Wednesday, March 23, 2016

South Africa video

Here is our latest video. Enjoy! 

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Fun with our South African friends

In the pool at our "home" in cape town

Blue feet!! Colton and Sam in the pool

Before supper talk 

Mawande lovin the old man chair 

Wendy and Char

Celebrating Mawandes early birthday

Table mountain, South Africa

I didn't know what we were getting ourselves into, but I wanted to go anyways. Miranda didn't. She knew that another hike was not going to be fun. No matter how much I told her it would be great once we got to the top. 
Table mountain is much different than Lions head mountain. Table mountain is just a straight up hike. Steps all the way. Big rocks, little rocks, huge rocks. All made into steps. Ugg. Plus, for sone reason, we always start hikes at noon. We talk about it every time. Why do we always hike in the mid day heat?? 

Will this ever end? Lol 

More and more and more steps up 

Let's talk about how far we've come

deans turn to motivate 


What a view it was when you took the time to turn and look 

It was so hot. We finally found shade after 1 1/2 hrs 

This is really hard! 

The view from 1/2 way up

One very happy girl! 

Yes! We did it again! 2000 steps up! 

Hope Africa

We spent 12 days in Cape Town, South Africa. We spent many days hiking, driving the coast and exploring different areas around the city. Another thing we did was spend some time learning about an organization called Hope Africa. Our friend from Seeds church in Altona has moved to Cape Town and married a wonderful guy from South Africa. They both work at different ministries here. We spent some time this week at his ministry called Hope Africa. Hope Africa works with local people in a community called Philipii. So we went down there to join their street team. We spent some time going through each area of the ministry, learning how they are involved in the community and how they are trying to make an impact through classes teaching life skills, business skills and practical skills like hairdressing. 

Then we joined them in the community. We went and visited a lady and her kids that they have  been visiting for over a month. We spent a couple of afternoons with her, Listening to her life story and asking how we could help that day. She has had her life changed since meeting this street team. She has found hope in her life. She has had so many changes happen in her life through the power of prayer and meeting people that speak truth into her life. It was pretty cool to see.  We saw first hand how when one person in a community makes change in this way, how it can impact a whole community and extended family. It made a huge impact on our family to see how people can find hope in for all appearances appears to be a hopeless situation.  

We had the opportunity to listen to multiple stories in this home of family and friends that were trying to overcome huge Obstacles of alcohol abuse, infidelity and poverty. In situations like this it's easy to feel helpless. Here is a home with cinder blocks for walls and a tin roof with winter temp's as cold as +2,.  How can people survive here?  How can people thrive here?  It feels helpless, and yet there can be joy here. They desire the same things that most parents desire. So we listened. We hugged. We prayed for them. Then we left and this team of people will continue to go back day after day, week after week and help these people empower themselves through classes and friendship and prayer. Very inspiring to me. 

Hiking Lions Head mountain

Today we finally had time to go on a good hike. We chose Lions head because it was highly recommended as the hike we had to do. So off we went with our bottle of water and running shoes on. No flip flops this time! 

We arrived at the base of the climb and the path was pretty good. Miranda was not thinking this was going to be fun at all. It was 27 degrees and the sun was shining down on us. But it was a pretty hard uphill trail. But we kept saying it was going to be worth it when we got to the top. 
About 15 minutes into the hike, Miranda noticed she had a blister on her heal. Shoot. She decided to take off her runners and go with just socks.

So we continued up the mountain. Miranda didn't notice her feet at all anymore, because the climb was straight up.

There were some places that had ladders for the really big boulders. Other places there were some chains attached to the rocks to help pull us up. 

Miranda was pretty well done by the time we got to this point. She could not fake a smile for me. Nope, she wanted off this mountain, but we encouraged her to keep up the good work and take breaks and we could do it. She found a little bit of shade and took a rest. 

The view was pretty spectacular! 

Then off we went

This last bit of the hike was really straight up through small crevices in between huge rocks. 

But finally after 1 hour, we made it to the top! 1700 feet up! Yay! 

Finally we saw a smile! It does feel good to do hard things and succeed at them! 

That's Robben Island in the back. That's where Nelson Mandela spent many years in prison.

What an accomplishment! Now for the hike down 😬

Monday, March 14, 2016

South Africa drive

We went for a hike in th sand, a drive along a gorgeous coastline and ice cream in a seaside village today. It as a really windy day, Colton wanted to go surfing. So we loaded up the car with lawn chairs and snacks and took off fro the beach. Once we got there, we saw how terribly windy it was. So we had an ice cream in a small town and decided to go for a drive along chapmans coastal drive. It as a gorgeous drive. Winding along the mountainside. Through tunnels win amazing views of the ocean below. 

It as such a windy day, we passed through a town that as pushing the sand off the road with tractors!

