Thursday, September 27, 2012

Sea monsters off Port Elizabeth

 
Is there such a thing as sea monsters?  Huge tentacled beasts dragging ships in under the waves, long necked dinosaur like animals who survived millions of years in the deep or scaly monsters with huge teeth so terrifying that Great White Sharks flee in fear?  A morning's hiking around the Cape Recife Nature Reserve in Port Elizabeth nearly had me thinking twice that I have found proof.


Walking along the Algoa Bay side of the reserve I spotted a spiky spine visible amongst the waves.  I started to get excited and snapped a couple of pics before looking at it carefully again.  It seemed to stay in the same spot and rather than moving about it was the waves that washed over it making it look like it was moving.  Turned out to be the remains of one of the many shipwrecks found along this piece of coastline.  Darn! So close.

About 30 minutes later out on the southern side of Cape Recife I saw something very peculiar lying on the beach.  Dark in colour what what looked like a leathery skin and sharp white teeth... Finally I have my proof!  Unfortunately for the Indiana Jones explorer and discoverer in me it turned out to be the dried out remains of a dolphin that washed up on the beach some time before. Darn again! Oh well, I will have to wait a little while longer before I make my big "ground breaking", "world news creating" and "instant fame" discovery. 

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Up the dune

The sand dunes at Colchester outside Port Elizabeth are the western reaches of the Alexandria dune field, the largest coastal dune field in the Southern Hemisphere.  Although it is there for anybody to see, the only way to really get to them is by boat as you have to cross the Sundays River to get there.  The Sundays River Ferry is one of my favorite attractions in Port Elizabeth and thanks to the ferry I have had the opportunity to visit the dunes before.  The climb to the top is a steep one but the view makes it worth it. 

Saturday, September 22, 2012

World Rhino Day

Today we celebrate the third annual World Rhino Day not just here in South Africa, but world wide.  World Rhino Day highlight the plight of the rhino which is targeted by ruthless poachers all over the world for their horns which are thought to have medicinal properties by the people in most countries in the Far East.  Part of World Rhino Day is to debunk the myths and diminish the demand for rhino horn.  Up to 12 September rhino poaching in 2012 has lead to the killing of 381 rhinos throughout South Africa.  In 2008 only 83 rhinos were killed with 122 in 2009.  Since then poaching incidents have skyrocketed with 333 in 2010 and 448 in 2011.  If it goes on like this my great-grandchildren will only get to see pictures of rhinos in books.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Penguins under pressure

Last week I saw a stunning yet very sad picture by Luc Hosten on Facebook.  Two days later I was down at Cape Recife in Port Elizabeth and came across the scene photographed by Luc.  The penguin wasn't in the same position anymore and I didn't want to try and recreate the exact scene anyway, so decided on something similar yet slightly further away.  African Penguins are highly endangered and under immense pressure at the moment with some people giving them only 5 years if nothing major is done soon.  The guys at SAMREC in Cape Recife do an awesome job with limited resources but they desperately need the support of the public and corporates to keep them up and running.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Houtkappershuisie


Met sy inheemse woude vasgedruk tussen 'n pragtige kuslyn en die Tsitsikammabergreeks en bruingekleurde riviere wat daardeur vloei is die Tsitsikamma een van my gunsteling plekke in Suid-Afrika.  Wanneer mens die dorpie Stormsrivier besoek vind jy hierdie ou bosbouhuisies langs Eikelaning wat van die dorpie na die ou pad deur die woud lei.

Uitenhage War Memorial

I'm fascinated by a lot of things so I won't say that war memorials fascinate me, although I find it very interesting how the war memorial in every town - because yes, just every town has some kind of war memorial - looks different.  Ranging from cenotaphs to historic cannons and massive monuments to small simple objects.  This is the war memorial in Uitenhage containing a list of men from the town who died during the two World Wars.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Tackeling the city on the Urban Run

Road running isn't for everybody. Pounding away at the road for kilometer after kilometer bores me a little bit, but I do like to participate in races with a difference. The Urban Run around Port Elizabeth's city centre area surely is one of those. Urban Run is a 10,5 kilometer urban obstacle coarse which 1. helps to get people back into the city centre, 2. get people to visit places that they may not have seen or visited in ages, 3. generate money for the chosen charities (R190 000 in fact) and 4. just to have a whole lot of fun. I stuck my mobile phone in a plastic bag (so that it doesn't get wet) and took it along to get a couple of pictures along the way.  This also meant that I was posting said pics onto Facebook at every opportunity I got.
 
I did the Urban Run with the Damselfly and her friend Belinda in tow (although they were probably towing me part the way as well) while trying to keep up with my ultra distance running colleague CW.  The race started on the Donkin Reserve and the first obstacle made its appearance just after the 1 kilometer mark where they had us slither on our tummies through cement pipes.  Hectically tight which meant that you couldn't just crawl through but rather had to claw your way forward while pushing with your toes.   After this everybody knew that this was going to be an unforgettable event and the best was yet to come.

Next up was a series of traffic barriers that had to be crossed over and under along Govan Mbeki Avenue (Main Street).
 
 
The first tough climb was rough. Very rough.  And steep. Very steep.  It wasn't just a climb but a series of steps that took us up Castle Hill for about 100 odd meters before heading down to Military road and up some more steps.
 
Next up was probably one of the most exciting obstacles along the route. Scaling the historic Fort Frederick by way of a cargo net.  That's me in the green shirt and blue pants reaching the top with the picture being taken by one of our friends who waited there with the Kidz so that they could see what we were doing.
 
   
One of the toughest challenges was climbing to the top of the Duckpond Pavilion at St Georges Park, running along the top tier and back down on the other side.  This was followed by a muddy leopard crawl under a cargo net on the sports field next to the stadium while somebody was spraying us with water.  Thank goodness for the plastic bag I had my phone in.

After a run slow jog brisk walk through St Georges Park we left the urban environment and headed down into Settlers Park where we had to cross the Baakens River twice on two different structures built by the Scouts.  It also gave the runners the opportunity to go off road for a little while before hitting the city centre again.  Some runner fell in and got soaked. Me? Luckily I landed on my feet. 

At the bottom end of Settlers Park was a twenty meter long slippery slide with quite a crowd watching at the bottom...


Yes, that's me entertaining the crowd.  I made a head over heals tumble after hitting the rubber mat at the bottom and coming to a sudden and very abrupt stop. There is quite the bruise on my thigh as proof of this.

A number of runners got to visit the Port Elizabeth station for the very first time where we had to enter the one side of a stationary train and run down the length of it, exiting again at the bottom.  This was followed by a very awkward climb over a raining to get back onto Strand Street.  Awkward for those of us with short legs that is.

By now the legs were starting to wobble a bit.  Not because of the distance covered but more because of what it was expected to do up to now.  So just to put some more strain on it they had us run up the 5 or so storeys of the Grace Street Parking Garage and back down again.  The end was in sight.  Well kinda in sight.  The last stretch of the coarse followed Route 67's winding path up the Donkin Reserve to the finishing point close to the lighthouse. 




Crossing the finish line in 2 hours and 15 minutes didn't break us any records, but it still was an absolutely amazing experience which can be highly recommended even if you aren't a regular runner.  Next year we'll be back and will aim to go under 2 hours. 

Friday, September 14, 2012

Fruit vendor

Beautiful and fresh fruit and vegetables.  Every housewife and mother's dream.

I just wonder if they would be willing to buy it from a makeshift structure in the middle of New Brighton in Port Elizabeth and not from a supermarket?  The housewives and mothers from the township do but I'm very curious how many suburban ladies would.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Police cell graffiti

Yesterday (12 September 2012) was the 35th anniversary of Steve Biko's death and I got to join a group visiting the cell Biko was held in at the Walmer Police Station in Port Elizabeth shortly before his death.  This post isn't about the Biko story though but rather something a little bit more light hearted.  It seems that one of the suspects held in this cell at some stage not too long ago had a black permanent marker with him and had a good sense of humour.



 
  
 


 


Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Brown-hooded Kingfisher



On a game drive at Pumba Game Reserve near Port Elizabeth our ranger pointed out a Brown-hooded Kingfisher sitting in a tree next to the game drive vehicle.  The next thing he said kinda got our attention.  He asked us to look around and see if we could see any body of water.  There was none.  The Brown-hooded Kingfisher doesn't necessarily feed on fish but also on insects such as butterflies, bees, wasps, locusts and ants. These invertebrates are usually hawked aerially, killed and then eaten.  This means that it doesn't have to live near water like all his other Kingfisher cousins. 

