Saying Goodbye to the Supersized American Passport

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.Sometimes … Read more

The Way I Tour South Africa

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. … Read more

Christmas Birds In South Africa

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 … Read more

There Is No Man In The Moon In South Africa

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 … Read more

The Whales At Bientang’s Cave, Hermanus

“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 … Read more

The New “Normal” Is Really Kinda Strange

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 … Read more

Crocodiles, Hippos…And Bilharzia In South Africa?

“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 … Read more

Mpumalanga Potholes In South Africa

“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 … Read more