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Heritage Day: Tongues of Their Mothers

travel Heritage Day South Africa 2015

I had so many ideas for a Heritage Day post today, but then I fell in love with a poem, and that made the decision for me.

Happy Heritage Day, readers. Following are a few photos of some beautiful South African ladies I know (and one lovely South African man) wearing traditional garments to celebrate today. Continue reading Heritage Day: Tongues of Their Mothers

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My Kind of Patriot

Annin Flag Factory Tour Traveling Marla Coshocton Ohio American flag Ohio flag Annin flagToday’s post is a follow-up on a post I wrote in 2012, 11 years after the terrorist attacks in America. You’re welcome to read the original here, but it is mostly captured again in the words below, leading up to the 2015 extension at the end.

This post is not about conspiracy theories, or blame, or the war on terror. Any comments regarding those things will be deleted.

This post is about three experiences on this day in history:

a) September 11th, 2001
b) September 11th, 2012
c) September 11th, 2015 Continue reading My Kind of Patriot

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In Defense of Car Guards

What is the African name for Pretoria

Some people have asked me about “car guards” in South Africa, since I’ve mentioned them a time or two. This is a group of individuals I care about, and among whom I have very good friends, so here is my answer, along with my disappointment in those who look down on them…

*A “car guard” is a person whose “job” is to guard a parking lot from theft. Unlike security, who are certified and receive a salary, car guards (both black and white) have any manner of background, generally do not receive a salary, and in fact usually pay a fee per shift for the “blessing” of getting to stand all day in a parking lot, trying to keep thieves from breaking into cars, or stealing cars.

A car guard pays between R25-35 ($2.50-$3.50) per shift to have a row or two of cars to cover. Having car guards provides more eyes on more areas of a parking lot. The fee that car guards pay for the “privilege” of having a “job” is called a “standing fee.” Continue reading In Defense of Car Guards

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An Old Fisherman in Mozambique and Glória de Sant’Anna

travel Africa Mozambique fisherman

I just wanted to share a few photographs from our recent Mozambique travels, along with this poem, by a beautiful writer I only learned about today. Her name is Glória de Sant’Anna.  I want to thank Luis R. Mitras, who works for the European Division of the University of Maryland University College, for his beautiful translations of her work, and so generously placing the material online.

He put together a lovely anthology, titled Stained Glass: Poetry from the Land of Mozambique. Continue reading An Old Fisherman in Mozambique and Glória de Sant’Anna

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Pardon Me, but Your Balls are the Wrong Color!

playing pool in other countries travel South Africa

Welcome to another post on “Tuesdays in Tshwane,” where I give you a little slice of life around the capitol city of Pretoria (nka Tshwane) South Africa. Continue reading Pardon Me, but Your Balls are the Wrong Color!

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Winning a Penguin… in My Lucky Hat

travel Dubai UAE Ski

Okay, so I didn’t win the penguin itself, but there were penguins involved!

Last Christmas, as I mentioned yesterday, we spent the day at Ski Dubai.

Well, that funky wonderland, Ski Dubai, has a penguin show, and they give away penguin art at the end of their show. The art is actually made by the penguins, who walk in paint and then walk across a canvas. It’s kinda’ cool.

travel Dubai UAE Ski
Penguin Encounter at Ski Dubai

Thanks to my friend, Aussie-Brit Claire (not to be mistaken for South African Claire, who I’ve mentioned in other posts), I was wearing an awesome, knitted animal hat. She had given it to me as an early holiday gift, knowing how much I wanted one.

travel Dubai UAE Ski
Flat Brandon enjoying the penguin encounter at Ski Dubai

That wonderful, goofy hat won me penguin art. The host of the penguin show, after getting us all to hoot and holler our love for the show at the end of the program, told me that any adult brave enough to wear my hat deserved a prize.

Aww, gee.

travel Dubai UAE Ski
Penguin art.

Kurt is working on this beautiful, sunny, Christmas Eve here in South Africa, and I’m slowly recovering from my latest game of host-the-pathogens.

Happy Festive Season, dear readers, wherever you are, and however you celebrate.

