Monday, February 13, 2012

That's right: Africa!

Back in November during Thanksgiving dinner, Anél and I were crying our eyes out over parting ways in a month. To our amazement, our wonderful neighbor from our old apartment who is a KLM flight attendant, offered to see if she could hook us up with a visit to the southern hemisphere. A couple weeks later, she called and said she got the flight--Elliot and I would fly stand-by on January 27 for a non-stop, 11-hour flight to Johannesburg, South Africa. We couldn't pass it up.

Well, the day finally came. We went with Ilonka to Schiphol and crossed our fingers. We definitely got on and the crew was so kind that they even upgraded us. And we got to visit the cockpit!! I haven't done that since I was, like, 7 years old. We had such an amazing time on the flight that we weren't ready to get off the plane when we finally landed (or maybe that was the wine). Thank you, Ilonka! :)

Anél and Hertzog were at the airport when we arrived. It was surreal seeing eachother ... in Africa! Since we only had 3 nights and 4 days, we had a jam-packed schedule ahead. We spent the first two nights with Anél's lovely family in Pretoria. We visited a lion and rhino preserve, spent time with baby lions, and braai'd our brains out. And I thought Americans love their meat! On Sunday, we headed to Hertzog's family house, and where they are living as well, about an hour away. Believe it or not, we had two more braai's there, went antique shopping, took the boat out for a sunset spin, and even got some good pool time. We also saw the land they bought and plan to build a house on soon; and Hertzog took us on a tour of his family's steel factory.

I had such a great time just seeing and experiencing their life in South Africa. This whole year, I've heard from Anél about all these places and people -- and now I got to see them in person. Plus, this was Elliot's first time to the southern hemisphere. I gotta tell you, there's nothing like seeing the Southern Cross. It's just so romantic--at least that's what my mom says. And it's true. There's just something about it.

Plus, ever since returning from California the temperature has been dropping every day. It was 26ºF out when we got on the plane in Amsterdam ... and 74ºF when we got off in Jo-burg!

The Van Der Linden family, in Pretoria

getting ready for Saturday morning breakfast with the whole family

Father and daughter

 The Voortrekker Monument, built in 1949, to commemorate those who ventured from the Cape to Pretoria

 Blue crane, South Africa's national bird


The men, starting up the 'braai' (South African for 'bbq')

At the lion and rhino nature reserve 

playing with baby lions and cheetahs

 Peering in at the sleeping jaguar

 With the Badenhorst family in Vanderbijlpark

 Heading to their undeveloped plot of land on the river, just down the road
 Only trees and a dam so far...we'll have to come back to see what they build!

Our last braai of the trip... and a huge thank you to Anél and Hertzog and their families 
for their warm hospitality. Miss you guys already!


  1. It was wonderful having you here and I hope this was your first of many trips to SA! We look forward to welcoming you again to sunny skies and warm 'braais' :-) See you in 5 weeks...

  2. I can't believe the pilot was flying the plane with no hands! And the co-pilot showed us where we were on a paper map!

  3. It doesn't look like you got any SA wineries - next trip? -dad

  4. Kory, 2 for 1 is my parents' house number, as in 241 :-)
    George, they will definitely have to come back to experience everything else SA has to offer as Gauteng really doesn't have much for tourists. All the wineries are in the Cape Region (about 1400km from us) and that is on the itinerary when they return!


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