What Did We Do?

Dennis and Jenny Hacker's Sojourns in Africa


November 21, 2019 | So much to catch up on

Around Town

The weekend of October 13th found us at the Company Gardens for the Bonsai Festival. Five different bonsai clubs from the Western Cape got together and put on an outdoor event. Many of the trees were of species I’d never heard of.

The following weekend there are several things that I/we wanted to do, I rented a car again. So, after reserving the car, Jen told me that she wouldn’t be going with me to finish the Dylan Lewis Sculpture Garden as she wanted to work on her blog and had already been impressed with the art. She’s trying to update and expand her posts to hopefully attract a publisher. We have hired a digital marketing firm here to help generate interest in her blog.

I’m getting to be a pro at driving on the left side of the road. It’s easy as long as you keep the centerline on the driver’s side of the car.

As we had seen most of the sculpture garden on our first go, it didn’t take long for me to finish seeing all the remaining sculptures. There was a grouping of about 30 small sculptures depicting circus/contortionist/ male and female torsos which were about the size of my hand. One of the most amazing was the rhinoceros which was about 2-3 meters in length and about 1.5-2 meters high. The garden was calming and serene. I learned that Dylan actually built the entire grounds of the garden by getting on a bulldozer and sculpting the water features and building hillocks. He personally chose all the landscaping plants. This was his largest sculpture by far.


Since it didn’t take long to see what hadn’t previously been seen, I decided to visit the Bishopsford Bonsai Garden in Constantia. Another jaw-dropping experience. There were trees in training since 1949. Many beautiful trees from the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s. These senior trees were not for sale. Many of the beautiful trees that were for sale were priced at about $1000 (R15000) each. Smaller trees were about $8-125 (R120-1800). A great experience. It resulted in me missing my trees in Richmond.

Chinese hackberry started in 1951. I was 5-years old.

That Saturday, we went out to Jossie’s house in Mamre. Jossie’s our housekeeper. We saw how she’s upgraded the house since we had left in April 2018. She’s put in a security door and had gotten a clothes washer and freezer. The place is really nice. No water leaks. We also saw her father and mother as well as Brevan her youngest son.

Photo Shoot

Whilst I was visiting the bonsai garden and the Dylan Lewis Sculpture Garden, Jenny had a photo shoot planned! As I previously said, she’s having her blog updated and being professionally done so she wanted some new photos. That was an amazing event. Prior to the shoot, Bia (a part-time model, surfer grrl and a makeup artist) came to the flat and made my beautiful wife even more stunning. During her shoot, Bia took some photos of Jen using her cellphone. After asking permission, she sent them to her modeling agent. The agent went NUTS and asked Bia to have Jenny get in touch with her. Jenny scheduled the meeting whilst I was away.


November 1st found us going out to the Cheetah Outreach here in Cape Town. Part of Jenny’s photo shoot was there and, as I’d not been there, so we went together. Jen and I got into a cage with two juvenile cheetahs who’d just run the ‘chase the object’ course and were very tired. We were allowed to pet them gently in the direction of the fur. The organization also had a Serval and a Caracal. So much to see around Cape Town that we didn’t even know was here.

Rugby and Wine, It doesn’t get better

On November 2nd, we went to the Perdeberg winery in Stellenbosch for a Chenin Blanc taste AND TO SEE THE SOUTH AFRICAN SPRINGBBOKS PLAY ENGLAND FOR THE WORLD RUGBY CUP!!! There were over 150 of us crammed into a smallish room with a projection TV. Two hours of screaming later, the SPRINGBOKS WON!!!!! The whole country went wild. I have become a real rugby fan. American football is boringly slow in comparison. Oh, BTW, the wines were spectacular. We tasted 10 of the top Chenin Blanc’s in South Africa.

