Tag Archives: video

Adventures with Meerkats

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Ostriches aren’t the only animal to visit in Oudtshoorn. Turns out this town, just north of South Africa’s Garden Route, is also a pretty sweet place visit meerkats too.

If you need a refresher, meerkats are cute little mongooses that live in the deserts and grasslands of Africa. Think Timon in “The Lion King.”

Better than the Disney cartoon, Meerkat Adventures takes small groups to see meerkats in their natural habitats. But the trip is not for those who like to sleep in. Watching these critters requires arriving at the site before dawn, when they arise.

After making the booking, tour guide and researcher Devey Glinister provides all guests coordinates and a pre-dawn meeting time from where he will guide the group via car to the viewing spot, which changes daily. He and his team study the meerkat families and know which hills they sleep in and where they move to.

Upon arrival, Devey and his team provide tea, coffee and a light snack (like delicious homemade rusks for dipping!) before settling around the hill and viewing the sunrise. From there, everyone watches with baited breath for the first meerkat to pop his head out, which could take anywhere from a few minutes to an hour or more.

My 4 a.m.-awoken, barely-functioning self fell asleep about three times in the waiting process, and I honestly don’t remember how long it took us to see our first meerkat, but I’ll guess somewhere around the 30-minute range. During the waiting time and after, Devey shares with you all kinds of information about meerkats, including the different family roles and survival habits. At some point, you watch the sentry, the first guard meerkat, pop out of his hill to check for predators, eventually followed by the rest of the family and the alpha at the very end. Together, the family grooms, basks in the sun and continues to watch for predators before moving on to start their day and the tour ends.

The whole process takes 2-3 hours and costs R 550 ($38.15). Great experience for wildlife lovers and those who wants to do something a little different on their trip. Vehicle required. For more info visit  http://meerkatadventures.co.za/home.html.

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Welcoming Summer with Detroit’s River Days

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Twenty years ago, the Detroit International Riverfront was an unremarkable industrial setting full of parking lots, overgrown brush and broken concrete – a sad site for a major international border. Now, thanks to public and private investments and the Detroit RiverFront Conservancy, the 3+ mile border along the Detroit River has become the Detroit RiverWalk: a magical pedestrian space along the river perfect for playing in fountains, riding carousels and people watching.

Hence the birth of River Days – an annual festival celebrating the development of the riverfront and an opportunity to show off all of the great experiences available on both land and water to visitors.

Now in its tenth year, the event features activities for people of all ages. Kids can enjoy activities including carnival rides, face-painting, crafts and a special children’s stage featuring animal performances, magic shows and storytelling. Adults can enjoy numerous live bands throughout the weekend, including big names such as the B-52s and Patti Labelle, as well as yoga on the riverfront. Boat tours, circus performances, jet ski demonstrations and zip line rides round out the festival, creating a fun, high energy atmosphere that is sure to surprise and delight.

Admission for the event ranges from $3-$5 with proceeds benefitting the Detroit RiverFront Conservancy and their efforts to continue to create and expand a vibrant community space on the waterfront. For additional information visit www.RiverDays.com.

What It’s Like to Eat an Ostrich

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I’m not a big meat person. I’m not even an adventurous food person. But I decided to take advantage of my time at the Highgate Ostrich Show Farm in Oudtshoorn to try ostrich during my visit and was pleasantly surprised.

Fun fact: ostrich meat is really good for you! Despite coming from a bird, it’s actually a red meat, but one that is leaner than beef with fewer calories and fat than even chicken. It’s also rich in protein and iron, making it a pretty good choice, meat-wise. As for taste, you’ll have to check out the video!

 

How to Awkwardly Ride an Ostrich

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Weather-permitting, many of the ostrich show farms in Oudtshoorn will allow visitors ride an ostrich as part of the tour.

If you want to see how to do this awkwardly, check out the video below:

 

Everything You Ever Needed to Know About Ostriches

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Ostriches.JPG

Long necks, funny faces, pretty feathers, really, who doesn’t love a good ostrich?

In South Africa, you can get your fill of them in more ways than one. Native to the continent, ostrich farms in Oudtshoorn are a popular traveler site where you can pet ostriches, ride ostriches, eat ostriches and learn WAAAY more things about these fascinating creatures than you ever thought you needed to.

My friend Sara and I paid a visit to Highgate Ostrich Show Farm, where for 140 rand ($9) and an hour and a half, we took part in all of the aforementioned activities. Our charismatic guide Danian packed tons of information into our tour. Based on this, please find…

Everything You Ever Needed to Know About Ostriches:

  • Ostriches are used for many things with multiple uses for their leather, eggs, meat and feathers.

