DAY 6

DAY 6 is really easy to journal. I spent the day in Malaysia! In other words, I spent all day in the house working on lesson plans for my upcoming classes on my Malaysia adventures! After a super long work day, I was definitely ready for some outdoor adventures! So Day 7 took me to Kirschbosch gardens. *insert scratching needle on a record sound*

So that was what I had written early this morning, intending to combine boring day 6 with fun day 7. Only thing on the agenda was an electrician coming at 4. And at about 5:30, things went south…. I’m going to preface this with this: I am so freaking amiable when I’m not in the US that I don’t even recognize myself most of the time. I’m patient and friendly. I have only encountered ONE person in the past 4 years of travel that has been rude to me, and it was a subway ticket lady in the Paris Metro. And honestly, if I had her job and one more lame ass American tourist came to my window clueless about everything and yapping about in English, I’d probably snap as well. So back to 5:30. The electrician comes in and informs me that there’s a problem outside. I’m thinking, “I don’t know what problem you might have that you think I could solve.”, but ok, I go out. And there is the glass door on the patio, shattered into a sickening spider web of glass. He immediately starts in with, “The wind blew this heavy metal stand that was propping the door open, and the door slammed shut and broke. It’s not my fault!!” I informed him that before his arrival, that door had been shut tight by Maria who showed me how to close it and I hadn’t touched that door since then, and he’d been going in and out of it for the past hour and a half, so it could only be his fault. And this is when he committed the sin of all sins. Looked me right in the face and lied through his teeth. “That door was open when we got here! (side note: he wasn’t the first guy on the scene- his worker was) In fact, I know this door and it doesn’t even shut!” I raised two teenage boys. Do not think you can get a lie past me. And then this is where I think everything went wrong. He “shut” the door then pushed it open with a touch to prove to me that it wouldn’t shut. It is a tricky door, and I informed him that he wasn’t doing it right, and right in front of his workers I shut the door properly, pushed it, it stayed firmly closed, and I said “See? It does shut. This is how it was before you arrived. I’m going to go call the homeowner.”

I swear, these absolutely wonderfully kind and overly generous people leave me with their home and this happens on my watch. And this was the SECOND time this door had broken on a housesitters watch- Maria had told me about the last time when she was emphasizing how important it was to shut the door. I was sick. I called and explained to the homeowner what had happened. She told me to get masking tape and tell him not to leave until he tapes up the glass to keep it from falling out of the door. I go get the tape, relay the message, and he starts insisting again that it wasn’t his fault. And then he said the kicker- “I had no idea when I propped it open that the wind would blow the stand away.” Had this been my house and my country, the venom that would have come out of me after this guy completely changed his story would have made a boomslang blush (yes, there are boomslangs here. no lie). But not my house, not my country, not a war I wanted to get involved in. I just wanted him gone. I repeated what the homeowner had said about taping it up and went back in. About 20 minutes later, I’m on the phone with the homeowner, and he calls me. I go back up and he tells me they’re done and leaving. Then he informs me that I really offended him earlier. Ok, maybe it’s a cultural thing where if someone lies to you you just smile and nod without questioning it. Maybe it’s a sexist cultural thing where you lie to a woman, she just smiles and nods without questioning it. But sorry, bub, I’m an independent woman from UH-MER-I-CUH, and I speak my mind. I don’t do it rudely (most of the time), but I’m not going to pretend your lie is the truth. I simply told him that I was just telling him what I knew to be true. He said he was telling me what he knew to be true (which version??). I replied, “Yes, and I didn’t get offended by it.” And off he went. No joke, my blood was boiling though. I think the offense was that I proved to him that the door did shut and embarrassed him in front of his workers. Tough gumballs. Be an honest person, own up to what you did wrong, and no one would have been offended.

PHEW! Had to get that outta my system! It’s all good now. The house is on lockdown (security here is Ft. Knox level!), I made myself a yummy dinner, and I’m in bed blogging and about to get back to work. I guess you already got a spoiler alert for Day 7 at the beginning of this…

DAY 7

I didn’t sleep again last night. Well, I did from 11-1 and then from about 4-6:30. Ugh. The winds were HOWLING all night. Got up, 3/4 dead but determined to go to the gardens, turned on the shower and….no water pressure. I had to call the poor homeowner again with a problem. She’s going to change her number before I leave! She called Peter, the guy who works on the water system, to come over and see what was going on. He was over here the other day and is super nice. He also works closely with, and sent over, the electrician from yesterday. Eep! He got here at about 8:30, apologized for the situation, and went to work. No mention of the electrician. Took about 30 minutes before he figured it out and wa-la, we had water pressure again! We had a nice chat. He said he knew I was going out, and asked where. I said Kirstenbosch Gardens- that I was going to Uber. He offered to take me to Fish Hoek since he was going that way. And off we went! He had to make 2 maintenance stops first, and I said I didn’t mind. I was enjoying the conversation and getting out of the house in a vehicle for the first time in 5 days. Guess where the first stop was. The electrician’s house! Eep! When Peter got out, the electrician walked to the truck. Peter pointed to me and said “You stay there” and he said to the electrician “She’s going to stay in there and you stay out here.” It was all in good fun and he was smiling. I didn’t even look at the electrician, so I don’t know if he got the joke or was still “offended”. Made one more stop, then he dropped me off in Fish Hoek. I told him that I hoped I wouldn’t have to call him again before Christmas! Good news is that the wind had completely stopped. That’s the first time since I’ve been here…Hal-glory!

