Saturday, August 31, 2013

28 August 2013

Today I had to do it. You that have children or grandchildren or have yet the memory of having them will understand when I say that there is only so long that you can tolerate an incessant “Can we go today, huh, huh can we please” hounding , so today we went to see the worldly famous giraffe “Gambit”. I fired up the car, packed a safari lunch, headed east to the land of Gambit. Two hours later with a paralyzed posterior, we entered Mansfield Park, paid our $150 (Fortunately those were Rand $ or I don’t know when the ranting would have ceased) and was out the door in search of Angie’s favorite of favorite God’s creations.

The owner, (as you might grasp by the owner taking charge, this was not what you might be imagining as a full scale animal sanctuary with road maps, pictures of the animals you might expect to see and the robotic instructions of “and don’t feed the animals or get out of the car and stay on the roads”), anyway the owner, in his Afrikaans, barely understandable voice, gives the following articulate instruction to his animal kingdom, “go around the buildings and drive along the fence, but don’t go down the hill, that is reserved for the 4-wheelers, and then you should see Gambit.

I said, “I understand that one is able to pet this critter, is that correct?”  “Yes”, he responds. And then with some hesitation he says, “He likes the females more that the males so you might be careful; he gets a little too friendly some times”.  With some confusion as to the meaning of that statement, we begin our search for Gambit. However, the search was short lived for almost immediately there he was before us, just standing there as if to say, “Where have you been? I have been waiting for you.” Before the car has come to a full stop, there is Angie opening the door, all tensed up as if to spring upon this creature. Quickly she bounds out of the car, and I think for the first time realizes how big her dream-come-true really is. As she stood there gazing upon and up at him (and that pronoun really does reflect its gender) he begins to slowly amble towards her. When he got as close to her as he could without stepping on her, he stops, gazes at her as to size her up and then slowly lowers his head and extended his nose for her to caress, which she did ever so gently. It was truly a romantic moment. Of such a moment, I could not resist a photograph for which both posed so well. 

Following the posing episode, Gambit, as if reaching for an offering, began to nuzzle Angie’s hair. Whether he thought it was a gift from her to him I don’t know, but Angie did not stick around to see either.
 Then Angie decided that I needed to have my picture taken with her new found love. Reluctantly, I conceded and went to extend my greetings to this 20’+ giant. However, Gambit took one look at me, looks again at Angie and then turns around and walks off.  I have never taken any pride in my looks but this was the ultimate of slams. Depressed, I suggested we go see what other animals were lurking about that may be more my type – we found a couple of monkeys and zebras who had no interest in me either.  I am told that there are elephants some where around here that I can ride; I think I will try that.

Not Gambit, but  gives some perspective
as to their size.

We weren't able to identify this one.                                                                                                                                                                             

The beauty of the terrain

 The Resort in Mansfield Park

Today is Saturday and it is one of those cool, windy, dreary days that invite you to get out of the apartment and do something, so we did. We pointed the car out the gate and down the road to where we knew not. Sounds like one of those songs from eons ago; some you of our vintage may recall some tunes to that affect. The car took us out of town, into the countryside where the upper echelon wage-earners live, and down to the sea shore. There we found the Indian Ocean all lathered up with waves like towering, angry walls of water lashing at the beaches. Occasionally, one would see small needles of rock, mere remnants of the massive rocks they used to be, extending above the crushing waves as if beckoning for a hand to rescue them. Located above and out of reach of the fury of the waves sat picturesque homes watching unconcerned.


Further along the coastline we observed sand dunes with sand sifting over their surface as if they were in a rush to get nowhere. Seagulls stood at their base with their faces into the wind as if this was a calm summer breeze.

In all, it was a nice day to go for a drive and see this beauty that God has so graciously allowed us to see and we thank Him for that.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

26 August 2013

August 22nd we were asked to drive an extra car to King Williams Town which is about a 4 hour drive east of Port Elizabeth (I haven’t gotten the kilometer stuff down yet so everything for me is measured in time). It is both fascinating and educational to observe the culture, countryside, architect, etc as one travels. As such, the following are some pictures we took as we took our journey which reflect the aforementioned items.  

As a side note, because there were two cars involved in half of the trip, Angie got to experience for the first time driving on the left side of the road. I must say she acted more confident than I did when I took my maiden drive but, her secret desire has always been to be an actress so my observation may be somewhat obscured.

            We call them “speed bumps”, The South Africans take the psychological approach.


  With a speed limit like this, who cares if you have to drive on the left side?

            Some of the impressive architecture seen in King Williams Town, South Africa.

            Whether in private schools or in government schools, we have found that the children are dress very handsomely in uniforms. We are impressed that even in areas of poverty, they take pride in how they look.

            One of the predominant grocery stores in South Africa is “Spars”. The people were particularly crowded in front of it today.

Pizza delivery motorcycle:
            This is perhaps the best looking motorcycle we have seen in South Africa. The owner, turned entrepreneur, uses it to deliver pizza.

            This represents South Africa’s answer to pilot cars. When the flagman wants to let the traffic near him go, he simply waves his flag to the other flagman down the road and rotates his sign to indicate that you can go.

Port Alfred - one of the many beautiful 
                     ocean fronts

                                                   Termite Mounds

            The upper picture is a close-up of a termite mound and the lower one shows a colony of them. I am told that some of those seen in the colony (?) may be uninhabited.   Conjecture (mine) is that a mound becomes uninhabited in the following way: the queen termite takes a stroll one cloudy and dismal day and sees a neighboring mound that looked classier than hers and went visiting. The king of the new mound found her more attractive than his current mate and gave her (his current bride) the boot. As a consequence, the original mound was not able to procreate any longer and soon became uninhabited. Of course, you could surmise that the booted queen went to the newly created bachelor for her new lodging but she more than likely would find a wannabe king and decide that was more romantic than taking up with a discard. I am sure that there may be those that would find this conjecture far fetched.

For something about termites that is somewhat more factual, below is some information that I googled about them.

Mound-building termites or just mound builders are a group of termite species that live in mounds. This group of termites live in Africa, Australia and South America. The mounds sometimes have a diameter of 30 metres. Most of the mounds are found in well drained areas.
The structure of the mounds can be very complicated. Inside the mound is an extensive system of tunnels and conduits that serves as a ventilation system for the underground nest. In order to get good ventilation, the termites will construct several shafts leading down to the cellar located beneath the nest. The mound is built above the subterranean nest. The nest itself is a spheroidal structure consisting of numerous gallery chambers.
Workers, smallest in size, are the most numerous of the castes. They are all completely blind, wingless, and sexually immature. Their job is to feed and groom all of the dependent castes. They also dig tunnels, locate food and water, maintain colony atmospheric homeostasis, and build and repair the nest.
The soldiers job is to defend the colony from any unwanted animals. When the large soldiers attack they emit a drop of brown, corrosive salivary liquid which spreads between the open mandibles. When they bite, the liquid spreads over the opponent. The secretion is commonly stated to be toxic or else undergoes coagulation with the air, which renders it glue-like.
Finally, there are the reproductives. They include the king and the queen. The queen can sometimes grow up to six centimetres long while the lower classes are generally less than one centimetre.
Ok, that is your nature class for the day. Thanks for paying attention.

On the way back home we discovered, that there were a number of “wildlife” sanctuaries that we will, as time permits, go back and visit. One of them has Angie beside herself with anticipation because it has an adult giraffe that will actually let you pet it. So she is like a little kid that is told he will get to go to  Disneyland; you know, "when can we go daddy", huh, huh. I told her that a virtue that we need to both develop is patience so cool your jets. You that are married know the resultant of that comment.

That is all for now, more after we visit the giraffe.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

21 August 2013

     We've enjoyed every day here. We're into the beginning of spring and there is lots of sunshine and warmth which is very welcome since none of the buildings have heat in them. We have a portable propane heater that keeps us comfortable. Our flat has all the comforts of home; just a lot less space. It's more what in the States we would consider a townhouse cause we even have a small yard (garden area) in the back. If you look real hard, you'll see there are bars on the door and most windows for security. Most areas, including ours, are gated with high fences with electric wire on top. We are so grateful for our facilities when you see such poor areas many live in.
Our flat in Port Elizabeth



There are several types of transportation here; cars, taxis (I haven't gotten a picture yet), burros. However, the majority of the people have to walk.  They'll walk many miles to get where they want to go.   
There's usually 3 donkeys pulling a cart

It's common to see women carrying their shopping in this manner.

People love having their picture taken                                                                                                                    

Part of our responsibilities here is to look over the needs of 10 young missionaries.  We assist in getting supplies they need, inspecting their flats and their cars and seeing to their comfort and well being.  Yesterday after we saw to some of their needs, we had some extra time in the afternoon and we went to Kragga Kamma Animal Park which is only 15 minutes from where we live.  What a joy!!  .       

Water Buffalo
Zebras and Nyla


Mountain Reedbuck