A Word A Week Photograph Challenge – Violet


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Once a week I will dip into my old English Oxford dictionary and pick a word on the page that it falls open at.  The challenge is to post a photograph, poem, story – whatever the genre you like best to describe of what that word means to you. Put a link back to my challenge page so others can take part if they wish or check your blog out and entry out.   I have been reblogging some of the entries each week as I like to promote others work.  However, I am currently travelling Africa and this makes it hard to do as reliable and fast wifi is rare if at all.  Thanks for your forebeareance as my posts can be late – I am just about to head out to rural South Africa so we will see if wifi is available.

Do you have any photos, memories or stories of that you would like to share for this week’s challenge?

The Rabbit in the Ear – Cape Town and Nelson Mandela


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Four hours after we arrived in Cape Town Nelson Mandela passed away.  The news of his death did not reach us until the next morning. The 24 hour bus journey from Namibia to South Africa had wiped us out and we crashed as soon as we arrived at the hostel.

Those who are more aware of the portends than I would have known something was up.   As we travelled towards the border the skies were full of dark and brooding clouds with oil slick coloured pockets of air shimmering in between. When I woke up, completely oblivious of the news that was  breaking around the world, I found that my watch had stopped at  8.50pm the night before.  Later that day it started working again.   Apparently Mandela passed about that time.

Despite the lamenting of the world over the death of Nelson Mandela, mourning in Cape Town and most of South Africa seemed to be low key.  Possibly because life support machines had been keeping him alive for some time and they had time to prepare.  Also, many of those that I spoke to had become tired and cynical about Mandela’s family who they thought were determined to exploit his death to it’s max.  Google for the facts on the legal wrangling if you want to know more – its a pretty sordid and depressing end for a great man.    However one story did lighten the mood and hopefully Mandela would have found it as funny as we did.

One day we heard the Minister for Culture on the radio discussing the 9 meter statue of Madib commissioned by the government to commemorate his life.

“The rabbit in the ear of the statue was never part of the commission, it is a disgrace  and needs to be removed” he raved  “The rabbit needs to go.  The artists had no right to place the rabbit in the ear.  It was never agreed  to.  It is an insult to the memory. We never agreed to the rabbit”.

The interviewer then pointed out that the artists were not given permission to sign their work of art with their names and had placed a rabbit in one of the ears as their signature instead.

“I will say again, we never agreed to the rabbit and it has to go, it was never part of the original plan” he shouted. “The artists need to take the rabbit out of the ear as it was not commissioned or agreed  to”.  The rant continued for at least another 5 minutes but because he was in a fury by then his sentences started to run together and become incomprehensible.  The only words that we could hear clearly was “The Rabbit”  “Not agreed to” and “Needs to go” over and over again.

Seriously, who is going to see it – the ear of the statue is nearly 8ft high and  “the rabbit”  happens to be very cute!

How Hard Can It Be? When All I Want is a Cup of Tea, Zanzibar.


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It’s  been a while since I’ve had an early morning cuppa but if I had to choose a time and place to be reunited with my tea addiction this would be it.

Dawn is breaking.  My balcony overlooks pristine white sand cleaned by the receding blue crystal waters of high tide.    Reclining on a straw stringed lounger, stripy orange and white beach towel laid beneath me to prevent red squares imprinting upon my skin, head propped up on cushions the colour of sky, I drink my tea from a poppy red cup savouring each sip.

The sun rises, its rays shining down onto the sea through pink and gold guilded  cloud cotton puffs.  I sigh in contentment.  Hello Zanzibar – I’m back.

It took a few days to get the tea fiasco sorted out.  Our friend and owner of The Pweza Beach Bar and Restaurant, Amier, has just built his first tourist bungalow.    It’s a learning curve, so it was news to Amier when he found out that there are people who don’t like coffee and only drink tea ie me.  Therefore breakfast on the first morning was missing the tea leaf.

I always carry a supply of English Breakfast when I travel because I’ve learnt that getting a decent brew can be extremely difficult.   Despite learning the phrase ‘A cup of black tea with cold milk  – no sugar please’ in at least 20 different languages I normally end up with something completely different.  So for example, in Malaysia and Thailand I get black tea with condensed milk and half a pound of sugar (I cried off tea for a while after manfully downing a couple of cups).  In Indonesia I received rose tea (actually very nice), other countries with a hot climate tend to serve black tea as they have no facilities to store milk, just add sugar.  Some establishments only have herbal tea (mostly yuk), Earl Grey may be available (I think it tastes like soot and ashes) and others don’t serve the leaf at all.   I even ended up giving the owner of a bakery in South America a box of black tea so I could have a cup with my daily sticky bun.  So, as you can see, tea is very important to me.

To understand what followed our arrival at the bungalow here is some background.

A)    Pingwe village and beach is on one of the remoter, quieter parts of Zanzibar.   There are two small shops in the village no more than a few minutes walk from the bungalow.

B)     Shopping for most goods is done at Stone Town, A good 2 – 2.5 hours bus ride away.

C)    Electric costs have just been put up 300% and supply is subject to regular power outages.  Therefore cooking in poor areas is done by gas including boiling water.

D)   White goods are expensive for locals.

E)     Pweza Beach Bar is a small operation and Amier works hard whilst his brothers tend to supervise from the shade.  Therefore, he’s not always on hand to boil up on demand.

Morning One in Zanzibar.

Great breakfast with lashings of spiced Coffee but no tea.

“Do you have teabags” I asked

“No” but there’s coffee”

“I don’t drink coffee – it gives me bad headaches”  I explained

“Ahhh I’ll buy some tea bags for you” he disappeared.

Ten minutes later – nothing

I went to get my English Breakfast.

No tea for the rest of the day, not even hot water so we went to the resort down the road for a caffeine fix.

Morning Two          

Another good breakfast, coffee, a thermos of hot water, but no tea.

“Any teabags?” I asked

“Ahhh yes you’re a tea leaf drinker” he said and shot back into the kitchen.

15 thirsty minutes later  – nothing.

I went to get my English Tea.

Later we went to the resort down the road  for a much needed caffeine fix and  nutted out the problem.  We decided to source an electric kettle (definitely a challenge).

That night Amier came to tell us that he was off to the village store to buy tea and coffee.

“Great” I said “and we are going to buy an electric kettle for the room.  Do you know where to get one?”  “Paje maybe?” (at least 40 minutes by road in a rammed, hot,  public mini bus).

He looked confused. After several minutes of bad Swahili, Pidgin English and a lot of misunderstandings I thought we were on the same page.

“Maybe in Pajae” he said “If not maybe in Stone Town, Now I go to the shop”.

Now I swear I saw him come back with a round tin of coffee in one hand and a square box of tea bags in the other……….but

Morning Three   

Breakfast was awesome again.  The coffee and thermos came out.

“Teabags?” I asked

Amier looked at me “just a minute” he said and disappeared.  10 minutes later – nothing.  I went to get the English Breakfast.

I had consumed at least one cup when he returned.

“Here” he pronounced happily and put a box of green tea on the table (did I forget to mention that I loathe Green Tea?)

I didn’t have the heart to tell him

Mid morning we said goodbye before heading out on our quest for a kettle.  We decided to try our luck in the village of Paje a more touristy area with several shops and a Supermarket.  It was only a 40 – 60 min bus ride away depending upon number of stops, mood of driver, length of time it took to  manouver into position passengers and luggage in an attempt to win the world record for most people in a mini bus without suffocating.

Amier came to say farewell

“I just realise I buy green tea” he said with a smile.  “I not know the difference between green and back” But he still hadn’t gone back to get any!

After a hot, sticky ride into Paje we were directed to the Supermarket.  Budda must have taken pity on me and my withdrawal symptoms because there was one electric kettle on the shelves.  We tested it in the shop and it worked!  After buying cups and saucers, tea, coffee and sugar it was time to head home for a fix.  Even the cramped, sweaty  bus ripe with odour de human could not affect our light mood.

We filled it up, plugged it in, rubbed our hands in glee and waited……It didn’t work.  Various methods were used to coax it into life, a different plug/adaptor/socket, emptied and re-refilled several times, shook it up a little, verbally abuse it, even read the instructions, but the orange light stubbornly stayed off.

Amier found us on the veranda looking glumly at the kettle.

“  Ahhhh” he said “you find one”

“Yes ,but it’s broken – worked in the shop but not here.  We take back now”.

“I go to town and find if you don’t get new one” he kindly offered.

Hours later, refunded money in pocket and  no kettle we returned.

“I go now to find” Amir announced.

“You can’t’ go to Stone Town now how you get back (no minibus’s after 5.00pm)  “Go when you are in town next, it’s not a problem” we replied resigned to paying at least 3 dollars for caffine for a while longer.   After discussion he finally agreed not to go then left.

15 minutes later he came back with a brand new kettle.

“Where it you get that”  we exclaimed.

“At local shop in village (5 min walk) , I already test – it works” he proudly explained “you very happy now?”

“Yes  very very happy” .

Actually, I could have killed him but had no time as I was too busy unpacking the box.  It was a sight to make a hardened tea drinker weep.  A shiny chrome and black jug with a solid base and glowing orange light that said “I’m working”.

I opened the lid to fill up with water and it came off in my hand.

“No problem I change” Amier said

“They have another kettle?  I asked incredulously

“Of course” he said.

And they did and it worked!

