Sunshine, Family, and Good Hair

I haven’t posted for three months! I’ve got excuses though: a nasty bout with Shingles (the aftermath of which continues to plague me), and two botched eye operations. To top it all, I contracted bronchitis a couple of days before I left for South Africa to visit my son and his family, and to attend the weddings of my two step-granddaughters. Three weeks later, I’m revived, the bronchitis burned away by the 90-degree South African sun, plenty of sleep and hugs, evening chats by the pool, and hanging out with my hilariously refreshing sixteen-year-old grandson, Daegan. To satisfy my taste buds, I’ve been indulging in my old favorites: biltong, tangy gherkins, Peppermint Crisp, Bovril, fish paste, and nougat.

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Last Thursday, I was treated to a day-long visit to Dinokeng Big Five Game Reserve, outside Pretoria. The 490-acre reserve is partly-owned by my step-granddaughter’s fiancé’s parents. Get this, rhinos are rounded up at night and placed in a protected enclosure because of the poachers. The elephants are tagged and monitored. Definitely not the Africa of my childhood, but back then it wasn’t open season on rhino horns and elephant tusks.

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I was dismayed to discover I  couldn’t remember the names of the buck we saw, except for impala. My dad must’ve turned in his grave. All those trips we took through South Africa, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Tanzania and Kenya, for all those years, when the animals weren’t always in game reserves, with him pointing out this buck and that, and then quizzing me. It has been a while, Dad. (That’s a red hartebeest male below.)

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We spent the night in one of the individual lodges. Something out of a House Beautiful magazine, with air-conditioning in the bedrooms and a jacuzzi right at the edge of the bush. Definitely not the round thatched huts I remember, yet it still managed to maintain its South African identity.

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My last wedding is this evening, an elaborate affair for Illanka near The Cradle of Humankind area, at Memoire, an old farm converted to a wedding venue. We’ll be spending the night, followed by a champagne breakfast under stinkwood, willow, leopard, and acacia trees. And then I’m headed back to Southern California, a nasty 22-hour flight. I’ll sorely miss my family. I’ll also miss  the “good” hair I’ve been experiencing!

Old Times

I only mention that Joan was wearing heels because she has a style that is so different from mine, and because I’m having fun with it. You see she’s a bit of a dresser, turned one whole bedroom into a closet filled with dresses and shoes for the Henley Royal Regatta, golfing, hosting dinners, eating out, trips across the Channel to Paris, trips to Dubai. I, on the other hand, wear clothes from the Gap, yoga tanks and pants and flip flops and prefer hiking the hills and spur of the moment outings. She was right, I have become a California girl.

We hugged long and hard then the three of us hurried into her pub-house; a fire blazed in the lounge. Three hours later after a bottle of champagne along with one of red wine, we were doubling over and crying with laughter, remembering old school mates, all the crazy things we did. Now here’s the amazing thing, I don’t remember ever feeling this free in their company in the old days, as unguarded. Whatever reservations I’d had disappeared just like that. I don’t know how they felt but to me it was a victory; I no longer felt like I had anything to lose. Maybe I’d learned something after all these years.

(The photo above is of Donna and Joan in her bed on their computers accessing Facebook and their Nkana friends. The photo below of is of me and Donna–only I’m posting my A to Z Blogging Challenge–God Bless ’em, they were so understanding!)