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Published: August 1st 2012
Well, there will be many people who ask me what my favorite part about my year abroad was and the answer will always be my last two weeks, including Normandy and Paris, South Africa was without a doubt the most amazing part of my whole year. If you remember my Paris blog from October I split the trip into about five parts, well, I could probably split my South Africa trip into about 10 or 11 parts, if I wanted to. I won’t do that of course, now that I’m home I’m finding that I don’t have a lot of time or motivation to sit down and write that much and quite honestly the photos speak louder than my words because I really can’t find sufficient words to describe most of the things I saw, and you needn't worry, I will add all the photos I can to my South Africa blogs. Africa is one of those places that is home to most little kids’ favorite animals, it’s a place most people will only know through National Geographic and animated Disney movies. When I got there and it took a few days to actually sink in
that I was in Africa
. Real Africa
After Normandy Mom and Dad and I headed back to Paris, we only had one day for them to see all of the wonderful that is Paris, so we enlisted help; none other than the magnificent Parisian: Evan Knight. We did some exploring on our own but in the afternoon Evan took us on a little tour of the town with, of course, bikes. I like bikes, and this time around I was much more confident about riding around Paris on one, even if it was “jankity” as Evan says, and, unfortunately, according to Microsoft Word, “jankity” is not
a word, sorry Evan.
Mom and Dad agree with me, Paris is awesome. I think, I
think it’s more awesome than they think, but none-the-less it is a unanimous vote of awesome. And since you all know so much about Paris already due to my previously mentioned Paris blog, I won’t really delve too much into what we did since it was such a short visit. The important thing you need to know is we went there, we saw Evan, he took us to eat great food and
it was awesome.
On July 4th
Mom and Dad headed off very early in the morning to go back to the USA, a very appropriate action for the day, I think. I, however, had until late that evening before I left for South Africa so Evan and I met up for lunch. He took me to the Jewish quarter where they have a lot of delicious falafel restaurants. The night before my Mom said (or maybe it was my Dad…?), “You’re actually going to go eat that?”
“Evan has never led me to bad food, Mom (or Dad); I’ll eat just about anywhere he takes me.”
Evan’s score is still 100%! (MISSING)Falafel is good! Super good! I can’t believe I have been so deprived. Better than doner kebab, for sure. We went to the steps of his library to eat and towards the end of our lunch he asked, “Hey, what day is it?”
“Um, it’s Wednesday.”
“It’s the Fourth of July. Well, Happy Fourth of July!”
Neither of us even realized it, and I guess it’s hard to remember that stuff when, well, they don’t celebrate it outside of the US
and neither of us had been in the US for quite some time. Evan helped me find an easy way to get to the airport and we said goodbye, sort of for good this time since I wasn’t coming back and he’s staying in Paris for about two more years getting his second
masters from the Sorbonne, which if you remember it is the oldest and most prestigious university in Paris. Evan is very smart.
I landed in Johannesburg, South Africa around 8:20am, so it was about a 10 hour flight from Munich. I nearly didn’t make my flight because my flight from Paris to Munich was delayed and I was literally the last
person on the plane. Luckily though I wasn’t sitting next to anyone so I was able to lie down and get decent rest so I was ready to go at 8:20 the next morning to meet the Terryberry’s! For those of you who may not know who the Terryberry’s are, Shawn Terryberry was the husband of Conor and mine’s first nanny, Lori. Somehow we kept in touch with Shawn and not Lori and now we are good family friends with Shawn, his wife
Rita and their two daughters Sophia and Olivia. In fact, Conor is house sitting for them while they are living in South Africa.
Well, if they wanted me to come house-sit for them in South Africa I would have no
problem with that. They live in a really nice, safe housing development near Pretoria, South Africa. Inside of their development they have a section with their own small game reserve which the Terryberry’s home overlooks. There is nothing dangerous in the reserve, only different types of antelope such as Nyala, impala, kudu, springbok, steenbok and a few more. They used to have zebra but they were too destructive, and by destructive they mean murderous, they would kill the other animals; apparently zebra are mean.
