Monday, May 16, 2011

Africia Already

Sorry for the delay in posting.... we have just been too busy having fun! Actually we have been on a group tour for the last 7 days, and we did not stay in any one place long enough to even get on the internet (except one day for half an hour). So we have LOTS to update you on, and will do it in a few posts.

We arrived in South Africa on May 3rd, and were picked up from the Airport by Lisa Ekman, a family friend whom my parents met while they lived here in South Africa. When we were landing, we looked out the window of the plane and realized we were in... (da dah DAH) SASKATCHEWAN! haha- no, it just looked like the prairies from the plane.

Jo-burg is completely western... shoping complexes, cars, paved roads, no cows being hearded down the street like India. We spent our few days hanging out with the Ekmans, baking (lime cheesecake cupcakes again!), doing laundry, attending to Ali's ongoing GI problems courtesy of India. A definite highlight was going to the lion park- almost like a small zoo outside of Jo-burg where they have lion cubs, lions, cheetas, mircats, and giraffes. That way, Colin said, if we didn't see anything in Kruger national park we wouldn't be disapointed.

here i am with a sleeping baby lion!!! it was so cute!

Ali and i with sleeping lion.

Feeding the giraffe giraffe food. Giraffes have LONG BLACK tongues...

it was kind of surprising. They are beutiful and very gentle though.

White lions at the lion park.

Another highlight of staying with the Ekmans was the road trip we took to Pretoria (where I was born). Pretoria is about 45 mins away from Jo-burg. We spent a few hours hunting for the apartment where my parents lived, visiting the hospital where I was born, and tromping around on the state union building grounds.

The state union building gardens. I took SO many flower pictures!

This is a picture of my mom at the Marifont hospital in 1984. When I told Lisa it would be cool to visit it, she made it her personal mission to make it happen! This hospital has since undergone 7 or so name changes, so nobody seemed to know where it was or if it was still there. However that would not deter Lisa! She started calling EVERY hospital in Pretoria, asking about the old Marifont. Eventually she succeeded, and we were able to visit! Once we were there she got a Nun to give us a tour.

Here I am with the same statue, 26 years later!

Alison: Other Jo-burg highlights included checking out the Ekmans' church where Colin is a pastor, visiting the future foster home currently being built (a project of Lisa's) and going to the famous Monte Casino. There we went to a movie and walked around the building complex and bookstore. It's been made to look like Tuscany, with even sky painted above you. Half of the building is in perpetual night.

Caryn: After 4 days of hanging out with the Ekmans, we began our 7 day tour that took us from Jo-burg to Durban. We went with a basic Intrepid tour, which means we were camping in tents and helping out with cooking/doing dishes). There were 12 other people on it with us: 5 from Austrailia (one who was a Occupational Therapist as well! oh- and one was also a teacher :) , 2 Kiwi's, 2 Americians, 2 other Canadians (from Hamilton), and 1 from Sinapore, and we were between the ages of 24 (Ali was the baby) and 42. We had SO much fun with them all- it was so sad having to say goodbye yesterday. But we are just adding to the list of friends we have from all over the world that we will have to go visit I guess!! Anyways I'm getting ahead of myself. So we met them all at our hotel, along with our tour guide Darren and our driver on Saturday night. We all went for dinner at a resturaunt called Moyo and then went to bed early because we were leaving at 5AM the next day!

On the way to Kruger we stopped at two places in the Blyde River Canyon to take pictures and walk around.

A picture of the Three Rondavols

A handi-crafts market at Blyde River Canyon.

We drove from there to the potholes, which are rock formations that were eroded to look like potholes. On our way we met a large group (30 or so) South Africian women who were touring around celebrating Mother's day together. They kept breaking into spontanious song and were SO joyful about being there and seeing what they were seeing. They were very interested in where we were from, and kept inviting us to join in their songs. One lady asked me to give her something from Canada, and because we had practically nothing on us, I ended up giving her a package of hand soap sheets I had in my pocket. I later realized (because i had another one in my backpack) that they say 'made in China' on them. haha.

Alison: We dipped our feet in the river with them that washes away your bad luck. We threw a coin for good luck and prayed. This was an amazing time, we felt really blessed to be with these women.

Us with some of our South Africian women at the potholes.

Some of the potholes.

Caryn: At this same stop, Alison was OVERJOYED to find out they had a Lichen Trail. She had SO much fun, prancing around looking at Lichen, reading the slightly odd signs that were written from the Lichen's perspective (example: "We Lichen are so glad you came to visit us!)

Alison: And, "what's a lichen's favourite music?" "Rock!"

Ali with cool silver plant.

Caryn: In total it took us about 12 hours to get to Kruger park, due to our stops and also the slowness of the overlander vehicle that we were in. We camped in Kruger for 2 nights in 2 different camps. Kruger park is a huge game reserve, where basically you are fenced in (you are either in your vehicle or in the little 'village' areas) and the animals roam free. It was very neat. We went for a couple game drives and a night drive. Some of the animals we saw:

Elephant! They are huge and beautiful! One nearly charged our vehicle on our night tour... was a bit nerve racking!

Rinos who were on the road we were driving!

Giraffes! (We really did see real giraffes too. This is Ali riding a giraffe with her ice cream treat in Kruger)

You HAVE to click on this picture to make it bigger if you can. It is a Cameleon who had all the traffic stopped in kruger, because it was crossing the road reeeeeeeeeeally slowly. It was so funny!

In Kruger our car troubles started. On the first day, we had to push start our tour car- and on the second it would not start even with us pushing it! Eventually (with the help of 2 of the tour guys- an airplane engineer and a electrician) our driver got it started.

Here we are, joyfully pushing the 'truck'.

This is a good place to end 'Part One'. We'll post part two and three over the next few days.

Miss you all! Much love

Caryn and Ali


  1. Very, very good!! Can't believe you are in Africa! The women sound wonderful!

    Beaut pics!


  2. Wow, just increcible! What amazing things you are seeing and experiencing there - including pushing your tour bus! Makes me wish I was there - the Union buildings still look the same - and Caryn, you know you walked those grounds many times and smelled the flowers before, when you were very little! We could see that building from our balcony every day. We never got to pet the baby lions or feed giraffes when we were there! Hug giraffe for me!

  3. How wonderful! Africa sounds beautiful, beautiful. Gentle. Elephants! Oh, my! Giraffes, Rhinos! Must dash. But I'm glad you are having a wonderful time in Africa! Lichen the lichen, Ali. How lovely, lovely to see your home, Caryn! Love, Pat

  4. i'm off to wynyard for victoria day weekend to visit grandma, cutie patooies.

    meant to tell you, the lions are lovely, lovely, lovely. please bring home one of the babies.

    love, auntie pat