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south africa

Photo of the Week No. 52: “Look Back at It”

December 29, 2018

With this being the last Photo of the Week of 2018, it’s only right that we take a look back at it. I know your minds went straight to the antelope’s heinie (tee hee!) but we’ll get to that later. At the start of the year, I decided I wanted to hone my photography skills. To keep myself honest and actually focus on taking better images, I created the “Photo of the Week” feature here. It’s been a fun challenge that has forced me to think of different angles and pursue interesting subjects to share with you all week after week. I plan on keeping it up. My guy even got me a light kit for Christmas, so be on the lookout for more polished photos (once I figure out how to use the thing).

Now to the elephant, or antelope derrière, in the room. This image is one of hundreds I took while on safari at Pilanesberg National Park in South Africa earlier this year. This lone antelope was casually walking up the road and I couldn’t help but admire its strength and beauty. In a way, it’s a metaphor for the close of the year. I’m walking into 2019 stronger than I was this time last year, not looking back, more sure of myself. Alternate titles: “Back Street Beast,” “Back to Life, Back to Reality,” “Walking With a Purpose” and “Hope in an Antelope.”

To see previous Photos of the Week, click here.

ashley ♥ adores

Photo of the Week No. 51: “Stand Tall”

December 22, 2018

This Photo of the Week is a reminder to take a stand. This image of a vibrant yellow flower was taken in Soweto, South Africa, earlier this year at the Mandela House. When I consider the namesake of the venue, he (Nelson Mandela) is the epitome of standing up for what you believe in. The thing I like most about this photo is the contrast of the foreground and the background. The stately flower commands attention, even amid all the action happening on the other side of those bars. It makes me thing of the saying, “If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.”

To see previous Photos of the Week, click here.

ashley ♥ adores

Photo of the Week No. 33: Boys at Play

August 15, 2018

We’re deep in the throes of summer, yet for some reason it’s back-to-school season. Times have changed! This image of South African boys at play came to mind when I think of summer and school, for some reason. Life’s simple pleasures come from spending time with good people and being carefree. This Photo of the Week, taken in the Langa township of Cape Town, captures a slice of life, as a group of boys play with a suitcase in the afternoon sun. I don’t recall what exactly they were doing, but they were in their own world and full of joy. It doesn’t take much to put a smile on your face, to feel seen and heard, and a part of a community. This image is a reminder of that.

To see previous Photos of the Week, click here.

ashley ♥ adores

Photo of the Week No. 23: “Langa Landscape”

June 4, 2018

This Photo of the Week is one of many from my recent travels to South Africa — the Langa township, more specifically. You guys, it really was a treasure trove of unique sights and sounds. Saddle up, because this isn’t the last of township images that are bound to make the cut as future Photos of the Week. This image is one of the stark reminders of beauty being any and everywhere. To the lay person, this is an unkempt lawn rife with reminders of scarcity. To me, it’s the manifestation of life at odds. It’s where beauty meets struggle. The colors, the half cab of the truck — they demand your attention. I couldn’t look away. Hopefully this image moves you in some way or makes you see things from a different lens.

To see previous Photos of the Week, click here.

ashley ♥ adores

Out and About: Safari at Pilanesberg National Park

May 21, 2018

My first-ever safari was so many things: breathtaking, awe-inspiring, grounding, affirming, magical and even some feelings that I can’t explain with words.

On day two of my trip to South Africa in April, our group woke up bright and early and left the hotel at 6 a.m. for the Pilanesberg National Park for the safari. When we arrived, we were able to purchase authentic African wares from local artisans — wooden carved animal sculptures and masks, dashikis, textiles, jewelry and more. Our group divided onto two trucks, and off we went into the 141,440-acre park. I had high expectations of seeing the “Big Five”: lion, leopard, rhinoceros, African elephant and African buffalo. Click through the slideshow to see some of majestic species we encountered.

It was a spiritual moment to be experiencing God’s creation in their pure habitat. I never thought I’d be within an arm’s reach of these majestic creatures. It was an excellent day of sightings on the game drives. We saw water buck, antelope, a warthog, Egyptian ducks, Gnu wildebeest, Kudu antelope, a shy elephant, impalas, a pair of male white rhinos, a pride of lions, giraffe, Madibu storks, heron, a small family of hippopotamuses and many more. We got three out of the “Big Five,” so that’s exciting!

The first of my two favorite encounters from the day was when we happened upon a pride of lions — two males and three females — about 10 meters from the truck. They were resting under the shade and cleaning each other, when one of the males felt he wanted personal space and left the group to seek his own secluded shelter. The second life-changing moment was when we saw two young male rhinos off in the distance. They kept walking our way and eventually crossed the road right in front of our truck. That was amazing because the guide had just finished telling us about the poaching epidemic and how rhinos face extinction. It’s wild because it’s almost like a cartel with park employees working in cahoots with poachers to let them kill these beautiful beings. Unfortunately, the other group happened upon a dead rhino, a casualty of a poacher’s snare two days prior.

That day I felt like I was a “National Geographic” photographer and know that these images will be a tangible reminder of the Motherland for the rest of my life. I checked this off my bucket list with pride and must say that I’m beyond blessed!

