Fab Five Reunion

Larry visited from Ohio back in 1996. Pierre was in Harrismith; I was in Durban; Steph and Tuffy were living in Cape Town, so they won – we arranged to meet up as the Old Fab Five musketeers down in Kaapstad.

Larry Wingert had been Harrismith’s Rotary exchange student back in 1969 and had returned to South Africa twice before – once in 1976, down through Africa from Greece, mostly overland, all the way to Cape Town; and once in 1985, when he and I had done an overland trip from Maun in Botswana to Vic Falls in Zimbabwe.

Trish and I took him to Mkhuze game reserve:

– in Mkhuze –

and down to Cape Town:

– the Fab Five plus Rope – Pierre, Rope, Koos, Steph, Tuffy, Larry –

Steph took us to his Kommetjie beach house

This year 2020 Steph’s brother JP sent me pics of the magic pub in the beach house

– JP in Steph’s well-stocked pub –

and Tuffy entertained us royally at his and Lulu’s lovely home in Langebaan:

– Larry Lulu me and Tuffy –

~~~oo0oo~~~

Asked what the Fab Five was, I had to think about it. We were a gentlemanly triple-AA gang Educational Club who would meet clandestinely after dark and do creative things to broaden our minds.

The one AA was for automobiles, which we would borrow under an intricate arrangement where the actual owners were not part of the bargaining process; we would then use these automobiles to go places;

The other AA was for alcohol, which we would procure under an intricate arrangement of dispatching a third party who could legally buy the stuff, to a bottle store other than my parents’ bottle store; this we would then imbibe for the purpose of stiffening our resolve. And for laughter and the third AA:

Action! Adventure! Anything but boredom.

– the SAAB re-enactment didn’t happen – we used Tuffy’s bakkie instead – Fab Five plus Frik – Steph Frik Pierre Tuffy me Larry –

One of the founding reasons for launching the august club was we suddenly had a Yank in our midst and we were really afraid he’d go back to the metropolis of Cobleskill, upstate New York and say there was nothing to do in Harrismith. The thought mortified us. We had to DO something!

~~~oo0oo~~~

We were reminded how offended we were late one night on one of our adventures – this one not motorised – we were prowling the empty streets at night te voet – on foot.

And we spotted a policeman driving around drunk! Can you believe it!? That was OUR forte! What was HE doing driving around drunk like us!? So we indignantly phoned the copshop from a tickey box, reported him to the dame on laatnag diens and walked away feeling smug. Next thing we heard a squealing of tyres and the roaring of a Ford F150 straight six. It was him! She had obviously radio’d him and told him! Maybe they were an item!?