Morning Four

Delicious omelette for breakfast, fresh mango, coffee, two thermos of hot water, no  tea.

I went to get my English Breakfast.

A Word A Week Photograph Challenge – Figure


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Once a week I will dip into my old English Oxford dictionary and pick a word on the page that it falls open at.  The challenge is to post a photograph, poem, story – whatever the genre you like best to describe of what that word means to you. Put a link back to my challenge page so others can take part if they wish or check your blog out and entry out.   I have been reblogging some of the entries each week as I like to promote others work.  However, I am currently travelling Africa and this makes it hard to do as reliable and fast wifi is rare if at all.

Do you have any photos, memories or stories of that you would like to share for this week’s challenge?

The Ghost Coast, Swakopmund, Namibia


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It was if tornado had sucked up a Bulvarian town and its residents and dumped it intact on the coastline at the edge of the Namib desert.  Gingerbread houses included.  It was a little surreal to say the least.

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After the parching heat of the desert, we decided to head to the cooler coastal climes for a few days, eat ice cream, go for sundowners and maybe glimpse the ghost coastline that this part of Namibia is renowned for.   What we hadn’t bargained  for was the rolling semi-opaque white sea mists, which envelope the area, combined with sharp biting winds dropped the temperature to sub degrees.    It was freezing and having only packed for warm days on the beach and balmy nights we both succumbed to shocking colds.

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The pleasant surprise though was the lack high security fencing with its obligatory rolled barbed/razor wire or electrified fences protecting properties and the ability to wander around safely at night.

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There is not a lot to do in Swakopmunde.  Extreme sports, camel rides, play Russian roulette with the rips – not our style.  We ate a lot of cake, walked along the beach, watched the sea fog roll in, froze and spent a lot of time wondering how ‘That Woman” Pub got its name.    However, the pier made for good photographs and the sunset was always spectacular.

A Word A Week Photograph Challenge – Context


 

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A little harder this week.  They say a picture paints a thousand words.  What story does your  photograph tell?

Once a week I will dip into my old English Oxford dictionary and pick a word on the page that it falls open at.  The challenge is to post a photograph, poem, story – whatever the genre you like best to describe of what that word means to you. Put a link back to my challenge page so others can take part if they wish or check your blog out and entry out.   I have been reblogging some of the entries each week as I like to promote others work.  However, I am currently travelling Africa and this makes it hard to do as reliable and fast wifi is rare if at all.  Thanks for your forebeareance as my posts can be late – I am just about to head out to rural South Africa so we will see if wifi is available.

Do you have any photos, memories or stories of that you would like to share for this week’s challenge?

The Sun Scorched Trees of the Dead Vlie, Soussuvlei, The Namib Sea Dessert


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Thought to be 24 million years old, the wind blown shifting dune desert of the Soussuvlei finally took its current form about 2 million years ago.  Rivers originally ran through area but as the climate changed they dried out.  Dunes were  blown across other rivers cutting off water supplies and left Vleis (marshes) where camel thorn trees used to grow.

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When the water dried up, river beds became arid, fissured and barren.  Salt deposits laid down over the years were exposed and pans formed between the dunes.  The dunes surrounded and hide the pans from sight for centuries until  they were discovered in our recent history.  The trees in the marshes died as the water evaporated and the sun scorched them black.  Thought to be over 900 years old, camel thorn tree skeletons are outlined starkly against terracotta sand and blue sky.  Twist blackened fingers reach upward for heights  never to be grown into.

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The Dead Vlie, overshadowed by Big Mama the highest dune in the world, is located in the national park. It is possible to either walk 4km through the dunes before veering off across the pans and cutting through more sand dunes for another 2km before reaching it or catching a safari truck for the first leg then walking the lesser route.  Our guide gave us options:-

a)     Walk  all the way in the heat of the day, which would take at least 3 hours then catch a ride back to the bus. Possibly becoming a victim to heat stroke and/or a bit of scorching on the side.

b)    Pay 5 dollars for a ride to the beginning of the 2km walk to the Vlei, save a lot of energy and see the sun scorched trees before the heat haze hits then catch a ride back. Saving a lot of time and energy.

Option A sounded like a grand idea until we realised that our driver thought he was a rally driver and nearly turned the truck during a death defying swerve into a sharp sand curve.

One group chose to take the hard way to the Vlei and walk up Big Mama, we chose the more sedate walk across the pans.

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Once again an amazing sight and a photographer’s dream.

The Star Dunes of the Sossusveli. The Namib Sea Desert, Namibia.


