Archive for South Africa

2015 – Part 4 – A Secret Garden

This part will be mostly pictures.

After I came north up the coast again, once I’d completed my Storms River stay, I went to Margate and stayed at the same place I always stay – Treetops Lodge.  Unfortunately the place, or at least the self-contained unit I stayed in – and I always stay in the same one, on the end, so I can see the monkeys pass by in the mornings – hadn’t been kept up at all.  I think nothing had been done there since 2007 when I first stayed there and it is the mould and mildew that get me the worst.  Even though I had had a case sent to them of the new stuff that breaks the spores (ZeroMold) so that it doesn’t come back, I still couldn’t stay in the unit for very long even with the windows open, and still breathe.  They sure hadn’t used the stuff on that unit.  Anyway, I’d had enough, and as much as I love their deck, couldn’t take the lack of maintenance any longer so moved down the coast to Marina Beach.

What a score that place was – I’ll tell you about it in the next and last installment.  And I got it, basically, due to the kindness of strangers.  I’ve said this many times, that travelling would not be nearly as fun or as serendipitous without the kindness of strangers.

But anyway, my landlord at the new place took me to see this local site, where someone had landscaped the vacant lot next to his own house and made a gem of a little park-like garden.  It’s just stunning!  So this will be mainly photos of the garden, with not much explanation, especially since I don’t know the plant names.

I hope you enjoy them.  If you know the flowers, let me know the names if you want.

 

 

 

 

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More travel tips

** !! Never, EVER, pay for accommodation or any attraction by bank transfer unless you know the vendor and his/her reputation .  This method of payment is becoming more popular as credit card fees eat into vendors’ profits.  BUT it has also become a haven for scam artists who will ask for bank transfer payments, and when you arrive there is no accommodation or attraction there.  They will have web-sites and everything on-line but nothing else and you will be out your money.  If you pay by credit card, you will be able to get your money back.

** Amor’s Creations, the hair stylist I went to in Port Elizabeth to repair the mess from my haircut at the salon in the Green Line mall, is excellent!

** The Coachmen Restaurant in PE also makes a really nice meal for a fair price.

** There is a small deli just down the road from Amor’s Creations in PE that makes the best potato waffles – other types too.

**  Manna Bookstore Trade and Exchange in Storms River Village needs your trades!!  Don’t forget . . .

** The Friar Tuck restaurant in Margate does a great steak, and they use lovely Karan beef.

** Uvongo Book Exchange has lots and lots of books!  Just off Marine Drive in Uvongo/Margate.

** Bushwillow Lodge guesthouse in Hoedspruit is a great place to kick back and relax if you are going to Kruger Park or other neighbouring places – and they have the resident bushbaby, lots of birds in the trees – beautiful place.

** A couple good restaurants in the Khamengelo (sp?) Mall on R527 in Hoedspruit – there’s a sports bar in the back right corner and an Italian restaurant in the front left corner.  There’s also a Wimpy there if you like that kind of stuff.

** The computer shop in the Pick ‘n Pay Centre  in Hoedspruit is wonderful – fix any problems with your electronics, have supplies and friendly efficient service.  I’ve lost their card, but will try to get their name from the friends who live in the area.

*** And my favourite find!  SIGNATURE cosmetics.  Due to allergies, sensitivities and so on I haven’t been able to wear cosmetics of any kind for years and years.  Signature is a line developed in SA from the old Coty ‘recipes’ and when I wandered through the store, just browsing to see what was new, I stopped to sniff the mascara, which is the cosmetic I miss most.  No reaction from my sinuses or eyes!!  I don’t have that lack of reaction even to the most expensive hypo-allergenic cosmetics on the N American market.  I bought a couple and they are great.  No problems whatsoever.  Available at most large shopping malls or by mail-order from the company website: http://www.signaturecosmetics.co.za/

** Second favourite find: Mohair socks.  SA is trying to move forward with a fledgling mohair industry, so there are many small shops selling different things made from mohair.  I decided to try the socks, since it’s hard to get wool socks here and I have to have my wool socks for the winter.  I love them.  Warm and cuddly (a lot like me!) and I hope to get more .

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Excellent Day!

 

 

A TROOP of darn monkeys!  I knew I’d remember if I quit trying to force it . . .