Shawn has been in South Africa for a little over a year now working on a power plant project, but Rita and the girls had only been there for about three weeks when I arrived so we got to do a lot of grocery shopping and finding things for the house but in between we had a ton
of fun, heck, not even in between, we found ways to have
fun doing that stuff! 😊 The girls and I made lots of cookies and scones, we laid out food to feed the wildlife so they would come to the side yard, and we just relaxed around the house sometimes, which was actually really great. I hadn’t just sat around and watched a movie with anybody in months. It really felt like just being part of the family, which I liked and I missed since it had been so long since I had been with mine. It also gave me lots of time to get to know the girls. My goodness. Conor lived with them for a bit while he was learning how to take care of their house and we both agree that Olivia and Sophia are about the most respectful, fun, well-mannered girls we have ever met. I just had a ton of fun with them. For a long time I have been really adamant that I am so glad it’s just me and Conor, but you know if I had Olivia and Sophia I would love to have little sisters. 😊 And Rita is so fun to talk to as well, they are just a happy, fun and
adventurous family; never a dull moment!
When we weren't baking or goofing off around the house the Rita, the girls and I had little adventures of our own. My second day there we went to a game reserve called The Farm Inn that is only a few hundred meters or so outside of their development. The reserve is so close that if you are quiet at night you can hear the lions roaring. Rita asked if there were ever any escapees and in fact about five years ago there was. A male lion had escaped and found its way into Rita and Shawn’s development. The next morning a horrified couple woke up to find a lion on their patio table eating their dog. Our guide, Chris, lives there so he not only is very knowledgeable about the animals but he has personal relationships with them and it showed when we got to the juvenile lion and tiger enclosure. They were SO excited to see him! You could tell they recognized him as their buddy and just wanted to play.
Shawn is currently under a lot of pressure and stress at his job, so unfortunately
the first few days I was there he had to continue to work long days and late nights. However, it was finally Saturday so we got to spend the weekend with Shawn. That morning Shawn came into my room, “Devin! There is a whole family of Kudu in our side yard!” We all shuffled quietly up onto their roof (don’t worry it’s a safe roof) to watch the family graze just below us. “This is one way to start the day. Huh?” 😊
We got dressed and headed to an outdoor organic market which was actually located at an elementary school. It was filled with the coolest crafts, whole pictures made out of beads, and a "for sale" sign for Jack Russell puppies. Rita loves dogs. It’s been a debate whether or not they will get a dog. They love animals and it’s always fun to have them around the house, but it costs a lot of money to get them back to the United States and Rita is sure her dogs won’t tolerate a new small dog, so they question is what do you do with it when you leave? It may seem obvious that they
should just tough it out, but there is another factor to consider: Cobras. In the summer months it is not only possible, but common that poisonous snakes, specifically Spitting Cobras will not just be in your yard but in your house. Dogs, specifically Jack Russell’s, hunt down and kill snakes. You would think they could just snake proof their house but the people at the “Home Depot” type store didn't even know what door guards were to fill the space between the door and the floor. So a dog is looking a little better, eh?
After the market we headed home to get ready for the Braai. What’s a Braai you may ask? Well, it’s sort of has a lot of definitions from what I gathered. If you have “a Braai” it’s pretty much like having a big neighborhood barbecue party, a Braai is held in “the
Braai” which would be the room where “the actual
Braai” is. The actual
Braai would be the “grill,” so to speak. I’m not sure if that is the best description, but that is the description I’m giving. Terryberry’s had more or less 40 people at their house, 10 of whom
were kids, Olivia and Sophia being the oldest and therefore the “babysitters.” I felt bad for them, about half way through the evening I aided Sophia in hiding from the tiny guests. Before the night began they were hoping maybe they would get hired as babysitters, by the end not so much; they were cute kids, but there were a lot of them. 😊
The Braai was really fun though, and some great
food! I hadn't had real meat in so long, and it was real
At the end of the evening Shawn took us out for a night walk in the game reserve. You would think there isn't much to see at night, but when you shine a light out into the bush what you see are all these glowing eyes just staring back at you, it’s pretty neat. However, you have to be very sneaky because technically you aren't supposed to be in the reserve after dark. As we were walking down the road Sophia all of the sudden says, “I feel like we are being followed.” Shawn turns around and quietly we all just watch. There is definitely a shadowy figure coming
towards us. It is low to the ground, its head is bobbing and it isn't making any noise. There were only supposed to be antelope in there right?! Shawn shines is light and sort of relieved says, “Oh, it’s just a guy walking his dog.” Well, sort of. It was a night guard dressed like a member of a SWAT team walking the perimeter of the development with a trained German Shepherd named Haas. His name was actually Haas. The guard was nice enough; Haas did not appear to be so kind. At that point we turned back towards the house.
The Braai turned out to be a late night, but we had things to do Sunday. At 7:30am I heard a sort of rumbling through the house that woke me up. “What is
that?” I thought, “Maybe it’s the garbage people? Is that normal
?” Soon music and lyrics started to accompany the rumbling. It was our wake up call. Unorthodox but effective. I was awake and ready for some South Africa adventure.
We headed off in the direction of Johannesburg to the Rhino and Lion Park. Also a type of game reserve like
Poisonous Blue Koala
Rita: "Oh! What's that Shawn?"
Shawn: "Um, that's a stuffed bear. I mean, its the rare Poisonous Blue Koala!"
The Farm Inn but this one was better. Why? We got to hold and play with baby lions! They are SO fun! One that I was playing with got a little rambunctious and went for the kill with my Clemson sweatshirt. He got the arm of it caught in his little lion teeth and, to be honest, I was sort of hoping he was going to get a hole in it, I mean, how cool would it be to have a lion hole in my sweatshirt?! He did scratch my arm a little which I was pretty excited about, when I got home I was like “Look! Look at my lion scratch!” It was barely a scratch really, but who cares, a lion left a mark on me. Rita and Shawn and I got to go into the cheetah enclosure as well. This was not a cheetah cub, this was a full grown cheetah, and although they are considered the “pansies” of the cats it was still pretty intimidating.
The rest of the day we spent driving around the reserve and we had a great day of sightings. We got to watch the adult lions and cheetahs
being fed, eland, the largest of the antelope in Africa, and the highlight of the day, Rhinos! Oh my goodness, you would never expect it but a baby Rhino is about the most adorable thing you’ll ever see. I included a video of a very ornery little Rhino teasing some wildebeest. Across the street from the main reserve is another area of enclosures of hippos, tigers, and lions. Now this was also a highlight and a super way to end the day. A lot of people probably miss this part of the park but it was worth the extra time. Here you can really get up close to the animals. I was maybe three feet away from multiple full grown lions, specifically a male brown lion who came right up to the fence. Unlike a lot of places there was no secondary safety fence, there was just a single chain-link fence between me and this big guy, I could have reached my hand through and touched him if I had wanted to.
Also in this second area was a massive Bengal tiger pacing back and forth along his fence. Sadly, Rita said that when animals like the tiger pace
constantly like that it is often a sign of depression. He did have an extra safety fence between us and the chain-link, but I have a feeling that tigers are a bit more vicious than lions. Lions really seem pretty lazy during the day, tigers, well, I think a tiger will kill you, same goes for leopards.
We had plans to head to a Lion and Giraffe park after the Lion and Rhino park, but it was already getting pretty late in the day. “Well, I hate to short change you, Devin but I just don’t think we have time.”
“Shawn, I held a baby lion today. You did not
short change me.”
Well, this seems like a good place to leave you for today. The second half of my South African adventure will be up soon and after that, well, that will be the end of documenting my yearlong adventure away from the States. Thanks for sticking with me all these months. 😊
Talk to you soon!
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