I am recreating my first trip to South Africa from four days after I arrived. Why? Well first, \240because \240I was so stressed out on the actual day my trip began I could do nothing other than get myself in the car to go to the airport. (More about that later.) Second, I needed Emma to set up this journal for me. \240Maybe with time I could have done it for myself, but one advantage of having a tech savvy daughter is that when we are together, and she has time, she can just do this kind of stuff for me. Saves so much time and stress.

Stress is a word I used twice already in the first paragraph. \240In my day-to-day life, I don’t manage stress ( that’s 3x) very well without a great deal of effort. Both Emma and Toby have done so much to minimize my stress (are you counting?) over the last 4 years, that it got to the point that I found it stressful that they had to help me avoid stress.That’s not a joke. It was really true.

Since Emma left for South Africa 3 months ago, I have tried to look stress in the eye, (if not all the time, at least more than before) and tell it to “Fuck off” now and then. \240Having said that, I’m not even going to try to pretend that it is easy, and most of those who love me know that it isn’t. When I announced to everyone that I intended to visit Emma within her first 6 months in Cape Town, I might as well have said I intended to climb Mt Everest. My mother, Emma, and Toby appreciated more than mostothers, just what it was going to take for me to prepare for, much less survive, the trip. I admitted to friends and family that it would be challenging, but I downplayed even to myself, the extent to which I was terrified. To their credit, no one tried to talk me out of it, and most everyone were excited for me and for Emma as well.

It took me about 6 weeks to get ready. I shopped, I visualized what difficulties might have en route, and shopped some more. , Morrie and the cats {sounds like a teeny-bopper band from the 70’s) watched me try on and reject clothes, try on more clothes, and navigated the piles of maybes and probablies around our one-bedroom apt.

Part of my careful preparations included choosing flights that would give me my best chances for success. On the way to CT, a longer than ideal 8 hours in London would give me the chance to see my dear, long-time friends David and Hannah Jacobs who kindly agreed to \240come spend some of my layover at Heathrow with me. And with mounting excitement, Emma and I discussed what we each wanted to get out of our time together, planned the time we would stay in Cape Town, and pondered how we might manage a safari. Then Emma booked it all; air b’n’bs, the elephant sanctuary where we will have our safari, and a day at a wine farm; a once in a life time, 5 day South African road trip!

I would not have made it to d-day without my friend. Linda, aka Super Woman. While I know I feted her already on Facebook, the degree to which she supported, consulted, brought packing cubes, an extra suitcase, and food to sustain me; spending all those hours helping me pack cannot be over-acknowledged!

The day to fly out finally arrived. Trying to focus on the details, until Toby arrived to take me to the airport I had, for the most part, successfully avoided thinking about facing my anxieties. There was just one day that I meditated on it letting my fears rise to the surface, and they were no staggering surprise. I was worried that I wouldn’t really be able to manage the 26 and a 1/2 hrs of travel each way; that I would have pain I couldn’t control, not be able to sleep, and generally go out of my mind. I was worried that the heat and lack of ac in Cape Town (pretty much nowhere to be found there apparently) would do me in. I was worried that I’d \240spoil our road trip for Emma if I couldn’t keep up. Once identified, I packed it all away again ‘cause really, what difference did it make? I was going and it would be what it would be!

Leaving my apt and menagerie in my nephew Fraser’s hands, luggage stowed in the trunk, I kind of slumped in to Toby’s car fighting to keep an anxiety attack at bay. Dear, wonderful Toby talked me down, reassuring me with his loving presence, that I’d be alright. He stayed with me through the checking in process and waited with me ‘til the wheelchair “driver” pushed me away. He is prince, my son Toby is!! My two kids are a blessing!

Jan 19 part three

Last night, my first in Cape Town, Emma took me to an upscale shopping plaza near Obz, called Palmyra Junction. We ate on the patio of a nice little place called Knead. I had an incredibly yummy veggie burger with avo ( avocado can be eaten here morning noon and night!) and other things \240that were delicious but I was too tired to identify. \240Just happy to be sitting outside on a warm day with Emma and Manny! \240I think I couldn’t yet fully wrap my head around that I was really, finally here!

In spite of my fatigue, I noticed pretty quickly that a significant number of children were roaming barefoot, in and out of restaurants and the grocery store! Then I noticed that some of the adults were barefoot as well! That’s definitely something we can’t do in Canada, even in warm weather!

To be cont’d.....

This is one view of the mountain from Emma’s “ hood”. \240I guess I forgot to take pics of our dinner or any selfies of the two of us. We’ll be together for another 15 days I think so plenty of pics to come!

Things to add somewhere later: “hooting the hooter

Jan 19 part two.

Emma arranged for her friend Nancy to pick me up since it was Shabbat morning and she had to be at the temple. She is an American expat and long time Rez of South Africa.

Nancy looked more like her pic that Emma had shared with me, than I looked like the one of me. I was a little green around the gills after the long journey, although I didn’t actually feel too terrible!

On the drive to Emma’s house, Nancy pointed out various places of interest. The first thing I noticed was the light. \240Everything seemed to be bathed in a soft, warm glow, unlike the light in any other “hot” city I have previously visited. It was sunny, but not blindingly bright. Along the way I got my first real view of “Emma’s” mountain, and adjusted quickly to once more being on the “wrong” side of the road, like when we lived in England!

When we pulled up to Emma’s home in “Obz”(short for Observatory), Nancy unlocked first the outer gate, then the barred front door, and finally the wooden front door! Manny bounded out, \240happy to greet a couple of friendly faces, prancing past me and then doing a doggy double-take when he realized it was me! He wagged and did his wiggle-dance and kissed every bit of my skin that he could get to, and then he did it all again! You can see from the picture, he was truly grinning from ear to ear. Actually I was smiling pretty broadly myself!

Emma’s house is even more charming than it looked in our FaceTime calls and pics she had sent. \240It’s very inviting and she has done a fabulous job organizing and decorating since her things arrived. \240It took 8 weeks for the shipment to make it here from Canada. And speaking of Canada, here’s her Canadiana-Guest Room!

Emma left a very sweet card for me by the bed.

Manny and I enjoyed some cuddles on the couch, until I could barely keep my eyes open and I fell in to bed. It was glorious being able to lie down after being prone essentially for a full day and night!

After my delicious nap, I decided to do a video tour of Emma’s house. Our family and her close friends have FaceTimed with Em and have an idea of what it’s like, but my friends, not as much. \240So with apologies for my grogginess, here it is:

Not long after I did the video tour, Emma arrived! Yay! Together again!!!

Cape Town

Jan 19-Entry #1

This entry will be a long one, covering a couple of days. Once I catch up I’m hoping to write up one day at a time

LONDON HEATHROW AIRPORT, JANUARY 19th, beginning at approx. 11:00 a.m.:

Made it through flight number one with flying colours, and yes, pun intended!

OK, perhaps for most travellers, surviving a 7 1/2 hr overnight flight isn’t all that monumental, but for me it was. I’ve never been all that wild about crossing over the Atlantic on my own. These days I find it all-the-more challenging. Anyway, I slept, watched a movie, got up once or twice was served an uninteresting breakfast, and got off the old, not terribly comfortable Brit Air plane, and into an old, uncomfortable wheelchair! One day I think I will write a review of the various airports I have seen from the vantage point of a wheelchair-assisted passenger, but to dwell on the aspects that are aggravating would be pretty boorish. I am truly grateful not to have to endure the long, painful walks to and from airplanes in my body as it is at the present.

As promised, David and Hannah were in the arrival hall to greet me. \240It was wonderful seeing their beautiful faces! After I freshened up, \240we sat at Costa drinking coffee and later had a light lunch there as well. The Jacobs had wanted to take me in to the city, specifically Finchley where I once lived as they do to this day, to get away from the airport for a while and see their new flat. It felt ungrateful of me, but I was worried that if there were to be even a minor mishap, I might miss my flight. I guess once in a car accident you see the potential for a repeat performance around not all, but many corners! David proposed an alternative; taking the short drive to Windsor to walk a bit and have a more interesting lunch. Yes, I am an ingrate. I rejected this suggestion as well!

So after a lovely few hours chatting about typical topics that friends of 40 years who see each other infrequently would cover, ( kids, grandkids, great- nieces and nephews, work, friends we have in common, politics and of course the Jewish world), they drove me from Terminal 5 where I had arrived, to Terminal 3 where I was to depart. I still had a few hours to kill before boarding my 2nd flight, so I changed in to clothes that would be more comfortable for an 11 hour flight, had a proper meal, did a little airport shopping, and finally settled down in the special assistance lounge, to watch the news and read. It wasn’t as comfortable as a first class lounge, but very accommodating that the airport provides a quiet and relatively comfortable place where people with special needs can wait for their flights.

The 11 hour leg of my trip wasn’t horrible. \240I had an aisle seat, a lovely South African woman had the window, and the seat in the middle was empty so we shared it for our books, blankets and pillows when not in use. Thank goodness, ‘cause we had precious little leg room. How do airline executives look at themselves in the mirror, chargingpassengers exorbitant amounts of money and cramming them in like sardines. Yes I know fuel is expensive, but REALLY....