Ramsgate beach map sign

Ramsgate beach map sign

Just had to share my day with you all.  Went out to Ramsgate where a friend had a cottage when she was small, to see how built up it had become and maybe get some photos for her.

It was an absolutely perfect day, weather-wise.  Hot sun, good cool breeze down by the water and not very many people on the beach, which was lovely.  Walked up and down the beach and took some video from different places which I will send my friend in hopes that she can recognize where the cottage was and that the beach scenes bring back some good memories for her and her family.

Saw lots of little lizards on the rocks – one kind which jumps straight up into the air – very strange to see and funny.  A dassie sped across the rocks in front of me and I didn’t get a picture as he surprised me so much I just gaped.  Then I had lunch on the beach, and after that went down closer to the water and just sat in the sand watching the waves and the sand crabs and trying not to doze off.  Sat there for a couple hours and I fully plan to do that again tomorrow if the weather co-operates.  I feel so relaxed right now that I could pass for a sea sponge.

Going  to get some supper and have an early night so I can get on the road tomorrow early.  Well, sort of early I guess.  The flying ants have descended – they look much like our fish flies at home – and the geckos are out in force having feasts.  It’s such a hoot to watch them I keep going out and sitting on the porch just to see them work.

ttfn,

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It’s almost over . . . .

My trip is almost over, and I’m so depressed about coming home I can hardly move.  I’m back in Margate after leaving PE and driving to New London then the next day on up here.  Been taking it easy after all the driving but better get out and have some beach time as only two more days here and then Wednesday off to Durbs to turn in the car, then on to Jozie for two nights before I fly out homeward bound.

View from my deck at Treetops 2

View from my deck at Treetops 2

View from my deck at Treetops 1

View from my deck at Treetops 1

Geckos at their fast food joint

Geckos at their fast food joint

I’m back at Treetops, and I love the decks here in front of the rooms.  Way up in the trees.  Herd (flock? pack?) of monkeys on the roof this evening, making a heck of a racket and jumping from the roof over the deck and into the trees.  I’ll sure miss being able to sit out front and see all the birds and butterflies too.  Going to miss the geckos all over the front wall and sitting on the porch light, not to mention the little guys scrambling around my room looking for goodies to eat that would otherwise just bite me.

My room gecko

My room gecko

Eeee-ew!  A huge red centipede

Eeee-ew! A huge red centipede

Flocks of hadedas fly over twice a day as I’m on the path between where they spend their nights and the Conservancy where they go each day to eat.  Now there’s a racket!

I never know that geckos made a noise, but they do.  Sort of a whirring sound, which I’ve been told they do only at mating time when they’re getting territorial, but I’m far from sure that the imparter of this information knew what he was on about.  Just found out too that geckos don’t have sticky pads or suction cups on their feet but can climb walls due to some sort of molecular attraction that they’ve just discovered. Weird!

Also saw a strange little gecko with raised lines all down the length of him, crosswise.

Unless something radical happens, don’t know if I’ll be making any more entries here before I leave – may just sit somewhere and commune with nature.

I’ll e-mail you all when I get the photos up and the video uploaded somewhere that you can see.

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Lovely day

Got to the cheetah breeding project with my LL’s help and maps and it was really fun.  I was the only one on the tour when I took it so had lots of time with the ‘pets’.

Got some really cute video clips of petting the cheetah – you can hear her purring.  She purrs so loudly that it sounds like a truck engine idling.  She licked my hand and I said to the guide that I was surprised her tongue wasn’t much rougher.  The guide said that then she wasn’t licking hard as they have to be very careful when they’re all sweaty because she will then lick hard for the salt and it only takes 6 or 7 licks to take the skin off you just like sandpaper.

And some cute clips of the two baby lions.  They had just been fed so were feeling lazy, but would make sure you scratched the right places either by rolling over or grabbing your hand with a paw.  Licked my hands and nipped them a bit – really cute little guys.  Didn’t want to leave at all.

Good to hear too that they’re being very responsible about gene pool mixing – trading breeders with other projects and zoos, and that they are also keeping those animals due to be released to the wild well away from human traffic and you can just see them in the distance.  They do need the little ones and a tame one though as the revenue from the petting section is what keeps them going I imagine.  It ain’t cheap to feed a cheetah.

The cheetah guide with the 'tame' cheetah

The cheetah guide with the 'tame' cheetah

I’ll get the video up as soon as I can after I get home and let you all know.

Another thing I forgot to tell you about.  Some of the townships here (like reservations at home) are mostly better off or educated working people like teachers and government workers, and they may have a fairly nice house, lots of “stuff” (my friend Party that I visited earlier has a 3D TV set-up) and they may or may not have electricity – if not, solar hot water and propane for fridges and a generator – but many townships have no running water.  So I saw as I was driving one day, a few well-off looking ladies with nice new ‘bakkies’ (small pick-up trucks) who had taken their loads of laundry down to a nearby river and were washing their clothes and spreading them in the field to dry.  A country full of strange contrasts here.

A couple towns I passed by that were interestingly named – Dam-Dam and Hanky.  There was another good one today but I’ve forgotten it.

Supposed to rain tomorrow, but all I have planned is a nice massage if I can get an appointment – these hours of driving are making my back a bit stiff, and a haircut repair – both the guide at the cheetah project and my LL at the B&B have offered to take me to their hair stylists (you would not believe the looks I’m getting on the street!).  It’s already so short the only remedy may be to shave it all off – I don’t know.  Cross your fingers for me . . .

(–New haircut was a success)

ttys,

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Good thing it’ll grow in

Not too much to report.

Got here Friday afternoon, started looking at what I wanted to see and emailing for further directions for a couple things that looked interesting yesterday.

Yesterday morning I finally found the Johnny Clegg disc I wanted, and while I was at the mall I decided to get my hair cut.  It’s really been bugging me since no matter how long I grow it little bits keep breaking off and then they’re too short to be caught back and just keep flying around my face and hanging in my neck.  Anyway, the result of telling the girl to cut it short and a little bit feathery is undoubtedly the worst haircut I’ve ever had – and I’ve had some terrible ones.  Little “Dutch boy” bangs and some choppy pieces that stick out at the side of my head like I’m the Flying Nun or something.  I have no mirror to let me see the back, (and maybe that’s a mercy or I might stay indoors for the rest of the trip) but I can feel that it’s really short and choppy.  A veritable ‘backed-into-a-running-lawnmower’ of a haircut!  I’ll have to see what Stacey, my regular hairstylist, can do with what’s left when I get home.

Went to church this morning and when I got back no further information from any of the places I’d want to see, so played with the dog, read and napped.  It wasn’t as windy today, which made it nice for sitting out in the lovely garden here and watching the birds and the geckos that climb on the garden wall.

I still can’t get over how business people here just don’t get back to you when you e-mail them.  Whether it’s for accommodation or for more information on a tourist site they are running, it can be days or weeks before you get a reply. Don’t understand it when they’re all complaining about how poor they are.

Not much else going on, so back to my book.  Even the dog has deserted me since I finished sharing my supper left-overs with her this afternoon.  Faithless creature!

ttys,

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I’ve found MY Place, I think

Lots of catching up to do here.  Connections for phone and internet are practically non-existent at Tsitsikamma.  It was strange to be back there – so much has changed since I was there 4 yrs ago.  The Lodge has been sold to a small chain and the upkeep has been spotty – odd little things missed or done wrong that just grate.  And for the price they charge, I don’t want any  ‘odd little things’ grating!

 

Hadeda on the lawn

Hadeda on the lawn

View from my porch at Tsitsikamma

View from my porch at Tsitsikamma

Also, the N2 has been run across and north of the old road, so it’s right outside the cabins practically.  Now it’s the main route from east to west on the south end and you hear trucks and racing cars all day and all night.  Not the pastoral serenity I was looking for.  Still really nice staff, but that doesn’t make up for what was lost.  And now they take in small coach tours, so the place is full of noisy tourists, mostly German while I was there.  Don’t have anything against German tourists, just coach groups tend to be much more noisy than single travellers.

