Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Cape Town!

This past week, we decided to take advantage of the break we have in between classes finishing and graduation to go to Cape Town. Cape Town was the first white settlement in South Africa, developing from a resupply station created by the Dutch East India Company (1650) as a resupply station  for ships going around the tip of the continent. The city is beautiful and is much more a tourist destination than is Johannesburg. There were more great things to see and do than we had time for in the three days we were there. Here is a short travelogue in pictures:
Frank wanted me to include this one--the airline we flew on had funny slogans painted all over them. 
We deboarded on the tarmac, something I haven't done is a very long time.
And I rode in my first South African taxi which wouldn't seem unusual unless you knew what taxis are typically like here--very unsafe--but this one was a tour bus taxi.
The ports were gorgeous--of course they have to be. It's Cape Town!
We saw seals
and penguins in Africa! They are called Jackass Penguins or Black Feet Penguins

Here's a little video of a couple of the little guys--maybe 12 to 14 inches high.
We were on the Cape of Good Hope--not the very tip of Africa as is typically thought, but it is the place where, when ships turn, they are beginning to travel more north than south.
Baboons were numerous and we were told they could also be dangerous (have you ever seen their teeth?) We were warned to not eat food where they could see. 
We went through a beautiful botanical garden

and saw beautiful botany :)
This is the old city wall and part of the original castle. You can see Table Mountain in the back. We were told that because of its size and location, it actually creates its own weather. In a clear sky, the top is frequently covered in these clouds that look like dry ice pouring down. 
A view from a different angle
We were hoping to go onto Table Mountain, but it was too windy for the cable cars to run. We did go up to the base though and saw the city view. 
Some old historic government building--not sure what, but it was pretty. This is the place where acres of "company gardens" were planted with fruits and vegetables to resupply the ships.
We went to a beautiful beach that would rival anything in Hawaii.
I played in the sand and the water which was very, very cold. It is also home to the Great White Shark. We didn't see any swimmers (they would have needed wet suits) but there is surfing on some beaches. We were told there were shark spotters and sirens to warn people to get out of the water.
A view out toward the ocean--the Atlantic ocean which meets the warm water of the Indian Ocean at the tip of Africa which is Augaulis Point not the Cape of Good Hope.
In addition to beautiful beaches, Cape Town has a very large and very busy working harbor. 
We stayed in the bay area for a good part of the day and ate at a couple of the restaurants.
This guy was very happy because we bought one of his CD's. Their band was actually very good and very energetc.
And this "statue" (a live person) shook hands with Frank when he put a tip in the box.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Language Lesson

There are eleven official languages in South Africa—Afrikaans, English, Ndebele, Northern Sotho, Sotho, Swazi, Tsonga, Tswana, Venda, Xhosa and Zulu. Most South Africans speak more than one of these, and a lot of them speak several and can converse easily between several of them. We were listening to a group of young men talking to each other while waiting for one of the institute classes and asked what language they were speaking. They were speaking FIVE different languages in all and all of the listeners were able to understand what the others were saying.

We haven’t tried very hard to learn any of the languages since virtually everyone speaks English, but occasionally we’ll get a bit of a language lesson. The five-year-old boy who lives in the house in front of ours occasionally will try to tell us something in Afrikaans, forgetting that we don’t speak the language. In fact adults have spoken to us in Afrikaans, assuming that since we are white, we must speak it. (Afrikaans is derived from the Dutch language and was developed by early white settlers.) People often try to help us pronounce the names, but it’s a challenge for us. The counselor we work with in the stake presidency has the last name of Sehloho, which sounds nothing like it looks. One of our bishop’s name is Bishop Gqibitolecz which require a click immediately followed by a b-t sound. Not possible for us so I’m sure when we say his name he only knows we are addressing him because we are looking at him. Some last names start with GQX, others with MV, NV, TL and lots of other fun combinations. In this little video, these kids are trying to teach me a word in what I think was Xhosa and if I remember correctly, the word was eggs since that was what I was cooking. As you can see, the language lesson it isn’t just repeating the word; it’s trying to figure out how the click can be so quickly followed by a consonant.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Graduation Preparation and Magalies

I haven't posted for a while because we have been really busy getting all of the records, certificates and diplomas in order for Seminary and Institute graduation that will be coming up soon. It was planned for this Saturday, but has now been moved to December 6 so we should be ready ahead of time which is always nice. There is a lot involved--checking, double checking, contacting teachers and leaders, even sometimes contacting past teachers, especially for this program where every class is different.
We did take a break to go stay a couple of days at a very nice golf resort about an hour away called Magalies Park. A South African couple, Annie and Wally, who have become our friends invited us to stay. We aren't golfers, but enjoyed walking around the greens with wildebeest and springbok and other animals included. I guess they have allowed a few animals that are wary enough of humans that they don't bother the golfers.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

War Horse

A couple of years ago, my son Mike sent me the link to a TED talk about a puppet company that created beautiful life size horse puppets for a production called War Horse. Many of you may have read the book or seen the movie, if not, it's definitely worth seeing. A few months ago, we began to see billboards advertising the stage production that would take place here at a large theater in Montecasino which is a Vegas like casino complex near Joburg. As soon as they were available, I got tickets for us and a few friends, and we attended the performance the other night. Our seats were very near the front so we could see and hear the puppets, the puppeteers and the actors very clearly. It was absolutely magical to watch how they controlled full size puppets of birds and geese and horses to make you forget they were puppets at all. You even forget that the puppeteers that were always present controlling them. In one part of the production, there is a blast and the horse is blown back by the force of it, with men in his path. I was thinking, that horse has got to be really heavy! In reality, the horse was made of cane and fabric and probably a fraction of the weight of a live horse, but that truth is suspended as you see the puppets as important characters in the plot. Pictures weren't allowed during the production so I've relied on Google images which can't quite capture the spirit, but you'll get the idea. The TED talk is also posted that talks about the first time they were produced. I know there have been many created since then and the company has also produced puppets for other productions.

Saturday, November 1, 2014


In an earlier post, I included pictures of a number of flowering trees here in South Africa. The queen of all the flowering trees, I think must be the Jacaranda, which wasn't yet in bloom at the time. It is certainly in bloom right now and we can see their beautiful lavender canopies all over the area. Some streets are lined with them, and as they constantly shed their blossoms, the ground is carpeted in purple. In the richest neighborhoods and the poorest, Jacarandas equally share their beauty. I'm quite sure they are also sharing their pollen from my itchy eyes and runny nose, but they are so pretty that they just might be worth it.