I fooound it I foooound it (in my best Land Before Time voice)

How fast can two sickies hike 9 km up and down the rocky coast, through the jungle, leaving time to find starfish and squishy black things?

A. They can’t their lungs are too inflamed

B. 9 hours. 1 hour/km is doable

C. Those girls are amazing and could do it in less than 4 hours

D. 2 days, they’d bring a tent, camp out and take their time to enjoy it

Drum roll please…..

If you picked option C you are correct and for having such great faith in and loving support for Jamie and I, you get our undying love in return, and maybe we’ll make you a pie or cookies. We’ve gotten quite good at making treats during the South African winter. What else do y0u do when it gets dark at 5:30 and it’s chilly? MAKE TREATS. I was supposed to be able to better fit into my bridesmaid dress when we got back to Utah but I don’t think that’s going to happen, but that’s another blog post.

Back to the intense hike of the day. We went to this place called the Kranshoek coastal hike a few weeks ago, and after we got back to the car, realized we went the wrong way and wanted to go back. Today was Kranshoek’s lucky day. We had also taken a billion pictures and then realized the memory card was full so none of them were saved. BUMMER and a half. Luckily we broke our camera so we couldn’t take pictures this time either (insert sarcastic voice for that one).

We got to the trail head around 12:30 and had to be back to the car by about 3:30 so that Liz could go visit with some amigos. The trail starts off going down the jungle along a waterfall and small river. The rivers here (the few we have seen) are brown Coca Cola color, make me very very thirsty!

After hiking down a gigantica mountainside, through the jungle/forest we reached to coast. It was interesting to hear the sounds of a river, forest, and an ocean at the same time. We stopped by the rocks and found some adorable little starfish. They were the cutest little buggers. There were tons of sea slugs and mussels too. There were also some weird black round squishy things. Not sure what those were.

Kranshoek coast

Then we booked it the rest of the way, up and down and up and down and up and down over and over again. The coast here is amazing, or as South Africans would say “It’s just STUNNING!!!”. I will find a picture online right quick….

As we were walking Jamie said “hey look at that black thing running up the trail” It looked like some sort of monkey but couldn’t tell from where we were. As soon as we got to where we saw the monkey (cue the Ellen DeGeneres voice about pictures of Jesus)  we saw piles of monkey poop everywhere! Didn’t see anymore monkeys though, they must be really good at hiding

After we finally made it back to the very top of the mountain we stopped and I peeled an orange as  fast as my trembling, fat like sausage fingers (from the heat) could peel. I walked down the trail a ways to look for whales and dolphins (as I always do from a good watching site) and then BAM there it was.  That surge of water coming from the whale’s blow hole all the pamphlets told me to look for. My insides were bursting with memories of Land Before Time, Sarah the triceratops singing “I fooound it, I foound it!” I yelled to Jamie. “Hurry come over here!” When she didn’t come or respond, I yelled again, “Hurry come quick!” I’m sure she thought I was dying or something, oops. Next time I’ll just yell whale, like the squirrel dog in Up. We watched for about 10 minutes and saw it a couple more times. It looked huge from where we were. I’m pretty much the happiest kid at Disneyland tonight. All of my South African dreams have come true.

We basically ran the rest of the way to get back in time, but we made it just in time to find Hannes and Liz playing with horse poop. It sure was a poopy day. Next time we head out for a 9km hike I think we’ll shoot for more than 3 hours. We like to stop and play too much to be fast hikers.

I took a picture just like this last time

the coast

 

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Robberg Peninsula

Sad sad news. Our camera broke about a week ago. I don’t know what happened, it seems like it might have some sand in it. I guess that’s the only downside I have come to discover about hiking in flip flops. They just flop the sand right up into your pockets with your camera. I’m really sad, especially since it’s just barely over a year old. I think electronics manufacturers do that on purpose. They design shutters to stop working the day(or maybe week to make it look less suspicious) after the warranty is up. Too bad we didn’t get suckered into buying that extra protection plan. We even bought the most Heidi proof camera they had, shock and water proof. Next time we’ll go for the cheapest one. There is a camera shop in town we’re going to see if they can fix it tomorrow. Keep your fingers crossed and send out some good camera vibes to Knysna.

Well I thought it’d be fun to load up some photos from our most favorite hike/outdoors experience here thus far. It was quite a while ago but we’re not very good bloggers. I had a massive migraine today, the stomach churning, eye splitting, make you want to drill a hole in your skull kind and because I have such a great wife, she put me to bed, I took some pills and slept the day away and now I can’t sleep. What’s bad for me is good for blogging. Good thing my parents taught me to make lemonade out of lemons eh?