BUT – when I left this morning I decided to double back and look at Storms River Village since that’s where the canopy zip-line tours run from and I really, really want to do that, but chickened out again yesterday when I had the chance to do it.  What a place – I’m in love again!  One little street of one block with touristy things on it – horse riding, tubing, bike tours and the zip-line thing, with a second-hand bookshop and a small grocery store, restaurant and internet cafe.  Then there were some accommodation establishments, one called Tsitsikamma Village Inn caught my eye.  Large, well-tended grounds.  Several types of living spaces – Swiss wooden cottages, adobe type fisherman’s cottages, old Cape Dutch ‘row housing’.  It was so intriguing.  I went in to the reception and asked the woman what the charges were, and they’re half of what the place I stayed was.  And she said feel free to wander about and any room door that is open, I could go in and check it out.  They were all excellent rooms.  Done up so nicely, clean bright and thoughtfully set up.  And the Albert and Victoria suites were really something!  THEN when I spoke to the woman on the desk again, she said that the former owners of Tsitsikamma Lodge bought this when they sold the other place to the chain. This couple have a genius for making a place have a vibe where you just feel like you can let your breath out and your shoulders relax.  I wanted to stay there so badly, but already had my reservations at the B&B here in PE, so regretfully left.  Had talked to the second-hand bookstore owner and he said that a monthly rental there in the village would be about R2-3,000/mo.  That’s pretty reasonable and I loved the place, what little I saw of it.  Don’t know if it’s close to a beach or not, but google earth will surely tell me.

Storms River Village 2

Storms River Village 2

Storms River Village 1

Storms River Village 1

Saw lots of birds at the Lodge though.  One that looks like a robin kept coming and sitting on my windowsill and looking in at me.  It was a hoot.  And lots of  hadedas on the lawns.  MT you’ll have to tell me how to pronounce that bird’s name.  I’ve been rhyming it with lah-di-dah but have no idea if that is correct.

Also saw this bright little thing that never sat still for more than a few seconds unless it was way high up.  Irridescent as so many here seem to be.  Black, red, turquoise and yellow.  Looked a lot like the lilac breasted roller but black where the roller has the lilac.  It makes a strange sound, a ‘tink-tink’ call that sounds just as if someone was snapping their fingernail against an empty beer bottle.

The weather is something else.  When I was through here before, it was gloomy.  While I was down the road, PE and East London had a heat wave of 38C.  Now I’m here and it is thundering and gloomy, and the wind!  My grief!  PE is definitely the Chicago of SA.  It thunders and lightnings a lot, but doesn’t rain much – a few sprinkles.  I asked the chap at the Lodge about that because it thundered and lightninged in a major way all last night but there was only a few drops of rain there.  He said because it is already so damp on this side of the mountains that the clouds don’t release their rain until the other side, over the Karoo, which is a desert, so they will be glad of it.

The wind is so bad I don’t really feel like venturing out so it’s a good time to catch up on my blog here, then I’ll see what this town has to offer by way of touristy stuff.

 

I did go back to the elephant orphanage and did a different program this time.  Since the weather was great and there were lots of people they did the walks and educational talks this time.  The walks are when they bring elephants out and you can hold ‘hands’ with them and take them for a walk.  That was fun, and the educational session was good too.  You get to feel the elephants’ trunks, teeth, foot pads and so on and how everything works is explained to you.

 

 

And I went to Birds of Eden again.  Love that place.  Had a great long chat with the woman who owns it as she was walking on the path back to the office so started explaining some things to a bunch of us who were looking at the birds.  So everyone else moved on and we stood and chatted for quite a while.  A lot of the birds they have there as well as the small monkeys which are new and the pair of duikers, were pets that people either were mistreating or decided that they couldn’t handle.  Even though there is the monkeyland park next door, which she also owns, those monkeys – two kinds of tamarins I think they’re called – can’t go in there since they really don’t know how to behave properly to be accepted and they’d be killed.

 

 

People just don’t think before they get an animal way too often.  One of the elephants at the elephant orphanage was a pet.  Someone kept her until she was about 4 I think and was getting way too big for the house but didn’t want to stay out.  So the poor thing got turned over to the orphanage and they had a heck of a time for a couple years  keeping her out of the ‘people buildings’.  Now she has taken over the role of foster mother to any new elephants because even though she’s the oldest, she can’t be a matriarch of the herd since she doesn’t know enough about elephant stuff.

 

 

Saw a T-shirt on the net that I loved.  I’d get it if I didn’t already have too many T-shirts.  It said “Anything unrelated to elephants is irr-elephant.”

Anyway, I think that’s all for today.

ttys,

 

 

 

 

 

 

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