Thursday, June 30, 2011

the daily(ish)

We were just 35 kilometers from the landlocked country of Lesotho when we were in Moolmanshoek last weekend.  We would have popped over for a passport stamp had our passports not been with the Brazilian Embassy getting our visas.  We learned about the people of Lesotho during our stay at Lesedi and were told you could always spot them by their conical hats that represent their mountainous country…


It wasn’t until I saw the shape of the mountains in this region that I realized it the representation is quite literal…


Wednesday, June 29, 2011


So far the best comment I’ve seen about marriage equality after New York’s legalization of same-sex marriage this past Friday:

“My grandchildren will be asking me in 2081: "Why was there a debate on gay marriage?"

I'll respond: "Because people were idiots. Go enjoy your date with the robot."

From Surviving The World

the daily(ish)

This reminded me of when we bought our dining room table and I brought back 5 of the chairs in my Mini Cooper…


Everyone said my car was so impractical, but when you have a convertible (or flatbed)- the sky is the limit.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

#7 Revised

Number 7 on my life list was: “Have a meerkat climb on me.”  Technically, this one should still be outstanding because I didn’t have a meerkat climb on me this weekend.  But I’ve decided to edit the life list and check it off because really  I should have said “see meerkats in the wild”.  If one had actually climbed on top of me I would have completely freaked out.

El Diablo is always kidding me about my animal stalking and yes, I can be a bit obsessed with seeing animals and yes, I always think I want to touch them. But in truth, if you look back through my past animal encounters you will see this same face in every one of them:


Yes, that is sheer panic not-so-successfully masked by a fake smile.  That monkey isn’t even that close to me, but I’m totally freaked that he’s going to jump on me.

I’m always saying how monkeys make me nervous anyway, but I assure you any wild(ish) animal freaks me out upon close contact…


See those eyebrows? See how my upper lip has completely disappeared? I’m totally freaked out.

So I’m editing my life list and #7 is now officially crossed off.

One more freak-out for your viewing pleasure…



Point proven.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Meerkat Manor

Friday afternoon I emailed the woman at our hotel to see what time we would be seeing the meerkats and received a response saying “Sunday morning, weather permitting.”

What? Weather who? I’ve been emailing back and forth with this woman for about 2 months and was very clear the only reason we were making the 4 hour (each way) drive for one night was for us to see these meerkats. She never said there was any possibility that it may not happen.

I tried to ease my worries by reminding myself it has rained a whopping 3 times since we’ve been here. Surely she didn’t mean anything by it and surely it wouldn’t rain on my very last weekend and very last chance to see these little guys.

When we finally made it on Saturday afternoon my nerves were on edge. My face had broken out in an allergic rash and at one point we had to pull over to find some Benadryl because the right side of my throat was swelling. I have weird allergic reactions sometimes, but when having one in the middle of nowhere South Africa I tend to overreact.

As we met with the lady and were checking in she said she really hoped we’d see the meerkats, but with the cold front it didn’t look good since they don’t come out when it’s cold. It was currently freezing outside.

My rash-covered face could not hide my disappointment.

Since I had taken the Benadryl (they usually knock me out) and we had to make sure my reaction didn’t take a turn for the worse, we spent our afternoon reading and hanging out by the fireplace in our room.

At dinner we were greeting by Shelton, the resident meerkat man. He showed us some pictures and said he was very hopeful that we would see the little guys tomorrow since it would be sunny. He explained that another group had tried to see them for the past 3 days to no avail. “It will be good tomorrow, I’m sure we’ll see them” he said.

I wanted to believe him, but our odds weren’t looking too good.

We were up bright and early Sunday to ride out to the meerkats. It was one of the coldest rides of my life. I couldn’t help thinking “no way they’re going to be out”, but then as we came over a hill, Sheldon said “Look there- do you see them?”

see those little meerkats standing up?

See them standing? Probably not, but they’re there, just in the middle.

I was estatic! We parked and slowly walked towards them. A few ducked back into the burrow, but after a few seconds came back out to stand in the warmth of the sun…



Shelton spent 2 years getting this colony of meerkats comfortable with humans. He knows them all by sight and gave us the brief history of them recently losing their dominant female, the aging dominant male and the 6 month old babies. It was awesome to be so close to these little creatures.

We were there with another group of people staying at the hotel and after about an hour they asked to go back to the hotel because they had scheduled a horse riding tour. I started taking my final photos and bidding goodbye to the little meerkats.

Shelton then came over and asked the Wife and I if we’d like to stay longer. Um, obviously.

