Saturday, December 2, 2006

Andre's American Chronicles - March 2005

Hello there,

September 16, 2004

Outside the rain is pelting the porch's tin roof while Bob Seger is telling me about how it is to be "Running against the wind." It has been raining that Cape Town winters' day rain since early evening. The northeastern outer bank of hurricane Ivan, which destroyed 90% of the Caribbean Island Granada’s houses and caused severe damage and flooding in Jamaica, and several US states, now a tropical storm since it came ashore last night in Alabama, has now pushed north to Kentucky. Ivan, the 3rd major hurricane that struck the US this year, and the hurricane season are only halfway, are forecasted to drop 2 inches (50mm) of rain in the next 24 hours in Danville. The weather has been really weird this year. Spring sprung, but it feels like it never stopped. We had thunderstorms throughout the summer on a weekly and sometime daily basis until a few weeks ago. It’s the end of summer for goodness? And we hardly had humidity this year. Thank goodness for that!

Looking back at the last chronicle’s date I noticed it has been more than 2 years since I last wrote. Disgraceful! But what a two years it has been.

Back to School

For one of the two years I was mostly consumed by studies. After I obtained my Bachelors in Business Administration in 1999 I have always toyed with the idea to go the next step. Looking at job advertisements on my level I saw that a MBA is nearly always a requirement. So during a short vacation trip to Florida in 2002 I finally convinced myself to take that next step. How bad can it be?

After investigating the curriculums of all the surrounding universities that offers a MBA I settled on a private university in Lexington that offers a MBA in one year through a combination of classroom and Internet-based tuition. So in March 2003, all fired up, I went back to school at Sullivan University. Initially the counselors at the university estimated that students usually spend about 15 hours a week at studies and the first month I got by with even less than that. Thinking to myself “not bad.” But that was obviously just the honeymoon. From month two onwards it didn’t rain but pour. The levy broke and the river overflows its banks. The 15 hours a week became 25 – 35 hours a week. Monday to Friday evenings it was 10 PM to 1 AM every night. Saturdays and Sundays became fulltime study days. But apart from that I kind of enjoyed the research and the new things I learned. So on March 20, 2004 I wrote my last exam. And at the end of April I graduated and obtained my Masters in Business Administration, nogal Summa Cum Laude, at a ceremony held in Louisville.

Graduation Day, April 24, 2004

December 17, 2004.

Other news

Also in April 2004 Monica and I bought an old “fixer upper” house here in town. The house was built in the late 1800’s and after a couple of months of slogging and working our butts off we completed all the work on the house and it’s back on the market again. We did most of the repairs ourselves, which includes re-doing the bathroom and the kitchen completely. Monica painted virtually the whole house on the inside. The market though is very slow and we have not yet sold it. We considered renting it out, but neither of us wants to struggle with renters and the constant repair cycle. Luckily interest rates here in the US are very low at this point (around 5%) and we have time to wait for the right buyer.

During June 2004 several South Africans in and around Lexington got together for a braai (BBQ) at the house of one of the South African couples. During 2003 a South African couple moved from London, UK to Winchester, just outside of Lexington, KY. The guy opened a basic website to see if any South Africans around Lexington will respond. Well I did and so did several others and eventually about 14 of us got together. I know that this sort of thing is happening all over the US all the time, but it was the first time that we attended something like this. And just recently we got news that another South African couple has moved to the Danville area. The man was appointed the swimming coach at the local health club. We got together at my house to watch the Currie Cup final.

Traveling America.......and beyond...(Tales from the happy bus...)

Travels the past 2 years have been few and far between. Time to travel and the cost of traveling are the main reasons. My studies also restricted travels during 2003 and 2004. A general increase in the cost of living in the US and a depressed economy leave little spending money for extensive travels.

