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Honeycomb, Won’t You Be My Baby? Wait…You Want HOW MUCH??

where to buy Honeycomb cereal South Africa

Er, I just re-read my title and realized it might sound like I was soliciting a box of Honeycomb.

Finding our favorite American foods in South Africa, as I’ve told you in previous posts, can be difficult, and sometimes impossible.

But it really hasn’t been a big problem for us. We’ve adapted pretty well, I think. Not having American food doesn’t make life miserable, and makes us appreciate even more the conveniences and goodies we’ve taken for granted living in the states. But of course I have my moments, like missing Starbucks like a good little spoiled American girl. And so I get pretty excited at small things like finding bottles of Starbucks Frappuccinos in a store:

No Starbucks cafes in South Africa, and no beans that we've found (though we've been told there used to be) but I can find these icy treats at one of the grocery stores.
No Starbucks cafes in South Africa, and no beans that we’ve found (though we’ve been told there used to be) but I can find these icy treats at one of the grocery stores.

There are a couple grocery stores in areas around Pretoria and Johannesburg which carry more American products than others, since the demand is higher: Woolworths, and Spar. One Spar in particular is dubbed “American Spar” for their higher-than-average number of imported US products.

I’ve only been there twice, and both times got a little carried away with my purchases. Occasionally I come across something that I don’t normally find here, and I go a little bonkers. The weird thing is that I don’t normally crave it. But since I can’t have it, suddenly it becomes an obsession. This happened with a box of Honeycomb. I’m very embarrassed to say that I absolutely had to have that box of Honeycomb. It’s not my favorite cereal. I actually switched to a lot more healthful cereals in my late twenties and rarely have the sugary stuff, and when I do, I go for Crunch Berries.

As I reached for the shelf, I saw the price: R93.4

where to buy Honeycomb cereal South Africa
Honeycomb! American Spar in Monument Park gave me a sweet taste of home (at quite a price!)

At a rough exchange rate of 11 to 1, that’s almost $8.50 (!!) for one box of cereal.

I scanned the other imported cereals and discovered some were reasonably priced:

cost of living South Africa expat life South Africa travel South Africa finding American food in Africa grocery shopping in foreign country Jimmie Rodgers

Both Rice Krispies and Cheerios each cost around R33, or $3
Both Rice Krispies and Cheerios each cost around R33, or $3

Others were equally outrageous:

cost of living South Africa expat life South Africa travel South Africa finding American food in Africa grocery shopping in foreign country Jimmie Rodgerscost of living South Africa expat life South Africa travel South Africa finding American food in Africa grocery shopping in foreign country Jimmie Rodgerscost of living South Africa expat life South Africa travel South Africa finding American food in Africa grocery shopping in foreign country Jimmie RodgersAlpha Bits cost of living South Africa expat life South Africa travel South Africa finding American food in Africa grocery shopping in foreign country Jimmie Rodgers

And still…I bought the Honeycomb. Because that darn cereal was like a big box of America; of nostalgia; of happy, childhood contraband. And I can use a little childhood contraband…every once in awhile.

Love, Marla

 

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Wild Cheetah, “Where’s Waldo” Style

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We saw our first wild cheetah on Saturday, at Pilanesberg.

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Wild cheetah at Pilanesberg

Continue reading Wild Cheetah, “Where’s Waldo” Style

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Sunrise at Simon’s Town

expat life South Africa travel
At sunrise everything is luminous but not clear. – Norman Maclean
expat life South Africa travel
Watching sunrise from the Whale View Inn in Simon’s Town (c) 2013 Marla SInk Druzgal

Love, Marla

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Skink Eater!

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A story in pictures today, of a Southern Red-billed Hornbill eating a skink in Kruger National Park:

expat life South Africa travel
Southern Red-billed Hornbill eating a skink in The Kruger.

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expat life South Africa travel

expat life South Africa travel

expat life South Africa travel

Who’s hungry?

Love, Marla

 

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The Demon of Table Mountain

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I thought you would enjoy a little folklore today, so I saved this photo, taken of the top of the aerial cable as it was being engulfed in clouds, because I thought it looked a deliciously creepy. (Those of you on mobile phones may not be able to get a large enough photo for the view of the demon at the top, and zoom destroys the effect.)

expat life South Africa travel

Since I would only be retelling stories that others have already captured, I am just going to give you a quick byte of each and you can choose which ones you want to read:

“Devils and Giants of Table Mountain”: The vanhunks.com site is a neat, African Ghost Hunting Safaris website, and their page about Table Mountain gives a lot of information on the various ghosts and legends of the area. It’s a bit jumpy and disjointed, but then, how else would a ghost communicate its whereabouts to the living?

“Stories of Table Mountain”: Posted by a site called Camps Bay Lifestyle, this page has some nice South African history, Xhosa (click that tongue when you say it!) folklore, finding a magic ring, and that beautiful Table Cloth, which is how they refer to the cloud cover of the mountain.

