Thursday, March 29, 2007

I just had to add this...

Cricket's a strange fuckin' game. Just look at the fielder position names on the picture, and I'm sure you'll agree with me. So here's my definition of the field placings... Mid-on? - Mid-on to fuckin' what? He's actually "deep far away legside". Mid-off? - See "Mid-on", except "offside". Long-stop? - "Long drop" more like...he's going to see shit from there. Third man? - Where's first, second, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, eight, ninth, tenth and eleventh. Twelfth is in the changeroom where he's supposed to be...peeling fuckin' oranges. Gully? - I thought the field was flat...why put a player in a ditch? So that he can jump out now and then and scare the shit out of a batsman? He'll get whacked if he tries that with me, I tell you. Slips? - I thought women wore them under "skirts"? Mid-wicket? - That's supposed to be the middle one of the three wooden thingies we throw the ball at (and occasionally hit people on ankles with). Cover? - I use a I know where all the old covers went. Long-on? - Time he got off and let someone else have a go at the girl. Long-off? - Probably wants a crack at the girl by now. Wicket keeper? - Why should he be the only one keeping a piece of wood? We also throw the ball at them now and then. I want one too. Bowler? - You'd look daft on the pitch with a funny round English hat on your head. "Thrower", more like... Backward Square leg? - Careful who you're calling backward, sonny... Backward Point? - Try pointing a finger over your head. Not easy, is it? Cover Point? - Why would anyone want to point at the covers on the field, unless Long-on was still going for it with the girl? Silly Mid-on? - See "Backward Square Leg"... Fuckin' daft game, this cricket... :-)

Morgan’s Bay Trip – 26th February to 10th March – PART 4 (final)

Wednesday 7th
Up late again, 09h30 this time. A cup of coffee, check the guy ropes as the wind is picking up again but according to the weather station is not expected to get as strong as it did yesterday. Today the wind is expected to be 15 to 25 knots and I think it’s about half the strength of yesterday but I can’t find the historical data on the SA Weather website. After breakfast we take a drive up to the cliff top overlooking the sea below, a magnificent view. I decide to clamber down the grassy hillside to see how far the rocks below are above the water level as it looks like a really good deep water fishing spot. Turns out, it is about 50m still above the surf with no chance of a landing site if you had to bring in a fish. The walk back up the hill was something else though…fuckin’ hell, I thought my legs were going to give in about three quarters of the way back up. My calf muscles cramped up and I was as out of breath as I imagine a geriatric having a wank might be. (look carefully and you'll see me on the rocks at the water's edge - shows you how high this cliff is) Who needs a gym when you have cliffs like these? No wonder the cows are all skinny from walking up and down these hills…fuck that, no more. From now on, if I can’t take the fuckin’ car, I’m not going. It’s cooling down a little now, just after 3pm and the wind is dying down a little too. Good news, cos then we can have a braai tonight. Lamb chops and chicken wings…yum…

Thursday 8th

We just chilled out for the day, had a couple of beers and read a bit. Went for a walk to the “wreck” site on the other side of the river. The wreck is supposed to be that of another ship that went down a couple of hundred years ago, but from which pieces of pottery and artefacts are still being washed up on the beach along here. I believe it was called Espirito, but that’s as much as I was told by the locals. All along that stretch of the beach you can see holes at the grass edge where locals have dug into the sand looking for bits and pieces from the wreck. Needless to say, we didn’t find anything…I reckon after 300-odd years, there’s not much left, though reports of locals trying to sell pieces of china are still commonplace.

In the afternoon, we packed up most of the stuff we didn’t need overnight to prepare meals or otherwise, as we were leaving early Friday morning for the trip home. Can’t believe it’s almost two weeks that we’ve been here. Tempus Fugit…

Friday 9th

Up at 06h00 to finish off the packing, a quick cup of coffee, check the tyres on the caravan, and we’re on the road. We had left later than expected as we were expecting to give one of the Parks Board “wekkas” a lift into East London which is on our way back to our overnight spot at Gariep Dam again. Bastard didn’t even have the decency to come and tell us that he couldn’t go, which we found out from one of the other guys. Much mumbling later, we hit the road at about 08h00.

It took us almost an hour to get back to the main tarred road, as the short (14km) dirt road was in such bad condition that we were down to a crawl at some places. Once there though, we had a smooth drive back to the N2 highway and via East London to the towns we’d passed on the way down, only in reverse this time.