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Ode to the white rhino

I've been very fortunate to visit a couple of different game reserves over the last year or so and would like to share the following White Rhino pictures with you.  In the light of the pressure that poachers are putting on the rhino population I won't divulge which game reserve I took the pictures at.  Very sad really.  We were lucky enough to see them on both our game drives and it was amazing just sitting there in silence while watching them.
 



Monday, September 10, 2012

Knysnakoppe


Die Knysnakoppe by Knysna in die Weskaap is een van Suid Afrika se bekendste natuurlike landmerke en word gereeld in reistydskrifte en brosjures gesien.  Die Koppe is ook een van die gevaarlikste ingange tot 'n natuurlike hawe in die w√™reld met menige bote wat al hier deur die branders omgeslaan is of op die rotse geloop het.

St Peter's Ruin windows

South End in Port Elizabeth is similar to District 6 in Cape Town where the original inhabitants where removed because of the Group Area's Act of the 1960's.  St Peter's Anglican Church was built in 1877 and the school next to it was the first church school in South End to produce pupils to  standard six (grade 8), the highest standard for coloured people at the time.  The church was deconsecrated in 1972 and most of it demolished to stop the congregation from returning to it even though they had been removed from the area.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Tsisha Nyama

What do you do when you're taking a foreign journalist around and he wants to have something local for lunch? Well, I phoned a colleague at work and suggested that we take him for liver and stew in the township.  He then suggested that we do something else and take the journalist for a traditional ikasi tsisha njama (township braai or barbeque).  Sisha Njama is a Zulu phrase and literally means "burn the meat" while in Xhosa it is spelled Tsisha Njama.  I am a proud Afrikaner and just like the Xhosas, Zulus and other black groups in South Africa a braai is very much part of my cultural and traditions.  The only problem was that I have never been for a proper township braai which meant that this experience was as new to me as for the journalist.

A township tsisha nyama is normally linked to a butchery and to be able to use the braai facility you have to buy your meat from the butchery.  Lifa and Mafa in Zwide, Port Elizabeth has a butchery on par with anything I've seen in the suburbs and we stocked up on enough lamb chops, chicken and boerewors (sausage) for six... just in case we were very hungry.  The meat is spiced and wrapped in brown paper ready for you to throw onto the coals.  Now if I can just find out what their secret spice is cause damn it tasted good.
 
The next step is to head around the building to the back where the fires burn all day long making coals for hungry patrons to braai on.  Most guys braai their own meat although you can also ask the guys who work there to do it for you in return for a tip.  Coals are scooped into the braai's and all you have to do is put on the meat and start "burning the meat".  I did turn one or two heads who weren't quite used to seeing a white guy there, but that was just momentory amazement.  The fact that the locals where just surprised and didn't make an issue of it shows how far our rainbow nation has come.

Is it just me or can I smell the meat... hear it sizzling... see it turn brown... taste it... even though its only a picture.  My mouth is watering right now.
 
Once the meat is done it gets placed back into the brown paper (and in our case into a chicken box) and it is ready to eat.  There are no plates (you eat it out of the box), no cutlery (you eat with your fingers) and no napkins (you just tear off a piece of the brown paper and wipe your fingers on that).  Nothing fancy, just pure indulgence. 

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Early morning web drops

There are few things as beautiful as a spider's web covered in dew or rain drops encountered on an early morning walk through the veld or bush. 

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Spring has sprung

I've been so busy the last few weeks that I haven't really had much time to get to blogging other than on Port Elizabeth Daily Photo.  I really hope to change that and get more posts done as I have a lot of pics lined up and waiting for me to write something about.  I've been away from home for Spring Day and yesterday for most of my birthday.  At least I flew in last night and got to sleep in my own bed.  So the main aim of this post is to celebrate the coming of Spring and hopefully Summer will follow soon.  Plus giving myself flowers as a belated birthday post as I didn't even get to do my customary birthday self portrait post.