It was super easy to order an Uber in Fish Hoek, and it was there within just a few minutes. Off we went to Kirstenbosch Gardens. This is the largest garden in South Africa (over 1000 acres!) and considered to be one of the top gardens in the world, so I was really excited to see it! I’m a plant girl. I rescue dead and dying plants from people and from Lowe’s, and bring them back to life. I have a ridiculous amount of plants and am constantly planning my landscaping. So I was hoping for some inspiration! I got there a little before 11am, and the sign said there was a guided walk at 11. I decided to take that because it was free (my favorite kind of activity!). The guide said there are usually about 10 people. Perfect! It ended up being over 30. Ugh. Things I like: FREE! Things I don’t like: Hanging out with a bunch of tourists. But whatevz, I thought I’d stick it out. The guide was really passionate about the gardens, which was nice. I tried to stick close to her so I could hear what she was saying- especially because she said there would be a quiz at the end! #thatgirl And she was right- at the very end she pointed out a tree she had talked about toward the beginning of our hour and a half tour. She gave a few clues and asked if anyone knew what it was. Silence (for the first time). I said “It was that almond tree.” She said I should win a prize. I agree. Teachers make the best students! When the tour was over, I set out on my own for about 3 hours. I was glad for the knowledge from the tour, but with the big yapping group gone, the animals finally appeared! I could listen for a rustle of dry leaves or the flap of a wing or a bending of a twig, and follow that sound to its critter origin. I saw 3 birds in an hour and a half. I saw about 50 in the next 3 hours! Plus a squirrel that eluded photo capture. The scenery was like nothing I’ve ever seen. And it only cost a little over $5US to get in!!! I literally can not describe all of the sights, sounds, textures, colors, smells. It was unreal. So I’m just going to let the pictures speak for themselves. I took 190 pics, narrowed it down to 110, and had to seriously narrow it down for the blog. I’m going to do it in three sections: mountain scenery, garden scenery, close ups, and animals.

MOUNTAIN SCENERY
With the beautiful Table Mountain as a backdrop, and jaw dropping views all the way to the sea (that the camera had a hard time picking up through the haze), the surroundings were breath taking!

GARDEN SCENERY
There were so many themed gardens, but they were all arranged in a way that made them look perfectly natural and not so organized and meticulously landscaped. I loved it!

CLOSE UPS
The texture and color of the flowers didn’t always pick up in the long shots, so I got up close and personal with a lot of really intricate and beautiful flowers!

These first 3 are different types of Erica. Favorite food of the bright little sun birds!

This is a cycad- ancient plant. The cone is as big as my head!!

Sugarbush! Favorite food of those long tailed sugarbirds!

Called a pineapple plant, but it’s not really a pineapple. I love it!

ANIMALS
It’s a lot harder to take pics of animals than plants, since plants don’t usually run away! Here are some of my best shots of the day.

Helmeted Guinea Fowl (Numida meleagris).

He was so curious! I loved him to pieces!! This is probably my favorite shot all day.

Sugarbird, like the ones here in the backyard. But this guy was sticking his tongue out at me! They’re nectar feeders, so have long tongues.

This thing was flying around and had a very dark blue abdomen! I followed him and he finally landed. I can’t figure out what it is though.

Swee Waxbill who was just being a ham! (Coccopygia melanotis)

I think this is a juvenile Cape Canary (Serinus canicollis). I’m pretty sure it’s a canary at least.

Lemon Dove (Aplopelia larvata)

Egyptian Goose (Alopochen aegyptiaca) Considered to be sacred by the ancient Egyptians- and they had BAY-BAYS!!

Caught my Uber back and had a really friendly driver this time. He’s from Zimbabwe and he played me music from there in their language. I actually enjoyed it a lot!! Dropped me off and I started the evening routine. Dinner, cut up food for porcupines (yes, PORCUPINES come here every night- I’ve yet to see one though!), feed porcupines. I had noticed some porcupine quills in a jar in the kitchen, but I wasn’t sure if those were store bought or what. Imagine my surprise when I found THREE quills in the feeding area! I almost fainted from sheer excitement, and would have if I wasn’t scared a cobra or puff adder (yes there are puff adders here. no lie) would kill me. It’s a little weedy back there on the other side of the gate, and it makes me a bit nervous! And now I had my very first souvenir from Africa, and my favorite kind- FREE!! 🙂 Anyway, I had an absolutely WONDERFUL day! I really needed an excursion, and this one was more than I could have hoped for!

Porcupine quills! Literally, the only change I had in my purse was a Euro from this past summer. It’s about the size of a quarter so you can see how big the quills are.

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