Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Chameleon hunting...

My aunt spotted an appeal for people to come and help do a chameleon count for Cape Town Nature Conservation and asked mom and I if we wanted to join her and my cousin: it sounded such a strange thing to do we of course (being the strange family that we are) jumped at the chance for an unusual family outing...

The area we were looking in is at the Kenilworth Race course and is actually the largest area of Cape sand wetlands in one place that is left intact, with two species of fynbos that are found nowhere else. It is right smack bang in the middle of the race course so we had to cross the race track to get there... On the way I dared mom to pretend to be a jockey for this photo: I think it is such a great photo as it shows not only my crazy mother, but also the racecourse with the lovely (side) view of Table Mountain that you have from the racecourse as well.

And then we got underway... There were abotu 50 people altogether and we split off into 3 groups. You have to do it in the dark because they hide away during the day and also apparently get lighter at night so they are easier to spot, especially with strong torches. Here are my mom, aunt and cousin searching diligently.
And me in the classic searching pose:
In the end none of our family actually found a chameleon, but some of the group we were in did (9 in all). See if you can spot mr chameleon below: (and see why it is pretty hard even in the dark with torches to spot them!)
All in all we got a nice lot of exercise - mostly "bundu bashing" - a South African term for just going straight through the bushes...ie with no actual path, and it was fun seeing the chameleons in the wild, but I don't think we will be doing this family activity again anytime soon!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Kirstenbosch with Heather...

So, Heath and I decided to go to Kirstenbosch Botantical Gardens for tea today to catch up. We started in the tea garden: I had to have some of the "Chocolate Puddle Pudding" which is as good as it sounds...We then wandered around a bit and then sat under a tree in the shade and chatted for a nice long while, before we decided it was time to go (as we were being attacked by falling insects - including a Praying Mantis!).

Here are some (self-timer) photos of us in the gardens:
That is the "back/side" of Table Mountain in the background.
I think Capetonians can get quite complacent about the beauty in our city and we do live in a BEAUTIFUL city, and so it is really great to be here and take advantage of it: being a tourist in my own city!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Strandfontein...

Today, for my friend, Brett's birthday party we took the 16 kids from a Children's Home and 6 of their carers to the beach for an outing: what a great way to spend the day! I got to be in the sea (for the first time since coming home!) and help out a great cause!

The organisors don't want (recognisable) pics of the kids to be put on the internet, so here are some showing the action without the kids...

Singing Happy Birthday to Brett - Heather's thumb was the candle: and Brett has already blown it out in this shot:
This is me with my friend Heather who was the main organisor and she has a PhD in organisation!
Ok: see if you can spot me: yes, I was the WHITEST person on the beach!!
I just love this picture of Rory = you try and explain that sunburn pattern (and yes he is hanging on to his pants for dear life!!)
Most of the time I was in the sea with the kids, having a great time; but, because I am still very white I did try and spend some time under the umbrella looking after (and feeding) the babies: so I am not horribly red, but just a slight shade of piiiink!

The kids and their carers had a wonderful time - and were all so grateful. They were all thanking us so much and I just kept saying "why are you thanking us? For having a good time ourselves?"! All in all it was a great way to celebrate Brett's birthday and give the kids and their carers a lovely day out...

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Bag lady...

In South Africa, (as in many countries) they have special people who pack your groceries for you. However, we also have a law that states that you have to pay for your plastic bags (in an attempt to cut down on the numbers of plastic bags in the country- go SA Govt!!), so now most people carry their own bags with them: at the till you have to either pay for a bag or hand over one to the "Bag lady" (or guy) who then bags up the groceries for you. I just think this is hilarious...

Anyway, I am still getting used to this whole concept as I am used to Bosnia where the THRUST plastic bags on you at EVERY opportunity. For Christmas, Lea made Ljilja and I our own funky cloth bag which I brought along to use here. So, today at the till the bag lady was looking at the bag in wonder and asked if I had made it... when I said it was a gift, she said "oh what a lovely gift" and then looked at how it was made so she could give it a go!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Banking on it...

Today I went to the bank to sort out some thing that I needed to... now in Bosnia one of the things I HATE doing is going to the bank, because they have separate queues - so each teller has their own queue (sorry, for Americans - line) and you pick one and then of course your queue happens to be the one where the guy in front of you has a hundred million things to do and the other queues go much quicker and you get all stressed out because you picked the wrong queue - it is never a happy experience!

