South Africa Adventures–The Art of Negotiating and Robben Island

After a long and relaxing day on the beach, we realized we only had a few more days left in Cape Town and hadn’t done much shopping.  Therefore, we woke up early and headed over to Green Market Square to haggle with vendors.  I didn’t bring my camera to take any pictures because we could not appear to be tourists.  But it didn’t matter because mom was a walking “I have money” target.  I tried to give her a few phrases that she could use so that she did not have to be a dead giveaway that she was American.  I told her should could say sawubona (hello) and unjani (how are you) which is the isiZulu greeting.  After that, nothing else should be said until negotiating the price of an item.  Mom refused to cooperate with me on this.  As we approached the first vendor he greeted us with a deep African accent, “hello mama, hello sista.”  Mom responded with a smile, saying “hello”.  His next question was “where are you from?” Before I could reply, mom quickly interjected “the United States.”  There goes my plan.  I bowed my head an walked away, afraid of what was going to happen next.  A few minutes later I saw him showing mom some artwork.  I hurried over before she pulled out any money and made a greater mistake.  “How much?” I asked. “For you and mama, I give special price,” he replied.  Yeah right, special American price.  Then he quoted her ZAR450. Wait, come again! Did he….huh….yes…I did just say 450 Rand.  “What?!” I responded.  “You want her to pay ZAR450?! Eish man! Cha!”  Cha is “no” in isiZulu.  As we walked away we could hear him saying “come back sistah; what price you want to pay?”  In that moment, mom realized that every price for goods in Green Market Square was negotiable and if she wanted something it was important for them to think we were non-American.  A few minutes later, I walked over to another vendor and was able to negotiate a “local” price of ZAR125 for a similar artwork (this is still overpriced, but not price gouging like the other vendor).

imageAfter haggling and purchasing up a few souvenirs in Green Market Square, we headed back to the waterfront to have lunch and embark on the ferry journey over to Robben Island.  The current was strong so at times the trip felt like a roller coaster ride at sea.  Mom was fascinated to learn about where Nelson Mandela spent the majority of his imprisonment.  Kjotso, a former political prisoner led a portion of our tour.  He described what life was like for many of those who were imprisoned on Robben Island.  The very first time I visited Robben Island, it was a very somber place.  However, this tour seemed like more of a tourist attraction.  There were portions of the prison that visitors could no longer get close to based on orders of the South Africa Minister of Arts and Culture (according to our tour guide).  Due to the holiday season, our tour was three times as large as my previous tour.  Mom and I took pictures and explored the grounds for a while, causing us to miss our ferry back to the waterfront.  As a result, we had to wait for the next ferry.  The driver of the this ferry must have been a speed boat racer because he was speeding through the water causing mom to become fearful.  Mom was practically squeezing the life out of the four-year-old little girl who sat next to her.  Her parents were very friendly and understanding.  We chatted with them briefly–they were from Pretoria (near Johannesburg) and came to Cape Town for holiday.  The mother asked us how our stay in the country had been thus far.  I explained that we were having a great time.  She remarked that she was sure South Africans didn’t know what to make of us.  This was the first person to understand what our experience has been like when interacting with locals.  Most often, mom and I are two of a handful of black people dining in the restaurant (the majority of the wait staff are usually black).  When we frequent areas where there are black locals, we also stand out.  Oftentimes, they  stare at us in bewilderment.  Maybe it’s because we smile and say hello to everyone we see.  Most people we encountered were friendly so standing out didn’t affect us.

On our drive back to the flat after leaving Robben Island, mom asked whether Table Mountain was on our itinerary.  Table Mountain is a prominent Cape Town landmark and a beautiful backdrop to the city.  It is approximately 3,558 feet and as I mentioned in a previous post, mom is deathly afraid of heights.  So I immediately responded by telling her that Table Mountain was not a planned stop.  She insisted that she wanted to overcome her fear of heights so we too a detour and I drove to the mountain.  As we ascended to the base of the mountain from the city (approximately 15 minute drive), mom repeated in a heavier than usual Jamaican accent, “LIST tek yuh time!”  I was barely driving 20 mph on a 60 mph road! there was no way we would make it to the top of the mountain at this rate. Mom’s palms were sweating and the mood in the car became very somber. As we turned into the entry for Table Mountain she started to let out large sighing sounds. We arrived in the parking area. Mom was frozen and did not want to exit the car. “Mom we have to get a ticket for the cable car,” I repeated twice before mom responded. “I can’t do it,” she said. Sigh.. I wasn’t going to force her because if it were up to me, we would not have gone because I know the depth of her fear of heights. I tried to convince her to at least come out of the car and take a picture at the base of the mountain which still provided a great view of the city. Once she refused, I came out to take a picture of the view for her then we slowly made our way down the base of the mountain and back to the flat.

image

We had dinner at Baia and that was probably the best dinner I had during our stay.  I tried to keep up with Ace by clearing my plate.  By the time the meal was over I was so stuffed I didn’t feel well for the remainder of the night as I walked around with a belly that appeared to look 5 months pregnant.  We tried to walk it off to no avail.  Looking back, I don’t regret it. 🙂

image

New Year’s South African Style

imageWe have been here for almost 5 days and it is evident to me that Ace (mom) has her own agenda–to find me a husband here. She must be out of her mind!  I noticed her smile and stare whenever she noticed an African couple walking together; she smiled and stared even more whenever she saw them with kids. I’ve never heard of a biological grandma clock, but if one exists, them my mom’s is ticking.

After returning from our trip to the township, we returned to the waterfront for dinner and ate at Belthazar.  Mom was very friendly to the waiters and asked all of them the same questions: (1) how old are you? (2) do you have any kids? (3) where is the rest of your family?  I’m not sure of the significance of these three specific questions, but I sat in my seat embarrassingly staring down at my food.  One of the waiters was from Ghana and the other was from Zambia.  A third was South African who was studying law at University of Cape Town. We were the last customers to leave the restaurant and by the end of the night mom and I were taking pictures with her new friends.

The next morning, we relocated to an oceanfront flat and returned to the waterfront to purchase our New Year’s Eve tickets for later that night.  I had been researching and asking what most people do on NYE.  The consensus was that most of Cape Town would celebrate at the waterfront.  For those with money, they could celebrate while having a 5-course dinner at one of the amazing waterfront restaurants.  However, many others would converge on the waterfront and walking around listening to the music blaring and preparing for the fireworks show.  People walked around, some with their families, others with their friends.  Mothers carried their children around on their backs secured by towels used as makeshift baby slings.

imageMom and I had dinner at Tasca.  We dined on a prix fixe dinner of some of the best seafood, wine and champagne I’ve ever had.  At close to midnight, we joined the others outside of the restaurant and watched the fireworks show as we extended a “Happy New Year” to those standing around us.  It took a moment, but I had to remind mom that we were blessed enough to ring in the new year on another continent.  In one of the most amazing places on earth–a place where some of our family and friends would never have the opportunity to visit.  In that moment, in the beginning of the new year, we were thankful.  It was an enjoyable experience to celebrate with so many different people.

After leaving the waterfront, we were determined to stay awake to celebrate the new year with those in the U.S.  Thus, we had seven more hours to go!  We navigated through the bumper to bumper traffic and headed to Long Street.  As we walked up the street, we joined a group of people who were marching behind a band.  The band sounded similar to a New Orleans band.  Spectators on the sidewalk watched as we walked by.  Then I realized—we had jumped into the middle of the parade!  Mom had no desire to find the nearest exit so we followed the band up the parade route as people stared.  We eventually exited and were stopped by a group of men sitting on a stoop.  They shouted, “you must not be from around here!”  Mom stopped and asked, “why do you say that?” imageAnd one of the men responded, “because this parade is usually for Coloureds; we never see Africans here.”  “Oh you’re American!” another man shouted after deciphering our accents.  We stopped and spoke to the men for a few minutes who informed us they were Muslim, but as South Africans, they respect and celebrate everyone’s religions.  After leaving the men, we headed farther down Long Street, where the crowd changed.  No longer were were marching up the parade route, we were now standing in the middle of the street with young South Africans of various ages.  They yelled and screamed as many drunkenly stammered down the streets in search of a taxi.  We walked around until close to 5am and headed back to the flat in time to see the sun rise and to wish our family and friends in the States a Happy New Year!

