Tuesday, September 30, 2008

International Week at school

So the girls had International week at school, and it was so much fun! On Wednesay they had to dress up in their traditional costume and walk in a parade. Each country was represented with their flag and all the kids walked behind their flag. On alphabetical order, can you imagine 72 countries were represented at this parade!!
It was amazing to see all these beautiful dressed up kids proud as can be walking and being cheered by all the parents and other visitors. It brought chills to my bone and tears in my eyes just to see it!!

Juliet's class

Jasmine's class

As you can see in these pictures there is hardly one kid from the same country, Juliet has 17 kids and Jasmine 16 kids in the class, almost all from different backgrounds. Isn't that just amazing??

The parade was held on the football fields of the school, with in the background the skyline of Johannesburg, a sunny day very clear sky, it was just amazing. As the headmaster said...truly a United Nations, we could take an example by these children. Working, playing together, no language barriers...at least if there is, they will work it out by just playing and being friends of each other...the language will follow! It is the greatest lesson in the world to just hang out here at school with all these precious children from so many different backgrounds and cultures, just being themselves and being proud of who they are. I just loved that parade of nations.

Then on Friday they had to represent their country by books, food, photo's of their traditional housing, artifacts from their home country. And then the 1st graders had to explain to the older kids in elementary school what their country was about. Show the older kids what kind of food they eat, what clothing they wear and what is so special about their country. The cutest speeches I heard....it is so great to see all the kids dressed up in their traditional dress standing behind a table with all the goodies from their country telling their fellow students what in our case THAILAND was all about. We of course could choose between Holland or Thailand to represent, since the girls have dual citizenship. But the outfit they had for Thailand is more princess like, so the choice was easy!! And they truly looked like little Thai princess's.
At the end of each presentation we could sample the yummy food each table had made. The Thai chicken sate with peanut sauce was a big hit...everybody loves Thai food, so the 50 chicken on a stick went quickly ;-)

But I enjoyed tasting all the new stuff, like the Korean, Russian, Tunesian food I hadn't had before. What a great idea this was and so well organised, it truly was an international event and experience! ....even for us, who already traveled so much, there are always new countries and cultures to discover. How fun!

Have a good day y'all! (click on the picture to see a bigger size)Mireille

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Safari in Madikwe ~ part 2

The second day of our safari we started off with tea and rusks (In South Africa, rusk is a traditional biscuit (called beskuit in Afrikaans) that is eaten after having been dipped in coffee or tea, especially rooibos tea. Historically, rusks evolved (along with biltong) during the country's early pioneering days as a way to preserve bread in the dry climate) and then we did the morning drive. Here is the Wilde Beest, strange looking animal, kinda sad. We saw quite a few of them, mostly in groups.
The Rhino was really relaxed and let us come by quite nearby, but then it started spraying his area and was telling us not to come closer. At least that was what Tsolo our ranger was telling us!
Many giraffes we saw, they are so elegant and beautiful, I really like seeing them over and over again!
The Impala's you see the most, so cute and they can jump so far and high, they have to since they are prey to the lions!
And then we saw the elephants, they came close by, there was a mother with her baby, and the mother was really protective, she actually came behind our jeep and was chasing us. Flapping her ears wide open to make herself even bigger. Telling us not to come nearby, because she would destroy that jeep!!

Last but not least the buffalo's, with huge horns, they were in a group as well, but kinda hiding behind the bushes, so only a few we could get a close up and nice shot.

And here a Kudu, with the big cute ears, they make biltong of kudu as well (like jerky).

The phrase Big Five game was coined by big-game hunters and refers to the five most difficult animals in Africa to hunt on foot. The term is still used in most tourist and wildlife guides that discuss African wildlife safaris. The big 5 are the African Elephant, lion, buffalo, rhino and the leopoard. We saw them all but the leopard, so we have to do a few more safari's before we can say that we saw them all! Which suits me fine ;-) Besides these big 5 we saw many more animals and we just loved the trips in the jeep. In total we did 3 drives, the last morning we felt like sleeping in and joining the monkeys on our balcony, naughty little monkeys who dare to come really close!! But we didn't..haha!

Jasmine and Juliet were so scared after our almost tipping over moment they didn't feel like going on a drive with us anymore. So the lodge arranged a kiddy drive with Tsolo our ranger, just with them. And after they did some arts and crafts with some of the staff, they had so much fun. And for us it was a lot more relaxed as well.

After our sunset drive we had dinner at the boma, a boma is an enclosure with firepit. It used to be a livestock enclosure, boma is the equivalent of 'kraal', and the former being used in areas influenced by Swahili and the latter in areas influenced by Afrikaans.
All the people at the Thakadu river lodge had dinner there, so the four of us and our newly made friends and 3 other couples who where on honeymoon sat around the campfire and enjoyed this African dinner. Just beautiful. We all had a reason why we we there, Bdays, honeymoons and we were on our 12th anniversary. Ross and David were celebrating their Bday so the staff came out with 2 cakes and champagne (which their wifes had arranged) and danced and sang for them in a few African languages. This was such an amazing moment, I really loved it!! It was quite magical to be there around the fire, people singing and dancing. We had a such a grand time at Thakadu River Camp!!
African lifestyle is good!!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Heritage Day in South Africa

Everyone is having a day of today, because September 24 is a Public Holiday on which South Africans across the spectrum are encouraged to celebrate their cultural heritage and the diversity of their beliefs and traditions, in the wider context of a nation that belongs to all its people. Formerly they used to call it: National Braai Day. (braai stands for BBQ)

In an address marking Heritage Day in 1996, (former) President Mandela stated:

"When our first democratically-elected government decided to make Heritage Day one of our national days, we did so because we knew that our rich and varied cultural heritage has a profound power to help build our new nation.

We did so knowing that the struggles against the injustice and inequities of the past are part of our national identity; they are part of our culture. We knew that, if indeed our nation has to rise like the proverbial phoenix from the ashes of division and conflict, we had to acknowledge those whose selfless efforts and talents were dedicated to this goal of non-racial democracy."

This year’s theme is “Celebrating Our Dance, Our Heritage.” Dance is a prime means of artistic expression, expanding and exploring new territory.

This year’s Heritage Day celebrations will be an expression of pride in multi-cultural dance; it will promote indigenous dance, and encourage new dancers, especially among the youth.

Since our girls are at an American International school, they don't have a day off, but are celebrating International Day and all the kids will wear there traditional clothing from their mother country and have a parade at school, so that's what we are off to this afternoon. On Friday all the children will represent their country and show pictures and items about their culture and heritage and serve food from each country. Fun, fun, fun!

PS: more about the safari tomorrow! I couldn't pass on Heritage day today!
Have a lovely day,

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

On safari at Madikwe ~ part 1

Since we had such a long weekend, with lots of activities, game drives and other adventures I will write this posting in 2 days. So come back tomorrow for the other half ;-)
We drove to Madikwe game reserve, it is about 3 1/2 hour drive from Johannesburg, so easy to do. When we arrived at this beautiful lodge the people of Thakadu River Camp were waiting for us in the parking lot to welcome us. They all were so friendly and introduced themselves to us. You could tell from that moment, that each person working there was well intended and to give you the greatest time on earth! So nice!!

After a welcome drink and some more meeting staff, we were brought to our tent. The tents are as beautiful as on the website, just amazing! Sleeping in this georgous tents with huge deck overlooking the Marico river with little monkeys playing in the trees just above where we are sitting! I couldn't imagine having a nicer lodge than this. We had time to relax, enjoy the surroundings and before we knew it we were off ot our first game drive.
It started off quite good, immediately we saw an old giraffe right next to our jeep, he was so relaxed eating from the trees and just giving us the opportunity to take some close-ups. Good start, what we didn't know was that this would be a very adventurous drive!
We came about a spot where there were 3 lioness's laying in the shade, since we couldn't see much Tsolo our ranger took us more into the bush to see if we could find a spot where we could come closer to the 3 lioness. This is officially not aloud but he did it anyway...lucky for us. We came really close and took some great pictures, and then when we drove back we had to back up....the jeep got stuck in the bush, we were trying and trying to get out of there and the jeep almost tilted over while we were backing up. Everybody sat so still in this jeep hoping and praying we wouldn't flip over, because these lioness's were ready to eat us!! Just as we managed to get out of there, the lioness's started walking towards us but really relaxed and started drinking from the river that was there. We even had some more amazing shots of the 3 drinking water, while we were right there. This is a moment that not many people see on a game drive, so Tsolo our ranger did a very good job here!!

We drove a bit further and saw some more giraffes walking on the side, this was a young female close up to us. Look at these eyelashes, that's how you recognize, the lashes and the little bit more hair around the horns. The lighter the spots the younger they are. We learned a lot about all the animals!

We saw some zebra's, impalas, many magnificent birds, which we called with this special bird caller. One of the other guests on the jeep had this little device that he could play the bird sounds with. So whenever we saw a bird, he would call it with his device. Amazing to see how the birds were looking like: 'Where is this new bird?' They would look around and tjirp or call back, really neat device, great to have somebody on your drive with a bird caller, we saw and HEARD such a great birds that way!

After a while it was time for a sundowner, Tsolo our ranger came out with beer, wine, amarulla's (an African liqueur) gin and tonics and some snacks like nuts, dried fruit and Biltong a dried meat, like beef jerky but more delicious and it can be made from beef but also game (ostrich or kudu).
The 2 other couples we met at our game drive turned out to be really great people so we decided to eat dinner together and for the rest of the stay we sat with them and had a great time!

After the sun got down we drove back and the staff of Thakadu was waiting for us with a fresh towel and some sherry to chuck back before we started our 4-course dinner. What a first day, this promised to be a really grand weekend!! The girls were brought to bed after their kiddy dinner by one of the staff, Charmaine, she would be the girl's baby sitter for the weekend and we enjoyed our divine dinner and chatted with our new made friends Debbi, Ross, Ashley and David. What a wonderful time we had on our first day.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Long weekend off from school

The girls have off today and Monday, so we have a long weekend ahead of us, and as you maybe remember we are going on a safari. We are going to Madikwe game reserve. It is a Big Five game reserve covering some 75,000 hectare. It is one of the largest game reserves in South Africa.

We are going on a morning and night safari on 2 days, the rest of the day you just relax, go for a small walk or just read a book and sip a wine, enjoy the delicious food they will make for us and just enjoy the nature of Africa.

And as I wrote earlier, we will be sleeping in tents, not your usual basic tent...these are tents fit for a queen. So I am sure Jasmine, Juliet and me will be feeling just at home. And being our Emperor, Dirk will feel just fine there ;-)

More pictures next week, I won't be posting this weekend. So come back on Tuesday for the following up on our adventure.

Have a nice weekend y'all, whatever you do and whoever you share it with...ENJOY!

Brutal experience

OMG!! BRUTAL EXPERIENCE today at the Bikram Yoga place here in Design Quarter. It was more hefty than I would have ever thought off. And I am not a person who exhagerate! What an experience!! I thought this class would never end, 90 minutes of heavy duty excercise in a room heated up to 40C/100F degrees. Can you imagine excercising in this for the whole 90 minutes?? Excrutiating...but addictive! I am going back tomorrow for more!!
They want you to do these 26 poses...twice and keeping the pose for 60-90 seconds, do you know how long that is? My feet where trembling, my body was shaking, my face was red, and I was sweating perfusely. Torture, but craving for more!
They want us to bend backwards...yeah you read it right...backwards, like this!! I have never even thought about bending backwards, my body is not designed to do that...well.. apparently your body is desingned to do that, you just never do!
If you have never done Bikram Yoga, you have to put it on your to do list, I am telling you...just try it! It will open up drawers, cannisters, muscles in your body you didn't know they were there. Just experience it once, and tell me how you liked it!
I am just intrueged what the body is capable off...don't get me wrong, not MY body yet, but A body in general who is fit and lean, and above all FLEXIBLE, it is just amazing to see the GUY teacher we had, what he could do with his body...I am in awe! And I want more, I want to see if my body is capable of doing this as well....I am such a novice at this moment, but I am planning to be better at Bikram Yoga, so I am going back tomorrow!! They adviced us to come 6 days in a row...yeah you read it right...6 days in a row to experience it the right way. I am not sure if I can get out of my bed tomorrow. I've tried a lot of types of excercise, but this is beyond my world, but after a shower and my face cooled down (took about an hour) I felt really good :-)

Just look at these pictures and try it at home..............hard isn't it? It looks easy, but it is so f#@$ hard!! And keep the pose for 60-90 seconds and put the heater on full blow, that's what I've experienced today....WOAW!!

Hope you had a invigorating day!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

A day in the life of.....

What amazes me in the morning when I drive to my gym, is that I see hundreds of people walking on the streets, going to work, going to school or looking for a day job. That is the daily routine of the South Africans.
Hundreds of men and women walking from their township to their job. There are hardly any bikes or cars available for this group of lower educated people. So they walk, and walk and walk, miles to their job. Each morning when the sun comes up it starts already, coming from fields and all sides you can look at, they come and walk. Sometimes when they reach the main street they can take a taxi....more an old mini van where they wait till it is full. Then they stop at another major intersection and they get out. The rest of their trip they have to walk again.

And looking at the women is the most amazing sight. Not only do they carry their baby on the back, but big packages on their heads as well, while they walk for miles. Wrapped in these beautiful clothes with the most bright colors, just great to see.

Then there is another thing that struck a core with me, all the men sitting on the side of the road, with a paintbrush in their hands, or a sign that they are good at construction or some other job. They are day workers and just waiting on the side of the road, hoping that they are offered a job at a construction side or other job. Hard to live your life that way, you don't know if you have some money or a meal that day.

And then of course the happy children, who go to school. All in uniforms, so cute. These children are the more fortunate ones, there are many who can't afford a uniform or go to school.

What you also will see are lots of men at the traffic lights giving out flyers for business's or selling drinks, newspapers and other small items. Well, we are told that it is better not to open your window and buy something from these men. I believe in general they are good people just trying to make a buck, but better to be safe than sorry and keep your window shut.

