DAY 15

Day 15, I woke up from another good (non medicated) sleep. That’s like 3 in a row now. I’m finally back on a decent schedule of going to sleep around 10:30 and waking up around 6. I got out of bed and something seemed “off”. Something was “different”. I thought about it for a second. WAIT!! It doesn’t sound like I’m living in a wind tunnel!!! I threw open the shutters and sure enough, the bush outside was still!!! WOO-HOO!! After 3 straight days of incessant sssssssswwwwwwwwwweeeeeeeeehhhhhhhhhhh noise, it was silent! And after 2 straight days of being cooped up in the house working, I was ready to get the heck outta here! But I couldn’t go far, because alas, I do still have a ton of work to do and I have a day trip planned for tomorrow. So I decided to head down to see my penguins. After sitting for 2 days straight, I figured the walk would do me some good.

Got to the beach and man, it was crowded! Even the “locals” area before you get to the area where the penguins are. I walked through to the small boardwalk where I was last time, rounded a corner, and there they were! I said out loud (spontaneously talking out loud is becoming a serious habit), “OH! There they are! Hello, my babies!”. There were some people behind me who laughed. Oy. Inside your head voice, Mary. INSIDE your head…. But it’s such a rush when you first see them- even if you’ve seen them before.

See that scruffy on on the left? Not dressed as fancy as the two on the right, feathers all sticking out in disarray. Yeah, I’m that penguin.

We aren’t penguins, but we’re cool too! Not sure what they are, but there were a TON of them!

Took several shots, and continued toward the pay area of Boulders Beach. The homeowner had told me there is another boardwalk on the other side of that where you don’t have to pay. I quickly found it and headed toward Seaforth Beach. It was even more crowded in this area! Holy moly, everyone was at the beach! Understandable, because it was literally a perfect day. Sunny, about 78 degrees, and no wind. Boulders Beach is gorgeous. If there hadn’t been so many people, I probably would have paid to go down there. Kept walking down the boardwalk to Seaforth beach. There were several tables set up with vendors and various African handicrafts. Nothing popped though.

The awesome boardwalk between Boulders and Seaforth.

Gorgeous Boulders Beach.

Seaforth Beach

My plan had been to walk to here and turn around. But the day was so lovely, and I was so sick of work, that I just kept going toward town. I walked into several of the shops, but again nothing really popped. I’m not the “go into a shop and browse” kind of girl. I am definitely not the “go into a shop and buy something just to have something to do” girl.

Simon’s Town

I considered getting lunch, but the lure of a free sandwich at the house won out. Headed back. Stopped and peeked into a cemetery on the side of the road. Lots of graves from the early 1900s. I had been out for a couple of hours and it was pretty hot, so I walked back down to Seaforth beach and stopped in at a little juice window. Got a carrot/orange/pineapple juice with ginger for about $1.50- not bad. I knew I needed sustenance to make it back up the hill. Walked back along the boardwalk all the way to the golf course across from my ‘hood, then started up the hill. That hill is no joke. And it’s the very end of it that’s the worse. And at the end of that are four flights of stairs to get to the kitchen for water. I was SPENT. Looked at my walking app, and I had done 5.63 miles!! Dang! Promptly came into my room and napped for an hour. Got up and worked. Behati showed up at 8:45, but didn’t bring Adam. I tried to get a pic, but the wind picked up again and I didn’t have my ponytail holder in. Hair was everywhere and when I was trying to get it out of the way of the camera, I spooked her. But I did find another quill when I went out to feed!! Two big adventures scheduled for tomorrow!!



DAY 16, 17, 18

I’m behind. I know. It’s been a hectic few days. Happy New Year and blah, blah, blah. Anyway, here goes…

Day 16 is adventure day!! YAY!! And today was going to have not one, but TWO adventures in the Hout Bay area! But guess what? It ended up as three and the unexpected one was the best one of all…

Adventure #1: World of Birds
I was leery about this place. I even asked the homeowner. It’s billed as a sanctuary, but there were mixed reviews online. I’ll give my review after I give you a tour. Here’s one thing I knew for sure- it is a stop for the HOHO bus, which means flocks (pun intended) of tourists- my kryptonite! So I decided to be smart and beat the crowds. It opened at 9, and I intended to be there right when it opened, hoping lazy tourists were still in bed. Called for my Uber and had another wonderful, friendly driver from Zimbabwe. We talked the whole way. There was no traffic, and we got there at 8:35. I stood outside. A lady came out and said they opened at 9. I said I know, and was just waiting. At 8:50 I guess she felt sorry for me and let me in! First one in the door and not another person in site! #heaven

