weekend away in the waterberg

we headed up to Limpopo with our friends for the long weekend (monday was Heritage Day in here in South Africa), to a big house in the Waterberg. after a torturous drive up (friday after-work traffic before a long weekend is never an easy task), we had an idyllic weekend of lazing, swimming, cooking, eating, game playing and even celebrating my birthday a bit. of course there was also a little wine involved and lots of games. i got some sun on my face to get back in the swing of summer and it was nice to relax after almost a solid year of (very cherished) guests. i didn’t take my camera, but a few shots from my iphone were taken- my favorite is of our friend’s dog Ninja who lazily plopped down in the middle of our game of Viking Chess as if it was the most obvious spot in the world to take a rest. thanks to the homies for a great weekend!

a weekend in the country.

Land of Nams: living in Johannesburg, exploring the world, documenting the things I love

We spent the weekend in the South African countryside with friends…these weekends usually consist of renting a giant house, eating lots of food, and drinking lots of wine. The scenery in South Africa is casually breathtaking wherever you go (except inside malls and all of Fourways in Johannesburg), and it’s a privilege to live here and enjoy it with friends. Our friends’ ‘puppy’ (a pony sized Rhodesian Ridgeback) has me jones-ing for a puppy of our own. I think P is right that life is too full of travel to be tied down with a dog at the moment. But if a cute one showed up on our doorstep I wouldn’t turn it away.

My Photoshop print series will be back tomorrow…

Anna and Maureen’s visit, according to my iPhone

Two of my best girlfriends have been visiting us for the past two weeks. We went on safari in Kruger and flew down to Cape Town and explored Johannesburg thoroughly. It was a blissful time and I wish your best friends could always be across the hall, a few steps away like they were in college.  It was sad to take them to the airport yesterday but if we all lived in the same place we probably wouldn’t have spent the last two weeks spotting lions together in Kruger, wine tasting in the Western Cape and eating meat and pap with our hands at a shisa nyama in Soweto. I feel so thankful that so many of our friends have come and visited us here in South Africa (and when we were in Berlin) and all the priceless memories we have running around the world with them.

Thanks for coming, Anna and Mo! xx

Impressions from Mozambique

Land of Nams: living in Johannesburg, exploring the world, documenting the things I love

Land of Nams: living in Johannesburg, exploring the world, documenting the things I love

Land of Nams: living in Johannesburg, exploring the world, documenting the things I love

Land of Nams: living in Johannesburg, exploring the world, documenting the things I love

Land of Nams: living in Johannesburg, exploring the world, documenting the things I love

Land of Nams: living in Johannesburg, exploring the world, documenting the things I love

Land of Nams: living in Johannesburg, exploring the world, documenting the things I love

Land of Nams: living in Johannesburg, exploring the world, documenting the things I love

Mozambique is a small country filled with many miles of under-developed (and therefore extra-beautiful) beaches. We made it to our own slice of paradise, Macaneta Island, after a treacherous and impressive journey- we took a small car through crowded streets, to barely-marked roads, across an estuary on a rickety ferry boat, to an island with rain-destroyed dirt roads. P was a champion driver and after arriving at our destination we were rewarded with a beautiful sunset and beer. To relax after our stress-filled journey we went on a midnight swim, drank a few bottles of wine, and woke up to the sounds of the ocean and drank coffee on a nearly deserted beach. Mozambique is quite similar to India with less pollution, better weather, and a bit less dynamism (perhaps because there aren’t a billion people there).

The sunset picture was the view from the back of our thatched hut over the estuary, I astoundingly did not take a picture of our pristine beach, probably because the time spent on it was midday – the time of the worst photography light. Fisherman walked along the shore trying to sell us giant snappers, rock lobsters, crabs and the like. While we weren’t equipped to do our own cooking we enjoyed more than our fair share of fresh seafood, Rachel lived through a paralyzing jellyfish sting, I ate bowls and bowls of green chile chutney, we swam day and night, debated books and authors, came up with a sure-to-be hit show called Tiger Talk, and the trip was truly one of the most memorable thus far , which I think says a lot.