Love, Marla

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The Snowman of Dubai

travel Ski Dubai UAE

Sounds like he should be some sort of secret agent man, this “Snowman of Dubai.” Actually he’s simply a snowman, built by some fun visitors at Ski Dubai. This indoor snow park is located inside one of the largest malls in the world, The Mall of the Emirates.

We spent last Christmas in Dubai, and I wanted to share this adorable snowman with you for the holiday season this year.

travel Ski Dubai UAE
The snowman at Ski Dubai had Dirham coins for eyes, a traditional guthra headscarf as well as a neck scarf, and maybe those Red Bull arms really do give him wings.
travel Ski Dubai UAE
It was good packing snow. The snowman had just finished being made when we walked up. He hadn’t been there on our first pass through, and we were excited to have a photo with him (and Flat Brandon, of course!)

How cool was this little guy for a themed snowman? Have you seen any unusual snowmen this year? Share a pic with me!

Love, Marla

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Our Tent Mansion

travel Africa camping

We’re going camping this weekend. Just a couple nights in Limpopo Province, so I can finally see that big ol’ baobab tree with a bar in it where we originally planned to celebrate my birthday back in September. But with everything on that September trip list, we just didn’t make the baobab.

We’re decked out with camping gear now. With all the places we want to visit before we move on from here, we knew we couldn’t afford to keep paying for lodges and hotels everywhere. We love tent camping, and the money we save by paying for a simple campsite far exceeds the time and extra work involved in “roughing it.”

travel Africa tent camping
Half of the “moonroof” in our tent mansion. Probably not a good idea for the rainy season anyway…

As people were moving back to the states this year, I made many hasty purchases, scrambling together a hodgepodge of items. We now have a variety of second-hand chairs, tents, a braai box (packed with cookware, tableware, linen and spices), mats, sleeping bags, and assorted “gadgets.” Kurt says knowing how overeager I get on preparing for our trips, he’s pretty sure the kitchen sink is in there somewhere, too.

The highlight of what I bought is what we call our “tent mansion.” In addition to the five-man-standing room inside with a netted moon-roof for viewing the stars, it has a large covered outdoor area, which could either be a patio shelter or, as we keep joking, a carport.

travel Africa camping
Our tent mansion, with its patio big enough for our car to fit.

It wasn’t the only tent I bought, though. I thought it was better to buy first, and let Kurt decide later which to keep and which to re-sell. But since several friends have promised (you know who you are!) to visit over the next year, we decided to have a “guest tent.” After all, they’re paying to fly to Africa, the least we can do is provide a real (cheap!) bush experience for them as part of their trip!

Africa travel tent camping
Your tent. When are you going to visit?

Maybe having a fancy mansion tent and guest tent means we’re moving up in the world. In the early years of our marriage, it was the two of us in a little pup tent, on grand road trips to see America. There was always bread, and plenty of peanut butter and jelly to last the trip. We got caught in a tornado near Abilene, Texas, were stalked by a wild dog near an Indian Reservation in New Mexico, and spent more than one night sleeping in the car for reasons ranging from bears, to hail too big for our tent to handle.

We graduated to nicer tents as the years went by, but nothing we’ve had in the states is as huge as this tent mansion. We won’t be taking it back with us, but we will be taking back plenty of ideas, and creating our own braai box back home.

It’s supposed to be cold and rainy this weekend, so I guess we’ll get to test out the weatherproofing on the tent, and the cold ratings on our bags. We’re excited anyway. Camping in the rain feels like home. 😉  Since it’s a short weekend, we’re taking the guest tent this trip, so it will be ready for your visit! I was a little bummed, because I really wanted to try our tent mansion, especially with that weather-shelter patio!

Speaking of tent mansions, I was recently in Outdoor Warehouse here in Pretoria, checking out their tents.  I texted Kurt a photo of the tent with cots, but he nixed that idea.

Africa camping travel
A couple of nice looking tent cots I was longing for.

I spent a couple hours in that store, wandering the aisles and drooling over camp showers and toilets, mosquito-netted picnic tents, and all manner of doo-dads, whatsits, and safari wear.

But in the end, a mat was my only purchase—acknowledgment of this annoying arthritis that just doesn’t enjoy the ground as much anymore. It feels so grand, this bulky mat for under my sleeping bag. It feels like we are gentrifying our great outdoors a little bit. But it’s just a simple mat, not the grand Hilton of tents in that store, some so decked out that they actually did include the kitchen sink!

travel Africa camping tent
[This one had a sink, cooktop stove, table, chairs all on an enclosed “veranda” separate from the cots and dresser in the bedroom. Wonder how long it would take to put THIS up? ]
Compared to our early years, this camping feels so stylish we may as well own an RV! And if it’s not bad enough that we feel like we’re splurging with our fancy tents and ground mats, Kurt’s septuagenarian parents still travel cross country with nothing but bread, pb&j and a couple gallons of water, sleeping in their car.

Do you tent camp?

Love, Marla

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Aren’t You Coming With…?

I’m inviting you (or, at least, a Flat Stanley version of you) to come on our next adventure, happening in just a few short weeks! It’s one of our bucket list items and I think you might enjoy seeing your head on a travel-size cut-out in front of what we’re going to see. You have until Sunday night to enter (details at the end of this post).

Moving around when I was little, and then again from my late teens onward, I’ve always had a habit of adopting the expressions (and sometimes accent) of wherever I live. My mom used to tell me of the earliest instances of this. I was between three and four years old, and we had moved to a trailer park in Oneco, Florida, near one of my dad’s construction jobs. I picked up the expression “very well” from a neighbor girl and used it several times per sentence as I was trying to figure out its appropriate placement. Mom was apparently sick of the phrase before we moved back to Pennsylvania.

My special versions of "Flat Stanley" are now ready for cutting and lamination. Will YOU be coming with?
My special versions of “Flat Stanley” are now ready for cutting and lamination. This version is winner Mishelle Davis Falsetto in her NHL Pittsburgh Penguins shirt. Who will get Flat Traveler’d next? Will YOU be coming with?

For the years Dad was still around I was fluent in understanding Spanish…at least in terms of fetching beer, cigarettes and ashtrays. I’m pretty sure that hearing a different language at a young age, combined with compulsive mirroring of others, is why new language is relatively easy for me to learn and speak, and I now pronounce “banana,” “giraffe” and “zebra” like a Brit or a South African, and why my affinity for using “yebo” instead of “yes,” and my almost nauseating use the words of “rather” and “shame” has Kurt cringing when I talk.

My mom lived in North Dakota for about twelve years, and although I was already in college and only went for visits, I picked up local phrases and accents there as well, including the common “Wanna come with…?.

I don’t have a problem ending sentences with a preposition. That was only a preference by poet John Dryden anyway, and eventually it stuck and became “the rule.” It’s annoying and doesn’t fit modern speech. For example, if you say: “From whom is this gift?” instead of “Hey! Who’s this gift from?” you’ll most likely get an eyeroll, possibly a punch, and maybe have that gift rescinded.

travel vicariously Africa
A special Princess flat traveler for the daughter of winner Heidi Jones DiSala.

But there is something more to the way North Dakota and parts of the sprawled Scandinavian influence down through the Great Lakes and midwest area end sentences. It’s not the prepositions, it’s that they don’t actually end…

“Wanna’ come with…?” is a common invitational question in North Dakota. They don’t use the “me” or “us” at the end, because it’s implied.  I personally think this is also the result of the Scandanavian language influence, but I don’t know enough about that to say for certain. Any true linguists out there want to tackle that question?

So, while it’s implied, and understood, it can create a compulsive need in the person hearing it to want to end the sentence.

But to the point: Wanna come with…?

I hope you do wanna come with us. We have room for one more “Flat Stanley” on this journey, and I hope it’s you.


Guidelines: Send a photo or poem or other piece on the theme WATER. Anything goes. Be creative!

Email to me: marla at marlasinkdruzgal dot com

Deadline: Sunday, midnight your time

C’mon, guys! You know you wanna come with…

Love, Marla

P.S. Did you notice the flags each of my special edition flat travelers are holding? The American flag represents where each winner is from, but the other two flags represent our adventure! Have you guessed yet?