Category: fear factor

Day 9


My first panic attack happens on Day 9 of the great adventure of 2013. I’m in Maputo. I arrived the previous evening from Johannesburg, via the Intercape bus.

I’m in Maputo and my bankcard won’t work. I’m not sure why. It was working earlier that morning. Now? The error message on the ATM screen simply reads: “Your time limit has been exceeded.” What does that mean? Has my bank cancelled my card? Surely they’d call BEFORE cancelling my card?

I try not to panic. I fail miserably at NOT PANICKING. I tell everyone on Twitter that my bankcard isn’t working and OMG it won’t be long before I’m scavenging through dustbins in order to sustain myself in Mozambique. I curse myself for tipping the waitress so generously. WHY? I tell myself that I’ll be fine ONCE I meet up with Cazz and Cougar in Vilanculos. But until then I can’t spend anymore money. I have no idea how much a taxi will cost from the bus stop in Vilanculos to my backpackers. So I forgo supper, which isn’t an easy task considering that I only had fresh pineapple juice and lemon ice-cream for lunch. Stupid, frivolous me! And I tell myself, that if worst comes worst, I can ask my father to book an immediately flight out of Mozambique. God, let it not come to that.  

I will later learn that:

  • My bankcard only works at a Barclays ATM.
  • That a taxi from Pambara (the bus stop at Vilanculos) to my backpackers (a distance of 20km) will set me back MTn1000. (That’s  almost R400.)


In a few days time, I will be ticking ONE item from my bucket/life list. While the rest of you are office bound and lamenting the horrendous Cape Town weather, I will be traipsing along the Mozambican coast.


But before I jet off to the land of prawns, coconuts and coral reefs; I will be going to the Eastern Cape (for work). I will then head to Durban for 5 days. There I will gorge myself on bunny chows, surf in the warm Indian Ocean and explore uShaka Marine Park. Oh, and I’ll also be supporting my dad, who will be running his third Comrades Ultra-Marathon.


He has yet to complete the Comrades within the cut-off (he’s missed it by minutes) and I hope that by running the last 10km with him, he’ll find the strength to complete this momentous task. I also hope that one day I too will find the strength to run the entire 87km.


From Durban it’s just a “short” bus ride to Johannesburg and Maputo. (It’s an 8 hour bus ride from Durban to Joburg. And another 8 hours ride from Joburg to Maputo. Oh the fun I’ll have.)


From Maputo, I’ll head over to Vilanculos, where I’ll be joined by one of my dearest friends, Cazz. As yet we don’t have any set plans (other than to have fun), so if you have any tips or suggestions, please head on over to the comment section.

Today, Cougar, Fahiema and I, woke up at 05:30 to run a 15km race in Eersterivier. While I was busy concentrating on attaining a new PB, they were making new friends.

After the race, I found these two swapping pleasantries with an OLDER gentleman. Besides the fact that said gentleman had spittle in the corner of his lips, he seemed genial enough. This was of course BEFORE he asked me to touch his man boobs. I politely declined.


I’m actually thinking of hitting a hot yoga class before heading off to the Vodacom Funny Festival.

Every year my institution hires a couple of interns, as part of the Human Capacity Building programme. Some of these interns have impressed us with their uber-productivity and have gone on to become permanent staff members. Others have frustrated us beyond belief.


The following interaction occurred a few months ago.

Intern: Hey. How are you doing?

Slightly confused as to why an intern would be interested in my wellbeing, “I’m good …”

Intern: Great. I’m looking for the printer. The one that prints and copies.

Me: Thus distinguishing it from other printers.

Intern: Excuse me? I was at the printer earlier today and forgot my diary there.

Realising that the intern hadn’t sent a document to the printer using his PC, as I’d first assumed, I figured that he’d probably be able to describe the location of the printer. I was sorely mistaken.

Me: Do you remember where this printer was? Whose office it was close to?

“In the corridor,” he said with finality.  

My office building has three floors and a multitude of corridors. Trying my best to retain my composure and failing horribly, I tried to extract more clues from him. “Which corridor?”

With a roll of the eyes to illustrate exactly how laborious and dim he found ME, he said, “In the building.”

This, my friends, is who we have hired to assist us with our maps and spatial data*. God help us all.


* I once told a guy that I work with spatial data.

Guy: Oh cool. You work with space rocks.

I thought this was adorable.

I just received an email from the United Nations Environment Programme asking me if I would be interested in assisting as a co-author or reviewer. “Lead authors would be invited to participate in the First
Production and Authors’ Meeting in Cairo, Egypt from 8-11 November, 2010.” I’ve read this and all I can think is that this MUST be some elaborate joke.


This is one of the Malaysian girls who visited us in Cape Town. We’ll call her Ke$ha. Here she is, looking all cool and calm, feeding a Wallaby at the Karoo Wildlife Ranch. For only R2, a dispenser will provide you with food for the little one.

I must admit that I completely freaked out at the sight of the thing. I was all, “Shit! Kangaroo! Why would they put this here? The kids! They’re going to get stomped to death.” And here’s Ke$ha being all, “Yeah, I’m feeding a Wallabee. Nothing out of the ordinary here.”

More photos from the Karoo Wildlife Ranch. Mongoose.

Lemurs keen on escaping. Pictures taken by the Malaysian girls.


A few weeks ago, I won a free scuba diving lesson for myself and a friend, with Tony Lindeque from Learn to Dive. This is not the first thing I’ve won this year, and little did I know it would not be the last. (On Thursday night I learnt that I was one of the runner-ups for the young science writer’s competition. I’ll tell you more about that some other time.)