The drive was very pleasant except for the headwind we had to drive into, which slowed us up a bit and chewed even more diesel than on the way down.

Once back in Gariep, we set up the caravan for the night, sat down with a drink and eavesdropped on the guys in the caravan in front of us. The old geezer looked like he was having a good old perv at Steph in her summer dress. When I commented on it, she said she’d noticed it as well and when I raised my voice to indicate that we’d seen him, it stopped…old fucker.

At around 5pm, a rowdy bunch of blokes from Vodacom (I assume they were from there, cos one of them was driving a Vodacom truck) pulled up in the large empty grassy area next to our site and promptly started to inflate a hot air balloon. It was going really well until a storm started picking up and the balloon, now almost fully inflated, started blowing in the opposite direction from what it was being held down in, almost dragging a couple of the guys holding the tethers with it. Needless to say, they sat down and waited for a while to see if the wind would die down, but it didn’t and they packed it away as fast as they had unpacked it earlier. They then disappeared to their chalet, 100m or so from the campsite, where they ended up having a piss-up and playing songs like Max’s favourite “Generaal de la Rey”.

The rest of the evening went off nice and quiet and we ended up going to bed early as we had another early rise and 650km to do the following day.

Saturday 10th

Up at 05h50, not of our own volition, I must add. Those bastards from Vodacom were back with their balloon, and we were rudely woken by their fans blowing air into the balloon so that they could get it airborne in the still morning air.

They woke the entire camp up with the racket they were making and there were a few un-happy campers, I can tell you. I felt like going over and slicing the side of the fuckin’ thing open with my bait knife just to show my irritation with the whole episode. It must have taken them a good 25 minutes to get it blown up, heated and airborne, then the support crew jumped back on the Vodacom truck and went hairing off after the balloon which seemed to be drifting off in the opposite direction as what they’d expected it to. I hope the fuckin’ thing hit a mountain…

Anyway, we needed an early rise, so perhaps it was all for the bigger good that we were woken by the hot air-fuckwits. After a quick cup of coffee and a biscuit, we headed out on the highway, anticipation at getting home evident in both of us, but especially in Steph who wanted to get home to see her (our) doggies.

We stopped off at a roadhouse just outside Bloemfontein for brunch and, it being the weekend of the Super 14 rugby clash between locals Free State Cheetahs (from Bloem) and The Sharks, my team from Durban, I felt it necessary to have on my Sharks t-shirt for the occasion. It was like sitting in a Dutch restaurant on Queen’s Day in Amsterdam. There was a sea of orange shirts and Cheetahs strip at most of the tables around me, and I felt great being the only Sharks supporter there, doing my bit for the cause. I even heard an old Free State “tannie” (aunty) saying “Daar’s ‘n Sharks ou” (direct translation: “There’s a Sharks guy”). No doubt I got a few extra other strange looks, but I didn’t care, especially when the game ended that evening and the Sharks had won a resounding victory of 30 points to 14. Fuck the Cheetahs…they’re as crap as everyone else…

We got home around 15h30, unpacked most of the stuff out of the truck and the caravan, in time to chill out with a cold beer and watch the aforementioned rugby match.

In conclusion: As good as it is to get away for a while, you get to a stage where you want to get home to familiar surroundings, people, animals, your own bed, boys toys, and so on, and we’d been away for just under two weeks (myself for just under three, if you take Kosi Bay into consideration). Caravanning is fun, but I was getting tired of cramped sleeping space and not being able to dive into our 250l fridge at home instead of the two 40l fridges we had with us. Also, I was missing my usual TV programming and the sport that is broadcast on the weekends. Sad, huh?

It was a great holiday, and I still had a fourth week at home to do some stuff around the house and chill out in comfortable surroundings (all that was missing was the ocean).

Thursday 29th March, I've been back at work for just under two weeks and it was amazing how, last week, just 6hrs back in the office and 704 emails can fuck up all the good that four weeks holiday had done for me…it really is time to get out of this fuckin’ rat race…

Ve haff kree-ated anudder munster...

in the form of Werner, Kingfish-er of reputation (as opposed to "ability", as I haven't seen him catch one yet). Judging by the blog so far, the content will be more about hangovers than fishing, but there is still some enjoyment about reading of others' self-inflicted wounds... Have a look if you get a chance...

Monday, March 26, 2007

Morgan’s Bay Trip – 26th February to 10th March – PART 3

Sunday 4th Woke up just after 07h00, made some coffee and went out to see how the Kiwi’s had slept. All were in fine spirits, except for Lindsay who we are not sure of as he had disappeared at 06h00 to get to church in time (after the fuckin’ and blindin’ of the night before, it’s no wonder he needed a church). Jan had ended up sleeping in her car, as she didn’t have the covering fly sheet for her borrowed tent which then flooded due to the storm, and she didn’t want to impose on us to sleep in the caravan tent. It wouldn’t have been an imposition at all… Lo and behold, it was still raining lightly, as it has been for the entire fuckin’ day since we got up. Again, the Kiwi group were huddled under umbrellas, trying to make coffee on a small gas stove, layering slices of smoked salmon onto bread for breakfast. They didn’t want to come back into the caravan tent (the cathedral, as Steph called it) so we ended up rigging up our 3m x 3m gazebo we had brought along so that they could at least get some cover. Ian rigged up a tarpaulin to break some of the wind that was also blowing and they were quite happy to sit out there. Dave was in shorts and t-shirt all the while and though he was shaking his legs up and down a bit, claimed he wasn’t cold. By 10h00, the group decided to pack it in as the weather wasn’t improving. I’d been onto the SA Weather website to check the forecast and for today there was 80% chance of rain and strong winds, and Monday’s forecast is for 60% rain and winds. To me, there’s always only a 50% chance of rain…it either rains, or it doesn’t…50/50 either way, fuck all the 80% bullshit… Tonight, Steph made a wonderful vindaloo curry with some leftover chicken from last night’s dinner. It’s going to bite my ass in the morning, I’m sure, but it was damn good, an’ all… Monday 5th Another fuckin’ horrible day in Africa. Hahaha…. Up late, took a walk around the corner of the headland with Steph and collected some strange shells that have a flattened, almost fossil-like shell shape swirl on one side and a coral growth on the other. Steph says she wants to create a montage of them on a bottle or something. Went fishing from about 13h00 until dark to try out the new rod and had to change the tip to one of the lighter tips as I couldn’t feel the small bites on the heavier tip. Also, because of the great casting power of this new rod (a Loomis Custom-bilt 14ft 5-piece stick with 3 interchangeable tips – light, medium or heavy) I have given my left thumb another “toastie”. It hurts like fuckin’ hell. Never caught anything, again, but had a few decent bites. Not to try and make excuses, but the shoreline here is rock-strewn and tackle is lost on a regular basis, also making it difficult to catch anything. Sometimes you get a hook-up and as your sinker is stuck in the rocks, you end up breaking the line off and losing the fish too. Tuesday 6th This WAS a fuckin’ horrible day in Africa. From the moment we got out of bed the wind howled straight in off the sea through our campsite to such an extent that not only was I using the car to form a windbreak in front of the tent, but I had every conceivable piece of rope and guy rope fastened to the tent poles to stop the tent from lifting and fuckin’ off into the bush behind us. I don’t remember ever witnessing such a strong wind coming off the sea. I guess being at the bottom righthand coast of Africa doesn’t help as the dominant southerly wind comes straight off the water with nothing to shield it. The only wind of comparable strength I faced was while at sail, two days out from Zanzibar a few years back where the wind hit sixty knots. It certainly felt like it here. We ended up bringing all our stuff into the tent, opening the side vents and door and moving things from under the caravan so that we could create enough of an opening for the wind to flow through, sort of like you see in the movies when inbred Hoss states the obvious “Thar’s a twister a’comin’ Maw” and the hillbilly’s then proceed to open all the windows and doors to try and prevent the house from being carried away to the other side of Kansas along with the cows. Only late in the afternoon did the wind die down to such an extent that I could release the tension on the main rope I’d tied between the car bulbar, the main tent pole and a tree. Just in case, I left the other storm ropes fastened through the night, but as it happens, the wind almost died down sometime through the night.