See what other adventures I’ve gotten into by clicking here to read more Out and About posts.

ashley ♥ adores

Travel Log: Johannesburg and Cape Town, South Africa, 4/4 – 4/13

April 30, 2018

I made my first trip to Africa — South Africa, to be precise — the first week of April and it was nothing short of amazing. I’ve broken this Travel Log down by city, as the places we visited — Johannesburg and Cape Town — were pretty distinct. Be sure to click through the slideshow to see some of the images I took on my vacation.


First off, the 20-plus hours of flight time from Los Angeles was crucial. I went with a group of about 25 people from my church, and we arrived late on Thursday so our fun didn’t really begin until Friday. After enjoying breakfast at the hotel, our group took a brief walk to Nelson Mandela Square and the attached mall. The South Africans could definitely tell we weren’t from there, as seen in the looks of confusion/judgment on their faces. However, I remained impressed by their impeccable style. I loved all the head wraps the women donned with pride. So many patterns and intricate ways of styling them. I was taken aback by the sheer magnitude of the Nelson Mandela statue in the square. This is a country that really loves, respects and appreciates its late former president. That Mandela has made such a profound impact on the world was evidenced by how Africans and Americans and other foreigners alike lined up for photos with the ginormous figure. Later that night, we attended a service at Rhema Blessings House Church, where my pastor, Wayne Chaney Jr., was speaking at the church’s five-year anniversary celebration. It was such an awe-inspiring feeling to see South Africans worshipping Christ in their native dialect. I think it was Zulu. Suddenly the world felt small. Also, it was lit! The worship team had the most energy I’ve every seen of any choir and by far the best dance moves.

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Wednesday Word

April 25, 2018

This Wednesday Word No. 106, spotted at Haute in Texas, is where my heart and head have been since my epic trip to South Africa. Our group was fortunate to go on a walking tour of the Langa township in Cape Town, where we had the opportunity to meet the locals, learn about their history, buy some of their wares and see how they live. Sugar, our tour guide, was from the township and gave us a real glimpse at life in this part of the world. She even gave us a run-down of the Xhosa language, marked by distinct clicking sounds, which made me appreciate its unique beauty all the more. We visited the Dalukhanyo Preschool, where the kids sang the South African national anthem and danced for us. I wanted read to them and play games and trade dance moves. Simply put, I didn’t want to leave. If anything, those few minutes we spent at the school made me realize that I could be doing more to support them. Our tour guide in Johannesburg, Sonja, also left an impression on our group. Her adoration for the country of South Africa was palpable. She didn’t sugarcoat the not-so-pretty parts but spoke truth with love. It’s crazy how much Sugar, the students and Sonja made me feel at home, thousands of miles from Long Beach, on a whole new continent, on the other side of the world.

To get inspired by previous Wednesday Word posts, click here.

ashley ♥ adores

Photo of the Week No. 17: “Cloudy With a Chance of Magic”

April 23, 2018

This Photo of the Week was taken while on a recent safari in South Africa — cloudy but still perfect in every way. I mean, everything about that day was magnificent: the commentary from our tour guide Peter, the beautiful animals (obvi), the rolling hills and picturesque landscapes, even the clouds. These fluffy cumulonimbus clouds had just as much personality as the warthog that zipped in front of our truck. Clearly he had places to be (I’ll introduce you to him in an upcoming “Out and About” post). I call this photo “Cloudy With a Chance of Magic” because I went into the safari with great expectation. What we saw was nothing short of magic. These clouds add to the joy felt that day. If that chubby one situated front and center were a kid, I’d pinch its cheeks.

To see previous Photos of the Week, click here.

ashley ♥ adores

Photo of the Week No. 16: “African Art-ifacts”

April 17, 2018

This Photo of the Week, titled “African Art-ifacts,” was captured while on a walking tour of the Langa township in Cape Town, South Africa, last week. I love the juxtaposition in this image between the traditional African art (masks, sculptures, bowls, etc.) and the modernity of the handcrafted boombox with the Coca-Cola branding, bottle caps and metal wiring. This artsy boombox is definitely the one that got away, as I ran out of Rand while shopping in the township. Womp womp. I’m determined to return for it, among other missions I’d like to complete in the Motherland.

To see previous Photos of the Week, click here.

ashley ♥ adores

Photo of the Week No. 15: “The Lion’s Den”

April 10, 2018

This Photo of the Week, titled “The Lion’s Den,” is one of many snapped during my first-ever safari at Pilanesberg National Park & Game Reserve. Oh, yeah … I’m in South Africa right now. My tour group and I made the two-and-a-half-hour drive from Johannesburg to the park, eager to see which majestic creatures we would encounter. Fun fact: Pilanesberg is home to what’s called the “Big Five”: lions, leopards, rhinos, elephants and Cape buffalos. This particular pride of lions (our tour guide Peter said there are about five different families spread among the 572-square-kilometer reserve), with two males and three females, was the first of the “Big Five” we crossed off our list. What’s wild (literally and figuratively) is that these massive cats were, by my estimation, a mere 10 yards away from our Jeep, relaxing under some shade, seemingly without a care in the world. I love this image because it’s such a slice of life that could be replicated with families, tribes, clans, you name it from around the world. Finding rest among loved ones is a universal action, and I’m amazed that I was able to catch these lions in the act.

To see previous Photos of the Week, click here.

ashley ♥ adores