Monthly Archives: November 2013

Big and small

Concert at Bulugha School near Chintsa on the Wild Coast

Concert at Bulugha School near Chintsa on the Wild Coast

I continue to be amazed how international travel can make the world seem so big and yet so small at the same time. One moment we are immersed in a culture and reality completely removed from our own, and the next we feel as though we have been transported back home. Sometimes it makes my head spin, and I struggle to absorb it all.

We’ve gone months without meeting a single person from Canada or even the US. This week we met several Americans, including a Colorado man working on a water project in Lesotho. And today I had a long chat with a woman from Abbotsford who has spent the past year setting up a new program at a university in Nairobi. Continue reading

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When you heard from us last…

Outside 34 South on Knysna Waterfront

Outside 34 South restaurant on Knysna Waterfront

…  we were at the southernmost tip of Africa, at Cape Agulhas, with only one road in and out of the small village. It had been raining. Hard. For several days. We were advised that the road would be closed if the rain continued overnight.

As we made our way out of the area the next morning, all seemed fine. In fact, the pools of water we drove through the day before were mostly gone. And then we past the “road closed” drum cans. Why did we continue against all common sense, you may ask? Well, we were right behind a large SUV, and by the time we saw the signs on the drum cans, we had already entered the flooded roadway. The SUV kept going. A car passed us going the other way. The road wasn’t completely closed off, unlike others we previously had to backtrack from. We figured it must be a small pool of water.

We were wrong. Continue reading

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The Road, Rain and the Tip

No we don’t have any travel advice or a major revelation for you, but more on the “tip” later. It has been about 48 hours since we began our two-week South African road trip. We said a sad goodbye to our lovely apartment in Fish Hoek and hit the road.


The first 24 were somewhat uneventful… although we did get to see the world’s only Whale Crier in Hermanus.

The next 24 were wet. Really wet.  Not just Vancouver wet, but a full on monsoon over most of the Western Cape. Continue reading

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Simplicity and Happiness According to Cate

IMG_8714I got the idea for this blog on my birthday. Compared to really poor families in Cambodia, Malaysia or even South Africa who live in one-room houses and could never afford to buy expensive presents for their kids or take them somewhere for a cool birthday outing, I had an awesome day. I got a few small presents; we had an afternoon beach outing. I had a wonderful day.

But compared to families in Canada or US or wherever else, who hold awesome birthday parties for their kids and give them lots of presents, my birthday was simple. I’m not trying to vilify any first-world families. I am one of those families, but even more fortunate (traveling around the world; how the heck could anyone say I’m not lucky?) Continue reading

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When I was growing up, some of my closest friends had “black hair” – otherwise known as curly hair, otherwise known as afro hair. Back in the day, access to black hair products, and hair stylists who had a clue about how to manage it, were pretty limited. As in, basically non-existent. Acceptance of diversity was also in its early stages (translated: having afro hair was not “cool.”) Continue reading

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Bernard and the entrepreneurial spirit

I saw him in the distance, waving me towards the patch of gravel along the side of the mountain road. As we neared him, I contemplated our options: take our chances and try to find a spot further up the road (closer to the base of Table Mountain), or take the safe bet, given that we’d already passed dozens of parallel parked cars on this beautiful (and busy) Saturday morning.

We took the spot.

As we emerged from the car (a protracted process at the best of times), the man greeted us with a heavy dose of cheer, and deftly slipped me his “card,” a faded piece of flimsy paper bearing his name – Bernard – and an inordinate amount of numbers. This was a first.

Continue reading

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This place ticks all the boxes

We are just loving Cape Town and the Cape Peninsula.

Robben Island (where Nelson Mandela was incarcerated for 18 of his 27 years of imprisonment) with the backdrop of Cape Town and Table Mountain

So much so that I can really picture ourselves living here. No joke. A word of travel advice – if you haven’t been here yet, you absolutely must add this to your travel destination wish list.

Now don’t worry everyone, we haven’t made any rash decisions and are still scheduled to come home in late January! Kind of ironic though, that these thoughts have sprung into my head the week I finalized our plans and route home.  Continue reading

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Beautiful heart; beautiful mind


Today our oldest baby turns 11! More amazing than the lightning fast passing of time is watching Cate grow into such a remarkable person. She is without doubt the kindest, most thoughtful person I know. She never has a harsh word to say about anyone. And her sense of social justice? Let’s just say she has strong opinions about how things should be in this imperfect world. And I think she will do her part to set wrongs right.

Did I mention that she’s scary smart? She’s a homeschooling parent’s dream – she loves to learn, she proactively sources curriculum (not just for herself, but her siblings too), and she actually worries if she doesn’t think she’s done enough work. Really!

As if that wasn’t enough, she’s a talented writer and is currently working on a novel set during the civil rights movement in the US. (See above re: acute sense of social justice.)

I can’t think of any more fitting tribute to our girl than sharing some of her writing with the world. Below is the intro paragraph to her novel, and further below is a short piece she wrote last school year for a writing class. The assignment was to write a story based on a famous work of art. She chose Van Gogh’s Starry Night.

Now I know I’m biased, but pretty amazing for a 10-year old, no??

On that note, Happy Birthday Catie Bella … we love you so very much! Continue reading

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Crashing in the Cape

Hey everyone, it’s Cate here. Sorry we haven’t posted about Cape Town yet; we’ve just been adjusting to the time and settling in to our beautiful apartment in Fish Hoek.

The view from our apartment in Fish Hoek

The view from our apartment in Fish Hoek

We’re staying at a seaside guesthouse: Picture ocean views from our place, comfy beds, huge bathrooms, a well-equipped kitchen, plus a pool and a beach just ten minutes’ walk away………… ahhhhh. Continue reading

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