I took the excellent advice I had been given not to worry about when to sleep (thanks Ellen!), and I just read, watched movies, noshed, ate the surprisingly yummy meals (dinner and a full breakfast), allowing sleep to come if and when it would. I did manage to have a couple of two hour “shluffs”, and one shorter one, and remembered to get up and move around every couple of hours as well.

Unfortunately, not having a window seat, I did not get to see Africa from the sky. It was more important to be on the aisle, freeing me to get up whenever I wanted. I usually gaze out airplane windows in wonder, but I did feel less hemmed in seated on the aisle. As usual, I looked like a crazy bag lady, frequently rummaging around in this carry-on and that, pulling out things to munch on, medications, reading glasses, travel blanket, pillow and other paraphernalia! Post accident I have also b come quite a klutz and generally end up with my shoes sliding forward under the seat of the guy in the row in front of me, my pillow falling on to the feet of the person behind me, ear phones and water bottles drop just out of reach under my legs. \240I am the “Pig Pen” of the airways. \240While admittedly I am a flying disaster area, I must also say in my own defence, that being prepared for this long trip was really helpful!

The hours didn’t “fly” by, but didn’t drag too much either.

I’m struggling with this journal app. It’s probably me, but it’s taking me so long with the learning curve and all the fixes. By the time I catch up to the real date, if I ever do, I will have forgotten so much. \240I may need to make a list at night of the things I want to capture when I get to the days they happened! \240Emma suggested less editing so I’ll try to resist fixing every typo and grammar error. \240Sorry Mom!

I’m writing this on Wed. Jan 23rd but will go back to Sunday the 20th. Manny is lying here beside me and was not enthusiastic about posing for a selfie.

Ok, now back to Sunday.

I had a pretty good first night sleep. \240When I got up we had some quiet time eating and talking and going through the schedule for the coming days.

We drove to the V and A Artisinal Market. Really lovely tourist area on the waterfront. Got to see the doggies up for adoption and we walked a three legged darling by the name of Olivia Queen. Or was it Queen Olivia? Hulk, the dog Emma met a few days ago, was not there but was on a list of dogs not yet adopted. \240I really hope she doesn’t even foster him because I don’t believe it is yet the right time. \240Her decision, of course. I feel badly for Hulk of course but figure he is the right boy for someone else, but not Emma, \240it right now!

We snacked on some mini somosas, ate lunch (it didn’t feel like my idea of africa cause the bowl of rice, tofu and veggies I could have had anywhere, but I guess that reflects the diversity of Cape Town and how food influences know no borders!) then wandered with Olivia and window shopped. She has only been at the shelter a few days, and may not have been3- legged for a very long time as she didn’t appear to hop as smoothly as our wonderful dog Magic used to. She seemed hot, wanted to find a place to lie down, and did not appear to enjoy the walk as much as we had assumed she would.

The weather was delightful and the views of the mountain and surrounding area were glorious. \240We discussed trying the Ferris wheel, but I decided I’d rather save my fear of being in small spaces high up in the air for the cable car up the mountain. \240The views will be more worth the scariness! So that will be on another day.

This musical ensemble was awesome. Feeling a bit more like I’m in \240Africa! This is Nobel Square. The bronze statues pay tribute to South Africa’s 4 Nobel Peace price recipients: Nkosi Luthuli, Desmond Tutu, de Klerk, and of course Nelson Mandela. I missed really looking more closely and taking a clear pic of the other bronze sculpture just to the right of the zebra’s tushie in the foreground. It acknowledges the contribution of women and children “ to the attainment of peace in SA.

Emma’s cute so I am trying to ignore how unflattering this one is of me. \240She is so much more photogenic than me!!

After the waterfront, Emma drove us the long scenic route past Sea Point, and south along the coast to Hout Bay before turning inward ( east) toward the suburbs. \240It was amazing to me how well she managed the hills, traffic and winding roads. \240No stalling at all. \240OK, her gear shifting and popping the clutch now and then are rough on my neck, but she’s o oh been driving stick shift, on the wrong side of the road, in a country with different traffic rules and behaviours, for a little over 100 days. all things considered, she’s doing really really well with the driving!

Emma had a choir rehearsal at the temple’s Wynberg location. It is in really pretty lush and green setting. Forgot to take a pic but will next time we are there. I enjoyed meeting Liesel who is as wonderful as Emma has described her, as well as Scott ( lovely young man) and Eric who is here on the music fellowship. They sounded terrific and I look forward to hearing them again at “ Senior Shabbat toward the end of my visit.

I cooked up a preseasoned butter chicken we bought at Woolies a day earlier, along with steamed green beans and brown rice. \240I undercooked the rice ( so nervous about using too much water). but the rest was homey and I know Emma appreciated being cared for. \240Being together is certainly medicine for me!!

As I get ready to sign off, I am aware of the sounds of Emma’s neighbourhood floating throug the open windows and iron clad security door. \240Emma and I have talked about what we experience as lots of yelling on the streets. \240It can be quite jarring driving along and people ( usually men) calling out and whistling to others down the road and across the street. I have complimented Emma on her ability to keep her focus with all the commotion. She says she has learned to tune it out. Pretty damn impressive!

I am coming to realize that some of this may be an urabanized version of the sing/talking native Africans use when bantering and getting others’ attention. \240When we stopped for gas the many attendants (black men of course, and you are not to pump your own) were doing the sing/talking with each other as they worked. \240It was kind of delightful really. \240Hope that’s not politically incorrect to say. It is disheartening though to only see black faces in the service jobs. Seems that there are more of a variety of better \240jobs \240for “ coloured” people than for blacks in SA. I know they are wrestling with this issue and the social implications of children especially, seeing only black faces when being served in grocery stores, gas stations and the like. \240It’s not for me, an outsider to judge, but it’s difficult not to be uncomfortable.

Time to bring this entry to an end.

Jan 21- part one still writing....

Monday we had a slow morning hanging out with Manny and with me learning how to shower and wash dishes in a city with little water. G-d it’s tricky.

I had already mastered not flushing the toilet every time I “ go”. I don’t mind the toilet flushing regiments: “if it’s yellow let it mellow....” especially at home when it’s just the two of us. For “number 2” or when pee in the toilet is getting ripe, we use a bucket of gray water.

Then there’s the shower. Turning water off and on when showering is not very satisfying; good thing it doesn’t ever get terribly cold here. Capetonians are asked not only to use water from the taps sparingly, but also to save the dirty water from showers (euphemistically referred to as “ gray water” but I call it yucky) to use for other purposes, like watering plants. I feel moderately better about this knowing Emma and I both use earth friendly shower and hair products.

None of that grosses me out. Well, not very much! It’s the dish washing I’m the most unhappy about, but that’s a subject for another entry. Too hard to describe when I’m so tired.

Back to the activities of the day. In the afternoon we \240went to Mr. Price in Diep River to get Emma some household things. I imagined it would be a SAfrican version of BedBathand Beyond and winners/Homesense and I was right. Not as “high quality” as we are used to but on the other hand, way less wasteful packaging. Sadly not very much that felt authentically African. Still, I knew I wasn’t “in Kansas” any more! But I’m getting ahead of myself!

Emma drove us to Mr Price on the main road through all the south suburbs instead of the highway. From the M3 I wouldn’t have been able to see the different neighbourhoods and landscapes. Suburbs here does not necessarily mean upper middle class, at least until you get farther out of the urban area.

The neighbourhoods change so quickly! Now I know why people told Emma there are bad streets in safe areas and safe streets in not so good areas!! In the less affluent neighbourhoods there is more noise (which is not necessarily a bad thing), amd people appearing from nowhere, darting in and out between the parked cars, and dodging around the moving ones! It’s so frustrating that I cannot take pictures when we are in the car. Cell phones need to be kept concealed, otherwise they may be grabbed right out of your hands.

Anyway, we found the store, and once inside we had some typical Emma/Mummy moments, oohing and ahhing over this and that. She had waited for me to arrive for decorating ideas to fill in some of the gaps in her house. Plus she needed things she hadn’t yet found, like throw pillows for her couch and some kitchen utensils.

I ended up buying her a lovely rattan chair that I didn’t think would work but backed off and she paid for the cushions that I liked but SHE didn’t think would work! We are learning as we get older!When we got them home it all worked beautifully!

I was pretty beat when we got to the car, but felt a little better when we arrived back to Emma’s house. Having said that, her parking situation is making me ill. For those who have not heard her describe the details, here goes. First of all, she has an electric gate that operates with a remote. The opening is not very wide, and the parking pad is only a bit longer than Emma’s car. She has learned how to get in and out to the best of her ability but the cards are stacked against her. How best to really describe it?

In the best case scenario she is left enough space on either side of her gate. Sometimes though, people park very close to it. Then there’s the gate itself, which does not open as wide as it could. Poorly designed to say the least. On top of that there is a poor excuse for a “ramp”which, in theory, is supposed to help you get over the curb (probably spelled “ kerb” here, as it is in the UK) and in to the parking pad. Unfortunately there is a cut-out in the middle of said ramp, so it does not impede the flow of water in the gutter; pretty funny given that Cape Town has so little water! If you are driving slowly to avoid hitting the gate or the front of the house, your tires can catch in the cut-out, sort of stopping you. Probably easier in an automatic, but in a stick shift it sometimes causes her to stall!

In addition to those challenges, the parking pad is not paved. When Emma moved in there were some paving stones but only in two straight rows for the tires. The ground is sand though, and if she doesn’t hit the pavers perfectly straight they shift, causing her tires to go \240crooked and further in to the sand. Then she gets kind of stuck and stalls!

