Wide Eye Wednesday 5: Colours of the Rainbow

 Genesis :9 13  I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between God and the earth.

W 2 IPLate Friday afternoon  we were sitting outside on the veranda trying to catch the cool breeze after a very hot and uncomfortable day. Clouds were building on the horizon and we hoped for one of the thunderstorms for which Pretoria is renowned.


Big white cumulus clouds were billowing in the sky interspersed with brilliant blue patches and wispy cirrus clouds. The sun was still quite high and lit the clouds from behind. Suddenly we saw a strange phenomenon, colours of the rainbow started to appear in a break in the clouds.It grew bigger and more colourful untill it seemed the whole cloud was framed at the top by rainbow colours.  I  grabbed my camera and started shooting pictures while watching the show in awe. The colours became brighter and spread, framing the cloud . After about ten minutes it faded and suddenly it was gone, leaving only ordinary clouds in the sky and me wondering did I really see it?

W 1I knew this was no ordinary rainbow so I started reading and asking questions.

What did we see?

From what I could gather it was  a rare phenomenon called  a fire rainbow or to be more precise a circumhorizontal arc – an ice halo formed by hexagonal, plate-shaped ice crystals in high level cirrus clouds. When the sun is very high in the sky, sunlight entering the flat, hexagon shaped ice crystals is split into individual colors just like in a prism.The halo is so large that it appears to be horizontal to an observer.

Furthermore the conditions to form a fire rainbow must be very precise. The sun has to be at an elevation of 58° or greater, there has to be high altitude cirrus clouds with plate-shaped ice crystals, and sunlight has to enter the ice crystals at a specific angle.

The position of the observer is also important.It is said that circumhorizontal arcs cannot be seen in locations north of 55°N or south of 55°S. However Pretoria is situated at 25.7461° S, which makes the whole experience even more remarkable.

The sight also reminded me of  scripture and the covenant between God and the people of the earth as described in Genesis 9. When I read this passage in the Bible again, I realised that no matter what the year 2015  holds in store for me, His covenant and His promise never to leave me or forsake me stands firm. Therefore I will take this beautiful sight with me as a reminder when difficult times come to  trust in the Lord and know that I am never alone.

Deuteronomy 31:8

The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.

Wide Eye Wednesday 4: Swimming In My Own Aquarium

Our first weekend in Dar es Salaam.

The car was packed with enough food for the weekend, a few pieces of clothing and last but not the least two labradors. We were on our way to Chaza Mwamba a beach house on the southern side of Dar es Salaam. To reach the house we needed to cross the deep channel which forms the entrance to the harbour by ferry.On arrival at the ferry we encountered long queues of cars, bicycles, people on foot and vendors selling anything from chilled water to boiled eggs, fruit and nuts along the way.

We reached the house at last and experienced out first breath taking moment. The house is situated about 500 m from an unspoilt stretch of beach. A coral reef forms a natural pool which at low tide is about chest deep.

One of the dogs on the beach and loving it
One of the dogs on the beach and loving it
IMG_5166 ed
Swimming in front of the reef

This is where it all started. Two 61 year old ladies learnt to  snorkel and a whole new world opened for us.

Back in Dar es Salaam, the two of us together with my son  took another ferry to spend the day on Bongoyo island. After our first experience with snorkelling we were determined to try again so the snorkel gear were packed in our bags.

Beautiful clear water around the island
Beautiful clear water around the island

“You want to go snorkel, I take you “ were the words the young man greeted us with when he saw the gear.

”I take you to shipwreck, yes?” he asked.

While I was still hesitating, bear in my mind my deep seated fear of the sea and boats, the other two all ready negotiated the price.

We bundled into a small motorised dinghy and set off around the point of the island. Once out of sight of other tourists and boats, he stopped the dinghy and said:

” Here you jump in and look”

IMG_5509 (2)
Our friendly guide

After some hesitation I took the plunge and jumped. The water was deep and scary, but when I looked down and started swimming with the snorkel, I almost forgot to breathe. A most amazing sight greeted me . Hundreds of colourful fish of various sizes and shapes were swimming around and under me. Some flashed silver when the sun from above touched their bodies, others sported colourful stripes and some looked like zebras. Some had long slender bodies, while others were round in shape.

Deep down where the water turned an ominous dark colour I could see the shape of a shipwreck . There many big fish, dark in colour,  milled around. Every now and then one of them swam upwards scattering the smaller fish in all directions. Later we learnt that these were barracuda.

I came up gasping with wonder and shouted

“It feels like swimming in my own aquarium!’

It was a most exhilarating experience and a true Wide Eye Moment.

When it was time to get back into the boat, we realised it might present a problem.

Seeing that it was a fisherman’s dinghy and not designed to take 61 year olds snorkelling in style, there was no ladder, steps or even just something to grab onto while trying to get back into the boat. Luckily no one was about to witness the very unladylike return of the  brave swimmers into the boat. After a push from below and a pull from the top I landed like a beached whale  in the bottom of the boat where I lay laughing helplessly for a few moments.

We returned to the mainland with wonder in our hearts at the beauty of creation that we witnessed on that day.