The guys down at Dlala Nje in Ponte City are hosting their annual Christmas party for the children living there and in the surrounding areas and orphanages of Hillbrow, Yeoville and Berea on 6 December 2013.
[If you haven’t already heard of these guys, do yourself a favour and explore their website. Two “white okes” move into Ponte City and start making a difference in the lives of the community – it’s unreal what they have accomplished and how they have changed the perceptions of inner city Joburg.]
Nonetheless, the matter at hand is the Christmas party. Last year’s party was a rip-roaring success and you will not believe the amount of hopeful little faces playing outside on the concrete, getting their faces painted and waiting in line to sit on Santa’s lap and get a present (likely the only present they received for Christmas).
I wrote about the experience last year too – check it out here.
This year’s season is upon us and we’d LOVE for some support in the form of gifts or even volunteers to help on the day (second hand toys are also welcome). Please get in touch with them directly, or me, if you would like to help out. It will make such a difference to their lives – you just don’t realise it yet.
There has always been a huge migration of South Africans to Australia and very often back again when it doesn’t work out. This back and forth between South Africans and Afro-Aussies is a never-ending story. South Africans think that the grass is greener on the other side of the world and they MUST get there.
It’s safe, it’s clean, government is not corrupt, the police do their jobs and are well-respected, you can leave your belongings on your beach towel while you dip in the sea, house alarms are unheard of, fences are there for aesthetics, everything works. Having family in Australia and currently here on a visit, I can tell you that it really is like that – an almost-Pleasantville. When you’re in this Eutopia, the crime stories in South Africa make you feel even more sick than usual. The idea of our walls and electric fences etc. suddenly feels claustrophobic.
Here’s something you may not have considered, though:
The problem with everything working so well and everyone getting along (except the politicians – they don’t seem to have enough real issues to argue about, so turn to slating each other instead) is that it creates a standard of mediocrity. Middle Class Syndrome. Everyone walks along the same line and it’s the same walk along the same line every day.
You work really hard for your standard salary. You are your own domestic worker(s) on top of it all. You may be able to afford a cleaning lady once a week, for 2 hours, for general cleaning only (no dishes, washing, ironing etc.) for the same cost as us South Africans pay our domestic workers for two full days’ work. Your ironing lady picks up a basket of ironing once a week and drives a better car than you do. If you have kids, this is your life: cook, clean, iron, work, shop, work, kids, work, clean, kids, mow the lawn, clean, kids, work… you get the picture?
And then there’s the accent. Perhaps a topic for another day 😉
There are, of course, many facets to this discussion that I’m sure I’ll still get into and I’m being light on this topic for this post. The severe poverty and crime in South Africa is not something to gloss over lightly, but before you run off on the Aus train, consider how your life will drastically merge into mediocrity.
Having recently been on holiday two weekends in a row, to unbelievably beautiful places of South Africa, I’d like to raise my glass to all my fellow South Africans living in the country. We have an amazing life, we really do. Where else in the world can you road-trip for 2 hours and be in a completely different world, greeted by butterflies and waterfalls, all on a shoe-string budget? Where else can you visit an (illegal) mampoer farm, get a tour, what can only be described as a theatrical performance, and hang out at the bar tasting mampoer with the farmer for under R50?
Where else will you find ‘twee meisies alleen innie bos’ (translation: two girls alone in the bush) down in the dust changing a Land Rover tyre in their bikinis? Where else can you go for a little walk and come across a 127m waterfall? Where else can you do all of this, turn a silver car into a filthy brown replica of a machine and then sit and read a book while it gets cleaned at the car wash?
Where else can you experience so much nature and open spaces just on your doorstep wherever you are in the country? Where else do people live in the lifestyle that we do, as comfortably as we do?
Africa has its’ issues but f#*% me, we live in an awesome country.
Cheers to all of my fellow South Africans who are lapping it up here in SA (we do work our butts off, don’t forget that) and really enjoying our lives in the beauty that we call South Africa.
An insane turnout of kids from the surrounding areas and orphanages proved to provide a very full day of activity.
There was apparently some street performance, cookies and hot dogs, singing and dancing, presents, presents and lots of laughter. I can’t actually give you my account of what was going on in general – I arrived and started painting faces, 4 hours later I was still painting faces.