So Robberg is absolutely stunning. It’s a long peninsula right before you get to Plettenberg Bay, which is just east of where we are staying. There are three hikes you can do, a short little one, a middle one that cuts through about halfway, and then the long one all the way to the point and back the other side. We opted for the long one, and then in true Heidi and Jamie fashion, got lost, goofed off, stared at seals forever and then by the time we got to the giant sand dunes it was much past the “If it is past 2pm do not continue the long way, cut through the middle” sign. Bummer. It was still fun though. We played in the sand, went out to the island, watched more seals, tried to find dolphins and whales, saw a cave or two, played in the water, saw some strange jellyfish like creatures, and made our way back to the car before sunset. We are planning a trip back before we leave. The plan is to get up early enough to do the whole hike, play at the beach, and hopefully see a whale or two. With only 19 days left here, I hope there are plenty of sunny ones. I shall let the photos speak for themselves.

Flat Aleah and us, heading out on the hike

Looking back towards the mainland

Flat Aleah and a million seals

Gap Beach

Jamie's feets

Heidi's feets

Dogs>Monkeys>Deer

I’ve seen a few monkeys, heard stories, and seen the ruckus they have caused during our time here in Harkerville, South Africa. I’ve come to a few conclusions which I will explain.

1. Monkeys are much much smarter than deer. Every now and then you can seen baboons and vervet monkeys on the side of the road as you drive from the forest area where we are staying into town. They are usually in pretty large groups of about 4-6 or so. One day there was even a cute little baby hanging on to its parental. I have NEVER seen monkey roadkill. Driving through the canyons in Utah there are poor little dead dear all over the roads. Okay all over is a bit of an exaggeration but you see a lot.

2. Monkeys are not as smart as dogs. This one is kind of surprising, you’d think monkeys would be smarter than dogs but no no no, you are wrong. Jamie and I needed to find another place to stay for a week because someone else is renting out the cottage. There is a backpackers place just up the dirt road, past the horse training something or other. Hannes knows the owner and got us a pretty good deal. So, we headed over just to check it out yesterday. We had talked to Ian who is the manager, he and his boyfriend run the place. When we got there we had just stopped in front of the gate for a few minutes when a car came up quickly behind us. A man frantically got out of the car and was apologizing “I’m so so sorry, the dog bit the monkey and I had to run it to the vet.” Strange we thought but he told us to drive in and park by the house. After we got out of the car, he was still quite frazzled. He showed us around a bit and Jamie asked, “When you say the dog bit the monkey what does that mean?” Ian went on to tell us how the dog bit the monkeys arm off, two arms off two different monkeys. Wild monkeys, pet monkeys? Yes pet monkeys, little ones. They would apparently stick their arms through the mesh and well what dog wouldn’t think it was a game of wack-a-mole? So…there you have it, dogs are smarter than monkeys. The vet sewed ’em up. One monkey has no arm and the other monkey was amputated at the elbow. Poor Ian, poor monkeys. Before we left he said, “I still have to go find the arm, I don’t know if he ate it or if it’s lying around somewhere,” UGH! On a side note it should be an interesting week; dogs, monkeys, they even have reindeer and there will be some church groups there too. Stories will be sure to follow.

3. Monkeys and humans are about aces; especially baboons. I have yet to see a baboon up close, like other than from a moving car while they are on the shoulder. I kind of want to, but then I’m certain they can kill if they want to, so I think from a car if probably sufficient. Now, just because I haven’t seen one up close doesn’t mean I haven’t seen their work. They are quite large pests from the perspective of the people that live here. Liz can’t stand them she says “they aren’t even cute, they have those ugly jaws, as least monkeys have cute little faces.” They’ve stolen lots of eggs from the chicken house, chicken feed, they tear veggies out of the garden and don’t even eat them, just rip them to bits and throw it around. The best story was a couple of weeks ago. Hannes made a cake for someone (to buy) and went out front to meet them, the 4 dogs went out with him. He went back in 10 or so minutes later and the cake was gone, pan and all, eggs were broken all over the floor, but nothing else was moved. You could see their little hand prints all over the dining table, it looked like they jumped from the table over the counter into the kitchen. Pictures would help here but it’s amazing nothing was broken or moved. Liz finally found the beloved cake pan in the forest. I think the baboons may be winning…the battle shall continue.

MAD Mural Makers

The internet here at the cottage is interesting. Sometimes it works….sometimes it doesn’t…. What was really fun and made me feel super creepy was walking in the pitch black of night (keeping an ear out for honey badgers, leopards, and caracals) towards Liz and Hannes’ house. I didn’t realize how close I had to get for their internet connection to pick up. I can imagine they were like “what is this odd American girl wandering about in the dark with her laptop?” Oh well. The next time we just asked early enough if we could come sit on their couch and use their connection. The moral of the story is that we need to be better at writing on our blog. My brain is storing them for future use and there will probably be a surge in posting at some time in the future.

