Africa, Aitch, Canoe & Kayak, Family & Kids, KwaZuluNatal, Nostalgia, Sport

Walking the Umgeni

It was a sad fact. The Umgeni was going to be dammed. Again. The fourth big dam on its course from the Dargle to the sea. Many people love dams. I hate them. They ruin the valleys and change nature for ever. Dams wipe out species – many before we even discover them; they flood huge areas of wetlands, riverine forest and grasslands; they displace people and affect everything living downstream.  Large dams hold back not just water, but silt and nutrients that replenish farmlands and build protective wetlands and beaches. If you love rivers, dams are the enemy – the disease that kills. Dams don’t just change the river valleys in our waterways, they obliterate them. Yet people love them.

So the Umgeni was going to be dammed and damned; and I wanted a last paddle on that part of the river which was destined to be for ever gone.

So I rounded up some boats and some non-paddling friends in August 1988. Come and paddle a part of the famous Duzi Canoe Marathon course, I said. And the suckers fell for it! Geoff Kay, Mike and Yvonne Lello, Pete Stoute, sister Sheila; and wife Trish joined me in the valley. Some brought some kids, and some valley kids joined us.

We launched the boats with fanfare, breaking a bottle of champagne on each one’s hull (OK, not really) – AND:

They didn’t float! The river was so shallow they hit the bottom, even thought their draft was like two inches!

Oh well, it turned out to be not a paddle but a trudge. And – literally – a drag. But fun nonetheless!

I stared at the banks and the valley walls as I trudged. Soon yahoos would be racing outboard motors here. Soon this life and interesting variety all around us would be drowned forever.

Progress, they say. Not.

~~~oo0oo~~~

Life

OKay Doctor!

An optometrist friend of mine is a bit scatter-brained at times. He wouldn’t argue with that. He got a phone call once while seeing his last patient of the day. He had fitted him in late and told the staff “You go home, I’ll lock up”.

Halfway through the test the phone rang and he went to the reception desk to answer it. He listened carefully, said “Yes, Yes” and agreed to get home soon.

He then left the office, locked up and went home – a twenty minute drive.

After he’d been home awhile he suddenly remembered!! Omigawd! He leapt into his car and roared back to the practice, unlocked and walked in to where the man was still sitting in the chair.

The poor man was the first to speak: “Doctor, I hope you don’t mind, I moved the machine away from my face a little”.

Ahem, “Not at all” said my man and carried on examining the poor humble guy’s eyes.

Man, was he lucky with WHO it was. He coulda got ROASTED! His staff told the story for years afterwards!