Archive for July, 2007

Bet you didn’t know . . .

* Johannesburg is at a very high in elevation, so can be a bit of a problem catching your breath
* Johannesburg air makes Toronto’s air seem as pristine as if it was in the Yukon. The air here is so full of diesel fumes that your specs seem as if they have had salad oil poured on them when you come in from a day out.
* Johannesburg is over 13 MILLION people and has over 600 distinct, named and “themed” (by national origin mainly, I hear, as well as economic strata) subdivisions. I’m learning my little neighbourhood of a few square blocks, but the entirety is overwhelming.
I went to the lion park yesterday, and it was pretty boring. Not as good as Lion Safari, except here you get to pet some lion cubs. I was hoping to see the guy that does the training do some of his stiff, but didn’t – Oh, well . . .

One really interesting thing there, though, is how the giraffes have adapted to the tourists being able to buy hay pellets to feed them. Normal giraffe behaviour would be to have their long flexible tongue come and wrap around the food and scoop it up – that’s what they do with the grapes I feed them at Lion Safari, or else just pick them up with their lips, like a horse. But these guys, I think have gotten so used to tourists trying to feed them but flinching and/or dropping the food, so they’ve learned to quickly wrap their tongue around your whole hand, bringing it up to their mouth where they grab the food with their lips. It’s just a hoot!! Movies to follow, but probably not til I get home.

And the city looks like an armed camp – trying to download some pics here, but haven’t been able to so far. Walled compounds topped with razor wire, windows and doors all barred, every house with an advertising sticker for their armed security service. And the most bizarre thing imaginable – the banks have kind of like air-locks!! For security. If the light is green on the entrance door, one person can go inside. You are then in the ‘air-lock’. When that door closes and locks, a few seconds will pass then the inner door will have a green light and you can go on in to the bank. The same proceedure on the exit door. Gives you a distinctly weird feeling.

I want to get to the art gallery today, so got to get a move on. I have to go to Durban tomorrow, and found out I have to buy a ticket in advance. I have been to two travel agents so far, and neither of them handle bus tickets – so off in search of the next recommendation.

More soon, but it looks as if no pics . . . . PICS NOW!!!

Electric fence and razor wire

Bank “air-lock”

Favourite picture at JAG

Favourite sculpture at JAG

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Well, Here I am . . .

Wow!! What a trip! Seven hours to Paris – and that was after we taxied on the runway for so long that I thought that the pilot had decided to drive there – then 4 hours in CDG in Paris, just time enough to go out through Customs and get my passport stamped and go back in, then another 10 hours to JHB. Then it was 3 hours more to get out of the airport and another hour to get ‘home’. This may be my last long trip by plane unless I can afford to fly other than sardine class. Just too uncomfortable.

But I’ll tell you, flying into the sunrises spectacular! Up above the clouds, watching the “horizon” turn a soft gold while puddles of fiery orange appeared here and there. Then flying over the Sahara, seeing the incredible vast distances of just nothing but sand. Then, mountains, rivers, jungle, cities . . . I am amazed at how high you can be and still see each individual house and building.

It really is winter in Jozie. And most buildings here seems to ignore both heat and cold. Don’t understand it – single pane windows everywhere and no insulation – but I guess I should save that for the greenbuilding list. Let’s just say for now that there was ice inside my windows this morning.

Where I’m staying is very pleasant. Got waked up by some birdsong. They don’t seem to mind the cold. Nice folks work there, good breakfast, and now trying to catch up here on technology that’s a decade old and has a keyboard that works when it wants to – so I have to watch carefully or whole sections will be missing here. Bear with me, chums, eh?

The sun is shining and I’ve managed to find a guide to drive me out to the Johannesburg Lion Park this afternoon – you can find it on the internet, as you can The Melville House where I’m staying.

This entry has taken me 40 of the 45 minuted I booked here, so I can see that my entries may not be as intensive as I would have liked, if all of the technology is like this. Boy, how fast we forget . . . .

Love you all, especially the grandchildren and my kids. I’ll share as much as I can so that hopefully you can get some fun out of this too.

Bye for now.

Courtyard of Melville House

Room at Melville House

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Sweet face?

Now isn’t this just the sweetest little face? How deceptive!Cutie pie

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The “Fun” Continues . . . .

Well sure enough, last night the little guys were back. This time a much smaller youngster got caught in the trap.

I got smart though, and stood the trap up and hosed the dirt and leaves out before I dragged it through the house. Much less mess. And I tried not to get the little lady wet, as she scampered to the top of the cage when the water got on her, not liking it one bit.

But no orphan eyes from this little girl! As sweet as her face was, she snarled and growled like a wolverine, baring her teeth and claws if I got too close. It’s surely true that the female is the deadliest of the species.

I let her go at the beach, and hope she will find her brother. When I finally got her out of the cage – she decided to hang on tight at the end away from the door and took some convincing – she was off and got about 25 feet up a nearby tree in less time that it took for me to turn around.

No more time to get the rest, but maybe this will deter them. I hope.

Fierce (wet) warrior

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Granny’s Playground

Well, it’s not bad enough that I’m so excited I’m not getting much sleep, what with lists and plans charging through my head all night, but now the neighbourhood raccoons have decided that my roof deck, right outside my bedroom , is their favourite playground.

Two nights ago, I got up to peer out the screen door to see what the racket was. There was Big Momma raccoon with her 4 babies – not so small anymore – and Momma was watching indulgently as the kids used my deck chair as a trampoline/slide combo. The sprung steel frame bounces satisfyingly, and apparently thrillingly to juvenile raccoons. But when it bounces, it hops across the deck, making clangs, bangs and scraping sounds. So it was chase each other up the chair, bounce around and tussle for as long as it took to be forced to slide down or fall off. Then repeat . . . . and repeat . . . . and repeat!!

This went on for well over 2 hours.

I watched for a while since it really was pretty entertaining despite sounding as if there was demolition going on out there. I tried to chase them away, first by banging on the metal part of the screen door, which they all ignored, then I opened the door and made shooing sounds, but at that point Big Momma turned around and gave me a look that made it plain that she would not accept me coming any closer to her babies.

Last night they were back, but this time just the 4 kids. Momma must have thought they were big enough to go out by themselves, I guess. They played trampoline for a short while, but soon found a new game. They’d chase each other around, ganging up, trying to force each other into the large copper bowl I have out there to catch the rainwater from the Japanese rain chain. It was full of water, and they were racketing around, splashing, grunting, growling, rolling on the ground and just generally having a wonderful time. And of course keeping me awake again.

This time I had put a baited raccoon trap out there. Those guys are cute as blazes when they’re little, but incredibly destructive as they get older, not to mention vicious. And if they decide to make your house their home, it can cost you hundreds or even thousands of dollars to get them out and repair their damage.

I went back to sleep last night, and woke up to find that the trap was sprung, and one little raccoon was inside (well, not so little – he must have been 15 lbs already). The other three were still loyally keeping him company even though the sun was up and they should have been in bed, asleep.

All four of them were diligently trying to dig him out of the trap, too. You should see my garden!! It has a huge crater in it from all the excavating around and under the trap. The guy in the trap had pulled all the dirt and plant matter under him into the trap, so that, since he was too big and heavy to pick up and shake, there was a trail of dirt and gravel, flowers and grass, laying itself down on my floors as my tenant, Jake, carried the trapped raccoon for me across the bedroom, down the stairs and through the living room and kitchen.

I popped the trap and contents into the trunk of the car, which I had previously prepared with several layers of really heavy cardboard. Those guys have long razor-sharp claws and will shred anything they can get their little paws on.

I drove him down to Cherry Beach, which I call Raccoon Heaven. Lots of tall, mature trees, water, garbage cans and a chip truck. What more could any city raccoon want?

I shook him out of the trap, and he ran up a nearby tree. When he was safely off the ground, he stopped and just sat there and looked at me with these sad little orphan eyes. Never mind what he and his siblings had done to my property – it was me that felt like the villain in the story.

I shooed him further up the tree until he was safely sitting on a branch that would do for sleeping.

Now I’m wondering if I’ll have a repeat tonight and he’ll be joined by one of his nest-mates tomorrow.

I’ll let you know.

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I’m all set up now

I’m getting this set up so I can keep in touch with you all. It’s Tuesday night, late, but I’m too excited to sleep. My mind is going over and over the lists of things to pack, things to carry, things to do and see when I get there.

I leave on Saturday. I LEAVE ON SATURDAY!!!!!!! I CAN’T WAIT!!!

By next week this time, I hope to have some of my first adventures posted. Please, do come back and keep in touch.

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