Friend Rohan owns Detour Trails and arranges the most amazing bespoke mountain bike holidays all over Africa. We joined him Easter 2010 on a ride from the Mtamvuna River to the Mtentu River. At least I did. Aitch drove the kids to Mtentu in the kombi (or maybe in friend Craig’s Colt 4X4 – not sure).
Both hands on the handlebar, so no pics of the ride. I only fell off once, and no-one saw. On the way we stopped for a refreshing swim in a clear deep pool in a steep valley.
Once we got to the magnificent Mtentu River mouth (see the feature pic above) I abandoned my bike and joined the family for lazy hiking, while the keen MTB’ers rode out and back each day.
An easy stroll across pristine coastal grasslands took us to where the Mkambathi River drops straight into the sea at high tide.
At low tide the falls (very low flow here) drop onto the sand of a beautiful beach. Tommy knows there’s bait under here somewhere for his fishing!
Everyone loves this little bay. Aitch, Jess and Tom each had a spell where they had the whole beach to themselves: (click on pics for detail)
Upstream along the Mkambathi River you find Strandloper Falls. The last time we’d been we said ‘Must Bring Our Diving Masks And Snorkels Next Time!’ – and we remembered.
Then we strolled back:
Back on the Mtentu River, Rohan had kayaks for us to paddle upstream in search of another waterfall
Then back downstream to the Mtentu mouth
Paradise – three hours south of Durban. There’s a lodge there now, so it’s even easier to stay.
You would be SO jealous if you were watching down from your cloud right now. The kids are in SUCH a good space. They’re a pleasure to be with. Sure, they give me a bloody hard time often and sure, they manipulate the hell out of me but they love their Dad!
May this last a few more years and then may they depart and start sending money home. Hey, we gotta aim high.
We miss you and talk about you lots still.
Oh, and Sambucca has gone grizzly about the gills and eye sockets. Past grey, her muzzle is now white. Also her eyesight ain’t what it used to be and she’s deaf. Otherwise she’s fine. Still manages to fool one of us into feeding her twice by promising earnestly that she hasn’t eaten for DAYS, when someone else just fed her. She has recently discovered her bark (I think that’s about all she can hear now) so she has gone from a silent snoozer to an enthusiastic barker who can only be shut up by tapping her on the shoulder and signalling SHURRUP! That causes her to bounce around with glee saying “I KNEW there was someone here! So it’s you!”
Also, we found this in the garage this week: Sambucca’s pedigree! You hid it! So this is why she cost us R2000 when all our previous dogs had come free or with a R20 note tied on their collar!?
So now we know Sambucca was born 23 August 2006. Twelfth birthday coming up, greybeard!
Jessie’s Tummy Mummy Thembi became a good friend thanks to Aitch and her conscientious follow-up and ‘adoption’ of Thembi. Aitch nurtured her and encouraged and empowered her. She arranged classes such as computer and sewing courses; she had her teeth seen to and hugely improved by the state orthodontists at Addington and King Edward hospitals.
Once a month she would take Jessie – and me and Tom sometimes – to meet for lunch with Thembi. Aitch would also take her supplies and goods to sell; Jessie loved those lunches. She and Thembi would gossip and giggle and point at people walking past commenting on their looks, dress, gait, whatever. Scandalous! They loved it!
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Once we took Thembi back to Port Shepstone so she could show her Mom and Gran that Jess was fine. She had left them at age thirteen to go and work as a domestic servant for a family in Chatsworth.
Thembi longed for a boyfriend, and when she met a guy who was very good to her she was very happy. But tragically she then contracted AIDS; Aitch pitched right in and arranged to meet the chief HIV / AIDS doctor in charge at King Edward, who saw to it that Thembi got good treatment and got it in time. She sickened rather quickly though, and grew weak.
Jess wrote to her when I visited her in Addington:
She died on the 19th of August 2010 in the Albert Luthuli hospital, after a stay in Addington hospital. I took her boyfriend and her brother Dumi in the kombi to buy a coffin and then to fetch her body; then arranged for them to get her remains – and themselves – to Port Shepstone.
Thanks to Aitch’s calendars and the death certificate, I now know Thembi was born on 2nd July 1983 and was fourteen when Jess was born.
Well, twenty nine anyway. Me n Aitch would have been married 29yrs today! A toast and good memories! We were together 26yrs, married 23, and I got 34yrs of kids value out of it (19 plus 15)! Add all that together = 100yrs.
I had a hard time, as she would gallivant with handsome young bucks on Harley Davidsons when I wasn’t looking:
Aitch was a secret biker chick in her day. She went to the Buffalo Rally:
and she was into convertibles, Cadillacs in America, Audis and jeeps in SA:
As we were going to have a small wedding out in the sticks, we held a Pre-Nuptial-Party at Kingfisher Canoe Club back in 1988 to celebrate with friends who couldn’t make it or who hadn’t cracked the nod. Who to invite and who to discreetly ignore is one of the things that makes the lead-up to tying the knot vrot with danger as anyone who has gone singing to the gallows well knows.
I was reminded yesterday about that happy gathering by Barbara Mason, who I only occasionally see as she lives a normal and sane life, parallel to the madcap canoeing world that links me to her hubby Charles (him a legendary paddler, me a used-to-be wannabe).
She told me she quotes from my speech of that night to this day. I had forgotten that I’d even spoken, but she assures me I spake thus:
“Aitch and I gave careful consideration to the pros and cons of getting married, but we decided to go ahead and get married anyway.”
It’s the fourth time we have celebrated your birthday without you. And it’s not the same. It was chaos, of course. After two weeks of hum n haw, the kids decided we needed to go to Butcher Boys in town for big steaks. Then they decided on John Dorys nearby for fish n chips. Then Jess decided not to go.
In the end TomTom, Lungelo & I went to the nearby centre. They each had a R99 mixed platter, I had steak and we brought two calamari n chips home to Jess & her friend Tarryn.
When they’d finished the boys walked home and I finished a second glass of wine and paid. Just before I left a lady at a nearby table came over. She knew Tom from aftercare and was all complimentary. I thanked her for helping to get the lil bugger to pass!
When the new boy moved in I experienced times of being firmly relegated to 2-IC, second-best, sidekick, supporting cast – in Aitch’s life. Me and TC had to step back as she fell deep and hard in love with Matt. Here’s when she found and chose him:
He was not glossy, so we called him Matt.
Then he grew. And his coat became glossy on the expensive vet’s food Aitch fed him. He was at the tail-end of the docked-tail era.
This was back when these dogs were our children (prior to adopting two of the longer-lasting, more expensive, less appreciative, two-legged kind!).
I found Matt on the freeway late one rainy night. He was probably after an intriguing new smell which enticed him out (he hadn’t wandered before). He was a growing boy, after all! Hit by a car on the M13 when he went loping off thinking “Love Is In The Air”, he was dead. His collar with our details on it was still attached.
We shed tears. I dug his grave. We buried him in the garden.
Then we got a lawyer’s letter and the guy who hit him sued us for the damage to his car. He was entitled to do that, and we paid. Felt crappy, though.
True love – Aitch & Matt; Matt about 1989 to 1991.