Morgan’s Bay Trip – 26th February to 10th March – PART 2

Friday 2nd I was determined to have a day out of the sun, so I sat and read for most of the morning, quote of the day from Steph “He must be a Mongolian” referring to a mongoloid character who was having a picnic with his family on the field in front of us. That afternoon I saw John on the rocks in front of the park, having heard him whoop when he caught a fish. It turns out he caught two Musselcracker weighing about 5 or 6kg each. I went and grabbed my rod, but still caught nothing except a rock which, when I pulled too hard on the stuck sinker, snapped the rod in two just below the 5th eye. End of fishing. We went up to the dairy farm at 16h00 for some fresh milk – literally straight from the hind tit, fresh as you like...yummy. The following morning all the cream had settled on the surface and I used a spoon to get at it. I haven't done that since I was a kid in Edinburgh, when we used to get our milk delivered and fought my brother and sister out of the way to bring the bottles in. The strangest thing happened at the dairy...when was the last time you saw peacocks and geese drinking cows milk, let alone sharing the bowl with cats? You could just see that this was a daily occurence as the cats were hanging around waiting and the birds came in just before the milk was poured into a green bowl. Then it was like all hell broke out, cats, peacocks and geese scrambling to get at the white liquid, with the grey kitten getting covered in splashes and one of the black kittens standing in the bowl. Great fun to watch...

Saturday 3rd

We drove through to East London for me to buy a new rod as I would go stir crazy if I had to sit on the beach for the rest of the week. In the end, it cost just over R1,000 for the rod and some sinkers and we did some shopping for basic groceries. When we arrived back at camp, we found it had half-filled with locals breaking away for the weekend, mostly from East London.

Directly in front of us were six Kiwi’s and an Irish lass from Omagh, as we found out later. A helluva storm broke out just after 16h00 and the group were sitting on the grass with nothing more than umbrellas as protection. I was quite happy to bring my camping chair into the caravan tent and watch them with some amusement while drinking beer and listening ot the Sharks playing rugby on the radio, but Steph told me to go and call them into our tent. Just in time, cos then the heavens opened up and it pissed down for five solid hours, lightning and thunder kept coming around and fading away again. The same storm must have passed over a half dozen times. Turns out that the group are all volunteers from the NZ Govt International Aid organisation, in various roles from accountant, to engineer, tourism specialist and nurse (in charge of 90 HIV+ kids) and all have travelled extensively. From the names I can remember, there was Dave (Kiwi, bookkeeper) and Sharon (Irish, tourism specialist) are married to each other, Jan (nurse, in charge of HIV+ kids – SA Govt only licences her care centre for 50 kids and she currently has 90 under her care, as the Govt keeps sending her more kids with no more resources), grizzly Ian (not sure what he does), Lindsay (engineer who apparently almost single-handedly built a community centre, only for the locals to trash it for the construction materials to be used on their little shacks, and apparently he would give you the shirt off his back), Polly (teacher, also spent a lot of time in Vietnam), and Bess (not sure what she does, only been in SA for a week).

All told, a wonderful bunch of people. We shared a few beers and a few bottles of wine and some snacks, had some great laughs and ended up being invited to stay with each of them in turn when they get back to NZ in 2yrs time. The funniest part of the evening (sorry it has to be at Bess’ expense) was when the rain had abated a little and the Kiwi’s decided they wanted to go and braai some steaks. I walked down to their fire and turned around just in time to see Bess sliding down the embankment on her arse. When I asked if she was okay, she got up and made the slide look almost intentional, walked on to her pup tent and undid the front zip looking for her headlamp. I was shining mine in the doorway to assist with some light and Bess, one hand on the umbrella and the other groping around on the floor in the near dark, ended up falling head over heels into the tent almost causing it to collapse completely. That one, she couldn’t make look like it was intentional and again I had to ask her if she was okay. Whether it was an accident, or the wine had started taking its grip, I’ll never know but I had to stop myself from laughing, though I think Bess would have found it funny too if I’d burst out.

We retired at around 22h30, Steph and I to the comfortable caravan bed, and the Kiwi’s to their pup tents.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Morgan’s Bay Trip – 26th February to 10th March – PART 1

Sunday 25th Packed the caravan, got all the camping gear together and tidied up my stuff from last week’s fishing trip, then packed the car so that we could leave early. Steph’s cousin, Shaun, is looking after the house and the dogs for us, so that’s a weight off our minds. It also gives him some freedom from his usual environment (works from home, his parents place, on computer graphics for websites).

Monday 26th

Up before the sparrow fart, at 05h00. On the road at 06h15 missing the Monday morning traffic into the office (waves and laughter as we pass the lemmings). The 650km drive to Gariep Dam for our overnight stop went off uneventfully, having arrived about 13h30, due to a tailwind the entire way. We set up camp, chilled out for a while with a drink, then went for a sundowner drive around the area. The dam wall is an amazing sight form the bottom, as all dam walls are. On the way back to the camp I heard a rattle under the car and, upon investigation, found a stripped sump cover bolt but couldn’t fix cos I didn’t have a spare. The rest of the evening was nice and quiet with only the sound of the frogs in the dam making any significant noise. Tuesday 27th

Up “early” and out of camp by 09h00. Most of the other overnighters left before we even got up, poor buggers probably couldn’t sleep. Travelling via Venterstad, we stopped off for breakfast at a little place called Steynsburg. A strange little place, as the cemetery appears to be as big as the entire town. Stopped off in Queenstown for the sump cover bolt but was disappointed by the Ford agent (don’t keep stock of those…go figure). Back on the road, it took almost as long to do the rest of the nearly 500km from Gariep to Morgan’s Bay as it did to do the first leg due to the layout of the terrain, with hills and mountains to be contended with. We arrived in Morgan’s Bay at around 16h00, took one look at the “idyllic” image portrayed by the photo, saw how crowded it was with a school trip that was “arranged annually, but we never know when they’re actually going to be here” and decided fuck that. I want peace and quiet and there’ll definitely be none of that in that camp. I also got pissed off that I’d been lied to about the road “being tarred all the way” due to last 10km on grooved dirt road, so we got our deposit back and headed to Double Mouth Nature Reserve, the camp site of our first trip to the area just outside Morgan’s Bay.

Believe it or not, we are the only ones in the camp. By the time we’d finished setting up camp, it was nearly dark and we sat down with a drink and had a braai. It’s so peaceful here it’s hard to imagine what the other campsite must be like with all those rugrats running amok through it. Apparently there’s also a bit of petty theft going on in that camp, but whether it’s from the locals or the campers, no-one is sure.

Our park manager, Lorraine, assures us that there are no such goings-on in her camp. I decide to trust her judgement and sleep better because of it.

Wednesday 28th

Up early-ish, not sure of the time but with a cup of coffee in hand, stand admiring the sea view we have from the tent. Another visitor from Joburg and fisherman, John, walks past and introduces himself and tells me of some of the spots to fish. He comes down here regularly, as he and his wife are retired and they spend sometimes up to eight weeks in the farmhouse just outside the caravan park…lucky bastard. We spend some tine reading and in the early afternoon, I decide to go and wet some fishing line, but don’t have any luck catching anything. Just plenty of rocks, on which I lose a lot of tackle. By late afternoon, I give it up and head back to the comfort of my camp chair and a cold beer…ah, the life.

Thursday 1st

Up at 04h50 to go fishing with John but he didn’t arrive by 05h30 as he said he would. At 06h00, I left for the rocks he said he was going to, waded through the river, and found him already there – said he’d left at 05h10 instead. The bastard had ignored our caravan lights that I’d put on to let him know I was up. He left the fishing spot early, I hung around a bit, got a couple of small bites but nothing promising. In the afternoon, we drove through to Kei Mouth (mouth of the Kei River) to buy some groceries (bread, fire lighters, ice) and ended up taking the friendly park warden along, Lorraine, who also wanted some stuff and draw some money from the ATM (why she needed money out here, I have no idea – there’s literally fuckall to spend it on). We came back to camp through Morgan’s Bay and stopped at the hotel for some lunch (munchies basket – wedges, samoosas, spring rolls, chicken cheese nuggets, sauces, all for R40, bargain). Back to camp to finish “Life on Planet Rock” but more about that later, and start “The Caliban Shore – The Fate of the Grosvenor Castaways”. The British East Indiaman ship, Grosvenor, went down in 1783 just above Port St John, where we stayed last time we were in the area, and the survivors had a torrid time with the locals (Caffres, as they were called at the time). Through a series of captaincy fuckups, the survivors broke into splinter groups and tried to walk to Algoa Bay, where modern day city PE is located, a distance of over 400 miles, rather than walk to Durban (then not a city, but still inhabited by Brits) a distance of just over 100 miles or to Delagoa Bay (modern day Maputo, inhabited by the Porras in those days). Ironically, some of the wreck survivors must have walked past, if not through, the very spot where we sit tonight on their way down the coast…spooky, huh?