One of her neighbours suggested taking the pavers away which has helped, but it leaves her with only sand on the ground below the tires, causing them to spin because there’s no traction!

With all of these challenges, Emma has persevered, getting better and better at navigating the obstacles. It remains a struggle though, and I find it painful watching her going at it, lining the car up, creeping forward, reversing to get a better angle, stalling at the crack in the “ ramp”, getting her car’s nose past the gate, only to have her wheels spin on the sand and stalling again.

I believe that creating a more even surface on the parking pad, like fresh gravel or rubber paving “stones” placed over the whole area is a possible solution. It won’t make the gate open wider, but that part she has gotten better at. Unfortunately Emma’s landlady refuses to pay for any parking area fixes because supposedly she herself has no difficulty parking her own car! While I am here I hope we can get prices on some potential solutions.

Next up- Jan 21st, part two

-why she didn’t pull her car in after shopping, and the consequences

Monday Jan 21, part two up to morning Jan 22nd

Sadly, I’m not quite finished with the rant about the gate and parking pad!

When we returned from Mr Price, Emma parked on the street in front of her house because there is not enough room to unload the car inside the gate.

We happily brought in all of our finds and proceeded to part two of the process; decorating! \240Emma said she would bring the car in later. \240It was still a few hours before dark.

At some point I guess we ate dinner. I know we went to bed early. Maybe Emma forgot to move the car, or maybe she decided not to because she was tired and it’s so difficult. \240In any event, the car remained on the street overnight. \240There were bags of recycling on the floor of the back seat, which may not have been clearly garbage \240to anyone looking through the window. To make matters worse, to get the chair and other purchases in to the back, we had moved the panel that conceals any of the boot’s contents from view, and it was not put back in place after we unloaded the car. I guess you know where this is going, even if you haven’t read Emma’s version of this story.

Over night, someone broke the back window on the driver’s side, rummaged through everything, realized that most was junk, but grabbed her swim bag and a bag with a \240towel for Manny. The worst thing they took were the three remote controls for the gates at her temple’s three locations. The other rabbis keep theirs in the their glove compartments as well, which is why hers were there. There was nothing identifying what the remotes were for, and thank G-d the remote for her own gate is attached to her house keys which come inside with her each time she gets out of the car. The kicker for me is that I was sleeping in the front room of the house, just a few metres away, while this was happening. \240Early in the evening I heard a cat fight, and the wind rustling the leaves of the trees. I did not hear the car window being smashed. \240Even if I had heard it, by the time I let Emma know, and then by the time she would have called the police, the thiefs were probably long gone.

When Emma went to leave in the morning, she found the smashed window on the ground, with shards inside of the car and on the sidewalk. Angry with herself for leaving the car out on the street with things visible inside, and shaken since this was her second car break-in, Emma cleaned up \240the car and assessed what was missing. When she realized the remotes had been taken, she called the temple’s Executive Director to report it. To make a long story short, two very polite and friendly police offices came by to take her statement in order to file the report. Because we are leaving in a few days for our road trip, Emma was concerned about getting it fixed quickly. \240Much to our surprise, it was fixed before evening!

It was upsetting for me to see Emma upset and angry with herself. \240It was also upsetting for me to be reminded that she lives in a city where these things happen frequently. \240But at least we could understand why it happened. Apparently car’s are not usually broken in to if there is nothing that can be seen from outside. Now Emma knows that there is no getting lax on this. \240She MUST not leave her car on the street overnight if she can help it, and when the car is parked on any street, she must follow all of the Cape Town rules about leaving things in the car. Hard to have to learn this way.

Emma’s Renault, with new window, parked snugly inside her gate! Tight squeeze, eh?

All around Obz with Emma.

Every house is different. Every street is different. It’s a diverse neighbourhood with properties that have been renovated, and others that are not aging with the kind of attention that would preserve them. Almost all are behind a gate of some kind.

Emma’s street is pretty quiet, although only one block from one of the main shopping thoroughfares. I think, overall, it looks more dilapidated than it really is, because with all the fencing and gates, one must look closely to see the condition and character of each home. And that’s if you can see through or over the fencing.

Emma’s street

House next door

Wooden gate is Emma’s

Emma left me on my own for a few hours, with instructions on how to walk to my hair appointment. ( I may never again be able blow dry my own hair. Not the worst thing in the world fo sure.)

We were invited tonight to the home of \240Nancy (who picked me up at the airport) and her husband Tony. \240I’m really looking forward to seeing Nancy again and even more excited to see her home. She had told me it was an old thatched roof farm house, now a suburban home. Thatched roof remains! I decided it was time to get my hair cleaned up since they were taking us out for a nice dinner after appetizers at their place.

I made it unscathed to the hair salon. It would have been less than an 8 minute walk but I wandered in to the wrong hair place first, and they pointed me toward the one where I had made the appointment. A nicely dressed, soft spoken young “ coloured” woman named Kayla showed me to her chair before taking me to the back to wash my hair. \240The reason any of this is note-worthy is that I had been pondering how a hair salon would go about conserving water. I was a little worried I’d be leaving with soap scum in my hair! As it turned out, \240Kayla didn’t leave the water running as much as a hair dresser in N America might, but my hair was squeaky clean when she was done!

I asked Kayla about her training, specifically if there was a school in CT or did she have to go far. \240The school she attended is located in Wynberg and she was impressed that I told her I knew where that was because that’s where Emma’s office is located. We had a nice chat.

After my hair was nicely washed and blow dried, I asked if there was a place to buy a pair of sandals. Kayla directed me to a place going out of business nearby, with everything 50% off! It was a tiny bit off the Main Street but not deserted, and I felt Emma had given me some clear guidelines to keep me safe ( for starters, keep your cell phone out of site-don’t talk on it or even hold it in your hand) Obz is definitely pulsing with life. Diverse in every way. Unsafe in some as well.

Once I assessed the situation, I felt it was safe. Glad I did. Bought a pair of imitation Crocs and a pretty little pair of pink wedgie “slip-slops”made in South Africa. So yes, that’s what they call flip flops here! Almost as cute as “hooting the hooter”!!! Paid around $7CND for the two pairs.

It DOES GET HUMID in summer after a rain. Why does almost nobody have ceiling fans here, let alone a.c.? After buying the shoes I had time to kill. Found a kind of trendy looking place called Obz Cafe, with open garage type doors but even they had no friggin fans!!! (Hairdresser had ceiling and floor fans thank Gd!

I ordered coffee, and sat watching life on Lower Main. It was a nice place but could have been anywhere, if not for the vibrant sounds and colours on the sidewalk. The open doors and windows let in the beautiful breeze.

The coffee, with an order of chips to go, came to 56 Rand including tip. That’s like $5.60 CND

Tipping made easy. No math to do. It shows you how much the total will be based on different gratuity percentage!

I LOVE this!

Pics are around the Obz shopping area. Emma and Manny are in the one just below.

Emma and Manny, her \240Cape Town companion!

Jan 23- evening

Nancy and Tony in front of their home in Wynberg near the temple site where Emma’s office is located.

These two incredible trees growing out of the road, are down the street a bit from Nancy and Tony’s house.

I may not have explained yet that Temple Israel has 3 buildings, 2 in the suburbs and one downtown near the bay. Three properties, three rabbis, no waiting! So far I have been to the one with her office, near Nancy and Tony’s house in Wynberg, and downtown (Seapoint) perhaps the most impressive of the 3. I will see the smallest site, West Coast, Saturday when Emma leads the Shabbat morning service there. Tomorrow night, she will be co- leading the Erev Shabbat service at Wynberg.

Tonight we were invited for appetizers at Nancy and Tony’s after which they were taking us out for dinner. When we pulled in to their neighbourhood, I felt like I was in one of the little villages outside of London, with oversized “ cottages”, lush greenery and flowers blooming everywhere and the occasional thatched roof, like theirs.

Of course we were so enthralled with their beautiful home, that we forgot to take pictures! When I texted her later, Nancy promised to send me one of them as well as their house! From the moment we step across the threshold, Emma and I were in love. The farm house was over 200 years old, with the original slatted wood ceilings under the thatched roof, wooden shutters, funny little doors and a charming garden home to 4 or 5 chickens and a rambling vegetable \240and herb garden!

Lovely conversation over appetizers. \240Tony grew up in Cape Town, lived in the US for 3 decades and has been back in SA for a dozen or so years. Nancy grew up in the New York area and came to SA with Tony. He is around 74 and a practicing cardiologist. Nancy \240volunteers in various ways in both the Jewish and secular worlds. She’s a strong and bright woman. I like her and can appreciate why she is drawn to Emma. Nancy sees her as the new innovative, knowledgeable young rabbi who may be a vehicle for so,e positive change at the temple and in the Jewish community here. Nancy and Tony plan to rejoin the temple because of Emma, Tony says he fell in love with Em because of her Torah chanting and how she also simultaneously chants the translation. \240Could I \240be any prouder?

I’m toooo tired to write any more so will continue another time about the nice Italian restaurant, Amore’ where they wined and dined us!

