Thursday, January 12, 2012

Glimpses of A Childhood Home

One of the pleasures for me in our recent trip to South Africa was to experience some scenes that reminded me very much of my childhood.  Long time readers will know that I did not grow up in South Africa, but in the country just to the north--now Zimbabwe, Rhodesia in the years I was there.

I had been ages since I saw a lovely avenue of trees bordering a well-tended dirt road.  The one shown below is the avenue leading up to Boschendal The Estate, now a wine estate.  It was originally established in 1685 as a farm including vineyards.  In 1897, Cecil Rhodes acquired the estate, established fruit orchards and eventually turned the whole estate over to De Beers.

In Bulawayo, the town where I went to school, the avenues were lined with jacaranda trees.  Below is a photo of jacaranda blossoms close up.  It was wonderful to see them again.  Also, bougainvillea, another flower from childhood memory.

During my parents' time as missionaries, they occasionally had vacation time--it was during these times that we visited Cape Town.  Of course, Table Mountain is the iconic landmark in Cape Town.  You see it everywhere you travel around Cape Town.  

My prior time going to the top of Table Mountain was when I was a child.  Then, the cable car was a less sturdy looking device.  Based on a website recounting the history of the cable car, I assume when my dad and I visited it, we rode the car identified as the First Cable Car.  The newest iteration of cable car is much sleeker and sound.  Despite my fear of heights, I rode the cable car with no apprehension at all.  The small nob you see at the top is the cable car station.

And, here I sit with my husband on rocks at the top of Table Mountain.

Not the same rock, to be sure, but here's proof that I sat on the rocks atop Table Mountain once before--with my dad, some time in the early 1950s.

Most people identify almost any part of Africa as a place with animals.  Growing up, I did see lots of animals--more, actually, than we saw on our recent trip.  One animal that is still seemingly present everywhere is the baboon.  Oh, yes, I recall baboons from my childhood.

As we drove various places, baboons could be seen along side or even on the roads.  One baboon had found a beer bottle, which he cradled jealously, and kept from the other baboons in the troop.  The photo below is one our son-in-law took.  He was seated on the side of the car with the best view.  Travelers are sternly warned: 1) not to open car doors as the baboons know no fear; 2) not to feed the baboons; and 3) not to harm the baboons which are a protected species.  We saw people whose job was to mind the baboons, and warn cars to slow down.  I wondered if the people told their friends they were in "monkey business." 

Finally, many of my childhood memories involve lovely flowers and interesting birds.  The flowers shown were in Kirstenbosch Gardens, a lovely large park adjacent to Cecil Rhodes' Cape Town estate of Kirstenbosch. 

The bird is the blue crane which is the South African national bird.  Kind of an odd looking bird, if you ask me.

But the most scene reminiscent of my childhood were the African skies.  I kept thinking of Paul Simon's song "Under African Skies" as I looked at the endless sky unfurling around me.

Not all the scenes in South Africa are as lovely--I will share some of my sadness in another post.


NCmountainwoman said...

How wonderful to travel to the places of your childhood. I loved the photographs and the narrative. I especially enjoyed the little red-haired barefoot you on the rock with your father.

Somehow the baboons look sinister to me and I wouldn't like to be around them.

Ironically enough, I was just listening to N'Kosi Sikelel'i Afrika performed by Paul Simon, Miriam Makeba and Ladysmith Black Mambazo. I tuned it again when I read your post.

JeanMac said...


Ginnie said...

I loved the comparison shots of you sitting atop the rocks. What an amazing journey !

Murr Brewster said...

Oh, how lovely to remember childhood bougainvillea and baboons! I seem to recall poison ivy and mosquitoes. You know, similar.

KGMom said...

NC-I no longer go barefoot. It was fun as a kid, but I have had one or two painful times of tramping on something sharp. I think part of the sinister look comes from the very elongated face. We humans like rounder faces more.

Jean--thank you.

Ginnie--I too like the "then" and "now" photos.

Murr--oh, Murr. Those must have been some really LARGE fleas--did they too sit in the middle of the road and clutch beer bottles?

Anvilcloud said...

It's nice to see all KGM, especially the lovely jacaranda blossoms, which are new to me.

Mauigirl said...

Wonderful pictures and scenery. I love the two pictures of you and your dad and you and your husband on top of the rocks. I've never been to South Africa or Zimbawe and would love to go one day.

Anonymous said...

Oh, I love these photos! The flowers are beautiful! The rows of jacaranda trees...oh, my! Do those large blossoms have a scent?

The blue crane... what a narrow neck for such a funny shaped head! Are they common?

Ruth said...

I am enjoying your African tour...