Sharing the Bay by Being a Hometown Tourist

img_36002016 has been an incredible year for me. I feel almost guilty saying that because in the grander scheme of things it has been a pretty scary year. Especially that part where the Apocalypse is coming and The Hunger Games are probably going to be a real thing now. And even more especially that part where too many folks seem to be on board with this madness.

I digress. We accidentally got spoilt this year. I somehow found myself overseas twice, exploring places vastly different from home, and I began to fall more and more in love with the idea of somehow getting it right to balance my homebody self with my adventurous self. This year kind of showed me that out-of-the-ordinary things are possible in even the most ordinary of lives.

Of course going overseas twice in one year plus getting a little over-enthusiastic on the roadtrip front has inevitably lead to a little more credit card debt than I am comfortable with, and of course the husband has over-extend his available leave, which means that next year is looking a little travel-skint for this wayfaring duo. Perhaps it may have been a little wiser to spread things out a little bit more. Oh well, too late for that.

img_3316But you know what? I’m kind of excited regardless. All this exploring in faraway places has kind of drawn me home a bit and inspired me to explore around here in a more intense way. I am determined to spend 2017 sharing the bay while I discover all the secrets our beautiful city has to offer. I can’t wait to start, so I’ll probably be sharing some of my favourite things about around here over the next couple of weeks. But I’m most excited about going out there and treating Port Elizabeth as a foreign place that I have the added bonus of oodles of time to explore.

I’m a Port Elizabeth Blogger, folks! I should have been doing this ages ago!

(First order of business: figure out how to take a really cool picture of the pier…)

December is the new January

img_0403Guys: It’s December. I swear it was just a fart and a sneeze ago that I was working my butt off to gather the last of what we needed to get to India and now it’s December and where even did my life go?

After a whole month of November (seriously – can’t November be shorter or just not exist at all?) I’m feeling pretty inspired about life moving forward, which is kind of a weird thing to happen to me around this time of year…or possibly even at any time of year. Not too sure how that happened, but let’s try not to jinx it, kay?

Here’s the thing: I am a HUGE fan of January. I love January (and I love Mondays… am I broken?) and I can’t think of anything worse than holding my breath and plowing through my second worst month of the year, so I’ve decided to start January a month early. There’s something cathartic about “new beginnings” for me. And yes, I do know that there’s nothing special about the first of January, just like I know that there are no magical powers to Mondays, but I like the symbolism. Or something like that. So I’m going to have two Januarys. Granted all that obligatory Christmas madness will be thrown in there somewhere (would it be wrong to change religions just to be able to skip this madness?) but I’m hoping to use this month as a pre-cursor to a year of living an even more colourful life and working towards carving a place for myself within the travel industry in general, because if I have learnt anything in 2016 it is most definitely that I am happiest exploring absolutely anywhere and documenting my discoveries with my camera. Of course these explorations needs to be punctuated with quite down-time days that include probably too much tv binging, but still. The explorey stuff is the happy making stuff.

You can expect to hear a lot more from me going forward. Here’s to a long December of making plans, and a beautiful January of carrying them out.

 

 

Review: Pretty Girls: A Novel

Pretty Girls: A Novel
Pretty Girls: A Novel by Karin Slaughter
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

So I finished this book ages ago and seem to have forgotten to review it. Am now trying to remember it which is pathetic because I’ve hardly read anything this year so it should be pretty simple.

Oh yes. The rape and murder films.

Euw.

Karin Slaughter… Sometimes I wonder what it must be like to be in your head. I’ve been reading crime for years and yours were the first to give me nightmares. I’m used to yours now, but still. Yikes.

That was super gross.

But I enjoyed it of course because serial killers are my weird indulgence…

View all my reviews

A Life Saving Trip to Hlosi Game Lodge

whatsapp-image-2016-11-15-at-12-41-56-pmAt some point in the last two months I entered a competition to win a weekend stay at Hlosi Game Lodge which is situated inside the Amakala Game Reserve just outside of Grahamstown. I don’t remember entering this competition at all due to the fact that my wanderlusty self tends to enter any and all competitions that have anything to do with accommodation these days. Thank goodness for that.

Now I must admit, I was super thrilled to win the competition, but at the same time I was a little overwhelmed. Folks that frequent these places are fancy people. And we’re not fancy people. We’re choose the cheapest option for accommodation on booking.com people. That’s who we are. So going to such a fancy place, while exciting, made me a little anxious, but I have to admit that by the time we arrived at Hlosi I didn’t even care how unfancy we were in the fancy fancy place. I just wanted to crash and be anywhere outside of real life.