I saw innocent little happy face after innocent little happy face and spent hours looking into the eyes of kids filled with hope. There is just something about the innocence and complete trust of a child that makes something shift inside of you. It almost makes you soften from the inside out.
Here is my photo account of the day. Don’t judge the artwork…I did my best!
Saturday marked the long awaited post AfrikaBurn celebration in the form of Afterglow. In short, a massive party where you leave the world behind and become part of a community dedicated to ‘wicked tunes, celebration, wild abandon, creativity, participation, radical self expression and whole lot of love’ for a night.
Sounds very hippie. It kind of is. And completely crazy. Every person was dressed up in a costume of sorts – pixies, fairies, hippies, suits and a good few tutus, to name a few, and for that one night, nobody had a care in the world.
The best part of it all was the focus on charity. All proceeds from the tickets went to art grants and participation for the Highveld collective, as well as Burners without Borders. Every person also brought blankets and clothes for those that need them this winter.
The party was organised and run by volunteers. No fighting. No idiots going crazy with drugs and alcohol and causing havoc. It was just really lovely.
It is so refreshing to see people come together without hidden agendas and actually do something good for society, not just themselves.
If you haven’t checked out AfrikaBurn, or not heard of it before, go have a look. It’s a festival of this kind in the Tankwa Karoo where they create a temporary city of art, theme camps, costume, music and performance. The gallery on their site is just breathtaking – the pictures alone have tempted me and I can see how any person with some creativity in their blood would make the journey to AfrikaBurn.
I, however, need way more convincing to rough it for a few days in the desert of craziness!
I recently went on a very special family holiday to Umngazi River Bungalows and Spa on the Wild Coast of Transkei. The Transkei is one of my favourite places in our gorgeous country. It’s untouched paradise on our doorstep – screw Mauritius, hit Transkei, baby – it’s far more real (okay I wouldn’t say no to Mauritius, but you know what I’m saying).
Umngazi really is the perfect family resort and provides the easiest, most comfortable family holiday I have ever experienced. The kids have an absolute blast, with organised activities every day…bug-hunting, beach snail feeding, crab-hunting, fishing competitions, marshmallow braais etc. etc. absolutely divine. Nannies are also available to look after the kids while the adults sip cocktails at the poolside. It’s just decadent. It’s not my usual kind of holiday, but for the kind of family time we were needing, it was just perfect.
Us grown-ups also have plenty to keep us busy. Every morning is an organised walk or hike. I did the Sugar Loaf hike one morning, which is a walk along the hills on the coastline, with the most magnificent scenery. We did some whale-watching along the way from the cliff-edges – it was just breath-taking!
Gillies are around for hire and will help you organise a boat and bait and take you to the best fishing spots.
The sunset cruise is also a must – Kevin the skipper is a pro at attracting the fish eagles to swoop down and catch some fish and will also entertain you with his ‘fat mama’ dance…was a good giggle 🙂
All meals are included as well, with the amount of food at each meal phenomenal. If you enjoy fresh seafood, Seafood Saturday will have you at your knees – platters and platters of crayfish, prawns, mussels, calamari…ridiculous! There were vegetarian options, but they’re not the best. I may just be fussy in terms of the kind of food that I enjoy, but the vegetarian meals did not seem too thought out in terms of health and nutrition…if you want to see the rant (take it with a pinch of salt), see it here.
All in all it was an absolutely phenomenal holiday with the family and I’d recommend it to anyone needing to take some time out in luxury. If you want to rough it a little bit, check out Swell Tours Guest Lodge – a bit of rough and rural paradise in the Transkei.
This weekend the manimal took us away to Riverman Cabins in the Tonteldoos Valley, just outside of Dullstroom for a much-needed escape from the crazy of the city. An old farm with tranquil guesthouses, complete with lambs, cows, two trusty greyhounds and some fishing dams did the trick.
I’ve said it plenty of times before and I’ll say it again here…are you listening carefully…we live in the most beautiful country in the world!
I could spend the rest of my life exploring South Africa and the diverse surroundings and nature that most of us take for granted. Around every corner is something new and delicious to explore and enjoy. This last little holiday reinforced that for me.