*******

New Years Day in Cape Town is unofficially known as Beach Day.  On this day, hundreds of thousands of people converge on the beaches around the country.  Mom and I geared up to head to Camps Bay to hang with the natives.  The traffic was bumper to bumper and it was hot.  To get to Camps Bay we must drive along and up a cliff.  As I soaked in the magnificent view of the city and the ocean, mom clenched the handle of the door fearful to look over at the ocean. Sigh.  Mom has a MAJOR phobia of heights (although she has no issue with flying).  We could not descend from the hill fast enough for her.  When we finally arrived at the beach it was crowded with residents (and tourists—most of whom were black).  Some were located on the hill right above the beach.  They were not in bathing suits (beachwear appeared to be optional), but had arrived at the beach to have a picnic with their friends and family.  Sprinkled among the thousands of people were a few whites who were sunbathing on lawn cheers underneath umbrellas.

imageWhen mom and I arrived on the beach, I looked around at how we could obtain lawn chairs.  I noticed that the only beach goers who were utilizing them were all white, but I know mom was not prepared to lay on this sand and burn underneath this hot African sun.  So I found a gentleman who was carrying around an umbrella and bargained with him to obtain two chairs and an umbrella.  As he set up our chairs, he asked mom where she was from (a question we got often and one that mom insisted on answering honestly).  As she told him that we were American, all I could think was that the price of these chairs and umbrella just quadrupled!  After telling me the chairs would cost ZAR 220, I was able to bargain him down to ZAR100 ($10).  Paying the “local” cost for items was becoming a challenge with mom who was unwilling to understand that we looked African.  But, the moment we opened our mouths and people realized we were not “African” they would automatically charge us more for items (she would eventually understand this lesson).  As we laid on the chairs and soaked in the ocean air, I could feel the stares coming from those around us as people walked by.  As Americans in South Africa, we were an anomaly–stuck in two worlds.  If we were Africans, why were we sitting on these lawn chairs pretending to be white?  I’m sure the impression was we must have been Africans with money.  It is a similar struggle that some African-Americans face in the U.S.–not feeling black enough for black people, yet we were not white.  Mom and I took turns going into the water.  I barely got off the sand because the water was ice cold.  Yet, many people (especially kids) enjoyed jumping around in the water.  The vibe was awesome.  You could not help but to feel as happy as they are as they jumped and cheered in the water and celebrated the beginning of the new year.  We stayed at the beach for hours soaking up the great energy.  Mom continued to have mini panic attacks as I drove  up the cliff toward our flat.  When we arrived, she was exhausted so we decided to forgo dinner.

South Africa Adventures–The Dichotomy

On our second day, I made a reservation for mom and I to tour the wine areas of San Francisco–Stellenbosch and Franschhoek. Raymond, our driver, had taken me on a similar tour four years ago. RaymondHe is a very nice Coloured (the name given to South Africans of mixed descent) man who lives in a nearby township. I left it up to Raymond to determine which estates we would visit. As we drove into the winelands, mom had the opportunity to ask Raymond cultural and historical questions from the perspective of a local. Raymond was very patient and provided us with a rich history of the area. He started from the beginning of South Africa’s colonization and provided us with detailed information up to his perspective on the reported corruption of South Africa’s current president, Jacob Zuma.

We arrived at the Fairview Estate for our first wine pairing. We sampled eight wines with an assortment of cheeses that are made at the estate.  Since our sommelier failed to provide us with a spit bowl, Ace (mom) believed it was obligatory to drink the entire glass (did I mention she isn’t a drinker?). By the time we left, Ace was complaining that her “eyes were turning”–a Jamaican terminology for when one is becoming tipsy. We stopped at a few more wine estates before heading to lunch at Le Petite Ferme. Before eating, we enjoyed a beautiful view of the mountains from the estate’s vineyard. I have kept mom happy with our 5-star dining, but my clothing is already beginning to fit tighter. imageAfter lunch, we visited a few more estates then headed back to the flat. It was a fun-filled day, but on the drive back to the flat I could feel the wine kicking in and I was beyond tipsy (but I wasn’t drunk).
imageOnce we returned, we could do nothing else but take a nap. After sleeping for a few hours, we decided to explore an open-air market that was located within walking distance. During the festive season, there appears to be a party occurring in the streets every night. The market was crowded with vendors, and people walking around contemplating what they would purchase. The majority of the vendors and customers appeared to be Muslim.  They sold everything from toys to food.  We stopped at a stand with a man selling figs. Mom decided to take a taste of the figs–one and a half days in Cape Town and she already wasn’t afraid to try food from street vendors. I happily passed on tasting it. She decided to purchase a handful then realized she forgot to bring her wallet. How convenient. Of course I gave her a side-eye as I pulled out ZAR10 to purchase her figs. IMG_3523

As we explored the marketplace we noticed that most of the vendors and people walking around were Muslim. At this point, we were getting comfortable with feeling somewhat out of place in South Africa. One vendor sold Beats by Dre headphones for ZAR150 (the equivalent of $15).  For Christmas, I purchased similar headphones for my sister for $150! Chances are the vendor’s headphones weren’t real, but I contemplated buying hem for my sister and returning the ones I previously purchased .

IMG_3557On our walk back to the flat, we snapped a picture in front of the former slave lodge which was turned into a museum (despite it being next door, we didn’t get an opportunity to explore the museum).

********

The previous day, mom and I had a wonderful adventure driving through the majestic vineyards of the Cape while sipping some of the best wines in the word.  But, it would be a spurious claim to believe that all of Cape Town consists of fine dining, great wines and open air markets.  So, on the following day we took a tour of two of the most famous townships in Cape Town–Llanga and Khayelitsha Townships.  As mom got dressed in the morning, she prepared to wear one of her cute sundresses and her expensive jewelry. I immediately advised her that today, we (really her, because none of my clothing looks as expensive as hers) should wear something a bit more unassuming.

 After heading to Long Street to have breakfast at Rcaffe, we boarded the tour bus headed to the townships (similar to the term “projects” in the US).  imageTandis, our tour guide, brought us to District Six Museum on our first top.  There, he explained the history of District 6 and other townships where non-whites were relocated.  Mom was enthralled in the story and walked around the museum soaking in as much information as possible.  After the museum, we headed to Llanga Township (the oldest township in Cape Town with over 50,000 residents) where Luyolo took over as our tour guide.  As we walked through the area, the children ran up to us and grabbed our hands.  They were all so adorable, yet as we walked along, we could see the poverty-ridden homes.  We walked into one of the hostiles to see how many people lived.  Mom, stopped in her tracks, paralyzed and shocked that people lived this way.  The common area was filled with flies and was as clean as it could be.  There were up to 4 families living in one room.  The hostile had one kitchen area and no living room.  In one of the rooms was a lady who I met almost 5 years before.  We took a picture similar to the one we took previously.  Since this was not my first time through the township, I was not as shocked as mom, who was afraid of touching anything.  Mom grew up in poverty in Jamaica, but she said this did not match anything that she had experienced first hand.  It was a sobering experience relative to our wine tasting the previous day.  At this point, mom peppered Luyolo with many questions about the standard of living.

One of the ironies of our visit was as we walked by some of the shacks the entire home was smaller than the size of my mother’s bedroom with holes in the zinc roofs.  However, many of them had flat screen televisions that were bigger than televisions owned by mom or me.  We entered a makeshift bar where Luyolo explained that many of the men in the neighborhood would stop by to have homemade beer.  Since none of the women on the tour were willing to take a sip, I stepped up to have a try.  It was served in a pail that everyone had to drink from in the spirit of Ubuntu–human kindness.  The beer was warm and had a bitter aftertaste–not something I would take more than a sip of).

imageAfter Llanga, we drove through Khayelitsha Township–the largest township in the western Cape.  There are over one million people living in the township.  In Khayelitsha, we stopped by Vicky’s Bed and Breakfast.  When I visited years prior, I met met Vicky and learned about her Zagat rated B&B in the township which raised money for the local school.  But during this visit, Tandis informed me that the tour would be conducted by Vicky’s eldest daughter because Vicky was killed by her husband two years ago (her husband is currently in prison).  As we left Vicky’s, we saw children “swimming” in water along the road that contained tons of garbage.  It was very sad to watch, yet we left them behind and returned to our affluent area of Cape Town and continued our vacation.  Nevertheless, the memory of the townships were forever etched into our minds.

Our South Africa Adventures Day 1

We’re still not over the jet lag (we’re 7 hours ahead of EST) so we had a slow start to the day.  Since our flight arrived after most stores were closed, we had a few errands to run in the morning. Ace had to decide which one of her glamorous outfits she would wear today.  After much contemplation she settled on purple jeans as she was disappointed that the temperature was merely 62 degrees (it later rose to a high of 75).

imageWe had an itinerary with various activities on tap, but of course nothing ever goes as planned. Our first stop was to the V&A Waterfront.  It is somewhat of a tourist hub with stores, restaurants and a great view of the mountains. We needed to visit a foreign exchange bureau and purchase adapter plugs that enabled us to charge our phones.   The waterfront was crowded with tourists and other visitors walking around on the beautiful summer day.  We also stopped at Woolworth’s (similar to a Target/Walmart on a much smaller scale) to pick up a few snacks for the flat we’re staying in.  On our way back to the car, the strap of mom’s shoe broke. Oh boy.  Of course the fashionista would not take another step until we mended her shoes.  We walked into a store at the waterfront and mom asked one of the workers whether they had crazy glue.  Undeterred by the blank stare she received, mom moved on to asking another worker for crazy glue.  After her 3rd attempt, I realized, they had no idea what she was talking about.  I imageexplained to a worker that she needed an adhesive to repair her shoes. The store did not carry an adhesive so mom was left to purchase a new pair of shoes.  Being the practical one, I recommended that she purchase a comfortable pair of shoes, but mom was having no parts of it. “I need a cute pair of shoes that is obvious that it is from South Africa.”  After much back and forth, she settled on a pair of shoes she could be semi-happy with.