And that’s exactly what we got.

Hlosi ran the competition to promote their new tented accommodations. Of course a tent sounds mad, but glamping is fab! (I can’t believe I just typed that)

Hlosi GiraffeEven though it’s just a 40 minute drive from home, Hlosi felt like it was a whole world away and acted as a sort of quiet sanctuary for my tired soul this last weekend. We spent a total of 12 hours (2 morning drives, two evening drives) exploring the Amakala Game Reserve and falling even more in love with this beautiful country of ours. I cannot help but envy travellers who get to come here and experience this all for the first time. Aside from beautiful game drives and spectacular sightings (despite the cold, rain, and wind) we were spoilt with wonderful food, drinks aplenty, and an incredible room overlooking the open veld where wild animals roamed past. We even had a bath with a view!

Look, in real life places like Hlosi are not really an option for us because of severe budget restraints *stifles an uncomfortable giggle* so I am extra grateful for this particular experience. Despite being crazy far out of our league, I will admit that being at Hlosi inspired me even more to step outside of my own doorstep and take in the wonders of right here.

I think perhaps we need to start bringing our adventures in a little closer to home for 2017. 2016 was an incredible year of travel for us but it was a little too indulgent and the credit card is a bit upset right now. We need to figure out how to make these sorts of experiences more doable. If we can figure out how to take trips to strange lands across the world, we can certainly figure out how to enjoy the land right under our feet to the fullest.

Yes. I think we’ll do that.

Pics: #nayesexploreshlosiamakhala

Why is there a monkey in my tree?

img_4920I’ve lived in Jutland Crescent, overlooking Baakens Valley, for going on twelve years now, and not once have I ever seen a monkey here. Yes, we’re overlooking the valley, and it almost even makes sense that monkeys might make their way here. I suppose you could call our little hill an extension of Settlers Park if you wanted. So yeah. There’s plenty of wildlife here. We’ve had dassies, guinea fowl, grouse, mongooses, tortoises, genets, way too many snakes for my liking, and even a couple of duiker in our yards before (when I say “our” I mean my yard and my mom’s yard – we live next to each other) but never ever have I seen a monkey.

And yet there she was: eating a locust in my tree.

So, I have to ask the question. Why is she here? Why is there a monkey bouncing though the trees in my yard? And why does she seem so impossibly terrified every time she sees me point my camera at her? And why is she, a vervet monkey, alone? Vervet monkeys are social creatures that travel in tribes.

She’s lost.

And she’s really scared of my camera.

Is it silly for me to wonder if she’s been shot at? It seems to be a logical conclusion. I’ve never seen a vervet monkey who was more afraid than curious. They usually just kind of look at you when you look at them. They’re usually cheeky as hell. So maybe somebody shot at her and her family members. Maybe that’s why she’s lost and so far from home.

And there I was pointing a “gun” at her. Luckily by the time I sort of figured out that the gun was making her scared, she also seemed to realise that I wasn’t shooting at her. So she calmed down a bit. Ate a locust. And then vanished into the valley.

I never did manage to get a decent pic of her. But I hope she finds her people soon.

If time is irrelevant why is Novemberitis a thing?

NovemberitisNovember is upon us and I’ve got to be honest: I started feeling the twang of Novemberitis around the second week in October. What is it about this time of year that squishes me into a ball of uselessness? I mean, really. I’m enthusiastic about the upcoming year. I’ve got some ideas swimming around. Some old. Some new. And yet here I am, half falling asleep, feeling guilty about skipping NaNoWriMo this year, and wondering if another nap is actually going to help me feel “more refreshed and capable” in the long run. I hate November. Hate it, hate it, hate it. And yet I am quite aware of how ridiculous that is. Novemberitis isn’t a thing! It’s nonsense. Just because you get hit with a bucket of the blues every single time this ungodly month comes around doesn’t mean anything! Does it?

Honestly I have no idea…

What I do know though is that I somehow have to snap out of it. The only thing keeping me going at this point is our trip to…hmmm….where are we going again? Somewhere outside of Grahamstown. Hlosi? Is that a place? I don’t know how game farms work… I should probably look that up before we set off on Friday.

The (sort of) point is that Novemberitis has me in its death grip this year. It’s pretty bad. A part of me is ashamed of it, but then another part knows that sometimes “the dumps” happen.

