While the whole family was busy with last minute preparations for our planned trip to South Africa, Eitan flew to Johannesburg as Advance Guard. We were satisfied with our excellent preparation for the 16th Levy Family Reunion, Remembering Fern. Two days before we were to leave, Moran phoned to say that Lotem had fallen and broken her hand in two places. They would remain behind and hopefully join us a week later. We were all disappointed, but Amit was especially sad.After a long day flight to Johannesburg we arrived at Birchwood hotel where we would spend the night. We all bundled out of the coach, glad to have finally arrived; all, that is, except for Amit. She refused to get out of the coach and cried bitterly that she had had enough. She wanted to go to Eilat to her cousins. Poor girl. They had spent a day traveling from Eilat to Hofit, a second day flying – and we still had another day traveling to get to Kruger National Park.
KRUGER NATIONAL PARK
Then Amit and Ilai came running, shouting that the monkeys
had eaten their cornflakes. Well,
actually Limor had thrown the cornflakes at the monkey when it entered
bungalow. During our 4-day stay at Kruger the monkeys were a constant
excitement – leaving the door open even for a few seconds was enough
steal bananas, Vered’s pills, oranges and even zucchini from the grill.
While we were busy with the monkeys the chipmunks came through holes in
the thatched roofs and gnawed at the ginger biscuits and
We were very pleased with our bungalows at Berg-en-dal and settled in. The next morning as we stood on our porch we marveled at the variety of birds about us. Guide books were produced and as we identified the birds we noticed that Itamar and Maayan were pouring over a guide book, busy discussing which birds they had actually seen and arguing over which bird each one was going to see. They were quite oblivious of the birds flying over their heads.
We spent three days at Kruger sighting many
The highlight of a night-drive in an open
to be a meter and a half away from a lioness crouching at the side of
walk in the bush was both scary and exhilarating. Michal shared her
of dung beetles and spiders with us.
No matter how many sandwiches we prepared
‘for the road’ by
lunchtime everybody was always hungry.
One day we lunched at Afsaal, a wayside stop. The next day the Rons
saw a hyena wandering
around the tables.
Every night we gathered for a
barbecue and Eitan
quickly crowned Barbecue King.
Dinner was a time to make lists of what we had
seen, play, eat copious amounts of food, enjoy excellent South African
wines, drink Castle Beer
and tuck into peppermint crisps.
Our next stay over was at Merry Pebbles, self catering units in Sabie. We came a day earlier than planned as the grandchildren needed to relax and play and do children things. Adults also need to play and after Avivs Ron and Levy played tennis for hours, I happily joined them. .
With Merry Pebbles as our base
we visited waterfalls,
the carstic caves at Sudwala and the Dinosaur Park.
Sabie is much higher than Kruger and subsequently much colder at night and we all enjoyed sitting around the campfires which Aviv organized at night.
From Sabie we also visited God's Window and the
beautiful Bourke’s Luck
The visit to Moholoholo Wildlife Rehabilitation
where injured and
abandoned animals are cared for, was a special experience. After
listening to an interesting
how man must change as animals cannot, we were able to pat a cheetah,
and best of all touch a rhino.
This enormous three month old baby was
abandoned by its mother and is imprinted on his young care-giver.
know whether the rhino thought he was a human or whether the care-giver
was another rhino.
Either way he devotedly followed her around everywhere.
We flew to Durban
and drove to Umhlanga Rocks to the self catering units of Umhlanga
Cabanas. Lotem had received the "go ahead" from her doctor and she and
Moran had flown out the day before. After a short visit to the Hluhluwe
Game Reserve (see
Moran's site) they drove to Durban. We were all
delighted to be
reunited. Eitan had a long converation with Lotem's toes, talking about
the little girl "at the end of
At Magqibagqiba High School
nation-wide strike the learners and teachers waited to welcome us
There is a description of the dedication ceremony, including Eitan’s speech, on the page devoted to the Dedication Ceremony. . What I would like to describe is the atmosphere. The learners were neatly dressed in their best school uniforms, rather strange to our children who go to school in T-shirts and shorts. The whole school gathered in the science lab and listened intently to the speeches. The only sound was from our small grandchildren talking in the background. The learners actually listened because when Eitan said that Fern belonged to the Congress of Democrats they perked up and when he described how Fern had to get around in Oshakati Namibia on a bicycle they laughed. Other speeches followed including by Sue Edmunds who through Project Build had arranged the building of four science labs to honour Fern. The learners presented various speeches and songs of praise.
