Tuesday, August 17, 2010

1985: A good year.

After all of the excitement of the city life in Durban, Johannesburg and Pretoria it was nice to go back to a more relaxed Cape Town. It was a bitter sweet return to the Grundlingh family, however. I knew it would be the last time that I got to see them for some time. Our last few days were spent walking around Stellenbosch, trying to go on a rainy hike, and a celebration.

I was woken up on the morning of August 7, 2010 with a cake made of oranges, shells and rat shaped sugar candies that had two huge candles: one was a 2, the other a 5. This is how my quarter century birthday celebration began. Marizanne and I then spent the morning in the Mbekweni township to attend a women's day soccer tournement that her organization SCORE (http://www.score.org.za/) put on. The simply constructed soccer stadium in the middle of the township was filled with dancing, music, singing and soccer. Even though the volunteers or the locals hadn't ever met me before, I was encouraged by many of them to dance and sing, even though I dance like a white girl....really. One boy sat practically on top of me in order to give me the rythm of the song/cheer that the group of teenagers behind us was singing. It was quite an experience.

After leaving there the Grundlingh's along with a couple of other friends I have met since being in South Africa all dressed up and began with Champagne cocktails. That was followed by an excellent dinner at the Spier vineyard restaurant called Moyo (http://www.spier.co.za/index.php/what_to_do_at_spier/moyo_at_spier/). I was brought onto stage and made of an example of as a man dressed up like a Xhosa tribe leader sang to me in Xhosa. Thanks Mama Grundlingh! My last night in South Africa couldn't have been better. I miss it a lot already.

I have now been in Spain for over a week and have not written one update about anything. Nor do I have access to put pictures up. Stay tuned for those.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Durban July

Ever been to the Kentucky Durby?
Me neither. But I imagine that Durban July is on the same scale. On Friday morning Michelle and I wake up in Durban and hear everywhere, on the radio, the news, the street posts, about this Durban July. By chance, we are here on that very weekend!! Here's a webiste you can browse to find out more information on the event: http://www.vodacomdurbanjuly.co.za/.
Lady luck was with us! We ran to the mall to find shiny bright outfits and high heels to wear to this event. It turns out that the rest of the Gautang Province was in the same situation. Gautang Province is where Michelle and the rest of the big-city-lifers reside. Durban is their holiday getaway. The Mall was packed with Lexus, Mercedes, and BMW cars with GP on them. Despite the competition however, I think Michelle and I rocked up to those horse races looking like royalty. The only thing we were missing were the huge hats.
Bold Silvano trained by Mike de Kock (For real, that's his name) won the main race. Michelle and I continued to socialize with people of all kinds. Some interesting ones were the locals who approached her asking if she was a swimmer simply by looking at her shoulders. Another is a Spanish and Chilean guy that I stopped in their tracks to talk to because I overheard them speaking spanish. This is rare in South Africa.
The horse races were exhilerating. First you here the thunder of their hooves on the grass, then in an instant you watch these huge animals fly by with teeny tiny very very tiny riders on their backs. What fun!
My favorite part, however, had to be the very last and very unique race. As Michelle and I started to wander away from the course we hear loud cheers from the crowd. I looked up to see where they were all looking then realized there were about 25 guys walking onto the racing track in their underwear. Suddenly, the underwear was off!...then they were off!!...racing, Mustang Style, down the track commando. Stay tuned for pics of that one. ;)

Monday, August 2, 2010

Durban Beaches

The Surf in Durban was considerably differnt than Cape Town or the Eastern Cape. We woke up late the second day of our trip due to some intense restaurane/bar touring and the weather was not so nice. It was also very windy. The craving to surf was very strong, however, so I did the desperate: I surfed a fake wave...in a MALL! What?! It's very different than the real thing.

If you notice by my kook-like positioning on the wave it was very difficult to balance.

We did catch some sun and surf on day two. Michelle and I drove a total of 50 km that day down south from the Bluff up north to Ballito. By the time I had found a board to rent and a spot to surf, the nice offshore winds had turned onshore. Shame.

