Tuesday, January 24, 2017


You may think it's strange, when you have limited time to enjoy a corner of the world to choose to revisit a place you have already been. If given the choice, why not go somewhere new instead? Even though I pondered this question myself, recently Mr. Deep and I returned to Victoria Falls. 

This time instead of staying on the Zambia side of the falls, we stayed on the Zimbabwe side. And by the way, Mr. Deep and I like to refer to neighboring African countries by their first syllable only so we use the names Zam, Zim, Bots and Moz. In the future I'll also be writing about Tanz and Nam. But I digress. 

When we visited the falls previously we enjoyed boat cruises on the Zambezi, flew in a helicopter over the falls and walked with rhinos protected by armed guards. This time, our plan to was to whitewater raft, swim near the edge of the falls (really) and give Mr. Deep one last chance to try to catch a tiger fish.

We stayed at the beautiful and historic Victoria Falls Hotel located within walking distance to the falls and situated to provide amazing views of the the mist rising from the falls. 

The Victoria Falls hotel was built by the British in 1904. I have stayed in a lot of hotels in my life and I can tell you that old is not always the best characteristic for a hotel but in this case it was a positive. Even though the age is obvious and not everything is perfect and shiny as a new hotel might be, while there you feel as if you have gone back in time. It is easy to imagine being a distinguished European visitor enjoying wild Africa but with all of the fancy amenities that you are accustomed to. Numerous dignitaries have stayed at the Victoria Falls Hotel including Henry Kissinger, Hillary Clinton and Oprah. I am not a lover of antiques or traditional decor but being in the hotel made me want to decorate my next house in a mix of colonial and African style.

Anytime a hotel has its own china you know you're in some fancy digs

If you're offended by animal heads this may not be the hotel for you.

By far, my favorite feature of this hotel was the service. South Africans smile a lot and often bend over backwards to be friendly and helpful but Zimbabweans take it to a whole different level and yes, I think this is part of the Zimbabwean spirit and not just a function of a great hotel. Even though the hotel is very large and there were numerous guests the staff acted like we were the only people there. They referred to Mr. Deep as "Mr. Stephen" and they seemed to remember what activities we were doing each day saying things such as "did you enjoy your rafting today?" or "how was the fishing Mr. Stephen?" or "I know you were enjoying red wine before dinner" (granted on this one maybe our mouths were stained red?) These were not the managers or the concierges asking...this was the waiter, the housekeeper and the bellman. 

One of several "infographics" to remind you what resources came from each British colony.

It rained a few times while we were in Zim. Sometimes rain is unpleasant during a hotel stay/holiday but the Victoria Falls Hotel has so many areas inside and out to explore that you almost wish for a rainy day.
The first day we arrived we walked down to the falls, a short walk on a dirt path. A security guard accompanied us. He said he was there to protect us from wild animals but Mr. Deep and I think it was to protect us from the significant number of aggressive hawkers trying to sell us things as we walked. Not that these hawkers are dangerous, I don't think they are. But they are desperate and persistent. First, the hawkers would try to sell us something, say a wooden bowl or a carved elephant. When we would politely decline, they would lower the price or offer us a two for one special. When we declined they would ask us if we had anything to trade for the item like old shoes or clothes. When we declined they would ask for money or a loaf of bread. The whole thing was very sad and both Mr. Deep and I ended up giving away our sneakers over the course of the weekend.

There is a lot of discussion about which side of the falls (Zim or Zam) offers the best viewing and I think some of it has to do with competition for tourist dollars between the two countries.I thought the views from Zim were magnificent but I also really enjoyed the views from Zam so I think it's hard to go wrong assuming you are visiting when the water is high. During the dry season much of the falls dry up completely. I will post more photos of the falls soon but in the meantime, below is a teaser.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Wild Life

I mentioned in my last blog post that I have been enjoying some quiet time over the holidays. Over the past two weeks I have been spending an endless amount of time at home waiting for various repairmen to arrive. Sometimes they do arrive and sometimes they don't. I think I've spent an inordinate amount of time over these past (almost) two years in South Africa waiting on repairmen. This begs the question is my house of substandard construction? or is it because I am in charge of Ops and in the past these tasks would have been more evenly split between Mr. Deep and me? I think it's a combination of both. 

