Sunday, March 30, 2014

Robin and Louisa

I first met Robin and Louisa years back when I contracted with a pet store company to photograph their clients and pets at Christmas.  We have kept in touch over time, and when Robin told me recently that Louisa was very ill, I suggested we take some more photos of them.  I have an aging dog myself, and I understand the bond that develops between people and their pets.  This afternoon was pretty, and we walked slowly, encouraging Louisa and stopping often to take shots as they presented themselves.  Here are a few of them - Robin, I hope you like them.
** Postscript:  Louisa passed away on April 10th, not two weeks after these were taken.**

Saturday, March 22, 2014

On My Way Home

I am on my way back home, sitting in a coffee shop at the O.R. Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg waiting for my Delta flight.  I just finished a plate of bacon, eggs and sweet corn fritters.  A little strange for 5.30pm fare – I should be drinking a glass of wine, but it will be a long night, so time enough for that.  The rest of our vacation in Plettenberg Bay was really good from a family reconnection perspective, but Mum became ill and we worried a lot about her. 

We ended up leaving the beach house a day earlier than planned, and having Mum transported to the George hospital by ambulance.  She has since stabilized, but is still undergoing tests and scans and has a way to go.  These next few family photos were taken the evening before she became ill and I was so glad we took the opportunity.  Since we are scattered all over the world, it's not easy to schedule these reunions very often.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Beautiful Plettenberg Bay

I was not sorry to leave Durban this time.   We had experienced the trauma of robbery and murder which had completely traumatized close friends, and Mum had been experiencing some health issues that had been very worrisome and delayed our departure for a day.  I was looking forward to meeting up with my sisters, particularly Mandy who is a doctor.

Fortunately the 2 hour flight to George was on time and smooth.  My brother-in-law was there to meet us and drive us to our rented beach house where we will be for a week.  I was relieved to arrive and relieved that all our plans had finally materialized.  It’s great to plan these things, but we have learned that sometimes plans go awry due to circumstances completely beyond our control.  So here we are for awhile, and her are a few images from my first 24 hours here.
Keurboom River Lagoon at Plettenberg Bay

Exploring Nature's Valley

Mum and her 4 girls after Lunch at Bramon Vineyard

Keurboom Lagoon

Robberg Beach, Plettenberg Bay

Full moon rise over the Indian Ocean near Beacon Island Hotel

Friday, March 14, 2014

The Dark Side of South Africa

The photograph below was taken four nights ago at a restaurant where we went to celebrate a birthday.  It was a great evening spent catching up with old family friends.  We spoke on the phone again last night and this morning I tried to call a few times to relay some information to Sue, but the phone rang and rang, finally going to voicemail.  The reason became apparent a little while later when we were told that two armed intruders had entered their home early this morning, tied them up and beaten them, and proceeded to systematically ransack their home for about 45 minutes. Sue managed to free her hands and call for help, and as the first policeman arrived in response, there ensued a gunfight which left the policeman and one intruder dead in their courtyard.  The other intruder escaped and is still at large. Their car (already loaded with stolen goods) was riddled with bullets, as was the exterior of the home. This is not an isolated incident.  This evening's newspaper combines this violent encounter with news of another on the same day only a few miles away.  I could recount more of the horrifying details, but you get the picture.  Just another day in the life of the average South African ...

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Rarified African Air

We arrived at Cathedral Peak Hotel in the Drakensberg mountains muddy and wet.  It has been raining in the area for weeks it seems, and the damage is widespread.  Roads have been washed away, bridges are suspect, and everywhere there is evidence of a soaking.  On the other hand, the hills and farmlands are looking green and lush, the crops tall and healthy.  I had arranged to take a helicopter flight to do some aerial photography in the mountains, somewhat different subject matter from Charleston.  We were told that the chopper hadn't been able to fly for quite a while due to inclement weather, but  upon pulling back the curtains the following morning I was greeted by brilliant sunshine. At 9am I presented myself for the flight.  Mum (86 years old) had driven me to the helipad and I persuaded her to sit in the chopper, just to see if she thought she would be comfortable enough for a 40 minute flight. Once wedged into her seat, she was further persuaded to come along :)
It was a magical tour of the Central Drakensberg area, swooping and diving through gorges, above waterfalls, skimming over meadows only to have the ground disappear from under you as the topography drops by thousands of feet.  We landed once on the top of a plateau and enjoyed a Mimosa, drinking in the incredible view.
These are just a few of the photos, and Mum had a blast!!

Monday, March 10, 2014

Visiting my Homeland

Curry spices, Saffron, Marsalas, all kinds of blends for flavorful cooking
Stopping at a street vendor for hot, freshly cooked mielies (corn)
Young lady who sold me some souvenier bead bracelets
Well here I am back in South Africa again for a two week visit.  I arrived at Durban's King Shaka Airport late last night and there was Mum waiting for me, waving excitedly.  Tomorrow we will head for one of my all time favorite places, the Drakensberg Mountains for a couple of days, but today was a good day for walking around the old traditional Durban markets, taking in the familiar sights and smells, and becoming acquainted with a few new ones.  After all, it has been a few years since I wandered through central Durban.  In some ways, nothing has changed and in other ways, everything has changed.
Bovine Head Cookers Market (yes, it is what it sounds like it is)

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Dinner Delivery

This is not my photograph.  It was taken by Dale who is able to watch all this activity from the comfort of her front porch, and who now documents it more efficiently with her new camera, bought specifically for the purpose :)  What an amazing portrait of parental care in the wild.  Dead rat delivered to the kids with love from Mom and Dad.  I love the expression on the owlet's face, as if to say .."for me?"