Mexico: CDMX

VIVA MEXICO!

After a lot of convincing my wife was finally on board for a trip to Mexico City. I figured, its cheap, close, and relatively easy to get to and it did not disappoint! I think you have to realize that CDMX is a true Megacity. It has everything any other city has to offer from culture, food, entertainment, and also a lot of history and natural wonders. For some reason, I don’t think it peaks very high on many US travelers lists, but after a week there I would have no problem going back. Also, as a goal for the year, I told myself I would attempt to keep this blog up to date…so this is being written quite a few months after the trip ;(

The flight was fairly easy, since we were dropping of the kid in Jackson, we ended up flying out of Jackson through Dallas and onto CDMX. We were able to get to our neighborhood and check into the AirBnB easily and it had a great view! We stayed in Roma (based on some recommendations), and for the most part and it would easily be the place to stay if ever there again. It was a vibrant neighborhood easily walking distance from all the restaurants and place to be. We landed, dropped our stuff off, wifey was annoyed I accidentally booked a shared apartment AirBnB (oops), and started exploring. Basically all we did was get our bearings, walk and eat!

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Tuesday:

This day was super packed, but it only made sense since we were only there for a few days. We woke up early, and our tour guides, a mother and daughter, picked us up so we could check out the Basilica de Guadalupe and Teotihuacan.

The Basilica was a huge compound and even on a random Tuesday (although around Christmas) it was fairly busy with most likely tourists or people on holiday. A sermon was being given among all the people walking around/praying/watching and we watched for a few minutes then proceeded to see do the walking escalator ride to see Our Lady of Guadalupe up close and her cloak.

After checking this out, we walked to up the hill passed a few sculptures to the Cerrito Chapel.

 

Next up, Teotihuacan! These were pyramids build A LONG TIME ago and are some of the most architecturally significant pyramids build in Central America. It’s probably a 40 minute drive from Mexico City and we had made an attempt to get there as early as possible because it get’s hot quick, and at a high altitude it doesn’t take much to get dehydrated and sun-burnt.  The car ride was pretty quick and when we got there the tour guides stopped us at the typical everyone must stop tourist trap to see some of the ways that stones was carved back in the day, a Mexican hairless dog, and some liquor specific to that area made from Cactus flowers.  The best part was the liquor and I purchased a bottle for consumption at home! We kept moving and as we were pulling up wifey and I noticed the heat starting to settle in. She used her quick bargaining skills and some Spanish to get us some very stylish hats before we entered the parking lot. This also greatly impressed out tour guides which realized we would not be taken for suckers, and everything is negotiable (except their pre-negotiated tour rate of course).

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We parked, meandered in and got in line with the daughter of the tour guide (back from college) so she could climb the main pyramid with us.

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FANCY HATS

After some sweating and up some fairly steep stairs, we made it to the top!

Everyone was doing this photo where they raise their hands, so we did it to. We enjoyed the view and walked around the top then headed back down to climb the smaller pyramids. It was only getting hotter, and once you’ve climbed the biggest one, I wasn’t as interested in climbing the smaller ones to see a less significant view.  We also forced our tour guide to take an obligatory jumping photo. She complied and we were on our way.

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We headed back to the city to get cleaned up and kicked our feet up for a few since I had a busy evening planed for us.

At around 4:30 we headed out to take a cooking class at a local’s apartment. This was awesome! We met the chef, and us and another couple then went to the local market to buy the ingredients and get to cooking. The menu consisted of a Mole sauce, fresh quesadillas, salsa’s, and some other items which were delicious.

We enjoyed the instructions and cooking, but eating is really where we excelled. Fresh corn tortillas were legit, and we basically couldn’t stop eating them. The other couple taking the class with us prepped one other chicken dish (it was easy to be veg here) with the chef but we all just basically ate and cooked until we were full, then sat down and had dinner.  Finally, as Sag thought the day was wrapping up, I informed here we had ONE more thing to do and we headed to the arena for one of the best shows on earth, LUCHA LIBRE!

