Life, Travel Africa

Oy! Vulisango! Padre d’água!

New Year in Ponta Milibangalala. We joined the Hills at their traditional campsite. It’s a magnificent beach in the Maputo Elephant Reserve. Back in 1990 it was uncrowded and perfect.

One day we need supplies. Dave says come along to ‘Ponta’, which means Ponta de Ouro – there are a lot of Pontas but Saffers call de Ouro just ‘Ponta’. We head south along the beach you’re not allowed to drive on. It’s much quicker than taking the road inland. At one rocky point you have to leave the beach, up over the dune and then back onto the beach around the point.

We roar up the dune, crest the rise and . . . there’s a boom across the track. A security guard in uniform stands up to stop us, raising his hand in the universal language of ‘halt!’.

I start rehearsing an acquiescent speech: Yes, its true we were on the beach and no, we aren’t actually allowed on the beach, but it was an emergency (fetching beer) and . . . . . . Dave’s foot doesn’t budge a millimetre on the accelerator. He waves his arm imperiously in an upward motion, signalling in that same universal language ‘open up!’. He leans out the window and shouts “Oy! Vulisango! Padre d’água!” as he roars straight at the boom with undiminished speed.

Now, never mind that Oy! is Irish, Vulisango! is isiZulu and only Padre d’água! would have been understood (I understand it’s Portuguese for “His Excellency David Hurle Hill, Minister of Water Affairs for all Mocambique”), Dave gets his message across and the suitably impressed security guard flings the boom up with alacrity, barely managing to stop himself from saluting as we roar through without a backward glance.

Gotta admire the pirate in Hill. His swash isn’t easily buckled.


Family & Kids, Motorcars_Automobiles, Travel Africa

Last Maputaland Beach Drive

No more driving on the beach!

Our Environment Minister Valli Moosa had at last grasped the nettle and was closing the beaches to hooligans! We approved, and time and research has shown it was the right decision. It has had a positive impact on the ecology of the coastal zone, with a recovery of resident reef fish species and breeding birds.

Regulations for the control of use of vehicles in the coastal zone (Government Notice 1399 of 21 December 2001) published in terms of section 44 of the National Environmental Management Act (No. 107 of 1998).

But! We admit: We do love driving on the beach! So Bruce Soutar was quick to spot the opportunity for a Last Drive before the regulations came in to force, so he gathered a bunch of people to both celebrate and mourn the closure.
Beach Drive (1).jpg

Beach drive-001

We had the Soutar VW Kombi, Kemp Jeep, Gail Pajero, Duncan __ and Swanie Ford and one other –?

Family & Kids

Did they inherit . .

. . these genes from me!?

Jess came home from a nightclub last night – a series of nightclubs, actually – full of the springs of joy.

Hello! What did you have to drink? I asked.

Oh, very little Dad. Behind her back her friend grins.

So, what?

Just three Strawberry Lips shooters, two blue ‘Cocaine’ cocktails and one Smirnoff Blend.

And one Vodka and Coke, says Andile who only drank cooldrink and kept tally.

Oh yes.


Family & Kids, Sport, Wildlife, Game Reserves

Our Fisherman Tom

The first time: He found a bamboo with a line tied on the end at Kelso beach when visiting the Harveys, Margaret and Bryce. This rustic contraption immediately sparked his interest. A fascination started that has endured.

MargBryce Kelso2005 (18)

When Trish’s Dad Gompa Neil found out, he gave Tom two big surf rods as he had decided to give up fishing. We took them along to Cape Vidal and three year-old TomTom waved them around like fly rods in the surf. The fish were quite safe, there wasn’t time for them to grab hold of the hook!

Cape Vidal Oct 2005 (6).jpg

Some of the other times:

Birds & Birding, Travel Africa

Unfair Birding

Young David was a casual birder back then. Under the tutelage of his fine wife Goldie he has since come on in leaps and bounds. He was also a driller back then. He would drill boreholes for water in Malawi, Mocambique and other beautiful places, boring deep into the earth searching for the nectar of life.

His drilling company’s motto was “On The Hole Our Work Is Boring”.

One fine day in Mocambique he got caught short and had to pull over on the way to a drilling site for an emergency evacuation in a lovely patch of forest. He would have noisily scratched a nest (Dave is not a tiptoe-er) and got rid of his voluminous shorts so as not to cause any stains and settled himself comfortably for the job at hand, probably with some grunting and sighing.

Suddenly, this beauty hopped into view in a patch of sunlight in the gloomy forest interior and gazed in fascination at the amazing and unusual sight squatting in the clearing:

African Pitta

A bloody Pitta! Many serious birders search for these things for decades, spending time and money and only getting heartache. Hill saw one while having a ‘veldie”.

Talk about unfair. This is birding a la (com)mode. I’ve always said “Don’t chase them. Sit and they’ll come to you”. But this . . !!

Family & Kids, Home

Sakkie Sakkie Music Heard in Westville

I can’t believe it! What’s that noise? In My Own House!

On our sea cruise to Mocambique a song was played over and over ad infinitum. It got people crowding the dance floor and forming swaying lines of bodies on the boat and on the beach. It was Hamba Nawe and Jess loved it.

Later she found an Afrikaans version, so now my house started sounding like a Steve Hofmeyr shrine. I was aghast. I thought “This Cannot Be!” BUT: I remembered what dear old Mom had done and said when I played Led Zeppelin’s Whole Lotta Love full tilt in her house in the Free State back in the seventies: Nothing.

So I was a diplomat. A long-suffering diplomat. I mean, if my Mom could listen to a shrill I’m Gonna Give You Every Inch Of My Love, I could chill, surely?

Anyway, Jess’s tune was catchy and often she’d play it in isiZulu too, like they did on the ship.


This week I heard some music again and thought Omigawd Ou Steve is back. And Jess said “Dad. Look Here” and wanted to show me the video.

No thanks Jess I can hear, I really don’t need to see, I said.

“No, look man!” she said: