27 March 2012

dropping in for a quick hello.

Hello my lovely blog readers.

I'm officially completely against the ropes in terms in of both work and class submissions and have been pulling 16 hour days since Sunday.  Let me tell you, it is no bueno and I don't like it one bit.  But, unfortunately there is no end in sight until Friday... that's just how the cookie crumbles sometimes.

I wasn't planning on posting anything until Monday, but then I realized I might not make it to Monday alive
{kidding... sort of} and decided I missed you guys too much to leave this little space barren for a whole week.

Plus, I wanted to let you know that I'm guest posting today over on Catherine's funky and inspiring blog Fest as part of her weekly travel feature {What I Learned In...}.

I decided to change things up a little and post about what I learned in the Middle East rather than sticking with the usual topic of South Africa.  

Be sure to stop by and check it out!


I will be back to normal posting on Monday.

But, until then please keep sending good vibes my way... I am in serious need of them!

23 March 2012

something to celebrate.

Yesterday afternoon Jurgen called me and let me know that his Phd had been approved by the panel.  

I could tell he was trying to contain his excitement because he was at work, but this was something he'd spent two years of his life working on full time and I knew he was practically crawling out of his skin on the inside... and to be honest, so was I.

This is a huge accomplishment for him, and something that we labored through together.  I was there to witness the late nights, the weekends spent with his face glued to a computer screen, the little triumphs amid a sea of frustrations, the evenings he wanted to give up... and I know just how much work he put into this.  

He really deserves every ounce of this Phd, and I'm so very proud of him.

In February we had already found out that his reviewers had given him positive recommendations, so this was just the cherry on top.  Now he just needs to walk across a stage in May and then bam, he'll be finished for good {and we'll have another reason for an even bigger celebration}!

We decided to celebrate with impromptu dinner and drinks at T-Gun {of course}.  Add some sparkling wine and Martina and Rob to the mix and you have yourself one perfect evening.  We had so much fun laughing, joking, and then laughing some more, that today my ribs were actually sore!  Spontaneous nights like that are the best kind, and the four of us agreed that we need to make them happen more often, celebration or no celebration!

Congratulations Jurg, I love you so much!

21 March 2012


That's right!

Last weekend I bought a ticket to Rwanda for the end of April and it's now official that I'll be spending five days of African bliss with two of my very best friends and most treasured travel buddies.

Life is good.

Ever since learning about the Rwandan Genocide as part of my International Studies degree, it's been a dream of mine to visit this little country nestled away in the heart of Africa.  Despite the tragedy of the 1990's {where 800,000 Rwandans lost their lives in the matter of six weeks}, Rwanda has risen out of the ashes from a place of death, destruction, and despair to a country full of life, re-birth, hope, love, and forgiveness.  I've heard that once you've experienced Rwanda life will never again be the same, and that the country has a way of touching people down to their inner core.  I'm so unbelievably thankful that I'll be one of the few {westerners} who will get to add this to my list of life experiences... and hopefully also give back to Rwanda in some way.  

And what better way to do it than with these two amazing ladies:

Amber, Me, Katie: Croatia circa 2006

Amber, Katie, and I met on Semester at Sea in 2006 and have since become best friends and avid travel buddies.  Amber {upper left-hand side} is currently setting up a school in Ghana and Katie {lower right-hand side} is currently interning at an NGO in Rwanda.  With the three of us ironically on the African continent at the same time, we knew that a little reunion was inevitable.  After a short skype chat it was decided, Rwanda it would be.

I'm sure there will be lots more on my Rwanda trip to come, but for now I'll leave you with a recently discovered quote on Africa that I keep going back to over and over again:

"Westerners arriving in Africa for the first time are always struck by its beauty and size -- even the sky seems higher.  And they often find themselves suddenly cracked open.  They lose inhibitions, feel more alive, more themselves, and they begin to understand why, until then, they have only half lived. In Africa the essentials of existence -- light, earth, water, food, birth, family, love, sickness, death -- are more immediate, more intense.  Visitors suddenly realize what life is for.  To risk a huge generalization: {In the west}, amid our wasteful wealth and time-pressed lives we have lost human values that still abound in Africa."
-Richard Dowden



If anyone reading this has been to Rwanda before, I'd love to hear your travel stories, must-see places, tips, etc!

Also, I'm guest posting today over on Rachael's blog Let's Be Adventurers {one of my very favorite ex-pat blogs} about my story and all things South Africa.  Check it out here!

19 March 2012

our weekend {saint patty's edition}.

My weekend was nothing short of amazing - the perfect mix of both work and play!

When I don't work at all over the weekend sometimes I go into the week feeling anxious and behind, but at the same time when I work the entire weekend I normally already feel exhausted by the time Monday rolls around.  Does anyone else feel the same?

I guess a good balance of the two is important. 
{at least until I'm finished with this whole part-time studying / night classes thing}

Setting the "work" part aside, here's a few snapshots of our weekend with some good old fashioned St. Patty's Day fun thrown in for good measure:

--Cold weather has officially hit Jo'burg, a sure sign that winter isn't far away.  On Friday night I welcomed the low temperatures by bundling up in my "Christmas" stockings and Paul Frank sock slippers--

--Saturday morning view of Josi via my balcony.  This is probably the billionth time I've posted this view, but I will just never be able to get over how stunning it is.--

--We hadn't planned on going out for St Patty's Day, but when we saw a white tent in the parking lot of one of our favorite restaurants, we knew we had to join in the fun.--

--Turns out they had a Guinness tent filled with hundreds of people wearing green wigs and hats!-- 

--They also had a live Irish band playing outside so we scarfed down our food and then moved closer to the patio to enjoy the show.--

--It was great to see such a mix of ages out on the dance floor, the older generation rocked it!  And a cougar even tried chatting up Jurgen, the look on his face was priceless!--

--Jurgen absolutely insisted that I take a picture with this Irish guy {he said it would be awesome for my blog, ha!}  After a lot of protest from my side I finally caved {and the guy was really nice about it}!--

--Love this boy, even when his face is blurry ;)--

--After church on Sunday we headed to the Design Quarter for lunch {our Sunday tradition}.  I had my usual prawn and avocado baguette and Jurgen had his usual seafood stir-fry and then we split the usual Salmon California rolls as a starter.  Boring, yes - Delicious, yes! --

{ have I mentioned that one of the perks of living here is the cheap food!} 

--The Woolworths at the Design Quarter also happens to have the prettiest cappuccinos--

{almost too pretty to drink, but not quite}

--Home-made Jalapeno Poppers on Sunday evening courtesy of moi {see recipe here}--

--Lobster for Sunday dinner courtesy of the boyfriend--

{again, let me emphasise that the food here is cheap!  These cost about $3 a piece}


Now it's time to get back into the groove of the work week and I must say that I'm feeling surprisingly ready to tackle the week ahead!  Maybe it has something to do with the fact that Wednesday is a public holiday here {Human Right's Day} so I only have to make it through today and tomorrow before I get a mid-week break :)

How was your weekend?   
Did you do anything fun for St. Patty's Day?

16 March 2012

cuteness overload.

Hello friends.

Sorry I've been a little m.i.a. this past week, it's been a busy one in terms of work and classes.  Fortunately for me the University is now closed for "Fall" break, which means freedom from night classes for almost a full month + a little bit of extra downtime for this chica to get back on track and recharge.

There are so many exciting things happening in my life right now that I can't wait to share, but for now I'll have to leave you with an extreme cuteness overload for your weekend.

Can I just preface this by saying that these pictures make me feel so blessed and thankful to live where I do?

It's been four years and sometimes I still have to pinch myself !

And, I can't forget about this poor guy!
I couldn't decide whether this was adorable or super sad, so I settled on adorable and super sad.
Sometimes I have trouble deciding whether I should support zoos altogether, 
but I suppose that's a question for another day.

At least he's getting some publicity out of it ;)

*All photos taken at Hartbeespoort Snake & Animal Park*

{See original post here

Hope everyone has a fantastic weekend!

12 March 2012

weekend view {road trip edition}.

This weekend goes down in the books as one of the best so far in 2012!  So much goodness happened in such a short time span that it's difficult to squeeze into one post, but I'm going to try my very best to get it all in!  Apologies in advance for the photo overload.

If you've been reading this blog for any amount of time, you probably know that Jurg and I love a good road trip, and this weekend well... you guessed it, we did just that!

{not like the title gave it away for anything.}

We decided to take a mini road trip to Hartbeespoort Dam {about an hour outside of Jo'burg} to surprise Jurgen's best friend {JB} for his 28th birthday.  His sweet girlfriend {Charne} had arranged everything a couple of weeks prior, but our lips were sealed up until this past Saturday since JB didn't know a thing about it!  It was so fun getting to see them again and being able to spend a day or so just relaxing.  Every once in awhile I think getting away from the hustle and bustle of the city is essential, and this weekend provided the perfect opportunity.  

Thanks for driving Jurg!