Wifey had no clue what Lucha Libre is, and was more along for the ride. It was great. Without going into all the details, I’ll just share some pics. I bought the most expensive seats I could so we were close (still cheap), and one of the highlights was the crowd reaction to an American wrestler with a Trump flag. It was brilliant! He knew how to play the crowd and it was a sight to behold.

Wednesday

The next day we decided to head into the main city square where all the Christmas decorations and shopping are located. I had picked a few restaurants to try and we walked around until we saw most of the government buildings and found the spot we were looking for to eat. We took the subway which was super convenient and quick.  I also got the image of this man carrying a large back of meat to work. Odd sight, but I guess when you gotta move your meat, you gotta move your meat….

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Subway Meat Man

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Zocalo

 

We then headed down to Coyoacan, which was the area where Frida Kahlo’s house is located, as well as the Coyoacan Market where my b-school friends Deepa was meeting us. I enjoy going to markets and this one was pretty cool. It had tons of great places to eat, as well as some interesting shopping and we perused around. We had plans to see The Blue House, but it was sold out so we booked tickets for the next day, I bought my skulls which I wanted for my study, and we went to Leon Trotsky’s house.

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Mercado de Coyoacan: Tostadas!

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We then headed to Mercado Roma, which I had been recommended but unable to find earlier. It was a large space with a collection of fancy food vendors and we sat down and enjoyed some Churros from El Moro.

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Churros!

We headed back to Roma and to met up Deepa’s brother and sister-in-law for drinks followed by dinner at a restaurant called Rosetta. It was again, delicious. If you enjoy eating, Mexico City is amazing. I didn’t realize it was such a foody city but you need reservations to eat just about anywhere and it is well worth it for any cuisine.  After some great convo, concerns about the political climate, making fun of me, and enlightening conversation (not because of me), Deepa’s fam dipped and we headed to this fancy mixology bar I wanted to try called Licorería Limantour. Long story short, I don’t like Mezcal.

After drinks which were not good (bourbon > tequila) and a sad good bye, we headed home and prepped for the next day.

Thursday

We woke up fairly early and headed down to the Floating Gardens of Xochimilco. This was pretty cool, and while wifey and I did have loads of fun I think it was one of those things where you gather a bunch of people and spend the day drinking/eating and buying random nonsense. It’s known for the floating mariachi bands so we enjoyed the music and discussed how we overpaid for our ride.

We had a set time to get to Frida Kahlo’s house so after we finished up we headed back to the Mercado de Coyoacan to get some delicious food and so I could stare at this tortilla machine:

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I Love You Machine

We enjoyed learning about Kahlo’s story as well as the difficult life she lead. Wiki it if you want know more.

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We wrapped this up and headed to Casa de Tono for some veg posole then to our new hotel. I had used a ton of points to get us in the Hilton for the last night, and after the whole roommate situation along with our pet Gato, I think it was a nice treat. The hotel was near Zocalo so at night we moved with the huge crowds, did some shopping, and enjoyed the culture of Ciudad de Mexico.

 

Friday

One last coffee

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Adios

Namibia: Windhoek in Windhoek

Due to a business related issue, I found myself flying to Windhoek for a quick weekend getaway with a co-worker. We basically where given less that 12 hours notice and had some of the company resources sort our travel to Namibia.

While I’ve heard a lot about Namibia and its relative safe environment (in comparison to South Africa), I wasn’t too aware of what to do or see and with the short notice. I had heard about the Skeleton Coast, Namib Dessert, and other must see locations, but since we where flying into Windhoek and this was more or less a 48 hour trip, making it to the coast was out of question.

Upon arrival it was nice to be what was essentially a town in comparison to Jo’Burg. While not small, it was a huge difference in comparison to Jo’Burg where I have been spending most of my time. After asking multiple people and trying to figure out where to go to dinner, we where told to go to Joe’s Place. I’m not going to say that when travelling to Namibia, one would expect to end up at a place called Joe’s, but go where the locals tell you to go.

