A VISIT TO THE MAGICIAN 

To me, Yucatán was another world.

 The people were not taller than a meter and a half, of native origin, and the women were wearing their hair in incredibly long and thick braids, and their clothes did not seem to have been influenced by the fashion trends outside of Yucatan.


I was still worried about my very limited Spanish, although most of the locals were speaking in Mayan, using Spanish only if it was absolutely necessary. 
We went in some of the local clothing stores and while señor Jonas bought a few traditional shirts, while I didn’t have the courage to actually wear a Mayan dress. I was definitely experiencing a culture shock because Yucatán is nothing like the other Mexican states and nothing like the film cliches about Mexico and the Mexicans.
We spent the rest of the evening under the fans in the nearby restaurant, the food was extremely hot and I tried to balance it out with something called agua fresca in Mexico.

There is everything in Yucatan – from the huge and rich haciendas to the very simple huts built with simple materials, but everywhere there is a sense of hope – because of the many young people living in the smallest and most remote villages and surely because of the sun and the heat , and because everything is painted in bright and warm colors.
The hacienda, which is next to Uxmal, offers an ancient setting, a lovely pool and a hammock under the thick shades of a gazebo made of palm trees.


Uxmal is just out of this world – they even had an Observatory that actually looks like a modern observatory!


The pyramid of the Magician is huge and it’s interesting how fit the shamans that had to climb it were. 

If you look up close, you’ll see come scary monster faces on the walls:

There is a very interesting legend about the Magician, he was a son of a local witch but he wanted to be a king, so he managed to kill the king by using magic and competing with him in difficult challenges until he managed to kill him… As most traditional Mexican stories, it’s not exactly about love, piece and humanity.

Nevertheless, an incredibly interesting and stunning place.

MY NEW LIFE IN SOUTH AFRICA 

It’s been almost a year and a half since I moved to the other side of the world.
Africa.

South Africa.

It’s autumn now, almost winter, while the Northern Hemisphere is expecting the summer. 

The stars are different. 

August brings hot wind and red dust, December – heat waves and rain that does stop for a week. 

There are eleven official languages in South Africa and countless accents. 


Most people go home before sunset; the day starts at 5 in the morning with the shouts of the incredibly loud hadeda birds. People sing while walking on the streets. 

Now I know what is the true meaning of the safaris.

I’m not afraid of lions anymore. I know how to track different animals in the savannah and have no problem sleeping in a cave. 

The Ocean’s waves are huge but that makes them great for surfing. 

I made friends with a few blue cranes and a penguin colony. I learned more in one year that I had learned during my entire 4-year undergraduate degree . I know who are the people that I can trust even when I’m at the end of the world.

 I used to wait for the summer to come, now I’ve come to the summer. Because at the end of the day, the winter in South Africa is like a nice summer day in most countries.


Life is short and precarious and boring, so we must take the opportunity to change this and live it the way we want it to be.
No reason to stay is a good reason to go.

Zebra vs Lion Fight 

The fist animals we met in Kruger were two lions.



It was 5 am and they were having a nice breakfast. We couldn’t see what animal it was because they were hiding it behind a fallen tree, but they stayed there for many hours. We spent about 20 minutes watching them eating before continuing with the safari.

The sun was rising.
A few hundred meters away from the lions, a group of three zebras crossed the road in front of our car. The third one was wounded.


And then we realized it was the stallion that had been fighting with the lions. Their kill was another zebra and he tried to stop them.
Zebras are very social animals and they are quite strong as well. The stallion wasn’t badly wounded but there we could clearly see the scratches from the lion’s claws.

It was the first time we witnessed this aspect of the animal’s life. Most of the time you won’t see a predator hunting.


We asked the ranger if a vet is going to treat the zebra. Apparently they almost never do, the idea is to let the animals live as they would if no vets existed.

So that was the scary side of the safari – you suddenly realize that the animals are not just beautiful and magnificent and happily running around and just enjoying the day – from dusk to down, they fight for survival

IMAGINE DRAGONS – NAMIBIA 

Do you think climbing a sand dune is easy? Would you be fine with sleeping in a tent in the middle of the desert?

I found both of these quite challenging, but then what made me fall in love with the desert?

