Category: trying something different

VictoriaFalls

From left to right:

  1. Sunset over the Zambezi River.
  2. Hippos seen from a safe distance.
  3. Me standing at the edge of Victoria Falls, on the Zambian side.

On Friday, 22 June, hours before I was to board my plane from Cape Town to Victoria Falls Airport, the fear and anxiety I had felt when I first booked my tickets, had not dissipated. My imaginative mind kept making a detailed list of all the things that could go wrong.

  • My shuttle would arrive late and I would miss my flight. (And if I were to be honest, I would admit that there was a little part of me that was hoping this would happen. A “real” excuse not to do something that scared me.)
  • There would be some problem at customs and I’d be forced to fly back home.
  • There would be another National Shutdown in Zimbabwe and I wouldn’t find anyone willing to take me to the Zambian border.
  • I’d have to argue with every taxi driver about the fare.
  • I’d get lost and wouldn’t know how to get back to my hostel.
  • I’d be underwhelmed and disappointed by the sight of the falls.
  • I’d be painfully and achingly lonely. That after spending only a few hours in Victoria Falls, I’d want to flee home.

 

These negative thoughts would occasionally be offset by the highlights reel of previous travel experiences. I remembered each an every stranger, who helped me when I lost or didn’t quite understand how to use the subway. I remembered the old Turkish guy, who gave me a lift to the bus station on his scooter, placing my unwieldy suitcase firmly between his legs. I remember taking a “taxi” in Mozambique. The taxi was a bakkie*, with a canopy made of wood. And I remember marveling at the men, who stood on the edge of the bakkie, arms clinging to the wooden frame. And I remember wondering about safety standards of this particular automobile. But only briefly. When we started moving and I felt the wind in my hair, this momentary doubt was replaced by a feeling of being free.

 

And I remembered all of these things, and I smiled. For a moment, the fear and anxiety I felt about travelling, was assuaged.

*Bakkie is also known as a pick-up truck in other parts of the world …

Grazegraze

The above photo was taken at Graze, a new restaurant in Harfield Village.

Books

I am currently reading Irvine Welsh’s latest offering. He’s the very same guy that brought us, “Trainspotting”.

Part of the narrative is told by Lucy Brennan, personal trainer who is obsessed with exercise and weight. Here’s an extract from the novel.

“The only fast-food place handy is this pizza joint, so I order a couple of slices. The line is busy with just one fat chick sweating behind the counter, trying to keep up with the orders. – Sorry about the wait, she says.

– Well, that’s a start. But don’t beat yourself up, take action, and I hand her my card.

She looks at me like she’s going to burst into tears. – I meant … I meant the wait! That wait you’ve had in this line!”

David Sedaris

I absolutely love David Sedaris and I’ve read most of his books. In the following article he talks about a cow giving birth:

“What might I have thought if, after seven hours of unrelenting agony, a creature the size of a full-grown cougar emerged, inch by inch, from the hole at the end of my penis and started hassling me for food? Was that what the cow was going through? Did she think she was dying, or had instinct somehow prepared her for this?”  

 

It’s June and I don’t have any travel plans for the rest of the year. This year has been great – adventure wise. I’ve spent a couple of weeks in India, gorging on fresh fruit juice and curry, ziplining from a fort and crying at the sight of the Taj Mahal. I’ve spent a few days in Joburg with friends, watching Joss Stone perform live and feeding giraffes. There was Cameroon on someone else’s dime. And there was sunshine and bike rides in Durban.

Limbe, Cameroon
Photo taken in Limbe, Cameroon.

It’s June now and I don’t have any other trips planned. A friend asked me to consider a roadtrip to Grahamstown. I shut her down before she could put forth her argument. I am broke. I’d just managed to pay off my credit card debt (or more accurately I’d finally reimbursed my brother, who’d paid off my debt). And I wasn’t planning to get back into debt, especially not for a local trip to a small town.

Besides I have other plans. There’s a bookcase that needs purchasing. (I’ve concluded that my current system of discarding novels beneath my bed, no longer works.) There’s also a coffee table, vacuum cleaner, ironing board, juicer and washing machine that’s needed. BUT these items will have to wait. Instead of being a responsible adult (how boring) and purchasing the necessities, I will be scurrying away money for my next big adventure.

At present, I’m still undecided as to where to go. There’s Malawi, whose images of its lake have left me breathless. There’s Ecuador, my lifelong dream, with its volcanoes and lush forests. There’s Turkey with its hot air balloons and cave dwellings. And there’s my 19 days of leave that needs to be spent. So I have the time and I have options, I just need the funds. (I am totally willing to sell a kidney to raise the funds. Not necessarily MY kidney. Ahem.)

So until I’ve accumulated enough moola, I will remain here. I will remain content. I will focus my attention and energy on becoming a better runner, cook and person. No, scratch that. That “better person” thing sounds like way too much work. I’ll just stick with running and baking.

I recently spent a week in Durban, soaking up the sun, admiring the fish at uShaka Marine World and cycling along the promenade.

