One of our favorite people in the world visited us back in March. I’ve finally had a chance to download the photos from Neli’s trip so here’s what happened. As you know from a previous post she arrived in a flurry from South Africa, where she was visiting her twin Lu and other family members. She allotted us two days for which we were grateful, given the size of her family and the vastness of her social obligations.
I had originally planned a Thelma & Louise type trip with her where we’d drive down to the lower Zambezi and camp a night. I thought she’d like this because her twin made us climb up Table Mountain in Cape Town where the boulders were seriously up to my waist (see photos below). The higher we got the colder and damper it got. Like those climbing Mt. Everest, we were freezing by the time we reached the top and wondering if it was worth it. And yes, we took the cable car down. Go figure.
In the photo below, Lulama’s at the top, lying to us about how it was just through that canyon above (I mean the next one; well it must be the next one). Notice the skepticism on Bill’s face by this point.
Anyways, I thought Nel was into the same extreme adventure kind of stuff but Thom suspected otherwise and talked me out of the safari trip, suggesting a day at the spa instead.
So, we awoke to a brilliant sunny day and took off for the spa. Thom was jealous that he was left out of our girls trip so he went to the gym for a sauna before work.
We arrived at Senses@Sensorium, giddy with excitement. (I had never spent a day at the spa!) This was our birthday present to Nel and Lu. (Why do people only give one present to twins?)
Because Nel was the birthday girl they whisked her off for her Ayurvedic scalp massage and took me to the Ozone Treatment room. They enclosed me sans clothes in this steam-filled 120 degree device and said it would detoxify and rejuvenate me.
Of course, that was a load of crap made up by some rich marketer selling the machine in Switzerland. It was basically a very hot steam bath where one was made to sit long enough to suffer heat stroke, though they called the nausea and light-headedness “detoxification.” Neli told me she cheated and opened the doors as soon as they left. Why didn’t I think of that?!
Next we had our hot stone massages.
This was actually the highlight of the day for both of us. They heat these large smooth stones and use them to knead your body. Then, the leave them on certain points on the body. When the massage therapists left the room I didn’t know if we were done or if we were supposed to wait? Neli thought they’d come back and take the stones off of our backs but mine kept sliding off and making big crashes on the floor. Finally, after about 15 minutes I got up. Of course, right then the therapists walked through the door and scolded me for getting up. They finished with some aromatherapy treatment and then it was time for our mani-pedi.
Nel went the traditional route with clear polish on her fingernails and red on her toenails. I pushed the envelope with a dark burgundy that turned black with multiple coat on all sets of nails. (My name starts with a K, can I be a Kardashian sister too?)
Relaxed and polished, we went for a late lunch at Mint, my favorite restaurant in Lusaka (a kind of health-food place with fresh-squeezed smoothies and juices).
Nel was right at home on the Arabian princess pillows.
We ended the day with wine and a beautiful Zambian sunset.
Followed by a dinner of stuffed squash.
It was a wonderful day. Unfortunately, it was all downhill from there.
First, the large spider in Nel’s bedroom kind of freaked her out, though we assured her it wouldn’t bother her.
The next morning (thinking of Lu’s proclivity for hiking) I proposed walking to Kilimanjaro Lodge for a macchiato, about a mile and a quarter from our home, as a way of getting out and getting some exercise. I didn’t realize what a city princess Nel was until she started asking questions along the way. Are there snakes around here? (Yes) Any wild animals? (A few) Dogs? (Lots) Does the road get worse than this? (A bit)
I thought, are Lu and Nel really twins?
We started off well enough, with a nice wide road.
But it quickly narrowed.
And further and further we went into the bush.
Nel was getting a bit jumpy so I tried pointing out the beautiful foxgloves. She reminded me they were poisonous.
Soon, her worst fears came to light — barking vicious dogs. Fortunately they were behind electric fences.
Except for this little escapee.
I made some menacing moves with my hands and it ran off. Nel was suitably impressed with my dog whisperer skills. Suddenly, out of nowhere, a little store appeared in the middle of the bush!
Most of its shelves were empty but there were a few bags of sugar and some bottles of oil. Good to know.
After about another half mile we finally made it.
I had a wonderful macchiato and Nel had an iced ice cream coffee.
But then, we had to walk ALL the way back. A whole mile and a quarter. In perfect weather. No freezing drizzle. No waist-high boulders. No falling rocks. Completely flat. You would have thought we were running the Gobi March across the desserts of China.
So, we made our way back past more vicious dogs.
And deep, treacherous mud holes (sheltering crocs and hippos, no doubt).
Nel was trying to be a good sport but I could see she was counting down the minutes until she got on that plane. Sure enough, no sooner had we returned home and showered than she was packed and telling me she had to get to the airport three hours early, so she wouldn’t miss her flight.
Our very well behaved dogs just wanted to say good-bye, but by this time Nel was noticeably recoiling when they were near. Thom and I have deluded ourselves into thinking that despite the super-sized spiders, vicious dogs, poisonous plants, and hot treks through the bush she enjoyed our company.
On second thought, we’ve had no visitors since then so…