The final day we were scheduled to leave early in the morning. The weather was so nice, however, that we decided to stay for a few hours more and enjoy some sun and body surfing. Durben is a very nice beachy city. But it's a city that doesn't feel like Africa very much...until a monkey jumps onto the balcony of your hotel room.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Mama Africa

Upon my arrival to Johannesburg it was as if I was entering back into some fond memories of mine. Lets go back to new years of 07-08. Marizanne, Sami, Maki, Mpho and I were dancing with fireworks, wine and Brenda Fassie into the new year. Here we are again:

Michelle is my host on this leg of the trip.

She lives in Pretoria now. We will be driving to the coast to see Durban; the city remains summer all year long in South Africa. However, before we go, I get to reunite with the Mtongana family. They are Xhosa by origin living now in Pretoria. Marizanne first inrododuced me to the Motongana family 2 and 1/2 years ago. We spent new years with them and it was she who introduced me to Brenda Fassie. This family is something really special. Sami and Maki are the two youngest and are full of life and it's contagious.

Mpho, the mother, is full of love and wisdom. It's people like these that make me eager to travel back to South Africa.

Monday, July 26, 2010


This is Africa. While watching the local news with a couple of friends of mine in Jeffrey’s Bay that I have met along my travels I learned the meaning of this term. It was used frequently to refer to the backwards and often silly things that happen here. However, upon really thinking about the corruption in the SAA airlines’ finance that was being reported I realized that TIA could be used in almost any country or state. For example, "Thank you for flying with Hawaiian Airlines and Aloha and welcome to Hawaii. Your bags will be here tomorrow, though": T.I.Hawaii. People’s perceptions and ignorance of other cultures is global. Here are a few realities of South Africa that I have learned while being here.

I am back in Cape Town after having spent almost two weeks on the road or in Jeffrey’s Bay/Port Elizabeth for the World Cup and for the Billabong Surf Competition. Now that the traveling and business has settled down I have had the time to talk with local people and do some more touristy things. I have gone to Robben Island, seen the locally made movie “Themba” and spoken with the head professor of the history department at the University of Stellenbosch regarding some of South Africa’s History.

The Grundlingh Family.

Robenn Island was a very interesting experience. Truthfully, I was bored. It was a three hour tour of the island and a walk through the cell with some historical facts interjected in between. It wasn’t completely useless, however. For example, I did not know that it was once a lepor colony. Only former prisoners are allowed to act as tour guides on the island. This makes the experience a bit “one sided” in the words of Albert Grundlingh, Marizanne’s father. The experience became more personal when one of the guides missing about half his teeth was asked personal questions like, “how many years were you in?” and “what was the specific act of treason that you committed?” He was in for 11 years and attempted to use a bazooka to blow up a petrol station. The contoversial side of it that Prof. Grundlingh pointed out is that even though some of the pre-apartheid acts that were committed by minotirites were atrocious and sometimes took a lot of lives, it is sort of seen as a just act because of the political situation. These sort of controversy’s is what makes this amazingly beautiful and mountainous country of South Africa so appealing.

I highly recommend the movie “Themba” as well. If it is playing anywhere in your foreign film theathers PLEASE go see it. It provokes so many emotions in such a short time and pretty accurately expleans the reality of the situation here. It is conveniently about a young boy’s struggle from the rural township in the Xhosa region with soccer. The main message conveyed, however, is the reality that AIDS and education have in South Africa. As Themba was walking through Kayelitsha (pronounced kya-leech-a), South Africa’s largest township located in Cape Town, Moz tapped me and said “that’s how it is really”. She is researching for her masters how to use sport in townships to take kids off the street and out of corruption. Last Thrusday, while I was comfortably in Jbay, Moz went to Kayelitsha with other foreign volunteers in order to conduct soccer clinics. At the end of the day they were going to get some knick-knacks and one of Moz’s co-workers was robbed of the little money she was carrying and the shoes off of her feet were taken from her on the spot.


Monday, July 19, 2010

Camel Toe

Isn’t that attractive? You get used to it if it is your only means of survival in thte frigid 16 degree celcius water of Jeffrey’s Bay, South Africa. The booties I wore on my feet were provided to me by my sister-in-law, Katie. What a life saver!

