Category: animals

I spent a few days in Goreme, Turkey – visiting the Open Air Museum, hot air ballooning, going to a hamam (a Turkish bath), taking photos of so many pretty flowers, getting lost, worrying about dehydration and screaming like a little girl at the approach of a dog … I now wish that I hadn’t been so impatient to leave and see the rest of Turkey. It would have been nice to ride a horse through Rose Valley.

Goreme_map

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Horse ranch, Goreme

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Photo taken at the Amber Fort in Jaipur.

At the end of January and February, Nicole from “A life less bullshit” recently sent her no BS club a monthly review template. I had every intention of completing January’s review, but didn’t … Anyway, here’s my review of February.
Thinking back over the month of February, I am …

 

Most proud of: Completing the Cape Peninsula Marathon (42km) in 4:27. I’d set a goal of 4:20 and missed it by seven minutes. And I’m okay with that. I set a PB of 25 minutes. And I still believe that one day I’ll run a marathon in under 4:20. It just requires work. (In January I set a new PB for 30km. I completed the Bay to Bay race in 3:08.)
Deeply grateful for: My running club. I love how they push me to run further and harder. I love the constant encouragement. And let’s face it, I love hearing the words, “Oh we’re not in her level. She’s does a marathon in 4:27.”
Delightfully surprised by: How willing I am to speak to ANYONE about any aspect of running. You want to talk about how you’ve lost a toenail? Cool. You have advice on which Garmin running watch to buy? Awesome! You want to tell me that a sub-2 half-marathon is totally possible? Stop flirting with me! 
Letting go of: A crush, a fantasy, the idea of someone perfect. I am letting go of this with the firm believe that someone out there will appreciate my sense of humour. (FYI, my WhatsApp status once read, “Does this smell like chloroform to you?” )
Feeling inspired by: The characters in Grey’s Anatomy. (I’ll take inspiration wherever I can get it.) I love how gutsy the female characters are. I love how they say what’s on their mind. I love how brave they ultimately are. Here’s a link to some of my favourite quotes from the show.

If you’ve been wondering what I’ve been up to over the last few days, I’ve been busy. Watching YouTube videos. (Side note: I think I’m adorable. I have a feeling that I’m the only one that shares this sentiment. I have the feeling that others find me impossible, frustrating and uncoordinated. And I’m okay with that. I mean sure, I’d love to be able to walk and talk at the same time, but whatever.)

Besides the YouTube videos, I’ve also been busy reading. Like actual books.

A few weeks ago, I wrote a post about how this year I’d only managed to read ONE book from cover to cover. I’ve started reading many books, but they were tedious and reading ultimately felt like a chore. So I gave up. Since then I’d managed to plough my way through “Empire of the Moghul: The Serpent’s Tooth”. Yep, that’s right in the last 6 months I’ve managed to read TWO whole books. I am on fire!

“The Serpent’s Tooth” wasn’t a great book. It was okay, just okay. I did learn a lot from the book. I learnt about posta, which is this milky concoction of opium poppy. Pousta was served to Shah Jahan’s grandson, Sulaiman Shukoh on a daily basis. The daily dose of pousta eventually killed Sulaiman.
I am now half-way through “Porno” by Irvine Welsh, he’s the very same guy who brought us “Trainspotting”. “Porno” is an absolutely fascinating read! I simply can’t put it down.

I’ve also got the following books lined up:

*

Excelsior animals

Photo taken at Excelsior Wine Farm in Robertson.

A few days, I baked – salted popcorn chocolate biscuits (cookies). The recipe is one I’ve tried several times, with much success. And even though I’ve baked some pretty kick-ass cakes (I am SO modest), on this Sunday I was reminded of how easy it is to “fuck it up”.

But this isn’t a blog post about baking. This is a post about a conversation that took place that evening. I’d invited some of the girls over to my place to taste my wares (and I’m totally talking about my baking here, guys). At some point during the tasting, the conversation turned to weddings. One of the girls stated that she would rent her wedding dress. Naturally this statement was followed by an outburst from me. I desperately wanted to spend my honeymoon hiking through Chile. Note: I am nowhere close to being engaged.

