Thursday, May 17, 2012

Zip Lines and the Shangaan


Wednesday morning/early afternoon: We started out a little later this morning and headed out around 8 instead of before 6, which was a bit more manageable. We headed towards the Blyde River area, which should sound familiar as we were in the same area with my parents back in October. Our first stop was the Pinnacle. I was just as unenthusiastic about my kids standing near a ledge with no railing as I was the last time we were there.

We piled back in the car and headed to God’s Window. It was about 30 degrees cooler than it had been in October, which gave us all a bit more energy to keep going up the stairs until we reached the rainforest. It was well worth the walk! The whole landscape changed as we kept walking higher and the trees and greenery were lusher. The kids had a fun time climbing on rocks and walking over wooden foot bridges. The view from the top was amazing!

We hiked back down, piled in the car again and headed to Bourke’s Luck Potholes. This is a great place to visit with kids. Tyson, Jori and Israel kept busy trying to catch water bugs and looking for gold in the pools of water. Both boys got pretty wet, so we stripped Tyson down and had him run around in his undies in an effort to dry his clothes out. Karen found a flat rock and took a little rest in the sun. We walked out over a different bridge than we had come in on and the views were just incredible. We went out to the picnic area and had some lunch then did a little browsing in the crafters area. It was after noon by now and we had a big night planned, so we headed out for our cottage, but first we had one more stop to make…


Wednesday Afternoon: We drove through Graskop on the way back to our cottage, which is where we stayed with my mom and dad. In addition to our former lodgings being located there, Graskop is also home to the Big Swing and Zip Line. Tyson was very eager to go on the zip line and re-conquer his fear and Jori was hoping that she’d be big enough to take her own zip across the gorge this time around. As their mother, I was less than eager for either of my babies to be hanging over a deep ravine with only some straps and buckles holding them on to a piece of cable.

We walked out to the launching area and the man in charge said Jori was big enough. Grandma Karen told both kids she would pay for their zip line ride as part of their birthday presents, so it was settled. Tyson went first and Mr. No Fear got harnessed up and had run off the platform almost without our being aware that he was going. Once again he gave his zip line experience a huge thumbs up. Israel was next. He was a little nervous, but determined to take part in a big adventure. He ran off the platform and was soon waving at us from over the gorge. He came back saying “That was so easy. Why would anyone be afraid of that!” Little Jori was next. I kept telling Darin to make sure the guy was pulling her harness tight enough. She was all smiles and happy to pose for pictures. Jori was so small and light that the guy had to hold her up to get her hooked up to the cable and she couldn’t really run off, but was kind of just carried away, off the platform and over the ravine. I could hardly stand to watch her, but she was waving and smiling and having a load of fun. She came back full of grins. All three kids were begging to go again, but one time for each was about all that Grandma Karen and I could handle!


We headed back to our cottage for some downtime. Karen and I both slept and Darin tried getting the kids to rest, but they ended up outside playing, but not for long…

Wednesday Late Afternoon/Evening: We headed out for a 20 minute drive to the Shangana Cultural Village. This was something we had been planning for a couple months and had only told the kids about the day before. The Shangaan are a local tribe/people group and they have a cultural center where they do dancing, singing and prepare a traditional meal. We arrived a little before 5, and soon were eating our appetizers; sweet corn on the cob, peanuts, impala and Mopani worms. Darin, Karen and I all tried the worm. It was not the best thing I’ve ever eaten, but if I was hungry I would eat it again, but I’d have to be pretty hungry! We then headed down to the kraal, which is a fenced in area of huts, of the chief. We met the chief, learned how to say a few words in Shangaan, and heard about traditional tribal life.

Next we headed to a larger kraal for the singing and dancing. It was so fun to watch. There was a group of young people dressed in traditional outfits. They sang and danced to act out the history of the Shangaan people. The chief was sitting in a “throne” watching the performance. During one of the dances they came down and pulled people from the audience. Tyson and Jori both went out. It was fun to watch them try to copy the moves. Jori was especially into it. We also did some drumming and singing as a group.

Then we split into groups for the meal. We sat on a stone bench without a table and the meal was served family style. The chief was in our group and Jori went over and sat by him for a while. She just really liked the chief. The girl who was serving us our meal asked if Jori wanted to be his 3rd wife : ) She said no. The food was SO good. We had chicken, potatoes and carrots in one pot, cabbage and carrots in another, pap, samp with peanuts, pumpkin, homemade bread and green salad. It was all just so good. Even the kids were pretty good about trying different things. For dessert they served apple and banana chunks on a skewer.


We finished eating, then headed back to our seats to watch the end of the program. The dancing was a lot faster paced now and there were some younger boys who were dancing as well. One was really chubby and he did not seem to know any of the routines. He’d just look at the other people and try to follow what they were doing, but was also a few moves behind. We soon found out why he was part of the performance, because they had him dance on his own and he was hilarious! If you’ve seen little African kids really get down, you will be able to picture it, but if not, you’d better hope Darin can get a video uploaded sometime soon.

It was a long night and we didn’t get back to our cottage til after 8. The kids went straight to bed and fell asleep right away. Tomorrow we plan to head back out to Kruger, but we plan to get a later start and then stay in the park til closer to dusk. We’ll be back tomorrow to let you know how it goes!

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