The L List: Living!

Time is nearing for us to to tick another one of the to do things on my L List! ( see post 17/08/12 )

We are going to visit our children in Tanzania!

First there was the trip to the travel clinic to be injected  against diseases I didn’t even think still existed.The earnest travel doctor warned against drinking tap water, eating any uncooked foods, no salad??? , fruit only if peeled, and take your malaria pills please.

Is he trying to scare us and spoil the excitement? It certainly feels like it. Four injections each and a sore arm later it is done. Definitely not  recommended for anyone who has aichmophobia.( Fear of needles )

1,2,3,4 of these

We leave the Travel Clinic armed with  the all important Yellow Card .

” If you don’t have it with you, you will be injected right there at the airport before being allowed into the country “, the pessimistic doctor warns.

I can’t help but wonder whether he sees us as old and incapable to issue such warnings.

Next step is to obtain an entry visa, so I phone the High Commission of Tanzania and is informed to come prepared with a photo as well as proof of payment, the amount of which changes every week according to the exchange rate .

The visit to the Tanzanian  High Commission  is painless and easy and within  hours we are set to go! All we need now is for another few days to pass and then we will be off on our African adventure!

For the next two weeks, I will not be writing posts but I am sure I will bring back many photos and stories on our adventure!

Flying Over the Cuckoo’s Nest !

Early Sunday morning.

A harried, tired looking middle aged woman parks her car in front of the local supermarket  and enters the store at a run. She grabs a trolley and starts loading groceries into it. She needs ingredients for Sunday lunch for her family and  most importantly a new iron as the old one finally joined a row of others sitting cold and uselessly in the  laundry cupboard.

In record time she is at the cashier and pays her shopping. With a sigh of relief she heads towards the exit, thinking only one more errand to do. She stops at the in store ATM to draw cash.  She turns around to finally go home .

WHAT ON EARTH!!

Staring reproachfully at her is an empty trolley.  No shopping.

Did you see what happened. Someone swopped my full trolley for the empty one while I was not looking ” She shouts at a nearby security guard standing like a statue behind his little desk.

I see nothing”  he replies.

You are a security guard you should be watching !”  she shouts, feeling a mixture of panic, anger and tears welling up like a fountain inside her.

I don’t look I only watch my desk ” comes the sullen reply from the security guard.

She grabs the empty trolley and pushes it furiously towards the customer care counter while scrabbling inside her handbag for the cashier’s slip.

Ah found it! Clutching the only proof that she had just bought a substantial amount of goods from the store, she impatiently joins the queue at the customer care counter. She debates with herself, should she phone her husband  for help or should she try to solve the problem on her own?

Then a tap on her shoulder.

Is this your trolley madam?” another sullen voice asks. She looks and is flooded with relief.It is her trolley filled with bulging shopping bags.

Where did you find it ?” she asks

You left it and took the empty trolley,”  comes the reply.

Why didn’t you call me ? ” she asks.

“I knew you would come back for it ” is the only reply she gets before the woman walks away.

Is that possible she thinks, it was the end of a particularly difficult week, but would she do such a thoughtless thing?

Yes , You guessed right the woman is me and I feel as if I flew over the cuckoo’s nest and barely missed landing in it!

My loyal husband and children are of the opinion that I might have been the victim of a  clever robbery attempt.

Me? I have my doubts. Maybe I was heading for the cuckoo’s nest.

What do you think?

A Splash of Purple: The Colour of My Home City

 

October in Pretoria is a purple month.

It is the month when the numerous Jacaranda trees in the city  bloom and transform Pretoria into a purple wonderland. Purple flower carpets cover the ground underneath the trees and  the flowers above form a purple canopy, giving the illusion of a huge purple tent. They appear as if from nowhere , these beautiful purple blooms, between one day and the next, the trees are clothed in soft purple.

Suburban streets are filled with a soft hazy purple light from the overhanging blooming trees.

The carpets of blooms under the trees evoke little girl memories of imagined fairies living under the flowers.

Falling flowers remind me of student myth that a falling Jacaranda flower on the head means luck and a sure pass in the upcoming year end exams.

The purple Jacarandas in October mean home to me and always will .

Photos taken by the author on 17 October 2012

Walking Update 10

This is where I am

Week 10 and with the exception of week 8  I have been diligently walking every week and as the weeks progressed it became increasingly easier.This week I reached the area of the  Dwesa and Cweba Nature reserves.

These two small reserves are separated by the Mbashe river and bordered on the one side by the Indian Ocean and on the other by indigenous forest of the former Transkei. Combined they preserve one of the biggest tracts of indigenous coastal forest in the Eastern Cape.There are beautiful footpaths  to explore Dwesa and Cweba on foot.

One thing I know is that this part of our country is definitely  next on my to visit list .