So, today's bank experience with the "one queue" system (where you are all in one queue and then the front person goes to the next free teller) was so great, I am seriously thinking about trying to convince the banks in Bosnia to import it - it just makes so much more sense!!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Stasa's article...

One of my English Club asked if she could interview me for an article for an internet newspaper - she is journalism student and I was her first interview, so one day when she is famous, I will be able to say "I was her first interview"!! Anyway it is at etleboro, you can see the picture, but it is in Serbian Cyrillic so I guess many of you won't be able to read it, sorry...

luxury living...

In Bosnian "luksuz" is how they say luxury: and the joke is that life is very "luksuz": eating lots of "luk" (onions) and the "suze" (tears) are flowing!! Anyway, my life right now is very "luksuz" without "luk" or "suza" in sight...

One of the things that I forget is how fun it is to live at my parents' place (other than having to put up with my parents ;-) ). I feel like I am living in a 5* hotel! Besides the pool, now complete with chaise lounge and the fantastic pressure in the shower (with LOTS of hot water!), they also have a BIG plasma screen TV and Satellite TV with PVR (or TIVO): and now there are massage chairs (they have one each!) in front of it... So, yes I am sitting on my computer (using the wireless internet) and getting a massage while watching TV - this is the life!!!

Monday, January 12, 2009

one more sleep...

Then this girl is leaving the lovely winter wonderland of Bosnia at -7 degrees Celsius for the sunny shores of South Africa...where it is 30 degrees (for those in Fahrenheit that is from 20 to 80!!). I am looking forward to going, but at the same time sad to be leaving - very strange feeling...

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Snow Angelets...

Ok, Ljilja and I had a BIG laugh at this... The kombi that belongs to the plumbers (who use the garages below for storage) has just been sitting out front as they have had the week off. The snow on it was obviously too much of a temptation for Danijela or Sladja (my landlady's daughters) who (it looks like) used it to make snow angelets using Sladja's kids (all kitted out in their winter snowsuits of course!): 3 year old Filip-left-and poor baby Marko-right-to make the impressions!!!And yes, it is still snowy and cold here: it got UP to -7 today (seriously!). Besides finishing up reports for end of year, and packing, Ljilja and I have been out and about going to 3 of the families in our projects for "belated" Christmas lunches... 2 in one day yesterday... and something you have to understand about hospitality here: they complain about how little you eat when you have eaten so much you think you will be sick!! (and now do that twice in one day!!)

Bosnia vs South Africa

Ok, I leave for South Africa on Tuesday. I was thinking about the differences that I will experience:

1. The main one is of course temperature: -20C (around 0F) to 30C (80s F)
2. From falling into the snow, to falling into the swimming pool! (ok this is similar to 1, but hey!)
3. Driving on the right to driving on the left...
4. Having to pay for plastic bags (in Bosnia they force them on you at every opportunity!)
5. Not having to drive with your headlights on. (this may seem small, but I keep looking at other cars and thinking: hey buddy turn your headlight on... oh)
6. Security: from having one key to needing 4-5 keys and an alarm code to get in and out of the house
7. Mode of Transport: From walking everywhere to driving (and that with having to borrow my folks' car or use my Gran's 29 year old Peugeot if it is still going!)
8. Currency: Marks to Rands (1:6 at the moment - so big adjustment on pricing!)
9. Housing situation: in own home with Ljilja, to staying with my parents!
10. Church: from worshiping in Serbian to English (and not having to lead it!)
11. Scrabble: beating Nils by email, to beating him live (I have been playing with one friend by email for 9 years and we are on email game 114)
12. Food: I will miss Bosnian "pita", but I get to have Kentucky Fried and go to the SPUR

Ok, that is all I can think of for now - I know there is more but this is a good start!!

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Nerts night and SNOW!

Ok, tonight was "Nerts" night: a chance to play "Nerts" again for those of the English Club who learnt to play this summer (and show David and Aleksandra how to play), before I leave to go to South Africa. Here we all are: Branka, Sanja, Ceca, Sofija, Aleksandra and poor David with all the lovely girls!!We took a break midway to go outside and take pictures in the snow:
BEFORE:
AFTER!!!:
Yes, we are mad!! I love this photo of "black and white and white"
Here we are again: Ceca, me, Branka, Sofija and Aleksandra in front...
As you can tell, we had a great time!!