This evening we had dinner at the home of the Saks family. They also live in Obz, just a few blocks away from Emma. \240The houses are a bit bigger, more family size and the properties more generous, but not enormous. Lovely and seemingly a bit more gentrified than Emma’s street, and Emma’s is more gentrified than some others. Subtle and by degrees. It is a blessing that they live so close to Emma, know everything about Obz, Cape Town and the new world Emma has parachuted in to, and they are generous beyond description!

Gill Saks and Emma became instant friends. \240Perhaps a blend of big sister/soul mate and colleague. \240Gill also works at Temple Israel, I believe as a kind of events coordinator. She is a kind, gentle, magical soul; I think she is in her early 40’s. Many times Emma has said she wouldn’t have made the transition as easily, if not for Gill. \240Not that it’s been easy, but having Gill was like landing on a cushion on a new planet!

Husband Danny ( kinda pronounced Den’-ee here) is also really lovely. Clearly a good husband and father, Dan is warm and has been supportive and helpful to Emma as well. He has a woodworking shop and so is very handy. When Emma’s boat came in (Tongue firmly in cheek- I mean when the shipment of her stuff arrive), Danny helped assemble her two new IKEA beds that were shipped in their packaging. He had never seen precisely how IKEA furniture is put together since the Swedes have not brought their concept to South Africa yet. Emma is quite good with IKEA furniture but it’s always good to have two sets of hands for the big pieces.

The Saks kids, Jacob and Ruby, are delightful teenagers; sixteen and fourteen respectively.

Emma, Gill and me. Sweet new connections!

Mother/Daughter Pic. Gill and Ruby (14), Beth and Emma

Jake is sending me pics of the Saks menfolk, their dogs and their lovely house which I will add here later, and expand on the wonderful evening we all spent together.

District 6 Museum

District 6 was an area of Cape Town, formerly called Zonenbloem, that was a vibrant, albeit ultimately overcrowded community that sounds like it must have been similar to New Orleans, and parts of NYC in the 1920’s. It was filled with jazz clubs and theatres, people on their stoops, music in the air. \240Under apartheid the government decided to make it a white area, forcibly removing around 60,00 people over a period of many years. \240There are people still alive, just a little older than me, who lived there and remember being pushed out and their neighbourhood razed. Some former residents of Zonenbloem volunteer as docents at the museum, leading tours and sharing their \240stories. We arrived at the wrong time so were not able to join one of the guided tours. \240

I’ll read the literature more closely to better understand the time frame...clearly this is one of the many examples of the cruel, hideous actions taken by the government under apartheid.

The neighbourhood is once again known as Zonenbloem.

Thurs Jan 24-part 2

View from the car, downtown, not far from the museum and about 10 min to Emma’s house. When we stopped to take the pic there were no cars behind us. Then of course a car appeared and was none too happy, so they “hooted their hooter”!!!! How funny is that? I may never say “ honked my horn” again!!

To be explained later: Variations of NOW: “ just now” doesn’t mean NOW at all, it seems to mean when I get there- or soon-ish. “now now” is more soon than just now, but not imminent.

Why don’t they do this or that? “Because Africa”


Too zonked to write much. \240Erev Shabbat at the downtown ( Green Point) location. It feels like Manhattan - upper west side, or Paris. Very expensive, elegant schmellegant part of town. \240Beautiful, clean and seemingly safe. Emma led a very lovely service and clearly the well-heeled crowd there really loves her.

Invited to dinner at the home of Diana and David. Two other couples and two older women were there as well. The area is called Sea Point,way up above the ocean near the entrance to Table Bay, \240and almost snuggly situated against the mountain called \240Signal Hill. If I hadn’t known better, I would have thought we were in Greece or Italy, overlooking the Mediterranean.

Before I say more about the views, I don’t want to forget to record my reflections on Emma’s relationships with some of the people I have met, most of whom are congregants. It ‘s crystal clear to me that there are a countless number of people who are already very fond of my girl. \240Many of the senior members, I’m referring especially to those my age and a bit older, feel paternal toward Emma, but also demonstrate a deep respect that she is their rabbi. \240They give her helful advice, invite her to their homes and generally seem thrilled with her impact on the community already. Even the men, who in many ways are chauvinistic, express real pride in her accomplishments. The gathering of people at Diana and David’s were all friendly to me as well, and keen to reassure me that she is safe and they are watching out for her. \240It is gratifying to hear, but I am not quite ready to say I have no concerns. \240Houses have walls and gates, some with barbed wire. Security systems are the norm. I know that Emma does take her safety seriously, I just hope she does not become complacent or lazy about the things she must always do and not do. Her second car break-in serves as a reminder I hope.kind of a drag that the only thing of any monetary value or importance was my cane with the fold down seat which I brought for our road trip. I don’t know if I could find anything comparable here, nor do I want to waste any of our precious time together looking, so I won’t worry about it and just do without. Whatever!

Back to Signal Hill, the breathtaking views, and beautiful, expensive homes. \240Hope the pics do it all justice. \240It was really quite spectacular. Before dinner we all sat on the terrace, with sliding glass walls behind us that brought the outdoors in to their house. The main topic of conversation for the first half hour was the large cruise ship that was close enough for us to see the large tv screen on the top deck. At first I thought it was heading out to sea, but realized quickly that it was floating with its bow pointed away from Table Bay which you can also see below and to my left. \240It changed direction every few minutes as the wind shifted. Our hosts explained that the cruise ship couldn’t come in to the bay to let passengers off and on because of the wicked winds we had over the last two days. Apparently it’s not safe to load people on gusty days like these. The ship was supposed to dock yesterday and we heard that there were people who missed flights as a result. Rumour had it a Canadian family was among them. How these details were known, I couldn’t say!

The ship is now supposed to dock in the wee hours of tomorrow morning. You can see it in a few of these pics, but most clearly over my left shoulder in the third one below! Sadly, the interesting pink toned “clouds” are really smoke from bush fires the other side of the mountain. No danger to us apparently.

The meal was served eventually, and it reminded me of Shabbat meals in England when we lived there in the late 70’s. \240Fried fish, “salads” including one with tinned peas swimming in a mayonnaise based sauce, and a tuna lasagna. \240It was all a lot tastier than it sounds! \240But the dessert was the best part. \240Not a heavy, rich chocolate cake, or anything of that sort. There were poached nectarines and an apricot “ pudding” which we would have called a mousse. Fruit here is really something. Better than California.

When it was time to leave, Emma pointed her Renault down the winding streets, across the city and back to Obz. \240We had to pack our bags and food for the road trip which we will set out on after Shabbat morning services. \240I am concerned that I will not make it out in the morning on Emma’s schedule, but I’m going to do my best. \240We found some CBD oil today that wasn’t as expensive as the $100 bottle we priced the first day. \240Hope it helps because I didn’t come this far to miss out on things because of pain. I think my fibromyalgia likes the climate though so that’s helping a lot.

One week down, a week and three quarters left. It is flying by all too quickly!

I guess I did manage to say quite a lot once I got started. I am enjoying writing again and maybe this journaling will push me back in to the habit of doing some writing every day, be it journaling, poetry, a letter to a friend; just need to get back to the practice of writing.

We had an unexpected visitor this morning. Emma found this little lizard in her kitchen sink! He was most likely thirsty. First time she has had a lizard drop in, but probably not the last. \240Emma is afraid of spiders, but not lizards, so we relocated him to a sunny wall outside. He was probably thirsty.

We begin our incredible road trip tomorrow after the Shabbat morning service. \240Lots we need to get done before we can be on our way. I’m a little bit tired and concerned that I did too much this week, but it didn’t feel wrong in the moment. Really, I’m loving every minute! Too bad that we can’t postpone Shabbat...!!!.

This morning we stopped by the Wynberg location. I met Emma’s colleague Rabbi Greg and Eric the ED. Gill was there as well, and she is helping to design Emma’s office which was formerly a library and meeting space. Here are some pics of the Temple :

Moving things around and measuring the space to have a desk built to fit in. The man is Michael who helps make sure things at the Temple get done, get fixed and keep working. We would describe his job as caretaker.

Jan 26 post #3

On the road after Shabbat lunch.

Got going around 3 pm and drove for about 3 hrs with a stop at an upscale farmer’s market. No time for reflection now. \240Just posting pics from the drive. \240Gorgeous mountain views.

Also ncluding some amazing video clips going through a mountain pass! Such a great adventure!

Stopped at Peregrine’s Farmers Market pictured below. Biltong, pastries, fruits and veggies, and COFFEE, which we really needed!

This is out of sequence, but we came through a toll booth and had just noticed a sign advising not to feed the baboons, when suddenly there were two by the side of the road!!

Jan 26 Entry #4 \240 \240 \240 \240 \240 \240 \240 \240 \240 \240 \240 \240 \240 \240 \240 \240UNDER CONSTRUCTION

Now that we are out of Cape Town, and passing more townships than I had seen in the city, Emma and I have started talking about the elephant in the room; yes pun intended. I’m not sure if I have already written that “ township” is just a euphemism for a slum.

In my first week in SA, socially I have met Jewish white people who I would consider both middle class and wealthy. Until today at Balu’s, the only black and “coloured” people I have interacted with have been serving me in some way; the jovial guys at the petrol stations, the young man who was my waiter at the Obz Cafe, the people working in the grocery stores, and Kayla who did my hair. There are also guys on every street, and in every parking lot who wear little vests with reflective strips and watch your car and guide you out of your space when you return. \240Most of the time \240they are not actually employed by anyone, and work for tips from drivers. It must feel a lot better than begging and it does help keep your car safe.

