Archive for October, 2007

OK, now I’m loading video,

but this will be a *long* on-going process, as even a little video takes half an hour or more to load.

Lions in Jozie:

http://www.livevideo.com/video/2BFEE60BC05247859A5B36DE0C4D913E/lions-in-jozie.aspx?m_tkc=8177994

Lions 2

http://www.livevideo.com/video/2F8898B9E2674B0BA8CFE9D19EACA7D6/lions-2.aspx?m_tkc=8178800

Lions 3

http://www.livevideo.com/video/204A28D2D1BD46CD878B80FC93DE9950/lions-3.aspx?m_tkc=8178976

Lions 4

http://www.livevideo.com/video/E302173592D1473884000F2A4F16522F/lions-4.aspx?m_tkc=8180194

Lions 5

http://www.livevideo.com/video/370A43E556B54A898CECB94FE887B41F/lions-5.aspx?m_tkc=8181377

Giraffe

http://www.livevideo.com/video/13C46F5BC6464454962F9AB80794D67E/giraffes.aspx?m_tkc=8183704 

None of the sites I can find for video will take any clip larger than 100MB, so I’ve had to edit these down.  Maybe I can figure out how to compress some future clips and leave them longer – but who knows.   Hope you enjoy what is here.  More soon . . .

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Gold museum

I went to see the Gold Museum in Cape Town, and here are some pictures from that visit. It was fascinating, and sure let me know that I was very wrong in thinking that the huge jewellery some people wear these days was a fashion started by drug dealers and pimps. These styles go back about 200 years in Ghana and a few other countries.

Bracelets - can you imagine what they would cost at Birks?

Rings

Necklaces and medallions

Earrings - so heavy you had to wear a thick rope across your head to help support them.

These go on top of the staves of office and can indicate rank

More fantastical decoration

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Tea for two? (Me and a monkey?)

Here are some pictures of the lovely tea plantation. The ride was hairy (See ‘Oh, my tired self’, Oct 18th), but the view was worth it. And the melktart was incredibly tasty.

A roadside restaurant on the way from Tzaneen to the tea plantation

Banana plantation

View from the patio of the tea plantation

Another view

View 3

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Lawn and patio

Melktart and real tea from loose leaves

Somebody’s eyeing my tart

Watching for an opportunity to ‘teef it’

Entrance to tea shop

Community near the tea plantation

Another glorious sunset

The very sad thing about the tea plantation is that it is no longer working. There is apparently a land claim against it – I understand much like our native land claims here, so meanwhile it sits and goes to seed (or whatever tea plantations do) while I expect the government will take it’s own sweet time deciding who owns it.

There were many breathtaking views in S A, but this was one that you could never tire of looking at.

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No explanation needed – culling giraffe

What really gets to me is how these guys can grin like this when they’ve just killed a beautiful living creature.

Sleeping beauty

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Looks like fun, eh?

You wouldn’t believe how thick the skin is

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No respect at all

Skinning is hard work, but these guys are experts

The meat is butchered and ready to go

Some of the meat is used to bait the leopard cam for the researchers use


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Finishing the trip

After I finally got on the right track in Polokwane and out to the highway, I had to pull over again since I didn’t know how to turn on the high beams for the headlights and knew I would need them once I got out of the urban area, and especially after I got onto the small roads to the lodge.

Several careful readings of the manual didn’t give me any enlightenment, nor did fiddling with all the knobs and dials, so I ended up driving over 100km home on low beams, only able to see 25 feet in front of me in the dark, on strange winding roads.  Let’s just say I was really late for dinner.  I was so exhausted that I didn’t care though.

I drove down to Jozie yesterday and am staying in the airport hotel.  Decided that the cost was worth it since staying at a B&B would involve very large taxi fares back and forth which would easily make up the difference.

Had a couple problems with the car.  The tank was down by a quarter when I took it out, and soon manifested a softening tire which I eventually had to take in and get fixed as it was losing air faster and faster.  I kept the receipts from the gas up, showing that I’d put in R200+ after only 65K of driving, and the receipt from the tire being fixed, and the rental company was very good about it.

The hotel had the TVs on in all the lounges, restaurants hallways and so on for the game last night, but I went to bed and still don’t know who won, though I think SA was ahead when I finished dinner.

I have learned to speak, or at least understand a bit of S African while I’m here though, so that’s nice.  When I got directions to the highway from a young chap at the tea garden, he told me “You go straight, en straight, en straight, en just now you’ll see a board that says . .  .” and I understood perfectly.

I’ve got a long day sitting around here waiting for my 7 p.m. flight, so I hope I can find a book store.  I’d stay on-line and write some more stuff, but internet at the hotels is really expensive.

