The Big Five

So when you think of the Big Five to see on safari in Africa, you probably think of the Lion, Elephant, Buffalo, Rhino, and Leopard.  This time, the Big Five in South Africa was me and John and Bruce with Moira and Josh!  See we five, were inseparable in Malaysia. We met Moira and Josh in 2010, very shortly after we moved to Kuala Lumpur.  We were newbies there, and they had been settled there for awhile.  Fate put us together and we have remained good friends ever since.  They are more than friends to us, they are family.  But now, John, Bruce and I live in The Netherlands, and Moira and Josh are living in South Africa.  This “big five” reunion was really over due, and we were so happy to be reuniting with them, finally after too much time!

The last time Bruce and Josh saw each other before the Christmas visit was in 2013, summer vacation in Thailand.  We were living in India then, and we met up in Thailand with Moira and Bruce and some other friends for John’s birthday.  We weren’t sure if the boys would remember each other as we had met Moira and Josh when both our boys were just two years old, and last saw them over 4 years ago.   They don’t remember playing with Thomas the trains together, going to jungle gyms together, spending birthdays and holidays togethers, they were just too young.  But the friendship and bond between us and Moira and Josh is special and we vowed not to le more years pass before we’d all get together again.  And this was the year that we made it happen.  We needn’t have worried that Josh and Bruce wouldn’t remember each other.  They didn’t….but they quickly embarked on a new friendship, new bonds, new shared interests and boy stuff that these two nine (9) year olds now have in common.

 

Then. Joshie’s 3rd bday party at our house, look at how cute they were!!!!!!! Boy do I miss that ginormous man cave basement area of the house we had in KL. Good times, good times.

Now. Six whole years later, lol, big boys shaking hands upon meeting as big boys. Time goes by so quickly.

As soon as we all saw each other, there were “eeks” and shrieks of laughter, (lots of laughter) coming from all of us as we all hugged and shrieked in unison, sharing our happiness at seeing each other again. It did not feel like it has been years since we had all been together.  We very quickly and seamlessly settled back into our very comfortable friendship and the holiday started off with a bang!

We were only with Moira and Josh at their home for one night, as the very next morning we all flew to Durban to join Moira and her extended family (mother, father, brothers, their spouses, aunts and uncles, and all their kids) to their Christmas vacation beach house in Durban.  It was the first time in a very long time that we were surrounded by such a big family.  Forgot how wonderful it was to be around grandparents and aunts and uncles and all the little kids playing with their many cousins, etc.  It was loud and noisy and incredibly wonderful.  Absolutely loved being around so many children.  Christmas really is for the kiddos isn’t it? It just makes everything so special.  Though all these people we were now sharing a week with weren’t “our family”, they opened up their hearts and home to us and it was definitely a Christmas that we will cherish dearly and never forget.

This is the beautiful family we got to spend the Christmas holiday week with.

Thank you Nola, Clive, Struan and Caz, Garith and Darielle, Richard and Kim and of course lovely Moira and all the amazing kiddies for welcoming our family to yours on Christmas 2017.

And what a fun and amazing bunch they were!  Every day we enjoyed lots of play around the house and the beaches, amazing lunches and dinners were always a feast! Plus the conversations, I mean wow.  I could (and literally did) listen to Clive for hours (Clive is Moira’s Dad, would love if he would write a book, his stories fascinated John and I). Every day was fun filled and the weather was always perfect.  Even when it was a little cloudy it was perfect!  Sure beat wearing coats and gloves, hats, scarves and boots, it was a nice change from the cold, wet and rainy weather in Amsterdam. Heaven.  It was heaven to soak up the sun and hang out in shorts and swimsuits all day.  Ahhhhhhhhhhh closing my eyes I can still feel the warmth on my skin and the sun shining on me.  Back to reality and pics of how some of our days were spent in lovely Durban. And we learned something very important.  You don’t bar-b-que in South Africa, you braai.  Noted and we’ll always remember, braii not bbq.  Ever.  Got it, thanks Struan!

 

John and braai master Struan

So sad this pic came out blurry!

Struan and Moira and Me

Our boys catching the waves…from Thomas the train to boogie boards, don’t blink, they grow up so fast.

Bonding over waves..

Christmas day was fantastic!  We started the morning with opening presents and listening to the children delight in all their gifts and the footprints that Santa left during his visit.  The menu was large, we had turdunkin, and so many sides, I was happy to contribute my stuffing, we had yummy potatoes, pumpkin pie and too many other dishes to name. I was disappointed when we returned to find out that I didn’t take any pics of the beautifully set table and of the day in general. Think I was just too busy enjoying myself,  the company, the food, and the wine, oh my gosh the wine……..the day went by way too fast and the next thing you know Christmas had come and gone.

In a flash Christmas week was over, and our time at the beach house was over.  We all said our goodbyes, loaded up the kids and all our suitcases and everyone made their way to their next stops.  Our next stop was to spend the day with Moira’s brother Struan, Caz and and Kensie at their home in Durban while we killed time waiting for our flight back to Cape Town. And wow, what a home. Scenic views, pool and cold beer at just the right temperature.   I think I could get used to life in Durban. It was the perfect end to the perfect trip.

Yikes!  I can’t believe I almost forgot to write about our day trip Safari to  Hluhluwe Imfolozi?  