Of them all I would imagine Kayla, who is “coloured” ( did I already explain that’s what they call bi- or mixed racial here?) has the best chance for a decent life in Cape Town. She went to school and learned a trade that is always going to be in demand. As I have learned, black South Africans are still at the bottom of the societal ladder. It is going to take a long time for this to change but it does seem like there is good reason to be hopeful.

In the meantime, the townships are shocking; far far worse than I had imagined. In many of them you can see tin, one room shacks, with no indoor plumbing, held together with God only knows what. As we drove past I saw a man actually standing in a roof and peeing.

Every city has these townships, sometimes with wealthy neighbourhoods only metres away, usually with some sort of visual barrier to shield the wealthy from having to look at the truth from their comfortable homes. \240You cannot avoid seeing them though, along side of highways, and even next to city streets.

At first I really didn’t feel comfortable taking pictures; it seemed like some sort of voyeurism. I did eventually take take just one video as we drove by at high speed on the N1. You can pause it a few times to get a sense of how inhuman the conditions are. It was a township we passed when we left Cape Town.

Further along in our trip, we did pass some neighbourhoods adjacent to a township, with extremely modest, uniform houses, that Emma thought must be the government housing that is being built to provide for people living in townships. In one city we saw a neighbourhood like this, with acres and acres of rubble across the road, filled with debris that was obviously left behind when people moved from the slum life of a township, to a tiny house where at least they have real walls, a real roof and a real door. \240I pray that this gives people some hope, while the children go to school and in another generation or so, they might begin to have opportunities not possible during apartheid and in these years following the dismantling of it.

Here is the video:

Toby’s Birthday. Feels very far away. I guess because he is!

Beginning Shabbat morning service.opened the siddur to this quote from Rabbi Jonathan Magonet eho was one of Danny’s teachers at Leo Barack College in London. Lovely, brilliant man. He wrote, “there is something very \240holy about sleeep.” \240Oh yes. I yearn for more sleep! I can barely keep my eyes open through storag study altho of course Emma is making it very interesting!!

In the ladies room I saw these water conservation reminders. We are at Tenple Israel Wynberg:

Posts from Jan 26 are out of order.

This should be #2

Shabbat morning reflections.

I seem to have lost what I wrote about the service Emma led at Wynberg. \240I will recreate it another time. Interesting but too tired now.

Jan 26 post #3

Shabbat lunch.

What a special afternoon. I feel like I started to write about this already but don’t see it. Again, so tired I can’t write it all right just now, so just downloading the pics and will add the narrative later.

It was a few hours I will long remember. When I come back to it, I will recount a lovely, delicious and interesting afternoon. This Shabbat lunch was a wonderful and fascinating opportunity to peel the onion that is Cape Town and South Africa, seen of course through my North American, mostly Canadian lens.

The lunch was at the home of Batu and Ian’s in C....( I forget the name, but one suburb away from Wynberg i think!)

They just moved in after working with an architect to build this gorgeous home. Sliding glass doors, living room, dining area and bedrooms opening on to the pool. A rooftop deck and a kitchen any chef would be proud to own. So conducive to hosting guests who can’t help but breathe more deeply, feel more relaxed and open to sharing and listening. Remarkable.

60 Murray St, Swellendam, 6740, South Africa

Jan 26-post # 6

Arrived at our first stop, an air b’n’b, a few hours drive from Cape Town, with one stop.

Our night will be spent at Do-Little Cottage; our hosts include 3 donkeys: Daisy, Sebastian and Marilyn.

Lovely place to decompress for an evening and a night, after a very full week and a lovely Shabbat filled to the brim with rich experiences but little time to breathe between each one.

Then Bedtime....

1 Wellington St, Colchester, 6001, South Africa

Jan 27- entry #2

On the drive after lunch at Salinas, we went to find the Big Tree, reported to be 800 years old! It was located in Wildreness National Park.

It took some patience to precisely find it, but eventually Emma got us to the entrance. As we drove in, there was no one at the booth ( like our cousin Larry’s gig with the US Park Service during the government shut down!) but we noticed a sign that said at times there may be a charge for “use of the facilities”. In my mind I thought that meant use of the washrooms and showers if they had any. After we found the parking lot in a clearing, and made our way to another little entrance booth, the attendant told us there was a fee of 20R. \240We had no cash in Rand, but at another SA park Emma had visited, they took plastic, so she hadn’t thought this one might be different. \240There were no signs at his booth indicating there was a cost, let alone methods of payment, but the man said it was cash only.

We were a bit dubious, wondering if he was just scamming us, but regardless, we had no cash other than USD and we were kilometres away from any shops so obviously also no ATM to get cash. It was a good ol’ Texas style stand off (not that any of us were from Texas, but I imagine that’s what it’s like, minus guns!), with us pushing him to let us go by, and him repeatedly stating the fee. Eventually he gave in and we walked in to the woods.

Within a few steps along the path, I could feel the humidity. Not as intense as a rain forest would be, but enough that I felt my back, neck and shoulder pain intensifying by the second. Further proof that my body really does not like humidity! I was highly motivated to keep going because, for one, I really love being in the forest, and two, the Big Tree was only supposed to be about 80 metres down the path. I also didn’t want to disappoint Emma because this was one of the sites she had learned about in the weeks prior to my arrival and had planned for, knowing it was something we would both appreciate seeing.

Before we got there, we came across another interesting tree:

A few minutes further down the road, there she was; The Big Tree! And that she was! Huge and majestic, it would take four people with arms outstretched to reach around her. No other trees around her were anywhere near as tall or wide. A wooden platform had been built so that people walking around her did not carve a path in the dirt, but we were allowed to touch her which was so moving. There were also a couple of benches where one could sit and commune with the tree, the birds and the whole lovely forest. We spent quite a long time there, considering the humidity.

How does a single tree survive for so long? The tree dates back farther than when the first Portugese explorers landed in SA in the 1400’s, starting the whole colonialization thing. \240That’s if I’m getting the history right.


Jan 27- entry #1

Emma drove us 567 km today, not including a side trip to see an 800 year old tree. Stopped for a gorgeous lunch at Salinas in Wilderness. After lunch we walked across the beach to put our feet in the Indian Ocean!!! The sand was soft, smooth and very hot. \240I can’t really run so we suffered a bit getting there but it we didn’t consider turning back for a second. On the way back to the parking lot, somehow the sand seemed even hotter and the last couple of metres I was sure we had burned the soles of our feet. Cooled off in a puddle and all was well once again!

I’ll add some pics now and some more gorgeous views from the road another day. We are both exhausted and need to sleep, but I want to mention before I forget, that I added video of driving through Sir Lowry’s Pass yesterday, so if you read yesterday’s entries already but did not see those, I recommend going back! The videos came out so much better than I imagined they would. iPhone camera and HD technology are mind blowing!!!

Salinas where we ate lunch

A South African fish taco ( appetizer), with sparkling water and lime cordial. For our main course we split a fish burger ( yummy) and Salsa Verde fish ( neither of us remember the kind of fish but it was local), that was cooked so perfectly I almost cried!

After a somewhat unpleasant stay in a place in Colchester, we drove the 10 min to Addo National Park. \240Emma and I had really been looking forward to this part of the trip. The plan was to drive in, find the guides who reportedly “hop in” to your car and do a guided tour with you driving. We wanted to save money for the evening safari at sundown which was pricey but sounded like it would be amazing.

Things here are not always what we expect and it turned out that the hop-in guides are not guides plural is really one guide, singular, and you have to call him on his cell to find him. \240This didn’t seem like a good plan, so we did a self drive, using the guide with pictures and a map. \240The idea is, you do not get out of your car, EVER, unless in a designated area that is safe, otherwise, whenever you see an animal you can stop your car and watch what they are up to.

On our drive today we saw kudu and red hartebeests (two kinds of deer/ elk), big honkin’ buffalo ( nasty and dangerous), many adorable warthogs, and yay, many elephants. We were so excited when we saw our first elephant, was very young and all by himself. We wondered if he was an orphan, which we later found out was probably the case. He was possibly about 75 feet from us.

We got a bit distracted after that because there was some wicked rumbling happening under the car, after we stalled part way up a hill and it took some wheel spinning and gravel flying before we were on our way again. \240We couldn’t get out to look to see if the muffler or tail pipe were dragging, which was what I feared. \240After a few minutes of concern, we came upon a picnic area, a fenced compound that is protected by gates and electric fencing. We hoped to find other people there who might help us assess the situation.

As we hoped, there were washrooms, picnic tables and most important, tour groups and other cars like ours. \240It didn’t appear that anything was hanging down under the car, but we were both sure we had heard something. A couple of men who clearly worked for the park in some capacity, were very helpful, with one offering to drive it around the parking lot to help figure it out. \240Emma sat in the oassenger seat and they drove around for a few minutes. Of course the noise was gone! Very kindly one of the African men said that it was just like when you take your car to a mechanic, the noise stops! I guess that’s a universal experience!

So back on our self driven safari, we saw our second elephant, a large female grazing on a bush quite close to the side of the road. She was huge, and I was really taken by her leg. It was as big as a tree trunk. Not as big as the 800 year old tree, but pretty big!

Moving on, we followed along behind a tour group for awhile. Until then we had stayed on the main road, not feeling confident about taking some of the loop roads, thinking we didn’t know how long it should take us to drive through the park, to get to the Main Camp where we were to stay the night in a chalet. The group had a proper guide, so we decided to follow them. Great decision

Once again, we found ourselves in an enclosed area, where the humans were in a cage so to speak, and the animals roamed free. Within the are, there was a wooden platform you could climb up on and see some distance away. \240I wasn’t thrilled about it, but also didn’t want to missanything. There wasn’t much to see actually, but we noticed the group had gone down a path. \240Emma followed and said she’d report back whether it was worth spending my energy on. She returned about 4 min later to say I had to come. We walked through a wooded area and came out at a clearing with a “ blind” where we could view a \240watering hole. At that moment there was a herd of female elephants; grandmothers, mothers, and babies. It was an incredible experience, siting there with other spellbound park visitors, all whispering and watching in awe, never mind the sun that was roasting our necks and noses. Worth the inevitable sunburns!

Above and beyond the thrill of being so close to so many elephants, it was fascinating to watch how they took turns having access to the water, no pushing or complaining, and how they all made way to allow the babies and other youngsters to get in to the centre. They all drank, splashed water and mud on their backs, and nuzzled the babies.

I have included photos and a video

We couldn’t believe we had been so close to so many elephants, and that they were free and we were basically in a large cage!

January 28th late afternoon and evening

Checking in to our chalet and getting ready for the Sundown Safari

We were two happy

Total elephant lovers by the time we pulled in at the main “camp”around 1:30, our plan was to check in, have lunch in the restaurant, then get settled in our chalet, and have a rest. Everything was based on being fed and rested before the sundown safariwhich we had signed up and paid for 545R each). Lots of animals appear around the watering holes in the evening, when it is cooler. The sundown safari would take us to places we couldn’t go ourselves, and the guide/driver would be able to answer the many questions we had asked each other on our self-drive safari earlier, and had no answers to.

Lunch was lovely, mostly covered al fresco style, and we ate happily reviewing the animals we had seen earlier. There was a car game in the map and animal guide for families to play, with point ranges for spotting different animals. For fun, Emma and I figured out how many points we had earned for the animals we had see thus far. Lunch was yummy too. Emma had a salad with shredded bbq steak on top and I had a really delicious crepe with spinach, feta and a creamy garlic sauce. I had expected a more basic, “African” menu, but I don’t even know what African is anymore, plus the selection obviously needed to cater to a wide variety of clientele. Overnight guests at Addo seemed to be largely European (many very rude, unfriendly Germans which I found both sad and disturbing since I have been to Germany, and know many Germans, and that has not been my experience before) as well as some jovial Brits and a smattering of South African Afrikaaners. The “camp” has a variety of levels of accommodation and ours was probably in the middle where comfort was concerned. There were houses with canvas panels for walls that had plumbing, but I’m not sure about electricity, and more high end houses for those looking for luxury.

The chalet was a thatched roof, semi-detached cottage, at the very edge of the camp, with the electric fence only about 8 feet from our patio. It was modest but comfortable and finished much nicer than the place we stayed the night before. Spacious too. The best parts were the patio overlooking a stretch of the lark where potentially I figured we MIGHT see some of the smaller animal and birds in the early morning, and a lovely French door looking out onto the patio, also with a bit of a the same view. These turned out to enable us to later see things we never thought we would from our own chalet.

We unloaded \240the car, put our perishables in the fridge ( we had brought along food for the car as well as for making some of our meals- modestly-in some of our lodgings), then Emma drove back to the main building because the person we had to pay for the sundown safari wasn’t there when we checked in and ate lunch. It was really unfair, because Emma is really doing lots of the heavy lifting, literally and figuratively, but while she was gone, I stepped out on the patio and this is what I saw, just about 40 feet from where I stood:

Above is the view before, when we first arrived:

This is basically taken from the same vantage point, but what I saw while Emma was gone!!!

After this excitement, I still managed to have a wonderful nap. The beds were really comfortable and made up European style with fluffy white duvets and pillows. I could have used 2 hours to sleep, but had to settle for 1. We dressed for the evening, not knowing If it might get quite cool, but not wanting to carry extra layers. I chose Capri cargo pants and a t- shirt, Emma wanted to stick with shorts. We were thoroughly excited!

As usual I don’t have time to write about it all now, but will leave it at this for now.

Jan 28, part 3

The sundown safari was an experience we will never forget. Our guide took us off the roads we were allowed to take on our own. In case anyone is dubious about it, I want to say for the record and for the sake of my own memory as time fades the clarity, the animals that seem close in the photos, really were!

We boarded the super, sixteen-seater safari vehicle. As we searched for seats together, we had an unfortunate and unpleasant interaction with some humourless and decidedly unfriendly Germans. Unfortunate because they were characatures of how we used to think of Germans, and I know that is not the norm, at least these days. Unpleasant because they had spread out to give themselves window seats, leaving the aisle seats empty, even though many were couples, and no one wanted to make it possible for Emma and me to sit together. It all “got sorted”, as they say here, and worked out for the best as we ended up with front row seats and had a spectacular vantage point looking out the front and the side. I was particularly happy because I could lean my right arm against the soft nylon side (you can even see the shape of my arm in the pic below) and once we got moving I could stick it out the open window and give my shoulder a good stretch. I didn’t have any concerns about a lion coming along and biting it off as they don’t seem to bother moving vehicles. Anyway, my shoulder has been relatively cooperative, with the cortisone shot I received before leaving Toronto giving me blessed relief,, but some days it cramps up and needs room to sort itself out.

On our sundown safari, the African evening breeze was delightful, with the sun still shining bright and strong as it qeased its way down toward the horizon. Our safari guide\\driver, Seeah, was friendly, informative and a careful driver, avoiding the gigantic ruts in the side roads, and even when were off-road a few times. He had a touch of the teasing, South African humour we have encountered around here, and for once I didn’t have to ask for him to repeat things because his accent was easier for me to understand than some others. Seeah drove us first to a large watering hole. On the way we came across this buffalo at the side of the dirt/gravel road. Seeah told us that the buffalo are considered the most deadly of all the animals at Addo because they can do so much damage goring with their horns, and they don’t need much provocation. I guess, like the lions, they are used to the large jeeps and don’t waste any energy even looking at the gawking tourists.

Emma and I had seen several warthogs on our self drive safari earlier, but Seeah found many with tiny babies. He told us that they are called WARThogs because they have two “ warts”, or little holes on their cheeks, protecting the pair eyes somehow. These little guys could usually be found when we spotted elephants, scurrying around, drinking water and grazing. \240As lions don’t bother elephants when they are in large groups, the warthogs are safer than when they are out foraging without their gentle giant protectors.

I really fell in love with the zebras, and hadn’t expected to. Close up they are so beautiful, with a kind of regal elegance. They stood so still at times, you could swear they were part of an art installation.

The big fellow below was chowing down on some delectable bush, only a few feet from where Seeah stopped our Jeep. He never lost a beat, continuing to graze without even glancing our way. \240I’m wondering now if one of the other zebras was serving as the sentinel, watching out for predators, and we clearly were not in that category.

In the pic below I am enjoying having my face turned toward the wind and the sun. I was tired from the two days on the road, but now Emma and I could leave the driving and worrying to someone else! It felt liberating and healing

Seeah found us many elephants, and we never tired of seeing them. This big mama was not the most remarkable of the many elephants we saw, but Emma caught her looking straight at us as she emerged from behind a bush. She wasn’t alone, but in this pic, it’s just her and her big billowing ears, with mud from an earlier water hole visit, now caked all over her body.

Part way through the two hour safari, Seeah pulled up in the middle of a smooth area, stopped the Jeep, and invited us to step out and have our promised refreshments. \240Many of us thought he was joking because we had assumed that the drinks and snacks would be served in a protected picnic area, surrounded by electric fencing. \240This was in sight of a herd of elephants, perhaps 400 metres from us. Seeah assured us that they weren’t interested in bothering our little party, so we emerged, some more timidly than others, to stretch our legs and have a chance to socialize with each other. \240Emma and I enjoyed chatting with two older women, one from Cape Town and the other visiting her from the UK. We also met a Jewish woman from France who had also recently moved to Cape Town and was interested to hear there was a new, female rabbi in town! She had never met one before.

After our ten minute break, Seeah load us up again and we continued to look for the evening animals of Addo. The light and \240shadows created by the setting sun made for some different views of the animals as we headed back to main camp,. Here is Emma, giddy that our visit to Addo was going so well, refreshed by the rose’ spritzers we made, and warmed by the conversations. Behind her was another herd we found. The photo below hers is one of my favourites, with the shadows of all of us on the side of one of the elephants. I don’t know if it was a male or female. Seeah had explained that tusks can be on males or females, usually are only of animals elsewhere \240in the world, but females in the herds in Addo had begun to adjust genetically since the ivory had been coveted by hunters. No tusks meant they were left alone. Now some of the females here are starting to have tusks once again, and sometimes they can just have one. \240For now, no tusks means female, but tusks might mean either sex. \240I forget what this one was. \240We did ask!

Toward the end of the sundown safari we saw a few kudu, a kind of deep common around here, with magnificent horns. \240I’m not sure but I think is one we came acros on our way back.

