Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Tuesday, November 29, 2011


I mentioned that the other day we went to watch cricket at the Wanderers cricket ground in Illovo. In a stroke of sheer marketing brilliance, Weber set up an area where fans could buy meat for grilling (or, as they say here, 'braaing'), and use one of the dozens of Weber grills to cook their meal. South Africans are absolutely mad about their braais, so you can imagine that this area was jam-packed around lunch time.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Veld sunset

The landscape's sure different than Connecticut, but it can definitely be striking. I like the glowing shade of yellow of the grass turns at sunset.

Saturday, November 26, 2011


Here's one of the neatest bucks you'll see running around the bush outside the city. I love the kudus' curved horns. Aren't they amazing? Shame this guy isn't running around the bush anymore...

Friday, November 25, 2011

Macro neon

Here are a few close-ups of neon signs from a local pizza parlor. 

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Security aesthetics

I uploaded a few pics of security measures earlier, but felt it was worth showing that not all fences in South Africa are barbed or electrified. Here's an early morning shot of a fence outside a grand old home. 

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Shipyard workers

I spotted these guys during a previous visit to Cape Town. They were taking a break from their work dismantling a large ship in a shipyard near the V&A waterfront. I love color in unexpected places!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Cricket kids

The other day we went to day four of the South Africa vs. Australia cricket test match. Truthfully, I'll take baseball over cricket any day, but it was still a neat experience. Can you believe the games can go on for five days?! Sadly, South Africa lost after all that.    
Though I won't pretend to understand the intricacies of the game, I did notice dozens of kids scrambling around the perimeter of the field trying to get the players' signatures. I was really impressed that 1) the kids had the stamina to literally sprint circles around the enormous field all day, and 2) that the players would sign autographs in the middle of the game. Imagine a left fielder striding over to the side of the field after a play ended, and signing five or six baseballs before the next pitch! These guys seemed like real good sports about it.

As a kid, I was obsessed with ice hockey (go Hartford Whalers!), and would go to all the home games with my dad. Though it was a different sport, I completely see myself in these guys. I would dress up in my Whalers jersey, paint my face, and do just about anything to get the players to give me hockey pucks, or the camera man to put me on the giant screen. Sigh - those were the days.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Jacarandas in bloom

When I moved to Johannesburg in September, I'll admit I was a little disappointed to be missing the fall foliage in Connecticut, where I'm originally from. Imagine my surprise when, come October, trees all around the city turned bright purple when the Jacarandas bursted into blossom! They're still in bloom here in late November, and make a pretty decent substitute for the oranges and yellows of the New England autumn... 

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Groenkloof Biltong, Pretoria

Hi all, big apologies for the radio silence the past two days! Unfortunately the internet here has been playing up lately, making it tricky to upload pics. With things ticking a little faster this evening, I'm back in business!

A blog about South Africa wouldn't be complete without an intro to biltong! Though similar to jerky in that it's dried meat, biltong is in a league of its own. You can get it shredded, in sticks, seasoned, and made from beef, springbok, kudu... even ostrich. Truthfully it's not the most photogenic snack, but it's a safe bet that any decent South African get-together will feature a bowl of it. I thought this sign was a bit more attractive than a pic of shredded meat, but I'll try to get a better shot soon!

Friday, November 18, 2011

More geometry: parking garage

I have a special soft spot for interesting lines and geometry in photography. This shot comes from a parking garage nearby - the funny orange light and the lines caught my eye.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Chessboard shadows

I picked this photo today for no big reason other than I dig what the shadows were up to that afternoon.
We spotted this large wire chess set while wandering around the grounds of the Margaret Roberts Herbal Centre.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Inside the Monte Casino

Yesterday I mentioned that Fourways' Monte Casino was modeled after an Italian village. In fact, Dave from Costa Rica let me know that there is indeed a 'Monte Cassino' monastery in Italy! 