Some crude math indicates that I've spent 4% of the time that we've lived in this house at home waiting for repairmen.  We've lived in this house for 646 days at the time of writing and I think I've spent at least 28 of those waiting at home for:

  • repairs by contractor and electrician when we first moved in = 5
  • numerous electrical problems = 6
  • broken geyser, broken toilet and other plumbing problems including no water = 3
  • tree felling = 2
  • house paining = 6
  • air con repair = 3
  • refrigerator, freezer and dishwasher repair = 3

TOTAL = 28 = 4.3% of total days spent

This free time gave me a chance to go through some of our photos taken during two recent safari trips, the first in November at Madikwe and the other in a place called Nambiti Game Reserve over Christmas weekend. 

A few thoughts before I share the photos. First, some people might think that a blog post full of photos is a slightly lazy approach to blogging. This is partially true because writing the posts does take a good bit of time and thought (believe it or not.) However, going through hundreds of photos, choosing the best and then editing some of the chosen ones also takes time so a blog post with a lot of photos can be just as labor intensive as one with a lot of words. Second, some of you might be tired of safari photos. If that is the case, I'm sorry but here are some more. Originally my plan was to focus this post on photos of animals interacting but I found some other photos that I just couldn't leave out. Like this one below of a very unique cloudy sky at Madikwe. 

It is amazing how similarly lions and house cats behave.
A lion munching on the carcass of a baby elephant. The mother died during childbirth and the lions "extracted" the baby and ate it. 

A stunning double rainbow in Madikwe
Followed by an incredible sunset
Elephants greeting each other
Kudu roughhousing

The paradise flycatcher with a caught fly. Photo credit Birdman
All time cutest photo. This baby elephant is so young he can't even walk properly yet. 

Somehow our friend Jeff spotted this tortoise hiding under some brush.  
Wet giraffes waiting for it to stop pouring rain in Madikwe!

Wild dogs are hard to get photos of because they move quickly.
A de-horned rhino at Nambiti Hills Game Reserve located in KZN.

Elephants under a dramatic sky just before a cold front came through. It was then cold for the remainder of our time at Nambiti.

This waterbuck lost one of his horns. His nickname is unicorn. 

These black backed jackals are not easy to get photos of but Mr. Deep got a great shot here. 

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Too Much Time on My Hands

"I've got too much time on my hands, it's hard to believe such a calamity"
-Styx, 1981

Joburg shuts down during the holiday season which means that lately I have not been busy with my usual activities like school, lamps and social groups. While I don't feel bored I guess I needed a project because I threw myself, with unparalleled enthusiasm, into helping with the planning and execution of my friend's 80's themed party. 

My friend Meghan and her husband love to throw parties and they are great at entertaining. When she mentioned she wanted to have an 80's party to celebrate their one year anniversary of arriving in Joburg, I was all in favor. I love the 80's, the music, the clothing and the memories. The only thing I don't love about the 80's are music videos because I've never seen any. When I was growing up we lived in the middle of nowhere and we had no (gasp) cable TV and therefore no MTV. Mr. Deep finds this hilarious.

Me in 1988. I'm just holding that beer for a friend.
I volunteered to help Meghan with the food and in the days leading up to the party I made sloppy joe meat which is minced beef with the perfect balance of sweet, salty and spicy flavors.I also made Jello jigglers which if you don't know is jello cut into shapes with a cookie cutter. I made mine with vodka. It wasn't as easy as it sounds because jigglers are very fragile. I didn't want to take broken jigglers to the party so I ended up eating the broken ones myself. 

sloppy joe
Meanwhile, Mr. Deep also became involved in the party planning. At first Meghan planned to hire a DJ but the guy never responded to her so Mr. Deep happily volunteered to organize the music. He developed a playlist of over 15 hours and strategically divided the tunes into three categories. 80's Party Mix, general songs to be played throughout the party, 80's Request Pot, extra songs that people might want to hear because if someone requested Fame by Irene Cara Mr. Deep didn't want that person to walk away disappointed. And the third, a self explanatory category called Let's Fucking Dance.  Mr. Deep took the project seriously asking for input from others and making notes of songs and artists to be included. Then, one night he suddenly seemed tired of the endeavor. This became clear when I casually asked him "do you have any Asia on your playlist?" to which he replied, "I'm done." Mr. Deep also took his look seriously. His outfit consisted of a pink Izod  (now called Lacoste) polo shirt and a pair of docksiders. 