“The Legends of Table Mountain”: Ridgway Ramblers created this page, which catches your attention with its subtitles such as “Watcher of the South,” “Adamaster,” and “the South Easter cloud.”

I hope you enjoy one or all of these sites, and that they spark your imagination as they did mine!

Love, Marla

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Clouded Mountain

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The best piece of advice we received before going to Cape Town was to leave our schedule flexible enough to grab the first beautiful day to climb Table Mountain.

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View from the top of the Table Mountain Aerial Cable on a cloudy day.

There are many days when visibility is limited due to cloud cover, and access is closed due to high wind. As you saw from last week’s posts about our hike (links at the end of today’s post) we listened to this advice and had the most beautiful day for a climb, and for views from the top.

The worst piece of advice we received was to avoid Table Mountain in clouds.

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Table Mountain clouds rolling in.

The argument is that it’s not worth the cable ride only to reach the top and have no visibility. We stumbled onto the fallacy of this advice by accident. We were on our way to Table Mountain to try to get some nice sunset photos when we saw the clouds accumulating on the mountain. We hoped they would keep moving, but by the time we were ascending in the cable cars, there was little blue sky left, and we were disappointed we would only see cloud on the mountaintop.

I feel bad for those who skip Table Mountain in the clouds. There is no less beauty in the tablecloth (as it’s affectionately called by locals) than on a clear day. The beauty is just different.

South Africa travel expat life
Shop at the Top in clouds.

What we ended up with was one of our most memorable experiences in Cape Town. The mountain is mostly deserted when it’s cloudy, so we ambled around, enjoying the surreal experience of knowing what was all around us that we just couldn’t see.

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Breaks in the clouds provided little glimpses of sunlight.

South Africa travel expat life

Hope you enjoy these photos from underneath the tablecloth.

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Calla lilies against the clouds on Table Mountain.
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I think the cloud cover makes the beauty of Cape Town more poignant.
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Cape Town and clouds.
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The peak of Lion’s Head (foreground left) and Robben Island (center) as seen from a closing window of clouds on Table Mountain.

Maybe true beauty only starts when our vision is limited?

Love, Marla

South Africa travel expat life
Despite being sick and bundled in two kikoys over my clothes, I loved being on the mountain in the clouds.

You can also read previous posts about our experience with Table Mountain here:

Up is Better Than Down

“Easy” My Arse!

Stop and Smell the Flowers of Platteklip Gorge

Hike Table Mountain…With a Guide

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Hike Table Mountain…With a Guide

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Our hike up Table Mountain was with an experienced guide company called Hike Table Mountain. I recommend this outfit for their communication, assessment of ability, and skills/knowledge.

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Today’s post is in two parts: WHY GET A GUIDE; WHY I CHOSE OUR GUIDE; WHAT WE WOULD HAVE DONE DIFFERENTLY TO MAKE IT A BETTER EXPERIENCE Continue reading Hike Table Mountain…With a Guide

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Up is Better Than Down

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“Tell the truth…” Kurt asked me, as we stood atop Table Mountain, looking down over the Atlantic Ocean and toward the Chapman’s Peak drive we would take later, “When did you want to quit?”

I just smiled and turned back toward the view. It was a perfectly clear day.

expat life South Africa adventure travel

“Okay, I’ll go first.” He said, in response to my silence. He turned to face me, grinning. “When she said we were about a quarter of the way up, all I could think was how much I wanted to turn around and go back down.”

I kept staring at the view, partly because I wanted to memorize it, and partly because I was too exhausted to do much other than stand and stare. Even talking was effort at this point.

expat life South Africa adventure travel

I could see out of the corner of my eye that he was waiting, expectantly, for my answer. I had been pretty stoic (for me) on the climb, trying to distract from the effort by pointing out flowers and asking questions of our guide, Binny.

expat life South Africa adventure travel

I had tried to make light of how much I struggled, pausing to ask Kurt if he was enjoying the view of my bum. I knew he was bringing up the rear (literally) because he was afraid I might topple back down the mountain. He had also volunteered to carry the camera back-pack and was taking photos of flowers and scenery and anything he thought I might want to use for a blog. He could tell early on that I would not be able to both climb and take photos. I could barely handle the weight of the locket around my neck, let alone a camera.

expat life South Africa adventure travel

Around the halfway point I stopped mid-climb, bum in the air, and looked over my shoulder. “You better be taking pictures of my butt in your face, too!” I turned back around to start climbing again. He knew I was serious, but he was reluctant.

expat life South Africa adventure travel

I was wearing the only Pittsburgh Steelers shirt I brought to South Africa.

