Things I Wanted To Do In 2016 – Did I?

Things I Wanted To Do In 2016 – Did I?

“Far away there in the sunshine are my highest aspirations. I may not reach them, but I can look up and see their beauty, believe in them, and try to follow where they lead.” Louisa May Alcott

Drink less coffee. Nope

Get more real instagram followers. (travelwellflysafe) A few

Go to Amsterdam. Yes

Go to Anne Frank’s House. Yes

Go to the Van Gogh Museum. Yes

See the tulips. Yes

Meditate everyday.  Have to add this one again.

Train my new puppy. Still doing that.

Be the Pack Leader this time. Nope

Spend more time with my friends.  think I will add this one again-busy year.

Be grateful everyday. Yes

Do more art things in LA. Same

Stretch. Trying

Do more yoga. Less

Go To Paris.Yes

Visit my god-daughter. Yes in Israel.

Go to South Africa.Yes

Go on a game drive.Yes

See the big five.Yes

Be brave. Trying

Hike up Table Mountain. Yes on up Table Mountain

Visit the townships.Yes

Go to Capetown.Yes

Go to Johannesburg.Yes

See my daughter get married.Yes

Fly safe,


Things I Have Learned In Capetown, South Africa

Things That I Have Learned In Capetown, South Africa

“Visit Cape Town and history is never far from your grasp. It lingers in the air, a scent on the breezy, an explanation of circumstance that shaped the Rainbow People. Stroll around the old downtown and it’s impossible not to be affected by the trials and tribulations of the struggle. But, in many ways, it is the sense of triumph in the face of such adversity that makes the experience all the more poignant.” Tahir Shah

Capetown was founded in 1652 when Jan Van Riebeeck (an employee of the Dutch East India company) arrived to established a way-station for ships traveling to the Dutch East Indies.

The Port of Cape Town is deemed to be one of the busiest shipping corridors in the world.

Though Capetown  has incredible weather, Table Mountain can be cloudy. We ascended via cable car ( you can hike) to clear skies.


It was the ultimate view of the city.


Table Mountain alone has over 1,500 species of plants, more than the entire United Kingdom.


The top of Table Mountain is relatively flat and easy to explore.  The views are wildly different in each area and It’s fun to walk around.


It did feel a bit like being on another planet and seeing your closest friends there.


We were lucky to see the sunset on a clear day.


Table Mountain’s peak, Lion’s Head has not seen a lion for over 200 years. After once thriving in the area, and no doubt giving their name to the smallest peak at the western tip of the mountain, the last lion was shot in 1802. Leopards followed in the 1820s, but the area is still home to some  nocturnal cats. These include the small Lynx-type Caracal, and the far rarer African Wild Cat. It’s a good morning or sunset hike for those in good physical condition. 


Bo-Kaap  is the city’s Muslim quarter, known for its brightly painted houses in shades of lime, fuchsia, and turquoise.


it is also the best place to try Cape Malay cuisine.


Uthando is a nonprofit company that oversees many different community projects in the townships in South Africa. Uthando raises money and awareness for the many projects they fund through these tours. You are driven through very poor areas in the townships directly to these programs. I highly recommend it in Capetown.  For more info read my my blog.


Cape Town has an estimated population of 3.5 million people and its the 2nd biggest city in South Africa (behind Johannesburg.

La Colombe is Oprah’s favorite restaurant in Capetown. Make reservations in advance.  it was also my favorite restaurant in Capetown but I didn’t try Test Kitchen. (fois gras)


An hour’s drive from Capetown are the wine lands.


Franschoek and Stellenbosch are two  favorite regions.


Camp’s Bay, nestled just below the Twelve Apostles mountain range, is the perfect chic and trendy beach town to visit.


Camps Bay Retreat  in a nature reserve across the street from the beach is a great place to stay.


Dogs are allowed off lead at Camps Bay Beach before 9am. It is so much fun to see what a great time they have there. I walked on this beautiful beach every morning before nine.