There’s even a memorial to the survivors in Kei Mouth town centre and a cache of diamonds (believed to belong to one of the civilians on the Grosvenor, William Hosea, a dubious character who was trying to get out of India due to some disreputable dealings) was found just on the other side of the Kei river in 1927 by a hermit-type German fellow who, realising what they were, registered a claim but the SA Police came in and arrested him for supposedly planting raw stones to claim them as harvested, chiefly because there was 1,038 stones. At the court case he explained how he’d found them about a foot underground on a cattle path but they didn’t believe him and he spent 3yrs in hard labour. When he eventually got out, he died shortly after before forensic evidence could prove that the diamonds could not have originated there as they were alluvials and the closest alluvial field was in Kimberley, almost 500 miles away. Also, an historian came up with the idea that they might have come from the Grosvenor wreck survivors as they were also found in India, where Hosea had bought them and carried them onto the ship.

Anyway, it appears that three of the white ladies survived the splintering of the groups (the Captain, Coxon, actually abandoned them with their menfolk) and after a while were absorbed into the local Pondo tribes, where they were taken by princes as wives and bore children to them. Some of the locals, apparently, still have European features but I can’t say I’ve looked close enough to say “ok, your great, great granny was on the Grosvenor, did you know that?” One of the ladies was apparently so respected by the tribes that they tried to emulate her behaviour and looks.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

For those of you who like Stickmen (and Stickwomen)...

I thought these were great...

Some really kewl graphics websites...

Check out these addresses, particularly Leo Burnett: Jonathan Yuen Leon Burnett Also, a really "wacky" site to check out is: Real Hamster Probably the best, from an interactive, musical, perspective is: Gorillaz (Go to the "Enter Kong" link - you can spend HOURS here) Have fun...

Quote of the Day...

First day back in the office and I overhear a Dutch colleague out here on assignment, talking to an short-term insurance agent about insuring his Volvo: "I think that's exuberant, and you'll have to go away and come up with a better price". Who ever heard of "exuberant" insurance? Mine has always been "exorbitant"... :-)

Thursday, March 15, 2007

And now that I'm back in Joburg, here's some of what I've been up to...