Couchsurfing in South Africa

We have had so many amazing Couchsurfing experiences over the years.
 We truly have stayed with people that when we left, I got tears in my eyes at the thought that we may never see these people again. 
Some of the places we have stayed have been smaller homes with families that have a spare room to share and we would all squish in, the kids sleeping on the floor. It was all good. To us, it's not about the home where we stay, it's about the people that we meet that are hosting us. It can be tricky to find a place to stay for 4 people when Couchsurfing. Not everyone has a home with enough space. 

We are now Couchsurfing in Claremont, Cape Town, South Africa. Claremont is an area or suburb of Cape Town. We didn't know anything about this area when we got here. All we knew is that the lady that owns this house, was offered a house sitting opportunity at the last minute before we were to arrive and instead of cancelling our stay, she made arrangements for us to pick up the keys from her neighbour and she emailed us very detailed instructions on the security codes and how everything in the house worked. 

So it turns out that Claremont is an upperclass area in a quiet part of the city. We overlook table mountain and are walking distance to the rugby stadium and across the street is an open field for practising rugby or cricket. We rarely have traffic going by and it's amazingly quiet. I love it here.

Our home for 10 days is a 4 bedroom home. Dean and I got the master bedroom with an onsweet bathroom. Colton and Miranda have a room upstairs with 2 single beds and their own bathroom and there is a small 1 bed room for when our host comes home for  1 night and then leaves again for a wedding in Johannesburg. Her son also lives at home and we've met him a few times, but he's very busy with work. 

We have stayed in homes before when the hosts have not been here. But this host is amazing. We text or talk on the phone so she can give us advice about places to see or where to pick up groceries. She also asked her neighbours to help us out if we needed anything. Her neighbours invited us for supper the other day. We hung out for the evening and Colton got an invite to go surfing with the dad the next day. He was supplied with a board and wetsuit. He had a great time. 

It feels like we are surrounded with community here, even though our host can't be here. It feels relaxing  to go at our own pace and not worry about anyone else's schedule. We think of this Couchsurfing experience as a gift. How amazing is it to have people in this world that are giving and trusting like this woman. Her neighbours offered that we could stay at their house to if we ever needed a place to stay while in Cape Town. In a country where people are surrounded by locked gates, security systems and electric wire surrounding their homes, we are still trusted and cared for by strangers. 

Thursday, March 10, 2016

A bit about our hunting safari in Namibia


When we landed in Windhoek, Namibia, I was surprised how quiet it was. There were no taxi drivers trying to grab our bags. There were no local people trying to sell us something. It was quiet. No one there but the people coming off the plane and a few people picking them up. It was very similar to landing in a North American airport.  I was a bit in shock. It was modern. Again nothing like I expected. You'd think I'd start researching places that we will be going to.......

The south part of Namibia is more like the Africa I had in my mind. It is dry and desert-like. We drove 6 hours south of Windhoek. I'm not sure how far it was, in Canada it would have taken longer to drive. But we drove 160km /hr. Yes, 160km/hr
There are speed limits (120) but most people don't follow them. 
On this 6 hr trip, 3.5 hrs was on gravel roads. We passed 4 other vehicles during this time. 
We are in the Kalahari desert. 
Red sand.
And there is wildlife
Blue hartebeest
Red Lechwe 
And more.....
 1000's and 1000's of animals running around this area

We were there to hunt. Our goal was to hunt for Gemsbok, Springbok and Kudu.
They are all beautiful animals and they are also very good to eat. Our red meat diet at home is mainly wild game. So this was exciting to be able to try different species of deer type animals.

All of the meat is used. The hunting lodge that we stayed at is a family run business. The father and son work together as hunting guides and the daughter in law took care of paperwork and food and other organization when she isn't out in the field with the guys or endurance racing her horses. 

My favorite part of this week was meeting the Kotze family. They are amazing! We loved them and the other people like their uncle Johan and Aunt Ena. We spent time at their ranch hunting and fell in love with them. The people who settled this area alongside the people that come down from North Africa at the same time are the German Dutch people. They came down in search of new lands and found many tribes of bush people. Alongside the North Africans they settled this area. It was so interesting to meet so many "German" type people that look and somewhat sound like my family. They all speak English and Afrikaans language, which is a dialect of German/Dutch. So before long I was picking out German words and told them they needed to start watching what they were saying about us, because I was starting to understand. Lol

Our days were spent getting up early (again) and heading out before the hot, 38degree heat came. Some days we went all day through the heat, bombing over the red Kalahari sand dunes in search of game. Hendrick, our PH (hunting guide) was so amazing at very quietly telling whoever had the gun, which animals needed to be hunted to keep the herd healthy. They manage their herds by taking out the older stock and make room for the younger ones to mature and keep the group healthy. They always leave the females, unless they are injured or sick. 
My job was to take help spot game, take pictures and most importantly try to get Hendrik to smile or laugh. I was successful! 

The rest of our time when we weren't hunting, we hung around with the family. They took us out on drives to see all the animals they raise on the farm. They took us out for a sundowner. Which is where we drove out to a high red sand dune before sunset and hiked around looking for bushman artifacts till sunset. We then sat on the dune drinking a glass of wine watching the sun set. It was a beautiful evening. 

We will miss this family and have already been thinking of others from home who might want to have this same hunting experience and maybe we could go back with them one day. :)

A few thoughts about Tanzania

There were so many things that I had preconceived notions of before coming to Africa. So far we have seen so many things where I say, "That's just like in Canada!" Or "I didn't expect this" 

Tanzania is a lush, green country filled will an abundance of resources. The tourism industry is strong. Unfortunately, like other countries, the government and rich people make most of the money and the rest of the people work really hard for very little. Of course there is unbelievable poverty... We drove through so many villages that people were living in small shacks that were far from towns, so I'm not sure how they lived.  That being said, I learnt from our guide that the company he works for pays its employees a monthly salary. Even when it's low season, the guides and cooks get an income. He said that they are doing well and can live well. This made me happy. I don't know if other companies do the same, but it was nice to know that ours did. 

The Maasai people have found a way to benefit from tourism also. They give tours of their villages and it enables them to send their kids to school and make a good income for their villages.  Unfortunately, because of tourism, and the  tourists that think they need to give little kids on the side of the road candy and treats, tourists have taught kids to spend their days on the side of the road, or run beside safari vehicles with their hands out. As hard as it is, please don't teach kids to beg. It is not a healthy way to live for these kids. Believe me, it's very hard to look these kids in the eye and know what they want and drive away. What I did give them was a big smile and a wave. I got lots of cute smiles back and lots of waving hands too. If people want to give to kids, there are ways to connect with organizations and school and support them in healthy ways. 

The people we met while in Tanzania were friendly and generous. Our guide told us the about 60% of the people were Christian and 40% Muslim and they lived together and worked together and even married each other in harmony. We talked about all the similarities between Canadians and Tanzanians. There are lots of ways we are the same. I love that. The people we met loved their country even with its imperfections. Just like most Canadains I know. 

We boarded our flight for Namibia in a hot older airport in Stone town. It felt very unorganized and we spent almost an hour trying to check in. Once checked in we sat in another hot stuffy room waiting for the plane to leave. 
Once in the plane, we felt like this was more like we were used to from an airport. Until the steward came on and told us that the doors were now closed and they would be spraying the cabin with a chemical and if we thought the spray would be dangerous for our health, we should cover our mouths!  Whaaat?? 

Well, we lived!

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Hunting in Namibia
We spent a week hunting in Namibia. Not only did we have a great time in the Kalahari desert, we also met some amazing people. 
FYI- all the game that we hunted was used for food. We ate it during the week of hunting, we took lots with us and are eating it now and it also fed people living in Namibia. 

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Tanzania movie

Finally after weeks of trying to get proper internet, we can upload the movie I made on my iPad from Tanzania. 
It's a little grainy for some reason, but hopefully you will enjoy it.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Zanzibar, South Africa

It feels like it's been a really long time since I've updated the blog. We have been really busy and haven't had much time to sit down and think about the past when everyday is so new and exciting. But here is a little about Zanzibar......

We arrived in Stone town, which is the main town on the island of Zanzibar. I love islands and I ocean and the heat, so it was great to be there.

We had a hotel booked on the north end of the island in an area called Nungwi. The north end is the most popular end of Zanzibar and thus it is also the most expensive. We chose to stay in this area because Colton and Miranda were finishing up their PADI scuba diving certification. 

We spent most days scuba diving and trying to stay cool. It was typically around 35 degrees every day and very calm. That's great when you are near water and can go cool off. Our nights were not great. The little hotel that were stayed at was a bit of a dive. It was the most reasonably priced hotel in Nungwi and it showed. The great part of the hotel was the amazing breakfast every morning. We each got a big plate of fresh fruit. Watermelon, pineapple, banana, mango and papaya. Then we also got fresh mango/avacado juice and fried eggs and bread. The bad part of the hotel was that it did not have AC and the room stayed at 31 degrees all night long. We spent most nights trying to sleep and waiting for morning. One morning Dan and I got up at 6 and went down to cool off in the ocean. We should have done that every morning.

Colton and Miranda completed their scuba certification with an amazing 2 tank dive at Mnemba Island. It is a beautiful island owned by Bill Gates. It is surrounded by a protected coral reef that is filled with so many big and small fish of every kind and really healthy hard and soft coral. 

Our last day, we went to Stone town so we would be closer to the airport for our early departure. We heard many great things about Stone Town. But unfortunately we didn't have a great experience there. It felt dirty and not the safest and we really are not all that interested in being in cities. So Dean and I walked around old town in the afternoon to see some of the historical sites,and  we picked up takeout for Colton and Miranda, who chose to stay in the air conditioned room and veg. for the day and evening. It had been a go go last 2 weeks, so it was nice to have a slow day for a change.

I will add pictures of Zanzibar when we have better internet in S Africa