Is there anything I can do? It’s kind of too late now, but maybe I should try and “do” something about it for next year. Maybe plan a trip. A road trip maybe. The weather is a little windy this time of year, but that’s ok, isn’t it? And spring is pretty. Although…September and October are prettier. November is just this limbo month where the swimming pools are all still too cold to jump into and the heat is yuck.

And Christmas is coming.

Blegh.

Just blegh.

I hate November.

What Zanzibar can learn from Thailand

OutriggerThe travel bug properly bit me in 2013. I blame Thailand. The bug has always kind of been there. I’ve always had a travel list. But before I went to Thailand, my travelling wants seemed to be in the same impossible league as my very real wish to attend Hogwarts or fly around with The Doctor.

But I went to Thailand and suddenly going places became possible. It became this thing that I could do for myself if I really tried, even if I don’t always feel like I deserve it.

And guess what? Three years later I am now someone who travels. Ok so I’m not one of those people who only travels, but I reckon managing to be a homeschooling mom of three who only ekes by on a few freelancing gigs every month but still manages to get out there into the world a little bit is still kind of cool. It counts, right?

I digress… (more…)

Zanzibar and the question of our duty as travellers…

I didn’t go to Zanzibar because I wanted to go to Zanzibar. I went to Zanzibar because the plane tickets were cheap. That’s the truth of it. I’ve never felt any need to go there. In my head it was just another island with tropical fruit and possibly a good snorkeling scene. Lovely, yes. But essential? Not really.

My Travel Bucketlist (in no particular order) is as follows:

  • Italy
  • Germany
  • Prague
  • Iceland
  • Israel
  • Egypt
  • Turkey
  • Cambodia
  • Vietnam
  • Japan
  • Morocco
  • The Philippines
  • Scotland
  • Ireland
  • Alaska
  • A Roadtrip from SA to Kenya

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Those are my must sees. So why did I go to Zanzibar? (more…)

Black Mirror: A Reflection of Impending Society

mv5bmtk5ntk1mzg3ml5bml5banbnxkftztcwndaynzy3oa-_v1-_cr25310101343_sy1000_cr007521000_al_I’m not sure if season 3 of Black Mirror landed on Netflix on Friday night or if I only just happened to notice it was available then, but oh my gosh! As someone who believes in entertainment as a catalyst for change, this is the kind of art that makes me kind of excited to be alive. Now I do get that sounds a little trite, but there’s a lot to be said for the adage, art seeks to disturb the comfortable and comfort the disturbed. There’s something about this show that just pierces the reality of where society might very well be going and just flips it right over. The minds that wrote this fascinate me. I want to shake everyone I know and implore them to watch it, except at the same time I am all too aware that not everyone will get it. Not everyone will appreciate it’s utter genius.

If you’re going to watch it, please push through the first episode. Each episode is completely independent and while I do think you should watch S1 episode 1 if it grosses you out too much you can take a bit of comfort in the fact that the rest of the episodes are all very different. And you can skip it if you absolutely have to.

Black Mirror is without a doubt one of the best shows out there today, and the competition is stiff. Funny enough the only other show that excites me in quite the same way as Black Mirror does is Doctor Who, and I doubt that too many folks would quite understand why.

Everything about this show is just so relevant. I can’t think of a better way to put it than that.

Haters Back Off and what the hell did I just watch?

haters-back-offSo last Friday a new show dropped onto the Netflix list and it looked dreadful so immediately I pressed play. And then my eyes started to bleed…

Haters Back Off. Oh dear Lord…

Now generally it takes me about 30 seconds to sum up whether or not I want to watch something. This quirk drives my husband mad because it is mad, but it just kind of works out that way. There’s a lot riding on that first 30 seconds. I’m quite sure our TV makers must know this, because there are a ton of shows that manage to kick that first 30 seconds’ ass. And yes… I am aware of the grammatical dubiousness of that sentence…

Anyhoo… (yikes…. I must be tired)

So there’s this YouTuber called Miranda Sings and Miranda is basically a character created by a comedienne who has her own YouTube channel. Miranda seems to be based on one of those talent show entrants who you can’t quite figure out. Like… How did they get there and why did no one ever tell them that music is not for them? These people – in real life – are the exact reason that I absolutely cannot watch reality TV. It’s too stressful. But, as a character, I suppose they can be kind of funny if you’re into that sort of thing. So this Miranda YouTube chick somehow ended up with a Netflix show that explores the behind-the-YouTube scenes of this made up character’s life.