Well great news, Jamie and I have started developing a mural program for MADaboutART with some of the staff/volunteers. Right now we are working mostly with Nonkosi, Joseph, and Bantu. It’s been fun and challenging to take knowledge and experience and fit it into a different culture and setting. It’s about time we write about the actual work we are doing here neh?

When we first talked with Liz back back back ages ago she mentioned they’d like a mural, we thought, “oh yes we’d love to help with a mural, couldn’t possibly plan and organize one but participating would be great.” When we got here the first day at the center Phumeza and Liz further explained that they’d like us to have a more active role and also that Khaya, a former youth participant in MAD’s programs had a brilliant idea about a poem. Fast forward a bit….we met with Khaya and found out that another youth from the Nekkies area had written and performed the poem and Khaya formed a vision. I will pause here for a moment to explain how disappointed I am that Khaya isn’t as involved as he wanted to be. He has such a light in his eyes when talking about the poem, the mural, his vision and how much he wanted to teach it with the kids. He came whenever we asked and was so passionate about it. Then he couldn’t come anymore because he got a job. I am hopeful that he will be able to participate in the future and perhaps as the painting process continues. It’s not often you find such great, young, passionate talent.

Ok, back to the story telling. Khaya explained that a young man named Thembani aka soul.utter da poet wrote the poem and we met with him, he performed a bunch of great poems for us and agreed that we could use his poem “Mama I’m Sorry” for the mural. He performed it for the kids on the first day of class and it was great, the kids seemed to really understand the message and quickly began to visualize the telling of the story for the mural.

We have completed 5 classes thus far for the 20 session class. The team at MAD are really understanding and seem to be appreciated the lesson planning process and some of the other things that we’ve used to make things less chaotic. Joseph and Khaya both painted and went to London to exhibit the mural “Rainbow of Hope” with MAD when they were younger and they do such a great job of getting the kids to think in a less literal way about the storytelling. It’s looking great so far, pictures of the actual mural will arrive in a couple of weeks.

Here is the poem:

I went to a party

 and my mother told me not to drink

but I, decided to go with my own rules

I drank and drank

I came home late at night and my mother

was still awake waiting for her son to get home

and all I could say when I looked at

my mama was “I’m sorry”

The I’m sorry’s kept on coming

from a December holiday to a December holiday

then from a month end to a month end

then from a Friday to a Friday

then from day to day

until I was called an alcohol dependent individual

with a label on my forehead

Came the night I passed my matric

and again my mother urged me not to drink

due to a terrible dream she had

how insane is that I thought

I drank and drank more than I usually do

I was all over the place

making trouble

breaking bottles on the floor

hiking skirts

And all I can remember was a sound of BOOM!

screams came from all angles

the bullet hit the body

the body hit the ground

the blood escaped

pain paid the body a visit

Oh! My God this is explicit

they all cried

but it was too late

An ounce of happiness has caused a ton of sorrow

and they will never remember it tomorrow

tomorrow and the day after that until they follow

the heavens calling

the heaven has called and all that is

left is sadness, sadness, sadness

I never got the chance to say sorry again

but my mama knows that I’m sorry!

There will be 8 panels altogether. Four of them will tell the story of the poem, one will transition from the poem to a reflection, then three panels will offer strategies to avoid peer pressure and what life the young man could have had if he made different choices.

Here are some photos of the kids working so far.

My Goodness Me

I can’t believe I forgot almost the most important thing on the last post, the thought that inspired it all.

Taylor Ballinger I hope you are reading this, you too Ryan Adams.

Dear Maple Syrup, Oh how I long for your sweet taste dripping on top of my delicious fluffy pancakes. We thought we found you behind the name “Golden Syrup” but we were wrong. This impostor actually orange, much more sticky than you and tasted nothing of maple. Upon inspecting the label I found it was pure sugar. As Ashley would say “Shame, Can you believe this???!!”. I didn’t give up there, I longed to have you in my arms and in my belly. I found it “Canadian Maple Syrup” From Canada the label said with a lovely maple leaf symbol. This has got to be legit I thought and couldn’t wait to go home and make some pancakes just to try it out. The price said 14 Rand. What a steal I thought, only about $2. As we were walking out of the store Jamie said something like WTF what was 75 Rand. After thoroughly examining the receipt and not wanting to believe what it was telling me I realized it was the syrup. I was devastated. We didn’t budget for syrup. We still eat pancakes, but only with jam and peanut butter. It’s really just a buttery sandwich.