Tired but happy, we thanked Seeah and were surprised to notice that we we may have been the only ones in the group to tip him. \240What is the matter with people????

January 29-entry #1

Morning and final hours in Addo Park

It’s been difficult to write in a timely fashion since Emma and I have slept in a different place each night. \240It made sense from a driving perspective, so that Emma. Luke get back to Cape Town and work on time by the 1st, but it’s put a bit of unavoidable \240pressure on us. I’m relieved that I’ve been able to keep up with our plan, but it has meant that I have had to sleep soon after we check in and unpack what we need. If our car is with us behind a locked gate, at least we don’t have to unpack our purchases or other things we don’t need overnight. At some places we have made our own dinner, or if close to civilization, we order in with UberEats. \240What a world! If you have a good gps and Uber apps, you can go anywhere! I wouldn’t want Emma to do this kind of trip alone though. It is clear to me more than before, that it is not what we are used to in terms of safety for women. It is very disturbing to me and it makes me not want to leave her again, but I know she gets it takes precautions seriously.

So back to Addo.

When I woke up from a very restful sleep, Emma was out on our patio enjoying the morning and hoping to see some animals passing by on the way to the nearby watering hole.

As I was making my coffee, she whispered for me to come quickly. As I stepped out I saw a mother elephant and her baby, emerging in to the clearing from behind some brush. This is the first glimpse:

We could tell it was a relatively young mama and her baby was more than a year old since it could not fit easily below her belly any longer. (Thank you Seeah for all you taught us!) Mama was mostly wet and muddy from the watering hole. Presumably baby got water to drink, but he/she still looked like her body was dry. \240I suppose with the hot sun, it could have baked on already. We have observed that the herds usually let the young ones through pretty early on when they visit the water.

A few seconds after they passed by our viewing gallery, we were thrilled to see more elephants coming by. In total we think we counted 12, from first to last, including the youngsters. At one point about 6 stopped behind a large cop group of bushes, and were completely hidden from our view \240Emma recorded it live while we held our collective breathe, whispering to each other in awe. It is a total of 4 min so I hope I can upload it here. They are closer than they appear for some reason; maybe about \24080 feet I reckon! To be clear, we were the ones in a cage, an enclave of buildings within the park, with electric wire to prevent us from bothering them, or them from inadvertently wandering into human space, but they basically roam free, going about the business of their daily lives, unbothered by our close proximity. Incredible experiences. Here is the video:

After the elephant parade was complete, we made a little breakfast of dried fruits and other odds and ends we had on hand. After we packed up the car we headed for the main buildings to for appointments at the spa. When we checked in I thought, “ how silly and touristy”, but I later decided it was not a bad idea for us. I decided to treat Emma and me to our treatments. Emma was to have a spa pedicure and me a “foot ritual”. My legs needed some love nd Emma hadn’t had a pedicure since she left Toronto. \240Or her priority in terms of time and money!

We were taken to a little tent with two spa beds, open on one side with a small view of outside the encampment. Patricia, a very quiet, lovely young woman with pretty African paint on her face gave me the most wonderful hour as I partially reclined, bathing each leg in a tall copper basin \240of first very cold, then very hot water, then very cold again. I could feel my legs and feet responding with their version of “ ahhhhhh”! Next was a sugar rub for legs and feet that smelled heavenly.

Tanya, the owner of the little spa, was giving Emma a very complete pedicure experience next to me. I asked what was in the sugar rub and she laughed saying they had to modify what they used until they found something the bees were not attracted to! Good to hear. Now of course I forget what was in it other than lavender, which was kind of surprising since bees like lavender in the wild.

Patrica took such loving care, scrubbing my legs and feet, and then after rinsing in more soothing cool water, she did a kind of reflexology ritual on my feet. I was glad to hear that all the products Tanya and Patricia use are earth friendly and all the water reused to water plants after the treatments!

Emma was very pleased with her pretty feet and I with my “ foot ritual”! It was so healing for me after all the standing, walking and hours in the car the last 3 days. It set me up well for the 2 day journey ahead back to Cape Town. \240My back isn’t loving the car, partially because, much to our surprise, Emma’s passenger seat has only one position, somewhere between straight and partial recline. \240I brought three different sizes of pillows along with us and it is definitely helping somewhat, but I do long to be able to change the seat’s angle now and then! Complaints complaints! Not really though; I feel thankful and privileged to be able to be here in this beautiful, interesting, complicated country, seeing it with Emma!

Picture of Emma’s pretty feet will be added later. Not my legs though!

7 Fairway Ave, Plettenberg Bay, 6600, South Africa

Jan 29- entry #2


Arrived at our lovely Airb’n’b around 5 pm. Another longish day on the road, because we started out later than we planned.

Views were beautiful and it was a hot day 45c, so very grateful for air conditioned car. The chalet was one of the only places we stayed with ac also, funnily enough! It took us almost an hour to drive along outside of the park to get back to main road. We were ready to be done with the car after the 4 hrs to Plettenberg. Cute town that we want to call me back to on my next trip, which will not be for a year I’m sure though.

The air b’n’b was possibly the nicest place we stayed, if luxury is the measuring stick. Huge king sized bed so no problem sharing, in a large studio cottage space, with a well equipped, large shower and toilet room, and ourown patio. I wasn’t happy that the car had to remain outside and not behind locked gates, but we brought everything in and I was somewhat reassured that it was a “ nice” neighbourhood and not really close the the town centre.

Here are some pics:

We were in bed by 8:30 and I for one was asleep not much past 9:00, even though we had planned to watch another episode of Grace and Frankie on Netflix. Yes, I am in Africa and at most stops have had at least some access to WIFI!

n2 N2, Plettenberg Bay, 6600, South Africa

Jan 30-

Thurs morning Old Nick Village

It’s Emma’s birthday!

Last night we arrived at Magnolia House, our last lodgings, tired, hungry and with high expectations. An actual B’n’B in Stellenbosch, we had paid extra for the “English Breakfast” since it was for the night before \240Emma’s bday and the last breakfast of the road trip.

We were greeted at the car gate by a soft spoken gentleman by the name of Paul, who showed us where to park. It was a lovely old home, with lush greenery and a beautiful garden in bloom. Paul led us to a reception room that was furnished with British looking antiques which \240Emma and I love. The whole thing started to go belly up though, when, after taking quite a long time \240scanning some things on an old looking computer, Paul said we would be going to “ the other house” and he would drive in our car with us. Emma expressed surprise to learn our room was in a different house than where breakfast was to be served, and what’s more, not on the same property or even the same street!! Paul was apologetic but wondered if we had missed that info on the website. We doubted that but remained polite, albeit dubious!

The short car ride was pretty tense, which was nothing compared with the atmosphere when we saw, first the second house, and then our room. \240It was like 3 star compared to 4+. The house had more of a hostel feel than a comfortable, charming B’n’B. Our bedroom looked like it was a boys room ( politically incorrect but I can’t think of another concise way to describe it) decorated 25 years ago, with faded quilts, towels and rugs that were old and worn. Not at all what the rooms looked like on the website. This particular room had been photographed deceptively, and the house itself was not show on the site at all, nor was it mentioned that there were two separate houses.

Magnolia “ House” was one of the more expensive of our 6 overnight stays and when Emma chose this, it was with her bday and our last night of the road trip in mind. It was meant to be special.

We asked to see or speak the owner and were told she would get in touch with Emma.

Actually, to recount it now ( 2 days later) is almost as annoying as it was at the time. \240It didn’t work out very well. We had to stay there for the night. \240I’ll probably circle back and, for the sake of history, write it all down at some point, but not right now.

We ordered in some dinner, and with little rest, went back out to a light show Emma had read about at one of the many nearby wineries. As we often have found, there is information we seem to miss, so when we go there, it wasn’t at all what we expected. \240Pretty disappointing, especially for Emma. \240It was a gorgeous night to be outdoors though, and the sky was filled with stars. \240We saw Orion, but kind of upside down from what we see of it in Toronto! \240The winery was on a property that was a farm in the 1800’s. \240All the buildings that were still there, were in beautiful shape, and were open for the public to walk through and admire. We could touch the furniture and and admire it all with no barriers or notices telling us what we could and couldn’t do. \240We have noticed this in other places here and that is very different from North America!

One installation in the light show was a Braille “ picture” of the stars. Sighted people see pretty lights but visually impaired people read the braille and “ see” the stars. Cool way for differently sighted people to enjoy the same display!

Emma’s bday part two.

After checking out, we drove in to the town of Stellenbosch to find a nice place for breakfast. \240As we had been told, it’s a lovely, historic town.

After a great retail therapy at our new favourite clothing store, Big Blue, a chain here but really eclectic clothing lines and great sizing. \240We found a few pieces with Balu’s label and had a great time with the sales woman who was enjoying our Canadian enthusiasm.

And then on to Babylonstoren, the wine farm everyone told Emma we should visit. It really was a perfect choice for us because it was really a farm, not just a vineyard, with a garden to table philosophy. Even gorgeous roosters and hens roaming freely.

We decided the vineyard tour would be too ambitious for me so we wandered on our own instead, around the herb an vegetable gardens, the farm store and a bit of the vineyards. \240It is a lovely setting, with benches and shaded spots to sit quietly and enjoy the environment, complete with mountains in the background.