We started running as the cop van roared closer. It was the only thing making a noise in the whole dorp at three in the morning so we could easily hear where he was. We sprinted past the Kleinspanskool and as he came careening around the corner we dived under the raised foundations of Laboria – Alet de Witt’s big block of flats. We crawled through and out the other side, at Steph’s house. Steph & Larry went home as did Tuff, a block or two away. Pierre and I had a way to go yet, so we set off along Stuart Street – we could hear the fuzz in the grey Ford F150 with the straight six and the tralies over the windows roaring around in Warden Street. He never stood a chance of catching us. We were fleet of foot and we could u-turn within one metre!

~~~oo0oo~~~

te voet – on foot; saving fuel for the environment

tickey box – street phone booth

dame on laatnag diens – lady on late night duty

Kleinspanskool – junior primary school

tralies – burglar bars

Botswana Safari with Larry

(this blog is about happenings, disasters, surprises and chaos since I caught marriage and kids. But every now and then I re-post a story from my blissful, trouble-free, beer-fuelled bachelor days blog. Here’s one):

Hey, let’s go on a safari!

Great friend Larry Wingert is out from the USA and we hop on a flight to Maun in Botswana. It’s 1985 and we’re bachelors on the loose with time and money!

Okavango Delta

From Maun we fly into the Delta (Tjou Island camp) in a Cessna 206. After many beers and wines a resident auntie starts looking enticing at around midnight but the moment passes.

The next morning a pair of Tropical Boubou, Laniarius major, fly into the open-air pub under a tree right above where we’re sitting and belt out a head-turning, startling loud duet. Stunning! That’s a lifer!

– pic from afrol.com – see story on tropical boubou calls –

After a short mokoro ride it’s back to the plane and a quick, low-altitude flip back to Maun where we all squeeze into an old Land Rover, fill up at Riley’s Garage . .

– 1985 Rileys Garage by Lee Ouzman –

. . and head off for Moremi, stopping just outside Maun to buy some meat hanging from a thorn tree. Goat? Supper. Our outfit is called – I think – Afro Ventures.

We’re a Motley Crew from all over. We get to know two lovely Aussie ladies, a lovely Kiwi lady, a Pom fella – 6 foot 7 inches of Ralph; AND the gorgeous Zimbabwean Angel Breasts (Engelbrecht her actual surname)! Unfortunately, she’s The Long Pom’s girlfriend (sigh). Weird how the only first name I can think of now is Ralph, the undeserving Pom.

Our long-haired laid-back hippy Saffer – no, he was probably a Zim, see his letter – safari guide Steve at the wheel is super-cool, a great guide. So off we go, heading north-east, eight people in a Series 2 Landie – “The Tightest-Squeeze-Four-By-Four-By-Far”.

Long Legs in a Landie to the rescue!

Anyone who has driven in a Landie will know there’s lots of room inside – except for your shoulders and your knees. Besides that – roomy. Land Rover’s theory is that three people can fit on the front seat, three on the middle seat and two on those postage stamp seats in back. Right! See that metal pipe that your knees keep bumping against? That’s what Land Rover used as their prototype airbag. It didn’t work so they only kept it for the next fifty years, then changed it. By using milder steel for the pipe?

– promotional pic extolling landrover luxury –

Previously a critic of Landrover design, in a flash I’m a keen supporter! Unable to endure the cramped space on the middle seat, The Lengthy Pom gets out at the very first stop and sits on the spare wheel on the roofrack. I sit with my thigh firmly against Angel Breasts’ thigh (sigh).

More clever Landrover design features:

The Long Pom stays up there for the rest of the week – whenever we’re driving, he sits on the roofrack! When we stop he has to pick the insects out of his teeth, like a radiator. I’m in seventh heaven. Mine and Angel Breasts’ thighs were made for each other.

– she was like this . . . the landrover wasn’t –

Birding: Problem Solved!

I’m mad keen on birding but I don’t know how these guys feel about it. What if they get pissed off? What if they only want to stop for large furry creatures? After all, five of the seven of us are fureigners. But the problem gets solved like this: The first time we get stuck in the deep sand, a little white-browed scrub robin comes to the rescue! He hops out onto the road in full view, cocks his tail and charms them. From then on I have six spotters who don’t let anything feathered flit past without demanding,“What’s that, Pete? What’s that? And that one?” I become the birding guide! Steve is happy – it’s not his forte, but he’s keen to learn.

– thanks fella!! – see http://www.wilkinsonsworld.com/about/

Moremi – and True Love

At Khwai River camp a splendid, enchanted evening vision befalls me – my best nocturnal wild life sighting of the whole trip: I’m walking in the early evening to supper and bump into Angel Breasts outside her bungalow – she’s in her bra n panties in the moonlight. Bachelor dreams. Oops, she says and runs inside. Don’t worry, I’ve averted my eyes, I lie (*sigh*). That’s another lifer!

Chobe

At Savuti camp the eles have wrecked the water tank.

At Nogatsaa camp a truck stops outside the ranger’s hut, a dead buffalo on the back. The ranger’s wife comes to the truck and is given a hindquarter. Meat rations. They also drop the skin there and advise us to carry a torch if we shower at night as lions are sure to come when they smell the skin.

– internet pic of nogatsaa waterhole –

Another Lifer! Later I head for the tiny little shower building – a single shower – to shower while it’s still light. Discretion being the better part of valour! A sudden cacophony makes me look out of the broken shower window: The lady-in-residence is chasing an ele away from her hut by banging her pots & pans together! We travel thousands of k’s to see elephant and she says Footsack Wena! Tsamaya! The ele duly footsacks away from that awful noise. While looking out, I spot what I think could be a honeyguide in a tree, so I have to rush back to our puptent wrapped in a towel with one eye on the ele to fetch my binocs. It is a Greater Honeyguide, the one with the lovely Latin name Indicator indicator, and that’s another lifer for me! Moral of the story: Always carry your binocs no matter where you go!

– Greater Honeyguide, Indicator indicator- also from xeno-canto.org –

That night the elephants graze and browse quietly right next to our puptent, tummies rumbling, other noises emanating from front and rear. Peeping out of the tent door I look at their tree stump legs, can’t even see up high enough to see their heads. Gentle giants.

As we head on north and east through the sand, we approached the Chobe river; and the landscape looked like Hiroshima in WW2! Elephant damage of the trees was quite unbelievable. That did NOT look like good reserve management! Botswana doesn’t believe in culling, but it sure looks like they should!

The Chobe river, however,  was unbelievable despite the devastation on its banks – especially after the dry country we’d been in. What a river! What wildlife sightings!

Zimbabwe

On to Zimbabwe, the mighty Zambesi river and Victoria Falls. We stayed at AZambezi Lodge. Here we bid a sad goodbye to our perfect safari companions. Me still deeply in love. Angel Breasts holding The Long Pom’s hand, totally unaware of my devotion (*sigh*).

At the end, our new friend and safari guide Steve gave me and Larry a letter. We read it on the flight out of Vic Falls.

– lovely note –

