Sunday, November 10, 2013

I'm so lucky

After lots of fun shopping and buying a new wardrobe, I followed Balu to her house where she allowed me to stay in her guest apartment.  I feel so fortunate to have this opportunity not only to stay here but to be with a local family.  It's my own home stay.  Balu has 4 children, only 3 of whom are living at home, (her son, who is the oldest, is living in Israel).  They also have 2 dogs (Diesel the big one and can't ever remember the name of the little one) who come to visit me.
The location of the house is in an area called Claremont a bit like Montecito.  Large homes and tree lined streets.  Here is a view from the back yard.

You can see why I'm feeling lucky to stay here.
We've become fast friends and feel so comfortable. Balu's husband is Ian and he runs her business, oldest daughter, Georgina is 22 studying fashion design, the youngest daughter Rachel is 14 and the young son David is 13 who go to the fancy private school Reddam.  

Thursday morning I went with Balu to her gym and worked out for an hour.  What a great gym and the views were incredible.
They have a nice cafe so I was able to have breakfast after my workout.  
the view from the gym.

We got back to Balu's house and Emily came to pick me up.  It was a rainy day so I didn't take many photos today.  The weather has been good and bad but that comes with the territory.
We had a nice lunch with Emily's homestay sister, Talia at Hudson's. The restaurant is known for it's burgers but also has great vegie choices.  Yummy meal.  Overall I would say all the food I've eaten is great, fresh and healthy, quite similar to California.  Their climate is like that of Santa Barbara so they are able to have local fruits and vegetables.
Thursday night Emily went with her friends to celebrate Rose's birthday and I met my cousin Esme and her boyfriend Frank for dinner at A'Tavola, an Italian restaurant in Claremont.  She picked this place because it was close to where I was staying but it wasn't a good choice.  The place was very noisy which made it difficult to sit and talk.  It was nice to visit with her though and she brought photos of my dad from the 1980's.  He was so young and happy.    

My days are so filled and I'm not keeping up with the blog like I thought I would.

Friday morning I woke early, as I have been.  The sun comes up at 5:40.  Also there is a bird that knocks on the window as soon as the sun comes up.  I decided I would go to Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens since it opened at 8:00 a.m. and spend some time taking photos.  The gardens are close to where I'm staying and it was easy to get there.  What a beautiful place,  although I will say that the wild fields along the road at Cape Point were far more dramatic.
I'm lucky to be here during Protea season with so much in bloom.

One of the first plants I came to was a special golden birds of paradise named for Nelson Mandela.  

It looks so lovely set against the mountains

Walking along the path I saw, what I thought was a statue of a duck but then realized it was real.
The beauty of nature fills me with wonder.  The colors and textures of this duck were amazing.

I wandered though the gardens for a few hours enjoying the beauty of the plants, flowers and trees.

The Gardens also have a fantastic nursery where you can buy plants, seeds and other garden gifts.  I bought some protea seeds so I can try to have some of these lovely flowers at my house.  The woman in the shop said that protea's are incredibly difficult to grow outside of South Africa in that they need certain soil, blah blah blah.  It's worth a try.  I also bought this bouquet for Balu's shabbat dinner table.
This bouquet was $4.00.

When I'd had my fill of the garden I drove to where Emily was at Rose's house.  Emily was helping Rose pack because she was leaving this evening to go back to America.  Rose (Koper) is also from Santa Barbara and she and Emily were really lucky to have each other here in South Africa.  Funny how one can travel thousands of miles from home only to meet someone from your own backyard.  
We decided to take a drive to Hout Bay for lunch at a very chic restaurant at the Chapman Peak hotel. The hotel is at the bottom of the mountain road I had driven the other day.  Emily said they were known to have the best fish in Cape Town.  YOLO.  It was a gorgeous day so we enjoyed a 20 minute drive there and did indeed eat a fabulous fish lunch.  (Sorry, I was so relaxed I didn't take any photos.)  
The sun was shining and we sat outside overlooking the harbor of Hout Bay.  We laughed at the very posh locals, sitting at the table next to us, because it was like watching a movie.  They drank lots of wine, smoked lots of cigarettes and ate a little.  I guess You had to be there.  
We needed to get Rose back to her house and then get to Balu's because we were going to Shabbat services.  
At Rose's house, we all hugged goodbye and wished her a safe flight.  Then we drove to Emily's house, which is in the same neighborhood as Rose's, where she packed her bag for our Garden Route journey.  Both girls are sad to leave but happy to be going home.
Shabbat services were at a reform temple in an area called Wynberg.  Emily had been there several times before and knew many of the people who were at services.  Small world.  On this Friday night it was a special "all music" service. One of the players and leaders of the temple is Peter, who is the nephew of my friend Zoey.   Unfortunately the room had just been painted and we had trouble breathing so went outside to play with the children.  One of the children was Emily's favorite, Aliya, who is quite precocious.  She is beautiful, adorable, funny, and only 11 but two grades ahead in school because she is so smart.  I can tell you this child will make her mark in the world.
With services over we went back to Balu's house for an incredible Shabbat meal attended by 25 others.  This is only one of the 3 tables that were set for the meal.

I was so happy to be here and felt so comfortable.  An end to another full day.

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