Blog Archive

Friday, January 13, 2017

Wild Life

I mentioned in my last blog post that I have been enjoying some quiet time over the holidays. Over the past two weeks I have been spending an endless amount of time at home waiting for various repairmen to arrive. Sometimes they do arrive and sometimes they don't. I think I've spent an inordinate amount of time over these past (almost) two years in South Africa waiting on repairmen. This begs the question is my house of substandard construction? or is it because I am in charge of Ops and in the past these tasks would have been more evenly split between Mr. Deep and me? I think it's a combination of both. 

Some crude math indicates that I've spent 4% of the time that we've lived in this house at home waiting for repairmen.  We've lived in this house for 646 days at the time of writing and I think I've spent at least 28 of those waiting at home for:

  • repairs by contractor and electrician when we first moved in = 5
  • numerous electrical problems = 6
  • broken geyser, broken toilet and other plumbing problems including no water = 3
  • tree felling = 2
  • house paining = 6
  • air con repair = 3
  • refrigerator, freezer and dishwasher repair = 3

TOTAL = 28 = 4.3% of total days spent

This free time gave me a chance to go through some of our photos taken during two recent safari trips, the first in November at Madikwe and the other in a place called Nambiti Game Reserve over Christmas weekend. 

A few thoughts before I share the photos. First, some people might think that a blog post full of photos is a slightly lazy approach to blogging. This is partially true because writing the posts does take a good bit of time and thought (believe it or not.) However, going through hundreds of photos, choosing the best and then editing some of the chosen ones also takes time so a blog post with a lot of photos can be just as labor intensive as one with a lot of words. Second, some of you might be tired of safari photos. If that is the case, I'm sorry but here are some more. Originally my plan was to focus this post on photos of animals interacting but I found some other photos that I just couldn't leave out. Like this one below of a very unique cloudy sky at Madikwe. 

It is amazing how similarly lions and house cats behave.
A lion munching on the carcass of a baby elephant. The mother died during childbirth and the lions "extracted" the baby and ate it. 

A stunning double rainbow in Madikwe
Followed by an incredible sunset
Elephants greeting each other
Kudu roughhousing

The paradise flycatcher with a caught fly. Photo credit Birdman
All time cutest photo. This baby elephant is so young he can't even walk properly yet. 

Somehow our friend Jeff spotted this tortoise hiding under some brush.  
Wet giraffes waiting for it to stop pouring rain in Madikwe!

Wild dogs are hard to get photos of because they move quickly.
A de-horned rhino at Nambiti Hills Game Reserve located in KZN.

Elephants under a dramatic sky just before a cold front came through. It was then cold for the remainder of our time at Nambiti.

This waterbuck lost one of his horns. His nickname is unicorn. 

These black backed jackals are not easy to get photos of but Mr. Deep got a great shot here. 

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Too Much Time on My Hands

"I've got too much time on my hands, it's hard to believe such a calamity"
-Styx, 1981

Joburg shuts down during the holiday season which means that lately I have not been busy with my usual activities like school, lamps and social groups. While I don't feel bored I guess I needed a project because I threw myself, with unparalleled enthusiasm, into helping with the planning and execution of my friend's 80's themed party. 

My friend Meghan and her husband love to throw parties and they are great at entertaining. When she mentioned she wanted to have an 80's party to celebrate their one year anniversary of arriving in Joburg, I was all in favor. I love the 80's, the music, the clothing and the memories. The only thing I don't love about the 80's are music videos because I've never seen any. When I was growing up we lived in the middle of nowhere and we had no (gasp) cable TV and therefore no MTV. Mr. Deep finds this hilarious.

Me in 1988. I'm just holding that beer for a friend.
I volunteered to help Meghan with the food and in the days leading up to the party I made sloppy joe meat which is minced beef with the perfect balance of sweet, salty and spicy flavors.I also made Jello jigglers which if you don't know is jello cut into shapes with a cookie cutter. I made mine with vodka. It wasn't as easy as it sounds because jigglers are very fragile. I didn't want to take broken jigglers to the party so I ended up eating the broken ones myself. 

sloppy joe
Meanwhile, Mr. Deep also became involved in the party planning. At first Meghan planned to hire a DJ but the guy never responded to her so Mr. Deep happily volunteered to organize the music. He developed a playlist of over 15 hours and strategically divided the tunes into three categories. 80's Party Mix, general songs to be played throughout the party, 80's Request Pot, extra songs that people might want to hear because if someone requested Fame by Irene Cara Mr. Deep didn't want that person to walk away disappointed. And the third, a self explanatory category called Let's Fucking Dance.  Mr. Deep took the project seriously asking for input from others and making notes of songs and artists to be included. Then, one night he suddenly seemed tired of the endeavor. This became clear when I casually asked him "do you have any Asia on your playlist?" to which he replied, "I'm done." Mr. Deep also took his look seriously. His outfit consisted of a pink Izod  (now called Lacoste) polo shirt and a pair of docksiders. 