I’ll be able to catch you up and finish loading pictures soon after I get home, but maybe a couple days lapse for the time lag, a good soak in the bathtub and getting acquainted with my own bed again.

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Oh my tired self . . .

Yesterday struck out with the car to visit a museum in another town and to see the tea plantation.  The route there was fairly confusing as there seem to be several ways to get anywhere from any place else, so you can sometimes see two signs, side-by-side, both reading “To ‘A’  and ‘B'”, but pointing in opposite directions.  *That* really threw me, let me tell ya!!

Then I got to the town and had considerable trouble finding the museum – which was great, by the way – and then had to find the tourist info so I could get directions to the tea plantation.

Anyway, it was about 3 p.m. before I got to the plantation, and it wasn’t enough that I was driving through these 2 lane, corkscrew mountain roads, (check out R71 sometime, MT) but the driveway up to the plantation was probably 5 km and was so much hairier, I can’t tell you.  Wasn’t even a regulation 2 lane width and had sheer cliff going up on one side of you, and sheer cliff going down on the other with sometimes a couple inches of grass between you and the abyss.

Well, going up was a breeze compared to coming down, since going up I was on the inside.  Curves were mostly blind, and I held my breath a goodly number of times.  Let’s just say that my cup of tea and very large piece of melktart were very much needed and appreciated.  The view was spectacular, and the peace and quiet was so soothing – at least until the monkeys started trying to chase me away from my tart so they could have it.

Going down this cliff was a white-knuckle nightmare.  I was on the outside, someone was following me, though to give him credit, he didn’t tailgate, and not only were the curves blind still, but each switchback would put my face to the glare of the sunset for a period of time, and despite my sunglasses and the fact that my visor was down I’d still be blinded.

I just sat at the bottom and sweated bullets for a few minutes and got my breath back.  Then onwards on the highway, which is pretty hairy all on it’s own, though seemed tame after the ‘driveway’ experience.  AND it was work-leaving time, so I constantly had a pile of impatient locals behind me.  I’d pull over whenever I could and just let the build up pass.  They have very wide paved breakdown lanes here on many of the secondary roads and all the national highways, and people here are very generous about pulling into those if they are slow and letting others rush by.  They pass in some – um – unusual places though, I’ve gotta say.

Anyway, I got through that just as it got dark, then had to stop and get directions from Polokwane to the highway. Going through Polokwane was the long (long) way home, but I knew I’d get irretrievably lost if I took the short route that I took to get there.

Anyway, gotta go as office is closing and will finish this asap..

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Wet again!!

I must be bringing good luck to the African farmer – the rain just seems to follow me everywhere.  Had a couple lovely days, not too hot to be really uncomfortable, but lovely and sunny.  It was so welcome.

Well, I said on one of my pictures that I cna’t stand jacaranda trees.  The colour makes me just cross-eyed.  I don’t know what it is about the colour since I usually like purples and mauves, but this particular shade is just stomach turning for me and it tends to line the streets at this time of year.

One more thing I’ve discovered that I really want to stay away from for the rest of my life is thatched roofs.  They look so neat, and are so sustainable – and are just packed full of every crawly, squirmy thing you can think of!!  I never want to have to put my head under one again!  Ugh!  But where I’m staying right now is all thatched roofs, so I don’t have any choice.

Went on a tour of local crafts people and artists yesterday, and it was quite interesting.  My favourite was visiting the drum maker who made the drum for the Global Sustainability conference that was held in Joburg a couple years ago.  He is working on one now that he hopes will be chosen by one of the groups involved in the 2010 World Soccer Cup that will be held here.

I can’t believe how good the roads are overall in SA.  They make Canadian roads and highways look pathetic. There was one really bad stretch of highway up where I was near the lodge, so I kind of thought that maybe many SA roads had been kind of neglected – that stretch was *really* bad.  But since I’ve been driving around, most everywhere the roads seem to be kept up wonderfully well.

Time seems to be running faster as I get towards the end of my stay here.  I’m feeling pretty sad about having to go with so much more left to see, but I also miss everyone at home a lot so will be glad to see them again.

And when I get home I’ll be able to put up the video I’ve taken – some wonderful elephant footage and so on.  Hope I can find a program where I can edit it easily – or at least easily enough that I can learn to do it myself, as to say I’m not the world’s best photographer is putting it mildly.  Once I forgot to turn it off, and have several minutes of really artisitic footage of my foot as we bounce down the road in the 4W drive.  Good grief . . .

Must run now, but will try and drop a note again before I leave.

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