Dullstroom is a quaint little town just outside of Middelberg with small arty shops, pubs, chocolatier, trout shops etc. Oh and of course a cheese shop! I would never miss that. The actual cheese farm, Bergen Cheese, is in Tonteldoos – about 10 minutes from Dullstroom and is also a restaurant (with cheese mentioned a lot of the menu, of course!). The cheese farm offers tours where they show you how the cheese is made, but the cheese maker was away and I didn’t get to experience it 🙁
Tonteldoos is really tiny and there’s not much to mention about it, but there are plenty of trout farms for fishing if that’s what you’re into, otherwise some serious chilling is on the cards in a beautiful landscape.
There are also plenty of interesting farm roads for mountain-biking, which I tried my hand (poor aching legs) at…I think I nearly died! Spinning is a walk in the park, but actual mountain biking…that’s another freaking story!
I also tried my hand at pulling a fish hook out of the manimal’s head…it appears that I’m not so good at that either.
Okay, enough babbling…the point is that it was such a nice getaway, not that far out of Jozi – only about 3 hours max, and…yes you guessed it… I Heart South Africa!
Well peeps, today I leave Croatia and I believe that I am quite ready to come home now.
It has been a fantastic holiday an a very well-needed break from my day-to-day life. Food, wine, truffles, beach, sleep, rockclimbing, biking, buses buses buses, caffe. That would be the short version 🙂
I will start creating my Croatia blog posts as soon as I am back, with lots of photos etc. and some useful info for travellers, so be prepared for those – I really look forward to it! I decided that I would have no tech on this trip and I must admit that it has been killing me softly, so I will have LOTS to say about everything I experienced as it is all ready and waiting in my head.
I was sitting in the square in Zagreb this morning, after a disasterous attempt at a Mysore yoga class and a feel-better Nutella pancake, reflecting on my trip and how I feel about coming home. I then realised that Toto´s Africa was playing out of one of the caffe bars and I realised how much I love South Africa. (That damn song always plays at the right moment – usually the cheesiest time possible)
Amazing food, wine, beaches, mountains, weather, culture and most importantly…friendly people! We really are so spoilt in our country and sometimes it takes a trip elsewhere to make you realise that again.
So now I am looking forward to some sushi, English-speaking people, my homemade gourmet salad lunches, a bubble bath, my own home and my wine rack.
A few of the crazies and I took the recent very conveniently placed holidays to take a real break from, well, everything we know, and packed up and headed off into the deep Transkei.
As South Africans, we are always itching to dash off overseas for a holiday when we actually have such amazingly beautiful places right here in our own country. All we need to do is rough it up a bit, go off the beaten track and we will find places like this for a ridiculous fraction of the price of an overseas holiday.
Okay, this one was quite FAR off the beaten track, I won’t lie about that, but the treacherous bends and a few encounters with near-death on the mountainside gravel dongas (I’d like to call them roads, but that would be lying), was well worth it.
Absolute untouched, unspoilt, rural beauty.
We stayed at Swell Tours Guest Lodge, a modest and rustic “lodge” on the north side of the Mdumbi river. We lived amongst the locals, minutes away from the untouched beach, with the locals helping us out wherever they could.I would highly recommend this place if you are interested in this kind of holiday – the owners are unbelievably supportive of their neighbours and in return very well respected in the area as well. It was just so easy and quite perfect, really.
The Xhosa people are so friendly and accomodating and I was quite touched by how happy they were with the little that they had. Well, depending on how you look at it, they are probably the ones who have so much and we are the ones that have very little. Humbling.
Life in the fast lane came to a grinding halt and we were very quickly forced to slow down, relax and feast on prawns, crayfish and oysters for next to nothing. Oh, and take a slow stroll down to the beach every now and then. If you’re into more than that, there are plenty of activities like surfing (the lodge is actually a surf lodge), kayaking, hiking, shebeen tours, horse-riding (although you may have to catch your own horse – true story), etc.
All in all, a truly memorable holiday that I hope you will also get to experience in your lifetime.
Support our country – there is so much untouched beauty here – you never know how long it will last.