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Dune 45

It had been a long heart stopping climb in the grainy semi dark light of  pre-dawn, but finally I sat atop the 150 meter high Dune 45.  Burrowing into the  knife edge of sand to ensure that I could not tumble down the sharply angled sides I waited for the sun to rise. 21 We  had set off from Windhoek the day before, an intimate group of 3 paying guests, the guide/driver and the cook.   The Wild Dogs  truck had room for 15 passengers, plenty of space to be bounced around as it made its way over the unpaved potholed tracks through desert, one horse towns and spectacular valleys. 5658 14 Sunset over the Sesriem, Valley pass rock formations and the extremely rare quill tree (used for arrow quills in ancient times) After 7 hours driving, segmented by a stop for lunch on someone’s goat farm we finally arrived at the Sesriem Camp site.  It was unbearably hot.  We pitched the tents, cooled off in the swimming pool then checked out the camp site. 111 112 Hung  from the tree branches above us were  huge straw, hive shaped structures with hundreds of holes in them. “The five star hotel” our guide informed us.  “We call them ‘Friendly Finches’” The birds continually repaired or built the nests from what looked suspiciously like the straw umbrellas dotted around the pool.   They lived up to their name, when sitting quietly  one of the trees they hopped around my feet. 259 248 247 225 214 195 As the sun rose above a landscape containing the oldest and highest sand dunes in the world, it’s rays of light turned the dunes turned from umber to beige to dusky rose, amber to bright yellow and ochre to burnt orange and red.   The air was cool and still and nothing stirred below.  Silence.  Each person so wrapped up in wonder it rendered them speechless. 34 32 201 202 207 Eventually the sun crested, air warmed, bodies began to perculate.  It  was time to head down.  Breakfast was calling.

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Oh Lord bless this bus. The journey to Windhoek, Namibia


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After a lengthy prayer by the our  hostess, an even lengthier one from one of the passengers and 10 minutes of singing praising the Lord, we finally set off on an 23 hour epic bus journey from Livingstonia in Zambia to Windhoek in Namibia.    InterCape has become a success story of South Africa.  Started by a Good Christian man, it provides a safe, reliable, cost effective service between many of the Southern African countries.

It is a great service but success seems to have gone to the CO’s head that has set himself up as a preacher of the gospel.  Videos of him reading from the bible and then interpreting it in very strange ways are played on the overhead screen to the bus’s trapped audience.   This is often followed up by a few hours of religious songs interspersed with videos shows/films preaching Christian morals beliefs and values on marriage, family, divorce, abortion and religion.

All very well for those who believe and like to have some reinforcement but it felt  like brain washing to me.    Hours later, two borders crossed no sleep and the recommencement religious theme a reverse psychology set in and at that point I would have happily converted to any other religion to spite him.  It was my first trip with Intercape – I will be better prepared, if there is a next time, and buy ear defenders.

All the annoyances, the stolen money by one of the border guards who searched our hand luggage at the crossing and lack of sleep faded as the sun rose in a the country.  The sunset was awesome.

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Namibia has one of the lowest populations in Africa and as we  travelled to the capital in its central highlands, we passed through vast tracts of unpopulated land.  Many people have migrated  to the cities in hope of work only become homeless and unemployed.

Driving into Windhoek was pleasant surprise.  Well ordered wide clean streets, blocks sunny well kept houses, good infrastructure, shopping malls, and restaurants offering a variety of good food from different continents.  Gingerbread houses, sugar spun churches and German speaking residents reflects the German influence that dates back to early 20 century.

We were here for one reason.  The Namib.   One of the oldest and driest sea deserts of the world.   Some of the highest sand dunes in the world, a UNESCO world heritage site and a photographer’s play pen.

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Having arranged a 3 day safari to the Sossusvlei for the week after our arrival we settled in to enjoy some relaxation and  respite from the trials of travelling.    Swimming in the pool, eating good food and watching the sunset from the Hilton Hotel with drink in hand featured heavily on the agenda.   And so well watered, fed and rested and we set off for what has to be one of the most memorable experiences of my Southern African trip.  Covering most of Western Namibia, the  32,000 km sand sea desert is one of oldest and driest ecosystems in the world.  We were off to see the  Sesriem Canyon and Sossusvlei and photograph the star dunes.

A Word A Week Photograph Challenge – Undulate (wavey/ripple)


Once a week I will dip into my old English Oxford dictionary and pick a word on the page that it falls open at.  The challenge is to post a photograph, poem, story – whatever the genre you like best to describe of what that word means to you. Put a link back to my challenge page so others can take part if they wish or check your blog out and entry out.   I have been reblogging some of the entries each week as I like to promote others work.  However, I am currently travelling Africa and this makes it hard to do as reliable and fast wifi is rare if at all.  Thanks for your forebeareance as my posts can be late – I am just about to head out to rural South Africa so we will see if wifi is available.

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Do you have any photos, memories or stories of that you would like to share for this week’s challenge?

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