  • One ostrich egg is the equivalent to two dozen chicken eggs.

Ostrich Egg

  • Male ostriches have naturally blue skin, female ostriches have pink skin.

Ostrich Blue Skin

  • Ostriches typically have one mate for life.

  • Sometimes a male ostrich will take up with two female ostriches, then the farm has to incubate the eggs themselves to prevent fighting.

Ostrich Trio

  • Ostrich eggs are very strong.

Strong Ostrich Eggs

  • Ostriches are fast and have strong legs, they can break your back and kill you.

  • If an ostrich runs at you, play dead.

  • When you play dead, an ostrich may come and sit on you for awhile. That’s cool, wait it out.

  • Ostriches are extremely fast, and can run up to 43 miles per hour.

  • Male ostrich feathers are the pretty ones, used for costumes and decorating.

  • Female ostrich feathers are better used for cleaning, like in feather dusters (no comment). Ostrich feather duster

Hope you learned something :).

 

 

 

Experiencing Michigan’s Prettiest Art Fair in Palmer Park

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Often set in busy downtowns, it’s not often the location of an art fair is as pretty as the art within it. But that’s not the case for the Palmer Park Art Fair in Detroit, arguably the loveliest art fair in the state. Set among the quaint backdrop of Palmer Park, visitors enjoy a quiet relaxing atmosphere among the ducks, hills and historic log cabin as they peruse art booths spread around the lake.

 The boutique art fair started in 1976 and lasted for about a decade before closing for about 25 years. The fair was revitalized in 2013 and has occurred every May ever since, even featuring some of the same artists as the original fair.

Art-lovers can choose from work from about about 100 artists, including prominent local artists and those from out of state. The show features 2D and 3D pieces as well as wearable art, including paintings, sculptures, jewelry, furniture, photographs and more.

New this year, the art fair includes work from local teenagers at part of the Mint Artists Guild, an opportunity for young artists to showcase their work and get a taste of what life is like as an artist.

Additionally, the fair features live music performances, art projects and food trucks, creating an interactive experience for attendees.

For more information visit www.PalmerParkArtFair.com.

A Visit to Zwelihle – An Inside Look at a South African Slum

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I knew a little about the slums or “townships” of South Africa. Remnants of the apartheid era, townships were the segregated, underdeveloped settlements created for non-whites to live in, usually on the periphery of the cities. Through movies and general apartheid knowledge, visions of tin shacks on dirty streets filled my mind and something I wanted to understand first-hand on my trip.

Since my shark-driven tour of Hermanus proved fruitless, I signed up for a tour of Zwelihle, a township within Hermanus of about 22,000 Xhosa people.

I did the tour with my new friend Sara I’d made at the hostel. Neither one of us was sure what to expect and wanted to be sensitive not to treat this community as a tourist attraction, but our guide Willie made us feel right at home. Short, round and jolly, Willie’s ebullience was infectious. With a bright smile on his face, he walked us through Zwelihle, proud to show us anything and everything.

To me, the township looked basically how I thought it would from what I’d seen in the movies. Away from the charming seaside of downtown Hermanus, Zwelihle lay flat in the middle of field, surrounded by an occasional hill in the distance. The roads, some paved, some dirt, were lined with tin shacks built within feet of one another. The houses stood on dry, dusty grounds on which lay sparse patches of grass and litter. Some of the homes had fences, even barbed wire. Others had brightly-colored laundry airing. Many had satellite dishes.

Most corners had a Spaza Shop, a Coke-themed tin shack which Willie explained meant “unregistered,” essentially a convenience store where people could buy food, drinks and general household items. Men gathered at these Spaza Shops to chat and laugh, women did chores outside the homes, kids played on the street. Willie smiled and greeted them all.

Willie explained there were different types of homes within the township. Many people, such as himself, rented the shacks for 200 rand a month (about $12.40). Those houses had running water and electricity, he said. Further within the township were flimsier shacks with no running water or electricity and public shared toilets. Willie told us these were free but available only to the disabled or elderly, or single mothers who qualified.

Though apartheid ended more than 20 years ago, the income discrepancy between white people and non-white people was clear, and the demographics of the township I saw appeared to be the same as it did when the township was formed.

Willie said finding work was difficult in the township, especially, he said, because of an influx of immigrants from poorer, surrounding African countries taking many of the jobs and keeping wages low. He also said the government was building better quality public housing on the land directly across from the township.

