This year’s Comrades Marathon has been CoVidded – no go. This was the 2013 Comrades ultra-marathon. The route runs past our doorstep, and I have a houseful of hooligans, so I hatch a plan . .
On the banks of the beautiful Umkomaas river at what the Porters used to call ‘The A-frame’ campsite. The A-frame washed away in the 1987 floods, heading downstream and maybe out the mouth, into the Indian Ocean and off to Australia.
Leopard and otter footprints; A tiny little dead shrew – what kind? dwarf?;
A magic lunch on the rocks next to a pool in the river below a little rapid.
And five kids.
Off we went to St Lucia estuary for a camping long weekend. Let’s take the minimum guys, we can buy food locally. Just clear out the fridge and bread bin and let’s go. We’ll buy charcoal and meat and etc from the local Spar. I didn’t even take any wine!
Let’s take a tent for the three teenage girls, and the 12yr old fella and I will sleep in the back of the pickup. The simple life.
Except I realised at the first tollgate that I had left my wallet in Westville. Complication. To turn back or not. In my rucksack I found Tom’s saving card, daily withdrawal limit R300. I had just changed his password, as we had not used the account for ages, so we were good to go. We just gotta be frugal, kids.
And that’s where they blew me away. All four of them said “Dad, we’ve got money! You can have our money, Dad”. They each had R200 pocket money for the weekend and offered it freely! What stars.
Thanks guys, I may need that, but I have enough to fill up with diesel and we’ll just go easy and discuss it before we spend anything, OK?
The next morning I managed to activate my eWallet and cellphone banking at an internet cafe so could now draw R1500 a day! Problem solved! I gave them each R100 to thank them for their generous offers. Their eyes looked like chocolates and ice creams!
Off we went to the game reserve (entrance fee R245) and to the water park (R120 for the four of them). We wuz rich! The girls bought swimming shorts with their money.
The next day that amount had kindly been reduced to R200 (“for my safety” – Thanks FNB!), so I had to make the speech again, and again they rallied around with their offer of chipping in, but with Tom’s R300 and my R200 we were fine. We ate boerie rolls both nights – cheap!
Here’s an isimangaliso* pan with buffalo, waterbuck and zebra (click on the pic). The Indian Ocean is just behind that high forested dune:
Tom got on with fishing . .
. . while the teenage girls did what teenage girls do . .
*isimangaliso means ‘miracle, wonder, surprise’ in isiZulu
Let’s go to the lion park, Dad, I’ve never seen lions!
This is Jess. I remind her that she has, actually, in Zambia – but she was little – five years old, 2003. I must show her the pics in South Luangwa Park.
They’re in hard bargaining mode, as we’re on our way to my folks’ place in PMB. It’s my ole man’s 91st birthday lunch, which is why I’m dragging them to Sleepy Hollow. It’s not their best place to visit, so I agree: Behave sociably and we can go to the lion park after lunch. OK?
By the time we get to the “Lion Park” it’s closed, but we can “see the lions only”. Same price, one hundred Saffrican Ront. I decide stuffit, let’s rather do this properly. “Stuff these lions” I announce, “We’re going to Mfolosi game reserve for the day tomorrow”. “Let’s go and see if we can spot some real lions”.
We left at 6:00am sharp and were in the park at 8:40am, already paid and entered, R240 for the five of us and the car for the day.
We had a ball. The kids were expert spotters, we saw lots & lots of eles, rhino, buff, giraffe, nyala, impala, bushbuck, wilderbeasts, wartpigs ensovoorts. – And a clear sighting of a gorgeous bush shrike!!
We sang rap and Mama Mia all the way there and back. And we laughed! These brats have decided they don’t like mixing with too many communities. Especially in crowds. Used to be bantu, then plurals, anderskleuriges, euphemisms, etc. Now its communities.
“Don’t stop here, Dad” as we drive through a village, “there are too many communities here”. I threaten to buy them each a mirror so they can check their mahogany brown selves whenever they think of such nonsense, but they just hose themselves at me.
They must have introspected a bit, though, because at lunch at the picnic spot they announce: “Hey we’re the only communities here!” To shine them up I made them do a spot of community tribal dancing in a tree.
And of course the two 12yr olds Tom & Lungelo couldn’t miss the opportunity to disgust the teenage girls by letting rip on the way back, causing a hasty winding down of windows and heads hanging out for fresh air till the green fumes could waft away.
So the lion park sparked a search for ‘real’ lions.
We didn’t see a lion this visit, but I heard a whole lotta lyin’.
Saffrican Ront – South African Rand; worth anywhere from 70 US cents (1973) to 15 US dollars (2015)! Depends when you ask;
ensovoorts – etc.
This time Minenhle joined us, using Gayle Adlam’s mountain bike.
Sheils took us to the start again, in our bakkie, then drove it to her home, which is near the finish line. The night before we had been to the rugby Sharks vs WP and got soaked – Cold and rainy, but the cycling day dawned warm and dry.
Minnie and Jess trundled along, chatting away and eye-ing out the male talent en route.
For the first time, Tom put his head down and pedaled off with intent. I caught him twice, then waited for Jess near Cowies Hill. Never saw him again. Rode the rest alone. At the finish he came up proudly boasting “Blew your doors off, Dad. Beat Jess by MILES!”
Jess & Min took quite a while longer.
Subway sarmies afterwards; then we rode and pushed steep uphills to Sheila’s flat.
Drove home in the bakkie for a hot bath.