SEASONS COME, SEASONS GO …

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We have joy, we have fun in all our seasons.  Every day ends with the setting sun. When Autumn arrives all the leaves turns yellow, red, and brown and we   witness a season of change.

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At the end of the day, the setting sun

Every season has its special beauty; autumn is no exception. Watching the trees turn from a variety of green to the richness of gold, yellow and red is a beautiful sight. One can almost be blinded by the beauty and forget that the icy winter follows this beauty.

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Autumn has arrived

Is it really true that all this beauty is a sign of death and decay? With all this beauty there is a certain sadness in knowing that the changing colours are the interlude to the arrival of a long cold winter.

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Whether we are standing high up in the mountains, on a road trip or standing somewhere on the open plains in the veld, the beauty and the timelessness of the Karoo grabs my soul, slows me down and gives me lots of joy.  Standing on top of the Kredouw Pass looking down into Prince Albert Valley you see that Autumn has arrived and spread her fingers all across to paint nature into Autumn’s colours.

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Prince Albert Valley covered in Autumn’s colours

Sometimes the wind turns wild and starts to roam down the streets and they sky.   Blowing angrily and shaking the trees branches around with menace, the leaves get shaken from the branches, floating softly through the air like confetti while dancing their way to the ground where they paint the ground in the beautiful golden colours of Autumn.

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Autumn, the golden season of the year

Standing on my back stoep early one morning I watched as a huge storm was brewing up in the sky coming towards the town.  There was a chilly angry wind blowing and shaking all the trees.  The crispness in the air and the smell of rain falling on the parched dry grass, plants and dead leaves told me that Winter is on its way, yet the in-between time of Autumn is a special time of the year.

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A storm is waiting to let go …

As the season changes from hot to cold you can watch the trees change their clothes, from green to brown, from red to gold.  They never seem to change their bodies.  Year by year they grow older, they hold onto their roots as they dance in the wind when the wind shakes them around.  In summer during the heat they provide shade to us all.  In the windy seasons they bend backwards and forwards and looks like they swagger around and start to undress as their leaves begin to fall to the ground, then they stand naked to face the cold. Leafless branches waiting for spring to arrive, the next step in nature.   After a few months, they can finally put on their new clothes, to welcome Spring.

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Trees standing naked against the cold of Winter

My life swirls around between the sun and wind and rain and the moon.  I always say that the moods within myself are carved by the weather, moon and time and I cannot be myself apart from nature’s time and rules. I try to learn and yet unlearn.   Deep within me, my heart always unfolds a mystery spurred by the seasons’ changes, playing off  lots of stories in my mind. 

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Let the sun shines through …

There’s a crispness in the air that greets the morning sun, a feeling of anticipation, a new day has begun.  Winter is drawing near, yet in between is surely the most special time of year. I sit contented with a book on my lap to pass the time, the sound of an angry wind howling down the mountain.
I can almost imagine the wind sitting on the mountaintop, looking down at the land and getting angry, then decides it is time to come down into the town to sweep nature clean with all the rubbish the humans had left behind.

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blue cloudy skies and the golden colours of Autumn

People can be compared to the seasons, they are born, and they grow and bloom, and then slowly ebb away … like spring, summer, and autumn they cannot stay forever.  Winter will come as it always does, if we are blessed, we have experienced the seasons at their best.

Spring, summer and autumn will soon be part of the past.
The warmth of summer is leaving, the sunshine is getting colder and nature is turning into something new.  Something colder, something darker, something different, something beautiful … Something called Winter.  Winter will follow the Autumn with his cold and chilly breath, blowing through every nook and cranny as it always does.

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The cold icy fingers were spread across nature turning it all frozen during the night

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The nakedness of Wintertime in nature

 

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We can say in aeternum, Autumn always begins with the same colours, the landscape turns dry and brown while lots of orange, yellow red and brown leaves fall from trees to cover the ground.

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Nature does not allow itself to be kept behind a closed gate

 

THE END

 

FROM HERE TO ETERNITY

FROM HERE TO ETERNITY

(Ouma’s Moon stories)

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Definitely eternity, not a figure 8

Definitely eternity, not a figure 8

It brought me huge pleasure to realize that little Hannah, our own little Moonbeam, was on her way during the four day Full Moon phase.  I so look forward to share all my Moon stories with Hannah, who arrived just after Full Moon on the 7th of May 2015.  To top it all, this phase of the Moon, the starting of the Waning Moon, is also associated with the Grandmother goddesses – all wise and benevolent, demanding but devoted.  Suddenly I became a smitten and caring granny/ouma!  I’m sure my fascination with the moon played its part.

The two smitten grannies just staring at the new arrival …

The two smitten grannies just staring at the new arrival …

We left home early morning on the day that Hannah was born to be in Stellenbosch for the happy event.  As we drove out of Prince Albert the Moon was still sitting high up in the sky blinking at us just to tell us that it was the day of our Big Event.  As we drove towards Stellenbosch the Moon stayed in the sky for most of the day, and I must say she kept my mind busy watching her and making up stories in my head, preventing me from getting too excited for what was waiting for us.

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Hannahs moon

Hannah’s Moon …


The moon followed us all day long …

The moon followed us all day long …

At 14:55 that afternoon Hannah was born and while we were heading for Stellenbosch, just outside Caledon we received the most beautiful photo to tell us that we were now the proud grandparents of Hannah Grace Snyman….

Welcome to the world ...

Welcome to the world …

While writing this story for Hannah, my mind went all over the place and I realized how many nursery rhymes with the Moon playing a role I will be able to teach Hannah.  Just think about it!

Hey diddle diddle

The cat and the fiddle

The cow jumped over the moon

The little dog laughed to see such fun

And the dish ran away with the spoon!

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Now that Hannah is here and I know and think I understand my new life, I can sit back and start to compile all my moon stories and fairy tales to tell to all the grandchildren one of these days!  I am so looking forward to start my storytelling that I even forget about my other interests while writing the stories.

What do you see on the Moon:  Liewe Heksie (Liewe Heksie or  the Loveable little Witch was a South African story when our children were small)

What do you see on the Moon: Liewe Heksie
(Liewe Heksie or the Loveable little Witch was a South African story when our children were small)


Moon fairies playing in the Moonlight

Moon fairies playing in the Moonlight

Ever since I can remember, I am Moonstruck.  I seriously believe that when it is Full Moon, I am at my happiest and when it is New or Dark Moon, my mood swings to the darkness as well.   When I learned that I was born during Full Moon I was over the Moon with happiness and immediately understood why the Moon will always influence my moods.

A special moon one night …

A special moon one night …

Ages ago when Kallie started to court me, I quickly convinced him about my happiness with the Full Moon.  Several times I convinced him to take me to Klapperkop outside Pretoria to go and sit and watch the Full Moon rising.   Just a short insert here, I don’t know   if you can remember the Panga Man and Klapperkop – Many years ago, long before we were born, there was man who attacked and killed people with a panga, but in our young days, he was already long gone to another planet after his trial and death sentence.  I think Kallie thought every time we went to Klapperkop it was his time to whoo me, but soon after we parked I would see the panga man jumping out from behind a bush and we had to leave before he killed us.  It took a long time for Kallie to understand my extremely active brain, constantly making up stories for myself to the confusion of an infatuated boyfriend.

In those days I did not even think that one day I would hold a baby in my arms, let alone thinking further into the future about one day holding my baby’s baby and becoming a grandparent!

Now and then …

Now and then …

Then, many, many Moons later, the most beautiful thing happened to us.  We received the good news that we were going to become grandparents – twice in one year!  For the first nine months, I was so worried about becoming a granny because knowing myself I do not do well with new born little ones.  The moment I walk through the doors and I saw Minanne and pretty little Hannah all my fears were gone and I became a smitten granny!

