Game Drives: 101

Best things about game drives:

– animals!

– no seatbelts

– basically being chauffeured around

– free Jane Fonda approved (I’m sure she would) “bumpy-ride” complete ab workout 

– pretending you are some sort of professional photographer who knows how to take pictures and just explains the bad ones by saying “argh, he moved!”

Worst thing about game drives (if you have bangs)

– the “Something About Mary” Hair Effect

“he moved”

I Didn’t Want to Get Eaten by a Cheetah Whilst Taking a Photo, So All You Get Is This Terrible Photo

“Please don’t die one of those stupid, highly preventable deaths” is a recurring thought:

– don’t get run over by your own car

– dont die sky diving because you forgot to bring your parachute (or check that it was there)

– don’t not “mind the gap”

– don’t “overwork” yourself to death by not going home, not eating and then turning into an mummified corpse at your desk

– don’t become obsessed with video games and die playing 

– always shut the lid on the airline toilet before you flush so that you don’t get sucked into that vortex that totally does exist

In Africa, the big one is definitely “do not get eaten by a wild animal whilst trying to take a picture of it”. 

If one is in an open air vehicle and an animal approaches and for whatever reason, you cannot get away (always make sure your car has gas) then be very still, at least if it attacks no one will assume it was your fault for wanting to take a selfie with your new friend. 

Cut to today – we came across a cheetah and her four Cubs (note, my phone seems to think I am referencing the Chicago Cubs and it won’t let me uncapitalize the word Cubs). They were lounging in the sun about 30 meters away; we happily snapped away. 

Then they decided to get up, stretch and walk to us, at some point in the walk I realized that looking through my phone lens was giving me a distorted view of how far away they were; I looked up and this giant, recent mother of a cat is approaching the hood of the car, about to get to my, completely open side.

I froze, wondered why no one else seemed to mind (totally different when you know what you wouldn’t be the sacrificial lamb) and thought “I’m missing a great picture, shut it dumbass you need to NOT be taking a picture right now”

She kept walking a disappeared into the bush. Other people got great pictures, but I leave you with this

Volunteering: Day 1

I am in Port Elizabeth, volunteering on a game reserve!

Highlights from Day 1:

– tracking a cheetah using a radio signal, but not actually seeing the cheetah

– coming across a herd (family? Group?) Of giraffes that sort of had this effect:

– helping a tortoise get right away up

– discovering that the toilet I’m using doesn’t have a toilet seat (very jarring discovery), deciding to be a diva and mention it (a new seat is coming tomorrow and people wonder why the last two volunteers didn’t complain)

– hearing stories of the “young” volunteers who arrive at the age of 19, don’t know how to boil an egg, want to party even though they signed up for an assignment in a game reserve and who generally want to take selfies with dangerous animals. Luckily no one has used the term “millennial” yet. Some young ones arrive over the weekend, fingers crossed

– discovering that there is hot water for the showers! Discovering that there is no cold water for the showers, getting a mild scalp burn in attempt to de-dust my hair 

Johannesburg: City of Gold (and now food)

‚ÄčAka: Mo’Money, Mo’ Problems

Johannesburg was founded in 1886 after surprise, surprise, some people found gold and the city sprung up in a matter of weeks.

We all know what happened next – the city boomed, finally the world got mad about Apartheid and imposed sanctions, businesses moved out to a new suburban growth spot, the city fell into decline etc etc

Today the city is once again growing (there are a lot of abandoned buildings that are just waiting to be turned into luxury apartments)

Probably one of the number one ways to attract up and comers to an area? Food Halls (and funky design stores). Oh and fancy coffee shops, there are so many coffee shops 

In the past week I’ve had more coffee and more wine than when I was working (which says something- I guess this is why there are a lot of unemployed alcoholics)

Neighbourgoods is on Saturdays in Braamfontein and Arts on Main is on Sundays in Maboneng – both have food from all over (paella, curry, sushi, beignets, cevapi and alcohol)

Who wouldnt want to eat this fried chicken?
No joke, this totally drinkable wine was only $1.50