Yes, it is extremely hot during the day and freezing at night, and not many people would like to live there, but it’s a magical place and even if you don’t believe in magic – once you’re there, you will.
Most of the population is concentrated in the capital city Windhoek. I have to say it’s a very developed and organized city, it felt very safe to walk around and the people are awesome!
Only 20% of the Namibian territory is reachable by road – mostly gravel or sand roads. For the other part you will need to hop on a small plane or walk across the desert.
I like to think that the other 80% belong to the dragons. 
It’s the perfect place for a Dragon Kingdom. If you think it’s just my imagination – it’s not, in fact Namibia is the home of the Dragon’s Breath Cave in which you can find one of the largest underground lakes in the world. The fairy circles are also everywhere. Everything looks like from another world.



Most of the lodges are tented – they do look fancy and keep you safe from the animals and insects but it gets very windy and cold at night. The biggest plus for me was the beautiful bathroom in our lodge – it’s quite romantic 🙂

Climbing the sand dunes and walking to the Dead Valley is not too difficult if you are fit but it could be a challenge if you’re not, so make sure you go early in the morning when it’s not that hot.

The South African Cuisine 

A lot of people have been asking me about the South African cuisine. 

With so many different cultures in the country it’s very difficult to tell what is the authentic food and what is not, so I just decided to pick a few examples.

Enjoy!
1. Braai – the absolute South African number one!

It’s the South African barbecue. The meat is done medium-rare, maximum medium.

2. Pear & white chocolate cream 

3. Mixed Berry Pancakes 

4. Mushroom cream wrapped in cabbage 


5. Oysters – especially around Cape Town. 


6. Freshly squeezed juice.

Together with the 9 months of summer, the unlimited amounts of fresh fruit are one of the best reasons to live here 😀

BAJA CALIFORNIA – MEXICO

The horizon just was out of place.

Although it seemed perfectly calm in the distance, for the whole week I had the feeling that the water was a giant wave waiting to collapse over the land.

On the other side were the mountains – very green despite the desert climate.

It was the rainy season and yet until the end of our trip the weather stayed hot and dry. A hurricane was approaching as we were leaving Baja California, but thankfully we escaped the storm on time.



When the tropical storms or hurricanes arrive, the rainwater gathers in the otherwise dry and empty river beds that descend from the mountains. But most of the time you won’t even see a drop of water.

As everywhere in Mexico, the distances are long and the best plan is to rent a car from the airport. Mr. Jonas surprised me with a Fiat 500, a very romantic choice.
The first destination was Todos Santos (yes, All Saints)


The real Mexico is far from the typical Hollywood cliches.

However, Todos Santos does match them to some extent: the desert, lots of cacti, happy and noisy local guys, gringos…

 Most bars and restaurants close around 9 and the nights are usually very quiet.

It’s perfect for stargazing because the town is small and there’s no light pollution. The Tropic of Cancer is very close to Todos Santos. Google Sky Maps is an interesting app that shows you the constellations around.

The town was founded in the 18th century by missionaries. Most of the buildings are quite old, many of them have been converted into hotels, but still maintain the traditional style of the past – huge gardens with tropical flowers and palm trees, fountains, exotic birds …


Todos Santos is a few miles away from the beach, so we hopped in our cute Fiat.

There’s so few people living in Baja California and almost no tourists (especially if you compare it to the rest of the Mexican beach resorts), and on the other hand there are so many beaches around. 


You won’t see any ugly hotels or restaurants, and especially if you enjoy big waves or surfing – this is the perfect place for you 🙂

SO YOU WANT TO LIVE IN SOUTH AFRICA?


It’s been more that a year since I moved to live in South Africa. I remember the first time I saw the land from the plane – perfect squares of neat green fields and red soil. I’ll never forget this moment. 

All people need some time to adjust to a new country. For me this period lasted for about 5 minutes. I came to my home country for a week and even though I enjoy seeing my family and friends, the truth is, I can’t wait to go back to South Africa.
This doesn’t mean that I have no problems living there. 
Living in South Africa as a foreigner is almost mission impossible: you’re not able to get anything without a SA ID number, there’s no information on the Internet, in fact usually there’s no Internet, no public transport, you can’t even buy a SIM card…if you’re lucky you might have electricity. 

It’s a very developed country but also a very restrictive one. I know it sounds weird.


But at the same time – the people are great and the food is delicious, the arts scene is very good and so are the jazz clubs, it’s a very young nation, the weather is probably the best in the world, and of course – the national parks are amazing (and the whole country feels like one huge park). 
Life in South Africa may not be for everyone, but for me it’s still a dream come true. ❤️