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South Africa

Destinations, South Africa

Walking With African Elephants

February 12, 2014

Today’s my mom’s birthday. And Abraham Lincoln’s. And…a sweet little friend of mine named Amelia: a little girl who happens to love elephants very much.

When Ted and I were in South Africa in 2012, little 1+ year old Amelia saw pictures of elephants in my Instagram feed, and her mom told me about her excitement.

I’d intended to write a story about the facility we visited and their elephant program, but after the day’s experience and the additional research Ted and I did about the system of elephant “rehabilitation” they purported to provide (and after the fruitless series of emails we exchanged with the operators, asking for more transparency in their operation), neither of us could in good conscience recommend the place.

I ended up writing a different post (The Questionable Ethics of Wildlife Tourism in South Africa), and later on in Asia we steered clear of animal-related tourism, including the famous Asian Elephant parks. We’d become awfully jaded, tired of petting zoos masquerading as medical centers, tired of tourists buying into the bull.

Yet, there was something undeniably amazing about standing next to those mighty animals that day in South Africa…

This year, I’m dedicating a little collection of elephant photos to Miss Amelia on her third birthday. Continue Reading…

Destinations, Feature Trips, Landscape Architecture, South Africa, twoOregonians Tour the Cape

In Pictures: A Landscape Architect’s Visit to Rustenberg Wines

October 18, 2012

The iconic crisp, white, delicately detailed Cape Dutch architecture of South Africa stands so beautifully against nature’s backdrop. Once I began seeing these beauties pop out from all corners of the Cape – suburban city lots and rolling wine country hills alike – I geeked out for a mini-moment and started pinning pictures of my new architectural crush.

Toward the very end of our time in the country, as a delegate attending the International Federation of Landscape Architects’ World Congress, I gladly accepted the opportunity to visit Rustenberg Wines in Stellenbosch as part of the Cultural Landscapes in Transition tour circuit, and, I’ll be honest, I was more than a little bit excited to take one or two original snapshots of Cape Dutch style to pin on my board…

For over three hundred years, various families have tended the land and taken care of the buildings and legacy of Rustenberg Estate and its incredible setting at the base of the Simonsberg Mountains. If you’re curious to know more, have a quick read of the site’s history: The Epic Stories and Wines of Rustenberg.

Anyway, that’s the gist. I won’t jabber much since this is really just a quick photo post…

And, yes, I promise, I’ll be out of South Africa soon.

Enjoy the peek at Rustenberg’s grounds and labyrinth and garden blooms – and remember these images are from the tail end of their winter! Continue Reading…

Destinations, Feature Trips, South Africa, twoOregonians Tour the Cape

Cappuccinos and a Couples Massage on the Cape Town Waterfront

October 17, 2012

Near the end of our South African road trip, Ted and I pulled back into Cape Town in our little rental car, glad for a secure parking spot and a place sit still for a few days. We’d been invited to take in the scenes on the Cape Town Waterfront during a stay at Lawhill Luxury Apartments, and with a setting like this, how could we not enjoy a little luxurious R&R, a massage at Urban Beauty, and a cozy cup of coffee at Vovo Telo? Yes, please, and thank you!

Continue Reading…

Destinations, Feature Trips, South Africa, twoOregonians Tour the Cape

Eco-Tourism at Oyster Bay Reserve and Pinnacle Point Caves

October 13, 2012

Let word spread: Mossel Bay, South Africa is coming into its own in a fresh way, embracing models of sustainable eco-tourism, supporting local community development initiatives, celebrating natural history and, most recently, presenting newly-revealed pre-historic dwelling sites at the Pinnacle Point Caves to visitors interested in ancient human habitation on the tip of the African continent.

Mossel Bay, South Africa: Home to the Oystercatcher Trail and Saint Blaize Trail

Mossel Bay is a farming, fishing, and port community wrestling with its identity, stretching and writhing to align its desired future with overlapping histories of indigenous cultures and European exploration and settlement, off-shore gas and oil harvesting, questionable shark-related wildlife tourism, and the tamer tourist trappings of wine tasting and whale watching, beach bumming, shopping, and adventuring along scenic hiking trails.

After exploring the downtown stretch to visit the Bartolomeu Dias Museum Complex and eat tasty, greasy street food, Ted and I spent a beautiful day outdoors learning about an inspiring new (OLD!) chapter in the Mossel Bay Story: the Oyster Bay Reserve, Saint Blaize Trail, and Pinnacle Point Caves. Continue Reading…

Destinations, Feature Trips, South Africa, twoOregonians Tour the Cape

Civil Rights and Chip Twisters in Mossel Bay

October 12, 2012

Mossel Bay: Europeans landed on this spot of southern African soil on February 3rd (my birthday!) in 1488, making their first contact with the indigenous inhabitants of the land.

The modern-day coastline community celebrates this piece of its history at the Bartolomeu Dias Museum Complex, and travelers and locals alike are drawn to visit the 500 year old Post Office Tree on the museum grounds and the life-size replica of the Dias Caravel ship, sailed from Europe to the museum on a repeat of the original 15th century journey from Portugal to Mossel Bay and beyond.

We followed suit and paid a visit, curious to learn more and interested to see which angle they’d choose to highlight the region’s legacy.

Continue Reading…

Destinations, Feature Trips, Social Work, South Africa, twoOregonians Tour the Cape

Social Service Excellence: Kidstop At-Risk Youth Program

October 10, 2012

I think we found our favorite nightclub in South Africa.

After witnessing effective education and empowerment initiatives in action among men and women facing challenges of poverty and HIV/AIDS in George, South Africa, we followed our friend Laurie, an American rooted in the community for 22 years, into the nearby townships.

Continue Reading…

Destinations, South Africa

Beautiful Ideas Help the World: AFRICA {Nakate Giveaway}

October 5, 2012

I am so excited for this post.

I’ve been scheming with some wonderful women for the past while, and I’m just
a little bit giddy to announce a new series on the blog: Beautiful Ideas Help the World.

Feature One: The Nakate Project: Uganda, Africa & Brooklyn, New York
Enter the beautiful beaded bracelet giveaway by leaving a comment;
read below for the full story.

How do you enter to win this Mkole Wrap Bracelet debuting soon in Nakate’s Fall 2012 line?


I’m not a fan of gimmicky give-aways, so I’m not requiring tweets or follows or whatnot, but I’m providing links to all the relevant Nakate information, and I’d love to invite you to follow the project’s story.

To enter the contest, simply leave a comment below answering one of the following questions. (Leave a second comment answering the other question if you’d like to enter twice.)

A) If you could visit any country/region in Africa in the next year, where would you go and why?

B) In the spirit of Nakate’s tagline, “Where will you take Africa?” – Where do you live and where would you wear this beautiful piece?

Giveaway is open to anyone, anywhere. (That means all of you lovely international readers as well!) All you need is a mailing address. Winner will be chosen at random and notified by email. If winner does not respond within 48 hours, a new winner will be selected and notified. See here for full giveaway terms and details.

Giveaway closes at 12:01am Pacific Standard Time (that’s Oregon!), on Wednesday, October 17th. So…you can wait around until just about midnight on October 16th to enter, or you can leave your name and answer below right now… Continue Reading…

Destinations, Feature Trips, Social Work, South Africa, twoOregonians Tour the Cape

Social Service Excellence: OPTIONS Care Center

October 4, 2012

It’s easy to post photos of South Africa’s gorgeous scenery; it’s natural to tell stories of delightful dinners and fine wines and sweet new friends. It’s harder to know which words and images to share when touching on troubling tensions in the land.

Communities carrying burdens. Families seeking answers.

Limited resources and widespread problems.

Recently, I was struck by a fellow landscape architect’s comment on issues of conservation, sustainability, and management: “We know the problems. We need to spend our time talking about the solutions.

In that same vein, I’m not going to spend much time talking about the problems. The world knows much of the South African story already:

Fallout from Apartheid.



Instead, I want to shine light on the good men and women sinking their life’s work into making solutions a reality in their own community. Continue Reading…

Destinations, Feature Trips, Food, South Africa, twoOregonians Tour the Cape

Sedgefield and Knysna: Another Edition of Oregon Twinsies

October 2, 2012

Proteas and fynbos for sale at Wild Oats Farmer’s Market, Sedgefield, South Africa

Can’t help it: I’m always stacking the world up against Oregon. My home-state is in my blood, and I’m proud of it.

Local food? Gorgeous scenery? Check, check. Good friends? Double check.

Thanks to relationships built over our month-long stint volunteering at Carmel by the Sea, Ted and I were treated to a little taste of home way on the opposite side of the world.

Our new (and hopefully life-long) friends Gary and Susan surprised us on our last weekend at Carmel with tickets for a cruise on the Knysna Lagoon, gifted to us by the organization in thanks for our time volunteering. (No thanks needed, though! We’re still thanking them for three meals a day for a month and a beautiful retreat on the Indian Ocean…)

The Saturday itinerary: straight out of the playbook for a perfect day at home. Imagine a community farmers market (with a little taste of Eugene’s Oregon Country Fair thrown in the mix), and then a trip up to Oregon and Washington’s Columbia River Gorge for scenic views across majestic cliffs and waterways… Got the mental image in your head? (If not – here are a few cheat sheets from other visitors.)

Now just jump to South Africa, change the names, a few of the faces, and tell me if you see the similarities: Continue Reading…