Yesterday was my grandmother’s memorial celebration, held on our family farm in Ellicott City, Maryland. It was also the day that Hurricane Irene hit America’s East Coast. (Ellicott City is a couple of hours from the coast so all we got were some downed trees and power outages. But still.) My grandmother’s name was Frances Wellford Mason, born Frances Colquhoun Wellford. Colqhuoun is pronounced “Cuh-HOON”, which is how she got the nickname Cooncie. All of her grandchildren called her that. Cooncie at age 24. She was stunning, right? (Photo: Wendell Powell)
Joe and I woke up ridiculously early one Sunday morning. It was a beautiful day. Joe had an idea for an outing but wouldn’t tell me what it was. He ushered me into the car and we headed up the M1 toward Pretoria. When I saw this granite monolith staring down at us, I realized Joe was taking me to the Voortrekker Monument. Die Voortrekkermonument. (It’s all one word in Afrikaans.) Voortrekker, which means ‘pioneer’, is pronounced ‘FOUR-trecker’, with a rolled R that I can’t replicate.
Today I attended a “Jazz Breakfast” fundraiser on the roof of a vacant building in Melville, to raise money for an upcoming poetry festival at the Melville Visitors Centre. The weather was splendid, the view was sensational, the conversation was pleasant, and the music was lovely. It was a perfectly enjoyable — and blog-able — morning. I had a blast taking photos. View of the Joburg skyline from the roof of the old Nike shop on 4th Avenue in Melville. Tables ready and waiting for jazz breakfast revelers.
Welcome to the final blog post about my hike through the Kruger Park’s Pafuri Triangle: the mineral installment. Most of the facts in this post were gleaned from Brian, our Pafuri wilderness guide, and Wikipedia. If you’ve read parts 1 and 2 of this series, you know that the Pafuri Triangle is chock-full of majestic African wildlife and awe-inspiring trees. But Pafuri also has rocks. And water. And an amazing geological and archaeological history. Geology and archaeology aren’t my specialties, but this post is an excuse to show you some of my favorite pics from the trip that don’t feature animals or plants. Water is a mineral, right? Either way, I really like this picture.
A big thank you to travelgurus.co.za and Wilderness Adventures for making this blog post possible. Last weekend I visited Kruger National Park, the largest park in South Africa. This wasn’t just any old Kruger safari, either. I went to the remotest and most beautiful section of the park — the Pafuri Triangle. A view of the Limpopo River, just before my plane landed at Pafuri Camp. The Pafuri Triangle is in the far northern corner of the Kruger Park, wedged between the Limpopo and Luvuvu Rivers and the borders of Zimbabwe and Mozambique.
There was a total lunar eclipse in the Southern Hemisphere tonight. Joe and I went to an eclipse-viewing party at a friend’s house. Here are some funky (i.e., blurry) photos of the evening. Full moon above Joe’s friend Neville’s house. This is the perfect time of year to watch a lunar eclipse in Joburg because the sky is crystal clear nearly every night.
I’m leaving town for a few days and probably won’t have internet access. Before I go, I want to share a few recent pictures from the garden at the Lucky 5 Star. Before moving to South Africa, the only aloes I’d ever seen were aloe vera plants — droopy house plants that people keep around for when they burn themselves. Here there are hundreds of different kinds of aloes, ranging from small, cabbage-sized plants to massive trees. I’ve also recently learned that aloes grow tall, flaming orange blooms in early winter.
Before I start, let me alert you to a guest post I wrote for a blog called “Notes From Africa”: What Your Cat Wants to Know: An American Ex-pat Perspective. It’s a departure from my normal subject matter — please check it out and browse through Lisa’s lovely blog while you’re at it. Thanks again, Lisa! Easter Monday was the first nice day we’ve had here in weeks. The air was balmy, the sky was azure, and the clouds looked like that gauzy cotton that people stretch across doorways on Halloween. Hiking was necessary. We considered going to Klipriviersberg Nature Reserve, a park in southern Joburg that we visited a few months ago. But while searching online for a Kliprviersberg trail map (which I never found), I stumbled upon a listing for Kloofendal Nature Reserve on the western outskirts of the city. Joe had heard of Kloofendal but never been. We decided to give it a try.
After a rainy Saturday evening in Magaliesburg, Joe and I decided to go for a hike in Mountain Sanctuary Park. The sun was only listlessly trying to push through the clouds, but we were determined to do something outdoorsy on our country weekend. Mountain Sanctuary Park is a privately owned nature reserve in the Magaliesburg Mountains, about an hour from the town of Magaliesburg. To get there we had to cross Breedt’s Nek Pass, on a rutted, boulder-strewn dirt road. The views are great but this road is not for the faint of heart, especially after rain. We passed a hapless couple getting their VW hatchback hauled out of the mud by a tow truck.
Mom and I were in Cape Town for three days — we had lots to see and no car. I’m usually not a fan of group bus tours, but when Mom suggested a tour of the Cape Peninsula with a company called Daytrippers, it seemed like a good plan under the circumstances. Alexi, our charming Daytrippers guide, fetched us from the guest house at 8:45 a.m. To my relief, our touring vehicle was not a bus, but a cute van towing a bike trailer. (For some reason I did not take any photos of the cute van or the cute tour guide. Apologies.) We headed south out of Cape Town and marveled at the crystal blue sea and lovely beachfront suburbs. Clifton, a spectacular Cape Town suburb along the Atlantic coast of the Cape Peninsula.
My mother and I had just arrived in Cape Town – it was 11 a.m. on a Friday. The shuttle dropped us off at our guest house, a tiny, no-frills place called Lionscape in the shabby-chic neighborhood of Tamboerskloof. Paul, the proprietor, helped carry our bags upstairs. Lionscape. This place flies below the radar — we had trouble finding it because there is no sign. It’s a great deal though — R300 (about $45) per person per night during Cape Town’s high season. Nothing fancy, but adequate and with amazing views of both Cape Town and Table Mountain.