expat life South Africa adventure travel

It was a goal of mine to fit into the shirt, and although it was still too small, we had a plan to do a video for my brother at the top, and Steelers’ attire was a must.So there I was in a bright yellow shirt two sizes too small, in undignified poses as I climbed the high steps on my hands and knees.

expat life South Africa adventure travel

We both knew the photos would be unflattering. But I didn’t care. I still don’t. I’m pretty demanding that photos should be candid, flattering or not. I believe my readers appreciate raw, often humorous photos of me rather than made-up or posed shots anyway. So I insisted, and he fired away. (You’re welcome.)

expat life South Africa adventure travel

A late night arrival the night before had us push back our climb time, and we didn’t begin until mid-morning. Despite packing like twelve-year-olds and only bringing a half bottle of water between us (thankfully our guide had several bottles) and me forgetting my hat (another thank you to our guide for lending me one), I was pretty excited to be checking this climb off my South Africa bucket list.

expat life South Africa adventure travel

After a couple hours of stair climbing, the noon gun boomed in Cape Town, which now seemed so far below us. It echoed around us and we watched as the distant smoke rose into the air. I marveled and felt proud of how high we were.

expat life South Africa adventure travel

Until I looked up to see how much more we had to go.

expat life South Africa adventure travel

I tried not to think about how suddenly defeated I felt, about how the sun was now scorching my bare shoulders, or how few flat portions remained compared to the endless stairs upward.

expat life South Africa adventure travel

“Up – relentlessly up!” This is how Platteklip Gorge hike is described on the official SanParks website; a website I did not consult before our climb. Not that it would have mattered. My new Brazilian friend, Andrea, told me “Whatever you do, don’t take the route that starts near the lower cable station. I can’t remember the name, but it’s just steps. All steps. High, steep steps. It’s a very, very hard climb.”

She was right. But I am a stubborn woman.

expat life South Africa adventure travel

Facing the hike I knew I wasn’t fit for, I decided the only way to get through it was to pretend. Could I really “fake it til I make it” with a 3km hike up a steep path of rock steps higher than my knee could lift me?

expat life South Africa adventure travel

“Just pretend.” I told myself. “Pretend you are six again. Pretend you can do anything.”

I pretended I was tougher than what I felt on the hike; I pretended it when I first looked up and saw the steps; I pretended it when the steps didn’t seem to have an end; I pretended not to hear the joggers we met on their way down, who kept telling us that the hardest part was yet to come; and I pretended when I finally reached just 50% that I didn’t want to just sit down and cry—too overwhelmed to finish climbing up, but knowing climbing back down would be worse.

expat life South Africa adventure travel

On top of the mountain, Kurt was still watching me expectantly, waiting for my answer

Finally I turned to face him, saying: “I just kept thinking ‘Up is better than down,’ so I just kept climbing.”

expat life South Africa adventure travel

He waited for me to say more, but I didn’t.

He nudged my shoulder with his and we looked at the expanse of water, of mountain peaks and blue sky. “But when, Pookie Bear? When did you want to quit?”

expat life South Africa adventure travel

I wanted to lean against him but we were both still a pile of sweat.

“After the first flight of stairs…” I paused, watching for his reaction, “I wanted to quit after about 100 yards.”

We stared at each other for a few seconds, then both started laughing. My gut hurt, my knees hurt, my arms and shoulders hurt and the laugh felt like it might break my body apart. But it felt good. It felt better than any gym workout or casual walk and infinitely better than any act of drive-by tourism.

expat life South Africa adventure travel

We had just climbed Table Mountain.

And we’ll do it again.

Happy Over-the-Hump Day, friends!

Love, Marla

Stay tuned for tomorrow’s installment, when I will talk about what it’s like to hire a guide, the company we chose and why I think everyone would find value in a guided Table Mountain hike.

More of Table Mountain by Traveling Marla:

“Easy” My Arse!

Stop and Smell the Flowers of Platteklip Gorge

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Dear Africa, Stop Confusing Me with Tigers!

There are no native African tigers
There are no native African tigers
A little too close for my preference, especially while in stalking mode.

Tigers are not native to Africa, in case you didn’t know. I have to admit that before moving to South Africa, I did not know there were no African tigers. I mean, I knew from American zoos that there were “Bengal tigers” and “Siberian tigers” and when we used to play pool four days a week, we knew a dude who raised ligers in Pennsylvania.

But I always assumed (yeah, I know) that there would also be tigers in Africa, because wtf…it’s Africa. Doesn’t everything come from here?

Well of course not, and origins aside, it’s still pretty amazing how close these places let the public get to the wildlife. In today’s video and photo, we were in the breeding area of the Lion and Rhino Reserve in Krugersdorp.

Seeing that I am apparently a pee magnet, I thought I would share yet another scent-marking video. It’s short and sweet, and my favorite part is the little leg shake at the end.

Happy “Over the Hump” Day!

Love, Marla