Tag Archives | hemingway

A Ticket to South Africa

“All I wanted to do now was get back to Africa.  We had not left it yet, but when I would wake in the night, I would lie, listening, homesick for it already.”—Ernest Hemingway

They say that you shouldn’t start blog posts with a quote.  They say that it some how takes away from rest of the post.  I think that is bunk.  Hemingway was onto something.  His thoughtful comment completely captures how we feel about Africa.  While our visit to South Africa was short, it changed us forever.  We want to take you along on our discovery.

Township south Africa

A view of Soweto

The Soweto

Our African experience began in Johannesburg, South Africa, affectionately known as Jo’Burg.  We endured the long flight from the States.  It continues to amaze us that you can board a flying tin can and travel half way around the world in less than a day.  Once we got our feet underneath us, we joined up with our guide Henry and headed for the Soweto.  Soweto is short for “South Western Township.”   The sprawling shanty metropolis is the home to 1.3 million people.  It has a rough and difficult history that we won’t dive into here; needless to say, we felt that it was important to see and attempt to understand first hand.  Our guide drove us around the Soweto, pointing out the hospital, when electricity came to the area, and how all the city functioned. Our guide took us into a couple of homes. We met the families that lived there.  Our “abundance guilt” bubbled up in our hearts.  A visit to the township was powerfully instructive. We ended our tour at Nelson Mandela’s house and mentally exhausted.

The next morning we hired our rental car for our adventure.   You would think that we would engage a Range Rover for the self-guided safari that we were embarking on?  No, we went cheap.  We opted for the four-cylinder Chevy Aveo.  Bad decision.  But we will save that story for a little later.  We headed north on highway one.  Our destination:  Zimbabwe.

Going into Zimbabwe

Crossing the border into Zimbabwe

Destination Zimbabwe

One of Luci’s lifetime goals is to visit Zimbabwe.  Why would an Idaho farm girl set a crazy goal like that?  We do not know.  The journey took a little over 5 hours.  As we approached the border crossing, we began to have second thoughts.  Zimbabwe does not have the friendliest relations with our fair country.  We parked at the South African checkpoint on the south bank of the Limpopo River.  We went in and were greeted by a grim-faced bureaucrat.  We explained our intent to cross into Zimbabwe, get our Passport stamped and return.  We both saw the blood kind of drain out of his face.

“Why are you doing this thing?” He politely asked.  We smiled and tried to explain.  Rather than attempt to counter our stupidity, he instructed us to do a number of things for our safety.  “Pull your car around to the front of the building, it will likely be stolen or broken into.  Go there, come back quickly and see me when you return so I know that you have returned safely.”

Zimbabwe border

Welcome to Zimbabwe

At this point, both of us were having second thoughts.  If our rental car company didn’t want us to drive across this river into this country, why in the world are we going across?  Like walking the plank, we bravely marched across the baboon ridden bridge.  We were headed by foot to Zimbabwe.  We were obviously tourists. Luci had her camera around her neck.  We didn’t have our belongings wrapped in a sheet or carrying grocery sacks across the bridge on our heads like others crossing.  As we approached, we were welcomed by camo-clad militia men with AK-47s strapped to their backs.  Each in turn looked at us with healthy suspicion.  We nervously whispered back and forth to each other…”keep walking, keep walking.”   We entered the run down custom’s house.  It was sheer craziness.  Crowds pushed forward to face the three to four border agents that were behind bars.

The heat that day was blistering.  Humidity was off the charts.  The air was close in the steamy small room.  We were unsure of ourselves.  Our naivety was written on our faces.  A couple of different agents came from one of the back rooms and pulled us aside and suggested that we pay them to make the process go faster.  We declined.  The price was adjusted.  Again we opted out.  In the developing situation, it soon became clear that the likelihood that we were going to make it out of the experience without our wallets being lightened significantly was highly unlikely.  Was it worth it for the Passport stamp?  I said, “Let’s go.”  We walked out.  We dashed back across the bridge to check back with our caring friend and find our car unmolested.  We had accomplished our goal.  We had set foot in Zimbabwe.  The adventure was just beginning.

South Africa Safari woman

The view from the veranda of the lodge.

 

A peaceful outpost

We made our way back into the savanna of South Africa.  We had done our research and found a quaint bed and breakfast on a small reservoir, the Shiluvari Lakeside Lodge.  This was our first taste of the night sounds of Africa.  It was wonderful.  We had our dinner on the veranda overlooking the water and listened.  We recounted our brave adventures that day and started to connect with the place that we had traveled so far to see.

The next morning we would head out on our self-serve safari to see some of the most incredible animals in the world.

Africa was truly a grand adventure!

 

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Tracking Hemingway (Paris, Peru, Venice and Sun Valley)

Tracking Hemingway (Paris, Peru, Venice and Sun Valley)

Since reading Old man and the Sea in the 3rd grade, I have been mesmerized by Papa.  So many of his works have since impacted me at different points my life.  As Luci and I have traveled, we have unintentionally followed his footsteps.  Most recently in prep for my first visit to the African continent, I read his, “Green Hills of Africa.”  Granted, Africa today is much different than in Hemmingway’s his day, I could really feel the romance and love he had for the people and the place.

