Thursday, August 26, 2010

Another gorgeous sunset in Cape Town

I was thinking of sitting at the beach every afternoon and take pictures of the sunset until I get it right, it is just so beautiful (even though I prefer sunsrises to sunsets). I still cannot seem to capture the real beauty though, but I guess the atmosphere also plays a role...and then of course who you share it with....I don't receive much advice from anyone on how to get better pictures, so I will just carry on and see what I can come up with. I think my next step would be to use my tripod, maybe the pictures will be sharper. You are welocme to use my pictures for your wallpaper if you'd like...hahahahaha.


After getting tired of taking pictures of my son, I decided to take pictures of stuff on the beach. Some people might have thought that I was stupid, others maybe that I am a scientist of some sort, but I just wanted to see what these pictures were going to look like once I am done. I had a look at some pictures on flicr the other day and all I thought was "wtf is this?" So, here are my "wtf is this?" pictures....

Monday, August 16, 2010

Dar Es Salaam Food Market

After I was told by a local that the best place to buy spices in Dar Es Salaam was the local Shoprite, I decided that I was not going to give up so soon. I was told by another local girl that if I really wanted spices that I should go to Zanzibar, but if that was not possible then the "downtown food market" would be another option. She however advised me NOT to go alone as I would "stand out like a sore thumb" in the city center where tourists don't usually go. I wonder why? But that was not going to deter me because a trip to Zanzibar on such short notice would not have worked. Actually to be honest, I could've managed to get to Zanzibar and back the same day, but that would've cost me 70 USD for a 3-hour ferry ride and a 4-hour visit to Zanzibar City. I couldn't stay over either otherwise I would've missed my flight that was leaving early the next morning. That was a bit of a high price to pay for spices that's available at Shoprite - should all else fails - so I reluctantly dropped the idea.

So, the "downtown food market" it was going to be. After checking out the ferry prices at the harbour  for my next "planned trip" to Zanzibar I headed with my driver to the market in the middle of Dar Es Salaam city center. I think it was the center because it was definitely the busiest area I have seen since I arrived in Tanzania a few days earlier. The streets were narrow and the place was crowded. I was told that because of Ramadan most of the Muslim community were not around, otherwise it would've been worse. Apparently Zanzibar is 97% Muslin, so it was good that I did not go there, I might've found no-one on the island to buy my spices from. Fortunately for me Dar Es Salaam is different and there was more than enough people still open for business.

Once we arrived at the market I wasn't surprized at what I found. Just another African market with heaps of people selling their merchandise all over the place. Usually fruit and vegetables like on most markets, but I did not see any gorilla arms and bush meat like I have seen in Gabon and Cameroon. I always wonder where one should buy, as they all seems to have the same supplier. The fruit and vegetables are usually very sweet and tasty and here it was no different. I am sure they have discovered genetically modification techniques yet. But I was looking for spices and this seemed to be more scarce at the market than blood red tomatoes and elephant dick-size bananas. Honestly, the largest bananas I have ever seen. I eventually found a shop (opposite the street where everyone was selling from the ground) that sells spices. The place had a lovely aroma, but when I reached for my list of spices I remembered that I did not bring it with me. With my wife on the mobile I tried to tell the lady what I wanted. I was a bit disappointed when she could not help me with the ones that my wife was looking for, so I just bought a few packets that was lying there to take home. I had no idea what it was, I am not into cooking and the only spices I know is cinnamon and masala. I don't even know if salt and pepper falls under "spices".

Like advised earlier I was in fact standing out like a sore thumb. I was a bit reluctant to take pictures, so I stole a few from the vehicle as we were driving through the market. I've had too many experiences in Africa of locals getting annoyed when you take your camera out, so I wasn't going to look for any confrontation. I actually never felt uncomfortable while walking there, and even at times when my driver disappeared from sight I still felt safe. The people in general are very friendly, and I always believe you have a much better chance to talk yourself out of a difficult situation if both parties speak a language that both understand. Bad English from both sides would've helped a lot here. None of this was required on the day. I got my spices, my taste of Africa and even a Coke at 500 shillings compared to the 2500 chillings it costs at the hotel, so I was happy. Maybe I'll do all my shopping here in future, just need to find a place close-by to stay. I still want to try those bananas, but I will need someone to help me finish one. You should be able to bake three banana bread loafs with only one banana.

