Friday, August 12, 2011

I'm baaaaaack

Okay, well, technically, I got back on Monday. But, instead of arriving home at the civilized hour of 3:00 pm as planned, we were subjected to the wondrous efficiency of American Airlines and, two delayed flights and one 10-hour layover later, we actually walked through our front door at 1.30 am on Tuesday morning. Then I spent three days trying to get over my jet lag, wade through my overflowing mailboxes (virtual and real-world), re-stock the larder, and manage Miss B, who has no activities scheduled for this week because school starts in a few days. Luckily, DP took her off to work with him today and gave me some quiet time. Which, naturally, I am using to update my blog, because that’s way more fun than copy editing a 150-page article.

But it’s all worth it, because our vacation was excellent. As you will probably have worked out from the last post (and comments on same), we went to South Africa (third time for me, second for DP, first for Miss B), where we met up with good friends and spent the better part of two weeks tooling around and trying to get up close and personal with as many kinds of indigenous wildlife (animal and plant) as possible. The pictures I put up the other day show some less well-known, but indubitably African specimens:

The dassie Also known as rock rabbits, and officially the Rock or Cape Hyrax, these critters are found across Africa and the Middle East. They live in herds, and are described as “noisy and sociable.” I have never heard them say anything, but on more than one occasion I have felt that they were posing for pictures, particularly the ones living at the top of Table Mountain.

The protea A member of an ancient family of plants, members of which are scattered across the southern hemisphere. A huge diversity of species are contained within this plant family, and more than 90% of them are indigenous to a narrow swath of South Africa around Cape Town.

The African Penguin Also known as the Black-Footed (for self-explanatory reasons) or Jackass Penguin (for its donkey-like bray). We saw these both in their natural habitat (at Betty’s Bay, one of two mainland colonies in South Africa) and at Two Oceans Aquarium in Cape Town. Each penguin has a pattern of black spots on its white chest which is unique, like a human fingerprint. Humans are the biggest predators of African penguins, and practices such as commercial fishing, large-scale gathering of eggs, harvesting of guano, and industrial pollution have caused a population decline of 95% in the last century.

Well, that’s a lot of information to absorb on a weekend. I’ll leave you with a preview of one of the food highlights of our trip:

More on this shortly!


Linda Valenti DeVincent said... Best Blogger Tips

Ummm, I really hope you brought me back a rock rabbit.

Roving Lemon said... Best Blogger Tips

@Linda Valenti DeVincent

Why, yes. Yes, I did. But every time I try to mail her to you, she eats her way out of the cardboard box. So she'll have to stay here with me until I figure something else out. *cough*

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