World of Birds is privately owned on about 10 acres with over 3000 (yes, 3 THOUSAND) birds! It’s the largest bird park in Africa. And I must say, the way this place is laid out made the OCD girl in my very happy. It’s impossible to miss anything if you just keep going in a straight line, basically. The aviaries are really big. Many of them you walk into and are just “in there” with the birds. Others, the birds are behind a barrier- but those are few. The aviaries generally house several species, and I was pretty pleased with how natural they were. There was a huge variety of birds here from all over the world. But I was only focused on the African species- since the chances of me seeing these birds in the wild is about slim to none. So that’s what I’ll show here. I took over 265 pictures today in a little over 2 hours- that’s how cool these birds were! Plus, I generally had to take multiple upon multiple shots. Birds aren’t statues! 🙂 And there weren’t just birds. There were tortoises. Meerkats that would literally run up to me, roll around on the ground, and make the sweetest little chattering noises!! All kinds of things!! So now, I present to you, my best shots of the day! It was so hard to narrow them down…

An idea of how large and lush the aviaries are.

Glossy Starling Lamprotornis nitens

Maribou Stork Leptoptilos crumeniferus

There were a TON of hornbills! They’re AMAZING!! I need more hornbills in my life. This is a Silvery Cheeked Hornbill.

This owl made me cry. It’s a Giant Eagle owl (Bubo lacteus). It knows things.

Looking into those eyes, I felt it could look into my soul. I’m not even being cheesy. It was emotional.

I chased this damned purple crested turaco ALL over the cage with the camera! He was having a grand old time tricking me into thinking he was going to be still before he flew to the opposite end! Spectacular bird.

Ok. So pros of World of Birds. Biggest pro hands down was that because I got there when it opened, I didn’t ever have another idiot tourist with their devil spawn precious children harassing looking at the birds in my vicinity. I was alone in Every. Single. Aviary!!!!! By the time I finished at 11am, there was a line out to the parking lot to get in. The aviaries kind of are arranged one after the other, so if you follow them all in order and you’re the first one in, you won’t see anyone else. Just me, talking to and interacting with the birds alone. That was a MAJOR pro. The birds also all looked very well taken care of. Some of the water ponds could stand a good cleaning, but they were all getting fresh food and seemed as happy as birds who aren’t wild can be. Ok- now the cons. I’m not convinced this is a rescue sanctuary. Maybe I’m wrong. There were just SO many species though, and from SO many parts of the world. It did feel a little more “zoo” and a little less “sanctuary” to me. Also, with the aviaries being so open and the birds so accessible, I worry about what a constant stream of tourists does to them. Normally, I let idiot tourists go about their business and just try to avoid them. But if I see them harassing an animal, I always speak up. I could see that happening a lot here. However, that’s just my opinion as I never had the displeasure of being next to a tourist the entire time. There was a lot of staff around feeding, so maybe after feeding time they’re keeping an eye on people who have that jerk tendency…

I don’t like to shop. Seriously. But I do like to buy things that have meaning from local people. And that’s what brought me to the Bay Harbor Market (well, that, and the fact that it was close to World of Birds so I was trying to get the most out of my Uber ride from Simon’s Town!). It’s only open on Friday evenings and the weekend, so I was already as prepared as I could be for a flood of people. Look, I am seriously the most socially awkward person on earth. I’m ridiculous. And I’m so tuned out to society at large, that I have zero spatial awareness of who is around me, because I don’t care about any of them. Literally, Brian and I can be walking down the street and he’ll say, “Did you see that 10 foot tall woman dressed like a rainbow glitter clown with a monkey on one shoulder and an anaconda on the other, riding a unicorn?!”. And I’ll say no. And mean it. It just doesn’t make it to my radar. If I’m not interested in the people around me, they don’t exist. Personality flaw on my part, or brilliant trait- you can decide (my vote is the latter). Anyway, here I was, stuck in hoards of white people. There were some cool things in the booths to look at, but nothing really popped. The aisles were kind of like a ladder- two main ones with little ones in between. OCD me was methodically making my way through by winding in and out of each rung. I walked down a main aisle and turned into a “rung” booth. There were purses on both sides of me. Someone was walking directly toward me, so I moved to the side a bit and kept walking. They moved the same direction and kept walking. They weren’t moving, so I looked up and said, “Excuse me” and moved to the other side. They did the same. Why? BECAUSE IT WAS ME!!!!! I was playing chicken with myself in a mirror. This is how unaware I am of people around me and how much I could care less about looking at them or making any kind of eye contact. I just want to blend in and be ignored. This story has a point…I swear.