Before boarding my 07:00 flight, I decided to have breakfast at Woolworths at the airport. I ordered a fruit salad and hazelnut latte. I paid for my order at one side of the counter and picked it up at the other side. After 5 minutes, my order was done.
Barista: Here’s your cappuccino.
Me: Excuse me?
Barista: Here’s your cappuccino.
Me: You mean my hazelnut latte.
Barista stares at me for a minute, removes my cup from the counter and pours honey over the coffee.
Barista: Here’s your hazelnut latte.
It wasn’t a hazelnut latte. It was just a cappuccino with honey on it.

The following photo was taken in the Japanese Garden in Durban.
Japanese Garden, Durban

A few days ago, I and a few friends flew down to Johannesburg to attend a Joss Stone concert. Yes, we spent thousands of rands in plane tickets JUST to attend a concert. Aren’t we extravagant?

Joss Stone was brilliant. Her voice was so pure. And powerful. Not only is she a brilliant performer, but she’s also REALLY likable. I feel weird about saying that about someone I’ve never actually met before. But she handed out white roses to audience members, clambered down from the stage to dance with her fans, AND gave her bracelet to a girl in the audience. She also invited everyone down to the front of the stage (considering that we’d purchased nosebleed seats this was quite a treat).

While in Johannesburg, we also managed to check out the Lion Park. Here are some of the photos I’d taken.

Caged lion cub

Lion - Joburg

Taz and Simba

Zebras - Joburg

Giraffe

Lion Park - bokkies

If you’re a lover of photography, ballet or the female form, then do yourself a favour and check out The Ballerina Project on Facebook or Instagram.

Here are some of the pictures I skilfully lifted from their Facebook page.
ball

ball2

ball3

Gorgeous, isn’t it? It’s enough to make me consider taking up a ballet class or two. (I went so far as to Google adult ballet classes in Cape Town.)

IMG_0033

IMG_0062

IMG_0089

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Pictures taken at my sister’s bachelorette party on Friday. The party was held in my apartment and we had so much of fun, playing games such as “pin the junk on the hunk” and “toilet paper wedding dresses”.

*

I was in a minor car accident on Saturday morning. Heart sore.

It’s 04:30 and I’m awake. We’re (the colleague and I) are to drive to Johannesburg to attend a training course. It’s a 6 hour drive.

Before setting off, I head towards the bathroom, where I am delighted to discover a cockroach lounging between two drinking glasses. (Click on link to view the evidence  image). I stay in crappy hotels (Savoy Hotel, Kimberley) so that you don’t have to.

Two hours into our drive, the colleague slams on the brakes. We slow down from 140km (yes, we were breaking the speed limit) to 60km. A troop of vervet monkeys are crossing the road. Only in Africa.

An hour later, I am sitting behind the wheel when something similar happens. This time, Egyptian geese. Unlike the colleague I do NOT slam on the brakes. I artfully swerve pass the the miscreants and avoid a collision. The colleague is pale. She silently sends up a prayer to the gods.

Later she would very politely tell me that I should have stopped. IMMEDIATELY. That a collision with an animal of that size, at THAT speed, could have led to disastrous consequences – a cracked windscreen at best.

The rest of the journey is without mishap.

 

 

 

I’d been talking about BUYING an apartment for the last 8 months now, but that’s all I ever did. TALK. There were no steps taken to achieving this goal. No newspapers consulted, show houses viewed, or contact details given to real estate agents. I talked about how nice it would be to host dinner parties at MY place, dreamt about how I’d furnish MY space and hoped that by simply putting it out there, the universe would provide.

When simply hoping didn’t prove fruitful, I decided that perhaps what was needed was a little less talk and A LOT more action.

STEP 1 – DO YOUR RESEARCH

The first step in my master plan was to consult both the property section of a newspaper and a few real estate websites.

STEP 2 – ESTABLISH CRITERIA

I then circled the properties that fit my criteria: close to work, good neighbourhood, secure parking and WITHIN my budget.

STEP 3 – ESTABLISH CONTACT

I then contacted the agent and made arrangements to view the house.

STEP 4 – BRING IN THE EXPERTS

On the day of the viewing I brought along an expert – my dad. Over the course of his lifetime he has bought three houses, which is three more than I’d ever bought. Unlike me, my dad knew all the right questions to ask. What is the levy? How long has this property been on the market? Are you willing to accept payment in smiles?

Sounds simple, right? Well it would have been if I’d have set my expectations lower and stuck to the game plan. But they weren’t and I didn’t. I thought it would be easy. But I soon learnt that my criteria were broader than I’d originally imagined. I didn’t just want a one bedroom apartment, with parking, in a secure neighbourhood. I wanted an apartment with decent cupboards, clean carpets and a proper shower (i.e. doors instead of a shower curtain). I wanted a place that didn’t smell like pee. And I wanted all of this for under a million rand. Apparently I have better luck teaching my cat to read.

And then when none of these apartments met the bill, I did something silly. I drove around the Southern Suburbs (notoriously expensive neighbours), and merely walked into ALL the open houses. BAD IDEA. All the pretty things. Oh so pretty, and oh so far out of my reach.

Of course now that all my illusions have been irrefutably shattered, I now realise that the only property within my budget is a metal shack in Gugs, a South African township. Suuuure, those things get superhot in summer, but as my friend Dizzy* says, “Think of it as a free sauna.”