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where you live should not determine if you live.

The start of week two of my South Africa trek was more of a vacation within a vacation. We drove about two hours south toward Cape Town area to a place known as Port Shepstone. Pulling in to the general area where we planning on staying was worrisome and not looking to promising. Once we arrived at our hotel, we realized we were very wrong. The inside was gorgeous and the back was a beautiful view of the beach.

We ventured out of the hotel to go explore the beach almost immediately and found some fun sea life living in the rock pools. We saw lots of crabs, many sea snails, and some little fish that looked like small zebra fish. We were in paradise….until, power shedding decided to happen at the most inconvenient time, right as everyone had announced they were ready for dinner. We had two hours to waste in the dark. We walked along the beach some more, attempting to watch the sun go down on the wrong side of our hotel. Finally the power came back on and we were able to have dinner…at about ten o’clock at night.

my attempt at an Ariel pic....

Falling asleep to the crashing waves was extremely peaceful, however morning came a little too soon. Hilary and I had decided to get up and watch the sun rise on our back patio that morning at 5am. It was very cloudy and we were disappointed to not see any dolphins, but it was still beautiful.

This Thursday was full of adventure because we were heading to the Oribi Gorge, which was about a 45 minute drive from our hotel. There were all sorts of things to do out at the gorge, but the biggest adventure of them all was a 14-course zip line tour over and through the gorge. This was amazing and so much fun. I attempted to take video while zip lining so you could see what I was seeing, but it failed horribly as I filmed the sky or just crazy mass chaos that you would have had no idea what was going on, so I must apologize for that. Let me just say, the views were breathtaking.

After zip lining, we drove a little down the gorge to a suspension bridge attraction. I felt like I was in an episode of The Wild Thornberries as we crossed this wobbly bridge made of chicken wire, cables, and planks of wood. 

look mom, no hands!

Once you crossed the suspension bridge, for the even more daring, there was another little walkway that was a steel beam with chicken wire wrapped around it. When you stood on this one at the very end it shook a whole lot. Hilary wasn’t so much a fan of this one.

view from straight down

The gorge is located inside of a game reserve that is the host to many wild life animals. We did a small safari in the afternoon where we saw wildebeest, zebra, many different forms of deer, including the Eland, which the park is named after.

oh deer...


his poor horn ):

I have been on the hunt to see a giraffe this whole trip and with my poor luck, I have only managed to see them from a very, very distant view. The only time I saw them in this park was when we were finished zip lining and the truck came to drive us back up. This experience was also the source of most of my anxiety because it was a very, very steep hill with lots of sharp turns and a narrow path only as wide as our truck, which we rode in the back of. Our zip line tour guides spotted the tower of giraffe way off in the distance.

Heading back out of the gorge we stopped at a spot known as Leopard Rock. It was a small piece of rock that stuck way out into the gorge without much going on underneath to stop your fall. Naturally I had to balance on it….

Friday was the last day of vacation within a vacation. We headed to Uvongo Beach nearby to have some fun in the sun. There is a man made tide pool at the beach that looks really pretty until you get up close and see that the entire thing inside is covered in slimy green algae with massive snails all over the place.

sea slug

I did however manage to find a pretty special treasure in the rock pools next to the tide pool. There were little baby starfish all over the bottom of these rocks that I picked up and held. Their little tentacles on the bottom tickled my fingers, but they were epically cool. They started as this round shape with a star noticeable on their back, but when you pick them up, the round disappears and it forms just the star shape. When you place them back down in the water, the opposite happens.

The three of us rented some boogie boards and headed out into the water. The water was absolutely freezing. My teeth were chattering as I attempted to stay a float. On the other side of the water was a small river that deposited into a mini lake. At the far end was a little waterfall. This water was much warmer. All of us agreed we wished we could stay here and not go back to Lily for another week.

The time unavoidably came to an end and we did have to head back to Lily. When we arrived, we had been given false information that the water came back on while we were away…but it had not. That night we had a crazy thunderstorm with really beautiful lightning that was striking everything on top of the hill Lily is located on.

