Category: awkward conversation

october

  • In space, simply getting dressed for work is an hour-long undertaking. You’ve got your Thermal Comfort Undergarment, your Liquid Cooling and Ventilation Garment, your Boot Sizing Inserts, your Lower Torso Assembly, your Arm Assemblies and Hard Upper Torso, your gloves with individual finger adjustments, your bioinstrumentation system, your communications assembly, and your helmet.”
  • David Sedaris on China, “What you’re hearing, that incessant guttural hiss, is the sound of one person, and then another, dredging up phlegm, seemingly from the depths of his or her soul.”
  • Mary Roach researches the strangest things. “What you would not learn is why the FDA might put a limit on insects’ heads and not other parts of their anatomy, what rat excreta tastes like and what sort of person takes a job that entails searching for insect heads in fig cookie innards.”
  • Currently reading Brene Brown’s “Rising Strong“.
  • Suicide on the Golden Gate Bridge. “The only way to keep people like these from jumping would be to put up fencing, which the Bridge District thinks would spoil the view.”

I give good link

capetownseptember

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 …

FranschoekJuly

Photos taken on Saturday. From left to right.

  1. Chocolate fondue at the Bastille Day Festival in Franschoek.
  2. My beautiful and stylish friend.
  3. Formation. Birds in the distance. Rising sun.

Currently reading, “My fight your fight” by Ronda Rousey.

Life is a fight from the minute you take your first breath to the moment you exhale your last. You have to fight the people who say it can never be done. You have to fight the institutions that put up the glass ceilings that must be shattered. You have to fight your body when it tells you it is tired. You have to fight your mind when doubt creeps in. You have to fight systems that are put in place to disrupt you and obstacles that are put in place to discourage you. You have to fight because you can’t count on anyone else fighting for you. And you have to fight for people who can’t fight for themselves. To get anything of real value, you have to fight for it.

July2016

From left to right:

  1. Painting I saw at First Thursdays
  2. Pretty flowers on Lion’s Head
  3. Carrot cake flavoured ice-cream from The Creamery

It’s been nearly two weeks since I’ve booked my tickets to Victoria Falls International Airport and since then I haven’t done much in the way of research and planning. I haven’t booked accommodation, arranged for any tours or check that my yellow fever certification is still current, which is worrisome considering that I board said flight in less than two weeks. Instead I’ve spent the last two weeks feasting (Ramadaan just ended), teaching myself some Python scripting, and being paralyzed by fear.

 

You see, days after I booked my plane tickets to Victoria Falls (which is situated in Zimbabwe), I would learn via Twitter of the national shutdown protests in Zimbabwe. This ultimately leaves me with the following questions:

  • Is the Zimbabwean side of Victoria Falls safe to travel to?
  • Is it ethical to travel to a country where a majority of the citizens are clearly fed up with the current government?

*

Anyway, I’m currently reading “Into Thin Air“.

Here’s an extract from the novel:

“Straddling the top of the world, one foot in China and the other in Nepal, I cleared the ice from my oxygen mask, hunched a shoulder against the wind, and stared absently down at the vastness of Tibet. I understood on some dim, detached level that the sweep of earth beneath my feet was a spectacular sight. I’d been fantasizing about this moment, and the release of emotion that would accompany it, for many months. But now that I was finally here, actually standing on the summit of Mount Everest, I just couldn’t summon the energy to care.

It was early in the afternoon of May 10, 1996. I hadn’t slept in fifty-seven hours. The only food I’d been able to force down over the preceding three days was a bowl of ramen soup and a handful of peanut M&Ms. Weeks of violent coughing had left me with two separated ribs that made ordinary breathing an excruciating trial. At 29, 028 feet up in the troposhere, so little oxygen was reaching my brain that my mental capacity was that of a slow child. Under the circumstances, I was incapable of feeling much of anything except cold and tired.”

Durban 2016 - Ushaka

Crossing the finish line of the Comrades Marathon, I was filled with sheer relief, immense accomplishment and astonishment. I couldn’t quite believe that I’d managed to achieve my goal; that I’d battled exhaustion, despair, self-doubt and minor cramping to finish THE FUCKING COMRADES in 11 hours. Days later I would think back to THAT moment, the moment when I actually crossed the finish line and I’d smile like a lunatic.

And even though that feeling of accomplishment has yet to diminish, it was soon followed by the question, “What next?” I’d started this year with the simple resolve to make this year amazing, which meant that other than improving on my running, I needed to travel. So after visiting the Travel Start website on a daily basis for the last week, I finally entered my credit card details and booked that damn plane ticket.

More details to follow soon.

Anyway, here are a couple of links to my favourite travel posts and Instagram accounts.

  1. Nasrin Suleiman posts pictures of her life in beautiful Zanzibar.
  2. Olivia Rae Jame’s bachelorette party in Harbour Island.
  3. 9 American habits I lost when I moved to Germany.
  4. Hoping that I can one day tick Bolivia off my bucket list.
  5. Hailey Wist is currently in Italy at the moment.
  6. Truth Slinger normally posts pictures of his home country, Kenya, but he’s currently in Iceland.

