A fish tale (A true story)

Captain No-Beard and his crew of less than ten merry men got on board of the, smaller than I hoped for, fishing boat at the crack of pre-dawn. We were ready to embark on a day of fishing in the warm, deep, blue waters of the Indian Ocean.  Our anxious faces couldn’t hide the hope of a fruitful day without puking.  Which is why we have been popping pills like The Desperate Housewives of Everywhere.

If you willingly accept a swig of the skipper’s concoction from hell, which he lovingly calls Neptune-juice, at five in the morning, then you’re either an alcoholic or a pirate.  We choose to associate ourselves with the skull-and-bone-black-flag type.

Shortly after getting on board we were cruising out of the harbor, catching the first rays of the sun as it peeked over the water. Continue reading

The difference between the bucket list of Kingsley Holgate and mine is that mine won’t kill you.

I answer to the name of Moses too.

You can call me Santa if you like.

Kingsley Holgate is an explorer, a real life adventurer.  The original camel man without the boots, sultry looks and two-day stubble.  He is more like a pudgy version, with rosy red cheeks and an impressive, bushy, white beard that makes you think I’ve just described Santa Clause.  Getaway magazine named him the most traveled man in Africa.  Our very own Optimus Prime fighting the good fight against Malaria, a disease that caused the death of another famous explorer, David Livingstone.

This humanitarian is about to get back in his Landrover and embark on a new quest; to find the heart of Africa.  Besides the fact that he obviously hates being at home in Cape Town, I didn’t know our continent had a heart.  I know we have soul, open spaces, corrupted leaders, poverty, blood diamonds, the cradle of mankind, great wine, an Oscar winner, friendly people, amazing animals and a few big cats who is chasing all of the above around the bush, hoping to make a meal of it, but a heart?  Who knew? Continue reading

I’m back and *hopefully* Ebola free.

Jeez.  Life doesn’t wait for anyone.  She just carries on, oblivious to anything that might require a time-out.  No degree of heartache, joy, anxiety or celebration slows her down.  You just need to take whatever she gives you and deal with it.  At your own time, for she’s not one to show sympathy or empathy just because you’re having a bad day.  Or a good one for that matter.

One might expect that she would have a little consideration for trauma and allow for a slow and painless transition into normal existence.  One might expect that surviving the reality of travelling in West Africa would allow you some sort of break.  A moment to catch your breath.  I was, after all, dealing with lethal disease, flying in shady planes, standing in overlong queues and waiting forever on people who seems to have patience as a superpower.

Nonetheless, travelling around dark Africa has given me an immeasurable appreciation for my own country, or like the people in Accra refers to it, African Europe.  I’ve been back for three days, but there hasn’t even been time to celebrate me being back; life did not provide me with the easy transition I was hoping for. Continue reading

Stupid is what stupid does

The following post is based on actual events as it would be impossible for me to make this up, even if I tried.

A few years ago I was having a very masculine apple martini in a sky-bar, as the sun was waving goodbye to Manhattan.  It was a bucket list thing.  I blame my choice of drink on the spirit of the Big Apple possessing my soul at the time.  I’ve just finished my stroll down 5th Avenue, popped into bling-central, i.e the Trump tower, as I felt very sophisticated and shit.  But the sheer volume of gold and mirrors in that place provides an unnecessary opportunity of seeing yourself in reflections everywhere, shattering any self-worth you might have had prior to entry.  Hence, my need for a drink.

So there I was, sitting on top of a skyscraper in the middle of Manhattan, with my best I’m-not-a-serial-killer-just-travelling-alone expression, hoping I wasn’t going to be arrested. Continue reading

Wait…what…uh…Is that a pothole? OMG.

I’m posting this from Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania.  I’ve been spending the week touring East Africa.  On business. Blah blah blah.  I’ll skip the boring stuff.

I’ve been travelling internationally for almost 10 years.  I’ve been to almost 50 different countries.  I’ve been living in Africa for 40 years.  Pick any of these reasons that might ensure my credibility when I say: “I thought I’ve seen it all.”

I have not.

Continue reading

Things I learned on Christmas day

This post would obviously not reflect the lessons already learned, like the true meaning of Christmas, how to wrap a gift that doesn’t come in a box, and the anxiety of a male forced to accompany the wife on a last shopping spree.  (Technically I’m still battling with that last one!  I morph into a mutation of a crying baby, tantrum throwing toddler, slouching teenager and aching geriatric all in one.)

Weird shit I tell ya.

The few things I did learn on this Christmas day would probably be considered common sense, but give me a break for I need to come  up with new material for my blog, which I desperately neglected over the last two/three weeks.

1. I understand why gluttony is considered one of the seven deadly sins.  Because I almost died of the amount of food I consumed over the last two days.  My belly button popped and my stomach was hanging over my knees.  I was constantly uncomfortable, felt slightly guilty, hid my gym membership and just. kept. on. eating.  I’m ashamed.

2. The idea of inviting extended family to join on this day looks great on paper, but you will learn quickly that sharing a portion of the same DNA would be the only thing you’ll have in common with people you see once a year.   You will understand that there is life beyond our blue sky, cause I’ve ask myself numerous times from which fucking planet does all these uncles, aunts and cousins come from.  Awkward moments of silence, watching channels I didn’t know existed on cable and sitting through hours of the MOST boring stories ever conceived by humanity, tempted me in shoving my finger into a pencil sharpener as a reminder that there are things that can hurt more than spending countless hours with a weird extended family.

3. The youngest member of any family will get the most attention.  Fact.  Doesn’t matter what that age might be, it can range from three weeks to 14 years.  Everyone will goo and ga and take photo’s and comment on every action of the said little person.  And those actions will include s(h)itting, playing with a piece of chocolate wrapping paper and talking in some gibberish language, also spoken by adults after too much wine.