Little Five

On Monday the 4th, I flew to Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape. From there, I was met by Solomon, my driver, who took me to Shamwari Game Reserve and the Lobengula Lodge. As the drive was an hour and a half long, Solomon and I had time to discuss the similarities of the US’s and South Africa’s struggle with racism. That racism isn’t just white to black, but also black to black. There is an 80% unemployment rate for blacks In South Africa and the blacks blame the immigrant blacks from Zimbabwe, Zambia, Mali, etc. for not having jobs. Truth is most of the immigrants will do jobs that South African’s won’t, just like Hispanics in the US. In Jo’burg recently, several immigrants from Nigeria were killed and their shops looted and burned because they were becoming prosperous.

I am on a quest. Almost everyone who comes to Africa and does game drives has seen the Big Five: Lion, Leopard, Cape Buffalo, Elephant and Rhinoceros. I’d venture to say that very few have seen the Little Five: Ant Lion, Leopard Tortoise, Buffalo Weaver bird, Elephant Shrew and Rhinoceros Beetle. I had seen the Ant Lion, Buffalo Weaver bird and Elephant Shrew. I’ve been looking for quite some time for the Leopard Tortoise and Rhinoceros Beetle. That was my mission. To see a Leopard Tortoise and Rhinoceros Beetle.

I had previously been told the tortoise was here in the Western Cape. Not so! After renting a car and driving over an hour to get to the Western Cape National Park, they only had Angulate Tortoise.

To make sure that didn’t happen a second time, I called Shamwari and talked to Megan in the veterinary hospital who assured me that, yes indeed, they had them. So, when I got to Shamwari, I met my guide Sichle (pronounced Sick-lay) who again confirmed they had the animals I wanted.


The first game drive we went on we found the tortoise.

The next day, we saw two more. A large female and a smaller male that had mated with her as is evidenced by the dirt on her back.

We also came upon an Angulate Tortoise, the rascal we’d been told was a leopard tortoise.

Big Animals

The rest of the time I was at Shamwari, we saw rhino’sgiraffe

cape buffalo


Red Hartebeest

Springbok (after Saturday, the name was changed to “CHAMPIONS”)


Impala (as common as pigeons in New York), Fork-tail Drongo, a couple baby Black-backed Jackals

Jackal buzzard, Waterbuck


Hippos, Warthog, Blacksmith lapwing, Pintail Wider, African hoopoe, Chacma Baboon, Hadeda Ibis, Black Wildebeest, Gemsbok, Duiker and Red-bill Oxpecker.

The dude who owns Shamwari has developed a rehabilitation center. Got to see an Eagle Owl at that center.

Whilst at the rehab center, I was literally brought to tears by the story of Hope, a white rhino who had her horn cut off WHILE SHE WAS STILL ALIVE.

Our last morning found us watching several White Rhino’s in a cluster. As there were two males, we thought we might get to watch a dominance struggle. Didn’t happen. They just grazed together.

After that, a coalition of three juvenile male lions were on the hunt. They were after a herd of Cape Buffalo. As the lions were downwind from the buffalo, the herd was oblivious to their approach. But wait, the red-billed Oxpeckers were on the watch. They noticed the lions approaching and put up an alarm sound which alerted the buffalo. By this time, the lions were maybe 30-40 meters away. The huge male buffalo just started charging the lions who turned tail and ran away.

With all this, we didn’t see but one beetle and it wasn’t a rhino beetle. There were no mosquitos either. It is currently too dry. The Eastern Cape is in a two-year drought. At Shamwari, they are sinking boreholes and running underground pipes to try to fill the empty reservoirs so that animals can drink.

Big News

Returning to Cape Town I found Jenny with news that the model agent really wanted her and offered her a two-year contract. To work here, Jenny will need a work endorsement on her Retiree’s Visa. We are returning to the US in December as we have a lot to do in both Palm Springs and in Richmond. Additionally, we are going to apply for permanent visas for South Africa and Jenny also needs a work endorsement. We were told by the immigration attorney that it would probably be easier to get these in the US due to “political conflicts in South Africa”.

We are returning to the US in December as we have a lot to do in both Palm Springs and in Richmond. Right now, so much is in limbo and we’re awaiting God giving us direction.

For another point of view, please read Jenny’s blog: jennyclover.com


FILED IN: Sighting Lists, Travel Notes, This and That

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