He took the group back to the hotel and we sat down amongst the colony. The wife was very sweet and took the camera in case one came up to me. None of them actually came right up to us, but I can’t begin to tell you how cool it was to sit right next to a burrow hole and have little meerkats pop their heads out, look me over, and decide I’m okay enough to sit next to for some sunbathing...


It was so awesome!

Shelton came back and we spent another hour or so just observing and of course taking a million photos…






Just us, Shelton and 15 meerkats-it was like being on our own private set of Meerkat Manor! So incredible…


This was our last weekend in South Africa and a pretty awesome one at that.

Depending on the volcanic ashes coming out of Chile, we’re hoping to spend the weekend in Buenos Aires before arriving in Rio on Sunday.

I may have used up all my good weather luck with the meerkats though…


and it was totally worth it!

Pics from the weekend…

the daily(ish)

I will miss the sunsets here…


It’s all I can do not to take pictures of it every single day.  

Friday, June 24, 2011

the daily(ish)

Quite possibly the ugliest shoes I’ve ever worn…


although there was that chunky heel phase in the 90’s.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

the daily(ish)

I was in first place at bowling…


for about 3 seconds. Sigh.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

mall rat

I’m ready to leave.  Normally this feeling comes around the “2 weeks to go mark” every round.  It’s normal for us to be gearing up for the next round and be excited to get there.

The thing is-I’ve had this feeling for a few weeks now.  I thought this time around in Joburg would be so much better than before because of having an apartment.  I thought I’d be busy cooking, planning meals and enjoying the normalcy of it all.  Wrong. 

Okay, not completely wrong.  I do love cooking.  I do love the bit of normalcy.  I think the problem lies in the fact that I can only go to the mall.  I seriously hate malls.  At home, I will only go about 3 stores deep from an entrance and if forced to go to a food court, I may break out in hives. 

If you know me at all you know my own personal hell would be to forced to go to a mall every single day.  Guess what?  I’m totally living that right now. 

I go to the mall practically every single freaking day.  It’s the only place I can go and within the belly of the beast are the grocery stores, so there really is no avoiding it.

The malls and hotels are all connected anyway so in essence I’m living in a mall. I. am. living. in. a. mall.

I’m more than over it. 

I’m ready for Rio, the excitement of being in a new country (sorry, Botswana did not scratch that itch) and to have new experiences.  I’m ready to see friends and honestly…I can’t believe I’m saying this…I’m ready to have a little “team time”.  As much as I have loved having a bit of normalcy, the apartment life has has made us a bit isolated.  

I miss people!  I miss the outside!  I miss freedom!

There is a friend currently in Brazil counting down the days until he goes home on Facebook.  I love it because each day I see his countdown, I know I’m that much closer to getting there and out of this God-forsaken mall.

9 days to go…

the daily(ish)

Our hotel is attached to Nelson Mandela Square…


I seriously heart this man. I’m tempted to reread his biography.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

the daily(ish)

Someone forgot about her boiled egg breakfast…


and pulled it out of her purse at a casino bar later that night.  Nice.

not a total loss


So we didn’t make it to the world’s highest sand dune in Namibia.  The weekend wasn’t exactly thrilling, but we had some high points- like my first bumper car experience…


How did I never drive a bumper car before?1? I think all people or work or travel together for long periods of time should do this…




We had actually gone there to bowl and I DIDN’T come in last place.  Well, at least for the first game. 

Jules and I saw a movie one day, The Adjustment Bureau, and I ate a giant tub of popcorn for my lunch.  Not my best plan. 

We went back to Moyo, but for some reason it wasn’t as fun and I now think that it made the Wife sick, so another not-so-great plan.  Whoops.


We also got in a little last minute shopping.  We’ve bought just about everything we could possibly want to buy in South Africa, but we both felt the need to shop for our unborn (unplanned, not-conceived, may or may not ever be) baby’s room. 

Geez. To be two women in our thirties, married for 5 years and together for almost a decade- honestly, after typing that I’m surprised we haven’t done it earlier.  Anyway, if we do decide one day to bring a munchkin home, it will have one cute little safari-themed room to hang in.

I suppose all my parent friends reading this will be quite please with themselves- your pressure is working.  Thanks a lot.

I’m back to animal stalking this weekend.  On the agenda- meerkats!  I’m so excited!!!  Fingers crossed one sits on my head!!!

Monday, June 20, 2011

the daily(ish)

Our Belgium cohort assured us this thing is actually from a cartoon…


a very, very scary cartoon!

Friday, June 17, 2011

the daily(ish)

Thank goodness the movie theaters here give you assigned seats…


how else would I have decided where to sit??

BTW- I saw The Lincoln Lawyer.  I’m sure it is already on DVD in the U.S. but if you haven’t seen it- Matthew McConaughey’s acting actually didn’t make me want to scream and punch someone (read: scream at and punch him) so I would recommend it.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

the daily(ish)

Hartbeespoort Dam…


It’s a one-way bridge over the dam and thanks to that we were stuck for over 30 minutes trying to cross it.  The guys screaming in our windows trying to sell us Sponge Bob backpacks didn’t make it any less painful.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

the daily(ish)

Pretty windmill we drove past on our way to Pilanesburg…


change o’ plans

I think sometimes people forget that the Wife works to provide us with this opportunity.  I don’t share her tough days, the crap she deals with, the challenges she faces.  I share the weekends and the plans for more weekends. I don’t talk about how she has to work so much during the week so she can even have time to enjoy those weekends-I just show off pictures of the fun stuff.     

This round has been challenging in more ways than one.  Due to some of the work-related challenges, we needed to cancel our trip to Namibia. 

Yeah, it stinks.  Tomorrow is a holiday and to lose a 4 days weekend isn’t fun- especially for the Wife who will be working the whole time.  But, it also isn’t the end of the world. 

We’ve got to leave some destinations for later in life, right? 

So Namibia-you’re not so much canceled as heavily delayed.  We’ll get to you one day, say sometime in the next 10-20 years. 

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

the daily(ish)

There are always fires on the side of the road in South Africa…


It’s winter here and it’s really dry. It’s only rained twice that I can think of since we arrived almost 6 weeks ago. It’s usually windy.

I’ve yet to ever see anyone overseeing these random fires. Are they random??? How many random roadside fires can there be?? Why hasn’t this country burned to the ground????

Monday, June 13, 2011

the daily(ish)

It’s 2011 and I know this hotel wasn’t built a hundred years ago…


What is the freaking point of having separate faucets?   Our friend who lives in England says they build new houses with this junk.

I asked El Diablo about this, as it is prevalent in Europe as well. He asked why we wanted the water to come out of one faucet.  Um, to wash our hands with warm water?  Not- cold, then hot, then cold, hot again, oooh now cold! 

Don’t even get me started on how short these faucets are…who can even get a hand under that?

I understand liking old-fashion and quaint things, but really, when it comes to advances in plumbing technology you should really always embrace it, people.



Can I tell you how much I hate the word “chillax”?  It really grates on my nerves when people use it.  I think it is such a stupid, stupid word and if someone says they are “chillaxin” my blood pressure literally goes up.

That said, it’s kinda the perfect word to describe our weekend.  Actually, “freezlax” would be even better.

We chose to do another 1 night weekend and had booked a night with two game drives in Pilanesburg.  You can read all about the park from the first two times we were there here and here.  It’s small, but you can see a ton of animals there and it’s only 2 hours from Joburg.  We left Saturday morning and got there just in time for our afternoon drive.

We weren’t looking to track big cats or anything thrilling like our time in Sabi Sands.  We really just didn’t want to stay in Joburg (who would??) and game drives are relaxing for us.  It’s great to be outside for hours when you live a compound bound life during the week and we both just really enjoy seeing the animals.  No matter what, one drive is always different from the next. 

Saturday we saw so many ellies…



One even charged at another and drove it from the rest of the herd…



It was pretty intense.

We also got to see a troop of baboons.  I’m usually not a fan of monkeys.  They’re unpredictable and they have hands- not a good combination in my book.  These baboons have never been fed by humans though, so they are just baboons doing baboon things…

taking a break


It was so great to see all the little babies. 

We got up close and personal with a giraffe…


and we got to see my personal faves in some great light as the sun was setting…


After our drive we enjoyed a great braai (bbq) out in the bush and then caught a very chilly ride home.  It’s winter here and it gets cold when the sun goes down. When you’re riding in an open air vehicle it makes for a pretty frigid ride. 

Okay, so we’ve returned from a great day outdoors, had some cool animal sightings and enjoyed a lovely dinner together out in the bush- perfect day. We can’t wait to hit the hay and get up fresh for our early morning drive.  We get to our room and it is freezing.  Julie starts flipping lights and figures out all but one lamp won’t turn on nor will the heat.  We call the front desk- “most people don’t even have lights right now- so be happy you have one.” Um, okay.

It was a nightmare.  Oh, except you have nightmares while you’re sleeping and there was none of that.

When the alarm went off at 6:40am we both said “no way”.  No way were we going to get out of our ice-beds to go ride in a jeep in 40 degree weather (4 degrees Celsius) for 3 hours. 

We’re in Africa, things like this happen. Even at expensive lodges.  It sucked, but what can you do? Well, you can send a very heated email to Expedia-which I plan on doing immediately.  It should be easy since I was composing it in my head at 3am in an attempt to keep my brain from freezing.

When we finally braved the cold enough to throw on clothes, we had a nice breakfast (by the fireplace) and then headed back to Joburg.

Pics from this weekend…


We’ve got a long weekend ahead of us.  A group of us are heading to Namibia Wednesday night to see the world’s tallest sand dunes!

We’re camping.

I’m currently on mission to find thermal underwear.

Friday, June 10, 2011

the daily(ish)

Save the girl praying in the middle, I really liked this piece of art…



It’s made entirely of aluminum cans.  When you get up close you see the colors are Fanta cans. They can do amazing things with aluminum cans here.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

the daily(ish)

If you’ve never visited our food blog- (see that link on the right ---->) you should!  All our culinary adventures are there. If you haven’t been in a while, you should start going back because I’m actually updating it fairly regularly again.  Shocking, I know.

I mentioned this stuff in a post about our dinner in the bush….


It’s pretty much just a spicy veggie relish.  It’s pretty good, but I really just love it’s name- CHAKA-LA-KA.  So fun to say.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Southern book covers

I’m from a small town in North Georgia.  It isn’t that small anymore.  Now it’s a commuter suburb for Atlanta.  Now it has cul-de-sacs upon cul-de-sacs filled with identical floor plans and clogged streets filled with families trying to get from one Walmart to the next before Junior’s next soccer practice.  I left long before this though.  I was probably 15 or so when we got our first chain “sit down” restaurant. Actually, we got two- an Applebee’s AND a Po Folks built right next door to one another. They were THE place to go out.  We thought we had really come up in the world.

The BFF graduated a year before me and I made it my life’s mission my senior year to put my head down and try to survive that last year without him so I, too, could get the hell out of there.

I attended college classes that year so I was able to avoid everything but a couple hours of actual high school per day. All I wanted was to move to Atlanta. Well, actually I would have moved to just about any city, but Atlanta was realistic and I was a kid from a small town so Atlanta seemed big enough.  To put it in perspective, my family used to drive to Florida in the middle of the night to avoid the horrors of Atlanta.  Seriously, we left for every trip at like 1am.  Still in our pj’s, we’d be scooped from our beds and placed in the backseat so we could be out of Atlanta before the light of day.  You know, when the crazies come out. 

All my 14/15/16/17/18 year old selves wanted was to get out of that small town and away from the small town (read: small-minded) way of life and way of thinking. I was ashamed of my Southern small town upbringing.

Other than my BFF, I really rarely had contact with people from back home.  I roomed with one girl my freshman year, but after that my run-ins were just that.  Maybe I’d see one out at a restaurant in Atlanta, maybe a Braves game,  maybe a current friend knew a friend who had a friend named Noel, which was the name of my boyfriend in college (read: last boy I ever dated) and current friend says “How many guys in Atlanta are named Noel? Is this your ex-boyfriend?” only to find out it isn’t my ex, but a guy from high school who I kinda dated in that weirdo high school “hanging out” way.  Yes- I dated (sort of) two boys named Noel.

I digress.

So enter Facebook and enter all these people I used to know about a million years ago.  I’m as nosy as the next person (okay, maybe nosier) and I have to say I relished getting a peek into everyone’s lives so many years later.  It was like a class reunion without the hassle of an actual reunion.  It was great to see old friends happy in their adult lives- married, engaged, out of the closet, traveling on a wing and a prayer, successful in so many ways, having babies, raising children, raising sheep, raising eyebrows.  Some have moved out of our small town and some stayed.  A lot stayed. It was fun to see how much growing up and experiencing life can really change a person and how some things and some people never really change.

I’m a big believer in taking ownership of your life instead of allowing others to dictate your happiness.  If someone brings you nothing but misery, then you need to extract that person from your life.  If you’ve tried and tried, who’s really to blame for continuing to let them make you so unhappy? Obviously, I’m not talking about serious abusive relationships here.  I’m not blaming the victim, but I see so many people who let toxic relationships seep all this ugliness into their lives until they’re drowning  in it.   I have enough spectacular people in my life that I don’t see enough or talk to enough- why should I waste time/energy on someone who at their core doesn’t want the best for me or my family?  It may sound harsh, but I think life is just too short.

With that said, I really believe this to be true for cyber-friendships.  I remember when this hateful, awful woman was running for Governor last year.  She did nothing but spew hate and decided her greatest asset to set  her apart from the other hate-mongering Republican was that she hated gay people and their families more.  The thing was, she used to be a reasonable human being, but to win a Repub nomination in GA these day you need to really hate the gays.  We’re really horrible people so it’s understandable.  I know my marriage has personally made your life hell and if it hasn’t yet- we’ll work a little harder. 

Soooo, I posted on FB that if you planned to vote for this woman that was promising to vehemently oppose my marriage, jepoadize the future of my family as well as all my gay friends’ families (she was on a kick about banning gay adoption) then you needed to de-friend me.  I had 2 people take me up on my offer.  One whose husband worked for the woman and the other I think was my renter, but I’m sure she was looking for any excuse to sever ties since she and her dogs were busy ripping up my yard and not cleaning anything- ever.

I had expected more. I was sure more than a few people have me “hidden” so maybe they didn’t see the bigot roll call.  Or hope beyond hope- some people who had planned on voting for her thought about how it would affect my family- someone they actually knew.  The other hate-monger ended up winning, but he’s always been a giant ass, so at least you can respect him for sticking to his guns.

Please note that I CAN be friends with Republicans.  But, in the same breath I would never vote for a Democrat that made his campaign about destroying anyone’s family.  That’s just me.

Thinking I’m bigot-free, I go about life.  Then one day I get a message on my wall from a girl from back home asking me how I get to travel constantly. I tell her. She replies something back, but I can’t read it all because my eyes are focused solely on “wife”.  She put my wife in parenthesis.  Parenthesis.

I’m livid.  I’m disgusted. Steam is coming out of my ears. I instantly get a private message from another friend asking who this idiot girl is and how do I know her. I calm myself.  I remember that this girl, who I was never actually friends with growing up, is from my hometown.  She then chose to move to an even smaller town up in the mountains.  I reply that my wife doesn’t require parenthesis.  I reply that we’ve been together for almost a decade and married for almost half that. She replies with some lame “no offense intended”. 

I reply to my friend’s message that this girl is just someone I used to know and she’s obviously ignorant.  Except as I’m typing I think about how she isn’t ignorant.  Can anyone who watches television (fact: 99% of Americans own at least 1 television) actually claim ignorance?  Gay people dance around tables in your daytime talk shows. Gay characters are on soap operas.  Entire shows have revolved around gay characters.  Gay families are portrayed in your favorite primetime shows.  Unless you are part of that 1 percent, I call bullshit on your ignorance.  And even then you still know gay people.  We’re 1 in 10, so even that town in the Andes on the Chilean border with a population of 7 probably at least has one bisexual.

I de-friend her.

She sends request after request and finally a message asking me why I de-friended her.  I answer honestly.  She replies honestly and to my utter amazement it was actually a misunderstanding.  She didn’t know I was gay and really thought I meant “wifey” as in how she refers to her close female friends.  I accepted her apology and her friend request.

I watched a video last week from ABC where they set up a gay family in a restaurant and had an actress waitress berate them in front of everyone.  The point was to see who would stand up for these people and who would do nothing.  It was set in Texas.  Over half the patrons ended up saying something to the waitress.  One guy wrote a note to the family that seriously had the wife and I in tears.

They had done this same experiment in NYC the previous year and barely anyone stood up for the family. 

I’m from a small town in North Georgia. I still (technically) live in Georgia.  Yes, the majority of my neighbors (70% to be exact) voted to ban my marriage.  Yes, the majority of my neighbors will always vote for the conservative, even if that conservative wants to hurt my family.  But, when it comes down to it, when push comes to shove and my neighbors are standing face to face with another human being- I truly believe they will do the right thing.

The values in the South are so many times mired in our ugly history.  They are tainted with the opinions of men who evoke the name of God in their selfish pursuit to try to become a god. I am a Southerner, born and bred, and am guilty of forgetting how strong our values really are and how loving we can be to one another.

But, thanks to a girl I knew a million years ago- today I remember.

the daily(ish)

We buy a lot of souvenirs.  Not as many as I’d like to buy, but I like to get things to remind of our time spent places.  When we go home each year it’s like Christmas opening up all the things we’ve sent home via friends.  I can’t imagine what its going to be like when we actually move home and unpack everything.

I never get to enjoy my purchases when I buy them though.  Granted, I’ll unwrap something 14 times to look at it before it gets stuffed into a suitcase, but I don’t get to really enjoy it.

We bought this doll from the Ndebele women we met.  They make them in their own image…




I love her and since we have an apartment I can actually enjoy her!  She even matches the color scheme of the living room here.