I feel a real connection with Hemmingway.  We are both travel writers. Of course, Hemmingway is in the majors, I’m still trying to get into the minors. I try to emulate Hemmingway’s approach of connecting with the locals, and seeing the off the beaten path places.  Then, in turn, share these stories with those who will listen.  We both have been known to be prone to a little embellishment at times….

Paris

“If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast.”   Ernest Hemingway

Hemingway loved Paris.  Paris loves Hemingway.  We visited Paris last month and we decided to sign up for a Hemingway walk.  Unfortunately, we were greatly disappointed in the tour…too many people and despite the name of the walk, Papa was only briefly discussed.  I knew we were in trouble when at the onset the guide asked how many people had read “A Moveable Feast” and Luci and I and one other couple had read it.  What a shame!  But we did get to walk by his first home in Paris.  He and his wife Hadley lived in a small walk-up at 74 Rue du Cardinal Lemoine in the Latin Quarter, and he worked in a rented room in a nearby building.  Interesting enough, both locations claimed that he “lived” there.

View from the ET

It is of note the area that he chose to live in.  Most of Hemingway expat friends lived in more “upscale” areas in Paris.  Ernest chose to live in a real neighborhood.  Cardinal Lemoine was working man’s Paris at the time.  He brought up this fact in Moveable Feast.  By proximity to the working class, he was able to keep that simple voice in his works.  To contrast, another Idahoan that was a contemporary of Hemmingway in Paris, Ezra Pound, who chose to surround himself in very developmental years with the intellectually elite. Pound’s writings would reflect this foundation, and he never had the commercial success that Hemingway experienced. Hemingway would call Pound, “the poet’s poet.”  Quite a compliment for sure.

“Happiness in intelligent people is the rarest thing I know.”  Ernest Hemingway

Peru

“Somebody just back of you while you are fishing is as bad as someone looking over your shoulder while you write a letter to your girl.”  Ernest Hemingway

One of the really cool places we went in Lima, Peru, was the Grand Hotel Bolivar.  Now the hotel feels past its prime, but standing off the bar by a beautiful marble mantle where Hemmingway would have shared his fishing escapades is very moving.  I am sure a few good Cuban’s were lit here!

Hemingway made one trip with South America spending just under a month there.  While there he pursued his love of sporting fishing.  Peru is such a great place to visit!  It truly has it all: the sun,  the sea, and of course the jungle!

Venice

“My aim is to put down on paper what I see and what I feel in the best and simplest way.“  Ernest Hemingway

One cannot discuss Hemingway in Venice without starting with Harry’s Bar.  The watering hole is located just off St. Marks Square and is now a shell of the place it was back in the day.  In its hay-day it was the headquarters of all things important.  According to our friends at Wikipedia: “Harry’s Bar has long been frequented by famous people, and it was a favorite of Ernest Hemingway. Other notable customers have included Italian conductor Arturo Toscanini, inventor Guglielmo Marconi, Charlie Chaplin, Alfred Hitchcock, Truman Capote, Orson Welles, Baron Philippe de Rothschild, Princess Aspasia of Greece, Aristotle Onassis, Barbara Hutton, Peggy Guggenheim, and Woody Allen.”

Hemingway spent time in Northern Italy during the first world war.  Venice was a respite from the bloodshed and bombing that he witnessed.  It was here he was able to collect his thoughts and put them to paper.  Besides spending time at Harry’s, Hemingway at well in Veice, very well.  A Venice restaurant has recreated one of Ernest favorite meals:  http://www.tourism-review.com/venice-a-hotel-commemorates-hemingway-with-special-menu-news2769

Sun Valley

“A man can be destroyed but not defeated.”  Ernest Hemingway

Perhaps my closest connection to Ernesto was our common love of Idaho.  I grew up in Eastern Idaho and regularly visited Sun Valley and the Wood River Valley.  Hemingway chose to spend his last days there, and ultimately ended his life at his own hand there.  In the early morning hours of July 2, 1961, Hemingway “quite deliberately” shot himself with his favorite shotgun.  He is buried in the Sun Valley Cemetery just north of town.  My business often takes me to the area, and I try to visit to pay my respects.  There is always a Cuban cigar, or a bottle of Jack left as a tribute by fellow doting fans.

Sun Valley, candidly in and of itself, isn’t much to look at.  However, Sun Valley is the gateway into the Sawtooth Mountains.  They are some of the most ruggedly beautiful places in the world.  The mountain range lives up to its name.  Its craggy peaks and high mountain lakes are special.  Big game hunting is plentiful.  Winter transforms the entire area into a skiing mecca.

This post is missing two key Hemingway locations: Cuba and Spain.  (They are on our list! Have you been?)   Obviously, you don’t need to circle the globe to catch a glimpse of Papa.  All you need to do is simply read one of his masterpieces.

“Every man’s life ends the same way. It is only the details of how he lived and how he died that distinguish one man from another.”  Ernest Hemingway

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