Weaver birds, braai, Union buildings and sunset

Trip Start Mar 14, 2006
1
152
241
Trip End Mar 15, 2007


Loading Map
Map Options
Show trip route
Hide lines
shadow

Flag of South Africa  ,
Sunday, September 10, 2006

From about 3 in the morning I was entertained with the sound of birdsong. It was really lovely and not bothersome at all. I can, of course, identify none of them by sound other than the "haw-di-daw" which my cousin pointed out to me yesterday.

I woke up before the rest of the household and sat outside and admired the profusion of flowers and plants. Tried to do justice to shadows of ferns and palms against the red brick fence. I watched the weaver bird again obtaining material for his nest. The bird flies in from the front of the house to the back where there are large palms. It went to the base of a palm frond and pecked away at the base, loosening a part of the frond. Then, holding onto the free end of the frond, it flew to the end of the frond, maybe a foot away, and basically stripped off a small piece of the frond. As the piece was still attached, the bird made a sort of hovering or fluttering motion a bit until the end of the frond breaks and the bird has another piece of 'weaving' for the nest. Then it went to the nest and, I assume, wove it into the nest. Fairly shortly it was back again for another piece. I must have watched this for about 2 hours. Quite fascinating.

We went out for a bit of a drive to look at stores. All are fully security protected and depending on the type of wares it sells, one has to ring first then someone comes along and unlocks to let you into the store. It is really quite weird to be so security conscious. Already feels quite confining.

From about noon my cousin's husband and her boys were starting the food for the braai. We had appies of "sassaties" (this is a Malay dish, I think, adopted into the South African culture over time), biltong (like beef jerky though was, I think, a wild beast), and marinated chicken for appies as well as boersvors sausages (grainy and dry but very good) and lamb chop. For dessert we had made a lovely strawberry dessert with whipped crème. It was very good.

That evening we took a drive round to the Union Buildings, which is where their legislature is. A quick history of SA is, I think, that there are three capitals one is the administrative capital, one the legislative and the third, judicial. Pretoria is the administrative capital and is where a lot of the diplomatic houses are. The Union (as in after the Civil War or Anglo-Boer War or, as we call it, the Boer War). The buildings are made of, I think, local sandstone and were built in about 1910. I think that Claude's father, who was ambassador to the US I think, had his offices.

I think Cape Town was the original Capital and that the Afrikaans Dutch would not accept that so trekked off to Pretoria. Then they discovered gold in Johannesburg and had to have another capital. The Union Buildings are pretty magnificent and seem to stretch for miles in both straight and curvy architecture. The two wings at the sides represent the Boerish and the English part of the population. The building's name comes from the time of the South African Union, which was only changed in 1961 to the current name, the Republic of South Africa. Since the first free and common elections in South Africa in 1994 the Union Building has been the residence of the presidency - today Thabo Mbeki - and his government. Parliament spends the winter months in Pretoria, during the summer months it changes to Cape Town.

While we were there there seemed to be all kinds of celebrations there (weddings, grads) and people walking in the beautifully landscaped park in front of the Buildings. There were, it seemed, weddings, grads, etc. Lots of young African folk and kids in their best clothes, flowers, etc. One group playing a guitar, others with cameras making a movie or doing a TV new item.

We then took a drive through a few of the hilly bits around Pretoria, which looks like it is both sedimentary and igneous. I think that in one direction is the Kruger Park and in the other is the old gorge so it has an interesting history. As we were driving, we saw a little Meer cat - most unusual, I gather. It was a cute little cat like thing but with a longer body and tail. As we moved up the hills, we were seeing the most magnificent sunset. At one point as I was taking a photo, my cousin's husband accompanied me even though it was only about 50 meters back to the car as he felt it was too dangerous for me in the deepening darkness to even step out of the car up here without an escort.

After a delicious dinner of home made soup we got something of an early night as we were all pretty bagged.
Slideshow Report as Spam

Use this image in your site

Copy and paste this html: