Fecundity

When we got to River Drive in 1989 we were warned it was a fertile zone and if you weren’t careful babies would start popping out all over. This was from the Lellos who had produced three offspring there; the Greenbergs, two; The Hockeys, a few, Donna was the only one around then; the Howard-and-Dofs, three boys, and there were others. We were blissfully child-free and at least half of us were determined to remain that way.

We stood firm, determinedly child-free ’til 1999. When we left that river in 2003 the Naudes had produced two boys but we had stood firm; We only had two children, having managed to sell three others after fattening them up and putting a smile on their faces.

In Elston Place there was a swarm of children; The pool was always overflowing. They all soon learned the gate code and the place was like a railway station. And nothing has changed in the thirteen years we’ve been here. Here’s the latest crop with Jess who went down the road to visit this evening:

Three of these are kids of the kids who used to swim in the pool when we first arrived!

Here are some of the early-days kids with a young Jessie leaning back:

Elston Place gang (2)

Mkhuze Peach needs a Balaclava

Later we go on a night game drive in an open vehicle with Patrick, ‘our’ Mkhuze Ezemvelo Ranger. The three of us and a family of four from Durban. On the drive I realise that of the eight people on the vehicle I am the only one reflecting an excessive amount of moonlight from my ‘peachy’ face. Probably scaring the animals.

I’ll have to get meself a balaclava.

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Oxpecker collage
Oxpecker collage

 

On Safari with a Bushman – 1. The Decision

We’d been meaning to go for ages but, you know – procrastination.

The idea of a long road trip up north is a common dream and – like many Saffers – we planned to do it ‘one day’: A “safari!” – a Swahili word meaning just plain journey. Probably originally from the Arabic سفر (safar) meaning a journey;

Then one lazy day at home in 2003 I read a lovely interview with an Austrian bloke who had traveled down through Africa on his own from Vienna to Cape Town on a motorbike. The journalist interviewing him asked him about the trip, his adventures, his highlights and his challenges. He’d had a fun time.

The journo then looked down at his bike and said: “Hey – this is a dead-ordinary street bike! What on earth made you choose this bike for your African safari?”

“Choose it?” he said “I didn’t choose it. I had it”. That did it! I got up right there and then and started pacing around. ‘Acting strangely’, according to Aitch.

Within a few months of reading that Wake-Up! What Are You Waiting For? call we had hopped into our white VW kombi petrol 2,3i 2WD with 195 000km on the clock and headed north.

Bluetts Spaggiaris Visit (7)

Two little problems: While procrastinating we had adopted Jessie, now five, and Tommy, now 22 months old. But what the heck, even after we’d modified the kombi it was still a six-seater. There was room for them!

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Saffers – South Africans

I shoulda said Gosh! or Darn!

Jaynee J had a luxury courtesy suite at Centurion Park cricket ground and she invited us to watch a game. The Springboks / Proteas were playing someone in an international test match. 2001, so Sri Lanka, maybe.

Jayne called it her ‘champagne suite’. Jayne Janetsky could POUR, and – as always – she had laid in enough stock for a siege. Or a rainy day. And that day Centurion Park was not like this:

Centurion cricket ground

It was like this:

Jayne J Champagne Suite Centurion Cricket (2)
Me telling Jessie “See love, this is cricket: Not much happens”

This led to puddle-jumping with Jess behind the stadium:

I had great fun watching the people. Especially a guy in the next-door Telkom box, scanning the crowd with powerful binoculars, looking for girls. Whenever he saw someone watching him he’d say “I’m looking for my sister”.

We had to take two year-old Jessica along and it wasn’t really her thing. It rained off and on, so we were indoors with Celebrity Guest Barman Johnno Green, who was intent on quality control, sampling and plying. Aitch and I took turns amusing Jess and keeping her (mostly) out of the adults’ hair.

Jayne J Centurion Champagne Suite

After a while (cricket matches carry on and on and when you think they MUST be finished, surely? – they stop for tea) I had to feed and change Jess and decided to take her back to Jayne’s home. Change of scenery for her and a break for the adults.

On the way back to the stadium, with freshly-fed and -wiped Jessie strapped in the car seat behind me, I missed the freeway off-ramp to the stadium. Didn’t have a clue how I’d get back to the stadium now, so I was kinda tense and focused and fuming. What if I missed Jayne’s famous lunch? Finally I figured it out and managed a tricky u-turn after the next off-ramp and got back on track. Finally I could relax.

“Pete?” came a little voice from behind me.

Yes my love?

“FUCK!”

“FUCK FUCK FUCK!!”

Oh, boy . . . . .

Racial Profiling

While staying in friend Ian Whitton’s lovely cottage outside Stanford, near Hermanus, we visited the mission town of Elim and its mission station, tsurts and watermill:

hermanus-elim-stanford-1

In the village we stopped for some cooldrinks. The family decided to stay in the car as I ducked into a little roadside store. A line of little kids were sitting leaning against the wall all in a row outside the door, watching me.

 

Four-year-old Jess changed her mind and ran after me, grabbing my hand as I drew level with the local gang. Where they’d looked at me rather disinterestedly, they now perked up. One dug her mate in the ribs with her elbow: “Kyk! Sy’s ‘n Hotnot!” she exclaimed excitedly.

Islamic Fundamentals

When Aitch died it was two Muslim Moms that stepped forward and calmly and without fuss saved my butt. They re-organised their lift club to include me and kept me informed of what was happening at school. I did the morning ‘deliver’ school run every third week, while they shared the afternoon ‘fetch’ school run between them, insisting I needn’t do it as I was working and they were home Moms.

Then every year they’d give ME presents “to thank me for my help”! Five and a half years they just sorted me out, reminding me of events, juggling times when needed. We were all flexible, swopping times as needed by any of us in special circumstances.

They were fundamentally fantastic.

Thank you Sarah and Katie (Saarah and Katija)!

 

Miffed

My old man has very little interest in his own birthday and has maybe remembered about 10% of my birthdays, and those with the old lady’s prodding. He also has remembered ZERO percent of my kids’ birthdays (they’re both 11 December, he’s 15 December).

So for his latest birthday I was away out of cellphone comms with Jessie at a game reserve. Then I needed to phone Tom and went to where I found signal and did so. I had remembered the old man’s birthday so for the old lady’s sake, I phoned. It was the day after the actual date.

“I’m most upset and disappointed with you. You forgot!” he says as she hands him the phone (he’s joking of course).

So I said “Hell, I remembered 93 of them. I thought to hell with the 94th.”

He thought that was hilarious.