I Dream of Africa

Late on the night of my 10th birthday party only a few of my friends were still awake. Everyone was wrapped up in sleeping bags on the living room floor. We decided to put in a movie my mom and I had rented earlier that evening. It was called "A Far Off Place" and it starred Reese Witherspoon (Nonnie) and Ethan Embry (Harry). The two main characters were forced to flee Nonnie's home after poachers murdered her parents and Harry's father. Left with few viable options Nonnie's bushman friend, Xhabbo, encouraged them to cross the Kalahari Desert and seek refuge in the nearest city 1,200 miles away. When Nonnie asked Xhabbo why he would propose such a risky escape he replied, "Wind can do it, we can do it." 

The trio's journey was so fascinating I had no trouble staying awake. It was well after midnight when the movie ended and my dream of seeing Africa began. Of course back in those days I thought Africa only consisted of deserts and tribesmen. In the years since my view has expanded thanks to a steady diet of movies and television. I am well aware that there is much more to Africa than what I see on-screen. That is why it's time I go see it for myself!

I was perusing airfare three weeks ago and I realized that fall flights to South Africa were only $200 more than flights to Brazil. The wheels in my mind started turning and I told my parents and a few other people I wanted to go to Cape Town for a week. While they were all supportive they insisted I go with someone. The overall message? "Cape Town is dangerous." Before I knew it my mom was volunteering to come along on one condition, "If I go to Africa I'm going on safari!" Thus my budget-friendly one-week trip has now turned into piggy bank-busting 13-day dream vacation. (Yeah, I like hyphens.)

Last night my mom and I tried to finalize our safari game lodge reservation but we had a moment of panic when we noticed a very limited selection of Delta flights. My mom called Delta and after an hour (or more) on the phone we ended up booking our flights. Our itineraries are almost identical (we'll be leaving from two different states) and as long as our flights don't get completely changed we're going to be in great shape. We'll spend six nights and five days in Cape Town before flying to a small airport near Kruger National Park. We'll stay at the game reserve (photo credit above) for three nights and spend almost four whole days there. We plan to drive from Kruger National Park to Johannesburg for our return flights but we're going take our time and stay in an off-the-beaten-path countryside inn along the way. We are pretty excited!

We still have a lot of planning to do. In my free time I want to spend time reading books and watching movies based in Africa. If you have any suggestions please let me know!

1. A Far Off Place (1993)

I already took the liberty of re-watching this movie and guess what? It's still great! I noticed in the opening credits that the film is based on two books by Sir Laurens Van Der Post: "A Story Like the Wind" and "A Far Off Place." I already bought the first one and I plan to read both of them before the trip.

2. Catch a Fire (2006)

I saw this movie when it was in theaters and I remember thinking, "I'm never going to South Africa." Well, times have changed and I want to see if my perception of this movie has as well. 

3. Hotel Rwanda (2004)

One of my college professors constantly talked about a former student from Rwanda. She had survived the genocide portrayed in this film and he encouraged us all to see it. For the longest time I assumed this was a bloody war movie but when I watched it I was very moved by true human stories portrayed.

4. Long Way Down (2007) 

After watching Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman's amazing 20,000 mile motorcycle journey from England to New York City (heading EAST) in "Long Way Round" my friends and I were very anxious to track down "Long Way Down." Ewan and Charley rode from Scotland to Cape Town and I think this was my very first glimpse of Cape Town. 

Their journey through Africa was amazing. It's definitely time to track down another copy!

5. Invictus (2009)

I've seen this movie twice but now that a trip to Robben Island might be in my future I'll definitely have see it again. I remember loving Chester's character and thinking Matt Damon did really well with is accent. I think things will make more sense after I study the Apartheid era.

Now for the list of new stuff...

6. The Gods Must Be Crazy (1980)
This movie looks pretty darn funny. I saw a clip of it in college in 2003 and I remember I wanted to see the rest.

7. Born Free (1966)

This one popped up on my radar thanks to "Mad Men." I hope it's something along the lines of Christian the Lion.

