Sunday, December 7, 2008

11 September 2008

11 September 2008

Apparently there was frost on the roof of the Kalahari Trails lodge this morning and it was 1°C out, but it didn't feel all that bad to me. We had a breakfast that finished off the guava juice and milk and got on our way. After ~10 minutes, I realized we'd left the rest of our stuff in their fridge, so we headed back to get that. The rest of the drive to Upington was mostly uneventful except for all the birds that dodged our truck--I hope they were all successful. Oh! On our way back to retrieve our fridge goodies (a soaking wet Cadbury's bar and bag of apples), we almost hit a Roller [type of bird] of some sort--probably a Lilac-breasted Roller--that was sitting in the road. We both thought it was a dove until the last few seconds, then it took off and just missed our windshield. We hadn't seen any Rollers well while in the park, but I had briefly seen one flying next to us on our way to Mata-Mata. Jesse may have seen one other, but the one in front of the windshield was the best for both of us.

The front of the main house at Kalahari Trails.

We got to Upington just before 11 am and thought we'd see if Neil [guy who rented us the 4x4] would still refund us a day's rental as he'd said he would if we brought it back early (we were 1 h into the 7th day). He readily agreed, and also refunded us for the freezer/fridge not working and didn't care that the battery case was shattered and the one plastic tub was cracked [see post from two days earlier about my crazy driving over sand dunes]. That was a relief. With money back on my credit card, we headed on foot over to the Pick 'n' Pay center (where we'd loaded up with provisions before our northward trip) in search of an Internet cafe. Was a bit of a wild-goose chase, since it doesn't seem there is one any more in that center. However, after we bought a koeksister [basically a donut soaked in sugar syrup] and a tray of melkterts [milk tarts] at a home-bakes store, we were re-directed to an Internet cafe on the next block that only cost R30 (about $4 at the time) an hour.

Jesse got bad news via email--our friend Sergio Palacios* died in a car crash about a week and a half ago. No details except that it happened in Mexico. Leo [my co-worker and cat sitter] wrote to say that the cats are fine and that my plants "are still green." He should have defended his thesis yesterday. It was nice to hear that all is well in San Diego. Saw a few of Genevieve's wedding photos [Genevieve is my sister--she'd sent me the link to the photographer's website to see the just-released photos of her wedding that took place at the beginning of August], but the connection was a bit slow to see more. 

After that, we headed back to the Pick 'n' Pay center for a subdued [because of the news we'd just got about Sergio] lunch at a cafe (toasted cheese and tomato, with chips and a Grapetizer for me, and a vanilla milkshake for Jesse). Then, to Pick 'n' Pay for some snacks for the bus ride and to a pharmacy to buy postcards. We sat in the parking lot to write our postcards, then went to post them at a Postnet (R9 each! Ridiculous). [I don't know why I didn't write about this in my journal, but Das Rollende Hotel pulled up into the parking lot of Pick 'n' Pay while we were there and its passengers spread our all over the mall--there were very few postcards left!]

And guess who we saw in the parking lot of Pick 'n' Pay? Richard [the son of the proprietress, and who we'd waved goodbye to earlier that morning] from Kalahari Trails! He was looking to buy some mattresses. As he said, we seem to be followed by Richards (Richard the tourist Brit [see post from our first stay at Kalahari Trails] showed up at Kalahari Trails while we were there last night to look for stuff they'd lost and talked to Jesse about Namibia and the Garden Route... also, we'd seen him at the lion kill earlier in the day [Richard the tourist was a bit of an oddball, and Richard the son of the proprietress, was not to fond of him. Long story, and this paragraph is filled with "in" jokes that I can't really explain]).

After some aimless walking around [we had hours to kill before our bus left], we stopped at "Friends" coffee shop and had some Rooibos [red tea] and mini carrot cake. We sat there as long as our butts would take it and then did some more aimless wondering--looking at Mr. Price Home and Mr. Price (clothes) stores. Some nicely-patterned duvet covers at the home store, but they didn't look particularly well made. Too bad. Then we decided to see what Game [a store] sold and bought a bag of mints for Jesse and some red Bic click pens for me ;-) [those pens are one of my favorite things I brought back. I love them].

By that time, it was finally 5 pm and we felt we could show up at Elron motors/Mahindra/Kalahari 4x4 to wait for Neil to take us to the Intercape (bus) office, which he did at 6 pm [we'd left our bags at the dealership when we dropped off our truck. Neil was a very accommodating, nice guy]. Now, we're on the bus to Cape Town and Jesse is quite uncomfortable because he doesn't fit [Jesse is 6'4" and has problems with airline seats etc.]. :-( Let's hope we get a bit of sleep! [It was an overnight bus ride].

[*Sergio was a very interesting guy--oh, the stories there are about him! He was Mexican, but had lived in England for a while and thus had a British accent when he spoke English. The Mexican government gave Sergio a scholarship to go to graduate school in the USA... he got his PhD in Wisconsin (working in the same lab as Jesse) and then did a postdoc in the USA too. He was back in Mexico to comply with the terms of his scholarship--that he return there to work (I don't know the exact details, but sending Sergio to get further education in the USA was an investment by Mexico).  He was a very good runner and entered local road races (I think 5 km was his specialty) to win the prize money and was quite upset when he didn't win his entrance fees back. He also quite liked to drink... one time, he was still drunk from a night of drinking when an early-morning race was going to start, but he ran it anyway. The photo below is from my first Halloween in graduate school (1997). Sergio is on the left--he went as a box. For the record, next to him is Jason Hickman (Chicago Bears fan), Tracey Grimek (biohazardous waste), Jeff Gralnick (monk) and that's me, the cleaning lady in front. We were all first-year graduate students here. I had a brand new kitchen towel I took as part of my outfit and was quite upset (I didn't let on) when someone I didn't know at the party asked to borrow it to clean up spilled beer... it never did come clean. The bright spot on the bottom left is because my camera was on self-timer on a glass table and the flash got reflected back.


Christine said...

Oh, the kitchen towel stories; then there was the one the Madison animal shelter kept along with the hairless squirrel.

Samantha said...

I do seem to have a bad time with kitchen towels! Next time I pick up a flea-infested hairless baby squirrel, I'll grab a kitchen towel :-)