Seaside, Florida (December 2002)

In December 2002, after a 13-hour drive south on the I-75 and a few other highways to the Florida Panhandle we spent the Christmas week at the Mexican Gulf coast in a little town called Seaside, halfway between Destin and Panama City. The drive took us from Kentucky through Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama, and eventually to Florida, but the scenery was dreary and not much to report on. The Panhandle beaches, also known as the Redneck Riviera, with its long white beaches and the small Gulf waves were relatively free from tourists and vacationers. But it was nice for walking around and exploring the many little seaside towns and interesting shops in the area. We lived in a small rented near the beach and if not exploring or walking on the beach, we were lazing-around reading and watching rented videos. Monica and I also used the time to discuss my pending studies, its demands and the possible effects on us. (Little did I know it would take twice as much dedication than I thought?)

Charleston, SC (November 27 – 30, 2003)

During the Thanksgiving long weekend Monica and I decided to complete our West coast to East coast trek across America. Our previous visit to Orlando (Newsletter December 2001) brought us 1 hour away from the East coast, but we never made it to the coast.

On two previous occasions Monica was at the coast while visiting Boston and Martha’s Vineyard, and earlier in 2003 when she went with a colleague to Charleston, South Carolina. So we decided to leave the kids with one of their friends, book into a resort on the beach and we went to Charleston, SC. Now, going to the beach in late November may seems crazy because winter has already arrived in Kentucky, but temperatures in South Carolina should still be in the mid-50’s to low 60’s. Knowing what the weather was going to do when we booked into the Wild Dunes Resort on the Isle of Palm 3 months in advance was always going to be an unknown. Well, Old Man Winter decided to push a severe cold front, which drop snow flurries on Kentucky, far south and the thermometer to freezing point and curbing our outdoor activities. We explored the old town of Charleston by foot and horse drawn carriage on one day, braved the icy winds one time for a walk on the beach, and spent the rest of the time lazing around the island.

A Bit of “Low Country” History
In 1670 English settlers established a town at Albemerle Point on the west bank of the Ashley River. 10 years later the town called Charles Towne, in honor of King Charles II, was moved to the peninsula between the Ashley and Cooper Rivers. Promises of free land, the titles and estates of a landed aristocracy, and religious freedom drew immigrants and cultures of England, France, Germany, Iberia, Ireland, the Netherlands, Scotland, and the West Indies blended quickly. By 1776 it was the 4th largest city in the colonies after Boston, New York and Philadelphia. The town was renamed to Charleston in 1783. Today Charleston harbour is still one of the largest ports in the US. Although the city endured many fires, hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes and wars, many of its historic buildings remain intact to this day. An amazing feat of preservation. By the way, Charleston shares some of its history with South Africa in that it also provided a safe haven for Huguenots that escaped France between 1685 (the Edict of Nantes) and 1787 (the Edict of Tolerance.)

December 18, 2004. 9:45 PM.

Winter eventually came to the Bluegrass. It was still in the 60’s F two weeks ago. We enjoyed the Indian Summer and above average Fall. No snow yet, but some are predicted for tonight. Hopefully it will not disrupt our plans to leave home at 4:00 AM tomorrow morning for a drive to Lexington airport, a flight to Atlanta, and from there to Cape Town via Cape Verde Islands and Johannesburg, arriving in Cape Town Monday afternoon. It will be my first visit back to the mother city since December 1999. No need to stay I am looking forward to spend the festive season in sunshine with friends and family.

Until a next time.

Cheers from Kentucky.

Photos from our December 2004 - January 2005 trip to Cape Town.

Rosanne & Leon, Christmas Eve, 2004

Buying wine at Rust en Vrede, December 2004

Cape Town City Hall with Table Mountain as a backdrop.

Panoramic view of Cape Town from Table Mountain with Lion's Head on the left, the city bowl and Devil's Peak on the right.

"We are Family!" - Sonett, Leon and Monica, December 2004.

TheVictoria and Albert Waterfront with Table Mountain in the background.

Penguins at Boulders Beach in Simons Town.

Monica with Stone art from Zimbabwe near Cape Point, Cape Town.

The start of Chapman's Peak Drive outside Hout Bay.

Goofman, the Barman!

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