The saddest sight is a women standing there with her baby on the back asking for a Rand or 2, that breaks my heart, and sometimes I give a few Rand, but am I helping her with that?? I don't know, maybe better to give something to eat...but I don't have that laying around in my car. You never know if they use the money for buying glue to sniff. That is the saddest part of living in South Africa, life can be really tough for a big group of people and it is not easy to be confronted with that every day!

Think about it; how your life can be so different, it all depends where your cradle stood at the moment you were born. Let's try to support an organisation that is close to your heart and help somebody. There are many in need!

Love & Peace to you all!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Prinsjesdag ~ Day of the Princelings

Today is Prinsjesdag in the Netherlands (in English: Day of the Princelings). This is the day on which Queen Beatrix addresses a joint session of the Upper and Lower Houses of Parliament in the Ridderzaal or Hall of Knights in The Hague. The Speech from the Throne (Dutch: Troonrede) sets out the main features of government policy for the coming parliamentary session. The occasion is prescribed by the constitution, article 65 of which states:
A statement of the policy to be pursued by the Government shall be given by or on behalf of the King before a joint session of the two Houses of the States General that shall be held every year on the third Tuesday in September or on such earlier date as may be prescribed by Act of Parliament.

Procession of the Golden Coach
On the stroke of one, the Queen, normally accompanied by other members of the Royal House, leaves Noordeinde Palace for the Binnenhof, escorted by court dignitaries and a military escort of honour. Outside the palace stand an escort of honour and a military band.

The Queen travels to the Binnenhof in the Golden Coach. During the procession, salutes are fired at one-minute intervals to let the people know that the head of state is on her way to the joint session of the States General.

As the Queen arrives at the Binnenhof, a band by the steps strikes up the “Wilhelmus” (national anthem). The Queen and other members of the Royal House salute the flag and mount the Ridderzaal’s steps, above which hangs a canopy.

Nice to see that in a modern world these days old traditions still are going strong and the people LOVE to see the Queen, Crown Prince Willem Alexander and his wife Maxima and the rest of the royal family on the balcony from palace Noordeinde.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Installing a sauna

We are living at Sweetgum Crescent now for almost 3 months and we still haven't solved our leakage in one of our bathrooms. The problem is huge, since the water leakage is in the waste water pipe that is running in the concrete slab. So in order to solve the problem they have to cut into the slab, which isn't the greatest idea.

So I gave the owner another option to solve this easier, for both parties, and not so much dust and construction going on while we are living here, and that is installing an infra-red sauna. He agreed to take out the bathroom items, like toilet, bidet, bath and shower and install the sauna in this empty space.
I am happy and he is happy, since this sollution only needs electricity and we just don't use any water anymore in this space.....so no leakages anymore and we can start fixing the kitchen ceiling as well ;-)
so we go from this...

to this...

Did you know that using an infrared sauna :
Causes weight loss (without having to lift a finger)
Helps treat cellulites
Improves your immune system
Improves your strength and vitality
Helps cure several skin diseases like eczema, psoriasis and acne
Strengthens the cardio-vascular system
Helps control your blood pressure
Detoxifies your body
Gives you more energy and relieves stress
Helps treat burns and scars
Relieves pain (joint pain, sore muscles, arthritis)
Helps control your cholesterol level
Helps treat bronchitis
Helps treat hives (urticaria), gout, tissue damage, prostate hypertrophy

A lot of health benefits, for such a small room.
I will keep you updated if we notice some results ;-)

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Thai festival in Joburg

The Thailand Grand Festival took place on Zoo Lake, Joburg this weekend. We went there this morning, me and the girls. Since Dirk is in Switzerland this week at the headquarters of Hilti. The festival was huge, there was plenty of Thai cuisine, Thai handicrafts, Thai massage and spa, vegetable and fruit-carving demonstrations, ice sculpting, umbrella painting, Tuk-tuk rides, and so much more. The Thai embassy had set up this festival and just when we arrived this Thai dancing show started, the girls loved it! They couldn't get enough of it. At one moment it was already 1pm and I was hungry, but the girls didn't want to leave their spot in the front so we had to wait till the show was over to get some yummy Thai food.

Jezz and JJ in awe :-)

Jasmine and Juliet are very familiair with the Thai culture, we talk quite a bit about their motherland and I want them to be proud of their heritage.
September is also the month that they celebrate International day at school, so the girls will be wearing and talking about Thailand, so this was a nice freshen up course ;-)
We spoke some Thai to the people wo were running stands and the girls got some gifts from ladies who loved the fact that there were some cute Thai girls living in SA!

Nice to get a dose of Thai once in a while, everywhere we go we meet the most loveliest people from Thailand, and it reminds me how great the country and people are!
There is this expression in Thai: 'Thai rak Thai' which means Thai love Thai...well in our household it is:
'Dutch rak Thai'


Related Posts with Thumbnails