IMG_2271Dinner proved to be very game meat heavy. Not an ideal place to eat for a vegetarian but typical Namib food. This was also a super interesting bar, it has it’s own story but I can’t be bothered to type it out. GOOGLE IT!

Day 1:

I had been looking for things to do/place to see and decided that heading to Von Bach damn would be as good as any to see and do. It was an hour north and would allow us to see some country, do some hiking and take in the warm and clean Namibian air. We headed towards Okahandja and after some time we reached a nice coffee shop to have breakfast and grab a coffee. Namibia is a dry country. While it isn’t all completely desert, it was pretty obvious that it takes unique creatures to survive in this environment (being dry season/winter everything looked even more arid and dead than normal). At Okahandja we noticed a huge word/crafts market across the street and decided to walk around and see what they offered. I had been told that Namibia is known for it’s crafts and wood work so I thought I might as well check it out. Also, upon reaching home I learned that this was a place people recommended to stop by so it kinda worked out. I ended up buying a 40 lbs elephant after cutting the price in half which was really impressive. Getting it home was another story, but it made it in one piece.

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We eventually found Von Bach damn after some wandering around and did some hiking.

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After some hiking we headed back to Windhoek and drove around basically looking for what to do. We stopped by a mall and had a bite to eat, and then ended up finding all the historical aspects of the country. We visited the independence museum, Parliament buildings, and a old train station. Namibia has a sad history very similar to South Africa and the regime’s that occupied and oppressed the people. On that note…

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By now we where pretty beat and had made reservations to have dinner at the Namibian Institute of Culinary Excellence (N.I.C.E). It was a delicious meal accompanied by a Windhoek in Windhoek.

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Day 2:

Since we where leaving today I had looked up another nature reserve we could go hiking at (gotta keep the step count up) called Avis Nature reserve. It provided some beautiful scenery and a nice stroll.

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After some walking we headed to the airport to get back to work in Jo’Burg.

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Disclaimer: I procrastinated terribly to write this post, and it was written a few weeks after the trip. So, sorry for the haste and lack of detail…

South Africa 5.0: Cape Town

As part of a weekend getaway, and with the constant reminder that winter is coming to the Southern Hemisphere, I decided to make a trip to Cape Town for what would be a very quick weekend in a great city. Cape Town is truly a win-win location, apart from the rainy winter season; the city/vibe/culture was perfect. With so many things to do, and just about everywhere you looked being a photo you wanted to capture I was distraught with the amount of things I wanted to do, and how much I could actually get done. I left Friday after work and by the time I got into Cape Town (with wonderful unexplainable BA delays), it was close to midnight. Also, during my extended stay at O.R. Tambo airport, there where news flashes of angry S.A. National Parks representatives over an adult film someone (two people) somehow managed to film at the top of Lion’s Head. I did some google-ing and then read that the peak had been closed because of this incident. I wasn’t sure how accurate this was, but hoped for the best. If you wish to see the NSFW video google away…

I had decided to try an AirBNB, which ended up being perfect as the host was very nice and gave me some quick pointers before I went to bed and it was fairly cheap. The four things I had on my list where:

  1. Cape Point/Cape of Good Hope/drive cape
  2. Table Mountain (cable car to the top)
  3. Hike Lion’s Head – had been on my list of things I wanted to climb for some time!
  4. Signal Hill

Obviously Robben Island was a must do, but I thought it may eat up too much of my day and take away from the other things I wanted to do, and this list barely scratched the surface….

I started out Saturday by heading towards Simon’s Town where I would stop and have breakfast at a nice pastry shop. Even to this point, the views of the ocean and False Bay where incredible and I almost wanted to stop every few kilometers and take pictures. I continued on and reached Boulders where there was a colony of African Penguins. They where quite cute and one managed to get very close to the boardwalk and some Asian lady keep trying to pet it. IMG_20150523_102856764_HDR IMG_20150523_101516729_HDR IMG_20150523_101335748Clearly, this was a stupid idea because it eventually managed to nip her finger and she looked like she was in a little bit of pain. This was also my first trip where I had to attempt this whole Selfie camera phone shot business. People have been takin photos of themselves for years so I don’t get why we now have a name for it….and i also get the whole selfie stick rage…I guess I would feel even more awkward if i had to lug one of those around but i guess you gotta make it happen if you want the picture.

Along the way, there where ton’s of great signs and I thought it would be great to get pictures and facial expressions with all of them but by the time i noticed them it was too late to turn the car around and get a photo.

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Along with this Baboon sign, there were also many signs for penguins, frogs, and other animals with the same amount of importance! Alas, I couldn’t capture them all. After the wonderful little Penguins I keep driving up the cape and stopping for photos way too often. I reached the Table Mountain National Park around 11 and then drove directly to Cape Point. This ended up being a great idea because of the constant Load Shedding that happens, the Funicular was only going up and down a few more times and walking would have added a lot of time to an already full schedule. I surveyed from the top of Cape Point and enjoyed the windy breeze and sound of the ocean. Then went back down the hill to drive to the Cape of Good Hope. This was even windier but incredible to see:

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After this it was time to head up the other side of the cape towards Cape Town. The drive was equally beautiful and I stopped multiple times to enjoy the scenic views and the beaches. I had heard of Chapman’s Peak drive which is where the Two Oceans marathon is run and luckily was able to get this into my route back to Cape Town. IMG_20150523_134730396_HDRIt was well worth the toll and the road was incredible and a little scary as you navigated the mountain passes and roads cut out of the rock. I reached the top overlooking Hout Bay then headed down the other side to have lunch in Hout Bay at a place recommended by Amar. This was a disappointment because it was a pizza chain equivalent to Dominos of the Western Cape.

Continuing on I made it back to Cape Town and was able to chat with my host and get some suggestions on what I should do for dinner and the rest of the evening. I ended up going to the V&A Waterfront which was a big mall/shops/restaurants on the waterfront and walking around looking at things. I had also been wanting to try Cape Malay food while I was in Cape Town and found a spot that had a vege Malay curry IMG_20150523_193855858so I scheduled that in for dinner. It was good, but nothing ridiculous and I’m not sure what Cape spices are at this point. I also had a pinotage which was decent and dessert (a little fatty). After all this eating the last thing I had to do before turning in was drive up to Signal Hill to view the city at night. A camera phone will never capture this type of picture well, but it will have to do. I also saw many cars with fogged windows on the drive up and at the top, so safe to say it is a view that is very ‘romantic.’

Sunday was another full day, I had options but after seeing Lion’s Head at night I knew I had to climb it. I had been toying with the idea of maybe saving it for another time since the weather could be iffy but after seeing its silhouette at night, it was back on the list. I woke up early and headed to the mountain which was a 2 minute drive from where I was staying. I couldn’t see the top and before long I was hiking into the clouds.IMG_20150524_081723489_HDR I discovered a short cut which had me going straight up hill, probably not the greatest idea when walking through clouds alone but it ended up working out well since I found the main trail after walking directly uphill for a while and over a barbed wire fence. As I got closer to the top I reached a point where I had to make a decision.