Did anyone miss me? I see Max did as he commented on the last posting to the effect of "Ok, been there, done, that, now send us a fuckin' report and photos". I tried to post this over the last couple of days, but it appears that Google (Blogger's new owners) have got their capacity planning all fucked up. I keep getting "server busy" errors while trying to post the entry. Anybody else get this too? Now that I'm sending this from the office network (fuckin', there's no, gotta love it...
Kosi Bay Fishing Expedition A few months ago I’d been asked by one of my action cricket pals if I fancied going with a crowd of fishermen to Kosi Bay, up on the KwaZulu Natal border with Mozambique, for a week’s fishing and drinking (actually, he was talking about a trip he was organising for a few of his mates, so I invited myself). Hello, five nights of relaxing, boozing and talking shite…and fishing too? Let me think about that for a se…ok, I’m there. All inclusive of accommodation (rustic as it was, in reed huts, a single bed and mosquito net each, a communal kitchen and dining area, who needed more?), inclusive of food and bait, the trip cost was R800. At just over 200 bucks a day, a bargain. The only other expenses were fishing tackle, diesel and booze…what turned out to be the expensive bits. Kosi Bay trip: R800 Diesel: +- R1,000 Fishing tackle: +- R1,000 (new spool, line, dropshot rod and reel, sinkers, hooks, etc) Booze: R988 (exactly to the cent) The Experience: Priceless. For everything else, there’s Mastercard. (Which is why I don’t have one in the first place.) All in all, not as cheap as it sounded at the beginning, though it’s certainly something I’d consider doing again, though I think there should be a change of venue. Why the change of venue? Well, Kosi Bay is a malaria area (try say “malaria area” fast) and the little bitches were everywhere (“bitches” ‘cos only the female mosquito drinks blood to feed her young, while male mozzies, believe it or not, are vegetarian). Anopheles Heaven, I would call it. So long as you sprayed Peaceful Sleep or Tabard (repellants) over your body, wore a cotton long-sleeved shirt and thin track pants and covered your feet properly, you were okay. However, miss one area and the little bitches found the spot, every time. I missed spraying the soles of my feet one night and while having dinner got bitten on the underside of my left foot…and it itched like hell, like hell, I tell ya.
Not all the mozzies at Kosi Bay are Anopheles though. Many are “normal” mozzies that just like to bite and annoy the hell out of you, without the danger of a life-threatening disease. And I’m sure they do it for fun too, just to worry the life out of people. Anyway, back to the trip… Monday 19th February, 04h15 and the guys arrive at my gate. Introductions aside, we hit the highway for Kosi at around 04h30. There’s Werner (organizer of the expedition), his brother Dewald (a keen freshwater fisherman), Phil (unemployed, smoker of note) and Gerhard (a big guy, accountant for a steel company). Gerhard travels with me as I have aircon and there’s more space in my truck for his hulk. He’s worried that we’re going to have to speak in English the whole trip as he thinks his language skills aren’t the greatest. I tell you though, I’ve heard a damn site worse. We end up speaking a mixture of English and Afrikaans the whole way down to the coast, just to even things out a bit. En route, Werner almost has a head-on prang with a pantechnicon coming in the opposite direction on what was a bit of a blind corner. He’s dragging a trailer loaded with stuff and his speed is not what it should have been. We, driving a short distance behind him, see the truck coming and know that he can’t see it. At the last moment, he manages to squeeze between the two trucks back into his own lane, but not before causing the trucks to take slightly to the sand shoulder, resulting in them throwing up tons of dust and causing me to be temporarily blinded. At 100km/h, I feel like I’m in the middle of a sandstorm in a desert, brown clouds all around, hoping that everyone kept their heads and steering wheels straight. Luckily, the air in front of me clears and we all come out unscathed. I try to get Werner on the cell phone to enquire about the shitty smell emanating from his car. He doesn’t answer, so at least he’s being sensible in that way. The rest of the drive to Pongola is eventless and we meet up with Werner’s “skoonpa” (father in law, “clean father” in direct translation) Juan, and his other daughter, Nathali (a vet, who has fished with dad for 16yrs, we are told later), and Rudolph (BMW salesman, and lamb organiser, from Trichardt, who drove an extra 400km to pick up the other two). Again, introductions aside, we get back in the three vehicles and head for the coast, still two hours away. Just before we hit the coastal sand roads, we get out the vehicles, grab a cold beer and let the tyre pressure down for the drive on the sand. Without letting the air out and engaging four wheel drive, we would have got stuck for sure. It’s great to drive the sandy roads, testing my limited skills and also the vehicle’s handling which I never really doubted. We get to the camp at around 4pm, decide between the eight of us who’s sleeping in which of the two “chalets” and split off to unload our stuff, and have another beer. Before I continue, let me explain the booze load as I remember it…for me, 3 cases of Windhoek Draft 450ml cans (72 x 450ml = 32.4 litres), 2 bottles of Captain Morgan dark rum, a bottle of Scottish Leader whisky (cheap stuff to quaff) and a bottle of Ardbeg 10yr old single malt (for special occasions, whisky snob as I am). All this for 5 nights only. I know Werner has taken along 5 cases of beer and at least two bottles of brandy, Dewald has 3 cases of beer, two bottles of brandy and a bottle of vodka, Gerhard has two cases of Amstel quart bottles, Nathali has two bottles of Glendower scotch (I think she finished one on the first night), Phil (being unemployed at the time) bums some beers off Werner, Rudolph has a couple of cases of beer and a couple of bottles of Richelieu brandy, and Juan has a couple of cases of Castle beer and a bottle of Scottish Leader scotch. Enough to last five nights? Well, the bottles of spirits, no. The beer, yes. I ended up bringing back about a case and a half of Windhoek’s (and the rest of the group also brought back a few beers) and the bottle of Scottish Leader. Most of the Ardbeg I drank myself, but also allowed the rest of the group a short measure of the peaty, salty, liquid gold. It did, however, last until the last evening upon which we “chased the ghost” out of the bottle. Ok, an explanation…”Chasing the Ghost” is an old drinkers tradition here. Warm the empty spirit bottle, usually by rubbing it furiously with your hands or on your pants or shirt, just enough to take the cool edge off the glass. Take the lid off the bottle and tilt said bottle at a slight angle toward the floor. Now take a lighter and light the first small drop that falls out. The result is that the alcohol catches flame, shoots back inside the bottle and, with a ghostly “whoop” noise, shoots the flame (the “ghost”) back out the neck of the bottle. The louder the “whoop”, the more spirited the ghost was. Ok, it’s fun at the time when you’ve just emptied the bottle…try it sometime. The weather was stiflingly humid, with the temperature around the 40oc mark during the day and the humidity well over 100%. I have never before been in such sticky weather conditions and it was not pleasant. I even measured the temperature one night, at 23h00, at 28oc in our chalet and again, at 02h00 the following morning, at 25oc. Only on the last night did we have some respite from the heat as it rained a little, though this dried up almost instantly and returned the humidity levels to “normal”. Sleeping arrangements changed after the second night due to a number of snorers (not myself, I might add). I was in the chalet with Phil, Gerhard and Juan and between the three of them it was like a chainsaw gladiatorial contest. Never before have I heard that much snoring from only three people. Needless to say, they didn’t affect each other either and slept like babes. I wasn’t worried after the first night’s lack of sleep though, as I knew that after a few beers and lack of sleep from the previous night, I would sleep soundly the second night. After the second night though, it turned out that Dewald also snored loudly and the rest of his chalet wanted him out. So for the last three nights all the snorers slept in the same chalet and, at times, I could hear them from my new digs about 20m away. So much for the rest of them not snoring though…on the fourth night, Rudolph and Nathali kept me awake with their snoring. Only Werner and I didn’t snore that I know of. The quote of the week came from Rudolph on Wednesday morning as everyone was surfacing. Rudolph was already in the dining area swallowing a cup of coffee when Phil comes out of the chalet, smokers-coughing his way up the path quite violently, trying to hawk something up. Without even batting an eyelid Rudolph, in Afrikaans, shouts “Phil, as dit hare het, sluk hom terug – dis jou hol!” (“Phil, if it’s got hair on it, swallow it – it’s your arse”) to which the entire camp pisses themselves laughing for at least ten minutes solid.
From left to right: Dewald, Juan, Nathali, Werner, Phil, Gerhard, Rudolph
Fishing was not great, in fact it was pretty shitty and we caught nothing. Conditions were plagued by side currents (north one day, south the next), winds from both northeast and southwest on successive days, lots of seaweed getting stuck to our lines and dragging them around, bluebottles (small stinging jellyfish) getting stuck on our lines and stinging our fingers, and just the heat and humidity making things very uncomfortable. Over the days we fished, we didn’t have to walk too far on the beach, as I had expected to originally, but the walking we did do was made easier by the “donkeys” that Werner and Juan had built in competition with each other. Although neither was extremely successful in negotiating the soft sand, Werner’s was by some measure the better constructed of the two. The only real excitement we had on the fishing front was when one evening just before dark, first Phil’s, then Werner’s lines got pickups (“what’s a hot fish like you doing in a place like this, sweetheart?”). In turn, with about fifteen minutes in between, both their lines screamed out to sea, reels whining, only to be dropped like there was nothing there, though both were solid pickups. To make it worse, their baits looked like they hadn’t even been touched, no tooth marks or fraying of the lines, nothing. Not having used the Penn Jigmaster reel in a while, I gave my left thumb a “toastie”. It happens when you cast and have your finger too tight on the line. While the line is spinning out, you try to counter the spinning reel and push your thumb down, sometimes too hard, on the spool to prevent an overwind causing the line to burn your thumb. If you do it really bad, like I have, you can smell the singeing flesh as the nylon “toasts” your thumb. Burns like hell for a few hours, I can tell you. Ah well…all part of the fun of fishing. Aside from that, a couple of us had small bites, but nothing to write home about. Dedication to the fishing was questioned by myself and Phil, probably the two most inexperienced anglers of everyone, save Gerhard who had never thrown a line in anger before the trip and ended up doing a lot of reading while we were on the beach. We’d expected to be on the beach around daybreak and leave again after sunset, but found that we were only up early on two occasions, and only came off the beach after dark twice too. The rest of the time was spent either playing board and card games in the dining area, drinking, or having a midday snooze.
From left to right: Werner, Yours Truly, Juan, Nathali, Rudolph (camera on self-timer)
Nevertheless, the week went by too quickly and before we knew it, it was Saturday and we were up just after 5am, packing the vehicles for the long trek back to “civilisation”. The drive back along the sand roads was made easier by the light rain we’d had the night before which compacted the roads a little, but it still took us 2hrs to get into Kosi Bay town, pump the tyres to normal pressures, grab a quick bite to eat and get back on the main road. The trip back to Joburg was uneventful, thankfully, and I drove in the gate at a little after 4pm, weary, but a whole lot more relaxed and rested than I had been the week before going on leave. If that was a taste of things to come, by the end of my four weeks leave I would be so relaxed I would be horizontal. Would I go again if asked? You bet, but as I say, a change of venue should maybe be considered.