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12-06-06 Hello Friends and Family from Don and Peggy


We've been thinking of you and remembering that we promised to send you our Africa travel experience. We're much delayed because our Adelphia service is still not accessible! Technology has been our only problem and for that we're grateful. The folowing are notes from my daily diary.


Here we are in sunny, beautiful Capetown writing before going to the beach and then the Winelands. But let's begin at the beginning.


Our journey began in grey, cloudy London. We elected to stay our 2 nights at a Heathrow airport hotel. So that involved going into London on the Paddington Line (1 1/2 hrs) each way. We did not see many people on the subway that look "English" but lots of middle easterners, Indians, African, Asian. Some white student travelers, all possessions on their back. We must have looked eccentric: me with lime green jacket, rose pashima scarf and matching shirt, blue earrings; Don

with purple sweater, blue shirt and red jacket. A burst of rainbow in a sea of beige and black to match the skies.


Time was limited, but we visited the Nat'l Portrait Gallery, Convent Garden @ night, dazzling with all the craft stalls and lights a aglow. Yummy fish and chips in an authentic English Pub. London is horribly expensive; the Am dollar doesn't go far!!!! We stop on the way back and then will go to the new Tate Museum, which is supposed to be a great architectural addition to the city.


Twelve hours later we landed in Johannesburg, Joburg, Jobi, Josi, Egoli (place of gold). So many names, so many faces from everywhere. Heard so much about the crime here, was afraid to come, but we've been pleasantly surprised by the friendly atmosphere and gracious people. We were told not to "venture out alone", but our new-found friends (old friends of Sari Booys) invited to show us around their city. Joburg is the biggest city in So. Africa, more than 6 million people. They say they are the most transformed as they will be the principle host for the 2010 World Cup soccer. They're embarking on a binge of reconstuction, civic boosterism and crime prevention campaign. They've had an extremely difficult past and have so many problems to overcome (like poverty and unemployment), but they say they're "forging a new society".



It is sunny and in the upper seventies and our "City Lodge" is most pleasant in a wonderful tropical garden setting. We're glad to meet up again with the weaver birds we loved in our 1990's trip to Kenya; it is fascinating to watch them build/weave their nests.



We meet up with our hosts for the day, Pat and Claudia; he is a professor of accounting at the Johannesburg University and she says her children call her "Mama Africa", her grown family is still at home and she seems to be a helper to all (including the people who come everyday

to her gate for food and assistence).


Our visit to the new Apatheid Museum in Joburg was most informative and moving. The comprehensive and frank exhibits were "state of the art" and answered fo many of our questions about the discraceful and sad history of native blacks and coloured (as they call mixed people) in the previous 300 years and the ultimate giving of freedom and equality in the 1990's. The insights gained will enable us to better understand the social situation in our forthcoming trip. BTW Aparteid means apart, black here, white there. I especially enjoyed the adjoining minimalistic garden where we were encouaged to stroll thru and then "go forth in freedom". Over lunch with Claudia and Pat we had a chance to talk about their personal experiences and thoughts. So valuable in a foreign land. Then we experience a guided underground tour which showed mining techniques of the early 1900's right up to it closing in 1977 and then saw an actual pouring of gold. It was fascination because when gold was discovered in the late 1860's a gold rush by prospectors from all over the world swelled the population of Joburg from almost nothing to 20,000 people in a few months. We shuddered to think of what these men lived thru. What a horrible way to earn money (which was all sent home to their families. They rec'd so little recompense it could be considered slavery. Then our friends hosted us for a delicious dinner with their whole family at home. Such a priceless experience!


I'm writing from the Bramble Cottage in the highlands near Knysna where we've stay for 3 wonderful days. Is this little farm the quietest place on earth? Just the sounds of nature her, especially birdsong. Our "self catering" accommodations (Don does catering; I do cleaning up). Quite spacious and most comfortable cottage built by the owners in traditional East Cape architecture. The back veranda faces the garden of native indigenous plants with views of the Blue Mtn range. So many of their native plants are the flowering annuals we buy from green houses each spring. This is a bird-friendly place and they do all they can to"enhance the birding potential of their environment by planting bird-friendly trees and shrubs as well flora which attracts the birds". As a result there's abundant birdlife all around the cottage which we also enjoy on our walks.


We will be back to this peaceful, laid-back seaside community. The beaches in this country are the most spectacular we have ever seen in all our travels. BTW our Bramble Cottage costs $44.00 a night, Capetown will be $50.00 per night. Everything is a bargain here and we're loving it!


We reached this place on the Garden Route and will continue that on to Capetown (with a couple of detours for special places). We went for a heavenly walk in the Garden of Eden Forest Walk filled with tree ferns, labeled specimen trees and streams. The "Forestry" here does a superb job of making these places accessible to the public all along the Garden Route; the staffing, building and maintenace provides much needed employment for the citizens.


We're off to lunch now and will continue this in a couple of days. Hope you don't mind the spelling gramatical errors; this is a very busy internet place.

Lots of love from Don and Peggy

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