I really wanted to take the chains/ladders route but after staring at the sign I reluctantly decided it would be best to take the ‘recommended’ route when hiking alone. After more climbing, and scaling rocks I reached the top and was able to enjoy the view. On one side I could hear the ocean hitting the rocks below and see the beaches to one side, while Table Mountain was to another, the city to another and the ocean and bay behind me. Simply stunning.  After taking in the views and taking way to many pictures I headed back town. I accidently took a different route down and was able to scale the chain cliffs and use the staples in the rocks (by accident). So much for playing it safe I got to do both routes. I would rather have done the non-recommended route going up because its easier to climb…but I didn’t haveIMG_20150524_101408962 much of a choice.IMG_20150524_093108499_HDR
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I made it down safely and showered up and headed out for a snack. Last on my list was Table Mountain which was to be a nice stroll at the top and lunch overlooking Cape Town, Lion’s Head, Twelve Disciples, and the rest of the sites. I paid for my ticket, got in line and was next to board the Cable Car and the system broke!! After waiting for 40 minutes they finally pulled the plug and said that they would not be taking anyone up, just trying to get people down. You can hike Table Mountain, but I had no plans to do that so it seems that I will have to do that the next time I am in Cape Town.IMG_20150524_133605154_HDR

In place of Table Mountain I went to the waterfront and discovered a nice food market and other places/markets to look and shop around for goods. I didn’t have much time, but I had a Captain Crunch crape, looked around at some cool stuff then headed to the airport. I hope to be in Cape Town again and partake in all the outdoor activities that are possible.  So much to do, so little time! It was a city I could easily picture myself living in with the immediate access to the mountains, beaches, and waterfront it more or less had it all.

Some Photos:

Lion’s Head and Signal Hill

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Cape Town from the Cable Car Pick UP

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Signal Hill view at night

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Tree I liked at Cape Point:

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Some geography in case you’re lost:

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South Africa 4.0: Pretoria

Another quick entry about a weekend excursion to Pretoria!

I had been wanting to see Pretoria for some time because it is the legislative capital of SA and there where a few sites which I felt where probably must see locations if I’m in South Africa for an extended period of time. Pretoria is roughly 35 minutes north of Jo’Burg so it’s not a tough city to get to and I planned out the day to check out a few sites once I had convinced my co-workers with cars to tag a long (basically I needed a ride/driver and had to convince them that it was the place to go).

We started out by heading to the Voortrekker Monument south of Pretoria. This was a monument made in honor of the Afrikaan struggle/migration/etc. in South Africa and documented their battles against the Zulus/Brits over SA. IMG_20150516_095314740IMG_20150516_095212012It’s really a IMG_20150516_095730884odd monument to see, and from an outsider point of view interesting to comprehend and understand their South African history. There was one exhibit which lined out the migrations of tribes throughout Africa, and it basically summed up that there was only one real native tribe to the area, and that the Zulu’s where immigrants to the lands just like they were (although hundred’s of years prior). It’s kind of like the Perot museum in Dallas. From what I’ve heard you can see that oil companies/benefactors had a heavy influence in the exhibits and it’s construction even though it’s a nature and science museum, i.e. the benefits of fracking and oil exploration…Also at the monument we checked out Fort Schanskop which had a great tree in the middle.

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After the monument we headed to the Hazel Food Market. This was something i looked up online and it was GREAT! How can you not like 50 stalls with food from all over the world freshly cooked in front of you? I could not resist. I more or less want to eat everything but don’t have the ability…

Last on the day trip list, was the Union Buildings in downtown Pretoria and Church Square. Both were extremely nice and gave great views of the city. Also it made the Invictus scenes much dramatic. Unfortunatley downtown Pretoria is crap. It looks like its one of those cities where people with money move to the suburbs which is why they neighborhoods out side of the city are really nice (like where the food market was).

Union Buildings:

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Church Square:

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Also, one last picture from Brommfontien in Jo’Burg:

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South Africa 3.0: Howz It?