So what I miss the very most besides central heating is syrup. Ryan, Taylor…perhaps you can pull some strings and get some sent down here. Thanks, we love and miss you dearly. (Ryan, Taylor and Syrup)

Jamie says her food loves her to eat it as much as she does. I think this is true and Pure Maple Syrup I know you can’t wait to be in our bellies again sometime in the next few months.

Should Have Packed Black Beans and a Space Heater

To begin, as a typical classix statement, I will preface by saying that I am beyond happy to be in Knysna, South Africa. There are exponential amazing, beautiful, interesting, new, and exiting things that we are learning about and experiencing. Ok, now that I have said that I would like to share my top ten list of things I really REALLY miss from home, besides people and animals. Also, I would like to say that as much as most people know that I hate generalizations that first sentence was difficult and quite hilarious for me to write. I am sitting her chuckling to myself about it by the fire with my glass of red wine. Do you have a funny visual yet? It’s quite silly…

 

10. Hispanic food: t’s quite sad that my favorite foods are mostly in the Mexican family and we are far far away from Mexico. I realized we spent almost $5 on 8 tortillas the other day and we have bought them a few times without noticing, yikes, we also had to improvise to make enchiladas, pictures to come and black beans are nowhere to be found.

9. Beer in grocery stores: in all reality this is probably good, I really need to fit in that bridesmaid dress in a few months

8. Coffee and espresso makers: As much as I love the “plunger”-picture to follow- I really don’t. It’s a pain to clean, takes too many steps to make and well Jamie already broke it so we have to replace it. We need unbreakable things.

7. Public transportation: We don’t have a car and share Liz’s with her when we can which is so very very sweet of her, we owe her millions of cookies for being so kind and generous. It is really difficult to get around and explore without public transportation. I may kiss a bus when I see one again.

6. Mixing bowls: It’s really hard to make things without them ,enough said

5. Addresses: Everything is always an interesting adventure without a map or a cell phone-go past the elephant park then turn left, turn that way-fingers pointing all directions, just turn on a street it all goes to the same place. We’re lucky we haven’t been eaten by a honey badger!

4. Contact Solution: The only bottle I have found was $10. I’d rather pour salt water in my eyes everyday. I’ve been reusing the same solution for days now. Might be onto glasses for the next 8 weeks.

3. Slippers: My feet are freezing 90% of the time. I might get frostbite and come back with 8 toes, now that’d be a story to tell. I could tell people I lost them climbing K2!

2. Fast internet: Ok this one is silly but it’s so frustrating to try to do things like upload pictures, talk on Skype, and I still haven’t seen the finale of Glee. Sad sad day.

1. Central Heating: Very related to #3. I knew it would be winter here and read that it would be much like winter in Socal. It is…but there isn’t heating, pretty much everywhere. We should have brought slippers, my coat, more hoodies, beanies, thick socks, a space heater, hand warmers, ear muffs, something, anything!

Again I will say that I am really really happy to be here. We went to the most beautiful place yesterday and will have some pictures up soon.

Also I am going to start a quote section which will highlight our favorite quotes from our adventures, most will probably be from Liz she is hilarious.

Cheers and hugs from the farm!

 

The Secret to Happiness

I’m a structured person. I like schedules, plans, details, and lists…lots and lots of pretty, color coded lists. I’m almost certain that I drive Heidi crazy with my borderline OCD list making. To be honest, it’s difficult for me to be completely spontaneous or reckless. I like order. I like knowing when, how, where…and sticking to the plan because the plan is usually well thought out and sure, changes have to happen and flexibility is good because it helps us manage situations in an effective and productive manner.

There is this one completely frustrating thing about Knysna and it’s that people seem to float through time… because… it doesn’t really seem to matter. Don’t mess with plans and schedules here because you’re likely to be waiting forever and then have to reschedule anyway. It’s just the way it is and I have to accept it, perhaps even embrace it.

But, I’m an American girl. I’m also my father’s daughter. I was raised to work hard and play hard where every second counted. My dad taught me that potty breaks on a road trip was a double waste of time because every minute I spent relieving my child sized bladder was two minutes lost on the road (to this day, I still don’t really understand that logic but you get the point). What I’m saying is that the obsession with time management and work is, in many ways, all too American. We manage our lives down to the minute.

The beautiful thing about not caring about all that is it just might be the secret to happiness.

While working at MADaboutART, I’ve met the most joyful people on this planet. It’s true. They seem to really LOVE life.  It’s been a privilege to spend time with their smiles, jokes, laughter, and contagious happiness. Most people that I’ve worked with in the states are grumpy, stressed out, tired, and borderline miserable where more complaining happens than anything else.

I tell you what, I’ve gone crazy in this lackadaisical culture but maybe that’s what makes the people so happy. I think I’ll ask them what their secret to happiness is because they’ve got it down.