Island Vibe is the hostel that Marizanne, Michelle and I stayed in. It was a very comfotable site overlooking one of the surf breaks, Kitchen Windows. I recommend it for any traveler ona budget. It was a mere 30 minute walk to the epic Supertubes where the pro’s were warming up for the ASP Tour competition that began on July 15. A good website to get updated on the behind the scene event happenings is www.worldprosurfers.com or also the official website of www.billabongpro.com.

The Island Vibe hostel is just that…and island feeling. I felt like I was back in Hawai’I, or maybe even Australia. The only difference is the cold winter air that brings such nice waves. Island Vibe is home to Niel aka “Surf Theory” (his appointed nickname). If you lack things to do on a rainy day in the small village of Jbay, Niel can entertain you with his class on “Surf Theory”. Now, imagine this tiny lanky guy with a mixed accent between a stoked California grom and a thick Afrikaans trying to teach you the theory behind surfing. What does that even mean? It was hard to resist this yellow bushy-haired creature, but Moz and I decided to venture to the other side of the village to surf “The Point” just a few hundred meters down from Supertubes. What a session!! Picture your favorite right-hand clean pointbreak, then imagine it being even better than you thought! The only problem was that, even with two massive camel toes, I only managed to last one hour in the firgid waters of South Africa.



Who cares. It was still epic.

Our last night in Island Vibe was in a communal dorm. Creative measures were taken to block the light as the late night partiers came home.

Monday, July 12, 2010


The bar was the Mexican. The atmosphere was calm at first. The city is Jeffrey's bay. When the final game began there was a mix of sadness and excitement. After this game, there would be no more World Cup. After 4 years of preparation and excitement for SA, it will all be over. Despite that fact, Moz, Michelle and I were still celebrating loudy with bottles of wine, faces painted and good company. What a game. And in the end, the champions prevailed!

We are still here in Jeffrey's bay, home of the longest righthand barrell in the world and the picturesque aloe.

Moz and I will stay to catch the Billabong Pro surfing competition while Michelle returns to Pretoria to work. Shame.

In our down time, Moz and I have caught some really good waves here. We have also gotten the chance to watch some of the pros practicing at supertubes. Very very impressive. The next few days will be recovery and searching for waves. There is a different perspective surfing here, though. For example, yesterday the waves were clean but small, and very perfect. We did not surf. It was a difficult thing to deal with, but when temperature of the water and air becomes just as much of a factor as the wave itself, your perspective changes a bit. How lucky to live in Hawai'i and not have to worry about that.

Until next time...

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Road Trip

What is it about Celine Dion that makes you want to sing at the top of your lungs?

Michelle enjoying her spot in the back seat.

Marizanne, Michelle and I were three girls, two surfboards and many bags stuffed into a Toyota Yaris driving from Capetown to Jeffrey's Bay/Port Elizabeth.

We stayed in Capetown to watch the Semi-Final matches of Holland vs Uruguay and Germany vs Spain. We then drove from the bottom left-hand corner to the bottom right-hand corner (for those who are not familiar with SAs geography) in order to watch the consolation final of Uruguay Germany that happened last night at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium.

What a game! I went for Uruguay because I like the Spanish language better than the German language. No offense to my German friends. (I am really pulling for Spain tonight.) However, the vibe in the stadium was obviously German. Africa has still not gotten over Suarez's hand ball against Uruguay to knock them out of the tournement. Every time the number 9 Suarez touched the ball the crowd filled with "boooooooo". The Africans are proud of their teams.

We did get to stop in Vleesbaai (which means flesh bay), where Moz has a beach house, for two nights. It is named this from when the settlers came around Africa for goods, they would stop here to slaughter cows that were wandering the coast for food on their trip.

Here is the sunrise over the serene beach.

I learned many things here. Moz taught me the beauty of a hot water bottle to fill with boiling water and put in bed with you at night to keep you warm. Michelle taught me about boiled wine. It's a wonderful treat to keep you warm after a nice dinner. You simply bring wine to the boiling point, pour yourself a glass, add one spoonfull of suger and a slice of lemon. I think this day we drank alcohol from morning to night. Amarula in the coffee, Coke and Brandy for our Braai (bar-b-que) at lunch, and boiled wine for dinner. What a pleasure!