Our first proper day in Durban was actually spent a few hours away at Hluhluwe Imfolozi.  Yea, you try saying that three times fast, ha!  “Szusluwee” or something very close to that is how you pronounce it, but regardless of how you say it, It was about a two and half hour drive from Durban. We left in the morning and returned in the evening.  A full day of fabulous.  Really and truly wonderful day. No words can describe how it felt to see elephants and giraffes, rhinos, baboons, zebras, warthogs, and dung beetles, etc. in their home environments. Yes, we were driving thru their home “space” in a large vehicle, but let me tell you, when a huge rhino, that weighs more than the vehicle you’re in, gives you the “get going” look and squares up with your large SUV, haha, you know that you need to move along.  The elephants with their big trunks and huge ears, to see the ears sort of billowing in the wind, (is that the right word?), I just can’t describe how magical those moments were.  My personal favorite was seeing a momma giraffe and her baby, and another very large giraffe walking right in front of our path.  I seriously felt like I was in a national geographic documentary or something.  It was so special.  Bruce was so funny.  He took out a sketch pad from his backpack and started a chart of all the animals and birds we had the good luck to encounter.  The following are a couple, just a very few pics from our very special day.

 

Bruce’s chart of animals/birds/insects we saw on safari. I thought he did a great job writing as the roads were very bumpy and he drew this while the vehicle was always moving!

 

Momma giraffe and her babe. Love.

 

Pumba

But it was!

The dung beetles, this is how they roll…and I mean that literally, they were rolling this ball of dung right in the middle of the road. Never thought seeing dung being rolled would be cool. But it was!

 

 

 

Truly think this zebra was giving us his best profile

These birds and their nests below, were actually the first thing we saw on safari, it’s called the yellow weaver.  The male bird makes this really gorgeous round nest but if the female bird does not like it she will destroy it and the male will have to re-build the nest until the female is satisfied, hee hee you go girl!

 

But wait!  This story of our time in Durban would not be complete if we did not tell the tale of Bruce and Paige.  Or Brucie, Brucie, Brucie, as well all came to call Bruce after Paige decided that’s what she’d call him and teehee we are still calling him that today.  Paige is one of Joshie’s little nieces who became very fond of Bruce.  The first thing I recall her saying to Bruce was “do you like hugs?” I can’t help but giggle and smile when I think of this.  She was so incredibly cute and Bruce was pretty sweet with her even though he was not sure how to react to all the attention.  It’s mine and John’s favorite part of the trip, watching Bruce trying to decide whether he liked the adoration or not.  We’re pretty sure he did.

 

 

You’ll be happy to know we saw Paige and her family one more time after we left Durban.

So after a fantastic fun filled week in Durban, we headed back to Cape Town and to the small city of Stellenbosch.  Once again, the time would go by quickly but Moira and Josh were amazing hosts and we got to see so much in the 48 hours we had left of our time in SA. We cruised along the cape, had lunch in Simon town, stopped off at the famous Boulder beach and got to see the penguins!!! Oh my gosh, cuteness overload!!! Those penguins were something to see.  I think the boys could have stayed there all day and watched them.  After Boulder beach we stopped to see Paige at her grandparents home where we got to see more “wild animals” like turtles and chickens, and bunnies! After that a quick wine tasting at Constantia Glen, then dinner near Table Mountain. Oceanside view and live music.  Fantastic day! And wow, that was just in 24 hours. The next 24 hours consisted of 4 additional wine tasting tours at Deux Freres, Boschendal, Waterford, & De Turin, (Boschendal was my favorite!) We had a scrumptious lunch there and the whole place was just so scenic and had an amazing vibe.  Truly, all the wineries that we visited were seriously cool, and I can’t wait to go back and check out so many more.  South Africa really has the wineries down, really special places to visit. We also took some time to stop at a small market where we purchased art and souvenirs.  Thank you Moira, I don’t know how you pulled it off but we got to see and do so much in those 48 hours!  We ended the evening with a lovely dinner at her house with wine that we purchased that day, and got ready for our flight that was leaving at midnight.  Again, whew!  Don’t know how we packed it all in, but we did and every minute of it was so special.

How picturesque is this? This pic was taken along the cape.

 

Me and John in our alternate penguin life

 

I seriously think the penguin on his back is waiting for a beer

 

Joshie and Bruce making up stories about the penguins, they were pretty hilarious.

Can you see the bird flying above the penguin?

Big turtle at Paige’s grandparent’s house

And the baby turtle

Bruce and Josh really enjoyed the quick stop, we did too!

After the house visit to wish Moira’s brother a very happy birthday, we headed onto our first wine tasting of our trip.

Constantia Glen

Terrific wine, terrific day!

Buddies

 

Mothership calling me home

Lovely day, lovely lunch, lovely company, thank you Moira!

If you could see me out and about today, gloves, hat, heavy coat, scarve, boots…was this pic really taken less than a week ago? Twilight zone moment.

Bruce trying to pet a very fat “bird”. lol think it was a pheasant? Not sure.

And my last picture of our trip, and Bruce’s favorite, is a pic of a one hundred trillion dollar bill!  Seriously, have you ever seen one?  WE have. This is real currency of Zimbabwe.  No longer valid but seriously, how cool is that?

So there it is. In pics and in writing, a very short synopsis of our most amazing wonderful adventure in South Africa.  I wasn’t quite sure about visiting South Africa during Christmas.  But after seeing all our family in May at Tori’s wedding, this seemed like the ideal time to finally make good on our promise to visit Moira and Josh.  The timing worked out beautifully for her and for us, and I’m so glad that it did.  We are still processing our time there, it was short and sweet and we are now planning another trip in the next couple of years.  Who knew South Africa was so amazing? My friend Nicki did, ha!  Anyway, hope you enjoyed this post, I enjoyed writing it and reliving our trip.

Thank you Moira and all of your wonderful family, for making our short trip so wonderful, so memorable.  You are always welcome wherever we make our home.  Always.

Till next time,

Cynthia

p.s. yes, I have so many more pics, and many little short stories regarding our trip, I’ll tell you about them the next time we get together, but right now, I have to get ready for the winter circus!  Maybe another post coming soon?

 

 

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