The last lesson was actually just a reminder of how amazing this specific fake-tree-fake-snow-too-much-food-holiday actually is.  (At least down here in Africa, where the chance of seeing snow in December would be equal to finding a good Adam Sandler movie.)  It’s a wondrous holiday where we can reminisce in the blessings we receive daily.

It reminded me of how fortunate I am to have a shitload of good food on the table and a SUV full of the weirdest family members, all laughing, sharing, giving, talking, eating.  It’s the one day where normal definitions of dick/dueche/bitch/idiot/annoying doesn’t apply and we accept one another with all our faults and hazzles and just hug and share and love. (It makes it easier when there are some colorful wrapped boxes involved…)

So I trust everyone had a very, merry Christmas.

A pride of Peacocks

I am not sure who created them, but one of the best things about the English language is collective nouns.  I came upon a few that really blew my mind whilst my kids were studying for their English exam.  These gems are sadly hidden away in dictionaries and text books.  Jewels like a loveliness of ladybirds and a walk of snails.

I say sad, because I don’t hear a lot of people using them, but we should.  They are so damn descriptive and funny.  The guys who are credited with their use are probably succesful stand-up comedians or great screenwriters today.  I decided to list the ones that really tickled my creative juices and as a South African I am totally biased towards the ones used for animals.

  • A claque of hired applauders – Not sure why anyone would ever need to hire applauders?  Must be a sad day.  Wait scrap that.  For potty training!  When baby makes a poo-poo for the first time it causes for a celebration and sometimes mom and dad are just not enough.  This noun clearly describe the sound that this specific group of people would make.
  • A haggle of vendors – If you have ever visited a sooq in a Middle Eastern country trying to buy a carpet then you would appreciate this noun even more.  A sooq is a market place where three thousand shops will be selling a total selection of thirty items.  Each vendor will try to persuade you that they can give you the deal of the century.
  • A chowder of cats – Can you not just see it?  An old lady with a grey bun on the head, some oily shocks of hair clinging to the side of her face, knitting in a dusty old lounge chair with a strong scent of cat-piss hanging in the room.  And then all the cats, licking and lying and maauwing and just…Chowdering.  Ughh.
  • A leap of leopards – These gracious animals are known for hanging their kill in trees to avoid other scavengers from stealing it.  They grab the dead animal in their jaws and climb a tree by leaping from branch to branch.  Ever see a leopard run?  Same effect.  Awesome word.
  • A cackle of Hyenas – “Mufasa!”  “Ooo, say it again!” “Mufasa!”  Probably one of the best lines from the Lion King.  The movie is accurate in portraying these animals as conniving, giggling cowards.  But if you ever hear them laughing in real life the cackle will sent shivers down your spine.
  • A mob of kangaroos – I am not sure why wallabies are always portrayed with boxing gloves, but this image of kangaroo’s leading the animal underworld is hysterical.
  • A paddling of ducks – Oh come on.  This one is so accurate.  A family of ducks crossing the road mom in front, chicks following in a row, the awkward walk… This could also be very effective in describing a group of walking, expecting mothers in their third trimester.
  • A shush of librarians – Shuuuush.  Quiet.  No comment required.  Who knew?
  • A flutter of butterflies – In spring a type of white moth flies in their hundreds across the grasslands at the edge of our town.  I don’t know why but it is a spectacular sight.  I was always looking for an accurate description for these hundreds of butterflies, guess I can stop looking now.
  • An intrusion of cockroaches – Everyone and anyone who has ever came across these hated insects will probably agree that one is more than enough to call it an intrusion.  Unless your name is Wall-E.
  • A float of crocodiles – You’re a Springbok.  It’s hot under the African sun.  There is a river, with cool water rushing by.  It looks refreshing and your thirst drive you closer.  You inch forward, put your head down…then jump back in a massive leap when you see the beady little eyes lurking in the water, hiding the massive floating, killing machine.  And you tell your kids how close you came to becoming a happy meal.
  • A business of flies – Ever seen brokers selling and buying shares on Wall street?  Ever seen flies buzzing over a dead animal?  Same thing.
  • A tower of giraffes – These guys stand 5 to 6 metres high, no other word would suffice. (16-20 feet for my American readers!)
  • A dazzle of zebras – Once went on a Safari and the guide was trying to count a few zebra’s standing on one side.  He was explaining how their stripes creates confusion for predators; as it is difficult to distinguish a specific animal in a group of zebras.  So the guide was counting five animals, which immediately dispersed on queue.  They turned out to be only three.  It was hilarious, so let’s just say they dazzled him as well.
  • A parliament of owls – Always portrayed as birds of wisdom in most folk tales.  Being the wise old owl, so why anyone would compare them with a bunch of politicians is beyond me.  I mean these birds are WISE, for goodness sake!
  • A rumba of rattlesnakes – This one gives new meaning to the Latin-American dance form.  Although I have seen some of these sleezebags doing the Rumba.  All sleaked-back hair, open shirts, bushy chest hair, massive gold chain dangling and with way to much movement in the hip area to be called a guy.  You may replace sleezebag with snake in this passage.
  • A crash of rhino’s – Never seen more than three of four together but I do know that the result will be crashing if a few dozen decide it is time to make like a tree…and leave.
  • A pride of Peacocks –  Yes the males of most animal species are always the better looking gender.  As it is also true for humans, I think this specific term also describes quite accurately, a group of urinating men.

Could not end without acknowledging a stand of flamingoes and a bloat of hippo’s.