We are back in Joburg.

I can’t believe that our 6 week mini road trip went by so quickly!  Here’s what we loved – and what wasn’t so great…

HOEDSPRUIT (Limpopo & Mpumalanga)

Stuff I loved:

  • Without a doubt, the best part of visiting Hoedspruit was being with my cousin, Clare.  The kids loved reconnecting with their cousin, Kyra… and I was blown away by Clare’s shop – Mad Cows – and her cafe  & deli, Madhams.  I loved our long chats, I love how her brain works… and I love the lifestyle she enjoys in Hoedspruit (except for the heat!).  Here’s a post I wrote about our experience (with lots of drool-worthy photos).
  • We also loved feeding Jessica the hippo… and we loved the giant baobab tree – and the lovely pancakes they sold at the baobab cafe.  And, of course, we loved stroking the cheetah at Moholoholo Rehabilitation centre (and the kids loved feeding warthogs).

Here’s some memorable pics of Hoedspruit:

I kissed the hippo!

I kissed the hippo!

Anyone visiting Hoedspruit MUST stop by Madhams! This is a photo of the Bunny Chow... yummy-yum!

Anyone visiting Hoedspruit MUST stop by Madhams! This is a photo of the Bunny Chow… yummy-yum!

The Not-So-Fun:

  • The awful potholes on the road between Dullstroom and Lydenburg.  I hit one of them (hard) and it has bent the wheel rim (and I lost a hubcap) – and the Modus hasn’t been the same since.  🙁

FREE STATE 

Stuff I loved:

  • Our unexpected excursion into the forgotten town of Winburg.  We stopped for an urgent loo-break… and found ourselves in a fascinating little dorp with a huge – and very beautiful – church smack in the middle.
  • We also had the most fabulous gnocchi – delivered to our very nice hotel room (on our stop-over in Bloemfontein).  It was fun… snuggling with the kids… watching hotel TV… munching on gnocchi…
Can you spot BOTH my children in this picture?

Can you spot BOTH my children in this picture?

The Not-So-Fun:

  • The long… LONG… drive…

PRINCE ALBERT, KLAARSTROOM & DE RUST (Karoo)

Stuff I loved:

  • Our beautiful little nest in the mountains – Die Letterhuis – and the generosity of our hosts, Heleen & Karel.
  • The beautiful, 3-tiered waterfall with lots of swimmable pools (just off the road between Klaarstroom & de Rust).
  • The magnificent Swartberg Pass (we drove it twice – and we’d do it again!).
  • The picturesque Karoo towns of Prince Albert, Klaarstroom and de Rust… with their coffee shops, beautiful churches, home-made jams & preserves, fresh produce and very interesting people (with very interesting stories)…
  • The tortoise we found crossing the road – we took him back to our little house, the kids played with him (and tried to feed him) – and then we released him back into the wild.
  • Wonderful evenings around a huge table in a big Karoo farm kitchen at Klaarstroom B & B… enjoying fascinating conversations with the cast and crew of Faan se Trein – and devouring Sharon’s deliciously yummy food!
The Klaarstroom B & B kitchen.... (many hours of great memories... interesting conversations and fantastic food!)

The Klaarstroom B & B kitchen…. (many hours of great memories… interesting conversations and fantastic food!)

The Not-So-Fun:

  • Drunk children… too many drunk children… in Prince Albert, hanging around the OK Food (and liquor) store  – begging for money to feed their addiction.  This is a huge problem in the Eastern & Western Cape:  alcoholism – and foetal alcohol syndrome.  If you stop anywhere near a bottle-store… or anywhere that sells cheap wine –  you can almost guarantee that somebody will approach you asking for money.
  • The tortoise (mentioned somewhere above) poo’ing and wee’ing all over our car.  He poo’d on Joah (who screamed)… he poo’d on my jacket… he poo’d on the floor… lots and lots of poo (which I didn’t enjoy cleaning up).

PLETTENBERG BAY, GEORGE & KNYSNA

Stuff I loved

  • I absolutely adored exploring the little village of Belvidere – with it’s ancient little stone church.  Belvidere is definitely the kind of place where I might consider “settling” for a while…
  • Sitting on the beach at Plett’s lagoon… sinking my toes into powdery sand while watching the kids build and populate “Crab Land” with hermit crabs…
  • Reconnecting with my old school friend, Sonja… after years of not seeing her – was another wonderful treat.  And our kids really enjoyed her son, Jack.
  • Our visit to Old Nick Village – learning about weaving… and watching the kids hand-weave their own placemats out of colourful mohair.
  • The amazing (and confusing) Train Museum in George.
  • The very beautiful Outeniqua Pass.
If you look closely, you can see Morgan and Joah in the distance (this museum is truly massive)...