Our next stop was the Old Biscuit Mill for lunch.  It is in an open air market where merchants gather and set up make-shift restaurants and sell various goods.  Unfortunately, mom’s shoe purchasing experience took longer than we anticipated, so by the time we arrived, the merchants were closing. Disappointed but undetered, we returned to the waterfront to have lunch.

imageIn addition to being a shopaholic, mom also likes to fine dine.  After perusing the menus at a few locations, we settled on Oyo.  We sat alongside the water and enjoyed a great meal while we people watched and relaxed. Our server Tapiwa (pronounced Ta-pee-wah), was very sweet and patient.  Mom and I discussed the interesting racial group distinctions in South Africa and the classification of called Coloureds (Coloured is loosely defined as man and women who are of mixed race). The waterfront was filled with many tourists and people from various areas of the continent.  We were trying to distinguish who among the passer-byes would be classified as Coloureds.  We were also admiring the interesting attire worn by women.  the passer-byes also stared back at us (we would learn why I few days later). Mom was taking it all in.  Hands down, the most beautiful natural women of the world live in Africa!  On our way out, we met an older couple from Switzerland who struck up a conversation with us.  They asked where we were from and later asked whether I was married.  Ace wasted no time in responding for me and letting them know she wanted to find me a husband (a statement she has made about 10 times during our trip thus far).  The gentleman replied, “you are looking for a chief?” To which his wife responded with disgust, “here in South Africa, you must be looking for a thief!”  Mom didn’t know whether to laugh or be offended. She is starting to learn the dynamic do race relations in this country.

imageAfter stuffing our faces, we were exhausted. This did not deter us from experiencing more of this beautiful country.  We returned to our flat for an hour then headed to Camps Bay for sundowners.  Mom, the fashionista, could not wear the same outfit to dinner that she wore all day (plus she brought enough clothing to last a month).  Therefore, she she had another wardrobe change before we left.  Not to be outdone, I borrowed her leather jacket to spice up my own look.

imageWe drank and ate at Tuscany Beach Restaurant.  Mom was shocked to see a server who was not black. Since arriving, she wondered why she only saw black workers at the airport, in restaurants and in stores. This isn’t actually true she just hadn’t been paying close attention and she hasn’t adjust to being in a country where blacks are the majority.  She was also saddened to see homeless people for the first time in the country. We watched street children hustle people for money as they walked to their cars.  As we left the restaurant, two children approached us aggressively asking for more money despite the 4 Rand I handed to them.  Mom was much nicer to them as I got into the car and drove off.  Exhausted after a full day, we returned to our flat and passed out.  Our first full day was now behind us.

Happy New Year From Cape Town!

After reading my post on my resolutions, a reader suggested that I also post about my accomplishments–2013 has been a great year. I traveled the world, made new friends, reconnected with old friends, received a promotion, received an award at work, started a group of phenomenal ladies, learned more about myself, tackled my first pro bono case without my partner mentor, completed my first 10 miler, learned the meaning of happiness, donated money to great causes, recognized I am beauty-full (inside and out) and wonderfully made, and I rang in the new new year in South Africa with one of my favorite people–my mom!

imageGod has blessed me with so much and I remain humbled and thankful for all who provided me with love, patience and understanding. Some people came into my life for seconds, minutes, days, weeks and months. Irrespective of the time, thanks for the lessons you taught me. from some I learned difficult lessons but I thank the universe for the experience. In 2014 I will continue the challenge of learning to live in the now and live my own truth. Thanks for the continued support to my blog! Wishing everyone an amazing and prosperous 2014 from Cape Town!!

