Day 1-10: Auckland to Pretoria, South Africa

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September 7th 2010
Published: October 4th 2010
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The warmest welcome ever!The warmest welcome ever!The warmest welcome ever!

...with the biggest smiles in the world...
Since we have a large number of friends and family we thought it good to give a short breakdown of who's who in the de Lange/Minty zoo:

Mike and Mariana Minty
Franz and Corne de Lange
Sonja de Lange

Brothers and sister:
Jaco, Leon, Brian and Rudi Minty
Konrad, Deirdre and Dewald de Lange

Sisters in Law:
Sarah and Lindy-Ann

Friends and fiances:
Melinda (Leon's partner)
Vicky (Konrad's fiance)
Liandri (Dewald's fiance)
Rian, Jolene and Seth

Tuesday, September 7th

We got up at 3:30am, packed the last of our stuff, said goodbye to Kattie, and then Tersia took us to Auckland airport. We were finally on our way to South Africa to visit our friends and family. Dad Mike was turning 60 and Konrad (Ferdi's brother) was getting married. We hadn't seen our people in almost 19 months and we were very excited!

We left a wet Auckland at 6:30am and was in Melbourne four hours later. While standing in line to get our onward boarding passes Talita spotted a friend from high school. She lives in Melbourne and was also on her way to SA for her mom's 50th birthday which,
Great to be backGreat to be backGreat to be back

...and great to enjoy a glass of Windhoek Lager!
coincidentally, was on the same day as dad Mike's. An hour of chatting later we boarded our flight for SA, but unfortunately we were delayed an hour while the ground crew tried to find missing luggage. Unfortunately we ended up with a few bags too many, so they had to go back into the cargo hold and find the excess baggage.

Sixteen hours, three breakfasts, five movies, a couple of sitcoms and a few short naps later we were approaching Johannesburg. We marveled at how smoggy the air was. Once on SA soil we collected our baggage and spotted Konrad and Vicky waiting for us. We were psyched! When we rounded the corner the entire de Lange side of the family was waiting for us with a Welcome Home banner. We were completely overwhelmed and found it hard to focus on each individual. After much hugging and a few tears we headed to a restaurant for a celebratory meal. The Minty side of the family was still pretending that we hadn't arrived so that we could surprise dad Mike on his birthday.

We were tired from the flight but the excitement of seeing our family again kept us

The happiest daddy in the world
going till nearly midnight. We spent the night at mom Sonja's place where we enjoyed seeing the familiar cats. We just love those furry little creatures!

Wednesday, September 8th

Ferdi woke at 5am. When he couldn't fall back asleep he got up and did some preparation for the day to come. It wasn't too long before Talita was up as well. Our sinuses were having a hard time adjusting to the dry and dusty air of SA.

We visited a nearby mall to get a travel adapter for the laptop, then went to our storage unit. Since we came with only the clothes on our backs, socks and undies we needed to get some clothes as well as Ferdi's PC. Opening the door we were absolutely amazed at how much stuff we had kept. We kinda wished we could just leave all that stuff behind.

Back at mom Sonja's we unpacked our clothes and got rid of a whole heap of old stuff. We'd gotten used to living with little and couldn't imagine what we ever did with that much clothes.

Thursday, September 9th

We spent the morning chatting and then went to our storage unit again to repack some of the boxes. In the process we got rid of three boxes and made a list of the content of each.

We were very excited to meet our 7 month old niece, Emily-Jane. Knowing that we wanted to give dad Mike the full attention on his birthday, we met up with Brian and Emily-Jane at a restaurant for a quick lunch. She is a gorgeous and joyful little girl.

Konrad cooked us a huge dinner and we spent another wonderful night chatting with our peeps.

Friday, September 10th

Today was a very special day. Dad Mike was turning 60 and we couldn't wait to see them. He had no idea we were in the country and we were super excited to surprise him.

Since shoes are pretty expensive in NZ we went shopping. Mom Sonja bought each of us a pair of awesome new Merrell shoes. We also got a few pairs socks and because we spent R2000 we got a huge kit-bag for next to nothing. The kit-bag was perfect for taking most of our clothes back to NZ. We did a bit more shopping before heading home where we continued packing.

We had a nap and a shower and then mom Sonja took us to the Minty house. Mom Mariana quietly let us in then called dad Mike, saying there was a guy at the door who wanted to see him. When he came around the corner he got a huge surprise! After long hugs we had a fantastic reunion with great food and wonderful company. It was great to be back!

Saturday, September 11th

We joined Leon, Melinda, dad Mike and mom Mariana for a trip to Mystic Monkey & Feather, a primate, bird and predator centre an hour's drive north of Pretoria. Here we had a blast watching various primates frolic and play. We saw exotic birds, white lions and three Bengal tigers, two of which didn't get along that day. It was a scary thing to see these huge cats go at each other.

After the tour we had lunch at a nearby lodge. The dry and dusty SA air was still wreaking havoc on our sinuses.

In the evening we went to Ed's for a few drinks with some friends. Unfortunately we ended up in the smoking section, and before long we were feeling sick and wanted to go home. We stuck it out and had a good evening in the end.

An interesting thing we've noticed is that SA had gotten crazy expensive. We thought we were paying a lot for beer and vitamins and general everyday stuff in NZ, but it turns out that SA is just as expensive (if not more so).

Sunday, September 12th

We took Ferdi's car to a "park and sell" spot and there was immediate interest. We soon discovered that we were completely unprepared. The problem was that in the 19 months we'd been gone we'd forgotten the procedures for selling a car and the buyer wanted it immediately. We ran around trying to get everything sorted, but in the end we couldn't manage it and the sale fell through. We had a lot of peace about it because the whole setup felt a little dodgy. In SA you can't trust anyone and it pays to be cautious.

We enjoyed a delicious lunch with clan Minty and later in the afternoon the greater family and a few friends came by for cake and tea. We barely made a dent in the ton of cakes and snacks that mom Mariana supplied.

Monday, September 13th

We drove to mom Sonja's place and packed for our trip with dad Franz and mom Corne. At 11:30am mom Corne picked us up and we fetched dad Franz from work before driving the hour and a half north to Sondela Private Game Reserve. After checking in we enjoyed a welcoming pancake and a small glass of wine by the pool.

We picked up our key and found our unit. It wasn't just any unit, it was a full-on thatched house with two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a spacious living area, kitchen and a loft with two more beds and a balcony. We unpacked and chatted the afternoon away.

During our chat three Nyala came to visit. The reserve supplies each unit with a bag of Nyala snacks and it was awesome to have them eat from our hands. The older of the three was very tame and we could stroke him and scratch him as much as we liked.

When the sun set we lit a fire and braai-ed some meat while enjoying a great evening under the African sky. We talk mostly about God and all the new and interesting things mom and dad had discovered since we'd last seen them.

Tuesday, September 14th

We got up at 6am to prepare for our morning game drive. Our guide's name was Mabula and we had a leisurely drive, spotting an adult giraffe and three young ones, Impala, Zebra, Blesbuck, Warthogs, Rooihartbeest, Eland, Kudu, Nyala and Wildebeest.

After a tasty brunch Talita spent a few minutes tanning in the sun then we had a long nap. Ferdi's sinuses were acting up and he wasn't feeling very well.

Later we enjoyed the warm bush breeze while chatting away the rest of the afternoon. We also got to feed the Nyalas again. Later we enjoyed another campfire beneath the African sky.

Wednesday, September 15th

We woke to the familiar sound of the Guinea Fowls going about their morning business. We packed and had another lovely breakfast before explored a tree house and trying to feed a goat and her little one.

Back in Pretoria we arranged for the freight of our last belongings to NZ and packed all the stuff we want to take as hand luggage back to NZ.

Thursday, September

We were woken by a phone call from the freight company. In order for them to pick up our stuff before we leave SA they needed to do it the following day. We quickly did the final arrangements, then dropped off the stuff we couldn't fit in our hand luggage at the storage unit. The flu was slowly getting the best of Ferdi so we paid an arm and a leg for some medicine. Back at home Talita had another tanning session and then we had a nap.

Later Melinda phoned with the good news that she had finally gotten her drivers license. She came by and picked us up for an evening of celebration that started with a few beers at home, continued on to wine and sushi at a restaurant, and ended with Amarula cream at their home. It was awesome to spend time with our longtime friends again. We've really missed them.

Friday, September 17th

We got up early so that we would be ready when the freight company called to pick up our stuff. Just after 9am we met them and they followed us to our storage unit where they spent three hours re-packing our stuff and loading it up. They were efficient and we were very relieved to have this aspect of our move finished.

With that done we drove to Jo'burg to meet up with some work friends. We were very impressed with the infrastructure we saw along the highway, especially the long anticipated (and yet to be completed) Gautrain that will connect Pretoria and Jo'burg. Another obvious change is the amount of new shopping malls that has appeared in Pretoria East. People must be spending mega bucks to warrant that many malls.

Once in Sandton we picked up pizza and met up with Gillian and Megan. It was great to get a good dose of the friend-fix again. When the ladies had to get back to work we drove to pick up Ferdi's car registration certificate in preparation for selling it. Then we had to brave the afternoon traffic back to Pretoria. We're very very happy that we didn't have to do that everyday! It sucked...

Additional photos below
Photos: 21, Displayed: 21


Why are your arms so orange?Why are your arms so orange?
Why are your arms so orange?

Curry thief perhaps?
The nutcracker princeThe nutcracker prince
The nutcracker prince

He figured out how to open nuts with a stone
My tomatoes!My tomatoes!
My tomatoes!

He managed to get away with 4 tomatoes...
Our home for the next few daysOur home for the next few days
Our home for the next few days

Not as quiet as we had hoped it would be. The bush wakes up very early in the mornings.
Die Groot TrekDie Groot Trek
Die Groot Trek

Re-packing all our stuff into new boxes and listing each item is no easy job

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