If you are in Capetown on a Saturday morning a visit to the Neighbor Goods Market at the Old  Biscuit Mill should not be missed. It features a range of food stalls, fresh produce, and crafts and clothing for sale.


I tried fresh dried biltong for the first time here. Its amazing  – it definitely has a higher fat content then American dried meat. It’s too good.


Afterward take a street art tour of the nearby Woodstock  neighborhood with Juma Mkwela a local street artist and guide. ( . Socially conscious artists from South Africa and beyond have joined forces to help spruce up, and add color to the poorer parts of this neighborhood.


V&A Waterfront has to great hotels, restaurants, an aquarium, a Ferris wheel, and a gargantuan shopping mall with African crafts.

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It is the most visited tourist destination on the continent.


Boulder Beach is home to a colony of African penguins.


I’m not going lie it was the first thing we did when we got to Capetown.


Who doesn’t love penguins on a beach? I could have gone twice.


We stopped for lunch and shopping at Kalky’s.



We continued on to the Cape of Good Hope.


As we learned in Elementary School, Cape Point is the end of the world – the most southern point in Africa.



And it has baboons who will take any food or water you have on you.



On the way back navigation decided that we should take the beautiful Chapman’s Peak Drive on the west coast.I love a good road trip with friends and family.  It had huge cliffs dropping down to the turquoise sea and crazy bends and turns with more lookouts and views than you could ever hope for.


Capetown  is one of the most beautiful cities.


Fly safe,



Following Nelson Mandela In South Africa, Robben Island, Capetown

Following Nelson Mandela In South Africa   Robben Island, Capetown 

“During my lifetime I have dedicated myself to this struggle of the African people. I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”  Nelson Mandela 20 April 1964

I had a lump in my throat when I heard that Mandela had died.  Now that life has taught me how hard it is to truly forgive and make amends with our own private struggles, I had no words to describe how I felt that day.

When Mandela became president he set out to repair a brutalized nation. Within five years, South Africa was reinvented from a country with UN sanctions against it, to the Rainbow Nation. No other leader has achieved such a remarkable change of direction in so short a time.He led his nation on the long walk to freedom and reconciliation and we watched and joined in the joy that such a change was possible.

South Africa was back on the map. It had become a major tourist destination and I wanted to know as much about this great man as I could learn during my visit.

Nelson Mandela was born in the Eastern Cape and grew up in Qunu. There are tours, museums and memorials showing his childhood. In Mthathta there is the Nelson Mandela Museum which has different sectors in the villages where he lived.

My trip started at Robben Island where Mandela had been imprisoned for 18 years.  I had heard it was run down, the boats weren’t good and that parts of it were too long. i wanted to see this piece of history and form my own opinion.The tour sells out quickly so it is good to get tickets in advance.


It was a beautiful Capetown day. I enjoyed the ferry ride talking to someone who worked on the boat. He said some of them were the original boats used to transport the prisoners.


The views of Table Mountain and Capetown are spectacular.


Upon arriving, I was immediately surprised by how big the island actually was. I was picturing it more like Alcatraz.  Ex-political prisoners act as tour guides and many live on the island with their families Their school was recently closed so the kids have to take the ferry back and forth every day. A lot off times the ferry doesn’t go out because of the wind.


Our prison tour guide was very friendly and informative.   It was hard to hear and understand a lot of what he was saying. Luckily, I was there with my great Capetown guide  Lazarus ( http://www.wilderness-touring.comwho explained a lot to me and to everyone who asked him questions. 


The prison itself was quite impactful on its own.


  It was dark,sad, and disheartening to be there and to hear the stories of how these prisoners were treated


He took us back into the prison and into the Maximum Security wing, where the senior ANC members were held. Mandela was amongst them. The cells are tiny. No more than 6 feet square, with just a thin mattress, a bookcase, a stool and a bucket.

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Suddenly it was my turn to stand right in front of Nelson Mandela’s cell where he spent 18 years of his life. I was standing  in front of the place where a terrible wrong had been committed.


Our tour guide liked my hat. It was from my Viet Nam trip with the red star of the Viet Cong and was one of my favorite hats. He had given the tour with dignity and humility and spoke without resentment about his time in prison. Hat hair was a small price to pay for the surprised smile on his face when I handed it to him on the way out. I bought another hat there with Mandela’s prison number on it that i wore for the rest of my trip.


After the prison, you take a bus ride around the island. It’s very pretty with great views. We saw some whales. We passed the limestone quarry where prisoners, including Nelson Mandela himself, were forced to break up the stone and work with it all day long. A lot of the work they were doing most of the time was pointless, they were instructed to carry the limestone from one end of the quarry to the other just to keep them busy and keep them working. The prisoners had no tools or protective gear when working with the rock, resulting in major vision problems for many of the prisoners due to the sun reflecting off of the lightly-colored limestone. This is why photographers were never allowed to use flash when photographing Nelson Mandela in his later years.

In the centre of the quarry is a small cairn – this was started when Mandela. On his first visit back to the island in 1995,he  placed a single rock in the centre in memory of all the prisoners and said he’d return each year to add one more stone until all the ex-prisoners had died. Others who were with him then added to the pile and it will continue until all have passed on.


On the ferry back, i thought about the Robben Island Bible.  I had seen it in an exhibiton in London. The book’s owner, South African Sonny Venkatrathnam, was a political prisoner on Robben Island from 1972 to 1978.  The prisoners were briefly allowed to have one book in their cell. He asked his wife to send him a book of Shakespeare’s complete works, Venkatrathnam passed the book to a number of his fellow political prisoners,  Each of them marked their favorite passage in the book and signed it with the date. There are thirty-two signatures, including those of Walter Sisulu, Nelson Mandela, Govan Mbeki, Ahmed Kathrada and Mac Maharaj, all luminaries in the struggle for a democratic South Africa.

The selection of text provides fascinating insight into the minds of those political prisoners who fought for the transformation of South Africa. It also speaks to the power of Shakespeare’s resonance with the human spirit.

Mandela chose a passage from Julius Caesar — just before the Roman statesman leaves for the senate on the Ides of march: “Cowards die many times before their deaths/The valiant never taste of death but once.”

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I was glad I had gone to the place where Mandela and others epitomize the triumph of the human spirit over adversity. Did they ever think that one day it would look like this?


Fly safe,


The Time Is Ixnau – Street Art In Capetown, South Africa

The Time Ixnau  – Street Art In Capetown, South Africa

“Graffiti is beautiful; like a brick in the face of a cop.” Hunter S. Thompson

Woodstock is a creative changing area of Capetown.


After enjoying lunch and shopping at the Old Biscuit Mill, (a Saturday market of food, crafts and neighborhood goods) I took a street art tour with Juma Mkwela a  local street artist and 


Juma was born in Malawi and lived in Zimbabwe. He is now an established Capetown street artist and craftsman who leads  walking tours of the murals in Woodstock.


Woodstock is a canvas for some interesting street art.


The area where the artists paint is a little poorer and rougher but there is gentrification going on all around.


Juma is friends with everyone so there are no safety worries when you are with him.


International street artists such as  Masai (UK), AEC Interesni Kazki (Ukraine), Pure Evil (UK), Remed (Spain), Gaia (USA), JAZ (Argentina), Know Hope (Israel), Makatron (Australia) have painted here.  (interesni Kazki – Ukraine)


There are also murals by Cape Town based artists including Faith47 (ZA), DALeast (China), Urbanski (Germany), Freddy Sam (ZA), Nard Star (ZA) and Indi Go (Canada) and Kasi. (Kasi, Nard Star)




The artists  showcase issues such as the rich poor divide,  climate change, the poaching of endangered wildlife and exploitation of the  natural resources (such as diamonds).


They need permission from the residents to paint on the walls.


Street Art has a historical meaning  in South Africa because during Apartheid it was one of the  ways people had to express their anger.