Mr. Deep the prepster
My manic obsession kicked in just a few days before the party when I began giving serious thought to my outfit. Originally I had the idea that I would just dress the way I used to in the 80's. Forty eight hours before the party I realized that this plan was very boring. Why dress like a 17 year old from a small conservative town when you can drape yourself in all the glory of the excessive decade...and this is when my craziness began in earnest. 

It was then that I realized that there were literally one million directions I could go with my 80's look. For example: 
Jane Fonda workout  
Working woman with shoulder pads
Glamorous like on the TV show Dynasty
Prostitute like in the movies Trading Places and Risky Business 
Sweet and innocent like Brooke Shields (yes I know she did the racy Calvin Klein ad but for the most part she was sweet) of course I quickly ruled this one out for being too boring.
Androgynous woman  
Punk rocker 
A person from the 1980's who still dresses like it's the 70's

I was overwhelmed by the possibilities. 

The day before the party I was frantically trying on suits as I was considering going as a flight attendant from the 80's (or as we called them back then stewardesses) but I realized I would have to buy a wing shaped pin and I thought that might be hard to come by. But the real low came when I found myself wearing nothing but my shiny black plastic raincoat, sitting in front of Mr. Deep's computer googling 1980's Russian spy. And my gardener was at the house at the time! I obviously was not thinking clearly. Side note the day of the party it poured all day and night so a raincoat would have been a perfect costume.  

I headed to the mall and luckily 80's and 90's style clothing is back in stores full force so it wasn't hard to find an outfit quickly and painlessly. I ended up wearing acid washed tight jeans, silver pumps, a black top with lace, huge hair and loud make-up. I dressed like a rock band groupie following Motley Crue during their 1987 Girls Girls Girls tour.  

Although my hairstyle did not come out perfectly as my hair is not cut in as many layers as it was back in the day, as I styled it the whole era came rushing back to me. I used to think that I spent hours getting ready to go out in the 80's because I was in high school and that's what high school girls do. In actuality, it took forever to get ready in the 80's and you were never really finished with your hair or makeup because there was no such thing as too much of either. Eventually, you just ran out of time and had to leave your bathroom. 

Big hair selfie
In case you are invited to an 80's party, here's a quick hair styling tutorial.

First, wash your hair.Then add a cantaloupe size puff of mousse. Scrunch the mousse into the roots. Feel free to add more mousse.  Next, hang your head upside down to blow dry. Don't worry if the dryer is too hot or on a high setting just blow the daylights out of your hair. Next, grab a curing iron. Put it on the highest heat setting available and begin to curl your hair. Once the hair is wrapped in the iron hold the iron an inch or so from your head for maximum volume. You can even spray your hair with hairspray while your hair is heating in the iron. As for the type of hairspray to use I suggest Aqua Net but any strong hold aerosol will do and don't buy anything natural or organic as you need full on chemicals. Continue to curl for at least 45 minutes. If you see a curl you don't like just redo it, it's not a big deal. Don't be alarmed if you see smoke or smell burning hair. This is completely normal. Once you are satisfied or have to leave for your party, whichever comes first, apply a thick coating of hair gel over each ear pushing the hair back. Don't worry if it feels wet. It will dry eventually. 

About Me

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Hello and thank you for taking an interest in my blog. This blog tells the story of some big life changes. First, my husband and I have just moved to Geneva, Switzerland for a few months following a few years of living in Johannesburg, South Africa. The two places could not be more different. I'm excited to share our adventures, challenges and insights with you! My thoughts and opinions are my own.