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Columnists > Marla Sink Druzgal

Marla Sink Druzgal
An American Expat in South Africa, Marla is a freelance writer and global explorer. She creates travel adventures for herself following in the footsteps of her favorite authors. An American expat, she currently lives in Pretoria, South Africa, where she blogs her adventures on and is revising her first manuscript.

Marla Sink Druzgal

Saying Goodbye to the Supersized American Passport

Posted by: TravelingMarla on Monday December 14, 2015 (17:41:46)   (2662 Reads)
Rumors reached me earlier this year that the “big, fat, American passport” would be no more.

I love reaching for my passport and feeling the heft of extra pages, filled with stamps and VISA stickers, tabbed with post-it flags to guide customs agents to empty pages. I wait for the sound: thhhk; fhump; thhhk; fhump.    more ...

Marla Sink Druzgal

Go For The Flowers, Stay For The Ghost: West Coast National Park, South Africa

Posted by: TravelingMarla on Wednesday October 14, 2015 (10:45:55)   (3239 Reads)
Just after dark I heard the first scream. It was distant, barely there, drifting in through the cottage window, mingling with the sound of wind and ocean.

“It’s just the wind.” I said the words out loud to the large, empty room. In another couple hours I would hear it again, and hear the knocking. But not yet. For now, I could still calm myself, still romanticize the sounds and sights around this lonesome cottage, this old building far from lights, and people, and emergency services.    more ...

Marla Sink Druzgal

The Way I Tour South Africa

Posted by: Carole on Sunday September 13, 2015 (02:50:57)   (31368 Reads)
Marla Sink Druzgal
I’m a literary junkie.

Whenever I want to visit a new country, I try to read a lot of books written by authors who are from there, lived there, or traveled the nation extensively.

Many travelers prepare for someplace new by picking up a guide or tourism brochure, or maybe browsing YouTube, or Google Images. These are great factual resources, and can have some appealing photographs, but the flavor I seek in a country isn’t usually found in a tourist brochure.    more ...

Marla Sink Druzgal

Christmas Birds In South Africa

Posted by: Carole on Friday December 19, 2014 (06:49:11)   (26032 Reads)
Marla Sink Druzgal
It’s strange to pair the usual commercial Christmas characters with a summertime holiday. Polar bears, reindeer, and a jolly old man in a heavy, woolen red suit just doesn’t feel right.

We’ve seen our share of Santa Clause as adapted for warmer climates before. In California it’s popular to put Santa in swim trunks and have him riding a surfboard. But even in California, December is winter, with its milder weather reminding everyone that just a day’s drive into the mountains could find them in snow. Jingle bells rock the retail stores’ sound systems. Buildings are decorated from basement to penthouse, and if you want a white Christmas without the road trip, there’s always some crazy local with a snow machine who finds pleasure or passion in bringing a mini nor’easter to the crazy town of Venice, California.    more ...

Marla Sink Druzgal

It Must Be Nice Being An Expat Wife In South Africa

Posted by: Carole on Friday October 17, 2014 (15:59:56)   (4900 Reads)
Marla Sink Druzgal
“It must be nice being an expat wife. I mean, you get to have like a 2-year vacation, huh?”

I was surprised and a little more than hurt to hear these words from a South African I’ve gotten to know. But I tried to imagine my life from her perspective: she sees me several times a week at a local coffee shop, where I read, write, use my laptop or chat with local workers. I could see she thought my time in her country was one long tea party.

I considered asking her to actually read what I write, to see that the books, chats, observations and photography influence my work and I hope that I, in turn, influence my readers to see South Africa differently.    more ...

Marla Sink Druzgal

There Is No Man In The Moon In South Africa

Posted by: Carole on Tuesday September 16, 2014 (19:09:55)   (3388 Reads)
Marla Sink Druzgal
2014 saw its final supermoon of the year. A “supermoon” of course, is when a full moon, or new moon, happens at the same time the moon is closest to earth during its orbit, appearing so large it can seem as though it sits on the horizon. It’s simply mesmerizing when you have a clear view.

Pretoria affords that view consistently. Before moving here I never saw so much of the night sky. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania is not far behind the infamous Seattle, Washington in number of overcast days per year. My home there is beautiful with its changing seasons and green on green rolling hills, but skygazers like me had to hold our breath for a chance at a clear sky. We learned to find our passion in enjoying the way all those clouds cast an eerie glow on the night of a harvest supermoon.    more ...

Marla Sink Druzgal

The Whales At Bientang’s Cave, Hermanus

Posted by: Carole on Thursday August 14, 2014 (01:54:49)   (3982 Reads)
Marla Sink Druzgal
“Good luck seeing any whales in November. You know whale season is basically over by then, right?” An acquaintance at a Pretoria coffee shop was quick to douse my excitement when talking about our upcoming trip to Cape Town.

It was a year ago this time that I was planning our first big South African adventure. Part of our ten day excursion would be a drive down the coast from Cape Town to Cape Agulhas (the southernmost tip of Africa) with a day-stop at Hermanus to do a little whale watching. “The babies have already learned to breach,” she continued, “and all the whales will have headed south again, by then.” she continued.    more ...

Marla Sink Druzgal

The New “Normal” Is Really Kinda Strange

Posted by: Carole on Thursday July 17, 2014 (03:28:14)   (25230 Reads)
Marla Sink Druzgal
I’m an American living in South Africa, writing this month’s column to you from France, before flying to Africa again with a layover in Addis Ababa. I love travel, but never expected to live in a foreign country, or make stopovers in places like Paris or London, Berlin or Amsterdam, simply because there are as many alternate paths to Africa as there are famous European cities.

We chose Paris, this time, because after a year and a month living in South Africa’s capitol city of Pretoria, the timing of our first visit back from the states coincides with Bastille Day. If we’re going to fly through Europe anyway, why not see the Eiffel Tower with fireworks? It seemed perfectly rational and completely normal.    more ...

Marla Sink Druzgal

Crocodiles, Hippos…And Bilharzia In South Africa?

Posted by: Carole on Saturday June 14, 2014 (19:23:16)   (3751 Reads)
Marla Sink Druzgal
“What’s bil-har-zia?” my older nephew asks me, enunciating slowly and pronouncing it perfectly. I am walking ahead of him to board the pontoon boat for our trip through the Blyde River Canyon.

I stop. Bilharzia? Here? I try not to look alarmed as I return to where is was standing, reading a sign I had dismissed when I walked by it as just another liability clause, exempting tour operators from “the usual” risks of death by crocodile, or mauling by hippo. It is a standard disclaimer sign, but the very first item noted, before crocodile or hippo, is bilharzia. I knew it was a problem in other African countries but didn’t realize it is also in South Africa.    more ...

Marla Sink Druzgal

Mpumalanga Potholes In South Africa

Posted by: Carole on Sunday May 11, 2014 (01:49:28)   (4996 Reads)
Marla Sink Druzgal
“Look out!” I braced against the dashboard with my right hand and held firmly to the passenger door handle with my left as Kurt swerved quickly to the right, briefly crossing the center of the two-lane highway before correcting back to our lane.

We were dodging potholes on a small highway in South Africa, northbound toward The Panorama Route for a long-weekend getaway. I had second-guessed our GPS when it wanted to take us a different way, having forgotten our good road atlas at home. I tried choosing the correct route from memory, and now we were paying for it.    more ...

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