Mr. Deep the prepster
My manic obsession kicked in just a few days before the party when I began giving serious thought to my outfit. Originally I had the idea that I would just dress the way I used to in the 80's. Forty eight hours before the party I realized that this plan was very boring. Why dress like a 17 year old from a small conservative town when you can drape yourself in all the glory of the excessive decade...and this is when my craziness began in earnest. 

It was then that I realized that there were literally one million directions I could go with my 80's look. For example: 
Jane Fonda workout  
Working woman with shoulder pads
Glamorous like on the TV show Dynasty
Prostitute like in the movies Trading Places and Risky Business 
Sweet and innocent like Brooke Shields (yes I know she did the racy Calvin Klein ad but for the most part she was sweet) of course I quickly ruled this one out for being too boring.
Androgynous woman  
Punk rocker 
A person from the 1980's who still dresses like it's the 70's

I was overwhelmed by the possibilities. 

The day before the party I was frantically trying on suits as I was considering going as a flight attendant from the 80's (or as we called them back then stewardesses) but I realized I would have to buy a wing shaped pin and I thought that might be hard to come by. But the real low came when I found myself wearing nothing but my shiny black plastic raincoat, sitting in front of Mr. Deep's computer googling 1980's Russian spy. And my gardener was at the house at the time! I obviously was not thinking clearly. Side note the day of the party it poured all day and night so a raincoat would have been a perfect costume.  

I headed to the mall and luckily 80's and 90's style clothing is back in stores full force so it wasn't hard to find an outfit quickly and painlessly. I ended up wearing acid washed tight jeans, silver pumps, a black top with lace, huge hair and loud make-up. I dressed like a rock band groupie following Motley Crue during their 1987 Girls Girls Girls tour.  

Although my hairstyle did not come out perfectly as my hair is not cut in as many layers as it was back in the day, as I styled it the whole era came rushing back to me. I used to think that I spent hours getting ready to go out in the 80's because I was in high school and that's what high school girls do. In actuality, it took forever to get ready in the 80's and you were never really finished with your hair or makeup because there was no such thing as too much of either. Eventually, you just ran out of time and had to leave your bathroom. 

Big hair selfie
In case you are invited to an 80's party, here's a quick hair styling tutorial.

First, wash your hair.Then add a cantaloupe size puff of mousse. Scrunch the mousse into the roots. Feel free to add more mousse.  Next, hang your head upside down to blow dry. Don't worry if the dryer is too hot or on a high setting just blow the daylights out of your hair. Next, grab a curing iron. Put it on the highest heat setting available and begin to curl your hair. Once the hair is wrapped in the iron hold the iron an inch or so from your head for maximum volume. You can even spray your hair with hairspray while your hair is heating in the iron. As for the type of hairspray to use I suggest Aqua Net but any strong hold aerosol will do and don't buy anything natural or organic as you need full on chemicals. Continue to curl for at least 45 minutes. If you see a curl you don't like just redo it, it's not a big deal. Don't be alarmed if you see smoke or smell burning hair. This is completely normal. Once you are satisfied or have to leave for your party, whichever comes first, apply a thick coating of hair gel over each ear pushing the hair back. Don't worry if it feels wet. It will dry eventually. 

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Confidence Part 3

"They take matters into their hands. That's how Diepsloot is." 

This is part three of my interview with Confidence. You can find part one here and part two here.

Confidence will graduate with a diploma in accounting in March. Then, she plans to return to university for one more year (her fourth year) to obtain a degree. After that, she hopes to get a job in financial management. 

I asked Confidence about her goals for the future, the old "where do you see yourself in five years" and she replied, without hesitation, that she wants to get out of Diepsloot and that she wants to get her family out of Diepsloot as well. She wants to send her parents to live on a farm because "they love animals." She also wants to make sure her brothers attend university. 

I was a little surprised that she replied that way. Not completely surprised because I have been to Diepsloot and I can't imagine living there, but throughout our talks Confidence has never mentioned anything negative about Diepsloot. In fact, I am pretty sure she had told me once that she liked attending the Diepsloot Combined School and that she thought it was a good school. But in hindsight, it all made sense, how and why Confidence was able to survive the starvation, the rats and the disingenuous pastor, when I am pretty sure most of us would have given up, it's because if she gave up and left school she thought she'd be destined to a life spent in Diepsloot, and she's probably right. With 25% unemployment in this country being a hard worker and a loyal employee is not enough. You have to have skills and education and even with those things it can still be a challenge.  

This is the essence of Confidence, she is not just working hard for the sake of working hard, like a lot of us. She has a plan and even if that plan involves a lot of suffering or giving up hopes of a career in art to instead study accounting she will do it. Whatever it takes. 

Confidence has her learner's permit but she had never driven a car before, so I gave her a driving lesson in a practically abandoned parking lot.
To the casual visitor, like me, Diepsloot is overwhelming. It is a different world, one that is extremely crowded, where there is trash, dirty water and often sewage in the streets. There is also a lot of crime. According to crime stats SA in 2016 there were 68 murders in Diepsloot plus another 70 attempted. There were also 151 sexual offenses, 776 assaults with intent to inflict grievous bodily harm and another 494 common assaults. Also, 169 robberies and an additional 487 robberies with aggravating circumstances. And, there were 22 cases of arson. These are just the reported crimes of course and there are even more crime stats available but I think you get the idea. Keep in mind that in Chicago in 2016 there were 762 homicides, the highest number in 20 years, and Chicago has a population of 2.7 million. Whereas about 200,000 people live in Diepsloot. A better mathematician than me could analyze and translate that information for you.   

But the issue that Confidence told me about and the one that I think she finds the most upsetting is vigilante justice. My words, not hers. 

Confidence said that one morning when she was in matric (grade 12) she heard noise outside of her house. When she went to investigate she saw a mob of people chasing and beating a man. He was hit in the face with a brick and he was killed as Confidence and her brother watched. He had been caught trying to steal a car. 

Another time, there was a rumor that a man was raping children and so members of the community killed him by necklacing. Meaning a tire was pulled over his head, pinning his arms to his body, he was doused in petrol (gasoline) and set on fire. Confidence didn't see this happen but she said she smelled it. 

And then once, after a series of robberies where electronics and appliances were taken from homes in Diepsloot, the suspected thief's shack was burned to the ground with him trapped inside. 

The day after Confidence told me these stories, I was with Gift and I mentioned this mob violence to him. "Oh yes," he said, " I once saw a group of people beat a man in Diepsloot (Gift once lived in Diepsloot.) "In Diepsloot" he told me, "you must not break the law."

Students at the Diepsloot Combined School

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Love on the Rocks

A glorious view from our room at the Beverly Hills Hotel. 
Last weekend was a three day holiday weekend here in South Africa. The holiday is called Day of Reconciliation and it's purpose is to celebrate and promote racial harmony and unity. The holiday was first celebrated in 1995 after the end of apartheid. 

Mr. Deep and I took a trip to Kwa Zulu Natal one of the South African provinces. Affectionately called K Zed N, remember a Z is called a Zed here, Kwa Zulu Natal is in the south eastern part of the country and has a lovely, long coastline along the Indian Ocean.  Last year, we visited Durban in K Zed N, but it was winter and it was rainy and cold. This time, however the weather was perfect. 

We stayed in Umhlanga Rocks, located north of Durban at a fancy schmancy hotel called the Beverly Hills. 

My suggestion is that you run, not walk to the Beverly Hills Hotel. It is luxurious and every room faces the ocean. They give you champagne when you check in. They give you more champagne at breakfast. While you are laying in the sun a guy comes by and asks you if you want your sunglasses cleaned. Then later another guy comes by and asks if you if want a popsicle. If you want, you can also get a massage right there overlooking the beach. 

The rocks in Umhlanga Rocks
It looks like a face
Rock close up
I mentioned in this post that Mr. Deep and I only recently became aware that you can sit around on vacation and do absolutely nothing. Why it took us so long to learn that lesson I am not sure. But nothing is precisely what we did for three days. Because we didn't DO anything this blog post is not going to be chock full of content. But we got some great photos and I wanted to share them. You might notice that most of the pics appear to be taken from the same exact vantage point. That's because I rarely got up from my chair. And what I found out is that if you just sit in the same spot for a while interesting things will actually happen right in front of you. 

I mentioned we didn't move much right? 

A wedding took place out on the pier. Luckily, I had my zoom lens and could remain comfortably seated and still get some photos.


You can probably guess who took the next two photos. 

Eventually, we did get up an explore a bit. But don't worry we quickly returned to the comfort of our chairs. 

It was Mr. Deep's idea that we snap this pic because there were so many shades of blue.

About Me

My photo
Hello and thank you for taking an interest in my blog. This blog tells the story of some big life changes. First, my husband and I have moved from the U.S. to South Africa for three years. We moved due to an exciting opportunity my husband had with his job. Second, I won't be working anymore. I'm actually not allowed to work so that will be different given that for the past twenty years I've been somewhat of a workaholic. I'm excited to share our adventures with you! My thoughts and opinions are my own.