Tonight, we have reservations at a Mexican bar in JBay to watch Spain beat Holland. Ole!!
Pictures still to come.

Peace out from da Motherland.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Germany vs Argentina

What an upset. After 36 hours of traveling and one pounding headache I was picked up by Moz at the airport in stellenbosch. The excitement was already in the air at 8:00 a.m. Because of the battle hat would soon take place between Germany and Argentina. With enough time only for a small nap and some coffee with amarula cream, we were out on the streets tithe stadium where Moz and her boyfriend Joey had tickets to the game. I sat outside in a bar with an elderly local woman watching it on the big screen and drinking a local Savannah dry beer. This woman made my night. Belinda was her name. She represented what the world cup means for south Africa: pride. A little bit tipsy and with lipstick all over her teeth she told me how proud she was of bafana bafana for doing so well and how she felt for Ghana and how beautiful the entire world looked walking safely down the street to the stadium. The only I t
interruption was when she screamed at Germany when they scored 1 of their 4 goals. What a game.

I am now sitting in an Internet cafe typing on my mobile. Time is running out so I can write no more. I am also unable to load pictures at this point. Check facebook soon. I will upload more when possible. I miss you all and hope you are watching and cheering for Spain on Wednesday. For now...cheers from capetown.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

It's a small world after all

That's a lie. Walt Disney didn't know what he was talking about. I'm in LA and am already sick of traveling. I still have to cross the pond to get to London, and then fly south accross the continent of Africa to arive in cape town. Yikes!! Thanks to Hawaiian Airlines for keeping me awake on the first leg with their yummy coffee...this flight I'm going to take a happy pill (thanks chip!).

Next stop: London.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

How to pack for a long trip

Step 1: Lie out everything you own in the living room and use the process of elimination method along with Noah's Ark method. The process of elimination is what one should use to start. It is where you just eliminate completely the obvious unnecessary items of a trip. Noah's Ark method is where you just grab two of everything. That way, while you're using one item you can be washing the other.
Step 2: Throw it all in as little luggage as possible without it weighing more than 50 pounds.

The roommate in the background shouting occasional bits of advice is always useful. The difficult thing is to pack for multiple climates: winter and then summer. I am going to sporting events, the beach, a wedding and a chic city.
A final get together at the beach with good friends is a definite necessary to calm ones nerves before a long trip. Thanks for showing up tonight guys!

Bon Voyage!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Music makes the world go round

The next three individuals that I would like you to meet are very unique. I brought them home with me the last time I went to South Africa. Nostalgia and excitement mixing together are a little bit of what I feel as I listen to these three artists and pack my bags in preparation for my trip in one week from today. So if you’re interested in expanding your musical horizons a bit then I invite you to listen and learn. Open your mind. Music can change your life. Grab a vuvuzela and imagine you’re in Cape Town sitting below Table Mountain experiencing the same thing I did 4 years ago. Let me introduce:

Jonathan "Johnny" Clegg (born 7 June 1953) is a musician from South Africa, who has recorded and performed with his bands Jukula and Savuka. Sometimes called Le Zoulou Blanc ("The White Zulu"), he is an important figure in South African popular music history, with songs that mix Zulu with English lyrics, and African with various Western European (such as Celtic) music styles. (Wikipedia) I also went to one of his concerts the last time I visited Cape Town. I am going to venture to compare him to an artist similar to Jimmy Buffet in that he is an older very normal looking man that has no distinctive or amazing voice. However, the difference is that Johnny Clegg brings alive the Zulu culture and exposes part of its beautiful history and legacy to some western culture by combing languages in the songs. His energy creates sometime magical at the concert. Here is one of his songs you might enjoy: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BGS7SpI7obY

