Monday, March 19, 2012

Dazzled at Thirty!!!

March 12, 2012 I celebrated my three decades of being alive!!!  It was amazing!!!  Plus, I learned something new on my 30th Birthday . . . Zebras (some of my most favorite animals) travel in a dazzle!!!  A DAZZLE!!!  Seriously . . . what could be a better name for a herd!?!?

It is suffice to say that I was dazzled by a dazzle of zebras!!!! 

Ok, so maybe all this isn't making much sense, so . . . to get to the point, for my 30th Birthday, I travelled with my grandmother Toby to South Africa!!!  Amazing does not even begin to describe it!!! 

We started off in Sandton, just north of Johannesburg.  It was GORGEOUS!!!  Sooo . . . I'm not going to lie.  I was weird enough to check out the State Department site before the trip, so I was horrified to eat or drink just about anything.  I hate being ill at my stomach.  Yeah . . . that lasted all of 15 hours.  The BEST food ever!!!  If you read anything I write, you probably have guessed I am not the most healthy eater on the planet . . . I love my chocolate and tend to eat way too much fast food.  I ate like a total health nut in Africa!!!  The fruit and juices and beef . . . it was all just PERFECT!!! 

And the PEOPLE!!!  Oh, I still haven't quite gotten over them.  I have never met so  many wonderful, kind, and cheerful people!!!  SMILES everywhere!!!  I loved talking to the people at the restaurants, the conference, the malls (yes, I was near two malls - haha!), the airport, the drivers . . . everyone was just amazing!!! 

Then we travelled north to Pilanesberg National Park and stayed at a lodge (oh . . . lots of stories) and went on a safari!!!!  No words . . . you just have to see the pictures!!!

Without further ado . . . meet the King of the Jungle:


Our wonderful hosts took us to the Amway Center in Johannesburg!!!  This was amazing!!!  It is a store with most of the Amway products displayed, so you can bring customers to try see and try products!!!  They even have conference space and casual sitting areas as well as a coffee shop and Kid-way Play Area!!!  Products can only be purchased here by an IBO. 
eSpring Water Treatment Systems
from all over South Africa
(this saved my life for drinking water)
I want Amway EVOO!!!!

The view of Sandton from our Hotel. 

The evening storms were AMAZING!!!  The whole earth seemed to rumble with the thunder, and the lighting was all around us and could even be seen for at least 50 miles out!!!  Tommy H and I were leaning out our 14th floor windows (apparently hotels in South Africa are not concerned about crazy people jumping), so we leaned out and watched the storms and took pictures!!!  Hahahaha!!!  I'm pretty sure the locals thought we were nuts!!!

We also went to Alexandra, a township of Johannesburg.  Alexandra is one of the poorest urban areas in the nation and includes over 20,000 plywood, tin, or other such shacks.  Nelson Mandela lived here for awhile soon after he first moved to Johannesburg. 

Our FABULOUS hosts Richard & Eve!!!  They were really THE BEST!!!

Diamonds Webster & Veronica from Botswana!!!

My BEAUTIFUL Grandmother on stage!!!

Yep . . . this is the reason I decided the food and juices must be safe to eat . . . who could turn that down!?!?  Organic fruit, organic strawberry juice (THE BEST), and delicious cheeses and jams!!!

Every morning after the first one, I woke up early and had breakfast and strawberry juice on this lovely terrace while reading my Bible study.  Donald Miller's friend insisted to him that while she once thought the Bible was a salad thing, it was really more of a chocolate thing . . . well, I would like to add:  Truly, the Bible is meant to be read with Chocolate & Strawberry Juice!!!  In fact, I'm sure if Adam & Eve had needed written Scripture (they had the audible Word of God, but just if), they would have read it just like that =)

Mandele Square

Is this little girl not just adorable!?!?  She was eight, and she really wanted to be in the picture with me (ok, so really I think she just liked having her picture taken, but I can pretend it was me)!!!  She was too cute!!!

This just made me laugh . . . Who needs whipped cream and a cherry on top when you could have whipped cream and a Louis Vuitton on top!?!?

The Gauteng Countryside

The slums around a Platinum Mine.  Apparently these slums pop up wherever there are mines nearby because many of the workers cannot afford other housing.  If they have children, it is often a priority to try to put them in schools (I'm guessing schools aren't public, but I haven't researched that).  This really hit home for us since 3 of my 4 great-grandfathers were coal miners and could remember the times when the companies paid with fake money that could only be used at the Company Store. 