Gorillas - Lime Wildlife Centre
Photo taken at Limbe Wildlife Sanctuary, Cameroon.

M: Sid, would you ever consider dating a guy who wasn’t into sports, adventure and the outdoors? He is in good shape, makes you laugh, he’s smart, treats you well …

I was confounded. It’s not that I wouldn’t date a guy who wasn’t into sports. It’s just … I spend an inordinate amount of time dreaming about (and Googling) my next big adventure (snorkelling in Lake Malawi, gorilla trekking in Uganda, hiking the Fish River Canyon, running the Victoria Falls Marathon), that I just can’t fathom spending FOREVER with someone who didn’t want THAT.

I want someone who will run the last 5km of a marathon with me. I want someone who prefers to stay in a clean backpackers instead of fancy hotels. (Key word in that sentence is “clean”). I want someone who prefers the outdoors to big, bustling cities – a weekend at Yosemite National Park instead of New York City. I want someone who craves and actively seeks out adventure.

I want

Bridesmaid
I am going to be a bridesmaid! I am going to be a bridesmaid! I am going to be a bridesmaid! And I’m not sure if you can tell, but I am really, really, really excited about the prospect. Not only because I get to wear a pretty dress, but because I get to celebrate the love of two very special people. But mainly because I get to wear a really pretty dress.

Comrades
I spent the last few days in Durban, running the last 20km of the Comrades Ultra with my dad, admiring the fish at uShaka Aquarium and walking barefoot on the beach.

My dad managed to complete the 89km race, from Pietermaritzburg to Durban, within the 12 hour cut-off (11:46 exact). The run from Pietermaritzburg to Durban is termed the “down” run. Whilst the run from Durban to Pietermaritzburg is referred to as the “up” run and is 2km shorter. Each year the route alternates between the “up” and “down” run. Because my dad managed to complete both back-to-back runs within the cut-off time, he was awarded two medals this year.

I hope to one day complete the Comrades. I hope to one day run a marathon in under 5 hours. I hope to one day run the Victoria Falls Marathon. I hope to hike the Fish River Canyon. Here’s hoping I can tick one of those items off my list this year.

Anyway, I’m back in Cape Town and having a hard time adjusting to the cold weather.

Books
I’ve only managed to read one book from cover to cover this year (Shantaram) and I really had to force myself to finish reading the novel. I started reading several books, but most of them so dull that reading felt like a chore.

Durban photos
I took the following photos at uShaka Marine World.
Turtle, uShaka, Durban

Jellyfish, uShaka, sister and her husband

The following photos were taken at Limbe Wildlife Sanctuary.

Mandrill, Cameroon

Prison Break

Crocodile - Cameroon

Drill at Limbe Wildlife Sanctuary

Highlights of my visit:

  • Watching a gorilla try to extract a leave from the other side of the electric fence, without getting shocked. These creatures are amazingly smart.
  • Seeing my very first mandrill, with their pastel-coloured asses and bright red faces.
  • Being pelted with soil and rocks by the bad-tempered chimpanzees.

I’ve spent the last 7 days in Buea, Cameroon, attending a regional workshop. While there I had the opportunity to fraternize with some of the locals. Each of those interactions left me bewildered. Here are some examples:

 

The taxi driver

One night a few of us went out to “town” for supper. After dining in the only restaurant in town, we hailed a taxi driver.

Taxi driver: You would like to go back to your hotel.

Us: Yes.

Taxi driver: How much will you pay me?

Us: 500 Francs.* That’s what we paid the other taxi driver to drop us here from the hotel.

Taxi driver shakes his head vehemently and drives off, leaving us stranded in the rain. There was no bargaining, just a simple refusal to assist us.

 

The hotel receptionist 

On the last day of my stay, I walked down to the receptionist to settle my bill. After 30 minutes of sorting through paper bills, it was determined that I owed 700 Francs. I paid with a thousand Francs bill.

Receptionist: I don’t have any change for you.

Me: Okay …?

Receptionist: I don’t have any change for you. If you come back later, I might have change for you and then I’ll give it to you. If I don’t have change** for you …

Receptionist shrugs her shoulders.  

In the end, I never got my change.

 

The bus driver

On Wednesday, 7 May, while the rest of my country was voting, I along with fellow workshop attendees went on an excursion to Limbe Wildlife Sanctuary and Limbe Botanical Garden. We went in two buses. On our way from the gardens to the wildlife sanctuary, one of the buses broke down.

Canadian trip coordinator to bus driver, after he’s dropped us off at the sanctuary: Are you going to go back to pick up the others?

Driver: No. That wasn’t part of the arrangement.

Bus driver switches off the bus. End of discussion.

 

*The currency for Cameroon is Central African Francs. 1 US Dollar is equivalent to 450 CAF. 

**Obtaining change in Cameroon seems to be a major issue. No one seems to have change readily available. 

Cameroon life
The above photo was taken in Buea, Cameroon.

Yesterday I completed my fourth Two Oceans half-marathon. And I did it in 2:10:04! That’s my official time. Enter rant. Considering that it took me an entire minute to simply reach the start line, I really think that I deserve the right to claim that I finished it in 2:09.

2:10 wasn’t my goal. I was hoping for 2:06, but I am happy with my results nevertheless. I am happy for several reasons.
• 2:10 is a NINE minute improvement on my best Two Oceans time. (In 2013 I completed the route in 2:19.) That’s an effing huge improvement.
• 2:10 is also pretty damn close to my PB. (I think my current PB is 2:08 or 2:09.) And if I can run 2:10 on such a difficult course, then 2:06 is well within my grasp. It’s so close I can actually taste it.
• I was mere seconds behind teammates who annihilate me at each and every race.

Anyway, other highlights and lowlights of the race:
• I lost my very first toenail. I say this with pride. I feel like now I can actually call myself a runner.
• A friend collapsed mere metres from the finish line. She had to be carried across the line by four gentlemen. Upon gaining consciousness the first thing she asked was, “Where is my medal?”
• I love this race. I love standing on the side-lines, watching people cross the finish line. I love the expressions on their faces. Triumph, determination, exhaustion, pain, pride. I love it.
• I also love how this race brings out compassion in strangers. I loved seeing people drag complete strangers across the finish line. Yesterday, with less than a minute left to cut-off, my brother-in-law’s brother jumped over the barrier separating supporters from runners, and he dragged/shoved a 70 year old woman across the finish line. Apparently she’d missed the cut-off last year by 8 seconds!
• I look at people who run the Two Oceans Ultra and think they’re insane. And yet, I can’t stop wanting that so badly. I am actually thinking of attempting a marathon again. Surely this year I can complete it in 5 hours, right?

I took the following picture at Kirstenbosch Gardens.
Spider - Kirstenbosch Gardens

Two Oceans 2014

A few days ago, I and a few friends flew down to Johannesburg to attend a Joss Stone concert. Yes, we spent thousands of rands in plane tickets JUST to attend a concert. Aren’t we extravagant?

Joss Stone was brilliant. Her voice was so pure. And powerful. Not only is she a brilliant performer, but she’s also REALLY likable. I feel weird about saying that about someone I’ve never actually met before. But she handed out white roses to audience members, clambered down from the stage to dance with her fans, AND gave her bracelet to a girl in the audience. She also invited everyone down to the front of the stage (considering that we’d purchased nosebleed seats this was quite a treat).

While in Johannesburg, we also managed to check out the Lion Park. Here are some of the photos I’d taken.

Caged lion cub

Lion - Joburg

Taz and Simba

Zebras - Joburg

Giraffe

Lion Park - bokkies

A few weeks ago a few of us met up and had supper at Nonna Lina. It was there that I revealed that after 6 years of friendship, I still have NO idea what Dizzy* does for a living.
Dizzy*: My work wants me to utilise my networks to grow the business.
Me: What? They want you to cold call your friends and sell them the internet.
Silence.
Juan: Yessss. And if you buy four internets she’ll throw in a twitter for free.