~~~oo0oo~~~

Hopeful note: Larry had a camera on the trip, I didn’t, so I have asked him (hello Larry) to scratch around for his colour slides in his attic or his secret wall storage space in Akron Ohio. He will one day. As a dedicated procrastinator he is bent on never putting off till tomorrow what he can put off till the next day. Meantime, thanks to Rob & Jane Wilkinson of wilkinsonsworld.com, xeno-canto.org and others on the interwebs for these borrowed pics and sounds!

Edit: There’s more hope! Larry wrote 16 December 2017: P.S. I will renew my efforts to locate some photos of our Botswana trip. If you saw the interior of my house, you’d understand the challenge. . . . OK, but if you saw the exterior of his old house you’d fall in love with it:

– 40 North Portage Path, Akron Ohio –

Terrible note: Update November 2019: Larry has since had a bad fire in the basement of his lovely home. Much of his stuff is ruined by the fire, the smoke and then the firemen’s water! He may not repair his home! This is so sad! Dammit! Pictures suddenly aren’t important any more.

~~~oo0oo~~~

Saffer – Suffefrickin; South African

Zim – a Zimbabwean

lifer – first time you’ve seen that bird ever – or anyway in lingerie

Footsack Wena! Tsamaya! – Go away! Be off with you! Eff Oh!

pamberi ‘n chimurenga – forward the liberation struggle! in Shona

~~~oo0oo~~~

Ohio Honeymoon

Honeymoon OhioThe sixth week of our honeymoon in 1988 was an eagerly awaited visit to good friend Larry Wingert. He’d been a Rotary exchange student to Harrismith in South Africa back in 1969-1970.

We flew out of Lawton Oklahoma to Dallas/Fort Worth, on to Little Rock, to Cincinatti and on to our destination: Akron, Ohio. Friday 8 April. Larry’s friend Dave “Zee” picked us up at the airport, took us to his condominium and fed us. The first meal of what turned out to be a major good food week! Later, Larry fetched us in his Subaru – our third all-wheel drive vehicle this trip, and this one free! – and took us to his beautiful old home on North Portage Path. At home it was all wine, one woman and song, with Aitch and Larry bashing the piano and asking me to please stop singing.

On our arrival in the States some weeks before, we received a letter saying “Please accept these portraits of old American Presidents and USE this plastic card!” Various denomination dollar bills and a credit card for gas (or petrol)! How’s that for a wedding present!? In Larry We Trusted!

I love the canoeing connection with his home: North Portage Path is an 8000 year old path along which native Americans portaged their canoes from the Cuyahoga river out of lake Erie, across a mere eight miles to the Tuscarawas River from where it flows into the Muskingum river, then into the Ohio and on to the Mississippi. Thus they could paddle from the Great Lakes to the Gulf Of Mexico with only one eight mile portage, something any Dusi paddler would do without a second thought! The amazing thing: You can still paddle from the Great Lakes to the Gulf of Mexico today, unbroken except for one short section – and while trudging along that section you could pop in to Larry’s place for tea. Or ‘tea’! America’s waterways are astonishing.

Larry indulged us lavishly. There was no tea. Only the good stuff. He indulged Aitch’s joy in shopping, especially deli shopping at the best places. And Larry knows his delis!

Followed by a big cook-up at home . .

– when a man is cooking you a steak you can pretend to love his cat . . –

. . and music with the two of them on the piano, shoving me aside and asking me to please stop singing!

Then he took us to parks and nature resorts for me to indulge in my birding passion. When he wasn’t able to join us, he handed over the keys to his all-wheel-drive Subaru. Above and beyond . . One morning we visited Cuyahoga River State Park quarry area. Our favourite bird in Ohio was probably the Northern Flicker.

Afterwards we went shopping at another rather special deli – its obvious Larry is GOOD at this! For supper he cooked us some great steaks on his portable barbeque outside his kitchen door. We ate like kings. After supper there was music with the two of them on the piano, shoving me aside and asking me to please stop singing!

A visit to Kendall Lake; Later to Cleveland’s Old Arcade Centre and a look at Lake Erie. Supper at a French restaurant on Larry; He had already spoiled us generously, now this.

Suitably fortified, we moved back home to liquers and piano and song! No tea. By this time my good friend and my good wife had formed an excellent working and jolling relationship. They shoved me aside and asked me to please stop singing. To bed at 2am, rising at 5.30am;

Off to Boston 13 April 1988. In consultation with Larry, we decided Cape Cod was next . . .