Saturday was Valentines Day, and a sweet day it was indeed, because the water finally came back on! I say came back on, however, to this point, I had not experienced Lily with water at all, ha. That morning we had some high school students from a school nearby come to Lily with some activities for the kids to do. They had soccer and volleyball games, as well as biscuit (cookie) decorating, and sand art.

The kids really enjoyed it. They also had a braai (bbq) for everyone with boerewors (sausages) in a roll (African version of a hot dog) and juice. Later in the afternoon we set up the projector against the wall and the kids got to watch a movie (one of my nieces’ favorites, “Voyage of the Dawn Treddor”). 

Sunday was church day again and we headed to the service held at Lily early in the morning. It was a cold day, so most of the kids found an adult lap to snuggle up on during service. The rest of the day was playing as usual and I ended up in a pretty intense game of soccer…aka, kick the ball as high and far as you can and make Miss Cassidy run to get it when it lands in the bushes cause she is the only one with shoes on, haha. 

 All the little boys here love to show off their “tricks”. Most of these tricks they just discover they can do when someone asks. For example

Adult: hey do you know how to do a backflip with no hands?

Child: I don’t know, let me see

*Attempts to flip*

…. 85% of the time they actually can do it without breaking something, ha. Anyways, the boys were very eager to show off their tricks for everyone.

Monday was my last full day in Africa so we fit in all the last minute activities. One of these activities involved getting up literally at the crack of dawn to see an African sunrise like in the Lion King. I woke up early and unfortunately could not see much since the sky was so cloudy. The sky was a lot of rainbow colors and pretty though. Another one of these activities involved going back over to Tala Game Reserve to hopefully spot a giraffe. Finally, we were more than lucky when we headed over there though and spotted not only 1 giraffe from afar, but over 7 giraffes right up close! It was awesome.

We also had just mentioned how the other animal I would like to see is a Pumba, or a warthog. Suddenly we happened upon a small warthog family. The little babies were so funny as they knelt down on their front legs to eat.

Next we headed to Pietermaritzburg for lunch. We ended up at a little tea garden type place where everything smelled like roses and all the women looked like they belonged in the red hat society. I had this delicious chocolate-cherry soda float.

Next we headed to the Old Prison where Nelson Mandela was held in prison for two days when he was initially captured. This was an extremely odd situation because the “tour guide” was not a tour guide and everything was locked up for the most part. The most mind blowing thing was that this prison was in operation up until 1989 and they would shove up to 15 prisoners into these little tiny pitch black rooms with one bucket for water and one bucket for a bathroom.

Nelson Mandela jail cell inside

For dinner that evening I had all the traditional African foods I had not previously tried. An Indian dish called bunny chow….

which is essentially a big loaf of bread with the center cut out and filled with (spicy) chicken curry.

Another must try was a vetkoek (pronounced fat cook). It is basically a ball of fried dough with a savory treat inside; this one had curry as well.

Another delicacy we had found at the market last week that I am not ever going to be brave enough to try is lamb head.

Sorry for all the weak stomachs out there, but I absolutely had to share this picture.

Finally Tuesday the 17th came. It was time to go home. I was not ready to say goodbye just yet.  I spent the morning and most of the afternoon playing with the kiddos. 

My flight back to the states was the longest I have ever been on a plane. 36 hours total with three stops. My flight to Dubai was thee worst flight ever. The man next to me literally was taking up ¼ of my seat. I thought I was going to scream. The next flight was to NYC but there was a surprise stop in Milan. This was epically cool. I walked around the Italian airport a bit, mostly hunting for pasta but there was not too much to see.The view of the mountains while flying out of Italy was gorgeous.

Finally the last three hour flight had arrived from NYC to Orlando, however there was not only one, but two screaming babies the entire time. I was so ready to be home. Thankfully, as I write this, I am finally in the comfort of my own bed home safe and sound...until the next adventure that is....

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