About six years ago, I remember coming across a Youtube video of a golf hole in South Africa dubbed “The Extreme 19th Hole.” I was immediately interested when I saw a thumbnail of the video showing a pro golfer peering over an enormous cliff, looking at a tiny Africa-shaped green below. I knew that some day, I would have to play this crazy par 3.
Back in May, we visited the Bushbabies Monkey Sanctuary just out side of Hartbeespoort, North West Provice with Rebecca and our nephew Jacob. Set in an enclosed forest on the side of an escarpment, the sanctuary is home to dozens of squirrel monkeys, spider monkeys, capuchins, and lemurs. Most of the residents were rescued from the illegal pet trade, or adopted from homes of owners who got tired of having a monkey around the house. They were cute, curious, endlessly entertaining, and most of all, mischievous.
The South African International Rugby Team, known as the Springboks or simply ‘The Bokke’, recently took on Ireland on a crisp winter evening in Johannesburg. Ireland’s top international squad is currently on a three-week, three-city tour of the country to face the Springboks, and South Africa will travel to Great Britain later this year to face the rest of the UK. The first test of three took place last weekend in Cape Town, where Ireland edged out South Africa 26-20. Little did Cici and I know, our first experience with International Rugby would result in one of the most exciting comebacks I’ve witnessed in all of sport.
Cici and I had an incredible time in Mozambique last weekend. This video provides a small taste of the adventures we enjoyed. Check back soon for Cici’s full account of sandy beaches, grilled prawns, the boozy local cocktail, and our 4×4 escapades in the country with a machine gun on its flag.
When I was in South Africa for the World Cup in 2010, I remember waltzing in to a liquor store with my friends before our first match at Soccer City in Johannesburg. We wanted a six-pack for the tailgate before the match. In the beer section, there were stacks of Castle Lager and Castle Lite, South Africa’s answers to Budweiser and Bud Light, and not much else. That was fine. We were 21, and I would end up drinking some of that beer out of a vuvuzela anyway (sorry, parents), like these New Zealanders we met at Royal Bafokeng stadium.
Cici and I worked up quite a thirst navigating our way down the Vaal River. Conveniently for us, the Dog & Fig Brewery is just a few hundred meters away from Earth Adventures along Kopjeskraal Road in Parys. The brewery is set atop a broad grassy hill with stunning views of the Vredefort dome mountains to the northwest. From the parking lot, a large but simple industrial structure gives way to an eclectic indoor/outdoor drinking and dining area in the back.
Today marked my official foray into the sport of orienteering. A couple weeks ago during my orientation weeks at Wits, I was looking for the football and futsal club tables to sign up. Unexpectedly, a booth caught my eye because of the large map displayed behind a bored-looking student. I reached the booth to find it was the Wits Orienteering Club, and was greeted with enthusiasm by the student as if I had finally broken the monotony of her post. I heard of Orienteering before but let her know I was new to the sport. I enjoy hiking and enjoy maps, so it didn’t take much for her to sell me on joining the club.
The basic premise of orienteering is that the participant is given a map of a defined area – a farm, park, neighborhood, etc. – and the goal is to navigate through the map based on a predetermined route marked by waypoints. The key is that each waypoint must be reached in a particular order, and if you accidentally break that order and tag in to the wrong waypoint, you’re disqualified. The most popular players of this sport are in the UK and Europe, where there is a professional league with events across the continent. After seeing a promotional video during my first club meeting, it seems the pros all have one thing in common: lankiness. I don’t know if that’s a coincidence or just a result of the sport essentially being a long-distance running competition with the added wrinkle of navigation.
As Cici boarded her 777 for an overnight journey to London, I left my computer lab tutorial just after 8 pm and walked about 200 yards down Yale Road to enter modest Bidvest Stadium, home of South Africa Premier Soccer League’s (PSL) Bidvest Wits. The place was rocking. Tuesday evening’s league match was against the Kaizer Chiefs, arguably the biggest brand name in South African club football. I was first introduced to the Kaizer Chiefs in 2010 when visiting for the Fifa World Cup with friends. Their mustard-yellow and black jerseys were ubiquitous among local sports fans in Joburg, and they played in the largest Stadium in South Africa: Soccer City (now branded as FNB Stadium). The Kaizer Chiefs and the Orlando Pirates, the area’s second biggest team, both have roots in Soweto, where allegiances are split between the two clubs. Their fierce rivalry dates back to 1970, when the Kaizer Chiefs, 33 years younger than the Pirates, were founded.
“What are you going to eat there?”; “What type of food do they have?” These questions were among the most popular from our friends and relatives over the months leading up to our temporary South African migration. Fortunately for us, there is plenty of excellent food to go around, and the dollar to rand ratio makes all these great meals very affordable. Trying new food is easily one of my favorite and most rewarding joys in life, and almost always ends well (Exception: I ordered abalone at a place in DC. Just could not eat it). So after stuffing our faces over the past few weeks with everything from traditional Afrikaner braais to the freshest, juiciest mango I’ve ever had, it’s time to share a sampling of our meals.