Fern would have been delighted by the learners’ sincere appreciation of the chance this would give them to extend their knowledge.
With all the family finally together we decided
grandchildren should give Eitan a surprise birthday party. It was
a complete surprise as his actual birthday was three and a half months
Amit presented him with a card she had made and all seven grandchildren
a long line and each one in turn shook Eitan’s hand vigorously while
“How do you do and how do you do and how do you do again.”. They then
formed a ring around
him and he quickly understood that they were playing his version of
you so tight that you’ll never get away” and they shrieked with
he managed to slip through their hold of him.
Then they sang a song they had made up”We love, we love Saba Eitan”
while punching the air with both hands. This caused a crisis and Lotem
that it wasn’t fair – since her hand was in a cast she could only punch
one hand, so they repeated the song, all punching with one hand.
While in the area Aviv and Moran and families went
uShaka Aquarium.and the Rons visited the impressive soccer stadium
and the North Beach. Eitan and I met with old school friends
John Moshal.(who are also supporters of Project Build.)
Our next flight was to Capetown where we stayed at
Martini in Seapoint. Choosing accommodation from pictures and
descriptions on the internet can turn out to be quite
disappointing in "real life", and although we liked that we had been
given the ground
a two-storey house there was consternation when we found that one
was in a front room without a door and another double bed was in the
It all sorted out when Eitan and I were given a large room upstairs,
Amit and Lotem to happily share the (doorless) front room and Maayan
and Itamar to be together sleeping in the kitchen.
We took advantage of the perfect weather and on
morning went up Table Mountain. Vered, Aviv and
Lior and Moran and Maayan walked up the mountain, finding it much
more strenuous than the 1 1/2 hours they had expected. The rest of us
car and a leisurely walk around the top of the mountain.
The Rons and AvivLevys stayed at the
picnic with the penguins and Moran and Michal and family joined Eitan
and me to
lunch with the "Baboon Lady", cousin Ruthie Kansky. (see Matz and Levy/Hershovitz
Ruthie is involved in a project to curtail baboons’ encroachment into urban areas. It is legend in our family that on a previous visit to her house, she opened the freezer and together with the frozen food there was a young baboon, waiting for an autopsy.
Afterwards we rushed to Hout
Bay to catch the last boat to Duiker Island
to view the seals. The boat ride had been cancelled but we were
see seals in the bay and even more so to meet Pretty Boy, a huge seal
willing to jump out of the water to catch a bloody fish head. This, we
was even more fun.
One evening the Rons decided to join Eitan and
dinner at the V&A Wharf at the Cape Town Waterfront. It started
disastrously when we couldn’t find a restaurant satisfying to all and
and Lior holding their noses as the area smelt of fish. The delicious
all that. One luncheon at the wharf with Limor, when I went to get
gull swooped down over Eitan and Limor and swiped the fish from my
Our general impression of South Africa was that security was much tighter than ten years ago and only on the North Beach of Durban and in Main Street in Seapoint did we feel uncomfortable - but our experience with monkeys, chipmunks and gulls taught us that food is never safe in South Africa!
In Capetown we were glad to meet other family and had tea with my cousins Lucille, Wendy and Carmen and their husbands. (See Nickel/Nochimovicz family tree). We also spent time with Joyce Bernstein, Eitan’s relative, who always makes sure to update their side of the Hershovitz/Levy family tree.
After a few days in Seapoint we prepared to move to Hermanus. On the way we stopped at Spiers Cheetah farm, visited a few wineries and met the weaver birds again.
Although Vered was unhappy about packing and unpacking again, we were all delighted when we reached Francolinhof in Hermanus. It was a lovely B&B, far more luxurious than the self catering units we had stayed at until then. We loved the francolins in the driveway, the variety of proteas in the back yard, the heated floor in the bathrooms and the sumptuous breakfasts.
The weather was freezing but we all found the trip exhilarating. We split up for lunch between those who were delighted to play and eat at a Spur restaurant for the 7th time (the younger grandchildren and their reluctant parents) and those who rebelled and went to a ‘proper’ restaurant. That afternoon while Eitan and I took a well deserved rest the others spent the afternoon on the Hermanus promenade watching whales breaching. Vered assured us that it was because of her constant encouragement.