Splash - Durban 2016

“I went to the hospital when my time come. So I could be easeful. I didn’t want to have it at home like I done with the boy. They put me in a big room with a whole mess of women. The pains was coming, but not too bad. A little old doctor come to examine me. He had all orts of stuff. He gloved his hand and put some kind of jelly on it and rammed it up between my legs. When he left off, some more doctors come. One old one and some ones. The old one was learning the young ones about babies. Showing them how to do. When he got to me he said now these here black women you don’t have any trouble with. They deliver right away with no pain. Just like horses. The young ones smiled a little. The looked at my stomach and between my legs. They never said nothing to me. Only one looked at me. Looked at my face, I mean. I looked right back at him. He dropped his eyes and turned red. He knowed, I reckon, that maybe I weren’t no horse foaling. But them others. They didn’t know. They went on.”

Extract from the novel, The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison.

*

I recently stumbled across this quote on social media, “I opened my mouth, almost said something. Almost. The rest of my life might have turned out differently if I had. But I didn’t.” It’s a quote from the novel Kite Runner by Khaled Housseini and it resonates deeply with me.

I’ve the best version of myself when I travel. When I travel I’m a little braver, a little more confident. I’m not afraid to ask strangers questions about their lives. But when I’m home, I tend to bottle up my questions. It’s not that I’m uninterested. I’ll have a thousand questions I’ll want to ask someone, but I’m simply afraid to speak up and that could cause me to appear aloof.

I wish I could be the best version of myself everyday.

Talking about travelling, have you seen this blog post by Olivia Rae James?

On 29th May, I’ll find myself in Pietermaritzburg attempting the Comrades Marathon (89km or 56 miles). That’s little over a month away.

early_morningsPhoto taken after a 20km run. 

Friends keep asking me if I’m excited for the Ultra and I’ve been rather tight-lipped about the endeavour. Excited doesn’t describe how I’m feeling. Terrified and anxious is a more accurate description. But I don’t say any of this to my friends. I’m afraid that they won’t understand exactly how worried I am. I’m afraid that instead of listening, asking WHY and trying to understand how I’m feeling, they’ll simply brush away my concerns, offer empty platitudes and advice. None of which I want or need.

 

Right now I simply want to say, I’m scared. I’m scared that I won’t complete the thing. I’m scared that my body won’t be able to cope with the distance. I’m scared that I’m not mentally tough enough. I’m scared that I’ve taken on more than I can handle. I’m scared of how crushed and devastated I’ll feel if I fail. I’m scared.

 

Typing this I realize that the biggest truth is that I’m afraid of feeling disappointed. And it is this fear that making me cautious, less hopeful, less willing to dream, less willing to aim higher, less fearless. Instead of aiming to finish in 11 hours, I’m simply hoping to scrape by. TRUTH.

*

Random photos

April2016

From left to right:

  1. Milkshakes at The Creamery. I went with Lime Curd. Yummy.
  2. Ships at the Waterfront.
  3. The Big Wheel at the Waterfront.

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The view from my office. 

IMG_0374St James. 

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Somewhere in Kalk Bay. 

IMG_2915Slacklining above the pool at Brass Bell

*

Last week I ran the Milkwood half-marathon (21km). I’ve rambled with this race several times before and have been disappointed on each occasion. (One year I injured myself so badly, I had to sit out for 6 weeks. That was pure torture!)

 

This year, while slowly crawling up the hills, I kept thinking of the narrative I wanted to tell. I kept telling myself that “today I was out for retribution; today I was out for blood.” I didn’t worry about going out too fast in the beginning. I didn’t worry about whether or not my body could hold this pace for the entire duration of the race. I didn’t listen to my jagged breathing and think, “You’re pushing too hard. Your body won’t be able to withstand this stress for 21km.” And when there were doubts, and there were doubts, I didn’t let them linger. I didn’t mutter anyone else’s mantra to get me through the tough parts. I didn’t have to tell myself to dig deep; to ignore the pain; to keeping putting one foot in front of the other. I simply remembered that I was a girl on a mission, I had come out with the sole goal of proving myself and that there was nothing more dangerous that a girl with something to prove.

 

Last week I ran the Milkwood Race, and for the first time in years I crossed the finish line with a smile on my face. Not only need I manage to achieve my goal of sub two hours, I managed to surpass my expectations. 1:52 – 5 minutes faster than my previous PB. I was so giddy that for days afterwards I resisted the urge to walk up to complete strangers, point to my chest and say, “1:52.”

 

Anyway, my goal after the Comrades Ultra is run a half in 1:49. Let’s go!

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The next night I share a dorm room with the snorer again. This time a German friend jumps out of his bunk bed and screams at the snorer to wake up. The snorer continues unabated.

The next day we will have an in-depth discussion about the snorer. We discuss the rhythm of his snoring, the fact that the snorer is still sleeping at 10:00 in the morning, while some of us had to retreat to the safety of the hammock outdoors in order to get a couple of hours sleep. At some point, someone will pipe up and claim that the snorer is actually quite a nice dude.

There is French toast one morning, a kayak down the river and a hike to the waterfall. There are discussions about the latest book I’m reading, “Into the Wild”. There is swinging from a tree, underneath the stars, while a guy strums his guitar. There is an unwillingness to pack our bags and leave the very next day.