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That special moment when you hold your grandchild for the first time …


Captivted ....

Captivated ….

Before I end my story, something to think about … the other nursery rhyme that talks about the Moon is something few of us know about …

Jack and Jill went up the hill

To fetch a pail of water.

Jack fell down and broke is crown.

 And Jill came tumbling after.

In Norway the people describe the spots on the Moon as a boy and a girl carrying a bucket of water.  Their walk up the hill and the fall down the hill actually describes the monthly ascent and descent of the phases of the Moon!   In Norwegian they are known as Hjuki and Bil and then we changed it to Jack and Jill!

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A week later we had to leave Hannah behind to drive to Pretoria for work.  It was with a heavy heart that we had to say good-bye, luckily knowing that we will see them all again in a months’ time and that mommy Minanne will be sharing photos with us every day.

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The Moon exactly a week after Hannah was born, smiling down at us and sharing little Hannah’s smile with us ….

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I will hold that little hand tight close to my heart until we see her again …

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That look told me quick and clear that I must stop and get going before I become a boring slobbering granny…

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THE END

FERNWEH MOMENTS AND MUSINGS ….

Fernweh

Fernweh

Sometimes  I suffer from a serious bout of Fernweh … most of the time it will  be on a Suday afternoon and then I will go and sit and page through my hundreds of photo albums wishing to be at the places I love the most but where I cannot always be…

How to get over my bout of Fernweh?  … What medicine works best?  The best way to get over these serious attacks is to sit and muse about them while I’m paging through my photo albums, dreaming of the time when  I can get there again …   Oher times I just sit and think about life and things that makes me happy.

On the Ndutu plains ...

On the Ndutu plains …

This was one of our first camp sites in the Serengeti.  Through the years Wayo Africa upgraded their mobile camping and now we do it in barefoot elegance.  When you visit a country you try and taste and eat food and drinks that are local … While out there on Plains of the Serengeti, you come back to camp filled or sometimes overloaded with what you experienced during the day and cannot wait to relax next to the welcoming fire …You rush off to do your cleaning up ritual and then it is time for Sundowners … aah Sundowners … yes… A bottle of Konyagi, the local gin or vodka made with paw-paw pips,  and my drink of choice when we are  in Tanzania.  It replaces Tequila!   I did earn a new name one time in the Tarangire National Park …,  Mama Kichaa, the name I was given by the barman in the  Tarangire Tent Kamp because they could not believe that you can add 15 drops of Tobasco Sause to Konyagi mixed with Bitter Lemon … the name has stuck … the Crazy Mother ….

Konyagi and more ...

Konyagi and more …                  

 Waking up one morning, I found myself dreaming of being surrounded by wildebeest, you pick up that distinctive smell of the veld, a warm fragrance just on the pleasant compost side of rotting…. You are filled with awe but also feeling the sadness of everything…the way life moves on through its courses, leaving behind so much …watching the circle of life playing off in front of you.  A mother wildebeest gives birth to a little one with the hyenas stalking around to get their food or you sit and watch lions making a meal of some unfortunate animal that could not get away from them…

The smell of the wildebeest in the veld ...

The smell of the wildebeest in the veld …

IT IS EITHER A FERNWEH MOMENT OR SOME BLUES …

Sitting in my study staring through the window, watching the season change from autumn to the beginning of winter … the wind is trying very hard to push summer finally out of the way.  Summer still fights bravely back just to stay a bit longer.  The wind starts to blow freely down the street again chasing leaves off the trees…. I get the sense of going away, of visiting far off places…. I want to fly off and find out why Zanzibar is holding my heart to ransom… Then it started to rain … An acute bout of Sunday blues hit …. How I wish I could sip on a glass of tamarind juice on the beach in Stone Town, Zanzibar… I started to  suffer  from a serious bout of FERNWEH Wanderlust … I want to sit on the veranda of Tembo House in Stone Town, with my feet in the sand, watching the world go by …

Blue skies ...

Blue skies …

Azure blue beaches ...

Azure blue beaches …

Tamarind juice on the beach ...

Tamarind juice on the beach …

I think I would not mind saying Jambo nzuri gani today      …
Sitting on the beach in front of the hotel enjoying watching all that happens there,
… and enjoying a glass of cold tamarind juice….

Sitting with your feet in the sand ...

Sitting with your feet in the sand …

Mumbling mumbo jumbo while watching the world go by ...

Mumbling mumbo jumbo while watching the world go by

This photo talks to me in all kinds of ways … makes me pine to be back at Tembo House on the beach in Stone Town, Zanzibar …. It tells its own story about what happens on an island with sunset, the islanders cool off having fun on the beach, while I do intense people watching enjoying myself, a Konyagi… and the evening breeze after a hot day …

Still life with a chair and sunset on the beach ...

Still life with a chair and sunset on the beach …

Fernweh Solutions:  My soul is restless, my body ache and my feet are itchy to get to the only place that can cure me from this serious bout of fernweh … my soul  is pining to be happy! … I always find it very hard to understand why it must happen on a Sunday and always a longing to the place that is not just down the road … Why must my happiness be measured as if it depends on the distance of these places …?

Reflections ...

Reflections …

We sat quietly, our eyes filled with faraway thoughts while searching the bush for unexpected surprises. The sound of trickling water, quiet nothing is happening anywhere … and then, suddenly, but so lovely … you hear the call of a fish eagle

Quietness of nature ...

Quietness of nature …

The difference between nature and human life …

We go to the beach and complain that it is either to hot or too cold …. We might be hungry or thirsty, something will always be wrong, be it the weather, the wind or what else, it will be something that is actually not worth wasting time on….. How often do we go to the beach to just sit and to be…?  How often do we just try to be like the seagulls, to sit on the beach quietly waiting for a morsel of food to wash out, taking a nap while waiting?

On the beach ...

On the beach …

A glorious morning ….

Lying in bed early morning, listening to the sounds of a city waking up. The lovely fragrance of spring flowers wafting in through the window…. It made me appreciate it all again…. The birds have a hierarchy of who is chirping first early morning from the smallest to the final call of the Hadedas while in the background you also hear an Egyptian Geese family squabble about where they should go for the day…

Waking up in the city ...

Waking up in the city …

THE GRASS IS ALWAYS GREEN NO MATTER WHAT…

No matter on which side you are … the grass will be green …. It is with a strange sadness in my heart that I sit here, working through my photos and reading posts on Facebook …. Lately I started to notice that it is so easy to post a kind of camouflage hate speech on social media on the internet, be it about religion, politics, food likes, tastes and so much more …. The question that came into my head… does it make me a better person when I post something about a religion that I’m not part of? Does it matter that there are just as many bad people in my religion, or politics as well…?  if I sit on a fence does it give me the right to point fingers? … If I don’t like slice of cake does it mean I can tell everybody it is not a good cake? … If I am part of all of this, does it make me a better person? … Well it can go and on and … I should not take time to sit and think about such things, it makes me sad.

The grass is always greener on the other side ...

The grass is always greener on the other side …

I LIKE … but most of the time I do not like some things …

I “Like” to be happy and to start my day with good thoughts … so I always press my own “Like” button … Everybody has their own concerns and worries about the world and the environment, but it is not always in line with what I worry and think about … We all use Facebook and other social media links to read about what is happening in the world and with our friends … It is sometimes so unsettling to open Facebook early morning … Most of the time there is nothing that I can do about a situation  How can I save an already dead animal in another country by liking a post? Why must I look at some terrible photos first thing in the morning? I also do not want to know about someone’s personal political views or any negative postings …. Unfortunately there is no button that will show a person that you do not like a post, I am going to click on the “I don’t want to see this” button, and if it keeps on popping up on my screen I will delete the person for ever and remove my “Like” from a page … I am starting to slowly close the gate on some issues that does not play an important role in my life …

Please close the gate behind you ...

