Sunday lunch with a long neck

I’ve been seeing a lot of ostrich meat in the supermarkets since I returned to South Africa. The ostrich bird is native to Africa and its meat is said to be a healthier alternative to other red meats, because of its leanness.

I finally took the plunge to cook a few Sundays back, and my family was most grateful. I used this recipe for the ostrich kebabs and served them with sweet potato “fries” and a spinach and strawberry salad on the side. I could have left the sweet potatoes in the oven for a little longer, to crisp up on the outside, but the ostrich only took 10-12 minutes to grill and my family was starting to get impatient.

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We have gorgeous baby spinach growing in the garden, so I’ve been using it in most salads. I made a simple balsamic and olive oil dressing, using one part of olive oil to one part of balsamic vinegar and seasoning it with salt and pepper to dress the salad.

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I hope to buy ostrich fillets in the near future and prepare them as one would regular beef steaks.

Better known as The Pretoria Zoo

You know how they say that you never miss a good thing until it’s gone? For me this good thing is a constant supply of clean water. Moving back to Rustenburg in South Africa, this has been of the greatest challenges I’ve had to face. Our water supply is often cut off, and on very short to little notice.
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We were given a few days notice prior to the water being cut on Sunday, so we made the very wise decision to take a day trip to Pretoria, where the water was plentiful and the zoo of a world-class standard. See this is the problem with being a seasoned traveller – you’re always comparing new places to those you had visited before, in other countries or cities. Luckily for us, the National Zoological Gardens of South Africa did not disappoint.

These fish are freaky!

These fish are freaky!

On a typical day, we would have chosen to go elsewhere, but because we were with my cousins and their kids, the zoo was an obvious option. I’m not sure if i enjoyed observing the animals on offer more than driving the golf cart which we had hired.  I know, this is very mature of me.

Grizzly Bear

Grizzly Bear

It was somewhat comforting to see that most animals were in large enclosures and appeared to be well taken care of. I’ve discussed my beef with zoos previously, so I won’t delve into that topic again. Animals at zoos always look so lethargic.

Rhinos are being poached in large numbers in South Africa for their horns

Rhinos are being poached in large numbers in South Africa for their horns

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If you’re in the area and you have children, the Pretoria Zoo will be a definite crowd pleaser.

Taking nature to new heights in the Tsitsikama Forest

On the last day of our Easter Holiday, we drove to the Tsitsikama forest, where we were booked to partake in a Canopy Tour at 12:30 noon. We had some time to kill on the way, so we stopped off at the Bloukrans bridge to watch in awe as brave people took the plunge to do the world’s highest commercial bungee jump. I’m not completely averse to thrill-seeking, adrenalin pumping adventures, but bungee jumping has that tug when you reach the lowest point, which really freaks me out. Maybe I am a bit of a sissy, so…

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When we arrived at the Tsitsikama Forest, we parked in front of the departure point for the canopy tour and sat down at one of the nearby restaurants to have lunch. Lunch was good (old-fashioned fish n’ chips), but we somewhat regretted it, because we were served sandwiches when we returned from the tour.

At 12:30, we were introduced to our tour guide, who had us watch a safety video, sign indemnity forms and then assisted us in wearing our safety gear. Once we were all kitted-up, he led us to a safari vehicle, in which we travelled for about 10 minutes to the starting point of the tour.

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What the Canopy Tour involves, is starting on one elevated platform and sliding to the next, while you are attached to a cable. What I really enjoyed about this tour was that it gave me an intense adrenalin rush, but I also felt incredibly safe. You are attached to 2 cables for all of the time, except when you switch from one platform to the next. Even then, you are attached to one cable.

I really enjoyed learning about the different flora in the forest and looking at the plants from up above. I was also pleased to discover that in the setting up of the platforms and preparations for the tour, none of the trees were damaged. There were ten slides and I believe I screamed really loud on 3 of them ;)

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Please excuse the poor quality of my pictures. I forgot to carry my camera along on this holiday, so I used a mobile phone for all of my pictures in this series of blog posts, and you can really tell with this one.

