Looking back on 2017

Wow 2017, you have come and gone in a New York Minute. How did that happen? I didn’t even get a chance to get one blog post out in 2017. I don’t make New Year’s resolutions, however, getting back to blogging is something I am hoping to do in 2018.

I may not have done any blogging, but that doesn’t mean I was lazing about on my couch all year. I was fortunate to have quite a few amazing adventures last year, and even added 6 new country stamps to my passport.

A couple of years ago, I did a blog post about where I traveled each month. I thought it was a fun way to look back remember the past year, so I have decided to do the same for 2017. Here we go:

January 2017
My first work trip of the year was to Dubai, UAE. As I had never been before, I was quite excited for this visit. I did manage to sneak in a bit of sight-seeing after my work meetings. I visited the souks in old town Dubai, took an Abra (boat) ride (in the rain), saw the famous fountains at Dubai Mall, went to the top of Burj Khalifa and made a quick stop at Jumeirah Beach to photograph the Burj al Arab from the outside.

Dubai seemed a bit over-the-top to me (ok, way over) but I am glad I saw it. It is a very safe and squeaky clean place (I even saw a guy polishing the door knobs at my hotel) but seems to be lacking in more “traditional” Arab culture.

Burj KhalifaDubai, looking down from Burj Khalifa

Spice SoukThe colorful Spice Souk

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2015: Where did you go?

I cannot believe that 2015 is now done and dusted. Doesn’t it seem that the older we get, the faster time goes? I really try my hardest to slow down and live in the moment but still, time just keeps flying by. We have been here in South Africa for over 2 years now. The first year we were really in transition mode; getting settled in a new country, making new friends, and me, starting a new job. The biggest change back in 2014 was that the Frenchie became the “trailing spouse” as he was not allowed to work while on my visa. 2015 saw us get back to a bit of normalcy in our lives. Late in 2014 the Frenchie was able to secure his own work permit and left his trailing spouse role for a paid position in the South African work force. Our household roles were redistributed and I found myself slaving away in the kitchen much more often (haha, not really, but we have started eating out a lot more lately).

When I look back at 2015, it seems I have been away more than I have been home. I haven’t added up the time, but I am sure it is not all that far off. I traveled quite a bit for business and pleasure and at times, there would be luggage from more than one trip lying on the bedroom floor waiting to be unpacked. I started to go back and look through my photos to remind me just what I have been up to this year and I thought it might be fun to post a recap of where I have been month by month. Some trips I have already blogged about and others not as I sometimes just didn’t have the time. Let’s have a look.

January 2015
The new year started off calmly enough. I didn’t have any trips outside of Joburg in January and that gave us a chance to spend some time in this fabulous city we are proud to call home. One of the reasons I love Joburg so much is due to its diversity. You can really find just about anything here. Two of the things we did in January I think illustrate this quite nicely: a visit to the Norscot Koppies Nature Reserve (a lovely reserve right in Joburg that I wrote about here in 2014) and a walk through Cyrildene, the new Chinatown of Joburg (you can see more photos from our first visit here).

BlesbokThis trip to Norscot was specifically to photograph this baby blesbok, isn’t he sweet?

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A Quick Safari Fix at Pilanesberg National Park

Mankwe DamMankwe Dam

Pilanesberg National Park is a Big 5 reserve about 2 hours north of Johannesburg. This is a great park to visit if you are in the Joburg area and maybe don’t have enough time to get over to Kruger. In the past year, we have made a couple day trips as well as a weekend camping trip to Pilanesberg. Sightings haven’t been all that great for us (the cats have eluded us completely on all trips) but of course it is always the luck of the draw when it comes to wildlife. We are always happy to just be out on safari and to see whatever we have the chance to spot so our time in the park has always been enjoyed.

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So We Bought a Tent

And we slept it in too.  Crazy right ?  No ?  Well if you have known me for a long time you are probably at least a little bit surprised.  You see, in the past I was never known to be much of an outdoorswoman.  Even a couple of years ago I would never have imagined myself sleeping in the African bush with only a thin layer of poly-canvas between me and the stars.  But This Is Africa (TIA) and that has all changed, though it has been a gradual process.

During our first trip to Kruger National Park about 3 years ago we had a great time but stayed in nice little chalets or rondavels.  The following year I was ready to be closer to nature and we stayed in a permanent tent (with private kitchen and bath) in the unfenced camp of Mpila.  What an unbelievable experience.  As the camp is unfenced, this allows all sorts of animals to be browsing about at all times of the day or night.  This could be some dainty impala munching on the grass right outside your tent while you try to sleep or even a hungry hyena lustfully checking out your braai just a couple meters away.  If you want to know more about this camp, you can see our photos here.

Mpila Tented CampMpila Tented Camp 

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