Please close the gate behind you …

Until next time … I will keep on musing …

TILLA’S MUSINGS

 

EACH PHOTO TELLS A DIFFERENT STORY

MUSE:

(v) To reflects on a subject

(n) Source of an artist’s inspiration.

I can sit for days, thinking of life.  To sit on the stoep, you go through lots of thoughts while you also observe the change of season.  When the muse wakes up in my head, I will look at something, most of the times a photo, and the thought that was born on the back stoep long ago will come out of hibernation and give me an idea what the photo is actually busy telling me.

Stoep:

(n)  A South African word … a veranda usually in the front or back of a house.

STOEP SITTING

The place … to be … the space between the house and the rest of the world, to be outside from the inside of the house … where you watch the day change from early morning to late night, star gazing or sometimes sitting quietly listening to the falling rain …, or listening to the birds while it gets dark and smacking mosquitoes in summertime … basking in the setting sun in wintertime.

When the sun sets early evening there is nothing better than to sit and watch the wind play around with the curtains, you get a sense of coolness and quietly you go into a state of light meditation while the wind plays around

Karoo style aircon ...

Karoo style aircon …

 

We always go and sit outside, enjoying some me time or to enjoy our animals.

Private time on the back stoep…

Gina, our little parrot ... she barks like a dog

Gina, our little parrot … she barks like a dog

 

Best friends always share a chair on the back stoep, watching the garden for intruder birds….

Stoepsitters

Stoep sitters

 

Sitting on the back stoep, listening to the rolling thunder playing around behind the clouds, not a breeze in the air with a soft noise of rain on the tin roof. The air is heavy with the smell of parched and scorched plants and veld, soaking up the first raindrops ….

A special smell ...

A special smell …

Sitting on the stoep last night I watched and listened to a soft concerto, the wind as the maestro while the trees played a soft percussion when suddenly the wind became so angry, everything turned into a concerto grosso. The wind was trying to take nature hostage … one moment it was a gentle soft breeze and the next everything that stood in the wind’s way was in danger of being blown away …

Before the storm ...

Before the storm …

Not a storm in a teacup ...

Not a storm in a teacup …

Calmness returned after the storm ..,

Calmness returned after the storm ..,

Early the next morning I wandered outside to see who had won during the windstorm of last night … there is calm again … last night’s howling winds went into hiding.

Washed and dusted ...

Washed and dusted …

At the end of an ordinary day the sun will desert the sky and plunge the world into night, we sit outside waiting for the moon to wake up and smile down onto the sleeping earth …. —

Playing hide and seek ...

Playing hide and seek …

Sister Moon, lighting up the sky ...

Sister Moon, lighting up the sky …

 

Because we stay in a semi-arid environment one of the big events is when we I hear thunder … the wind is trying to swipe the clouds from the sky and bringing chaos to the streets again … the streets were busy one moment and are now deserted, the wind blew everybody inside and is wreaking havoc in the streets by throwing sweet wrappers all over the place and making the cats next door skittish. Suddenly the sky became dark, when I looked up I saw these ominous clouds stacking themselves together. Turning the sky a gun metal grey, floating around, not yet sure where to get rid of their heavy load. While they darken the afternoon, the grey dog stalks around like a ghost.

The grey ghost, doing her rounds before the rain ...

The grey ghost, doing her rounds before the rain …

Waking up very early, listening to the rain doing a tap dance performance of Singing in the Rain on the tin roof … I made up a whole performance in my head, listening as the dance reached the peak and the music got loud and fast, then it subsided and got softer until you could only hear the shuffle of last feet leaving the roof ….

Tap dancing on the roof ...

Tap dancing on the roof …

 

All things bright and beautiful …. all creatures great and small … the sun is shining, the birds are singing, the garden is bursting out in colourful flowers … A fresh smell is in the air and the dogs just love it! … Too early for the flowers to open yet, but it is a beautiful day!

All things bright and beautiful ...

All things bright and beautiful …

 

The Language of Flowers:

Receiving a hibiscus flower in the olden days meant either that you were seen as a rare beauty or a delicate beauty … receiving any red flower is seen as an expression of love … for me it is as if nature is talking to me when I see a red flower … a red hibiscus has so many duties to fulfil … from decorating Hahitians when they dance, as offerings to the Hindu goddess Kali, as a lot of different medicine, some are used to make paper with and I also drank some hibiscus tea on Zanzibar, which tastes a bit tart and colour your teeth red … but it still stays one of my favourite flowers…

Hibiscus talking to me ...

Hibiscus talking to me …

 

A lazy wind-still and perfect sunset on the back stoep … sitting there watching the sun rays through the trees. .. the new green leaves are glowing gold in the setting sun …. Silver threads and golden leaves in the setting sun … another stunning evening…

Silver threads and golden leaves ...

Silver threads and golden leaves …

 

Saturday evening … as if in a gothic picture, a sliver of moon was looking down onto the sleepy town …. A promise that soon it will be full moon again …. As legend goes she is busy scooping water, and soon it will rain again … this morning the clouds are covering the sky, the sun is gone … the old people with all their stories knew far better than we what nature plans for us…

Scooping water ...

Scooping water …

A Gothic moment ...

A Gothic moment …

My musings will follow me wherever I go …

THE PAKAS OF ZANZIBAR (The cats of Zanzibar).

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On our first visit to Zanzibar I noticed a lot of cats roaming around, in the alleys of Stone Town and all over the place.  At the same time we saw that cats would also roam around the beach searching for something to eat in the flotsam that washed out during high tide.  These cats preyed on my mind and I started to wonder about them.   They never seemed perturbed at passing scooters, bicycles or people as they walked and slept in the alleys.  Sometimes I noticed women feeding cats and I took it for granted they were feeding their own cats.  But because it was our first visit to the island I did not spend too much time thinking about them….

The cats in Stone Town have no fear of the water, they laze around on the beach waiting for something to wash up for them to catch and to eat

The cats in Stone Town have no fear of the water, they laze around on the beach waiting for something to wash up for them to catch and to eat

On our second visit I started to notice that nobody really looked after the cats, even though some people did feed them.  On one of our “how to get-lost” expeditions in the alleys, we walked past a place with a sign outside that said that it was sort of veterinarian NGO that took care mostly of the cats but also of the other animals on Zanzibar.  That started to make me think about all the animals on the island.  I also realized that we only saw a dog once on our first trip out to the spice farms, but never in Stone Town.   When we got back home a friend and I spoke about all the cats and she mentioned that in Turkey she also noticed a lot of cats that roam the streets but don’t seem to belong to anybody.  We realized that these are mostly feral cats.  Another thing that I noticed was that there are more ginger cats than other colours, although there are all kinds and colours of cats on Zanzibar.  That made me think even more, so I did some research and I came across interesting stories and facts about cats in Muslim communities.

A mixture of ginger and white … lazing about waiting for food to come his way …

A mixture of ginger and white … lazing about waiting for food to come his way …

It was lip licking good ...

It was lip-licking good …

A ginger and white mom and her two kittens enjoying the early morning sun

A ginger and white mom and her two kittens enjoying the early morning sun.

On the island they make themselves comfortable wherever they find themselves

On the island they make themselves comfortable wherever they find themselves.

What I found is quite interesting ….  In the 7th Century Arabs believed that the cat was pure spirited and pre-Islamic Arabs were said to have worshipped a Golden Cat.   That is very interesting because there are more ginger/golden coloured cats roaming around than other coloured ones.

Golden or ginger cats are well represented on the island ...