Here are a few shots from the interior of the casino. Pretty convincing, isn't it?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Silhouettes against Monte Casino's fountain

I snapped this shot last night while having dinner at the outdoor piazza of the Monte Casino in Fourways. Styled after an Italian village, the casino is the entertainment hub of the area, with comedy, bowling, live shows and of course, gambling. It also has a number of good restaurants. More photos of all that to come... 

Monday, November 14, 2011

Plants that scream: don't touch me!

Here's a collections of plants and flowers I've spotted lately that, well, don't make me want to pick them and bring them home to mom...

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Home Affairs: Don't Quit!

I recently had the pleasure of spending an entire day in the Pretoria Department of Home Affairs' waiting room. As with most government offices, it entailed around six hours (no kidding) of languishing in a waiting room, followed by a 15 minute interview. Pretty excruciating. At hour four, I notice this poem posted on the waiting room wall. Funny for two reasons: my highschool water polo coach gave our entire team the exact same poem years ago for motivation during tough practices. But even more funny: clearly someone else felt the same way about waiting for hours to get their residency permit!

I feel your pain, man. I'm hoping for a permit, too.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Melancholy lion, playful lion

The Lion Park near Lanseria has an enclosure where visitors can play with lion cubs. Here's a shot of one of the stars:

Looks a little melancholy, doesn't he? It's funny what removing color can do to the mood of a picture. In reality, this little guy was having an absolute ball. In fact, he and my fiance were fast friends and gave me a near heart attack while rough-housing:

True love means dragging an over-excited lion off your fiance as he's gnawing his leg... but no-one's perfect. I snapped a couple quick photos first:)

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Bean There coffee roasting

My dad asked about the ladder and buckets visible in yesterday's photo of my new favorite coffee shop. Turns out they're not an unfortunate decorative touch - the place uses an antique coffee roaster to roast their own coffee. Cool huh?

This guy was a good sport about me snapping photos while he went about his work.

Bean There

I'm convinced that one of the most important parts of a successful job hunt is finding the perfect coffee shop to park yourself for those long afternoons of web browsing and cover letter-writing.

It's taken me a while, but I'm pleased to report that I've found my shop! This is 'Bean There,' a fair trade coffee shop in Milpark's 44 Stanley shopping center. It's in a gorgeous, light space with exposed rafters, interesting decor, and its own old-fashioned roasting machine.

Looks like I've found my new home away from home... now for the job!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

South African Mount Rushmore?

...or sphinx?

Here's the last one from Sun City. Aparently this guy shoots flames or smoke every half hour or so. Truthfully, my timing was off, so I missed the show. Maybe next time.

Monkey Fountain

Here's another one from the Sun City water park, 'Valley of the Waves' from this past weekend. The entire place was designed with a very African theme - all the statues, fountains and other decor featured local animals and motifs. I particularly liked this fountain - water runs from the monkeys' outstretched hands. Pretty original, no?

Monday, November 7, 2011

Waterpark fun

With temperatures hovering around 30 degrees Celsius on a daily basis now, summer is getting hot in South Africa! To escape the heat this weekend, we took refuge at the Sun City water park, Valley of the Waves. With water slides, a wave pool, and a lazy river, it was a fantastic way to cool off. This little guy clearly felt the same way...

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Rock on, Lion.

Here is a photo snapped during a recent visit to the Lion Park northwest of Joburg. Indulge me here: I see a highschool couple at a Justin Bieber concert. Anyone else?

Friday, November 4, 2011

Hazy skyline

Not much of a story today, other than a hazy skyline and a bit of graffiti. Truthfully, the city's air gets pretty murky, but the crazy thunderstorms do a nice job of clearing it up from time to time. We're clearly overdue for a storm in this photo...

The hard working guy, himself!

One of my earlier posts showed weaver nests and described the hard work put in by the lovelorn male birds. I spotted this guy hard at work the other day. Hopefully the little lady found the nest acceptable!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Cape Dutch Architecture

Apologies for the delay today - I've been having 'technical difficulties' with the internet until now. Today I thought I'd share a nice example of classic South African architecture. The style, called 'Cape Dutch' is a remnant of the Dutch settlers, or Boers. 

This manor house has been converted to a community centre and library. Not a bad place to job hunt!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The Design Quarter

The Design Quarter is a nice shopping center in the Fourways neighborhood in Joburg. It's home to my favorite yoga studio, plenty of nice design agencies, home decor places, and outdoor dining.
(Dad, I think you'd love it.)

Tuesday, November 1, 2011


South Africa is a complex country, full of stark contrasts. Sure, there are fences and walls, but there are also vast expanses of beautiful, open country. We spotted this lovely sunset on a recent roadtrip. 

Monday, October 31, 2011

Barbed wire and concrete

Security is an ever-present concern in South Africa, as it is in most places with wide income disparity. In practice, it means that most homes and businesses are protected by substantial fencing and private security companies. For example, here's a photo of the barbed wire surrounding the water tower I posted earlier this month:

Though I wouldn't argue with the necessity of these measures in many instances, it certainly does have a noticeable impact on the country's psyche and aesthetics. More to come on security in future posts, I'd imagine.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

A violent event in a Woolworths parking lot

Today, I'm breaking the trend of fairly idyllic imagery on this blog to share a rather violent story that we witnessed a few weeks back. I've been a little torn over how (and whether) to present it but I finally decided to give it a try, because a blog that shows only birdhouses and lawn bowling in Johannesburg wouldn't be telling the whole story.

As we watched the South Africa vs. Australia rugby game a few Sundays back, a commotion broke out in the parking lot. A group of men had pulled another man out of a moving car and were hitting him pretty hard. Rumors circulated that the man being attacked had tried to steal a car and had been caught by the parking lot guards. The general consensus was disbelief - I've been told that in general, parking lot guards tend to be rather disengaged from their job, mainly hanging around parking lots and collecting the occasional rand for helping drivers find a free space. To most present, it appeared to be beyond belief that a guard would step in front of a moving car to stop a theft.

The police arrived just minutes later in full force, followed shortly after by ambulances. They packed the man into the back of the police truck.

As the game ended and distraught Springbok fans headed for their cars to go home, more details about the commotion emerged. The guards had responded so brutally not in response to a car theft, but rather to stop a man who had moments earlier stabbed a woman - thought to be his girlfriend - in front of the Woolworths supermarket.

To be clear, violence like this isn't a uniquely South African thing - even in my home town in Connecticut, a former classmate was killed by gunfire just last year. But to witness such violence, no matter where, leaves a sick feeling in one's stomach. I haven't been able to find any coverage of the event in the papers, so I'm unsure how the woman is doing. I can only hope for the best.

Many joked about the guards finally doing something worthwhile, but really - these very ordinary, very low-paid guys literally stepped in front of a vehicle driven by a man known to be violent. Wow. They also laid into him with a ferocity that would likely have landed themselves into trouble in the states. I'm told this is typical of the self-policing mentality in many communities here. 

I hope never to witness such a tragic event again.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Mystery reflection

Here's an interesting reflection I spotted on a building in Johannesburg's CBD the other day. It took me a minute to figure out what all the colors were... Can you spot the subliminal advertising? 

Friday, October 28, 2011

Sinister croquet

I had some fun with my photo editing software. Kinda makes croquet look evil, doesn't it?
(These were taken at the Bowling Club)

Thursday, October 27, 2011

The one left behind

During a recent trip to Cape Town, we took a sunset hike up Lion's Head, a prominent hill overlooking Cape Town and the ocean. It's a popular site for parasailing, particularly on beautiful, clear evenings. As we rounded a bend in the trail, I spotted a daring man getting ready to launch. While it was certainly interesting to watch him get pumped up to run off a mountain, I thought it was also fascinating to watch his friend, who helped him. This girl held his chute, cheered him on, then once he was off on his daredevil adventure, she calmly turned around and walked back down the mountain. 

Here is her parasailing friend enjoying the views above Cape Town and Camps Bay.

So which are you guys? The one flying off the mountain, or the one walking calmly back down it?