Monday, September 22, 2008

Hell has Frozen; Pigs have Flown; Snow is on the Dark Continent

When i packed for this trip to South Africa, i packed for equator-like temperatures. Apparently i knew nothing about Africa, but i have learned very quickly. Two days ago i learned that snow falls on this continent. Well, i knew that Mt. Kilimanjaro gets snowfall, but apparently once a decade it snows in South Africa as well. Yes it freaking snowed in Africa. God blessed me in allowing me to see snow in Africa!!!

Saturday morning it was in the upper 30's (degrees F) and i noticed white blobs falling with the rain. The snow lasted about 5 minutes and was barely visible to the eye. As the day wore on the temperature only got colder and the rain continued making for a very dismal day! About four in the afternoon it began to snow, and it was no wimpy snow! Snow flakes the size of golf balls fell for about 20 - 30 minutes. None of it stuck to the ground where i live (which is at a high altitude), but about 300 or 400 feet above on the mountain behind our house there seemed to be about 2 inches. I later went up the road about a mile where i could see the Drakensburg mountain range. It was glorious! I haven't seen anything that jagged and snow-covered since my days in Colorado Springs. It was beautiful and restoring to the eyes and soul!!

Well, there's not much more to say, except that two days later it is about 75 degrees F and sunny. The snow has melted now, but i did get some pictures.

Monday, September 1, 2008

fierce blazes and dances of celebration

well, things are quite lively here. a few days ago we had the opportunity to go to a traditional Zulu engagement ceremony. it was phenomenal! there was all sorts of dancing, chanting and gift bringing. the ceremony lasted from around noon until late in the evening, though we left at 4. i took a lot of pictures and videos that i hope to post sometime when i figure out how to do it and remember my camera.
the ceremony took place deep in the village and we were the only white people there. this is quite revolutionary here in South Africa since there is still so much racial segregation in the rural areas. it was actually a great honor for the bride's family to have some white people in attendance. they were all eager to talk to us despite the language barrier... which made for some fun interactions.

something else that has been very interesting and has brought a lot of adventure and excitement to our lives are the forest fires. over the past week i bet i have seen at least 10 fires of the large nature. there have been two that have encroached on the property that we are living on, one of which we had to fight at about 9 pm on friday night. five of us put it out in about a half hour. after this josh and i chased the fire the other way with our cameras. we ran through a field with grass that was as tall as i so that we could get good pictures. i found out later that the field we ran through likely has a few cobras living in it. glad we didn't encounter any on our crazy trek!
apparently august is the windy month here and also one of the driest times too. often the small cooking fires in the villages can get away in the wind or a cigarette butt can land in the wrong place or "controlled" burns become uncontrollable. in any case, they create a lot of smoke and a nice orange glow at night. don't worry, i've been taking pictures of this too!! just last night i actually saw a large fire in town that had caught a big pine tree on fire. it was quite a sight, but i didn't have my camera at the time.

so, i've been fully immersed in the South African culture... and if it continues like this, i may never come back... haha. if i don't die that is.