Storms across the Savannah

The Pool at the Bakubung Bush Lodge!!! 

Ok . . . so here begins the crazy adventure that was my 30th Birthday!!!  We woke up early (ok, so I actually didn't sleep, but we officially got up around 4am) and headed out for our open air game drive!!!  It was still dark, so the first few pictures may not be too great, but it was sooooo FUN!!!!  I will try to label all the animals in English, but if I mislabel, please forgive me (and let me know, so I can correct it).
Hippos!!!  They were NOT happy we shined a spotlight on them and snorted their disapproval!!!
Female Kudu
White Rhinoceros . . . I named him Oscar (after my dog; I'll explain soon)

I named this rhino Oscar because my male Yorkie Oscar does this to my female Yorkie Coco . . . he stands over her while she rests acts all sweet and cuddly, but he really just wants her to get up, so he can have the nice warm spot to lie on!!!  Hahaha!!!

Red Hartebeest

This beautiful Giraffe was way off in the field enjoying a tree!!!  I would have never seen him!!!  I'm not too observant (you'll see HOW unobservant shortly) . . .

Wildebeest (aka Pududu)
These things made me sooo mad!!!  They kept turning their backsides to me and did not want their pictures taken.  Sooo . . . I took their picture anyway =P

Ostrich U Springbok


If you haven't guessed yet . . . I LOVE Zebras!!!  And learning that this lovely herd of Zebra was called a Dazzle . . . well, that was just icing on the cake!!!


Guess???  Yes, the bush was close.  No, I never saw her.  Another safari guide was pulled off the side of the road, and our guide started speaking quickly in on of the ten South African languages I don't know (English was the only one I knew - haha!).  The other couple on the safari with us turned and explained (in English) that there was a Lion(ess)!!!  We looked and looked (I'm looking way out in the tall Savannah grass), and finally my Grandmother pointed her out to me in the bush less than 12 feet away from us . . . WHOAH!!!!


Is she not GORGEOUS!?!?  I just love her and her not-so-little paw!!!!

She headed off into the bush . . . so what did we do!?!?  What any self-respecting birthday safari-goers would do!!!  Did I mention the other girl with us was celebrating her birthday too!?!?  Too fun!!!  Sorry . . . moving on . . . we FOLLOWED her!!!

She led us straight to the KING of the JUNGLE!!!

Is he not AMAZING!?!?



My Beautiful Grandmother, Toby, with the Zebra!!!

Me with the Zebra!!!

Ok . . . so we were still on a crazy high after finding two Lions!!!  We had seen 2 of the Big 5 after a crazy storm, so we were pretty excited!!!  Nothing could have prepared us for HIM!!!  

Elephant Bull

He marched regally across the Savannah from football fields away and came all the way up to us!!!  The herds had been driven across the moutain during the storms, so we really didn't expect to see any elephants . . . and then we saw this 54 year old male!!!  The bulls don't stay with the herd unless it is mating season, so he was all by himself, and he was just GORGEOUS!!! 

 And yes . . . I was playing "Hup, two, three, four!  Keep it up, two, three, four!" from "Jungle Book" in my head while he marched - hahaha!!!

Look at these two Love Birds!!!
Ok, so really the female Ostrich decided to bite the male, but it looked like they were being all cute!!!

And for my sweet sister Meagan . . . 

PUMBA!!!  And all his little Pumbas!!!



Pride Rock
(ok, so at this point I was feeling like I was in a Disney movie - haha!)

Meet Ron!!!  I decided he was the Ron Hale of the Giraffe World!!!  He was sooo tall!!!  He was behind huge trees, but all I could see was his head popping up!!!

This was a young female . . . she looked little to me compared to the other female and the male, but I don't think she was technically a baby.

Me & the Best Guide EVER!!!

Late breakfast at the Bakubung Bush Lodge . . . Spectacular!!! 

I did what any self-respecting girl does on her 30th Birthday after playing in the Savannah with Lions, Elephants, Rhinos, Hippos, Zebras, and Giraffes . . . I jumped on the super cool outdoor trampoline!!!! 

Bakubung Bush Lodge 

 Tawny Eagle

And this just made me crack up . . . no matter how old I get, I hope I never have to be reminded which end of the plane goes up!!!  Hahaha!!!