World’s Highest Bungee Bridge

On the border of the Eastern and Western Capes of South Africa is the Bloukrans Bridge standing over 700 feet from the Bloukrons River below. Hannah talked me into doing it. No other words are needed. Here’s the video they put together:

If I can figure out a way to edit out my some of the words I say (you’d say those words too if you do it!), then I’d like to post the Go-Pro version I took.

Enjoy,
Jody

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Round and Round We Go

Interesting fact: Over half of the world’s round-a-bouts are in France.

I just finished a marathon of a road trip with Hannah around Lesotho, South Africa and Swaziland. We visited many cities, gained new friends and did some really cool things! A recap of all we did will most likely come in bits, but I want to take some time to talk about driving here in South Africa. Anyone who has visited a large city in Africa can begin to understand the madness of traffic and lack of road rules. The roads can only be navigated by a person that is okay with driving on unmarked roads with no signs and no lanes. When there is two lanes of traffic, it can suddenly turn into four just as quickly as a swarm of birds synchronize a sharp turn in the sky with no obvious sign or reason. You would have thought Hannah was small child on her first roller coaster the way she covered her face and yelled thinking we were going to hit cars as I followed the quick shifts of traffic and swerved in and out of the new instantly formed lanes. Doing all of this while getting used to sitting on the right side of the car, changing gears with the left hand, and driving on the left side of the road required a bit more skill than what we were used to.

Cape Town

Cape Town

I didn’t mind things being reversed or the traffic so much. I was actually okay swerving around cars and letting them swerve in front of me. It made me feel like I was in one of the Fast and the Furious movies. What instantly turned me into an angry person were the round-a-bouts in Cape Town. On many occasions when I finally got out of a round-a-bout, I had to apologize to Hannah for yelling at her. It was this terrible traffic design we figured out that made me so angry–possibly even more than dogs barking at night and the bad customer service. From the moment I approached them to a few minutes after I exited, I was overwhelmed with stress. Round-a-bouts were two and sometimes three lanes going around. If I was taking the first exit out I needed to be in the furthest left lane, and if the second exit then the middle lane, and so forth. This took an amazing amount of calculation and concentration because Cape Town was a surprisingly big city and it’s very easy to get lost as we found out quite frequently. Sometimes the two furthest lanes of the round-a-bout would exit together on the first exit and sometimes only the furthest left would. Never is the road you want to exit on parallel to the one you entered from so it was always a guessing game which road was the right one. This makes it very confusing when I’m in the middle lane and I want to exit but I’m not sure if the car on my left is going to exit with me or if he’s going around to the next exit. If there were signs letting you know which lanes did what, then we both completely missed them. We sometimes circled around a round-a-bout several times before deciding which exit we wanted to take and then figuring out which lane we needed to be in for that turn. We were forced to make this decision at every new road in Cape Town as they apparently don’t believe in the classic traffic light (or ‘robot’ as they call it in South Africa). If it’s true that half the world’s round-a-bouts are in France, then I’m almost certain that the other half is in Cape Town. Just my personal observation.

-Jody

Hannah Visits (Part Dos)

PART TWO: SOUTH AFRICA (and Swaziland)

The number one place I wanted to take Hannah to was the Cheetah Experience. I went here last year and since that day dreamed of getting to take her. We lost a full day but I told her that if this was the only thing we would do in her time here then it would still be worth it. I think she agreed afterwards, but luckily things were even more amazing as we went on. Hover over the picture to see the full caption.

From there we drove as far as we could make it towards Cape Town. The 11+ hour drive there is flat and uninteresting for the most part. ALMOST as boring as Kansas, Nebraska or one of those other states no one really cares to ever pass through more than once:

We continued up the coast and spent a few days in Durban where we got really good, cheap Indian food, and a few other places. It was all beautiful and worth spending time in. We went through Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Game Reserve north of Richard’s Bay where we got stuck in a mud puddle for a couple of hours. One car stumbled up on us and freaked out that we were outside the car trying to wedge sticks under the wheels. He said lions were just spotted in the area and that we should be on the lookout. We didn’t unfortunately see any lions, but we still got to see a lot of things. We also went through the Isimangaliso Wetland Park just northeast of that.  I’ll keep this brief; almost as brief as our trip through Swaziland:

We drove through Swaziland for about 4 hours, during the night and only stopped once to take a picture of the ‘Welcome to Swaziland’ sign. That picture and the stamps on our passports are the only things we got. We basically extended our trip by almost 6 hours just to say, “we’ve been in Swaziland.” It wasn’t worth it.

Hannah is back in the U.S. starting graduate school at Texas A&M while I finish my last year of Peace Corps. One more year apart before I come back to the States. We both agreed we were okay with small amounts of time apart, but never 1-year plus again after this.

Till next time,

Jody and Hannah

Hannah Visits (Part One)

I sat in O.R. Tambo eagerly awaiting Flight 8867. I sat and watched people rushing to make their flights, chatting while waiting on loved ones to arrive, eating out of boredom (maybe that was just me), and doing a number of unusual things to simply make the time pass more quickly. Stories flashed through my mind as I people-watched under three stories of eclectic, buzzing people.

That tall brunette guy standing with the baby satchel strapped to his chest looks very uncomfortable—almost as uncomfortable as the limp, slightly overweight sleeping baby he’s carrying. He’s beyond excited probably waiting for his wife to get back from her business trip. Mostly so that he doesn’t have to bear the weight of this child alone.

Ugh, children! In any other setting most people could find these annoying little creatures amusing and endearing, but never after waking up at 3am, fighting airport traffic and finding the right terminal. No one is in a mood for dodging loud kids rolling around playing on the floor where everyone is walking. Certainly not after a full-day flight, maneuvering through customs and waiting in baggage claim. Every person in the world hates kids at the airport and agrees that there is no reason on God’s green earth that you should let your kids run amok around complete strangers like this. (In retrospect, I think this was a long rant I had to myself)

Weathered skin. As wide as they are tall. Even the grandmother looks like a football lineman from behind. They are definitely Afrikaners from South Africa! They probably just got back from rugby match or letting the son attend a high-school rugby camp. (Because Afrikaners don’t do anything else outside of rugby.)

That poor old lady will for sure miss her connecting flight. I can tell by the urgency in her face as she asks the porter for the way to her terminal. Her panic sets in when the porter checks his watch, looks back at her and their eye contact says everything without words being necessary. He grabs her bag and they both take off at a jog to the right terminal. I can’t help but think of the classic airport scene from Home Alone…

This guy is sitting alone typing away on his iPhone like a nerd. He’s probably playing Risk or some other phone game. He’s probably beyond excited to as he waits for the girlfriend he has been apart from for over a year now. He’s people watching and keeps checking the arrivals board as if the time is going to change with every glance. 

I can say that the last story is undoubtedly true. I was so excited to see Hannah again! 386 days had passed since we had last been together and these last few hours of waiting in the airport seemed to be the longest yet.

It’d take a book of pictures and a day’s worth of explanations to say it all, but I will attempt to do our journey justice through a picture blog with short descriptions.

We stayed in Lesotho for two weeks and then rented a car and traveled South Africa for almost three weeks. We traveled to Cape Town and then took the beautiful Garden Route all the way up the coast to where we ended in Swaziland. Over 5,500 km (3,400 miles) of excitement and adventure. Here are some pictures to highlight our trip (hover the mouse over a picture to see the full caption):

PART ONE: LESOTHO

We had a great time in Lesotho, but the best is yet to come in South Africa!

-Jody and Hannah