Now for most of humanity, the choice of who to take along would have been a difficult one. Not for me. The choice was easy. Of all my friends, Fahiema seemed like the person most likely to enjoy an hour of two, wrapped up in latex. Hahaha, I totally kid. I just figured that anyone who voluntarily puts up with my ass for more than a decade DESERVES a present. Plus I figure, come my birthday she’ll probably get me a kick-ass pressie.

Upon arrival at our scuba diving destination, we were greeted by the friendly faces of Tony and his fiancée, Clare. Tony gave us a quick theoretical lesson on scuba diving and then provided us each with a wetsuit and booties. Climbing into a wetsuit is NOT an easy task. It takes a lot of tagging and swearing before you’ve even managed to pull the damn thing over your feet. Thirty minutes later and we were looking like the female versions of Batman and Robin. (I was Batman.)

After presenting our new alter egos to Tony, he helped me put on the tank, weight belt, flippers and mask. He also gently coaxed me into the water before teaching me how to breathe. And that my friends, is as far as MY training went. Turns out I’m claustrophobic as fuck. I’ve always known this. I’ve always known that I have a tendency to freak out when in closed spaces but I had no idea that scuba diving would bring out this phobia.

Tony was very sweet about the whole thing. He kept asking if I was sure about THIS, if I didn’t want to give it another chance. In fact, he recently emailed me to ask if he should bring his scuba diving equipment to my house and I can practise in my pool. But there was no changing my mind. Not then. Right then, all I kept thinking is, “If this guy makes me put my face in water once more, I’m gonna punch him.” What? It’s called the fight or flight instinct. Look it up!

Fahiema however took to it like a frigging fish in water. (Fucking show off! That’s totally the last time I take that skank along.)

Anyway, I’ve given this who scuba diving fiasco a LOT of thought. And I realise that one of the reasons I haven’t written about this before is because I’m ashamed. I’ve modelled myself on being this adventure freak, that doesn’t let something like fear stop her from doing anything and then I unravel at the sight of a mask. Yes, I know, there’s nothing to be ashamed of. Everyone gets scared, blah blah blah [insert relevant Oprah words of wisdom here]. I get that but … that’s just how I feel.

I won! I won! Woohoo! I won!

So yeah, a couple of weeks ago the lovely Brazen wrote a piece for A Cape Town Blog. She asked all her readers if any of them were interested in winning a scuba diving course for themselves and a friend. My initial reaction upon reading that was, “Who would I have to bribe to win? And will this cost me a kidney?”

So I entered. And then I made all my friends enter AND I made them promise to take me along if they won. And yes, even though I entered the competition, I didn’t tell any of you about it, coz let’s face it, momma didn’t raise no idiot and I certainly didn’t need the competition.

Anyway, I’ve yet to decide on a date but I am super psyched. (Can you tell? Can you?) I can’t wait to experience all that SCUBA DIVING has to offer. It’s going to be fun.

Also huge thanks to Tony Lindeque of Learntodivetoday for sponsoring the competition. Oh, and I’d like to thank my mother for bringing me into this world. I couldn’t have done it without you, mom.


On Saturday, 25th of September 2010, Fahiema, Cougar and I will be going shark cage diving. Woohoo! There will be pictures, there will be stories and there will be lots of freaking out.

Thanks to Cougar for making this happen.

Two blog posts in a day. Damn, I’m on fire!

Back when I was young and beautiful and had millions of suitors who loved me not for my body but for my intelligence, I worked as a receptionist at an Estate Agency. I hated that job. I hated every minute of it. And every time I consider leaving my current job I remind myself of how much worse life can be. That’s right bitches, fear is holding me back.

But THIS story isn’t about how much I hated my old job and former boss. What I’d like to talk about today is a conversation I overheard while working in THAT hellhole for R2 000 a month. That right, R2 000 a month! I had an honors degree in Science, no less, and I was working as a receptionist at a shitty ass agency for R2 000 a month. AND I worked Saturdays as well!!! Do you have any idea how little R2 000 is??? Fuck, my current monthly payments on my car is double that.

Struggling to find a job in the environmental field, I eventually settled for a job answering phones and contemplating suicide. This mind you, was not a permanent position. I was simply a stand-in for a woman who was on the verge of ejecting a kid from her vagina.

After two months of utter boredom, the new mother arrived back at work to show off her baby. Since I’ve never been the type of woman to fawn over another woman’s kid* I remained firmly behind my desk. All the other office women however scrambled towards the rugrat and cooed over it.

Female colleague: Oh your coloured baby is so dark.

Mother: Yes but it is okay. It’s a boy. Boys are allowed to be tall dark and handsome.

To me this remark sounded strange and I couldn’t help wonder if she had a dark, little girl would she love her less?

*The only kids I’m willing to dote over are my cousins and future nephews and nieces. Oh right and if I ever have my own kids, I’ll probably love them too. Probably.

I don’t feel like entertaining the masses today so I thought I’d participate in Where in the World Wednesday. What’s that? It’s not Wednesday? Yeah, well I’m uploading pictures of Venice either way, so suck it up Sherlock.

To participate in WITWW all you need to do is upload some pics, upload the WITWW button and post a comment on Classy in Philadelphia stating that you’ve decided to participate.   

I loved the look and feel of the old buildings.

I was completely amazed at the size of the seafood in Venice. Click on photo to enlarge.

Sitting on the banks of the river (?) I watched the sun set. Personally I think Venice has Paris beat when it comes to being the most romantic city.

I actually met the funniest Canadian chicks while sitting on the river banks. We just sat there talking and laughing for hours. The one taught be about Indian history and the war for independence and the other talked about her Irish grandmother. It was one of my all time favourite moments in Italy.   

Play ground – so different to the ones I see in Cape Town everyday.