It was a visual act of defiance and rebellion.


Socially conscious artists from South Africa and beyond have joined forces to help spruce up, and add color to the  poorer parts of this neighborhood.


The philosophy behind the murals is motivated by the belief that art can aid in the social and economic regeneration of dilapidated, gang blighted urban areas.

DSC00898The time is ixnau.


Fly safe,


Visiting Community Projects In The Townships In Capetown, South Africa With Uthando

Visiting Community Projects In The Townships In Capetown With Uthando

“With love and joy, have happiness. “ Xolani from Uthando

Townships are holdovers from apartheid, when non-whites were forced to live in large communities. All townships around South Africa evolved over time, many of them turning into small cities. Unlike a real city though, townships lack key aspects of infrastructure, like sewage, universal running water, and well-organized electrical grids. Townships still exist today, but they’re changing and many have distinct sections of middle-class people as well as the very poor. There is most definitely poverty in a township, but that poverty doesn’t define the experience.

I feel as a middle class white woman that when I travel it is my responsibility to raise my awareness about how ninety per cent of the world lives. My visit to a township will not save anyone from poverty. It will probably not change anyone’s life – except my own.

I was going to be in Capetown with friends and family and I found Uthando ( on the internet. Uthando is a nonprofit company that oversees many different community projects in the townships In South Africa. I was interested  in going but was a bit concerned. There has recently been criticism about this new kind of tourism where visitors are feeling enriched by going to the townships and gawking at the poor standard of living. Uthando is different. Uthando raises money and awareness for the many projects they fund through these tours. You are driven through very poor areas in the townships directly to these programs.

I went with my daughter and some of her friends. We were lucky enough to visit a few programs. We started in Guguletsu. We went to the Zama Dance school. It is run by professional ballet dancers and is in one of the nicest dance spaces I’ve seen. The dancers are focused and trying really hard to follow the strict rules and postures of ballet.


We  continued on to the Seniors Project. The women proudly showed us their intricate  handicrafts and their beautiful center. Creating their interesting pieces and interacting with tourists gave them confidence, self-respect, some income and a voice.


Xolisa is in charge of the  Isikhokelo Primary School Garden Project.


He loves gardening and is teaching the community to grow their own food.


Amy Biehl was an American student from Stanford University who was murdered in Capetown while working against apartheid. Her family and friends started the Amy Biehl Foundation  in Khayelitsha to continue her work and help at risk children in the townships. We came after school and there were incredible music, dance, singing and acting programs going on. The kids were really talented. I was blown away by the fact that they were rehearsing Merchant Of Venice.


There was energetic African dancing, incredibly beautiful voices in the choral class and  excellent musicians.


After school programs like these promote self-discovery, problem-solving skills, opportunities for positive risk taking, mastery of artistic skills and resiliency.


James Fernie, the director of Uthando, took us around. It is amazing that he has been able to incorporate so many small community programs into his organization.


We only saw a few of them.


One person cannot change the world alone. Development is a much larger and involved process. We are more likely to have small impacts than world-changing ones. I strongly urge anyone going to Capetown to contact Uthando and spend a half day with them.


Whether I choose to experience the poverty and see what people like James Fernie of Uthando are doing to help or not, we still all occupy the same planet. We are all human beings. My responsibility as a fellow citizen of this world  is the same, whether I choose to see it and acknowledge it, help in any way I can, or do nothing.

Fly safe,


How To Bring A Wedding Dress From Los Angeles to Kruger National Park, South Africa (A cell phone documentation)

How To Bring A Wedding Dress From Los Angeles To Kruger National Park, South Africa
(A cell phone documentation)

“Even the elephant carries but a small trunk on his journeys. The perfection of traveling is to travel without baggage.” Henry David Thoreau

I met up with the WD in Paris.


It had made the trip from LA. The WD had been packed with great care for the journey. The dress had already been through one security machine and one Air France closet.


The bride walked out carrying the hanger high above her head with one arm. The dress was draped over her back. She wanted no help.