On our way to Hartbeespoort, we came across a ton of adorable cafes and antique shops and spent a good couple of hours browsing through a few of them.  This one {called Rustic Cottage} was my favorite!  They had awesome 1950's music playing on a jukebox, tons of old pinball machines, and so many antique knick knacks that one could easily spend days going through everything without getting bored.  I ended up buying my Grandpa a miniature windmill, since he's been collecting them ever since I can remember :)

Jurgen loves browsing through antiques so he was in heaven!

You could literally find everything from old bottles, to typewriters, to record players, to food trays.  It was pretty incredible.  I wonder how long it's taken them to collect everything?

This one was Jurgen's idea...

...And this one was Jurgen's idea too!  
{Hey, A girl's got to jump at the opportunity when her boyfriend is actually in the mood for pictures... this doesn't happen often!}

First glimpse of Hartbeespoort Dam

The view from where we stayed was stunning!

After we found our accommodation and had finished surprising the birthday boy, we unpacked our stuff and then headed into town to catch the rugby.  That night we stayed in and the boys braaied {BBQ'd} on the patio while we prepared side dishes and chatted away in the kitchen.  Although we ate late, I can say with certainty that it was well worth it - dinner was delicious! 

Proof of our hard work - of course chatting for hours over a bottle of wine meant that the boys practically had to drag us up for dinner at around 10pm!  

So blessed to know both of these amazing ladies!

The following day after breakfast Jurg and I drove over the dam itself.  I must say that it was much more impressive than I thought it was going to be - it completely took my breath away truth be told.  The arch in photos is actually a mini replication of the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, isn't it gorgeous?!  

If you didn't already know, who would imagine that the above photos were taken in Africa?  Not me.

Next, Jurgen surprised me by pulling off the road into the parking lot of the Hartbeespoort Snake and Animal Park!  At this stage I couldn't believe my luck - after all of the fun and excitement that we had already had there was still more to come?  Score!  

I officially have the sweetest boyfriend ever!  

And then... when I thought things couldn't possibly get better... 

... I spotted the lion cubs.  

What happened next can't rationally be explained, but I can say that it involved jumping and pointing and screaming and tugging and running in place, and Jurgen {and everyone else in the park} staring at me like I was some sort of lunatic in desperate need of Ritalin.  It was like a child being unleashed in Disneyland for the first time... I mean really, what else can you expect?

These cuties deserve a whole post of their own though ... stay tuned!

After all the excitement of the zoo had subsided and we I had gotten our my fill of the lion cubs, we grabbed a quick drink across the street and then {reluctantly} headed back to Johannesburg.

All in all I don't think the weekend could have been any more perfect.

Thank you Jurgen for another wonderful trip - and for putting up with my childish {but completely warranted} outbursts!



10 March 2012

an $8 haircut {in china town}.

A couple of weeks ago I went with Martina and Karen to China Town {original post here}.  They had told me in advance that the main purpose of the trip was for the boys to get cheap haircuts, and Martina had also decided to join in the fun and get herself an $8.00 trim (maybe more like $10 with the current exchange rate}.  When Martina asked whether I would also like to jump on the haircut bandwagon and get myself a trim, my reply was most probably not {I'm pretty risk-averse when it comes to my hair}, but that I would love to tag along and observe all the action.

Well, once we got to China Town, I caved into peer pressure and on a whim decided,

"Why not, my hair could use a trim!  Besides, what's the worst that could happen?"

With Karen there as both our translator and photographer she told my stylist, Qing Qing, exactly what I wanted, just to trim off a couple of inches and to tidy up my layers a bit.    

*Guang Dong Hairdressing Salon*

Qing Qing went straight to work and started off by washing my hair.  Apparently it's very normal to have your hair washed while still sitting in your seat in Asia, but for me it was a completely new experience.  I'll have to admit it was kind of nice to just be able to relax without having to let my neck lie uncomfortably on the rim of the washing basin like I'm used to doing in western salons.

Karen snapped this shot on her iPhone - I think it's my favorite of the day.  Oh how I yearn for the day when I too can finally be a proud iPhone owner!

Next came the trim.  At first I wasn't too worried, but once I started watching what looked like 10 inches of hair falling to the ground chunk after chunk, rather than the two that I had requested, I started having a mini panic attack.  Martina saw the look of terror on my face and quickly called Karen over to clear up any confusion, and then Qing Qing was back on the right track again.

Is my anxiety evident in this photo?!

Despite my moment of doubt, Qing Qing pulled through and in the end my haircut turned out better than expected!  Above is the final product, although my hair hasn't been straightened yet.  Not too shabby for $8.00 in my book!  What do you think?

Thank you Qing Qing - not only for not destroying my hair, but also for a fun experience that I will always look back on and smile about!

*All photos {other than the first one} courtesy of Karen*

{For more posts on Qing Qing's hair styling skills see herehere, and here.}