Brenda Fassie (3 November 1964 – 9 May 2004), was a South African pop singer. She is known for her "outrageousness" and widely considered a voice for disenfranchised blacks during apartheid. She was affectionately known as the Queen of African Pop and her nickname amongst fans was Mabrr. (Wikipedia) Brenda Fassie was passionate to say the least. Watch this clip and you’ll understand why: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5EGYfk-RtbU&feature=related

Lesego Rampolokeng (born 1965) is a South African writer, playwright and performance poet. He was born in Soweto and has performed in many countries. He appears alongside poet Lefifi Tladi in the documentary GIANT STEPS (2005). (Wikipedia) Lesego was introduced to me by a friend named Mpho Mtongana. I met her in Port Elizabeth where she so kindly offered Marizanne and I a house to stay in during our visit. This song by Lesego was played over and over again until I actually memorized a little bit of the Xhosa lyrics.
So please enjoy, look up more songs, and appreciate them as part of the culture they come from. Lesego has soul and you can hear some of it on you tube at this link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l36YbP8lJAk

Saturday, June 19, 2010

The summer adventure begins

The purpose of this blog is so that you will get to know a few interesting individuals throughout the world. Via my summer adventure, you can keep in touch with where I am, what’s going on around the world, hear recommendations on new music and just get to know some faces you have never seen before. Today I’ll tell you about my trip and a little bit about a couple of girls I will be traveling with.

Beginning on July 1 I will be leaving the Pacific island of Oahu that I currently call home to embark on a 2 month, multi-continental adventure. The goal: to explore more about two amazing cultures. More specifically, via watching two international sporting events in South Africa and attending the wedding of a very dear friend of mine in Madrid, I hope to create relationships with people who are different than me. But in reality, I just wanna have FUN!

My Itinerary:
July 1-Depart Honolulu

July 3-Arrive Capetown and get dropped off in Fan Park at the stadium to watch the semi-final match with Mia Grundlingh.

July 9-Depart Capetown in the “noddy” (Mozzi-G’s car) and drive to Jeffery’s Bay/Port Elizabeth in order to attend the match that will determine the 3rd and 4th place teams in the World Cup of 2010. Directly after this we will be watching some rounds of the World Tour of Surfing at JBay.

July 17 – Back to Capetown to do some wine tours and some reading and relaxation/tourism.

July 27- Depart for Johannesburg to see Vlasa-T in her new natural habitat as well as visit a beach town just outside of Durban.

August 4- Return to Capetown to celebrate my quarter century birthday with Mozzi-G and fam. This is epic, because just a few years before I was in Capetown with Mozzi’s family celebrating her quarter century birthday.

August 8- Fly to Madrid.

August 9-Travel to the north of Spain where I will meet with Carlos and his family as well as spend time with my niece, Christie Gibbs, who is living in Valencia right now.

August 17-Vlasa-T arrives in Spain and we travel to a still unknown destination until…

August 24- We go back to Madrid and settle in to celebrate (and the Spanish knoooooow how to celebrate) Angela San Juan Cisneros’ marriage to Alex. 

August 30- Alas, the fateful day that brings me back to reality, work, school and a very small paycheck in Hawai’i again.

Now without further adieu, let me introduce the two main suspects behind the planning of this adventure: Mozzi-G and Vlasa-T.

I am L-Dog. The three of us are about to re-unite after years of living our own lives. It all started in Dallas in the year 2002. I went on a recruiting trip to Dallas in order to see if I wanted to attend SMU. Marizanne was my hostess. Being the ever graceful hostess, Marizanne left me with other college students to party one Friday night, hoping that this would convince me to come to SMU, and to fend for myself as far as a bed to sleep in. This charming experience with the lovely South African dame, Marizanne Grundlingh, is what convinced me to live in the middle of a state with no ocean or altitude for 4 years. Shortly after that, Michelle Vlasakova, the tall exotic Czech girl, arrived on the scene. In our freshmen class, Michelle was the only one living alone (without the other athletes) in a dorm across campus. I took Michelle under my wing, however, teaching her new English words on road trips like “opposite” and its correct pronunciation.

Four years later, a few good friends deeper and MANY bottles of wine later, Mozzi-G, Vlasa-T and L-Dog live to continue their legacy. Please stay tuned, and may the adventure begin.