Who are these people? Eastern Cape, South Africa.

2 Jan

Mom asked, “honey, now who are these people you’ll be spending Christmas with? I need to know…”

Well, where to begin. To sum it up, they are amazing, entertaining, surprising and touching.  Try dedicated, hard working, inspiring and loyal. Most of all, they are kind and generous with their time, their love for animals, and with their heart. I feel truly blessed to be spending my holidays with them.

Julie-Ann and, her husband Clint, both manage Wild Coast Adventures. It’s the Eastern Cape’s leading travel/tour adventure company, giving tourists a full-on African experience whether you’re looking to hunt, fish or do overnight safaris on horseback and day rides along the Indian Ocean or thru private game reserves.

Sunray Farms is the name of the actual horse farm, where Julie-Ann cares for, trains, breeds about 60 horses. Sunray accepts short and long term volunteers year round.  That’s me!

As for volunteers, there’s Roz and Alex. And, Amanda – or Tiny Tito – is the full time Sunray employee, responsible for day-to-day horse riding tours. Julie-Ann also has a full time staff of local tribe people who manage the farm, house and “everything” else.

Roz is a career nomad. And, super cool! Alex and I told her she is “360 degrees perfect.”

Not sure what it means, but Alex said in Italy it means “super cool!” I went along with it. Roz has worked around horses all her life – from training race horses to foals. She works in the UK for about 6 months and earns enough money to spend the blizzardy time of year working with animals, whether it is horses in South Africa or Pumas in Peru. She’s the glue that held us together.

Alex is an interesting character. She will be upset I’m even writing her name in a blog. But, she is FAMOUS! She’s the ONLY female gondola driver in all of Venice. That’s right. The only one.

She has her own boat and works with the top hotels in Venice. The rich and famous all seek her out when they visit. She says, “There are over 170 canals in Venice. I get the stars lost without problem…” She pops cow-boy killers (Marlboro Reds) like they are candy corn and took to drinking beer, instead of wine. Of course, she has that Italian style and attitude that goes along with it. She’s ridden since she’s a child and decided, out of boredom, to take the horseback riders instructors license and passed. She’s a fab rider and loves telling me, the American girl, what to do. Lots of stories to tell.

Little Tiny Tito – aka Amanda – is around 20 years old. Loves to ride. And, loves to party. I remember those days of staying out until 3 am, waking at 6 am for work and not even being phased. She’s that girl. The three of us would watch in “awe.” She has her own horse, Donatello, who she tumbled over in a river during our charity ride. It was hysterical since she survived. Bummer if not. I share a room with her. Really, its a loft. The best is we’re so damn tired after a day of work and riding, that lights go out around 8:30 pm. That is if she’s not out…. Lots of stories to tell…

The five or six or seven Russel Terriers are next on the list. Russel terriers are the “must” have farm dog in South Africa. They are everywhere! Julie-Ann’s dogs are named after.. guess? Yep, Disney characters. So, I felt right at home.

There’s blind Mickey Mouse. Horse kicked him in one eye. The other eye got infected. There’s cancer ridden Donald Duck. Then, needy Mini-Mouse. There’s Junior, with so many indescribable aliments. A terrier called Tabitha and another random dog, whose name I forgot. Bella is the sheep, herding dog that nips at horses feet. All of them lived at our volunteer house. And, all of them have a lot of hair.

I will only give a mention to the ticks, fleas, flies, spiders, lizards, millipedes, beatles, flying thingies and other creepy crawlies living with us…

Say hello to my 2010 Christmas family!

3 Responses to “Who are these people? Eastern Cape, South Africa.”

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