I watched the whole thing in one sitting. Even though the first 30 seconds made me want to peel off my own skin. And even though all of the following seconds also made me want to peel off my own skin.

It’s possible that I a.) have a problem and b.) have run out of things that actually make me happy to watch.

Anyway – the whole YouTuber gets a TV series story is kind of cool. The show itself is disturbingly “real” in a sort of jokey but excessively uncomfortable way. Like, you’re kind of laughing, and you know it’s supposed to be a joke…but it also doesn’t really feel like a joke…

Haters Back Off is an uncomfortable combination of Idols outtakes and the movie Napoleon Dynamite. Judging by the amount of this-is-not-for-me hatred I have for this show I am 95% sure that my sister will love it. I can only hope that the next batch of new stuff will be more suited to me. Thank God Gilmore Girls, 13 Reasons Why, and Lemony Snicket’s Series of Unfortunate Events are on their way.

This Week on Showmax: I need to talk about Girls

GirlsLast week Lena Dunham and her team of cronies landed on Showmax with Season 5 of the series Girls. I absolutely hate this show, so, naturally, I watched the entire season in one sitting. And this is what I need to talk about, because surely this is madness? I do this every single time. I devour this show like there is no tomorrow, even though it makes my eyes bleed. WHY? Most of the characters in this show make my skin crawl. And yet…

I think it might be too real. Is that possible? I think maybe on some level that I worry that Girls is a picture of white girl groups everywhere. Because let’s face it: it’s not about girls. It’s about white girls. And my god does everything about them feel unnervingly familiar.

My two absolutely worst characters in the show are Marney and Hannah. I hate those two so much! But there’s that thing where sometimes you hate in others what you recognise in yourself. And that scares the ever loving hell out of me because oh sweet Thor please come down and promise me, promise me, that I am nothing like these girls because I really really really need to not be like them, and I am terrified that my violent opposition to them is evidence of our sameness.

Isn’t that awful?

And what about this thing where I can’t stop watching it? Does that mean that it’s actually good? Because I do sort of feel like it is good, in a sort of different way to, say, Game of Thrones being good. I also hate GoT but the merits of that show make sense to me. And I also binge watch that show as soon as I can even though I can’t stand it. But with GoT I can say oh it’s good because it’s so complex and the characters are so well developed and the cinematography is brilliant and the storyline is so brave in that it has no regard for any of our feelings. That makes sense. But Girls?

Uh… It’s very honest. 

I can’t come up with anything else.

I can’t wait to see Season 6.

I’m so confused…

On Zanzibar and the Joys of Being Home

zanzibari-sunriseI’ve been home from Zanzibar for two weeks and I’m only just now starting to feel “normal” again. I’ve spent my days processing, and watching too much television (which you’ll probably hear about at a later stage) and just contemplating the madness of this year. Being home with no immediate plans – or even plans to make plans – feels exceptionally good.

Does loving being home make me a bad traveller?

I don’t actually consider myself a traveler  so much as I consider myself just a regular person who likes to travel and who has recently made a commitment to taking this love more seriously.

Every now and then you might see that meme on Facebook. It says:

Make a list of the things that you love.

Make a list of the things that you do every day.

Adjust accordingly.

I’m trying to do that. Although I admit I haven’t actually written a list. Maybe I should.

In the meantime I’m contemplating Zanzibar and what I need to say about it. It was a rather educational trip, I must admit. I suppose international travel often is. Or perhaps any travel has things to teach if you’re open to learning. But as beautiful and exotic as Zanzibar is, I left there feeling a bit…well…heartsore…

I know I’m supposed to share all the wonderful things about travelling. That’s what travel blogger do. And yet I feel like I want to talk about the Zanzibari people, and their less shaky political situation. I want to talk about how teachers in Zanzibar can expect to earn as little as $77 per month as a salary. And how the people of Zanzibar are without adequate medical care or family planning services.

It’s so hard to talk about “oooh snorkelling” when these are the things that stick in my mind the most. So forgive me, for a little while. So many folks have been saying to me I can’t wait until you tell us all about Zanzibar. I’m afraid it might not be the pretty picture you expect. At least not all of it.

There are lovely fun wonderful things out there. But there are humans, too. And I cannot help but feel the need to tell their stories first.

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