After enjoying the grounds, it was time for wine tasting. Not a bad way to spend Emma’s birthday!

Wine tasting was some in the only new and modern building. It took some time to chip away at our somalier’s chilly attitude, but we won him over with our charm! We chose the 6 wine sampling, I had to take only a couple of tiny sips since it duesnt interact well with my medications. \240There were 2 very lovely, light wines which seem to agree with me more than the dry reds that used to be my favourites.

The plan was that we would eat at the garden restaurant after lunch so the effects of the wine would have worn off before we had to get back in the car. Unfortunately, the restaurant that wasn’t too crazy in price, had already closed for the afternoon. \240It was too late for lunch. Down but not out, we found another winery nearby that was still serving lunch. It worked out for the best, as \240where we ended up was a completely different kind of winery, more modern and quite lovely. \240We had a really nice lunch which I will post about in a new entry, #3 for Jan 31st.

Jan 31- entry #3

So, lunch at Anura Winery!

It was clearly where I was meant to be because the landscape was dotted with \240frog creations!

Anura was a completely different landscape, less developed, open with a crisp, clean feeling about it. \240We decided that Fish’n’Chips would suit us best and we enjoyed it seated on a shared patio overlooking a pond.

We said goodbye to Anura and Stellenbosch and began the final stretch, one hour back to Cape Town.

Before our trip along The Garden Route, I started a video demonstrating some water conservation measures I have learned for in the home. \240In Canada we have so much water, our use of it is shockingly wasteful. \240Many things I have seen here give me pause, even though I thought myself to not be wasteful, and I hope I will continue to be more conscious of my own water consumption when I return to Toronto.

Back to the video though, my first turned out to show a bit more of me than some might want to see, so I started a new one as a part two. Just something to help me remember....

FYI I \240ended up adding the videos at end of the trip....

34 Oxford Rd, Observatory, Cape Town, 7925, South Africa

Only three days left of my trip to Cape Town and Emma. I’m probably not going to write much the next little while; it will feel like stealing time from what I have left with her.

Perhaps some quick snippets and a few pics. \240I’ll write about Erev Shabbat at the West Coast location another time.

Helped Emma host her Hanukkat Habayit and bday party tonight. \240My first experience of a Cape Town “Brai” ( aka bbq!) Quite different from anything we do in N America. She had her closest colleagues for dinner, then a later shift of friends for dessert. In the overlap she made havdalah and put up her mezuzah. \240Probably about 40 people here at the midpoint. Very lovely evening and wonderful to meet some of her friends and colleagues I had not yet met, and to spend more time with a few who were the ones closest to Emma. It’s incredible that Emma has been in this community for unjust under 4 months, and you already can see and feel how much affection there is for her!

I’m exhausted but feel good about her life here, which will make it easier to leave in 3 days. Easier, but not easy.

More reflections to come later but posting the party pics. A good time was had by all. \240Don’t miss the video just past putting up the mezuzah pics!

For the sake of history, it’s a good thing I am in the pic above just a little (filming), because I spent so much time either capturing the moments, or chatting, or cleaning up, that I don’t seem to be in any others.

It’s so difficult writing entries days later. \240For the record, Emma and I had dinner at the home of her colleague Rabbi Greg, Andi and their three kids. They live in a modest n apartment in an upscale city neighbourhood, up high with another killer view overlooking the water. Of course I can’t remember the name of the area so I’ll have to add that info from Emma later.

It was a warm and fun meal and I was glad to have spent the time with them, although as it was the night before I was leaving, my head and heart weren’t totally in it. \240But glad we went all the same. Why I took no pics of them,I don’t know, but here are a couple of the view from their balcony. The wind was wicked that night so didn’t spend much time out there.

Last day

Usually I am mostly packed at least a day before I travel. This time, there was so much going on, and probably I was avoiding it, I didn’t get much done ahead of time.

The last day, Emma planned to take me to her favourite beach and then to lunch overlooking same beach. She usually takes Manny since it is a dog friendly beach, but the restaurant-actually a golf club- isnt’ so Manny had to sit this one out at home. \240Shame!

The beach is away from the centre of the city and gives you a good view of the citY from a bit of a distance.

I think the pic above, it was windy and God I was tired, was the last we took on this trip. \240Emma had to teach that evening so her friend, and now mine, Gill offered to take me.

We had to squeeze in a visit to Amelie’s house, one of Emma’s new Cape Town mothers, as she had been unable to meet up with us any other time. \240Amelie and Phillip have share their home with 4 adorable daschounds. We had a quick cup of tea and a chat, but I was so anixious to get back to Emma’s to finish packing, I really couldn’t enjoy it. \240Didn’t even take pics. Perhaps next visit.

Parting with Emma was tough for both of us, but no words right now, except to say that we were so happy to have had this amazing time together, that it was a goodbye for now, and with no regrets. \240More to be said on that, but not for now.

Gill picked me up, I hugged and cried over Manny, and then Gill said we should take him along for the ride and she’d bring him home later. \240It made closing up Emma’s house easier somehow.

Here’s the last pic I took of Manny until next time:

The final days of my visit.

A day or two ago, Emma and I were painfully aware that Mummy’s Big South African Adventure was coming to an end and it felt like at break-neck speed! We both need and want to get back to our regular routines and our real lives, but it is going to be tough to say goodbye, I believe for both of us.

I’ll need to reflect on the reasons why this visit went so well, in terms of how and why my body has come through with flying colours, and why it went so well with Emma and I in each other’s faces, and me in her space, for just under 19 days including our 6 day road trip, spending night and day in the car, in one bedroom accomodations! \240I know reaching my conclusions will not require rocket science, but we did exceed even our own predictions of the best possible outcomes!

For now, I’ll just do a quick review of the things we did over the course of the last 3 days of the visit.

Emma had been looking forward to sharing some of the special places in her new life. \240One was a beautiful garden centre not far from her house, sitting at the base of Table Mountain. \240When Emma moved in to her house she received, and continues to receive, many house plants. \240She has never had much time or interest in plants, and has historically killed pretty much every living green thing she has owned. \240In Cape Town though, everyone cares about plants and they ( I meant the plants, but I suppose it applies to people too!) do well indoors and out with all the sun filled days and relatively easy temperatures. \240In Emma’s effort to keep things aIive, with the help of her “ domestic worker” Elijah, who does house cleaning, gardening and some heavy lifting tasks, she checked out this garden centre which was recommended to her, when she needed soil and pots to transplant her little her plants to. \240Emma was having much luck with the 3 orchids she had been given, and that gave her confidence. Nothing like success to inspire us to learn more!

She has been telling me about this wonderful place, and had planned to take me there to browse and have coffee in the cafe they also have there. \240Here are some shots, including Table Mountain in the background.

In South Africa, I saw lots of innovative products to conserve natural resources or like this one above, that utilize what nature provides us. This was too heavy to bring back, but perhaps it is made somewhere in North America as well....

This is an air plant. Emma has a whole wall of this just outside her front door. It gets its nutrients from the air. This one is hanging on a few thin wires suspended from the wood. Really lovely!

I fell in love with Mnandi Textiles & Design, this Obz “fabric store” when Emma took me there my first week in CT. We went back the day before I left, so I could purchase some gifts. They are putting a modern spin on traditional African patterns. \240You can buy fabric or purchase ready made things like purses, clothing, fabric bound journals and more. \240I purchased several gifts here. It’s a very “female” environment; a warm, colourful space where primarily women gather and discuss measurements needed for projects and get ideas from each other. \240I love supporting local businesses and its wonderful seeing a small business such as this providing jobs and beautiful and useful products to the community.

Walking Emma’s neighbourhood, I noticed different things each time. We both loved this large home, and how they designed it to best access views of the mountain, the sunshine and even manage curb appeal which is clearly challenging for homes behind gates and electric fencing.

Another interesting building in Obz, older than Emma’s house. \240Next visit I’d like to learn more about the history of her neighbourhood, Observatory, aka Obz.

I’ve looked forward to eating at this sushi place since Emma first told me about it a couple of months back. The selections are placed on a conveyor belt that ride past customers seated at a bar. The colour of each plate tells you what it will cost, and you simply take what looks good to you, or if there is something in the menu that has not gone by, they will make it for you. \240There were some rolls and dishes I had never seen before, all really so yummy that I can’t wait to go back!

This one looks like a cucumber party sandwich, white bread and all, but it’s just white rice, “avo”, a thin slice of seaweed and yes, cucumber!

Our bill was calculated based on this stack of colourful plates and the little white bowl that had a delicious sesame tuna dish.

My body feels like it was slammed in to b a train. \240Taking a rest today, other than a short walk to the main drag of Obz. \240For me, the round trip is actually more than I want to be walking today ( ridiculous since it is like 10 mi ), but Emma has a lot of tight time frames to get things on her own to-do list done early enough to prepare for Erev Shabbat.

a rest today, other than a short walk to the main drag of Obz. \240For me, the round trip is actually still more than I want to be walking today ( ridiculous since it is only 10 min., but there is a slow incline on the way back). Emma has a lot of tight time frames to get things on her own to-do list done early enough to prepare for Erev Shabbat, so I am trying to stay out of her way

Shabbat morning

Back at Greenpoint where we were for Kol Nidre, which is Temple Israel’s downtown location. There was a nice little group of about 15 adults as well as the Cheder kids when they joined us for the Torah service.