So it snowed last night...

A LOT!!! So what to do with all that lovely snow??? Well, after going out in it and having lots of fun trying to get all our errands done in town (they had *mostly* cleared the walkways in town - but the parking was a leetle beet treeky! Luckily I have good snow tyres, but at one point it was a bit dicey!) we came back and had a bit of fun...Ljilja got in there first:
Ljilja making an angel and playing at throwing at me...
Yes, it is up to my knees... PTL for great boots!!Aaaaahh, this is more like it!!!
One of my angels:
Now, I pointed out to Ljilja afterwards that my angels were deeper, so that meant there must be more snow on my side of the garden... She (correctly) pointed out that mine was deeper because I am of course heavier... DUH! Now we are all dried off, enjoying the snow by looking at it from inside our nice warm flat, until we have to go out again!!

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Hristos se Rodi! Christ is Born!

Vaistinu se Rodi! He is born indeed!Today for those of you that don't know (and I must admit I was was ignorant until I moved to Bosnia), is the day that the Serbian Orthodox Christian celebrates the birth of our Saviour (and many other Orthodox Christians celebrate yesterday or today, depending).

Many things are the same (yes they have Christmas trees with decorations). Many things are very different (they have wheat sprouts growing on their Christmas table and stuffed cabbage and pork to eat). But it is a reminder to me that it isn't important when we celebrate Jesus' birth - but that we DO celebrate it. And in fact, we should be reminded of it more often because it is a BIG thing - Jesus giving up everything that He had in heaven to come to earth, to die on the cross.

I celebrated the day with Ljilja (who for the first time wasn't home with her family for Christmas!) and we both went to Dragana's (with David). I don't have any photos from that meal, but we had a great time - even playing some Skip-Bo which David was given for Christmas by Sergej... We weren't allowed to talk about certain things: like our weight, age, facebook, David's unsuccessful apartment hunting, the fact that Belinda is going to be very soon in summer weather, etc and so everytime someone started to say something about one of these topics they were beeeeeeeeeped out!!! And it made for a more relaxing day not having to worry about those certain things!!

Then we dropped David off, and Ljilja and I went over to Olja's. This is now the 5th year in a row that I have gone to have Christmas with her and her family (I can't believe it!!): now the family is bigger by two than in 2005: her husband, Nenad started coming in 2007 and this was baby, Andrijana's, first! Here we are at the table (spot the wheat growing and the candle - lit at the beginning of the meal and kept alight until you finish...):
Here is a very cute picture of Andrijana proving that she can actually (and loves to) smile!!
Here she is more interested in me than in Ljilja!!
And with Baka (Granny) looking bored already by all the photographing!!!
I definitely ate far too much - but who can resist all this great Bosnian food, knowing that in a week I will not be able to have any for over two months :-) And it was a good day to spend "the most joyous day of the year" (that is what the Serbs call it!)

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Christmas Eve Children's Party

This evening we had a party for the children in the church (and a handout of their Samaritan's Purse packages). We also had a short worship time and a short message about the REAL reason for Christmas beforehand. Here is everyone:And then the games began... Ira and Sergej had organised again team games for the kids...and we had a great time playing them! Here I am, helping my team to their first victory(we had lost two games by now :-( ) by biting into the apple before David did for his team, yeah!! . But I must admit that Ira helped me out by telling me the best way to do it!!
Here are all the kids (there were only 2 adults per team) about to start another game... In the end the two teams actually ending up AMAZINGLY tying... so no one was disappointed!!
And here is a cute pic of Ljilja with Dina...
All in all it was a good way to spend (Orthodox) Christmas eve!!!

Sunday, January 04, 2009

All the best for 2009...

So far 2009 has been COLD here in Banja Luka. It snowed on New Year's day and it has pretty much stayed cold since then. I love it when the "high" is in the minuses... For a girl from Cape Town when it may dip to -1 once in a blue moon at night - to have it get "up" to -2 during the day is still interesting... as is the snow... But PTL our landlady is doing a fantastic job with the heating so we are nice and toasty inside...

I will arrive in South Africa to enjoy the summer there in just 10 days, and although it is hard to leave everyone here behind, I must admit that I am looking forward to getting away from the COLD!
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