There was a food area, and I walked through it but it all seemed like kinda fancy farmer’s market type food. Fancy pizzas and sandwiches and coffees and such. Nothing jumped out as being unusual and “African”. And there were just so many people. I couldn’t stand it another second, and had to get out of there. Walked out on to the sidewalk and thought there HAD to be something else right around here. Behind the market were some workshops that weren’t crowded and were pretty cool. I just don’t like taking pictures of other people’s art if I’m not buying it. Seems rude. I’m not rude. I’m just stand offish. 🙂 Went back on the sidewalk and saw this….

A hand painted sign that says Crafts and Nursery and a path up a hill without a white person in sight. I’m there!

Now THIS was something interesting!!! I’m not going to lie, I had a teeny bit of apprehension as I went up the hill. Because NO tourists were up here. I was entering a neighborhood. The path ended after a little ways, and dead ended into a street. I was in a straight up neighborhood at this point, and there wasn’t another sign. I stood there for a few seconds, getting my bearings and trying to figure out if it was prudent to continue walking through this neighborhood, when I heard someone behind me say “Hello, guest.”. I turned around and made perfect eye contact with two amazing blue grey eyes. Eyes that were framed by a massive set of awesome dreadlocks. Dreadlocks that were atop a light brown body that didn’t look like a color of “black” that I had seen. A light brown body that, and I swear to god I am not lying because I couldn’t make this up, was only dressed in an animal skin loin cloth. And I felt perfectly comfortable, at ease, and KNEW I was in the right place! Unlike the girl who was playing chicken with herself in the mirror at the market below…

I don’t even know how the conversation started. All I know is that it did. And I finally felt truly connected to Africa in this moment. He talked about the KhoiKhoi (pronounced Koi-Koi, like the fish) people, and how he is a descendant of them- although about 9 generations back Europeans settlers entered his bloodline. How they are the indigenous people of South Africa. How the Dutch came in and forced his people off the land. He wove a mesmerizing story that I felt I was becoming a part of. That I somehow understood as I compared it to what I know of our Native Americans. How they tried to assimilate them, steal them from their parents, force them into the white ways. How many ran and hid to escape. We talked about the impact is has on the descendants of the KhoiKhoi now, how they have been so ashamed of their culture, how speaking their language could have gotten them killed, but how many are now trying to reclaim that culture and are proud of it. How I shouldn’t call anyone in this neighborhood colored. Colored was a catch all label from the Europeans to erase people’s true identities. That he was KhoiKhoi, not colored. I stood there, with just a fence between us, for over an hour. Engaged. Connected. While dozens of chickens pecked through the plastic bag he held to get the vegetable scraps out through the holes. While every passerby greeted this man, sometimes saying things in their language that included clicking noises instead of words. I saw his baby grandson, his wife. He told me of how the city had tried to force him off of his land so they could take it for development. How he stood up for himself and fought back. How he ended up doing a land swap for the property he’s on now. How he is slowly building it up to what he wants it to be. How he is the herbalist for his people and grows the plants and knows the remedies his grandmother taught him. MY GOD THE ENTIRE THING WAS BEAUTIFUL!!!!! And I don’t even know how it started after, “Hello, guest.” I didn’t want to leave. But more and more people were coming out of the house wanting his attention, and I knew I should be going. We shook hands. His name is Xoma Abo. He gave me his phone number and said I could come back with Brian and he would show me more. When I got home, I googled his name. He is well known. There is a short documentary about him. I am so proud of the fact that I don’t belong in the tourist hordes. That I am more comfortable outside of them. Because outside of that facade of money and trinkets and entitlement is where people like Xoam Abo exist. And people like my friends Carlos and David in Belize. People that I connect with. People that I listen to. And that’s important, because I don’t connect or listen easily with most. I don’t have any pictures of him, but here are two videos I found online about him. WATCH AT LEAST THE SHORT ONE (the first one)!!! You’ll learn something awesome in 3 minutes. I promise.

This is the full 15 minute documentary. Well worth a watch.

On the drive back to Simon’s Town, the Uber driver took Chapman’s Peak road. The views are STUNNING!! BREATHTAKING!! I had already planned to come up here with Brian, so I’ll get good pics then. But for now, here’s a sneak peek!

Days 17 and 18, New Year’s Eve and Day, were nothing but work, work, work. And more work. I have one last adventure planned for tomorrow before Brian gets here, and then Brian will be here the next day!! Then, get ready, because it will be non stop adventures for a week straight!!!

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