racket.  They spend their foraging time with their very long beak in the ground looking for grubs and other edibles.


Mirijam on her way to Germany for the summer.

Went to the beach today for shells.  Interesting that there were far more after the storm on Friday, but we still got some nice ones.

Michael went over to Mirijam’s to learn the mechanics of her business so he can supervise her salesman, Giovanni, until Mirijam’s daughter gets here in a couple of weeks.  Then, this afternoon, he’ll drive her to the airport outbound for Germany for most of the summer.

We’ll be walking Tommy, her Giant Schnauzer with our Parson’s Jack Russell Terrier.  Very funny pair, but they have fun together.
Today I made a chicken and vegetable soup, starting with the broth I made from the roasted chicken from 2 days ago.  Added leeks, garlic, sweet potato (white flesh), beetroot, mushrooms, courgette (zucchini with stripes), and at the last moment, white wine. Seasoned only with Spike.  Quinoa in the very large bowl, cilantro, and the soup on top served with toasted multigrain bread and guacamole. Beer.  I love cooking!  and good flavors.

Jun 23, Mon:  Today will be an even hotter day than yesterday. 85 degrees, just like a southern California winter.

Baby, the housekeeper, came to clean today.  She always starts out with her tea and steamed bread, which she brought, with peanut butter on it.  She makes the dough with yeast and when it rises a bit, it’s placed in a bowl inside a pot of boiling water and covered until cooked.  It’s very soft and moist. Very nice.  Baby does a great job, and I’m thankful I don’t have to do any cleaning, except I put my clothes in the washer, and only to discovered that she hung them up when they were done.  I’m going to be so spoiled when I get home.

She leaves at 4 and walks about a mile to the taxi stand where she takes an SUV taxi with several others out to her township.  It takes about 45 minutes; not sure if that includes the walk.

Niko, the grounds keeper, also came today although at 9:15; he was expected at 8ish, like Baby.  But he did a good days work cutting suckers off some trees, pruning others and generally cleaning up leaves and debris created by the big winds.  Michael got him his lunch at the local Superspar on our way back from the beach.  He left after Baby.

During the morning, we went to a different beach without Rassie.  Michael had taken him over to play with Tommy, Mirijam’s Gaint Schauzer, for the day.  It was the beach that Mirijam usually walks to with Tommy on the near side of the Nahoon River.  Michael tried it with Rassie, but there are little rock Hyrax, and Rassie loves to chase them and disappears for an hour.  Not much fun for the humans.

In the afternoon, I again sat out back with my camera watching the birds.  A glint of a bird caught my eye in the large tree at the corner of our lot, so I went searching for it with my 400mm lens and was astonished to see colors – red and black and yellow.


It’s a Black Collared Barbet.

I couldn’t even see it with the naked eye.  He was in the shade, so he’s a bit hard to see well, but I was amazed t.  Then a bird landed in the avocado tree very close to me. And another.


It’s a Black Eyed Bulbul with a very bright yellow vent and nice crest.

When the female Weaver landed at the bird feeder, I was surprised to see it was nearly twice as big as the Mannikins.

Around 4:30, we headed over to Mirijam’s with a bottle of red and my classic homemade dips: sun-dried tomato pesto, hummus and guacamole, and some crackers.  Lee indulged me while I showed her my pictures.

Mirijam is leaving for the winter to Germany, and Michael wanted to give her a send-off.  Lee will stay and house-sit for her until her daughter Franci arrives in a couple of weeks.  We assured Lee that we would come by and walk Tommy, because he is more dog than she can handle.

While at the Superspar earlier, I bought several magazines on outdoor life including game reserves in southern Africa, so I went to bed to read.  Two impressions: somehow I hadn’t considered that the Africans (meaning mainly the whites) went to the reserves.  I guess I thought they were geared only to foreigners flying in to use them.  Wrong.  Many Africans have their weekend get-aways at the reserves, basking in luxury and tranquility. And second, I thought there were only a few really big reserves.  Wrong again.  South Africa, Namibia (I only think of desert), Mozambique, Malawi, Botswana, and others in East Africa, are full of game reserves.  Some are huge and some smaller; some are for hunting, but many, many are for conservation, eco-tourism and some are sanctuaries for injured animals.  And one can volunteer at these places for as little as a week or as much as a year.  Camping, biking and hiking all over these parts is very, very popular.  Getting a feel for the country is so exciting and enlivening.  I love this place and can’t wait to go to our first reserve.  How can I sleep?

Jun 22, Sun.:  And today first thing, I got my Cape White-eye!
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I find it fascinating that it’s only slightly different from the Australian Silver-eye:

Headed to the beach on this beautiful 77 degree day.  Because there are more people on the beach on the weekend, I felt comfortable taking my camera.  Although there was a bit of mist in the air, it was fabulous, especially after the cold and wind we’ve been having.
IMG_2430Finally got my White-fronted Plover.

Michael’s favorite driftwood.
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On the beach in front of these rock outcroppings, the most amazing variety of shells piles up.


You have to get up close to see all the good ones.



A small rivulet created a beautiful sand painting.


On the way home, we stopped at the largest Superspar in East London.  What huge variety.  We came away with some gems, including a large bag of frozen assorted fish and shellfish for a fish stew, some Indian curry spices, a pawpaw (papaya) and a sweet melon.

After lunch I went out to the garden and trimmed some ferns away from the succulents they were overshadowing, and in the process found some more avocados.  The ones here (on the left) have a larger seed related to the flesh and are sweeter than our Hass, on the right.  There will be guacamole tonite!

Jun 21, Sat:  Got a slow, late start after all that late eating and drinking. I’m beginning to love my espresso/cappuccino in the am. It’s a beautiful day with no wind and warmer temperatures.  In the late morning, we went to Lavender Blue, a community market shared with a permanent building of shops and cafe.

We bought some fantastic multigrain bread and a curried fish dish.  I bought some earrings and a necklace with the shape of Africa at a lovely shop.IMG_2216
Before leaving, we got a Dr. Juice (just like Ryan makes – beets, apples, carrots, celery, grapefruite, ginger – yum) and sat at the picnic table overlooking the little lake.
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They even had a great play area for kids. (We miss Gavin). Very peaceful and relaxing.

While Michael went for a nap, I grabbed my camera and went around the back of the house where there was a pocket of sun.  All the little birds at the feeder scattered.  But I waited and soon they came back.  I’ve discovered my prime hiding place, behind the bushes where the birds can’t see me, but I can photograph them very easily.  They love to perch on the highest branches still in the warm sunlight. Here are my afternoon prizes.


Bronze Mannikins



Black or Amethyst Sunbird (female)


Spotted Backed or Village Weaver (male)


Spotted Backed or Village Weaver (female)

Laughing Dove

Laughing Dove

Red Eyed Dove

Red Eyed Dove


Yellow fronted Canary and the Yellow Canary

Not bad for an hour of photographing and all in our back yard. I have also seen but have yet to photograph the Little Sparrow Hawk, the Cape Gull, the Cape White-eye, and a White-fronted Plover.



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