Back in Jo’Burg after taking a new path through London to get here. While a slightly longer trip, it was much easier on the jet-lag and I got to fly in BA’s newest A380 (according to the flight attendant) which was huge! It IMG_20150503_171458212_HDRwasn’t anything too spectacular because in this day and age no one is giving passengers more space, but as far as entertainment systems/ride it was really nice. They curtain everything off so you really can’t walk from level to level, but i guess its probably not that interesting anyway. Saturday started out a slow. Not having a car this time around has limited my ability to get out and explore or see sites that I would normally just go and check out on my own. Luckily a few of my colleagues felt like leaving the hotel and we ended up going to the Kyalami Race Track to do some go-karting. It also happened to be a classic car race since they were shutting down the big race track for the season. Fun to watch and see some cool cars, but the real driving happened on the go-kart track where I demolished all my competition. 2 lap margin of victory and the fasted lap! Time for a career change! IMG_2097.2015-05-09_101341 IMG_2101.2015-05-09_101834IMG_2108.2015-05-09_110223 I made it back to the hotel with time to go to a Moroka Swallows match in Dobsonville, a township in greater Soweto. Travelling to Soweto was pretty cool. It was much more lively with people everywhere and things moving around.  The Swallows happened to be the worst team in the South African Premier League, but where able to win one-nill and move of the bottom of the tables. I don’t have a South African club that I support, but they are as good as any at this point. IMG_2111.2015-05-09_133625IMG_2119.2015-05-09_150947Along the way, I was able to see the World Cup stadium and some other things that where built for the world cup. A lot of investment went into the infrastructure as well as Soweto, but now looking at it it all looks like its not being used as much as needed. Sort of the story of world cups and the corrupt world of FIFA.

South Africa 2.0: Ajay, Friend to Animals

Another weekend in Jo’burg led to wandering around and trying to explore as much as possible. The thing I like most about this country is that they refer to traffic signals/lights as robots. It is GENIUS! On the roads it says ‘Robots Ahead’ everywhere and I instantly imagine R2D2 directing traffic. I don’t understand why more countries/people don’t refer to these signals as robots. It’s the world’s loss at this point.

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I started out my Saturday by going to Lion Park. It’s a Park on the outskirts of Jo’Burg where they breed white lions and other lions. It’s basically like a wild zoo. IMG_2027.2015-04-11_105521 (1)The animals aren’t domesticated by any means, but they are also not fit to be in the wild (…so they say….I personally think that if re-released in their prime their instincts would allow them to find a pride or hunt, but for some reason no one thinks this way. For the sake of Zoo’s everywhere, they would just starve to death and not be able to assimilate at all, even though some of their lions have escaped temporally and killed a gazelle in other parts of the park, or fought with other lions over territory). IMG_2017.2015-04-11_10522860 Minutes did a piece on this exact park and how they ‘allegedly’ sell their non-cute grown lions to farms where hunters come and kill them (not really a hunt, more so an execution).

While I think the white lions are very pretty, I still think normal ones are much better looking (and they survive better in the wild). Mufasa! Mufasa! Mufasa!

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The park also had a baby giraffe which wasn’t but a week old. My plan is to steal it and get it to my Aunt’s garden. It would be perfect grazing among their trees.

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Sunday I did more of the same and went to Arts on Main to eat and actually take time to explore. IMG_2039.2015-04-12_095938The whole area is gentrifying and was crowded and very cool. Lots of cool stuff to look at including street art, galleries, art supporting street children, etc..  IMG_2047.2015-04-12_103238 IMG_2055.2015-04-12_103156I may have to go back and see if I can buy some art to fill in the house. Our walls are quite bare, which gives the house a very clean look, but also makes it look rather simple.

This coming week is my last week here until May so I plan on keeping it simple and getting to the airport extra early. South Africa in general has a power shortage (much like CA) but they don’t do brown outs or decreases in wattage, they just simply turn off sections of the city (or the entire city). Most businesses/hotels/houses have generators and everywhere I have been there are two outlets with one being the outlet that will work when the power goes out. The disorder comes when no robots (Traffic lights) work, all street lights are out, and traffic is just a mess.

That’s it; next up is duty free shopping and a 16 hour flight. I’ll be back here in 2.5 weeks, with plans to make it to Cape Town/Durban/Kruger, and whatever else I can fit into a weekend

Kenya: Easter Weekend

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Since I ended up getting a 4-day weekend because of Easter Holidays, I decided to visit my Aunt and Uncle in Nakuru for the weekend. Upon disembarking and seeing my Aunt and Uncle, we headed to a new highway that my uncle was eager to try out and showcase the advancements in the Kenyan Highway System.

As you can see, Kenya has a way to go:

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The road was pretty nice; it just happened that the first few kilometers were unfinished and made for a pretty rough start.

The difference in Kenya and South Africa are immense. My aunt basically said that no one considers South Africa as part of Africa, and I whole heartedly agreed. From the infrastructure, to just the level of income and organization they are incomparable. I don’t mean this in a bad way, or to take anything away from other countries, but to put it simply you really can’t consider SA a ‘3rd world’ country because it is in Africa.

The journey home was smooth. My uncle told me they had been having a very dry spell and it showed with Zebras, Gazelles, and Warthogs all coming right up to the road to eat (greenest grass from runoff). We reached Nakuru, hung out, and then I passed out so I could recover from my cold.

Saturday, my Maci gave me the official tour of Nakuru since a lot has changed. It’s a rapidly growing and things are being built everywhere. The only thing not growing is the size of the roads and traffic is terrible. IMG_1947.2015-04-04_091100We meandered around, got caught in some rain then ended up at the house for lunch. I went out to chat with my uncles new guard geese since animals are my friends. IMG_1963.2015-04-05_084405They were not friendly and the white one is rather intimidating. I wanted to get an attack video but I feared for my life. That evening we had dinner at my Uncle’s brother’s house and I was able to listen to some serious wedding planning by his niece who is planning on getting married in their garden in August.

Sunday we relaxed and went to Lake Elmenteita for lunch (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lake_Elmenteita). I added to my collection of pictures of the Sleeping Warrior and chatted with my Uncle and Aunt (His head is to the center of the picture below with his feet/belly to the left). IMG_1965.2015-04-05_095553
That evening there was family coming over for dinner and some more wedding planning which I tuned out (probably much like I did for my own wedding).

Monday it was time to head back and the driver and I set out for Nairobi around 11 AM. The drive went off without a hitch as we passed hoards of baboons on the way up. We decided to take the ‘new highway’ and the unfinished patch ended up almost ended up being our downfall.  There had been a lot of rain the previous night, and we were in my Aunt’s small Toyota pushing our way through mud and puddles that were close to a foot deep. The beautiful Kenyan Highway System at it’s finest:

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Upon reaching the airport, I checked in, passed through customs/immigration and security then grabbed a snack. It was then time to pass through the second security check (pre-boarding area) and I was asked for my passport and Yellow Fever vaccination. I did not have my yellow fever vaccination card on me (it’s in Dallas) and I was not aware I needed one. I mumbled out some crap about how I didn’t need one and the airport security lady just stared at me. I informed her I just came from SA (which made no sense, and pointed at the stamps) and managed to gently take my passport out of her tightly fisted hand and continue on through security. I sat down and realized I may be screwed. I knew I would get on the plane, but without the card I may not be able to get into SA, or they would give me a shot on site and put me in quarantine. I had read a little about this prior to booking the ticket but I wasn’t able to find an official site and only parts of Kenya are considered high risk for yellow fever.  I texted Sag, who by chance had a late start and could send me some photos of my vaccination card which I would pretend was digital and try and talk my way through SA immigration. New Digital Yellow Fever CardI boarded the plane, thought about it a few more times and then ate a biscuit, played some bridge builder and took a nap.

Upon deplaning I enacted my plan. Be the first through screening and in line so I could mix in with whoever else just landed, and not be in the middle of the pack with a bunch of tourists who slap out their yellow fever card when no one asks. I scribbled through my Ebola questionnaire and jumped in line.  When asked what my departure city was, I repeated my flight number which for some reason was sufficient and made it through immigration!

SUCCESS! So, if you ever forget your yellow fever card you can use the above steps to try and avoid quarantine. My backup was the ‘new digital copy’ (from 2005) which I didn’t have to use so it all worked out. Thanks to Sag for giving me that ‘fake’ piece of mind and for being able to help me out despite an 8 hour time difference.

Safe at sound at the Hilton Sandton, I enjoyed my welcome treats and love letter from the staff:

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Kenyan Washer and Dryer (lifetime warranty):

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Simba (his nicety will probably lead to more geese):

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South Africa: Entry 1.1 – The Second 24 Hours

While it may seem I will update this every 24 hours, that is not the case. Tomorrow I start work and will have little to write about except long days and lots of laptop time so, don’t worry, I won’t be flooding the internet with crap.

Juraj and I had plans to go to the Apartheid Museum and met for breakfast at around 8. The Hilton Sandton breakfast is amazing. IMG_1887.2015-03-29_063645There is almost too much to choose from: Juice bar, custom omelets, seasonal fresh pastries (one of the staff offered me a local gogi berry muffin that had just come out of the oven, so I had to eat it), fresh fruit, organic selections.  It’s almost to much to choose from. My typical breakfast is lucky charms and a clementine. I am seriously going to have to watch what I eat otherwise I will get fat and turn into the Nutty Professor. Keeping that in mind, I started out with a egg white veggie omelet and some fresh passion fruit and squeezed juices. Then the muffin was delivered out of the hot pan.

After breakfast we headed out to the apartheid museum which happened to be next door to a amusement park and share the same parking entrance. It was kind of weird, you could hear people screaming and laughing on roller coasters as Juraj and I became the boring people heading to a Museum.

Upon buying our tickets I looked down and noticed my ticket was for the non-white entrance, and Juraj, being ‘European’ was for the white entrance (Random? come on…). We split up and headed out different ways, I’ll never know what I missed, but either will he:

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We weren’t separated that long and completed the museum in about 2 hours. Honestly, you could have spent years in there because there was so much to read and it being so (scarily) recent, there is plenty of documentation to digest and read through. It reminded me that this wasn’t but 20 years ago, and also jogged my memories of travelling through Siem Reap and touring the rooms where Pol Pot tortured people. Seeing the blood stains still splatted on the ceilings in Cambodia is sad, and the torture and oppression people faced in South Africa was a disappointing reminder of how recently these events occurred. After exiting the museum we were greeted by the sounds of people screaming and enjoying roller coasters and other rides.

We then headed to Market on Main for lunch. This was a extremely cool food market and art stores that is open every Sunday. If in Jo’Burg, it is a must and I will be going back. I ended up trying an avacado sandwich on some traditional (Dutch?) bread which Sag would have loved and a fresh mojito. See: http://marketonmain.co.za/

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Also around this area was some great street art and graffiti, i’ll have to go back and get some pictures but below are a few I saw:

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After lunch we headed to a flea market near the hotel with our other colleagues. Cool, but nothing major. You can tell you IMG_1916.2015-03-29_124919don’t have much room to bargain when the vendors have credit card machines and most of the trinkets were overpriced stuff I could buy in Kenya. There where a few things I would check out, and i’ll be sure to go back in the coming weeks to grab some gifts. To kill some time and tend to my barking dogs, I enjoyed a thai foot massage. I always see people getting these in the mall in the IMG_1915.2015-03-29_123751 (1)States, I guess I understand why now. I also saw this painting which I thought where pretty funny.


After the flea market I kept moving and Juraj and I walked from the hotel to Mandela Square which is also the entrance to a GIANT mall called the Sandton Center. Safe to say that Sandton is a very wealthy part of Jo’Burb (next to my hotel there are McLaren and Ferrari dealerships). We managed to cover a lot of ground in the mall, most stuff is overpriced and probably more than what you would pay for in the states. Maybe next weekend since I may have some time to kill I can get the shopping I never get done Stateside and find some Easter sales. I hope not.

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