Cheers, Mozambique!

Why did 5 male lions cross the road?

Land of Nams: living in Johannesburg, exploring the world, documenting the things I love

Land of Nams: living in Johannesburg, exploring the world, documenting the things I love

Land of Nams: living in Johannesburg, exploring the world, documenting the things I love

Land of Nams: living in Johannesburg, exploring the world, documenting the things I love

Land of Nams: living in Johannesburg, exploring the world, documenting the things I love

Land of Nams: living in Johannesburg, exploring the world, documenting the things I love

Land of Nams: living in Johannesburg, exploring the world, documenting the things I love

Land of Nams: living in Johannesburg, exploring the world, documenting the things I love

Another set of lovely friends visiting (Nick and Rachel), another safari in Kruger (my life is very hard, I know). This time in the category of Things I’ve Never Seen Before: a whole group of young male lions (I don’t think it’s proper to call them a pride when they’re just a wandering group of brothers who aren’t fully grown) and a group of hyenas ripping apart a left over animal corpse (look carefully, you can see them). As the lions paced around our vehicle, staring at the humans inside I couldn’t bring myself to take pictures when they were directly next to me. The female scared me far more than the males, I felt as though she knew exactly how easy it would be to jump inside and tear me to shreds (ok so maybe I was a bit nervous since I’ve never been directly available to so many wide awake apex predators). I was too nervous and excited to operate the camera properly and had to put it on automatic mode.

We stayed in a lovely cottage overlooking a river in and in the morning we watched a hippo splash around for her morning bath from our porch.  I’m not sure how many times I’ve been on safari now, but every single time I feel like I’m a five year old discovering how planes fly or where rain comes from. Normally I pay almost exclusive attention to the big game, but thanks to Nick’s enthusiasm (during his high school years he taught ornithology at a local nature center)  I became interested in the birds. Above you can see the technicolor European Bee Eater perched cheerfully on a tree. Following his lead I purchased an animal guide to Kruger and surrounding areas and we worked hard at checking off every animal, bird and reptile that we could, and before I leave this continent I am determined to check off every single one.

A lovely trip to the States

Land of Nams: living in Johannesburg, exploring the world, documenting the things I love

We went back to the States for a wedding of two dear friends and to see our friends and family. I know I said I’d be back on the 27th, but I lied- I took the entire too weeks to have a real vacation. But I’m back and ready to blog!

First things first, when my fam picked me up at the airport Neels (my mom) brought me my wedding and engagement rings, my earrings, and 2 bracelets, all stuff I got for my wedding that I leave behind so it doesn’t get stolen in Jozi. It was lovely to wear them again for 2 weeks. Priorities! =)

As you can see our lovely sisters flew back for the first weekend. A dinner party at P’s parents, then one at mine. My room at my parents’ house is one that I’ve never actually lived in, and it is FREEZING. My sister’s is spacious and warm so I always sleep with her when I’m home. I made P do it too. My mom (Neels) was going nuts with her iPhone camera as you can see.

Land of Nams: living in Johannesburg, exploring the world, documenting the things I love

P and I shuttled back and forth between our parents’  houses like we were kids of divorced parents. We mainly went out to dinner and hung out with our families for the first week.

Then it was time to head to NYC. I haven’t been since last July, and if enough time passes I forget how lovely it is and when we visit our resolve to move back strengthens.

Land of Nams: living in Johannesburg, exploring the world, documenting the things I love

Land of Nams: living in Johannesburg, exploring the world, documenting the things I love

True, on a normal weekend you don’t see EVERYONE that you know in 72 hours, which added tons of excitement/exhaustion to our visit. We stayed at our friends Jon and Katie’s apartment, it made me nostalgic for my tiny NYC apartment, there is something about living in a relatively small space that is a fun decorating challenge. We stopped by my cousin’s beautiful floor to ceiling windows Upper East Side place and I got to see one of my nephews (the other one was sleeping). He was adorable-y eating Cadbury eggs. He called us Nama Mausi and P Mausa (which is what you call your mom’s sister and husband) and it never fails to make my heart melt (in our culture, we do aunts and not second cousins).

Land of Nams: living in Johannesburg, exploring the world, documenting the things I love

Land of Nams: living in Johannesburg, exploring the world, documenting the things I love

Then, it was off to Brooklyn for drinks with our friends and the bride and groom. We did pickle-backs, which are all the rage right now- a shot of whiskey followed by a shot of pickle juice. Often the pickle juice is infused with different flavors. I loved it so much I shall I have a pickle-back party in Jozi! Stay tuned for that, friends and line up your Goodfellas.

Land of Nams: living in Johannesburg, exploring the world, documenting the things I love

Land of Nams: living in Johannesburg, exploring the world, documenting the things I love

Then Friday, glorious Friday. It was a lovely NY day, we walked all around lower Manhattan (a relief after sedentary-ish Jozi), shopping and eating. We stopped at The Spotted Pig and I had their glorious burger that had been all I could think about food-wise for the better part of a year. We got P fitted for his tux and we hopped over to Brooklyn for some of NYC’s best pizza and stop in THE BEST JEWELRY STORE OF ALL TIME, Catbird. I bought a few things that will be featured on this blog soon enough. The day ended with a rehearsal for John and CC’s wedding followed by a beautiful rehearsal dinner put on by John’s parents.

Land of Nams: living in Johannesburg, exploring the world, documenting the things I love

Land of Nams: living in Johannesburg, exploring the world, documenting the things I love

Saturday, the big day- John and Christine got married in a beautiful church (St. Vincent de Ferrer) on the UES. I successfully draped my sari (seedha pallu style) by myself and momsy lent me some jewelry so that I could be dripping in emeralds and diamonds. I was glad  for my colorful sari amidst a sea of dark. In between the ceremony and the reception we had a silly time at a bar between the church and the hotel. We made a spectacle of ourselves, a rather large group in long gowns and tuxedos traipsing down Park Avenue. Walking even 10 blocks in 6 inch heels is NOT ADVISABLE, but I did it. The reception was at The Plaza and it was extravagant and wonderful. I probably had 8 oysters and then every bite of my filet mignon then danced my face off. Afterwards they bussed us to an old haunt, Jake’s Dilemma where we partied until dawn.

Land of Nams: living in Johannesburg, exploring the world, documenting the things I love

Land of Nams: living in Johannesburg, exploring the world, documenting the things I love

Land of Nams: living in Johannesburg, exploring the world, documenting the things I love

Land of Nams: living in Johannesburg, exploring the world, documenting the things I love

**Yes, that is Julie and me with the Pope and also this is the first time I’ve been referred to as Mr. and Mrs. P.

On Sunday, when I didn’t take any pictures, it was more friends and more activities trying to reunite with everyone we know in the city. My friend KJB who goes to law school at Yale even took a 2 hour train ride from there just to spend a couple hours with us and it was truly wonderful to see her. Our other friends came down from Boston for the weekend to see us whenever we were not busy with the wedding. BTW, these friends from Boston are teachers and had a class be invited to the White House to perform the “I have a dream” speech for President Obama. How lovely.

Then back to MN for me, for a week of hanging with out my parents and an endless stream of happy hours with old friends. Neels (my mom) would make golgapas (aka pani puri) and we would eat them and watch Dr. Phil and Judge Judy. We had to shovel the car out after a snow storm which took 2 hours one morning (and made me glad to live in Jozi) and I saw friends from high school (one of whom is pregnant, congrats Cai and Tom!) and two of my dearest friends from college, Anna and Mo. We had a great time getting silly drunk and talking about careers and men and the future(what else is there?).

Land of Nams: living in Johannesburg, exploring the world, documenting the things I love

Land of Nams: living in Johannesburg, exploring the world, documenting the things I love

I’m so thankful for all of our incredible friends and family all over the globe! Wherever we go, it feels like home.