South Africa Adventures Awaits

20131228-211515.jpg Mom (aka Ace) and I made it to the airport with sufficient time to shop in duty free. Surprisingly, she purchased no items. She believes that duty-free does not offer a real discount. I’d like to think that lugging her heavy carry-ons made her rethink adding any additional items to her load. Because I’ve made this trip twice before, I knew I had to adequately prepare. The next stop was to pick up a few snacks and stop at Chipotle for the long flight ahead of us. Ace didn’t want anything from Chipotle; a decision she (and I) would later regret.

imageFilled with excitement, we boarded the plane for our South African adventures!  One seat ahead of us on our flight was a college friend who lives in South Africa–small world! Shortly after take-off Ace began complaining that she was hungry. Oh here we go. We were first served a beverage. In addition to our non-alcoholic drink, we both asked for two Amarulas (an alcoholic beverage made in South Africa that is similar to Bailey’s Irish Cream).Without hesitation, Ace (who is not a drinker) downed one of her Amarulas because, as she stated, “I need to open up my palate.”  Yeah, okay.  imageDinner followed shortly thereafter. Ace opted for the chicken, and I asked for the beef entree. As Ace opened up her chicken meal, she dabbled her fork around the plate and looked at me in disgust. I turned my head away from her because I knew what she was going to ask next–let’s swap meals. After 3 minutes of feeling bad for her looking at her meal in disgust, I opted to give her my burrito bowl–there goes my late night/early morning snack. After enjoying her second bottle of Amarula, Ace fell asleep and I decided to read.

imageSixteen hours later, well-rested and still happy, we arrived in Johannesburg! we had 1.5 hours before our connecting flight to Cape Town.  The line was painstakingly long. We cleared customs an hour later and had 30 minutes to make it to our gate. We made it with a few minutes to spare.image

On our flight to Cape Town we sat next to the most adorable 12-year-old boy, Aubin (pronounced Awe-bane, with a French accent). We spoke the entire flight as he practiced his English (he speaks 5 languages–time to step my game up). He was traveling with his father, brothers and sister to Cape Town to visit the beach.  He was on holiday in a South Africa, but he lives in Burundi.  At one point, while we were served dinner, he tapped me and said, “I’m afraid of your mother, eh. I think she’s going to say you mist eat those vegetables.” To be on the safe side, he ate all the vegetables without my mom having to say anything.  Mom made a great observation when I later told her what Aubin said.  She said, “it’s evident in his culture they believe it takes a village to raise a child. If he were in the United States, his parents may be offended that an adult stranger was telling their child what to do.”

Two hours later and 20 hours after embarking on our travels, we made it to Cape Town!  We hired (Americans say rented) a car that is standard size for South Africa, but we (really, Ace) we’re traveling with more bags than the average South African.  Miraculously, the attendant was able to fit all 5 of our bags in the trunk. Although mom knows how to drive a manual car on the left hand side of the road, I became the designated driver for our trip (her job was to enter the information into the navigation system, but that also quickly became my job).  After a few missed turns, we arrived at our flat safely.  Our arrival to Cape Town was finally complete!

image

Sawubona South Africa!

Another Christmas has come and gone so quickly.  It was a pleasant day spent with my family enjoying old traditions and creating new ones.  This year, we are breaking with the usual tradition of spending the week of Christmas at my mother’s house in Florida.  After a lot of coaxing I was able to convince my mother that we should travel to South Africa for the holidays.

So today, my mother (who I often refer to as my Ace) and I will be boarding a 16-hour flight to Cape Town. The next few blog post will document our adventures together in the “motherland”. Making memories with her is important to me however, she and I vacation very differently. We have done mom and daughter trips in the past.  Her idea of a vacation is hitting every shopping mall and buying the most expensive and extravagant items that the country’s high-end boutique stores have to offer (she may also try to find a tribesman and organize an arranged marriage for me).  My idea of a great vacation is laying on the beach with a good book listening to the waves crash against the sand.   Needless to say planning this trip has been its own  adventure. For example, when I gave Ace a draft of our itinerary, her first question was why can’t we use public transportation? She can’t be serious. Her next question was if we were going to take a tour of wine country, why did we have to go to more than 2 wine estates? Breathe.  After explaining that we were not “real Africans” and would stick out like a sore thumb on a local minibus and would be charged an arm and a leg the moment we asked a cab driver to take us somewhere, she conceded to allow me to rent a car. It’s a manual and they drive on the left side of the street so she also made it clear that I am the sole designated driver.  As for the wine estates, she’ll appreciate it once we get there.

SuitcasesSo today begins the adventures of Ace and I in Africa.  She is traveling with THREE full suitcases for a 2 1/2 week trip.  I’m traveling with 2 (one is pretty empty and solely for the purpose of bringing gifts back).  Wheels up!!

….Stay tuned.

%d bloggers like this: