Sunday evenings. A time to make sure the laundry is clean, the schoolbags are packed, the refrigerator has sufficient food for lunches, the clothes are set out for Monday’s return to school and work. In our case, this particular Sunday evening was about reflection: on our time here to date, on our desired goals for this unparalleled opportunity, on the past week.
On our time here to date – wow, only two months, or wow, already two months! Can’t be sure…..but we do know it’s been a whirlwind of logistics and basic exploration – housing, schools, transport, food, utilities, neighborhood, etc. Now that we are settled, we are looking forward to the next phase – figuring out how to best use our time here, to help accomplish our desired goals for this sabbatical. Choices we have: I have met several non profits eager for my help. I could spend the entire year advising and guiding them. Is that how I want to spend my time? How can this experience lay the foundation for future personal growth and career development? It’s all stuff we are thinking about – and will be thinking more about going forward.
But first – the vacation. A bit wierd to be on vaca 6 weeks after starting school but hey – we’re game! Chris has repeatedly called last week “the best vacation of our lives.” High praise indeed! We ventured up the Garden Route – an area stretching about a day’s drive east of Cape Town on the coast of the Indian Ocean. It was magnificent in every way – the spectacular beauty of the landscape, the huge array of outdoor activities available, the friendliness of the people, the unexpected surprises and delights that surfaced every day. I’ve already written about watching the Southern Right whales in Hermanus on Facebook – check it out on my feed. They are truly majestic creatures, and seeing the mommies frolic with their babies in such playful, unconcerned ways so close to shore was remarkable. There are about 10,000 Southern Right whales living in the Southern Hemisphere. They are not as big as some other species; an adult female averages about 49 feet long and weighs 50 tons, although they can grow to be up to 60 feet long and 80 tons. They spend summers (northern hemisphere winters) in the far Southern Ocean by Antartica. It blows our mind that we were able to watch these gorgeous creates, who have been following these same behavior patterns for eons – regardless of the shenanigans of mankind.
I also posted about our adventures riding ostriches and crawling and slithering through eons old cave networks first inhabited by some of the first Homo Sapiens on the planet. I’ve reposted the pics below. Warning to anyone who comes: we want you, too, to undertake this Survivor-like experience!
Other Garden Route “highlights:”
- Chris’s “yacht” which we rented to puddle through a nature reserve in Plettenberg Bay, the self proclaimed “adventure capital” of the Garden Route. While perhaps not qualifying as bungee jumping, sky diving or shark diving caliber adventures (all of which were also readily available), it kept us busy and laughing for the day as we lounged on remote beaches.
- Radical Raptors bird rehabilitation center. This was awesome – a rehab center for birds injured through accident or, sadly, abuse. The guide was the quintessential South Africa cowboy-hat wearing dude passionate about his birds. We saw all types of majestic creatures – see pics below.
- Spectacular hikes with amazing vistas one after another. Below are shots from hikes in Wilderness, Mossel Bay, and Plett Bay. Hard to decide which is more stunning; all featured gut wrenching drops, glorious views, and trails tended just well enough.
- Gin and tonics on tap. Gin and tonics with cucumber and mint. Gin and tonics with Fynbos. Gin and tonics with rosemary. It’s an entire craze, it’s delicious, and it’s cheap (like $2/drink).
One word about lodging. The quality of B&Bs here is outstanding. We’ve definitely stayed in our share of mediocre listings in the States; not here, so far (knock on wood). Gorgeous accommodations; here are a few examples:
Summer is Almost Here! The Pool is Open!
Ahhhh…after two months of rain and dampness, the weather is turning delightful. We are now in a period of two-three months of serious wind, but the sun is shining, the flowers are blooming, and summer is a’comin. For the first time in our lives, we have a pool (thinking about you, Sharon and Julie!) and it is already a beacon for other kids in the ‘hood. Very reminiscent of our numero uno Chesterfield road buddies Vivi and Max, there are always little voices and faces peering over the wall in the back, saying in adorable South African accents, “LUUUUUKE. LUUUUUKE can you come out and play?”
Also featured in our backyard is Timmy the Turtle, who can seriously haul when there is lettuce available. After Charlotte carefully fed him one day, I found him in the house making a run for the fridge the next!!!!
And the flowers. Blooming everywhere. Come visit!!!