8. Out of Africa (1985)

Meryl Streep and Robert Redford? Sign me up!

9. The African Queen (1951)

I believe 'The Philadelphia Story" is the only Katherine Hepburn movie I've ever seen unless you count "The Aviator." (Haha j/k I know that was actually Cate Blanchett.) The poster for "The African Queen" kind of reminds me of the Jungle Cruise at Disneyland - and that's a good thing!

10. Casablanca (1942)

Alright... are you ready for it? Get ready... I'VE NEVER SEEN CASABLANCA. (Or "Gone With the Wind," for that matter.) 

WHOA - Oh my gosh - I was just about to write, "I've never been opposed to seeing the movie. It's just that I've never had an opportunity-" and guess what happened?? My friend just texted me to say it's playing in a movie theater in 30 minutes! Holy hannah! It's playing at one time, in one theater, on one night only. I'm going to try to make it and as a result I don't have time to proof read this post or fix the crazy formatting. Sorry in advance!!


Spring of Paring Down

Disclaimer: This post has nothing to do with cooking or how to shop for the perfect paring knife. Foodies be warned!

If I counted how many coats, t-shirts and shoes I have I would be ashamed to write the number here. If I added all of my purses, scarves and gloves you’d think I was joking. I have a habit of holding onto clothes and shoes in case (“What if? What if?!”) I need them in the future. I always dread the day I’ll search for an item in my closet and then woefully remember, “Oh yeah, I donated that last year.”

My closet is like a time capsule. I can recall where I bought almost every item and which ones were gifts. I remember how much of a discount I got and the significant events I wore them to. Giving away a shirt or a hoodie is like giving away a packet of memories. For the past few months I’ve had a “To donate” pile in my bathroom. It just sits there. Every once in a while I add to the pile. Occasionally I pull an item out for rescue.

Clothes and shoes are only the tip of the iceberg. For lack of better words I have a lot of “just about everything.” I have a ton of inexpensive jewelry (hello Forever 21!), lotion (a popular birthday gift), old birthday cards and playbills. My collection of nail polish is so extensive I can hardly close my bathroom drawer without routine reorganizations. The presence of three different curling irons in said drawer isn’t much help.

I also have a problem area in my living room which has been boiling over for a while. My collection of scrap fabric and ribbon for craft projects is out of control! It used to fit in a plastic drawer set but lately it has spread to a few additional baskets and boxes and every once in a while it escapes onto the kitchen counter. Naughty, naughty!

I decided on this “Spring of Paring Down” seasonal theme almost a month ago. I tackled my fabric drawers first and made this entire wreath using fabric I already had. Not a bad start, right?

Looking around my apartment I know there is more I can do. I need to cut down my leftover inventory from my out-of-commission Etsy shop. I absolutely have to turn my old clothes and shoes in to Deseret Industries. I need to paste all of my souvenir tickets into my long-abandoned scrap book. Literally I want to get rid of half the stuff in my apartment. I am going to use the month of April to tackle all of this and then I’m going to spend May and June maintaining the new-found sanity.

In short Phase One will involve attacking these problem areas:

A. Closet: Pull every item out of my closet which I haven’t worn for one year. Say goodbye.

B. Bathroom drawers: Chuck all old nail polishes. Get rid of superfluous items.

C. Desk: Collect all tickets and other sentimental scraps. Slap them into scrapbook.

D. Fabric drawers & Etsy inventory: Organize all remaining fabric and ribbon. Re-open Etsy shop and sell everything at a deep discount.

E. Basement storage area: Remove all unused furniture/decoration items. Give them away.

Phase Two (read: maintenance) will test my resolve but I think if I make it all the way to June without re-cluttering my life then I can probably make it the rest of the year. If I can make it the rest of the year then maybe I can make it the rest of my life. Well, the rest of my “single” life at least.

If this doesn’t count as “paring down” I don’t know what does. I am already excited to see the progress. Happy Spring Cleaning to all and to all a good night!