Who wants to go to Shoprite to buy spices when you can get it at a Dar Es Salaam food market?

A dirty job, but someone's got to do it

I know that many of my South African friends think I am brave to work in Africa. The images of Africa you see on television don't really motivate people to plan their next holiday destination further north than the Limpopo River. I also have to agree, the worst places I have ever been in were in Africa. Hotels with no water, no electricity, 12 television channels of which only one has a clear picture, food that forces you to go an a strict diet until you arrive home (that is if a flight is available or has not been cancelled at the last moment), insects that carry deadly diseases, corrupt officials, suspicious people staring at you like you are the only soul around that's loaded with money, the list goes on. But there is a different side to Africa too, the side I don't usually like to show people because it has the opposite effect on people. They start getting envious and don't feel sorry for you anymore. So my intention is not to say too much about this, who would believe me in any case if I tell them I had cocktails on a beach in Dar Es Salaam and actually enjoyed it? As they say, one pictures speaks more than a thousand words, so all I am going to do is show one picture of the hotel I was staying in. Africa might have a place for sissies after all......

So, how's my driving..?

I would for sure change my number plate if I was given this one....

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Where to buy spices in Tanzania

I am in Tanzania at the moment. I haven't had much time to take pictures, except one or two at the hotel where I am staying at, but my first impressions of Tanzania was much the same as my first impressions on Uganda. One thing I know for sure now is that the African countries on the east side of Africa are much more tourist orientated than the ones on the west coast. What I also find is that communicating with the locals is also much easier because most of them can speak English, while on the west coast I seem to struggle a bit to get the message across in French and Portuguese.

It was rather interesting to see how many South African companies can be found here. Brands like Shoprite, Game, Spur, Vodacom are only a few of the many that I have seen on my first day here. The traffic like in most African countries are hectic, but much better than in Angola. At least they drive on the same side of the road than what we do back home. Apart from my work related objectives, I was also instructed by my wife to get her some spices. Tanzania, especially the island Zanzibar is famous for its spice trade with Arab countries from many years ago. From day one I was looking out for stalls on the side of the road that might sell spices, or maybe a market or something. After not seeing any I decided to use what is probably the best source of information in any country...the locals. My driver, who despite speaking Swahili is quite capable of English as well, was such a person. I was however rather disappointed when I asked him "Where is the best place to buy spices in Dar es Salaam?" and he answered "Shoprite".

I guess even Africa is not what it used to be anymore. Maybe I must just check the duty free shop when I'm on my way back home...or Shoprite in South Africa.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

The place I love

There is a a town on the South Coast of South Africa where I lost my heart many years ago. I was fortunate to spend 10 years of my life living there, but after changing jobs I was requested to move to Cape Town. Ever since then I have been longing to return to this beautiful town ....

Spot the whale and win a trip for two to Iraq - Take 3

I mentioned in one of my earlier posts that I know a place where you can see whales much better and closer than in Hermanus, the whale watching capital. These photo's were taken closer to that spot, but not there yet. It is already clearer that whales here comes much closer to the shore. I might reveal my secret spot at a later stage...

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Training on the Montagu Pass

It's a long weekend in South Africa and we are visiting family in the Garden Route. The weather prediction for the weekend was not very favourable, but it has not rained yet so I guess we cannot complain. My wife, who has decided to do the next Karoo to Coast Mountain Bike Race was looking for a gravel road to train, preferably one that resembles the road she will be doing on this race. What better place to go than the Montagu Pass?

