Friday, May 21, 2010

Garsfontein Post Office

Garsfontein Post Office is situated around the corner from the Garsfontein Police Station. I always liked this post office until South African security obsession crept in. Dont get me wrong, I love security and any measure that makes me feel safe is always welcome.

In the case of Gars post office’s erected palisade fencing though, I feel more unsafe than before. The first time I spotted the fencing, I thought, “Wow! They matched the blue so well”. Instead of that beautiful sigh of relief followed by "they thought of everything". No they didn't. Got out of my car and looked for entrance. I saw a tiny gate open. Apparently there are two gates but when I get there on Saturdays or Sundays, I see  one gate open. This gate is actually tiny with a capital "T".

As I step inside the box, I immediately feel intensely unsafe. Bear in mind, the post box area has hidden corners and you are enclosed in this area with only one tiny escape gate. What were they thinking? Do we need to have our post boxes secured? The main building with the counters is not enclosed but our post boxes and re-posting booths are secured. I don’t get the point to this security measure. This happens to be the most popular spot for art vendors. I hope someone will respond with a comment that makes me understand the logic behind all these bars.

As I was thinking about this very important security measure that we need because we live in South Africa, I read this article yesterday:
“Four armed men fled with an undisclosed amount of money after robbing a Garsfontein Post Office on Wednesday, Gauteng police said.

Spokeswoman Eveline Hardaker said the four arrived at the post office at 2pm and waited in the queue, posing as customers.

"When they got to the counter, one ordered everybody to sleep flat on the floor. The [other] three jumped over the counter, robbed cashiers of all their money and the money that was in the safe."

They fled the scene after the robbery, she said.
Hardaker said only three were armed with firearms. – Sapa

No prize for guessing the reason I feel even safer at the moment.

Nice weekend
Mbini Kutta-Mathye

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Inhambane, Mozambique

Be WARNED. This will be the longest post in the history of this blog. The story of my family’s life and holidays goes like this:

Our holidays are impromptu to start with. Totally spontaneous and never planned to the t. No accommodation, especially when we go to the unpopular destinations. Our destination last weekend was Mozambique, Inhambane. We heard of the great beaches and tourist destinations in Inhambane and Tofo beach in particular. And finally we managed to make our way there with a bag and a camera an excited daughter with being in the car and a nagging son who keeps asking how far the destination is.

Restaurant in Maputo, Mozambique

Driving from Maputo after 12 noon, we pass Mr V’s favourite destination in Mozambique, Marracuene. Besides the fact that Ponta da Macaneta beach is great, I think he loves the fact that it’s very close to Maputo, making it very close to South Africa. Ok back to the Inhambane holiday. We now approach my favourite province in Mozambique, Gaza. I love the beaches in Bilene and especially in Xai-Xai.
Macaneta beach, Marracuene, Mozambique

We drove through Gaza province and loads of potholes and road works later we found ourselves in Manjacaze town. We had to make a deal with ourselves and the two little people who have gone through a few cartoon movies already by now as it was already getting late. When the sun sets, we are sleeping in the nearest hotel. It doesn’t matter what town we find ourselves in. And indeed the sun set at 6pm and we were in Quissico, the first town in Inhambane province. What a bad deal we made. I would never be desperate enough to sleep in Quissico’s local hotel, nor in the following town of Inharrime.

Potholes we passed in Gaza. Get a 4x4 please.

At this point, we decided to pass through to Inhambane and we were starting to panic as it was getting darker and darker. We’ve never set our feet here but the roads in this province are much better than the patch we have passed. We drove on and reached Inhambane after 8:30pm. You can smell the jolly African vibe in this country. Everyone is in the streets, street vendors still operating. But the first guest house we drive to is sleepy.
Bridge across Limpopo River in Gaza Province

After approaching a few helpful locals, we were given the direction to the beach. There has to be nice hotels by the beach right? Our strategy is to only approach the hotels with professionally looking adverts. If they have marketing budget, they have to be comfortable. The only hotel advert we saw was fully booked. And that was about the only call we could make. We forgot about the telecommunication challenges, DARN.
Our Cottage in Palm Grove Lodge, Barra Beach

At this point we are left with one option, driving through to the beach, following the boards advertising one resort. And before we knew it, after driving over unexpected humps and flying with the car such that my son thought we are crash landing in a space ship, we were about to pass the Palm Grove Lodge. So we left the path to the resort and got into the lodge.
Please remember Mosquito repellents.

Mozambican style reed built cottages meant for groups of people look nice and traditional but Mr V is not impressed. The owners are very friendly and they happily changed the first cottage we were not happy with, hung a mosquito net over my daughter’s mattress and brought us the yummy supper we ordered from the restaurant. We had the dinner in the patio listening to the roaring Barra beach. A beautiful sound that took us through the night. Pity we had a few mosquitoes locked inside our mosquito net. Bad mistake.
Restaurant in Palm Grove Lodge, Barra Beach

We woke up and headed straight to where the sound was coming from. A few steps from the cottage is the restaurant at the foot of Praia da Barra or Barra Beach in simple English. My goodness, this is what I saw outside the window:
Boring food boys ordered in Palm Grove.

As we were busy ordering, a group of Joburg tourists passed by the window in such style:

Horse Riding in Barra Beach, Inhambane Mozambique

We couldn’t order fast enough to go for a quick swim with my son. Ultimately we were in the water waiting for our meal and Mr V, his daughter and his book could see us through the window. And before long he called us ac coffee was ready. I’ve never wished for a slow restaurant service like that. Well we got in, had breakfast fast enough to get back to the water.

We dark browned our bodies in the sun, jumped in the trampoline. Took shots of the cottages with views to die for:
Barra Beach, Inhambane Mozambique

At this point I told Lukas, the owner that “I want to live like this forever”. And he told me they actually work all the time and forget that the place is so breath taking. Guess we never win.

Time to check out. We wouldn’t sleep there for another night. Knowing where we were going to sleep that early would spoil the fun. And so we checked out, and drove towards Praia do Tofo (Tofo Beach). Everyone we know who knows Tofo had only the best news to tell us. And now, finally we will be there. All we think about is getting a comfortable hotel. Our plans to go camping anytime soon, ANNULLED at this point.

Tofo Beach, Inhambane Mozambique

Remember the hotel that was fully booked last night? It had space today and I thought trying to call it wouldn’t kill. We got the room, first floor, facing the great beach, WOW. Click-Click goes my camera through the window.

Generous portions of prawns are a signature meal of Mozambique. Serves me well.

Off to Art and Craft shopping in the market. There goes my R2000+ on over-priced crafts in Mozambique standards. But really I didn’t have to buy staff taken from Maputo, meant for South African tourists, but I did.

Tofo Art and Craft Market

By the way 5 in every 6 cars we saw in Inhambane was South African and most likely GP. Mr V had a great jog by the Tofo beach in the afternoon. In a while my son was crying that daddy was gone for too long. I think he has a phobia of losing his parents. It happens often. Watching all those shapes and sizes of people in swimming costumes made me feel much better about my own body insecurities. No more Dr90210.

We had an early night only to wake up to this:

Sun Rising in Tofo Beach,InhambaneMozambique

But no water to take a bath. We are driving back home. I am not obsessed with taking a bath/shower but I needed a good one because of the heat. Anyway, after a really sad breakfast we were on our way to Inhambane city and same route back. As you already know by now, I have to take at least one of these pictures per trip:

And a bonus picture:

My son loves horses and was convinced this is a pony. I also saw a donkey for the first time when I was an adult already. So that can be expected. Had a meal in the Motel in Xai-xai, and were set to drive straight to Maputo without stopping. Except for the mandatory stop to buy locally moulded clay pots in towns by the road.

I had to let down a friend who wanted us to pass by her resort in Marracuene. My kids were just too tired. Driving through 3 provinces twice in one weekend is more than strenuous. What did you do for the Easter weekend?

Monday, March 29, 2010

Ben10 Themed Birthday

It was not possible for me to have my son's birthday party on the 20th, a day after he turned 7. I decided to have it last Saturday the 27th. He demanded a Ben10 themed birthday party.
 He was involved in the whole planning and he definitely knew what he wanted. From the invitation to the jumping castle. And the cake was among the most important parts of the Ben10 branding. It has to be big and daddy ordered a perfect cake. I am very impressed.

I wouldn't have done this without Poppy, my party organiser. I am never organising any function by myself again. Its been a less stressful occasion, even though at times I felt like the "mother of the bride".
Party packs were off course done an evening before. The party was held at home. In the clubhouse. That was so convenient. I could walk in between my house and the clubhouse in 1 minute.
The jumping castle was the most underutilised party accessory. Everyone was just like a fish, wanting to swim. It was used for less than 5 minutes whilst hired for the whole day.

Aka was very happy on his day. He mentioned another party soon. That scared me as I was so relieved at the end of the day.

His best friend, with whom he spends every afternoon gave him a huge gift. They are so inseperable and she did report to me that he was ignoring her in the party and I had to try help. But there were boys so he was not into girls. Great childhood friendships.

That pool was efficiently used for a change. These kids never get tired of swimming, diving, sliding into water. And I was sitting comfortably, clicking for his 7th birthday album.

Best friends from school. They do look like nerds, incl Aka. Now I know why he is always into computers and libraries. These two boys were so happy to see Aka, just like I feel when I see girlfriends.

My designer friend Ilse provided all the graphics we used. Even the paper plates were branded by us from Ilse's designs. She is just the best in children designing. And the invitations were the best. Thanks my friend.

  Back home, it was the opening of gifts. OMG the mess they left. The friend had to go home after 8pm. And some adults were continuing with the party outside my house. Whiskey was apparently in the menu. I was comfortable in the house enjoying the look with every present opened. But I did not object to them sitting in the patio.

This was Aka's happiest day yet.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Love of Pretoria South Africa

 Jackaranda trees lining the streets in October. Nothing beats them.
A blog for the love of Pretoria South Africa. And off course for the Earth Hour 2010 fast approaching. Please support the Earth Hour by switching off your lights for ONLY 1 hour at 8:30 pm. Go to bed if you have to, I know that feels like you are a coward or something. OK stay up and wait for 9:30.

 A beautiful city. Rich in history.
I hope the damage we are continuously doing to the environment will be reversible  at some point. Let's just pray that another scientist will come up with some smokey particles we can blow to sort our ozone layer and renew it. I know, my imagination is not quite as scientific. Anyhow, do your bit, take care of the environment. Limit your consumption of just about everything. You will see the difference it will make to your pocket too.

 Being Geographically challenged, I appreciate good road signs that SA offers.

Back to the love of Pretoria South Africa.Just one other bit of another interruption. My pretty hectic week ended with my son's birthday last Friday. So it being a long weekend helped. Then the new week which I expected to be uneventful led to me listening to Gloria Gaynor's "I will survive" and being all emotional. I think I am getting too old and a bit hormonal. Maybe a little more than just a bit.

 Shopping prior and after recession. I love grocery shopping.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Easy DIY Stuff

After my crazy long distance driving I needed to take time to myself. I realise I don’t know how to just relax anymore. I have to read, write or craft. I can’t sleep during the day as my mind is constantly busy. I wanted to forget about a desperately dirty 2 bedroom duplex I should refurbish for rentals, unfurnished. And a 4 bedroom duplex to furnish and decorate.

My basket as it was bought in the market

I went out to get me something I can paint on. A storage basket. Luckily Maputo, has crafts everywhere. I bought oil based paint suitable for wood from Atterbury builders warehouse. The problem is that, my basket was previously vanished in a clear colour. My dad would have removed that varnish first.
Very spacious. Great storage option
I did not buy a liquid paint remover and I had 2 hours to spare. I just started painting it in a redish colour. The colour is called “claret” and the paint is Plascon Super Universal Enamel.

After the first coat of paint
Well I still have to line the inside of the basket with capulanas and use ropes in the handles.
It did turn out Great, even though its not finished
I have since ordered 3 more of these baskets to paint in different colours to store a number of things I have around my home. I’ll even have one under the server in the entrance hall. These are really great for storage. You can stash them under your stairs, in kids bedrooms, in toy rooms, really everywhere. They look great but only after painting.
 That's my 1958 Chevrolet model car, not my son's toy by the way.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Delmas Farm Life

Hope I manage to load all my draft posts today. I had a week full of events but no time to post anything in this blog. Anyway, last Saturday we (me, friend, friend’s model daughter) decided to go to Delmas. This is after our trip to La Montagne, to a beautiful 3 level home. I will later add the photos of this sectional title home. Once again we were to meet friend’s mom and sister in Delmas this afternoon.

I wish I took photos of the pub where we had a wait. We had no idea it was a bar. It looked like a restaurant to us. We didn’t deliberately take a minor to the bar. Well she looked 18 in her high heels. It helps to be with classy teens.

It turns out Delmas is like living in a previous century. We had frowns and the tension in the house was so intense. We reckoned, they didn’t welcome being blessed by an African girl’s presence in their midst. It was so painful to see the owner struggling to give her glasses for us to use. The arrival of friend’s mom and sister was the end of the pub owner’s pain.

Off we went to see more interesting people and places. The first plot we visited was interesting. Wooden house and all. But the second one was really WOW. Tennis court, a pony and horse stables, lovely house in general. I haven’t received my photos from my friend yet. I just adore horses. The pony was very cute and in a rare black and white coat. I am one of those people who can live in a farm anytime.

After the farm visits and some slices of cake we drove to Boksburg to have dinner. And we still had to drive to Pretoria, which we did that same evening. I had a short nap in the car and so did my friend’s teen daughter. One thing was on my mind when we got home...SLEEP and lots of it.

A few minutes after getting to the bedroom, a scream followed by a heavy knock came. My friend rushed to the door to open. Being paranoid a bit, I thought she is not supposed to open in such a rush nogal. It turns out its a neighbour and her son. Hubby got somehow physically abusive to this boy who is a stepson of his, and when mommy tried to rescue her son, he started with her. I was very scared for this boy as apparently it is not the first time this happens. I just couldn’t sleep. It was police calls, comforting, cryings, throughout. After all that drama, I went to bed just after 2am.

What a day.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Good Education

The whole of last week was school for me. On the first day I had no idea we start at 7h30 in the morning. I don’t know who came with such a crazy idea in Pretoria’s crazy traffic. I tried leaving at 6h30, it didn’t work. I took more than an hour to travel Lynwood road.

I got clever on the third day and used the N4 and yes I took 45 minutes. And it was official, I was excited for travelling that short distance in more than 30 minutes. I am happy I don’t do that every day.

A fraction of the books I have to read this year. Aren't I lucky.

The course I am doing is just the best studying I ever done in my life. It’s better than Maths, or Interior decor. Ag it’s just plain good practical education. I managed to apply what I learnt in my professional life the very first day of our block week. I am so glad I started this.

Everything went well except for my disturbed diet, extremely dirty car and too much adrenaline rush. I will forever lift my glass “to good education”. One thing happened every day, without fail, for the whole week – my son asked me “did you buy my Bakugan game?” and every time I said, I will buy it baby. But I still had no idea what that looked like and I still couldn’t even get the name right.

Oh...I also ate too much sweets and junk food.

Sunday Family Lunches

After all the drama had passed and my car was again in tip-top condition I arrived in Pretoria. I was at this point all for rest. I had plans to take regular walks within an estate but I think, maybe tomorrow afternoon.

I am told that my friend’s mom has prepared Sunday lunch dinner for us in Brakpan. She is coming with it today for all of us to have some family time together. She will be coming with her other daughter who shares her space with her. Sunday meals are great but I’m a bit uncomfortable about the thought of an older girl going all out for us but I am determined to enjoy whatever that shows on the table.

Dinner is Served

Clearly I was more exhausted than I thought, judging by the quality of my photo above. I actually tried to take 3 photos and I only found this lousy one. See my friend’s daughter who is a young model and dancer not clear in the photo. She is such a cute teenager.

When I later had a chat with Mr V and my kids, Aka consistently asked "Mama please get me the "Bakugan game". I never got that name right, no matter how slow he uttered. I thought its some sort of a gun. I sure had to get that for him as his 7th birthday is fast approaching.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

I Love Men Actually

I left Maputo for Pretoria last week Saturday. Naturally, I delayed until 11:10 am to take off. Mr V did that quick car service he always does before I leave home. Water...check; oil...check; tyres... with a worried look on his face... "I think this tyre is not bad but when you get to Pretoria, get it checked at a tyre place".

 Maputo, Mozambique

Arms folded from a distance, I give a smile and think, “you are an angel”. After assuring my son I will be back with the full page list of toys he demands, I took off to my first home, Pretoria. I hate driving but I’m looking forward to Mpumalanga’s fresh air and nice landscape.
 Apartments by the beach in Maputo

Crossing the border is definitely the worst part of my travelling. No queuing both sides, I am so tired and sleepy and I’m still in Mozambique. I call Mr V (I always call at the border) and he “orders” me to stop by KFC just after the border to rest. A call again immediately we dropped; “no, rather stop at Sasol garage, it will be easier to join the road later, KFC is on the wrong side”. Will men ever stop thinking for us. Not complaining though as my mind is so lazy.

Nelspruit Roads
 Everyone can change a tyre right? I try to smile at a few passing motorists; not working. I take out the spare wheel which leaves my hands totally filthy. That was the scariest part. Cautious of my white tracksuit, I decide to smile to motorists some more. Meanwhile, my tyre changing girlfriend and Mr V’s friend are on their way. Just as I thought I should just wait and keep busy with my calls, a car full of men pulls off. Its 5 men to be exact. I’ve never been so glad to see 5 men in my life.  I just thought to myself... I've changed my mind, I need men in my life. 
 Evidence that it was just red bull, nothing stronger or illegal

 I always appreciate men’s ability to mow lawns, take out the trash, open tight jars, but never thought I need them beyond that, (except for Mr V). You know what? Men are an essential accessory from now onwards. Everyone was saying I must be careful of strangers. Its true but I was stuck near the darkest forest I ever saw and the insurance people would probably take longer than my friend who was 6+6 minutes away from me. At that moment all I wanted was help in any shape or form.

Pretoria South Africa
 Those guys were so excited, like all men would be when they meet a girl with no clue how to survive in the men's world. They proudly kept saying "driving is not for women". Me, not bothered. I don’t want to start a debate that will delay their important work of changing a tyre. I just smiled and thought I really need men in my life. 5 of them, to change my tyre. And 6 minutes later I was home, safe. Men, ROCK.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Food No More

In an attempt to be super nice, Mr V(hubby) takes me to the restaurant on Friday evening. Well I was in Maputo due to drive to Pretoria the following morning. I just hate driving long distances alone. I usually pack about 20 CDs with great intentions and almost, always listen to one CD all the way to Pretoria and everywhere else I drive to thereafter.

Below is the picture of Redezio Real Restaurant which hosted us for the evening.
Redezio Real Restaurant
It was as empty as it looks because we were a little too early for dinner. I have no idea where this 7h30 dinner idea comes from. I can do a lot of things after 7:00 but eating is not one of them.
I noticed that the restaurant is part of the Girassol Hotels
Drinks for Mr V and espresso for me. A Portuguese local newspaper looks like it have great news but NADA, I haven't gone that far with my lessons. I tried though. 
The decor colours are really great for your appetite

You really eat until you you want food no more in this restaurant. I am no fan of the bottomless kinda servings. It was so many kinds of meat, beans, salads and rice. Then the drinks and desserts. A small word of advice, leave home very hungry. 

Mr V thinks I failed the test of eating in Redezio. But I received no tips prior to my visit.

Twitter Delicious Facebook Digg Stumbleupon Favorites More