Golden or ginger cats are well represented on the island …

The story goes that the Prophet Muhammad loved cats and adored his own cat, Muezza.  One day when the call to prayers was heard, Mohammad found Muezza sleeping on the robe he wanted to wear to prayers.  He did not want to wake the cat so he cut off the sleeve of the robe and left the cat in peace.  The Prophet then stroked the cat three times, which legend has it, granted Muezza seven lives and the ability to land on his feet at all times.  Whenever the Prophet delivered his sermons, Muezza would rest on his lap.  The Prophet also did his ablutions before prayers and would drink from the same water as the cat.

Islam teaches Muslims to treat cats well and that cats must be cherished and loved.  It is a severe sin to mistreat a cat in Muslim communities.  According to the Qur’an and in oral storytelling, Muslims will be punished for mistreating a cat.  For instance when a woman kept a cat locked up and failed to feed the cat until it died, she was tortured and sent to hell.  That explains why cats roam around freely and are fed, but why nobody will take ownership of the animals.  If something goes wrong, that person can be accused of mistreating the cat.

The Prophet also said that a cat is not unclean and is “one of those who go around amongst us”.  Islam alsp teaches Muslims that no cat should be sold for money or traded for goods, that a cat’s saliva is clean and harmless unless there are visible impurities in the mouth and that Muslims are free to live with cats as long as they treat them well well, provide them with enough water and food and allow them to roam.    Unfortunately dogs are not regarded in the same way.  Under Sharia they were declared unclean, so dogs are underfed and uncared for, as we saw on the island.

No matter where, when the bchicks need time to rest she will spread her wings and give them some shelter

No matter where, when the bchicks need time to rest she will spread her wings and give them some shelter.

Time to go and scratch around to find something to eat …

Time to go and scratch around to find something to eat …

Chickens are also free roaming on Zanzibar.  It does not matter where you walk in Stone Town, you will come across them scratching around looking for something to eat with hens sitting on eggs or tending to their chicks.  When we asked somebody to whom the chickens belong, he said to nobody really.  Nobody even knows where they lay eggs, another indication that people do not take any responsibility because if something goes wrong, they must own up to ownership.

Some roosters might think they are the king of their own dung heaps ...

Some roosters might think they are the king of their own hills …

...While others know they are on their own dung heaps

…while others know they are …

In total harmony the cats and chickens live together on these dirt heaps waiting for food to come past them ..

In total harmony, the cats and chickens live together on these dirt heaps waiting for food to come past them …

I also gave a thought to the hard working donkeys and oxen that you see in town and in the countryside.  You often see donkeys pulling laden carts in Stone Town.  I do not take photos of donkeys because the one time I did, I saw the most horrendous raw chafing sores on the poor donkey’s back where the cart was hurting him and I just could not get myself to take any more photos.  We were told that the donkeys can be compared to Nissan SUVs that can go into the narrow alleys in town while the oxen in the countryside are like Land Rovers, strong and sturdy enough to pull around carts filled with heavy loads of goods.

The reliable Land Rover of the Island doing his daily job

The reliable Land Rover of the Island doing his daily job.

Free roaming cattle in the suburbs ...

Free roaming cattle in the suburbs …

a good  impression of a pastoral scene .. in a suburb you will find cattle, chickens and even crows grazing together

 A typica pastoral scene …  In a suburb you will find cattle, chickens and even crows grazing together

Apart from all of these animals there are also goats and cattle roaming all over the island. You will find them walking around and grazing wherever they can find something to eat.  Fortunately the Zanzibar Animal Affection society keeps a lookout for any abuse of animals.

Goats on the beach

Goats on the beach.

Ever since I read about the way that cats must be treated I have been watching them every time we get to the island.  The last time we were there in September 2014, I had more than enough time to do it over a period of two weeks and it was very interesting.   Clearly it was breeding season because there were more kittens than before.  Because we stayed in an apartment in Stone Town, we experienced and saw more of the daily routines that go on in a suburb than what we saw when we stayed in a hotel, oblivious to the day to day living habits of the locals.  Every morning at about half past eight we heard a bicycle bell ringing and would see a fish hawker with a basket full of tiny fish come riding past.   Cats follow him as far as he rides.  He is known as the Kengele-kupigia (the bell ringer), not the Pied Piper.   Every now and then he stopped to feed the cats with the guts of the fish he cleaned whenever somebody bought from him.  The sound of his bell coming down the alley in front of our apartment will always stay in my head.

A group of alley cats hanging around waiting for the fish hawker … they heard the bell and are waiting in anticipation …

A group of alley cats hanging around waiting for the fish hawker … they heard the bell and are waiting in anticipation …

...and then he arrived …The fish hawker and is bicycle with food for the cats …

…and then he arrived …The fish hawker and his bicycle with food for the cats …

A basket full of small fish that the locals also buy from the hawker

A basket full of small fish that the locals also buy from the hawker.

On the chopping board ...

On the chopping board …

Enjoying their fish

Enjoying their fish.

At least now I know why there are so many pakas in Stone Town, and that there are people looking after them even though they do not belong to anybody.

They look at home wherever they lie around ...

They look at home wherever they lie around …

Just chilling out ...

Just chilling out …

KUWAKARIBISHA ….Welcome to Stone Town

1(a)

KUWAKARIBISHA ….

Welcome to Stone Town

My first and lasting impression and thought of Stone Town is how it smelled.  What I saw from the air the first time we flew into Zanzibar and our first experiences of Stone Town will always stay with me.  First you see the azure blue sea.  The next moment you fly over what you assume are spice farms and then a confusion of roofs without a space in between came into view and everywhere you will see one of the more than 50 mosques.

Our first view of Stone Town from the air

Our first view of Stone Town from the air …

Roofs as far as you can see ...

Roofs as far as you can see …

Lots of coconut trees and spice farms

Lots of coconut trees and spice farms

One of the more than 50 mosques in Stone Town

One of the more than 50 mosques in Stone Town

You will always be attracted to something or a person if you like their smell. Stone town smelled stuffy … of the sea, of spices and of something rotten.  Its natural smell was of heavy decay, something that you cannot bottle and sell as a perfume, yet the smell took hold of me and I liked it, I fell completely in love there and then because of the right smell and pheromones, I started to romanticizing about the town.

Old decaying and dying buildings

Old decaying and dying buildings

The first time we arrived on Zanzibar, we were picked up by a very friendly Shakur, a taxi driver for the hotel where we stayed and also a registered town guide.  We immediately arranged a Spice tour for the next morning.   Five years and many trips later, Shakur is still our driver and by now has become a good friend to us.

Shakur our friendly  taxi driver

Shakur our friendly
taxi driver

On our first trip to Zanzibar we stayed at the Beyt al Chai on the border of Stone Town on Kelele Square.  It was a fairly newly renovated Botiqueish place.  Originally it was a traditional Zanzibari house and tea house, from which it gets its name. Management and reception was very friendly and helpful. There was a whitey called Paul who was originally from Kenya, who met us with cool drinks to save us from dehydration.  The other manager was Pius, not the pope, because this Pius is black and speaks Swahili, who offered to keep some of our shopping in the safe at the hotel until we got back from safari.  Apart from these two, there were two very tall and very friendly and shy Massai guys who carried our bags up to our room and who were always very friendly.   They hung around at night, supposedly to guard the hotel against unknown evil that lurks around at night.  Maybe the ghosts of slaves from the past.

The Beyt al Chai  Hotel

The Beyt al Chai Hotel

The Beyt al Chai was a nice hotel, there were only six really massive rooms.  In our room, the Beyt al Ajaib, one of the de lux rooms, the bath and toilet were built into the corner of the room like a Turkish bath house.

Our room name

Our room name

The bathroom

The bathroom

The rooms were richly decorated with furniture dating back to the days of the Sultans and the windows were covered with richly coloured organza and silk curtains.

Some of the furniture in the room

Some of the furniture in the room

Some of the furniture in the room

To get to our bedroom, we had to climb very steep staircases, eighty steps in total, because the room was on the third floor. With the humidity already high, it felt as if we were climbing up the Eiffel Tower.

A part of the many steep stairs waiting to be climb

A part of the many steep stairs waiting to be climb

The most outstanding feature of the room was its very high Swahili bed.  When I stood next to the bed, it reached to above my waist, I had to pull myself onto the bed!  If you are short like me, a stepladder would have been a big help.

Our imposing bed

Our imposing bed

As first time visitors, we threw our luggage down, changed into cooler clothes and went off on our first Stone Town discovery experience. Afterwards, when we went for a drink at Livingston’s Bar with its shutters closed in the middle of the day, we realized we were in the middle of Ramadan.

My first Konyagi ever

My first Konyagi ever

Kallie enjoying a cold Tuskers

Kallie enjoying a cold Tuskers

Inquisitive girls looking into the darkened Livingston’s Bar

Inquisitive girls looking into the darkened Livingston’s Bar

Only after half past six that evening Livingston’s opened the shutters and we could go and sit outside on the beach with our feet in the sand.  The shutters are closed because it’s a bar and it is out of respect for the people who partake in Ramadan. Muslims do not drink alcohol. Kallie had a baridi (cold) Tuskers beer and I had my first Konyagi, bitter lemon and Tabasco.  It all went down very well after an exhausting afternoon running around after all the exciting things to see.  Needless to say, the next night we were back at Livingstone’s for supper where we had a far better experience than our first supper.  Maybe it was just sitting there on the beach watching the sun set that made it more pleasant, we both agreed that evening that we want to come back to Zanzibar to do more exploring.

Sitting around on the beach at Livingston’s

Sitting around on the beach at Livingston’s

Kallie enjoying the cool breeze on the beach

Kallie enjoying the cool breeze on the beach

A beautiful beach scene

A beautiful beach scene

Locals doing what locals do on the beach.

Locals doing what locals do on the beach.

Sunset in Zanzibar

Sunset in Zanzibar

Our first supper on the island was at the hotel, because all the guidebooks rated the restaurant as one of the best.  We were really tired after the excitement of the day, the initial adrenalin rush was busy working itself out of our systems. What a disappointment!  The menu was extremely limited and when I asked for a Konyagi, they told me that they do not keep cheap alcohol, and Konyagi, according to them, is a low class drink.  The food was so unappetizing that neither of us can really remember what we had.  The service was slow, really slow.

We went to bed early and fell asleep quite quickly.   At exactly 4.30 the next morning we were woken by the most unholy and monstrous scream right there in our bedroom! I thought all the evil Arabian djinns that are still alive and well in the whole of North Africa and Morocco came down the coast during the night to scare the holy crap out of us.  It was only after a while that I realized that we were only about 50 meters away from a loudspeaker on top of a mosque and it was the muezzin doing his first call of the day to get the people to come and pray.  Believe me, after such a hullaballoo we couldn’t sleep again because our hearts were racing so hard.  Afterwards, when quite reigned again, we had to laugh about our ignorance of being in a Muslim country.

Serena Inn

Serena Inn

The Aga Khan’s apartment and there were definitely somebody staying there

The Aga Khan’s apartment and there were definitely somebody staying there

Our bedroom looked down onto Kelele Square, one of the towns more peaceful areas, but its name, which mean ‘shouting, noisy or tumultuous’ and tells a different story.  It tells a story of a terrible past when this square was the main slave market.  The building just to the right across the street from the hotel is called the ‘Mambo Misiige’ or the ‘Inimitable Thing’.  This describes the extravagance of the construction, for which thousands of eggs and allegedly the bodies of slaves were used to strengthen the mortar.  It was built as a private residence dating from 1874-50. The building later served as headquarters for the Universities Mission to Central Africa. A huge irony is that Sir John Kirk the abolitionist lived there from 1874-87 as the British Consul General.  Later it became a European hospital and in 2009 housed a number of government departments, a rundown building with soot coloured walls (the colour is because of the eggs u se during the construction).

Mambo Misiige’ or the ‘Inimitable Thing’ house… today incorporated in the new Hyatt Hotel they are busy building.

Mambo Misiige’ or the ‘Inimitable Thing’ house… today incorporated in the new Hyatt Hotel they are busy building.

Kelele Square, is a green grassy square lined with Hibiscus, Tamarind and Flamboyant trees. The Flamboyant tree originally comes from Madagascar, a sure reminder of colonial times because you find them wherever the British have colonized a country.

Kelele Square

Kelele Square

Flamboyant, Tamarind, Hibiscus and many more trees always offering some shade to passers-by

Flamboyant, Tamarind, Hibiscus and many more trees always offering some shade to passers-by

While we were staying in the hotel there were always three very strange-looking roosters with their chicken families in tow rooting around in the grass.  They declared ownership of the square by crowing their hearts out.  When I say strange-looking I mean really strange-looking chickens, with tall legs, thin as bean sprouts and no drumsticks of note, scruffy looking necks so unimpressive that I actually told Kallie that I will not eat chicken while we’re in Tanzania because those were authentic Tanzanian chickens.

The rooster looking for a good place to do his crowing

The rooster looking for a good place to do his crowing

There were always very noisy crows, called ravens in Tanzania, in the square as well.  They are smaller than our crows with greyish heads and necks and very talkative in their own language.  I believe there is a competition between the muezzin, the cocks and the crows to see who can make the loudest and the most noise.

The raven trying his utmost to outdo the muezzin

The raven trying his utmost to outdo the muezzin

Breakfast was yet another first!  Again we were the only people in the dining room. Again there was a lack of service but nevertheless, I ordered macon and eggs and when the food arrived on my plate there were these two funny looking white stuff, apparently eggs.  I could not agree because there was no yellow or yolk, the yolk was the colour of a bad margarine, a very pale yellow and I swear not fit for human consumption.  I could not eat it and immediately the Tanzanian chickens came to mind, it was revolting and I felt sick.  Fortunately that did not last long because we had to get ready for our Spice Farm trip.

A lot of changes have happened since our first trip in 2009.  In 2014 the ‘Mambo Misiige’ building changed its name and it is now part of the nearly finished brand new Hyatt Hotel.  The Beyt el Chai has also been sold and underwent a lot of renovations and is now a real boutique hotel with the name Beyt el Salaam, highly priced.

The slightly better dressed rooster, still with snap stick legs and his harem of hens ...

The slightly better dressed rooster, still with snap stick legs and his harem of hens …

More tales  will follow soon …

THE VICTORIA FALLS …

THE VICTORIA FALLS … “Scenes so lovely must have been gazed upon by Angels in their flight” (David Livingston)       

Victoria falls in all its glory ...

Victoria falls in all its glory …

After we had a quiet time at the hotel we were fetched by our taxi and dropped at the entrance to the falls where our guide met us.  Gateway Safaris, who did all our tours are very efficient and prompt, when they say you will be picked up at 15:00, they mean it and will are there on time.

At the parking area at the falls you will find a typical Africa scene with so called warriors doing a war dance, ululating and waving around their assegais and shields, all dressed up in cattle hides.  I don’t think any one of them even know what it meant to be a warrior in yesteryear living on your guts and to survive in the wild.   The moment you turn your back on them, out comes a cell phone and they are talking to somebody or listening to music.  I find it very funny but I also know people who are not from Africa just love watching this action and confirming to themselves that this is wild Africa. 

There are also a whole bunch of curio shops, but again, that is another attraction that we do not look at, we are used to all of this in South Africa.  Make no mistake it is very busy at the gate, but our efficient guide took our passports and dealt with everything quickly and off we went to see the falls… a first for me, but Kallie has been to the falls as a youngster.

Markson ... our guide telling us all about our trip ...

Markson … our guide telling us all about our trip …

 

Welcome to the falls ...

Welcome to the falls …

What you will pay to do the falls tour ...

What you will pay to do the falls tour …

Rules ....

Rules ….

We followed the Victoria Falls Footpath guide, we were handed a map while our guide explained all about ‘Mosi-oa-Tunya’ or “the Smoke that Thunders” to us. 

After David Livingston listened to all the stories of the local tribesmen, he set off in search of the place that thunders.  On the 16th November 1855 he was taken by a dugout canoe to an island which is today called Livingston Island that overlooked the largest curtain of the falling water.  Being a true British citizen he named the falls after Queen Victoria of England and he wrote “Scenes so lovely must have been gazed upon by Angels in their flight”.  To be quite honest, the first time I saw a glimpse of the falls it took my breath away.

The famous Livingston statue

The famous Livingston statue

In a world of my own ...

In a world of my own …

Doing what I do best taking photos and forgetting everything else ...

Doing what I do best taking photos and forgetting everything else …

We came to Livingstone’s statue and after we took a few photos of the statue I got closer to the edge and got into a world of my own.  I did not hear the guide telling more of the facts, I just stood there taking photos and staring at all that was on display in front of me …

Thinking back I was like a small child in front of a sweet counter where you should make a decision and you cannot… I could not decide where to look, I was just totally overawed. 

As I came back to reality, I turned around and for a few moments was totally flabbergasted… I thought Livingston and I had been transported to a place in Nepal without me realizing it!  I just stood there staring at the two Buddhist monks on front of the statue until I realized that it is just two people in bright orange raincoats and that I am still standing close to the proper falls. 

The orange raincoats that confused me for a moment ...

The orange raincoats that confused me for a moment …

And then we went on the long walk following all the nooks and crannies to get close to the edge ever so often.

The start of the walk ...

The start of the walk …

The Zambezi at the falls site is over 1 000 kilometres away from its source and at the falls it reaches a 1 708 meter width and cascades some 100 meters into the 1st gorge below.  Just imagine all the mist and rainbows you can see there! 

During the peak months, from March and April, an average of 500 million litres of water per minute creates that veil of spray, but during those months it is so dense that sometimes you cannot see the falls.  During the dry season the average flow drops dramatically.  We did the tour and wandered in and out to all the viewpoints.  The craziest one is where you stand on Zimbabwe’s side of the falls and watch the crazy people from the Zambian side swimming around at Devil’s Cataract.

 

A beautiful view of the falls with the rainbow ...

A beautiful view of the falls with the rainbow …

The falls around every corner ...

The falls around every corner …

... and more ...

… and more …

Catching the rainbow and looking for the pot of gold ...

Catching the rainbow and looking for the pot of gold …

There were rainbows wherever you looked

There were rainbows wherever you looked

 

At the end of the rainbow ....

At the end of the rainbow ….

We wove in and out to all the viewpoint taking hundreds of photos and while inside the rainforest we saw a rhinoceros head formed out of the stem of one of the trees next to the pathway.  Apart from the falls we saw trumpeter hornbills, monkeys and other birds while wandering along towards the bridge.

The rhino on a branch of  tree ...

The rhino on a branch of  the tree …

 

The rainforest walk ....

The rain forest walk ….

People swimming in the Devils Pool ...

People swimming in the Devils Pool …

The futher we walked the mistier it became ...

The futher we walked the mistier it became …

As we reached Danger Point it became very wet, but it was all worth it … we did all of the points:

 

A drawing of all the view points on the walk ...

A drawing of all the view points on the walk …

  1. Main Falls… 93 m depth
  2. Devil’s Cataract view… 73 steps but worth it
  3. Top of Devil’s Cataract and Livingstone statue
  4. Horseshoe Falls … 95 m depth
  5. Rainbow Falls … 108 m depth
  6. Danger Point, Eastern Cataract view … 101 m depth… there is no rails at this point.
  7. Bridge view
  8. The Knives Edge can be reached from the Zambian side of the falls.

Another view of the falls ...

Another view of the falls …

Close to the bridge ...

Close to the bridge …

Off into the sunset  the went ...

Off into the sunset the went …

And then the long walk back began.   By then I knew my legs had had it and my toes did not want to work with me any longer.  I was very happy when I saw the restaurant and entrance gate because I knew the end was near.  We got back to the hotel well ahead of time to finish up and to get ready for our night out at the Boma … and then I walked into the hotel and stared at the flight of stairs… I knew I had to get up there and to the room … victory at last and I could go and soak in the bath for a while!

At the coffee shop ...

At the coffee shop …

More curios to buy ...

More curios to buy …

The curio shops filled of gifts ....

The curio shops filled of gifts ….

Enjoy your stay at the Falls ...

Enjoy your stay at the Falls …

But before I say goodbye, let me first get something off my chest…  Firstly if you are keen on taking photos, forget about a rain coat for yourself but take something to protect your cameras and equipment.  You can get wet and will dry off quickly. But, do rent a big umbrella if you plan on taking photos, your guide can stand in his bright orange raincoat with the umbrella over your head protecting your camera while you stand and shoot as much as you want to without worries.  The best lesson I learned was that old saying of, if the shoe fits … well make very sure that they fit you properly.   I took my reliable Merrills with to do all the walking, and sure they would’ve been great if it was on dry ground.  They were made for normal walking, but it turned out that they were very slippery on those wet rocks.  Walking round turned out to be a matter of survival, no slipping and dropping your camera or toppling over the cliffs, by the end of the walk my feet were killing me.   The damage to my toes were done properly, so much so that three weeks later I still have a blue big toe nail that I have to hide away under red nail polish.  Lesson well learned!

My nemesis ... descending was easier than ascending ...

My nemesis … descending was easier than ascending …

The famous Merrills or as some people refer to them ... my car guard shoes ...

The famous Merrills or as some people refer to them … my car guard shoes …

And now I am going to take a break and visit Zanzibar for two weeks … will tell you all about my trip when I am back!

 

 

 

TRIP T … THE NEW NAME OF THE BLOG

The original TripT  ... or should I say my personal logo ... Tilla, Tequila and Tabasco ... we can tell you wonderful tales ...

The original TripT … or should I say my personal logo … Tilla, Tequila and Tabasco … we can tell you wonderful tales …

The original name for my blog, drivebyshootings stood aside to make place for a much more exciting name that will tell you a lot more of what I’m up to and where I find myself.  From now on when you see the name tripT pop up anywhere, you will know that is me telling you something about a place I have visited.

The letter T is a big part of my life, some people  refer to me as MrsT, but there are a few things that I love in life and that is to travel, to tell tales and to enjoy a tequila and bitter lemon with Tabasco sauce in it, put them together and you will get tripT…  it can either be Tilla’s Travel Tales or sometimes it can be Tilla’s Tequila and Tabasco… From now on I will entertain you while wearing both hats.

A lot of my friends will tell you that there is a word that will describe me.  When in company and somebody referred to a “tillarism” everybody will tell you  that a Tilla’s s tale is doing the rounds again. To make a long story short, I like to entertain myself with the stories that wander unannounced through my head and then I love to share it with people.  Whether they believe me or not does not matter, I know that I make them laugh and some will walk away believing the story.  In fact I rely on you to decide for yourself.  But rest assured, on my blog I will not tell any tall tales … maybe. I will share with you what I have experienced and about all the fun we had.

So my blogs will all about my years of travels ….A kaleidoscope of photos and musings of our travels … Like the wind playing with curtains or blowing leaves around, I find myself travelling with Kallie all over the country … I will add photos from wherever I find myself through the year…  I happily share it all with you …take a while sit back and enjoy, and why not try a Tilla’s Tequila while you sit and read about my musings… the tripleT recipe is: a double shot of Tequala in a tall glass with lots of ice, dry/bitter lemon as a mix and 15 drops of Tabasco …. ok, for the faint hearts make it only 5 drops … sit back and enjoy!

From  here on-wards, you will hear about my travels and less about my personal life!

MOSI-OA-TUNYA – the Smoke that Thunders … The Victoria Falls in the Zambezi River …

MOSI-OA-TUNYA – the Smoke that Thunders … The Victoria Falls in the Zambezi River …

The birth of a new trip ...

The birth of a new trip …

There is no word that can describe the anticipation and preparation before you go on a new expedition where you haven’t been before. ‘Mosi-oa-Tunya’ or “the Smoke that Thunders” sounds so beautifully mysterious that it actually started to become my mantra for our trip to the falls.

‘Mosi-oa-Tunya’ or “the Smoke that Thunders”

‘Mosi-oa-Tunya’ or “the Smoke that Thunders”

VICTORIA FALLS … Described by the Kololo tribe living in the area in the 1800’s as “the Smoke that Thunders” and in more modern terms as “the greatest known curtain of falling water”, the Victoria Falls are a spectacular sight of awe-inspiring beauty and grandeur and should be a “must see” and visit on everybody’s bucket list.

To go to Vic Falls has always been one of the things on our To-Do list. In July I told him about a new airline that was going to start flying between O R Tambo and Victoria Falls International Airport in Zimbabwe at a ridiculous ticket price of R99 one way. We started to look differently at going there and the next thing there was this fabulous package to go there for 3 nights, and then we were planning our trip. We knew we were going to stay at the Victoria Falls Hotel the minute we planned our trip to Zimbabwe. It is an institution and it certainly lived up to its name. We also decided to first get to our destination and then decide what kind of activities we would like to do, although I wrote all the activities that you can do there and more in my journal.

flyAfroca took to the air in the beginning of August and we were part of the first passengers who flew to Vicotria Falls

flyAfrica took to the air in the beginning of August and we were among the first passengers who flew to Victoria Falls

Let the planning start ...

Let the planning start …

While searching for information the notice came through on Facebook that FlyAfrica picked up problems with Zimbabwe and their starter flights were postponed to August. A nail-biting time for me, because as per usual, I started to worry that the trip would not take place. Another limitation was that we were only allowed one suitcase of 15kg which immediately made me go into another flutter because where would I put all my shoes!! Fortunately you can cheaply buy place for another suitcase, so that problem was solved quickly and I was packed and ready to go days before the due date, always at the ready as if I had to be ready to go to the maternity ward. So the reading and planning started with that niggling idea in the back of my head, of maybe we will not go …

At last 3 August 2014 arrived and we got to O R Tambo quite early because we were going to fly off to Zimbabwe at 7 o’ clock. A bit of a flutter happened because we were not sure where to book in and nobody knew what we were asking about when we referred to this new airline. Eventually, we found them and what a relief it was when we saw them at the desk waiting for their first official passengers to fly with them to Vic Falls. It as a breeze from there on, everything went smooth. I actually also realized why their tickets were so cheap, we walked a third of the way in departures hall, then drove another third of the way in the bus to the plane… we kept on driving which felt to me as if we were already at the border post by the time we reached the plane. In my mind I convinced myself that all will be real once we were in the air, so the trip with the bus took ages! And then we took off at 7:20 on our new impromptu adventure into Africa!

At last we got to the end the departures building ..

At last we got to the end the departures building ..

A welcome sign that assured me we were on our way  ...Passenger nuber 1 and 2 were leaving for Victoria Falls ...

A welcome sign that assured me we were on our way …Passenger number 1 and 2 were leaving for Victoria Falls …

The bus were not full ... I was still a bit weary will we take of or what?

The bus was not full … I was still a bit weary will we take of or what?

I thought we drove to the end of the world, passing all the planes at the airport ...

I thought we drove to the end of the world, passing all the planes at the airport …

And there stood Fly Africa, waiting for us to board ..

And there stood Fly Africa, waiting for us to board ..

Telling us about the safety rules ...

Telling us about the safety rules …

Not doing a selfie, just checking out who sits where in the plane ...

Not doing a selfie, just checking out who sits where in the plane ..

A pity we did not fly far... there were enough space to lie down and sleep

A pity we did not fly far… there was enough space to lie down and sleep

We flew out and one of the first new things I saw was. For some reason I did not know we were going to fly across Botswana, like the crow would fly, I thought we follow and fly along the N1 that also takes you to Zim. I did not understand why we would fly across a pan that I never heard before exists in Zimbabwe, never thinking it might be another country we were passing over. A short while before we landed the pilot told us where to look to have our first glimpse of the falls and we did see a lot of mist rising from the ground into the air and then reality hit me and I realized we are nearly at our destination.

the Makgadikgadi Salt Pans in Botswana

The Makgadikgadi Salt Pans in Botswana

From the air ...In the distance we could see the mist of Victoria Falls

From the air …In the distance we could see the mist of Victoria Falls

We arrived at the airport in Victoria Falls Airport at about 10:15 in the middle of their rush-hour. Not bigger than the international airport of Zanzibar but much more efficient …we got through customs without any trouble and quite quickly, were met by our driver and everybody who was on the same flight and made used of the same package deal drove together to our different destinations.

Coming in for landing at Victoria Falls International Airport

Coming in for landing at Victoria Falls International Airport

Welcome To Victoria Falls Airport ...

Welcome to Victoria Falls Airport …

I was pleasantly surprised with what I saw around me …. My first impressions of the area and environment were immediately as if we were in Limpopo province in SA but it was much neater and no rubble or rubbish or old used plastic bags were lying about in the veld. The town reminded me of the Naboomspruit of my youth, lots of activity and signs of tourism and people walking around and yet the streets were exceptionally tidy and the people very friendly.

Waiting for everybody that made use of the same travel agent, we all got together on the bus and dropped off at our hotels

Waiting for everybody that made use of the same travel agent, we all got together on the bus and dropped off at our hotels

While waiting ...

The man in action while waiting …

I rhought for a while we were driving around in Limpopo, so much the same ...

It was not Ngunis, but for a while we were driving around in Limpopo …

The streets were very tidy and clean

The streets were very tidy and clean

A street scene in South Africa maybe? no ... rong ... this is Zimbabwe

A street scene in South Africa maybe? no … wrong … this is Zimbabwe

Our first glimpse of the Victoria Hotel entrance

Our first glimpse of the Victoria Hotel entrance

When arriving at the hotel, I could easily have gone into a trance with the charm of that “olde worlde” lady. Such a beautiful old hotel, buzzing with tourist arrivals and departures, taxis and buses dropping and picking people up for their day’s events but the guy who see to it that all vehicles park properly did it with such ease.

The welcoming party, Mr Congierce some proters and other staff members

The welcoming party, Mr Concierge some porters and other front of house staff members

Such olde worlde charm ... I would've love to hear the stories of all the medals ...

Such olde worlde charm … I would’ve love to hear the stories of all the medals …

We were met at the hotel by a concierge properly dressed according to the late 1800’s style, well decorated with lots of medals and a pith helmet…. We received freshly squashed fruit juice and a warm face cloth to wipe the dust of our travels from our faces. The friendly receptionist explained that the room would only be ready by 2 o clock and that we were welcome to go and enjoy something to drink at the Stanley’s Terrace Restaurant …. At the terrace that looked out on the gardens, the most beautiful big old tree and, of course, the bridge and the falls. It was arranged that an events planner will come and see us to book the things we would like to do and a porter saw to our luggage.

Our first sight outsie on the terrrace of the hotel ..

Our first sight outside on the terrace of the hotel ..

... and then we looked a bit further ...

… and then we looked a bit further …

Took my breath away ...WOW!

Took my breath away …WOW!

We walked through and suddenly our breath was taken away by the sights we saw, Wow! What a fantastic view. You cannot explain to anybody and do the view justice at all when you first lay eyes on the mist, huge rainbows and the bridge that arched across the from Zim to Zambia, it is not just a WOW moment, you cannot utter a word, it is so fantastic! We stood there without words, too lame initially to take any photos and just stared. Once the view in front of us settled in, we franticly started to take photos and also realized that there is a constant noise in the air of the water tumbling down the cliffs … it sounded as if we were standing there listening to waves breaking on the beach, a sound that is nonstop at the falls. We were listening for the first time to “Mosi-oa-Tunya”.

We went back to the Stanley Terrance Restaurant from where you can sit and watch the Zambezi River gorge and the mist from Victoria Falls. Stunning views of the bridge, which spans the border between Zimbabwe and Zambia, and the mist rising from the Falls. We ordered a light lunch, or what we thought was light. It arrived as enormous sandwiches with chunks of cheese and chips.

Kallie hardly said a word, he just sat there and stare at the brige and the mist ...

Kallie hardly said a word, he just sat there and stared at the bridge and the mist …

I was like a Jack in the Box ... did not know which camera to use to take photos of all the beauty that surrounded us

I was like a Jack in the Box … did not know which camera to use to take photos of all the beauty that surrounded us

I ordered a ham and cheese sandwich but got half a loaf of bread and a block of cheese .. fresh and yummy ...

I ordered a ham and cheese sandwich but got half a loaf of bread and a block of cheese .. fresh and yummy …

The events manager arrived, what a friendly girl Clarissa was, and so efficient. Quickly everything was sorted, and paid for and by then we also could go to the room. We would start off with a Falls tour in the afternoon and end our first day at the Boma Restaurant in the evening, a buffet restaurant where we would be entertained by African dances, music and more.

Clarissa, our events planner who came to help us select our different activies

Clarissa, our events planner who came to help us select our different activies

Our room was on the first floor and while I ascended the flight of stairs the first time to get to the room, I thought to myself that this is yet another of those hurdles that I have to face because I am not really so fit to do it at a fast pace, it might become an enemy as we start our planned activities. The room was a nice surprise… roomy and big with a proper bath and shower with lots of space. We each received a wi-fi code that we could use nonstop and while we waited for our first trip to the falls, we settled in and relaxed after being up and about long before sunrise. As per usual, I did not sleep the previous night because I feared that we might not hear the alarm going off, oversleep and more …. My usual fears before we go away on a new travel adventure.

My introduction to the flight of stairs to our bedroom.  I knew immediately that  I met my nemesis while we were staying at the hotel ...

My introduction to the flight of stairs to our bedroom. I knew immediately that I met my nemesis while we were staying at the hotel … at least 45 steps to get to the room …

A bit of relaxation before we went on our first falls experience ....

A bit of relaxation before we went on our first falls experience ….

There is so much to tell about our stay, that I will rather do it up in different sections, from telling you about the hotel itself, the falls, our dinners and more … much more to come!

A beauiful water llily from the frog pond ... but that is another story

A beauiful water llily from the frog pond … but that is another story

WHEREVER YOU GO, GO WITH HOUR HEART

ZANZIBAR AND THE TOWN OF STONE

‘When the flute is played in Zanzibar, all Africa east of the lakes must dance’

– Old Arab Proverb

Stone Town ... a typical street scene.

Stone Town … a typical street scene.

Zanzibar, Zanj-el-Bar, and exotic sounding land of the Zijn, a far-away place whose name captured a romantic image in my head. The mythical Town of Stone and Spices, where you get disoriented just walking the streets, you get dizzy from the sounds and aromas, and people greeting you with friendly “Jambo”.  You hear Jambo all over the place, from very busy street vendors trying to lure you into their shops and touts that do not understand NO!  It brings out images of old-world Arabian stories of Ali Baba and the forty thieves, or Aladdin and the 1001 Arabian Nights and of Sherazade who told her stories to the Sultan to capture his heart and other exotic mysteries.  Sherazade also whispered her stories through the allies to capture my heart and stole my soul.

First sighting of  Stone Town from the air.

First sighting of Stone Town from the air.

Through the window …

Azure blue sea welcoming us ...

Azure blue sea welcoming us …

On all our trips to Zanzibar we are always absolutely in awe.  As  you fly over Dar-es-Salaam the reaction in the cabin is always the same, there is a happy buzz and cameras are hauled out while everyone oohed and aahed, you look down and over an unbelievable aquamarine blue ocean scattered with small coral islands and with dhow’s, returning home after the day’s fishing.  The first time we went, as the airplane came in to land, the tall coconut palms bent their heads in the wind and in my head I thought that they were waving a warm welcome to us all.

The palm trees waved at us ...

The palm trees waved at us …

Zanzibar International Airport, yes, I expected a huge airport, but you have to be there to appreciate it! When they opened the doors the heat and the humidity hit us like a huge wave, it was so hot and humid, you immediately start to sweat and by the time you reach the building you’re one big wet mess.  You are met at the entrance by a lot of very unfriendly people. The first time I thought they might just be very hungry, it was in the middle of Ramadan, but the second time I was proven wrong, the airport staff is just unfriendly! Before you can reclaim your bags, you must first fill in the very same form that you already filled in on the airplane, then to internal affairs to show that you’ve got a valid passport, Yellow Fever card and visa.  Although Zanzibar is part of mainland Tanzania, the person behind the counter forcefully stamp your passport with a Zanzibar stamp to show you that they still are proud of their autonomy as a separate entity. Then to a counter where they slam down your bags, all done manually and before you can get outside you get inspected by Fauna and Flora.  The first time Kallie must have look like somebody bringing in some illegal contraband, Mr. Checkpoint Charlie grabbed a piece of chalk, drew a big cross on his bag and shouted Open!  He had to open it for the custom people!  I find it really funny, they would have much more fun with my bag! How do you explain 16 panties in your luggage, still in their original packaging, unless you want to sell it on the black market somewhere on the island? Will they believe me when I try to explain that I always make sure that I have enough of everything with me and always extra! All this activity happens in a space not much bigger to what we will refer to as a big school hall!

Zanzibar International Airport

Abandoned airport building

Abandoned airport building

Vodacom - our link to the outside world ...

Vodacom – our link to the outside world …

Welcome to Zanzibar International Airport

Welcome to Zanzibar International Airport

Outside we were swarmed and mobbed by taxi drivers and touts for hotels and everything else.   Fortunately we always have somebody to fetch and to take us to the hotel.

A small piece of advice that need to be said here. Do not try and use the toilets at the airport unless in dire need, adapting to Tanzanian toilets takes a while and it is always a very interesting experience.  If it is your first time you visit anywhere in Africa, all that I will say is “Good Luck”   The toilets at the airport is in fact glorified holes in the ground over which you have to squat and use hand showers to do the rest, if you need toilet paper, carry it with you. In fact always make sure you have toilet paper with you, it can get worse!  A couple of years ago the SABS withdrew their support from some toilet paper factories because these factories produced below standard toilet paper. I asked myself what happened to all of these millions and millions rolls of toilet paper?  I think all of it was send to East Africa and that the factories still produce and deliver to these countries, once you find yourself in a toilet in East Africa, and there is some paper by change, you will see what I mean!

The Town of Stone ... the place that stole my heart and captured my soul.

The Town of Stone … the place that stole my heart and captured my soul.

For now, I will let you wonder why I am so in love with Stone Town … watch this space I will tell you soon …

Jambo, jambo bwana Habari gani Mzuri sana Wagena, Wakaribishwa

Jambo, jambo bwana Habari gani Mzuri sana Wagena, Wakaribishwa