Ok, I think I had gotten up to Sunday night in my last post, which brings us to…
Monday, May 28. We all woke up on time and headed out the door around 9 for the Hartbeespoort Dam. The ride to the dam was uneventful and we made it safely there a little before 10. We got out and walked to the scenic overlook. It was windy and being cold did nothing to improve my spirits. I am not a fan of going to the dam as it is high up and the kids like to hang over the railing and it makes my stomach do a million flip-flops. We took some pictures, and after checking out the green goo they were cleaning on the not-so-scenic side of the road, we piled back into the car and headed to Chameleon Village.
If you have never been to Chameleon Village, I do not really know how to describe it to you. It's like a giant flea market with loads of vendors and tiny stalls all crammed under a giant tent. You will quickly notice that many of the vendors are selling the exact same items and they all want to give you the "best price" for "you my friend". Some of them will follow you up and down the aisles as you try to take in all the options and start thinking of what you might like to buy for yourself or what you'd like to buy for someone else. If you stop at a stall and look at an item, or, heaven forbid, you pick up an item, you will be followed around by a vendor with that item telling you they will give you the best price and insisting that you come back to their shop to make a purchase.
We have been to Chameleon Village on numerous occasions and it can still be a bit overwhelming at times. Grandma Karen had never been there before and I am thinking she would be glad to never make a return visit! We finally stopped to eat lunch so that she could just sit and try to think about some of the things she had seen and what she might like to buy without the pressure of all the different vendors shoving stuff in her face or asking her to name her best price.
After lunch, things were a little less chaotic as we all had a better idea of what we wanted to come home with and there were also more tourists milling around, which took some of the pressure off of us. We gave the kids each about $6 US and told them they could spend it on whatever they wanted. Those two blonde heads were flying up and down the aisles, talking to vendors, negotiating prices and changing their minds no less than 50 times. Our little Jori was an especially astute shopper and was determined to get the most for her money. She was making the vendors laugh at her small size and big ideas, but she did come away with a lot of little treasures; a necklace with 2 hearts, a butterfly necklace, a beaded bracelet and a small beaded flower. I tried to give her a lot of freedom to make her own choices, but was trying to steer her away from so much jewelry as I was pretty sure she was going to want something she could play with. I was right, but it was a good lesson for our little shopper to learn. Tyson used his money to buy a large beaded spider and a small beaded chameleon. He had R10 left to buy his own bottle of pop the next day.
Grandma Karen made a lot of purchases and Israel made quite a few as well, but I won't say a thing about them as I don't want to spoil any surprises! I came away happiest of all as I found a nativity set made from banana leaves that had so many small details on it. I found it, brought Darin over to do the negotiating, and was able to give the vendor a big thumbs up when I walked past and he told me my husband had just made me a nice purchase. I also found a beaded owl, which sucked me in with its giant wire eyes. It makes a lovely accompaniment to the beaded guinea hen that my parents bought me in Cape Town a few years ago. Darin didn't come away empty handed as he found a wooden statue of an old man with a big belly that he just had to have. Tyson keeps saying "You made a fat choice", which is a very good thing according to our boy.
After a long, and somewhat stressful and overwhelming day of shopping, we headed back across the dam and made our way home. The kids and I ran into Jubilee to get some groceries while Darin, Karen and Israel went on to Mama Cathrine's to say goodbye to her. After getting back home, Karen and Israel went across the road to help with the dinnertime routine and spend some more time with the kids. We had potato soup for dinner and, once the kids were in bed, spent some time talking about more grown up things. So ends Monday.
Tuesday-We did not have a lot planned on Tuesday. Darin and Tyson had to go to Mama Cathrine's as new fencing material was going to be delivered later in the week and there were preparations that needed to be made for that. On his way out of town, he dropped me off across the road to get my baby fix. Jori kept her Grandma busy with lots of jumping on the trampoline and playing cards and she had fun playing with Israel too, which is a lot harder to do when the two boys were together.
After we were all back home, we decided to head a few doors down to Tamboti Lodge to have some dessert. We ate out by a picnic table and the kids were so glad that they ALL got to order their own desserts and no one had to share. After dessert, we dropped Karen and Israel off across the road to say their goodbyes. This of course, did not happen, as a very persuasive Mama Mina said that she would not say goodbye until Karen came back the next morning J
Tuesday night came around and after eating a light dinner, the 3 kids and Grandma Karen kicked Darin and I out of the living room and started their movie night/slumber party. They had three big packages of candy and a bottle of Mirinda(orange pop) to keep them company while they watched Despicable Me. Darin and I were relegated to our bedroom where we started a new season of 24. About 45 minutes, mouthfuls of candy, pop and popcorn later, Tyson came running into our room saying he was going to throw up. Thankfully he did not actually do so, but he did have quite a tummy ache from eating so much party food. Around this same time, the kids' computer started acting up and their movie watching time was done. They moved into Grandma Karen's room where Tyson fell into bed and covered his head with the blanket. Grandma, Israel and Jori sat on the bed and played games and told silly stories. Tyson finally started feeling better and the three kids entertained Grandma with their ghost stories until they all got tired and finally fell asleep around 9:30.
Wednesday-Morning came bright and early for Grandma Karen as Tyson and Jori woke up at 5! Grandma cuddled with them on their mattress and Jori fell asleep while Tyson wiggled next to her for the next couple hours. Quality time!
Darin took Grandma and Israel back across the road around 9:30 to spend some more time with the kids and say goodbye. This is never a fun thing to do as those little ones have a way of just working their way right into your heart. After saying many goodbyes, everyone came back home and Grandma did some more packing while the kids played, argued and played some more. The late night and early morning was definitely catching up with them! Thankfully they did manage to keep themselves busy for a while so the adults could visit and relax out in the sun. It's always hard when you know you'll be heading to the airport soon and you're trying to just slow time down and enjoy being together.
We headed to the airport around 2, stopping to pick up some Rooibos Tea and Biltong(South African style beef jerky) for Karen to take back to Minnesota. After running around between terminal A and B a bit more than we had planned, we finally had everyone checked in and were able to sit down for an early dinner together at Mugg and Bean. Then it was time to say goodbye, which is always the worst part of any visit. Grandma did a great job of holding it together until she was in the security line. Having Tyson holler out "Why are you crying?" helped put a smile back on her face. Israel was looking like he could fall over asleep at any minute, which is probably a good thing when you're getting ready to begin a 18 hour flight! Then it was time to go. Our kids held hands as we walked back to our car and kept saying that they were probably going to be crying in their beds.
Grandma and Israel, we are SO glad you were able to come and visit us in South Africa. Thank you for being so interested in our lives out here and stepping right in and helping out in so many different ways. We're so glad we could share these 3 weeks with you and hope that you have lots of good stories to share with everyone back in the US. We love you!!