Well, the unseasonable hot weather has made more changes than just the trees regreening. I have seen two humongous spiders in the past two days, the second of which was really poisonous apparently, and also have had pointed out to me by one of the guides python tracks that showed up on the road early Saturday morning.

I don’t know if even anyone in my family has ever been aware of how completely terrified I am of spiders, since I think I’ve managed to control it pretty well, mostly because I know that they probably can’t kill me – and they’re not usually too big.

But these!!! OMG!! I was in the biffy yesterday, and used the last of the roll of tp, so reached for the spare roll on the windowsill (Thank you, God. that I didn’t put my fingers inside the roll to pick it up!!) and when I lifted it up this hairy monster with black and white striped legs fell out. I’ll tell you, I didn’t know I had that kind of speed left in me!! Especially with my trousers around my knees! Definitely one of my more dignified moments.

Couldn’t sleep last night for fear some crawly thing would sneak up on me, so I’m in rough shape today.

Went on the morning game drive yeaterday, and saw giraffes, Cape buffalo, lots of antelope including a reed buck which had the hugest eyes you ever saw, many new varieties of birds, and got chased by an elephant in musth.

I put together all the video clips I’ve taken with my little camera so far, but haven’t managed to get them posted. I’ll put the link on the site when I do. They’re pretty awful, but will give you some idea of what I’m seeing.

We had some Uni SA conservation students here overnight with a couple of their profs. These kids are on their second degrees, and still don’t know enough to turn off lights or AC when they leave for hours, and dumped their leftover coffee in the birdbath – among other things. Nice kids otherwise, and many speak most of the official languages (11) of the country.

Affirmative action is rampant (sorry, that’s the only word I can use) here, and it’s an unmitigated disaster, just like everywhere else it’s been tried. The police, civil service including the post office system, and education are the worst shambles. I don’t know what the answer is to get a foot in the door for previously disadvantaged groups, but this sure isn’t it.

There is so much hope and determination here though, to make things fair and make them work, that I’m sure the generation coming up now in a desegregated society will make huge strides.

P. S. Thanks to everyone who has left comments, and thanks for letting me know that the postcards have arrived.

Bambi reed buck



Front tree have intense scarlet flowers, and back tree on top of two-storey termite mound

At the pan, mid morning

Another huge termite mound. These go way deep underground too

Young red duiker caught on the fence. Patrick, our guide, hopped the electric fence and released it, and got a big chunk of skin kicked off his hand for his troubles.

Two of the park rangers that patrol the fence line



  1. MT said

    Happy Sunday, grannym!

    Have had mail (other than your blog) from S.A. today – rugby report. That is probably something you are not into, but if you lived there for any length of time, you’d have to be or you would be a social isolate!

    ** I watched some of the prelims here, and it was really wild – soccer teams doing choreographed dance routines and so on – I just thought it was so far over the top and too bizarre for words. I’d be an outcast, fo sho. **

    Re spiders – they have a purpose – and it’s not to scare foreign volunteers in the loo. I think the ‘flat’ ones – like our daddy longlegs – could slide easily under a picture frame on a wall – are considered ‘rain spiders’, and are not to be feared. The beautiful furry ones that are as big as your hand and do push-ups could be another story. Don’t think a bite would kill a full-grown person, but could be uncomfortable. Think you should be more worried about meeting an elephant on the way to the loo than getting a spider-bite.

    ** Actually, four kinds here that can kill you – and the black and white stripedy legged guy is apparently one of them. I’ll take elephants any time! At least they don’t jump out of toilet paper rolls and startle you half to death. **

    Agree with you about the affirmative action plan for the country – too much – too quickly. It affects all aspect of gov’t and business life. Have been waiting from parcel mailed from Durban for months now – prob. will never see it. Hope they get the baggage-handling problem sorted out at the airports soon. Even shrink-wrapping the suitcases does not seem to work. And education – well, that’s another story. Kept in touch with the scene by visiting a prof at U. of N. every trip, and he was despondent over the state of affairs. Lack of trained teachers and principals was a big problem, as was corruption and poor spending. At one time, grade 1 was the only compulsory year for attendance – can you imagine? I don’t know what it is now, but that Grade 1 generation was lost and will never catch. No matter how unsuccessful you feel your day in the classroom has been, you have made some kind of difference to a child there (i.e. the smile in return to yours).

    ** HA!! Corruption – yes, it’s rampant too. Both school districts I’ve been through have schools that get maize and beans or samp and cabbage for lunch, but in both cases the guys who got the school lunch contract from the government built huge, lovely brand new houses right after the contracts were awarded. Some co-incidence, eh? **

    The on-line Zulu dictionary site your friend sent is great (although I wish there was an English-Zulu page and not just the other way ’round). Tried to look up ‘spider’, but as I don’t know the initial letter, no luck. I think it is something like ‘tchap-tchap’ – involves putting your tongue behind your upper teeth and spitting out the sides of your mouth! But then … I could be wrong!

    ** Yeah, I’m working on all those new sounds. Friends tell me I’m doing well, but it seems to depend on how dry my mouth is The “hl” combination is a killer to get right. Most white folks here just wimp out and use “sh” – but I’m still working on it.**

    Have Google Alerts set to send my computer anything S.African on the ‘web. This morning up popped this blog ….. It’s from a newly-wed couple from the US volunteering in the health field in …… you guessed it! ……. Manguzi! They are there for a year at the hospital helping with the AIDS problem. The blog is interesting as it will remind you of your first impressions of the country – but you are an old hand at it now ( i.e. your casual comment about being chased by an elephant in musth. You don’t get THAT in T.O.).

    ** I tried to go to the blog, but the site was 404. I’ll try to remember to look again. I’ve met a few of the docs at that hospital, so might even know them. **

    Photos are great, esp. the almost-dried-up pan shot of the buck gathering. Love the nyala. Hope you get your video link up and running.

    Had quite a bit of rain here overnight. Today is warm and muggy, but there is a feeling of approaching autumn in the air. Hope the heat is not too much for you there as Spring comes in.

    ** Heat can be pretty draining, but getting over my reluctance to use the AC, so that might help me to at least sleep during the worst of the day. *That* habit will be hard to break when I get home. A siesta is a lovely thing. **

    Stay safe! MT **You too. What are you filling your time with now that you don’t have to go back to school??**

  2. Teana said

    ** Teana: See the end of your comment for mine. ***

    I am so glad Kayleigh gave me the link to your blog. I get up in the morning here in my little village and compare my life to yours. What is it about spiders and tp rolls? I find those creepy jumping black ones in mine. Ewww, won’t kill me but makes me run for the bathroom door. You trip over elephants going to the biffy and I trip over a black lab and and Irish Setter.
    My exotic birds are wild goldfinches, bats , and a little nuthatch that became trapped in between two windows in my back porch. You make me appreciate our new library but I love reading your blog more than any book I have picked up lately.
    I looked at the school kitchen and realized how decadent my huge frig really is.
    The ladies braided hair was amazing. My heart broke for the parents of the newborn child.
    I was wondering if I still had the stomach to clean and dress an animal. My father taught me how to butcher animals as a preteen. Some how I think vegetables would be a staple of my diet if I had to kill what we eat here.
    the local grocery store sure sounds good. Did you dress the kill of the day?
    I love the pictures, I am an avid photographer and I know I would be lost for days just clicking away there. I wonder do they make memory cards that large? The snakes and creepy crawlers might just keep me confined to sand areas though. I take pictures of things that terrify me and blow them up to consider. It helps. Bats are not my thing in doors but when one ventured in the other night I had no choice but find the big fish net and set about capturing it to release outdoors to be with it’s babies.It had hung itself upside down on my window frame. I took a few pictures before I finally had the nerve to catch it.
    It is time for migration here and the monarch butterflies paid me a visit by the hundreds a couple weeks ago. it was the most amazing experience. You can hear their wings beat when they are in large numbers. It is a gentle dance of flight and light. They land in my maple trees for a few nights then move further south. They open and close their wings and it is like no Christmas lights I have ever seen.
    Wild geese and starlings are also flocking to the area in hundreds. It is noisy but wonderful to see.
    It might just be an early cold spell here. I was melting when it was a mere 90 here. Have no idea how I would survive temps higher than that. The humidty
    just knocks me out.
    You are only the second woman my age who I know of that has said I am going to Africa. The other is my 60 year old widowed neighbour. She went 2 years ago and is planning to go again ina few more months for an extended stay. I am sure there are a great many more but I just don’t know them. At my age I wonder would I have the courage to leave safe and convienent. Have I become weak in my middle years? You certainly seem to be a very strong woman.Up for the challenge. Doubt that I would be able to learn a new language, hard enough to remember English.
    Took me 3 weeks to figure out that if I held my mouse over your pictures there were captions explaining them DUUUHMMM. Blogs are new to me though .
    It’s evening here and I hear crickets, the odd bird and far away traffic noises.
    No elephants here. The only big cats roaming the dark are the neighbours nasty Toms fighting it out. The odd skunk and raccoon, possum and deer make an appearance but pretty dull compared to your nights and days.I have never seen glass nail files. Love the wire toys the children make there.
    It is truly an amazing place that you are in right now.
    Hope you have a great sleep tonight. May your African sounds be a lulaby.
    Night for now. Teana

    ** Teana:
    How lovely of you to ‘pop in’. I love your comments – you have a very poetic turn of phrase.
    What town do you live in? Has your neighbour seen my blog, and if so, how does her experience compare to mine?
    One thing I have learned, and that is, that if you really want to do something, or really have to, you probably can. That doesn’t mean it will all be fun, or that it will be all really easy, but it will be doable. And the fun times and the good memories of people and places will always be with you.
    If you wanted to see another photo diary I did before I found blogs, go to : and where it says type:
    You can size the pictures, and there is a write-up below each one too.
    Did you go far enough back in my blog to see the stories of the raccoons I had on my roof garden? I think you’d enoy and relate.
    Keep well, and keep in touch.
    ~m ****

  3. elaine said

    Hi Marilyn,

    A friend (Allan Weiss, aka “Grammar Man,” sent me this link to his website at York U and I immediately thought of you! I figured I’d post it here instead of going back to the grammar piece we were doing, but did think you would find it useful.

    Especially when you tell your story of spiders, lions, tigers, and bears oh my! Or is it ooo-eeee!

    ** Hi Elaine:
    Thanks for that link. It looks very helpful. Hope your summer was good. Did you get to TO at all? What is ‘the other Marilyn’ up to this year? What a year this will have been. ~m

  4. Teana said

    sorry I have sent 3 replies each different and I keep getting shut down by my servor. Hope you are having a great day. Teana

  5. elaine said

    Hi Marilyn,

    I’m green with envy over your exploits! Hope you are keeping a journal as well as the blog.

    Allan is a good head — he’s got a great short story book called Living Room about growing up Jewish in Mtl in the 60s — lots of fun. Rhonda, if you’re there you might enjoy it. He’s at York and has copies, his publisher went bankrupt.

    Summer? What’s that? It’s 60F and drizzling right now, have homemade bread and soup for dinner just to keep the furnace off. Might get to TO next week or so, but haven’t been in city since a dental & eye exam late winter. Did get to p’boro to grab the kid in early June.

    My Marilyn has a big problem — gaming addiction — World of Warcraft. Flunked out of school with a course and a half left to finish her degree. Living in unreality. I pulled her down here for the summer and am wicked witch of the west for so doing. Wish I had a chance to live rent free, have someone do my laundry and give me meals to save $$ to go out on my own. Oh well. If anyone has any suggestions???? Real life isn’t where she wants to be, that’s for sure.

    She has no enthusiasm for anything, except gaming and living vr. She is working at the local (NH) pizzeria and slowly taking driving lessons, again without wanting a present life skill.

    She did wander by a minute ago, and sez “hello” to you.


  6. Eli Jakeman said

    What, no pics of the Spiders?!?!?!?!? C’mon Maw!!! Can ya bring one home in your bag for me, pleeeeeeeease *bambi eyes*

  7. Kayleigh Jakeman said

    Feel free to NOT bring home any spiders! That “Hinterland” thing is all I can stand…
    Glad you and Teana have found each other… knew you’d like to read each others prose.

    Any pics of giraffes?
    We miss you! Stay safe

  8. Teana said

    Eli you really are crazy, did you ask Kayleigh if she wanted a spider pet???? I think the hand sized dancing ones would be best don’t you?? LOL Elaine put your daughter in a tech school game testing for the geeks. Ok I will butt out now. LOL

    I will try once again to answer your questions before I get bounced off .
    I live in a village 2 hours northwest of Eli and Kayleigh . It is called Clifford. It is on the way to several tourist beaches. Population give or take 700. depends on births and deaths.
    Real mixed bag here. Amish and Mennonites to wind farms and Nuclear power and mixed factories..
    Amazing what you can see looking out the door.
    My friend Lou is the one that travels to Africa and several other countries. She became a long distance escourt vehicle driver after her husband died about 3 years ago. I rarely see her. I will tell her about your blog. she is quit a gal my Lou.
    I just had to make her skip down the middle of main street blowing bubbles to get her mind off her husbands illness. Yes we are nuts. What a hoot, two old broads, wedding bubbles ,laughing ,skipping and blowing bubbles on a busy Sunday afternoon. Hey whatever works.
    Checked out your other link. Awesome . Roof garden…..Women after my own heart. I however am a lazy gardener. I grow things like holly hocks sunflowers and tall plants to make my yard like an overgrown jungle. Critters love it. I hate snakes but managed to name the gartner snake in my back yard till I caught her trying to sneak into the house. That was it called my local kid snake catcher. He is about 16 and catches them for me and takes down the road to the field to let them go. I have learned not to pay him for the job because I caught him letting one go just on the other side of my fence. Little rip. Yes he would love a big poisonous spider for a pet too.

    Did you ever dress the catch of the day? It is a hard job but if well done not too terrible. Need a very very sharp knife , strong mind and stomach.
    What are you eating when you are there?
    How long are you staying? who is taking care of your house?
    Must go I think my server is going to bounce me again.
    Lulaby and good night don’t let the critters bite.Teana

  9. mary said

    Hi Lynnie: I’m reading all of your entries with great interest and telling Mom. I will be showing your photos to my new International class on this Thursday evening. Just a personal request, if you take any photos of ‘commerce’ particularly anything that is import/export (probably not) they would be of tremendous interest to everyone. We are all well, it sounds as if you are having the time of your life, I am smiling as I think of it. All the best.

    *** Rule Number 1: If you call me Lynnie, you have to sign youself “Merry”, OK?
    SA is just getting on it’s feet so import/export is pretty much, I think, so far dealing in the old reliables of fruit and wine exports, and the newer things imported such as autos (outrageously expensive here – about 50% higher than at home and wages much lower, yet BMW everywhere). At least between SA and 1st world countries. What goes on between SA and other African nations is entirely another story. Everything is exported as SA has so much more mfg and commerce than anywhere else.
    If you can be more specific about what you’d like, I’ll try . . .

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