Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Port O'Connor - What a wonderful world, Texas is pretty after all.

Our friends have a lovely little wooden house on stilts, against the Inter-coastal water way (canal) in Port O'Connor.   Fishing boats and jet-ski’s buzz busily like gnats around the giant barges which cruise steadily down the waterway.  The barge in this picture is carrying sand. 

The seagulls are everywhere snapping up scraps thrown by fishermen cleaning their catch.  Their greed gets the better of them occasionally.  Dylan’s friend accidentally caught a seagull while fishing.  It was quite dramatic to get the hook out his beak, and he flew away shaking himself in disgust that those “humans” had touched him.   I just love the pelicans; they sit lazily on top of posts in the water, waiting for some unsuspecting fish.

 The Piggy Perch were hungry.  It was such fun to dip a rod in the water and have a fish jump at it!  We were fishing in the shade of the boat house.

Boats are slung from giant cradles, keeping them out of reach of the barnacles.  Each cradle has an electric winch, and our friends like true old salts casually press the switch to lower their boat into the water. The dog hopped on the wrong boat accidentally.  Their kids scurry about carrying life jackets and cushions, beach towels and sunblock onto the boat. We set out for a sun-downer cruise and dolphin spotting.

Sunday beach has blue waves, white sand with beach flowers and grasses on the dunes. We later discovered the dunes are infested with rattle snakes, even paradise is not perfect.  Dylan nearly stepped on a rattle snake; luckily he recognized the rattling warning.  His legs were shaking quite badly.  His friend also discovered a snake hiding in the dunes.

A fascinating assortment of flotsam is strewn across the beach, including an old wreck.  With a good imagination you may wonder, did those sneakers float over from Indonesia? How did a small bar refrigerator wash up here, a sunken yacht? What nationality was the fisherman whose shrimp net floated away? Where did that little wooden boat come from?

We found a small fortune in sand dollars.

Saturday morning we enjoyed a lazy breakfast of pancakes and orange juice while we pored over the newspaper.  The kids played some tennis and swam in a blue pool, much better than a muddy lake.  We spent another day at the beach and tried out the paddle ski, which is a huge surf board with a paddle. 
After a delightful weekend of lazy mornings, sunny beach fun, fishing, boat rides and board games, we were reluctant to return home!  This is the first house we have stayed in, for a year! 

Before I convince you that Texas is wonderful, bear in mind that the temperature right now is 110 degrees Fahrenheit, 43 degrees Celsius. The sun sets late, so there is no cool respite till about 08:00 pm.  It’s pretty awful to have a three month long school holiday, cooped up in a small trailer with a bunch of bored kids while it is too hot to go outside. We are learning to make the most of the few cool days that come our way.

Saturday, 9 June 2012

Fishing from Jet-Ski's in the gulf

 Imagine.. those tiny little Jet-ski's, in the vast nothingness of the sea.  Three intrepid little bumble bee's against a huge blue ocean.  Laden with essentials such as radio's, flares and cooler boxes filled with cold drinks and water, they set out to the nearest oil rig which is 25 miles out.
Michael caught a shark, unintentionally.  It was catch and release!  I am pleased to announce that Michael still has all his fingers and toes.  There is not much room on a jet-ski, for a wildly thrashing shark with razor sharp teeth.

I had told Michael that if he caught a shark, he was to cut his line immediately.  
Failing which he was to throw his rod in the sea. That didn't happen.

 They had a few losses.  A Cooler box loaded with drinks, a good fishing rod and Kyle's i-phone had a swim.  i-phone's don't take  to the water.  All because Matt forgot his lucky fishing hat!
Michael and Kyle equipped themselves with 3 big fat burgers each, and munched on them happily while Sol and Matt nibbled on dry crackers.  
If you look carefully at this pic, you will see Michael and Kyle reflected in Sol's jet-ski. 
A Dolphin swam around them, just to see what they were.

Michael and Kyle were so excited to go deep-sea fishing with Michael and Sol.  Thanks guys.

Friday, 1 June 2012

Summer Break

The Summer Break is a 3 month holiday.   It all began with the farm kids needing to pitch in.  I think I will go insane if we take a 3 month holiday! Since we home school, I have decided to have a 6 week break.  The kids have had 1 week already, and are driving me crazy with their computer games.  I shoo them out the trailer early in the morning and late in the afternoon.  The heat here is terrible.. already hitting 35 degrees Celsius.  95 degrees Fahrenheit.  They are only allowed 2 hours of games/tv.. other than that, they will have to read books, do art and otherwise occupy themselves when it's too hot to be outside.

PS, people here call it "summer break" so if you call it a "holiday" they look at you squiff.  Holidays are Christmas, Easter, halloween etc.  Speaking of which, an interesting observation.  Not once since we have been here, have the shops been empty of some "holiday" theme.  I kid you not. Thanksgiving,   Halloween, Christmas, New Year, Easter, Mothers day, Fathers day, Valentines day, Spring Break,  Graduation, Summer Break, Veterans day, Independence day,.. I'm sure I missed a few.  It sure keeps the wheels of commerce rolling.

Flying Fish

I find it significant that both Michael and Jessica have read aloud to me the following excerpt from "The diary of a Wimpy Kid, Dog days" by Jeff Kinney.  "For me, summer vacation is basically a three-month guilt trip.  Just because the weather's nice, everyone expects you to be outside all day "frolicking" or whatever.  And if you don't spend every sec on outdoors, people think there's something wrong with you.  But the truth is, I've always been more of an indoor person.  The way I like to spend my summer vacation is in front of the TV, playing video games with the curtains closed and the lights turned off.  Unfortunately, Mom's idea of the perfect summer vacation is different from mine.  Mom says it's not "natural" for a kid to stay indoors when it's sunny out. I tell her that I'm just trying to protect my skin so I don't look all wrinkly when I'm old like her, but she doesn't want to hear it."

Some days are such fun.. getting the kids out is no trouble at all.  Such as when Sol brings his Jet-ski's!


We have come to respect the Texans.   They work in the 35 - 40 degree Celsius heat, wearing jeans and thick long sleeved shirts with boots and cowboy hats.  They have to, because the land is so inhospitable.  There are fire-ants and thorn tree's, stinging nettles, poison ivy, poison oak, swarms of mosquito's and if that's not enough they have to contend with poisonous snakes too!
The mosquito's  really don't play by the rules.  They bite at all times of the day, unlike our civilised African mozzies which come out at dusk.  The mosquito's in Texas don't give any polite buzz to warn you of their intentions, they just fly straight up to you and sink in the their monster sized proboscis' with painful accuracy.  You have heard that everything is bigger and better in Texas, well the Mosquito's here are HUGE! I think there should be a Geneva Convention for mosquito's!

The stick insect is as long as a hand, much bigger than it's African cousin.  This critter bit the man who saved him from being wrapped in an awning.

Not only are the Texans tough, they are generous. Look at all the lovely veggies we have been given.  We were given a lot more than this pic shows..  plenty to share with friends and family.  We had green mielies (corn) and sweet corn too.  When we roasted the green mielies on the braai, it made all of us Africans so homesick.. just the smell and taste of those mielies.  It reminds me of all the times we saw them being roasted on the side of the road, directly over coals, for sale to passing busses and taxi's.  Once in Mozambique on the road to Beira, I just HAD to have a fire roasted mielie, despite dire warnings of cholera and typhoid and dysentery etc from the Dr and the Pilot... I ordered the land rover stopped and bought one for myself.  The Dr capitulated and had one too.  The Pilot said we were both mad.   When Kirstie and I were kids the gardener would roast mielies on a shovel in the Rhodesian boiler for us.