The Road Less Travelled

 

Hello World, in words of the Whos, “we are here, we are here, WE ARE HERE!” Back in Canada that is after an appallingly long blog absence!. I have a million excuses but rather than tire you with them let me tell you what we’ve been up to in the meantime!

 

We made our final tour of this country at the end of March with long drive through the Karoo Desert to Cape Town (CT). The iconic image of this drive is the many windmills one sees scattered through the dry scrub. IMG_0915IMG_3177We spent 5 days in CT we exploring the Cape of Good Hope, (the southern tip of Africa, next stop Antarctica ), Boulders Beach full of African Penguins, Cape Fur Seals at … the Scratch Patch at the Virginia & Alfred Waterfront and Kirstenbosch Gardens.IMG_3306IMG_1199IMG_1106

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From CT we drove through the beautiful Stellenbosch wine farm region and stunning mountain passes toOuntshoorn. Ountshoorn is famous for two things: Ostrich Farms and the Cango Caves. Our primary purpose in stopping here was the latter and so we put on geology hats and explored these extraordinary caves. E’s first comment was “I can totally imagine the Hidden Cave now” (reference to the Jonathan Park audiobooks). We had the most wonderful hands-on science lesson as we observed century old stalagmites, and stalatites. We discussed geological time scale and earth science chemistry of solvents. E and D learned how water flows over the rock/solute picking up/ dissolving calcium. This calcium-rich water/solvent passes through the rock layers into a cave. As the water drips from the ceiling of the cave the H2O evaporates dropping some calcium to the floor while the remaining calcium is left behind in the water drop shape eventually forming the stalagmites and stalatites.. They learned the words, dissolve, solvent, solute and how ratios apply to the process of crystallization.IMG_1610

Next stop on our adventure was a night in a tree-house! This wasn’t any ordinary treehouse though. We had two bedrooms with real beds, a full kitchen and bathroom, dining area and even a braai all up in the soaring branches of Teniqua Treetops. It was a very novel experience and although I personally do prefer luxury hotels, 😉 this was a lot of fun!IMG_1634

From the treehouse we headed down to the Indian Ocean for a two days of beach combing at Knysna. We were in a beautiful guesthouse with our own apartment on the edge of the water. Knysna is a beautiful bay which is guarded from the open sea by a narrow entrance called the Heads. At low tide almost the entire bay is emptied and you can wander for ages looking at anemones, hermit crabs and snails.

After a lovely stay in Knysna we headed north to Kenton-On-Sea. We chose to say in Kenton-On-Sea for two reasons, this picture:(Shelley’s Baii) IMG_3152and the Sibuya Game Reserve. We opted to visit this game reserve because we were able to book a private, guided game drive to see the animals with ALL the kids. In our various game reserve experiences to date, small children are not generally permitted in open vehicle game drives for safety reasons. It began with an 8km boat ride upriver ending up at the main lodge in time for lunch. Following our delicious lunch we got in the landcruiser and went to visit the elephants, lions, buffalo, and various other fabulous animals! It was great letting the kids see the animals up close while still being in the wild! We had a very knowledgeable ranger who stopped to show us everything we could possibly want to look at as well as a fascinating lecture on the different digestive systems of herbivores or ruminants.IMG_7084

After consulting many friends we decided to drive through the politically charged area known as the Transkei. This is an interesting area both geographically and historically. It is hilly, lush countryside winding through rural villages and two larger towns. Politically this area was known as a bantustand or homeland to the Xhosa people. As such it was set aside by the Apartheid government for Xhosa inhabitants only and there was no outside development of infrastructure during that era. Since the end of Apartheid in 1994 the government has been working to rectify the situation bring the basic necessities to the area such as municipally regulated electricity and running water. It is a credit to Nelson Mandela and the new national government that this kind of technology and governance is now available throughout South Africa.IMG_1970

The end of the Transkei brought us to the South Coast of Durban. We spent a lovely day at the beach in Southbroom then we headed into Durban/ Umhlanga for another trip to the fabulous Ushaka Marine World.IMG_3475IMG_3189

One of the big events of the last couple months include a certain little boy turning 6 years old! We were very priveleged to be able to celebrate with D’s best friend J in Ballito and a few new toothy friends at the Crocodile Farm! IMG_2022 IMG_2080 IMG_2172We spent our final week in Ballito with our friends swimming, beaching and generally enjoying life together.

IMG_2195One of the cool things we go to see on this trip was a rugby match where a team with mostly Zulu players entered the playing field singing and dancing in traditional warrior manner. It was amazing to see the translation of traditional war intimidation to the modern arena of rugby!IMG_2202We arrived back in Joburg on April 19th leaving us just 10 days until our flight to Canada on April 29th! We were able to keep up some work on our core subjects with time on Math and English each morning. However, the rounds of goodbyes and packing were overwhelming as we had to face the final days of our adventures in Africa.

We spent a day in Pretoria with good friends and visited the Voortrekkers Monument.IMG_2343 This is an amazing tribute to the history of SA’s Afrikaans pioneers. A marble bas-relief tells of the major events of the great trek from the Eastern Cape to the interior of the country.

IMG_2261We were blessed by the opportunity to gift our extra belongings to an orphanage in Pretoria before we left. I will write more about that in my next post. Our amazing knitting Oma had sent 20 warm hats with us to Africa to give away and we were so thrilled to hand them out personally to the children. IMG_2382 IMG_2394

We went to one last picnic at the botanical gardens, hosted a braai for our close friends and attended a baby dedication tea and an Easter braai complete with Easter egg hunt!.  IMG_3722 We finally redeemed an invitation to a boat cruise on Hartebeestport Dam.IMG_3759 We even squeezed in a combined family science lesson on structures!IMG_0329 IMG_0330 It has been an amazing journey and although we are caught in the pangs of goodbyes and yearnings for “home”. We’ve been asked many times if we’ll be back and the answer is emphatically YES, we just don’t know when yet. What we do know is that adventure and freedom are always calling and we will follow God’s plan for our lives and this less travelled road wherever it may lead us.

The Road Not Taken

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim
Because it was grassy and wanted wear,
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Robert Frost