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Pouring in Plett

On our second day in Knysna, we took a drive to Plettenberg bay. The weather was really awful, but we decided that if we were to spend any more time huddled up under the blankies, we would miss out on too much. On our way to Plett we stopped at a few farm stalls. Most of these sold South African products at “tourist prices”. Yes, tourists are always easy targets.

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The weather cleared up for a few minutes when we arrived at the beach in Plettenberg bay. We seized the brief dry conditions by strolling along the beach and getting a feel of the water. The water was so cold that I had almost forgotten it was of the Indian Ocean.

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Whilst we were road-tripping through the Western Cape, A and I often spoke about how much the province reminded us of Europe because of the excellent roads and abundance of white people, and of New Zealand because of the array of natural beauty on offer.

On this particular day, we drove through a township on the way. A township is what South Africans call an informal settlement. We actually drove through the township because my brother told us to go looking for a vibrant Rastafarian community between Knysna and Plett which he and some friends had once day visited. The search for this village revealed so much more. It revealed an abundance of poverty similar to what we have witnessed in other provinces in SA. The real differences here were that the informal settlements were hidden behind fencing and located far, far away from the city centres.

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Reflecting in Knysna

We chose Knysna as our base for the next four days, not only because of its convenient location, but also because we got the hotel at a really reasonable rate. We stayed on the Knysna Quays, which I really enjoyed. Our balcony gave breathtaking views of water, yachts and sunsets. Because it was overcast and rainy for most of our stay, I spent a lot of time cuddled up under the duvet, reading and looking out of the window.

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I read Redi Thlabe’s Endings to Beginnings during our stay there. In this book, she manages to not only provide insight into the background of a criminal, but also to humanize him. Growing up in South Africa, I always thought of murderers, rapists and thieves as the other. After moving away, into societies where these “bad people” were fewer in number, I started to realise, that it was not only respect or fear for the law which prevented such occurrences in other countries, but also the manner in which people are cared for, loved and taught about which acts are morally respectable and which are reprehensible.

I know this may seem obvious to others, but growing up in a society where criminal activity is rampant, it’s almost as though we just see the need to protect ourselves against these “bad people” and to reprimand them when they are found guilty, not work on rehabilitating them and turning them into morally conscious citizens. Surely, each and every one of us has the ability to be good or bad.

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Stalagmites and stalactites

After the overnight stay in Swellendam, we were booked to spend 4 nights in Knysna. We chose Knysna as our base because it is conveniently located just a couple of kilometers from the other places we had planned to visit.

On the way to Knysna we decided to stop for a tour of the Cango Caves. Most of the drive was overcast and rainy, which meant sleeping was the only option for a passenger.

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Stalagmites and stalactites are two words that will ring a bell in anybody who attended school in South Africa’s mind. I remember learning about these lime formations in more than one geography lesson.

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The formations which grow from the ceiling of a cave are called stalactites, whilst those which rise from the floor are called stalagmites. If they grow together, they form a column.

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Our tour guide was fantastic and the visit was well worth the detour from the road to Knysna. My thighs were however on fire after the run the day before. This resulted in many tourists staring at this 20-something year old struggling up the stairs, bemused.

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Sore legs in Swellendam

After running the 2Oceans, we prepared for the drive to Swellendam by fuelling on pasta. Swellendam is the third oldest city in South Africa. We only reached late on Saturday evening, so we sipped on soup in the comfort of our room and called it a night. Part of the guesthouse that we stayed in was built in 1801. This probably explains why the bathroom was almost as big as my mum’s kitchen.

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On Sunday morning, after enjoying a wholesome breakfast at the guesthouse, we visited the Drostdy Museum. The Drostdy Museum is a collection of several historical Cape Dutch buildings, some of which were already built in the 1700s. The museum houses 18th century artefacts and used to be the official residence of the magistrate of Swellendam.

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a flour mill which is still functional

a flour mill which is still functional

The visit to the museum was a good way to stretch my stiff legs. We strolled around for a bit and shopped for a few postcards from the museum gift shop before we were on our way again.

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My favorite part of the museum had to be that the flooring in one of the rooms was made of peach pips. Look!

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I also really liked the old wooden-frame windows and as a result, found myself photographing them a lot.

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