Friday, April 27, 2012

April 17 to 22, 2012 in Cape Town, South Africa

Cape Town!  Tuesday we left for our vacation.  Unfortunately, there are only two flights out.  We passed up the direct flight since it left around 6:30 AM.  Sure the boys are early risers, but by the time you get up, get ready, drive to the airport, park in long term parking, and check in, etc. etc., you have to get up pretty early.  That seems to mean getting to Cape Town already tired and done for the day.  We left a bit later, but of course that meant flying by way of Walvis Bay.  They couldn’t seat us together because the flight was so full.  We had slightly different seats for the flight from Windhoek to Walvis Bay and from Walvis Bay to Cape Town.  We managed to scramble around and swap seats with people to get together.  Our very full flight ended up having the four back rows empty.  Whatever.  On one stretch I was sitting in between Ryan and Justin in a bank of three seats.  I could BARELY get my hips to fit in the seat.  Since I noticed that all of the seats were not the same height and that some were Air France seat belts and some were not (second hand parts?) I figured I just got a skinny seat and was thankful that I am not a very large woman.  A flight attendant noticed me and pushed a button under the arms to push them over slightly towards each of the boys.  Brilliant!

By the time we got settled into our hotel we were ready to eat.  Justin had seen a travel brochure for a mall.  It included a list of restaurants and he spotted MCDONALDS!  What a perfect birthday dinner for Rob, right?  He was very excited and Ryan started singing Old MacDonald over and over.  That pretty much sealed the deal.  Justin blew us away by eating a cheeseburger.  We aren’t too fond of burgers in Namibia, and Justin “discovered” a new food.  He had his Happy Meal and some of Ryan’s.

The wind was so strong that I thought the roof was going to blow off of the hotel.  I suppose that since we weren’t on the top floor it wouldn’t have been too tragic for us.  Miraculously, the boys slept through the night despite the loud howling.

Wednesday we were ready for Table Mountain.  Table Mountain was not ready for us, however.  We got up there and saw that the cable car was closed due to high winds.  We drove down to the waterfront area and found a place to park near the clock tower.  The area we wanted to go was just a short walk.  With all of the construction in the area we could not easily get from point a to point b.  We ended up moving the car to a different location. 

We went into the aquarium, which thrilled the boys.  They hadn’t been impressed with a trip up to a mountain and back down again.  They enjoyed looking at the different fish and other water creatures.  They were even brave enough to touch a starfish/sea star.  Living dangerously, huh.  After finishing up, we were hungry and set off for something to eat.  A lot of seafood in the area, which I hate.  Some interesting possibilities for restaurants if it weren’t for the boys.  We ended up at McDonald’s again.  Since we don’t have McDonald’s in Namibia, we didn’t really mind.  In the US it isn’t a first choice, but it has been seven months without American fast food so it was a treat for all of us. 

We then took a ride on the Ferris wheel to catch a bird’s eye view of the area.  Ryan thought it was great.  I think that Justin is a little less enthusiastic with heights.  He liked to have Rob right there holding on to him.  We had time for Justin to chase birds and Ryan to play on the playground before heading off for a one hour boat ride.  I think Justin would have been content to chase sea gulls for the entire vacation, but at some point the rest of us were ready to move on.

We had the foresight to medicate Justin before getting on the boat and it seemed to help him enjoy his time a bit more.  The pirate boat ride was complete with face painting and a short skit.  The show was really, really bad.  Kids seemed pretty into it though, so what do I know?

Back to the car for a return trip to Table Mountain.  This time we were able to go up on the cable car.  The view is absolutely amazing.  The boys enjoyed running around and needed constant reminders to stay on the paths and not climb all over the rocks.  The cable car trips up and down the mountain were not Justin’s favorite, but he managed to keep himself together.

By that point we were done.  Fortunately for us, our hotel came equipped with a kitchen in our suite.  We just went back to the hotel and ate there.

Thursday was our day for visiting the Cape of Good Hope.  We drove along the coast passing through some small towns along the way.  Our first stop was the penguin colony at Boulder’s Beach.  It was interesting to see so many penguins just doing their own thing.  I only saw a couple of them splash into the water.  It seemed like the majority chose to either lie down or slide along on their bellies in the sand.  I guess with all of the wind they don’t want to waddle upright.  With some of the gusts of wind I wonder if they could stand upright at times.

From there we continued on our drive.  We got to Cape Point and walked the long trek up to the lighthouse.  When Ryan would complain that he was tired, I would offer to run with him for a break.  Seemed to work for him.  At the top, the boys were a bit disappointed by the stubby looking lighthouse.  They thought it was a water tower.  We opted to take the funicular back down to the base.  Since eating choices are limited, we decided to grab some muffins at the little shop.

Just a short couple of minutes later we were in front of the Cape of Good Hope sign for a photo op.  We walked around for a bit despite the wind.

We decided to go look for a restaurant I wanted to try.  It was a bit of a drive, but it was too late to do anything else really and a bit too early to eat closer in.  Unfortunately, we didn’t find the restaurant.  We walked around a mall and ended up eating at Spur.  Yes, there is a Spur just down the street from where we live and yes, the food is only mediocre.  They do have a play area for the kids though and food that they will eat.  Justin was anxious to get to the car and back to the hotel.  Ends up that he had to go to the bathroom and he thought he would hold it until we got home.  I was able to figure out his problem and we found a bathroom just in time.

Back to the hotel for us, with a good many detours as usual.  The streets in Cape Town are laid out in an interesting fashion and change names frequently.  We spent a lot of extra time driving.

Friday we went on the city bus tour.  It runs its two hour loop and you can get on and off at various points throughout the city.  Every fifteen minutes another one comes by, so you never have to wait for too long.  We got off by St George’s Cathedral  which is known for allowing Blacks and Whites to worship together during apartheid.  From there we walked to the Company Gardens and allowed the boys some time to run and chase the birds as we made our way towards the South African Museum.  We were rushing through because the boys were not horribly interested and because Justin had to go to the bathroom again.  I wish he would just SAY something instead of us trying to guess what the problem is.  From there we decided that we needed to have lunch and that the most promising prospects were behind us and not ahead of us on the bus route.  We walked for awhile and determined that McDonalds was probably the most promising choice in the area for us.

After lunch we got back on the bus and rode it around the rest of the route to see the city.  I had thought that the Jewish museum would be interesting, but, because of Holocaust related displays, not particularly appropriate for the boys.  I planned to run in quickly while Rob watched the boys outside, but decided against it.  There really didn’t seem to be a great place for them to just hang out.  On we went!  Much of the city was familiar as we had already driven up and down streets trying to get from point a to point b.  At least this time we were just taking in the sights and listening to the commentary instead of trying to navigate our way somewhere.  We got up to Table Mountain (again) before heading back down and towards the beaches.

We enjoyed being able to look at Camps Bay and some of the other beaches, points, and bays.  We thought they might be a good location to visit on Saturday.  We took the bus back to the starting point.  We were tired and it was too early for dinner.  We didn’t really want to go back to the hotel and out again either though.  We chose to go to Subway and pick up sandwiches to eat later in the evening and then went back to the hotel.

Saturday the boys were a bit down because it was our last vacation day.  We decided that we would go to the science center and then head out over towards the beaches.  When we got to the science center and I saw what it was, I figured we would be able to spend an hour there tops.  They were renovating the museum and everything was housed in one large room.  The boys blew me away by insisting we spend six hours there.  Justin didn’t even want to eat lunch.  We bagged the idea of the beach and enjoyed our time at the museum.  When they announced closing time we were finally able to get the boys to leave.

For our last meal we headed out to, you guessed it, McDonald’s.  We even took some back with us to have as a snack on Sunday before leaving.

Sunday wasn’t an early start.  We didn’t have to leave the hotel until 10:30.  Traffic was very light and we made it to the airport more quickly than we anticipated.  We returned the rental car and went to check in for our flight.  Air Namibia recommends that you arrive at the airport three hours ahead of time for international flights.  Why they don’t open their counter until it is 2 hours until take off is beyond me.  That certainly doesn’t help the line at the counter.

I must admit that Air Namibia is one of the few airlines which will feed you (for free) on such short flights.  Unfortunately, what they do feed you gives airline food a bad name.  Not like you will starve on a two hour flight though.

Back in Namibia we waited and waited for our luggage to come on the carousel.  It amazes me how long it can take when there are so few planes.  I think it would have been faster to just have us climb into the cargo hold and pull out our own bags before going into the airport.  In modernizing their parking system, you now must pay for parking before returning to the lot.  The machine does not take bills larger than N$50 (about USD 7.50).  When your parking is over N$100, it would be nice if you could put in N$100, but no.  There is a parking cashier adjacent to the machine.  She didn’t have change.  Hello?  The sign says CASHIER, shouldn’t you have money?  She charged us a different rate than the machine did, but it was in our favor.  (Note: This lovely “improvement” in the parking system has caused parking rates to approximately double.)

We loaded up the van and headed home.  Back to unpacking, laundry, and the glamour of everyday life.

Sunday, April 08, 2012

April 8, 2012

Happy Easter!  Today in church when he was asked what was special about Easter, Justin responded that it was getting lots of candy.  The teacher said that we do sometimes get eggs and sweets, but that we celebrate Jesus' resurrection at Easter.  Justin said, "yeah, and we get lots of candy!"  Funny enough, he didn't even really get a lot of candy.  He and Ryan each got a fun size bag of M&Ms, a small 120 calorie chocolate bunny, and a kinder egg.  They got some small toys in their basket as well.  The favorite part of the Easter season is probably hiding the eggs.  Yes, I hide some and they find them, but the boys love to re-hide them and have me (and/or Rob) find them.  We do this over and over and over and...