If you look closely, you can see Morgan and Joah in the distance (this museum is truly massive)…

Beautiful Belvidere...

Beautiful Belvidere…

Beach time at Plettenberg Bay...

Beach time at Plettenberg Bay…

The Not-So-Fun:

  • Getting a R500 traffic fine for driving without my license.
  • Dropping my laptop (aaaaaak!!!!) – which now has lines and ‘blank spots’ across the screen.  🙁

OUDTSHOORN

Stuff we Loved:

  • The Cango Wildlife Centre.  It’s a bit touristy… and a bit pricey… but it was actually the perfect way to spend a mother’s day afternoon – and the kids LOVED it.
  • The JP Nel Museum – Wow!  What a fascinating museum!  So many interesting rooms… so many goodies to explore!  As a grown-up, one could spend many hours there.  But as a grown-up with two excited children… it was a bit… limiting.  (It’s difficult to read all the stories and information signs while 2 small people are simultaneously firing off hundreds of questions and saying:  “Look at this! Look at that!!”).
  • The Cango Caves.  In spite of the fact that it’s a tourist trap… and in spite of the fact that visitors over the years have decimated much of the main caverns – it’s still an unforgettable sight to behold.  And the kids are still speaking about the stalagmites and stalactites.
Petting a tiger cub on mother's day...

Petting a tiger cub on mother’s day…

Joah wasn't sure what to make of these old baths (displayed in the loo foyer at the JP Nel Museum)...

Joah wasn’t sure what to make of these old baths (displayed in the loo foyer at the JP Nel Museum)…

The Not-So-Fun:

  • Tourist Graffiti!  How I utterly loathe tourist graffiti – and it’s everywhere!  It’s scratched onto cave walls and ceilings… scratched or written on to stalactites and stalagmites… it’s scratched (or written) on to beautiful rock formations on the Swartberg Pass… or huge ancient trees… you name it.  If there’s a popular spot to visit – or a popular monument – visitors have “marked their territory” with their names (or their girlfriend’s names) written in ugly handwriting and decorated with hearts or dates.  It effin’ hacks me off, no end!
  • Car issues.  Apparently ALL of the steel rims on our Modus wheels are bent.  Add to that a dead battery (and more than my fair share of push-starts)… and you’ll understand that our little Modus is not behaving very well of late.  It’s supposed to be a snappy city car… I don’t think it appreciates the long road trip… the dirt roads… the potholes… the stony mountain paths… and that kind of thing.  We have (so) outgrown this car!

And finally….

We’ve all had many memorable experiences over the past 6 weeks.  I had one of the best Mother’s Days – ever… Nick and I loved (and I mean loved) our quality family time spent at the little house in the Karoo.  We loved the simplicity of it… we loved star-watching and sharing a meal in front of the wood fire… we loved going on Heleen’s special walks... and being woken to the sounds of birds (instead of traffic).

I loved that our world-schooling has been so productive.  The kids have learned and experienced so much over the past 6 weeks (and I’ve learned so much too!).  I love this process of learning and discovery and growing… and travel is so conducive to that kind of thing.  (If you’re curious about what “school” on the road looks like – I’ve written a post about it here).

Morgan made a "Rock Cake" (with cherries)...

Morgan made a “Rock Cake” (with cherries)…

I love that travel keeps the wonder alive.  There’s always something new to see, do or experience.  New people to meet… stories to hear… food to sample… lessons to learn.  Everything about travel is anti-stagnant.  It is simply impossible NOT to learn and grow when you travel.

Nick and I are now… more than ever… absolutely certain that a nomadic lifestyle is for us.  We knew it before we set off on this 6 week mini adventure – and now we’re even MORE sure.

So… for now… we are back in Joburg.  Nick has 2 months to finish editing Faan se Trein the movie.  There’s lots for me to do too:  rent the house… purge more stuff… work on my online business… prepare our family – and make our plans…

Where are we going?  Right now – we’re not sure.

What we know for certain is that we are going…