If you are ever fortunate enough to visit the Garden Route, take some time to drive the Montagu Pass which runs from George across the Outeniqua Mountains right into the Klein Karoo. I am not going into the detail of the phenominal pass that was built in 1844 with the help of some convicts, but do read about this masterpiece. We arrived at the foot of the pass at around 9.30. The idea was to drop my wife there and then to take our time up the pass while she was sweating it out to the top. Obviously I had my camera with me to take some pics and kill time, but with the mist I knew that the chances of getting something decent was very small. Most of the pictures I took I deleted because it looked as if the lense was fogged up, but here are some of the better ones.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Some photo editing

I promised myself that I would never edit any of my pictures to make them look better. But this was just having fun with a technique I figured out with Corel Paint Shop.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

You have reached your destination...NOT!

Koeberg Interchange BEFORE they started with construction
I read about this eldery German couple that drove 600km in the wrong direction because they misspelled their destination on their GPS. "Can things like this really happen?", I ask myself . I've had lots of fun already with my "make-believe" GPS on my Nokia XpressMusic. I would put in known destinations and see which route it takes me. Sometimes even addresses where I have never been before without consulting any directory or map first. I have learned quite a few things about the GPS, for instance that you cannot always believe the voice when he/she tells you that "you have reached your destination". I was on my way to a shop in Cape Town City Centre, but when I reached the Koeberg Interchange on the N1 the gentleman inside my GPS completely lost his bearings and instead of heading towards town I found myself guided onto the N2 heading towards the airport. After I was told to make a U-turn and go back into the direction of this horrible interchange that is currently under huge constructions and changes, I decided to follow the signs rather than the voice. One thing that I have to admit is that my friend inside my GPS is probably the most patient navigator I've ever had. At one spot I accidently turned right when he said left and ended up on the freeway going into the opposite direction with limited opportunity to turn around. Without showing any sign of frustration or anger he calmly altered my route for me and continued guiding me to a place where I could make yet another U-turn. Was it my wife playing navigator all hell would've broken loose at some point.

So we invited two friends from work over for dinner at 7 pm last night. Being work colleagues, one from Algeria and the other from Tunisia and not having been in the country very long, I obviously drew a very detailed map for them to find my house in TABLEVIEW. It is is only about 9 kilometres from where they stay to where I live. At 5 to 7 I had a call saying that they are close to my house and mentioned that they have accidently taken a wrong turn from the street that actually leads to my house. After explaining to them to go back to the same street and just drive 2 blocks further, I started getting worried after 15 minutes when there was still no sign of them. I phoned but no answer. Getting really worried now I got into my car and went searching for them. After about 30 minutes and various attempts to call them, I got hold of them on the phone again. They sheepishly admitted that they were lost.  I asked them to give me their location (street name) so that I could drive and meet them there, but for some reason my GPS could not find the street name. So much for that technology. One of the ladies suggested that we meet at a spot that is familiar to all of us I agreed, but was very surprized when they suggested that we meet at the office which is basically a stone's throw away from where they live. Quite a long way to drive if they had been only meters away from house 45 minutes earlier.

After meeting them at the office and reaching my house at 8.30 pm I managed to get the full story. After they phoned me the first time, they decided to make use of their GPS to find my adddress. Unfortunately for them and what they did not know was that the street where I live has the same name as a guesthouse in MUIZENBURG.  So they thought it best to follow the GPS which took them to about 45 kilometres in the opposite direction. Fortunately for them the guesthouse was only in Muizenburg and not in Plettenberg Bay which is about 600 kilometres further up the coast. I wonder if they would've driven all the way there before they would've realized that they might be heading for the wrong destination? Anyway, I promised them I won't mention their names or put pictures of them on my blog, but in their defense I can add that English is their third language, they are not used to driving on the left side of the road, they have only been in the country for a couple of months...and they are both female. We did however have a nice evening afterwards with obvioulsy lots of things to laugh about.