Photo credit and more information here Dwesa and Cweba

A Most Courageous Little Bird

He came swooping down with spread wings and loud shrill shrieks, aiming directly at my head and turning away just in time!   His actions reminded me of a dive bomber during the second World War, when those fearless pilots threw their planes into a steep nose dive at a target before releasing their bombs. He is a Crowned Plover ( Vanellus Coronatus ) and he  is defending his young chicks who are barely one day old.

Adult Plover

I was walking in our garden and chanced to be in the vicinity of their nest , when I was the subject of this courageous little bird’s attack. When I looked carefully around me I saw them,  two fluffy little chicks trying to run away on small sticklike legs and being tripped by the long grass. The parent birds continued their ferocious attack and distracting tactics to lead me away from their young ones.

The Crowned Plover also known as Kiewiet in Afrikaans is absolutely fearless if they think their young ones are in danger. Their fierce dive bombing attacks and shrill shrieks are directed at anything and anyone whom they perceive as the enemy without taking into account size. They will attack big dogs, humans, other birds and I even saw them go for a lawn mowing tractor once!

Therefore I crown him a most courageous little bird!

The chicks seem to understand the shrieks from the parents and  lie down flat in the long grass to hide. This behaviour gave me the opportunity to sneak up closely enough to take a photo of the day old chick and the remaining egg in the nest.

A Plover nest
A Day Old Plover Chick

I am again awed at the wonder of nature and creation which are  in the hands of the Lord as I observe this little chick who only four weeks ago was merely the beginning of life in the egg!

“Ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds of the air, and they will tell you; or speak to the earth, and it will teach you, or let the fish of the sea inform you. Which of these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this? In his hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind.” (Job 12:7-10 NIV)

A First Glimpse of the World Through the Eyes of a Preemie

Week 34

Here I am safe and warm in my mother’s womb, floating in a softly undulating waterworld.  I can hear sounds, that of my mother’s heartbeat and breathing, her voice, my father’s voice,and music, beautiful music.  It is muted and reassuring. The dark dim light and lukewarm water make me feel safe, calm and contained within their boundaries.

I am aware of my twin sister tightly packed next to and a little above me in the womb, floating in her own uterine sac, far away and yet so near!

Suddenly everything changes. My waterworld disappears and I am being sucked strong and fast through a small dark tunnel towards an opening. I pop out and find myself in bright lights, with loud and confusing sounds. I can’t breathe, I try to make a sound but can’t. I feel hands around me moving me and putting me down.  Panic, fear, cold and lonely. These are the feelings I experience.

Now I find myself all alone on an open platform, splayed and exposed to the world.  A world which is a cold white expanse of nothingness. My face is covered with a boxlike thing which makes a sound unknown to me, but later I will know it sounded like a strong wind . It was oxygen to help me breathe under the headbox. Bright lights  hurt my eyes and loud voices pierce my ears.

I feel so alone, afraid and confused!  What is happening, who are these people all in white. They are hurting me with their prodding needles and loud voices. Are they trying to kill me?  Where is my mother, my sister and my father. Have they abandoned me. So many questions and no answers. Only stark fear!

Time passes and  gradually I become aware of my twin sister in the incubator next to me. I find it reasuring to have her near, almost like in my mother’s womb. My mother and father come to visit , but they don’t pick me up or touch me. Do they hate me? After what seemed to me like a very long time I am at last taken out of my confining box and put in my mother’s arms. Instant bliss. Here I am safe, it feels just right. This is where I belong.

Year 8.

It is many years later and I still feel the fear. Only now I am afraid of being alone, the dark, people, doctors, nurses, hospitals. In short, life scares me! Dreams haunt me and keep me awake at night and at my mother’s side during the day.

Then a special lady enters my life. With her help I reconstruct my birth and the events following my rude and unexpected entry into this scary world. We face the fears and with lots of prayer conquer them. One wonderful day , I am free, free of the fear, free to start living, free to experience all this life has to offer, free to grow up and take my place in this world.

I told you this so that  you may know preemie babies experience feelings too.

Walking Update 9

This week I am well on track with the walking again. I managed my goal of three walking sessions during the week.

As I found myself on a  deserted and undeveloped stretch of coastline, I cheated a little bit and skipped this part  to start my walk at the beautiful Kob Inn near Mazeppa bay.

The Beautiful Kob Inn in Transkei

My research revealed a very attractive hiking trail to someone like me  who doesn’t like camping, called the Hotel Hopping Trail. The Hotel Hopping Trail is described as a luxury slackpacking trail. This hike apparently does not require a great measure of fitness and allows time to wander and enjoy the environment.Hikers walk during the day from one hotel to another and spend the night sleeping at a hotel.   The hiking distances between the hotels are not very far, allowing time for a leisurely lunch and a swim along way. Best of all the hikers do not carry their own luggage as it is transferred between hotels. Sounds like just the kind of hike that I will enjoy! Read more here: Hotel- Hopping Trail