We had a 12 hour layover in Paris until our next flight. The dress hung in a hotel closet while we had lunch and saw Versailles and the Louis Vuitton Foundation. The dress was happy. (Louis Vuitton Foundation designed by Frank Gehry)


In the airport in Paris I noticed the bride’s arm had dropped a bit and the bottom of the dress was dragging on the floor. The bag was getting a bit dirty. The bride decided it was now to be a two person job. The mother of the bride was happy.

The dress went through a second security machine. ( In pre 9/11 travel this would not have happened) The mother of the bride was nervous but did not say anything.

We land in Johannesburg and change to South African Airways.


The mood is festive. People start calling out “Is that my dress? Are you bringing this to me? Am I invited to the wedding?” There is a discussion at security as to the best way to put the dress through the machine safely. They straighten the bag carefully before it goes through. I’m beginning to see that a wedding dress in Africa is important business. We lay the dress on a bench carefully in the airport lounge. When no one is looking I open up the dress and check it. Three security machines are a lot to go through. The dress is fine.


The mother and the mother in law are now both carrying assistants and happy to be doing it. The stewardess on South African Airways decides that the best place will be to lay it flat in the overhead compartment and moves the luggage so the dress can lie flat.

We arrive in Capetown and rent cars. The dress rides in the bigger one and reaches the hotel in Capetown quickly and unscathed. The other car is lost.


The dress rests in the closet for a week in Capetown and prepares for its final flight to Skukusa.


There is one more airport and security machine to go.  Everyone is excited.


The maid of honor has arrived and is carrying the dress with the bride.


The dress waits quietly for the most important moment of its life as the rest of us eat breakfast in the airport.


We land in Skukusa.


It is a a very different kind of airport.


The luggage is loaded one last time.


The dress goes on its final portion of the journey on the back of a jeep for an hour through Kruger National Park. (Under the groom’s suit for protection.)

The dress sees its first elephant up close in Africa and realizes that it is a long way from Vera Wang.


Fly Safe,


Ten Reasons To Visit South Africa

“If I know a song of Africa, of the giraffe and the African new moon lying on her back, of the plows in the fields and the sweaty faces of the coffee pickers, does Africa know a song of me? Will the air over the plain quiver with a color that I have had on, or the children invent a game in which my name is, or the full moon throw a shadow over the gravel of the drive that was like me, or will the eagles of the Ngong Hills look out for me?” Karen Blixen

Some of the greatest game viewing opportunities in the world are in South Africa. The chance to see the Big Five (Buffalo, Elephant, Rhino, Lion and Leopard) in their natural habitat is hard to ignore. The Big Five together with a wide range of other wildlife species can be found in more than 20 national wildlife reserves and many private game parks. Who knew the big five meant animals?

I love penguins. It surprised me that there are penguin colonies in Africa. The African penguin (or jackass penguins) are found on Boulder Beach near Cape Town in the Western Cape province of South Africa.

The flat top of Table Mountain shapes the skyline of Capetown. It is the icon of South Africa and voted one of the new Seven Wonders of Nature. It is one of the oldest mountains in the world and of the planet’s twelve main energy centers, radiating magnetic or spiritual energy.

Robben Island is where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for 18 years. Mandela always carried himself as a human being while fighting injustice and inequality, The island is a piece of South African history and tours are given by former prisoners.

The Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg tells the Emotional story of South African discrimination by color and the fight to overcome it.

The townships in South Africa are the underdeveloped urban non white areas. Currently there are many programs to help develop the townships and I hope to see them.

The wineries of Capetown are known for world-class vintages and beautiful scenery. Though I’m not a big drinker, I do love visiting wineries when I travel. South African wines are really popular in California.

I love African choral music in the style of Ladysmith Black Mambazo. I hope to hear several of these traditional groups,

The rainbow nation, the unique complex history of South Africa,the diverse demographics, the people and interesting animals result in delicious dishes which are distinctly South African. Let the eating begin.

My daughter is getting married there.

Fly Safe,