This week we decorated eggs.  The boys really enjoyed it this year.  In the past it has been a quick activity hardly worth the mess in my opinion.  This year they really got into it.  No, their eggs weren't particularly beautiful or special, but they had a blast.  Ryan got dye on a pair of Justin's new shorts (Ryan was wearing them) but thanks to Shout, it came out! 

We made bunny cookies again this year and Justin and Ryan made little bunny baskets to put them in for their friends.

I guess since this isn't the blog about how I entertain the kids I should talk about life in general.  I had a lovely 24 hour stomach bug.  Glad it was short!  It overlapped with a cold(?) which consists primarily of me having very little voice.

It is kind of a strange weekend here.  Good Friday and Easter Monday are holidays, making it a nice long weekend for Rob.  EVERYTHING was closed on Good Friday, yet for some reason open on Easter morning.  Don't get that, but whatever.  Things around town are very quiet as almost everyone has fled the city for the coast or to visit family.  Easter weekend is kind of like Labor Day weekend in the US.  This is the time for the last hurrah of summer before we admit that it is over.  In the US (and northern hemisphere in general) Easter is a time of light, rebirth, spring!  Here it is just the opposite and kind of a bummer.  I am so northern hemisphere biased!

Time for bed.

Sunday, April 01, 2012

April 1, 2012

Well, I should also be doing updating the blog that tells about what I have been doing during the month.  Perhaps tomorrow.  I upload pictures to that blog and get frustrated when it takes awhile.  I seem to have a sloooooow internet connection right now, so pictures might not be the best idea right now.

Our exciting news for the week is that we have our next post: Yerevan, Armenia.  We are SO excited.  No, we don't know exactly when we will be leaving here yet.  No, we don't know when we will be getting to Armenia.  It is good to know where we will be going though.  For those who don't know, Armenia is by Turkey, Georgia, Iran, and Azerbaijan.  It will be a big change from Namibia.  Justin is very excited.  Yesterday, the boys were running around in their big winter coats.  THe coats are currently a size too big, but should be perfect for winter there.

This week we "fell back" an hour as Fall is now here.  It is confusing to change from standard/daylight savings time at a time different than the US.  It is even more confusing since we change in opposite directions.  Surprisingly, the boys slept in until 5:30 in the morning. :)  They were more than ready for bedtime when 7:00 rolled around tonight.  Maybe cooler temperatures and more hours of darkness will have them wanting to sleep more.  Hey, I can dream, right?

The boys and I were doing some frog things, but will put that on hold to do some Easter activities this week in preparation for Easter.  Justin has specifically asked me NOT to look up information about the Easter Bunny on the internet.  He says he KNOWS the Easter Bunny is real so he doesn't want me to look it up because it might say he is wrong.  He cracks me up.  We talked a little about the real reason our family celebrates Easter.  I told him that the important part about Easter is Jesus being resurrected.  He gave me an "uh-huh" kind of response and then told me that the REALLY important part is getting things from the Easter Bunny.  As long as we have that straight.

We got our flu shots this week.  The whole reverse seasons thing here in Nambia and all.  Ryan was so thrilled with his post shot lollipop, that he asked if he could get another shot.  Not a lot of kids want that.  He even asked again the next day.  Amazing what lollipops can do.

I think that I have chipped a tooth or something.  There is no pain, but I keep getting stuff stuck there and when I tried looking, it looks like part of the tooth might be missing.  There is no  pain (except for my tongue when I try to dislodge stuck food and cut it up), but I have to floss every time I eat.  I wonder if I will have to take care of it here or if it can wait until I go back to the US.  Sigh.  With my luck I will have a sub-par job done here and then have to get it done again in the US.  Guess I can wait a bit to see how it goes.

Planning our trip to Cape Town, South Africa.  Very excited.  Hopefully it will be fun and relaxing.  It looks like there is a lot to do.  Traveling is easier with older kids.  Of course a 3 year old doesn't always understand the idea of taking advantage of using a toilet when it is available and not waiting until the last minute.  I shouldn't complain.  I can't remember the last time Ryan has had an accident.  Of course since he refuses to keep the same clothes on if there is even a drop on his underwear, I do more laundry than I should.  Sometimes he will even complain that his underwear smells like his penis so he needs to change his underwear and pants.  When he washes his hands he will change his clothes if he gets his shirt at all wet.  Sigh.

Ryan has decided that his cousins make wonderful scapegoats.  Since they live in Oregon, I can't really hear their side of the story.  Whenever I ask him where he learned something that he thinks I don't like, he says it was cousins.  He also tries to avoid responsibility by asking me not to look or to stop talking.  Favorite expressions include:  "I don't know yet."  "It's hard to tell."  "Don't say that to me."  Fake coughs are also great ways to avoid a subject.  It is hard not to laugh.

I have a bit of a sore throat.  Here's hoping it doesn't turn into a full blown cold or anything.  Perhaps the internet is fast enough that I can upload pics to my other blog now. :)