South Africa: Some Sad Bits

If you come here you have to spend time learning about the sad bits too (cause while we know we are pretty much doomed to repeat history, at least you can be the arrogant one who says “I told you so”)

Some things you learn at the Apartheid Museum and Constitution Hill

– Apartheid started in 1948 because segregation failed and apparently everyone suffered from short term memory loss when it came to World War 2

– basically a huge reason for Apartheid was that the white people were losing jobs 

the “coloured” jails were set up to be degrading as possible: showers were outside, and with up to 2000 people, and only 8 showers it meant that if you were low on the totem pole you only got to shower once every 2-3months, also NO toilet paper was given. So the smell was terrible and people got very, very sick

– the non-white inmates also got far less food, and what they did get was substandard 

– Everything finally ended in 1994 with the first free election (Mandela was released in 1990 and negotiations to end apartheid started in 1991). People lined up for over a kilometer to vote

 – since then there is a Bill of Rights (#1: no one may be discriminated against on grounds of race, gender, pregnancy, marital status, ethnicity, social origin, colour, sexual orientation, age, disability, religion, conscience, culture or language)

Getting Around Johannesburg…

First off, I lucked out because I am staying with friends here, so a lot of the time it’s them taking me somewhere / me hitching a ride…

But, what do you do if:

– Despite two days of “for not having driven in 20 yrs, you are remarkably good” driving practice, you probably should not drive here because A) they drive on the other side of the street here, and while you did remember (after asking) which pedal was the break and which was the gas, the different side of the street thing would probably be too much for your brain to handle. There is pretty much no other reason than A.

– You don’t have an unlimited Uber budget

– Everything you read about the public transport system seems to conflict with the next thing, leaving you to question whether you should try it alone before understanding the city


– You take the City Sightseeing Bus! I’ve never taken these things before, but I loved it. 

They take you everywhere you need to go, give you headphones (which link up to a system that gives you fun facts: Jacaranda trees are an invasive species from South America that take up too much underground water, so they will die off / not be replanted in about fifty years), and you can sit up high and get great views of some amazing houses and a very green city

How to Survive 12 Hours in the Frankfurt Airport: Z Gates Edition

Are you here during the day? Yes? You should probably go outside.

Are you here during the day, but it is freezing outside and you didn’t pack any winter clothes because you’re only travelling to warm places? Yes? Keep reading.

1. Walk up and down the hallway a bit, shake out those legs, before you do this, remember to brush your teeth, you don’t want to accidentally wipe out your remaining human entertainment with terrible breath

2. Try and (fail) getting into one of the lounges

3. This is very important – find a sleeper chair (located at either end of the Z Gates), pile all your stuff on top of you and sleep

*There is a swanker version at the other end, but they were all occupied

4. Wake up when the blood circulation to your legs (due to the pile of luggage) has been cut off

5. Treat yourself to a nice meal, and don’t worry if you fail in this attempt because there are other choices and lots of time. I am currently eating a very disappointing, definitely not Angus cheeseburger with “burger sauce”. It tastes kind of like feet, thank God for potatoes.

6. Retreat back to sleeper chairs, passing several hot dog stands on the way – wondering 2 things- why, for once in your life you didn’t take the cheap way out and get a hotdog, and secondly, how could you get poisoned on your first day of travel, while in Germany

7. Count the number of times “Wolfgang” gets called over the comms system – about 12 with 5 hrs to go

8. Get a fancy sleeper seat, plonk down for remaining hrs to read and listen to non intellectual podcasts


The beginning

Any good life changing journey should probably end with wise words in the form of a hasthtaggable statement (#livelife, #watchsunsets?), but until you start, you don’t know what those inevitably insightful words are going to be

I imagine the beginning (based on very limited experience) should always begin with something cheesy, so in the absence of that, because my brain is mush – here is the last thing I ate (at the Seattle Airport)

Here’s to adventures, cheese and cheesy adventures in 2016!

Now off to Johannesburg (after a 12 hr layover in Frankfurt)