For me, I am grateful for the opportunity for the glimpse into a world so entirely different from mine and the warm hospitality in which it was experienced. I don’t know the future of South Africa, but I am curious to see the developments ahead.

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Chasing Away Detroit’s Red Dwarf at the Marche Du Nain Rouge

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Venice has Carnevale, New Orleans has Mardi Gras and Detroit has…the Marche du Nain Rouge? While not a pre-Lenten celebration, Detroit’s Marche du Nain Rouge is a carnival-like celebration with a unique Motor City twist. The relatively new annual festival banishes all of the bad from the city while celebrating all of the good with a distinct Detroit pride.

The Marche is based on an old legend surrounding Detroit’s founding. The story goes Detroit’s founder, Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac, was tormented by images of a little red dwarf, the “Nain Rouge.” Cadillac approached a fortune-teller who told him the Nain was a representation of his ambition, anger, pride and envy – all of the things that would hold him back from truly becoming great. And while she foreboded a great city, she warned of a series of setbacks and personal misfortune if Cadillac were to provoke this Nain Rouge.

Of course, Cadillac did go on to found the city, but legend has it upon encountering the Nain in person, he chased it away with a stick – setting off a series of troubles for the city to come and, perhaps, contributing to Cadillac’s own misfortune – returning to France penniless after founding the city.

Though Detroit’s troubles have been well-documented, its history is that of a city of resilience, one that continues to overcome, fight back and thrive in the face of adversity – and that is exactly what the Marche is all about.

Now, every March around the time of the vernal equinox, revelers gather to march along Detroit’s Cass Corridor to chase the Nain and all of the negative things it brings out of the city. Costumes act as a disguise and protection from the Nain, preventing it from extracting person revenge. The day ends with a series of parties across the city in a true celebration of good over evil and a hope for better things to come.

If anyone has any doubt about Detroit’s comeback, the Marche du Nain Rouge is a true embodiment of the spirit of the city that can only be experienced in person.

For more information visit www.MarcheDuNainRouge.com.

Cape Town – Cape of Good Hope

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A trip to South Africa would not be complete without a visit to the Cape of Good Hope or Cape Point – the most southwestern point of all of Africa. More than just a point on a map, what people may not realize is how beautiful the Cape actually is! As part of Table Mountain National Park, people can spend days there, taking in its stunning views of mountain, sea and cliffs. I combined it with a trip to Boulders Beach (about 30 minutes away), but I would have loved to have spent more time.

Fun fact about the Cape of Good Hope – it is NOT the most southern point of Africa, but it is the most SOUTHWESTERN point of Africa. The southern most point of Africa is Cape Agulhas, about 93 miles away.

If you really want to experience the Cape, plan ahead and take your time. Keep in mind, the park is open from roughly dawn until dusk and is about an hour and a half drive from Cape Town. I managed to see a lot in an hour and a half but would have much preferred to have had more time to enjoy more of the walks.

For more information visit http://capepoint.co.za.

 

 

 

 

Getting Glamorous at the Gatsby Gala

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Those familiar with Detroit know the city is full of historic neighborhoods containing row after row of stunning architecture. While numerous tours throughout the city offer opportunities for visitors to see these homes up close, there’s a new event in town that allows guests to experience this time period on an even deeper level: The Detroit Gatsby Winter Gala.

As the name suggests, the event is a celebration of everything fabulous about the 1920s. Set in the historic Charles T. Fisher Mansion, the location itself makes this event a winner. The 1922-built house was the home of the co-founder of the Fisher Body Company, the world’s largest manufacturer of car bodies in 1914. The 15,000 square-foot mansion features 46 rooms containing Tudor-style ceiling murals, a grand staircase, a pipe organ, a Prohibition-style speakeasy and more – the perfect backdrop for an evening of opulence and entertainment.

With this setting, fringed, feathered and tuxedoed-party-goers are transported back in time enjoying a night of dancing, drinking and mingling throughout the house – the dream of any Great Gatsby or Downton Abbey fan.

While new, the party is looking to become an annual or semi-annual occurrence. Organizers held a less formal, outdoor event last summer with their First Annual Detroit Gatsby Lawn Party at Detroit’s Palmer Park neighborhood, and they are planning to repeat the event this September.

Ticket prices range from $80-$100 for the winter gala and $25 – $150 for the lawn party, with a portion of the proceeds benefitting a local charity. Events sell out, so it is recommended to purchase tickets early.

For more information visit http://detroitgatsbylawnparty.com.

 

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