Convictions


 

Even though I am not a person with many convictions, I recognize as important to have some. A little more than three years ago, I changed my life because someone presented me two strong convictions:

1) that being together was a unique opportunity that life offered us, since the chance of finding someone else was tiny;

2) that we came from problematic relationships and wanted a new and different life, based on important aspects where other relationships had failed.

I believed in these convictions and made them mine. However, the person who made me believe in these convictions does not even remember them or does not even know what a conviction is and how a conviction should guide our lives. Worse than people without convictions, is people with false or weak convictions. It is toxic to live with them. Instead of someone with convictions, one day I looked around and saw a person full of uncertainties, someone who is not the person I let be part of my life.

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Four Years Ago


 

Four years ago I was organizing newspapers, right before a road trip to the neighbouring town of Nelspruit, when occasionally I read my horoscope. Basically, it said two things: 1) From Wednesday on I wouldn’t have to worry about money ever again. 2) I would feel so incredibly energetic that people would be surprised with my vitality. It made some sense since money is reported to be a good source of energy. I referred to this generous prognostic on our way to Nelspruit, more as a positive note than an assertive fact.

We had a very nice stay. But, during the return, the child traveling with us vomited up his food. The last shop I needed to visit was already closed and we were caught in a construction stop promising 20 minutes of wait, but it took more than one hour before the line (20km of cars at least) was authorized to move. It was the longest (in time and length) road stop we have ever faced. The sunset turned into night and we were waiting and waiting. There is only one word capable of explaining what has been happening in the road to Nelspruit: a-b-u-s-e. No reason they evoke will ever be able to explain what we are submitted to. And strangely, it’s been months since the lines of sheep-like cars wait without a visible reaction against that abuse.

And as if that wasn’t enough, once in the Mozambican side we were almost sandwiched between 3 large trucks, those transporting 40 tons of raw sugar to some Maputo deposit, from where it is shipped to somewhere else in the world. Two of the three trucks were heading to Nelspruit, most probably empty. Sugar or no sugar, that wouldn’t make a difference to our fate. In fact, Andy perceived the criminal maneuver and decided to stay in his lane, avoiding the usual reaction when a collision is about to happen. Many accidents occur just because we overreact to an eminent danger. In order for you to perceive what really happened, I summarize it.

Truck number one, heading to Maputo, had stopped on the left (our lane), after the yellow line but still on the road. We were just passing and noticing the fact that there were no visible lights or triangle, when one of two identical trucks coming from Maputo decided to cross the road (from the right lane to the left), also without any warning sign, with the intent to reach the stopped truck. In matter of seconds we found ourselves between part of the stopped truck, on the left, the truck still doing its very risky maneuver, in front, and the third truck moving towards Nelspruit (right lane) with the prohibitive speed they allow themselves as soon as they cross the Mozambican border. The space for us turned to be just enough. The risk, as Andy perceived right away, was to turn just a bit to one side or the other to avoid the collision. It would be fatal in both cases.

It was only after the trucks that I realized that the meaning of my horoscope could be a very different one. If by now I were dead, I wouldn’t need money any longer. As for the energy, who is out there to prove me that there are no gyms or hardwork after death? It was a very long stretch before we reached home…

Five Years Ago


 

If you need a good reason to keep a diary, see the difference between who has it and who does not… Can you tell what happened to you five years ago? Many times I can. Five years ago I was here:

By mid February we went to the Kruger Park, a natural reserve delimitating a good stretch of the South Africa/Mozambique border. The only regret that I have was the delay at the South African side (and our breakfast at the Stop Café, on the route to the Crocodile Gate). Appetite apart, what is the problem with the South African border? Besides keeping people on endless lines for passport control, we witnessed kilometers of trucks waiting to enter into Mozambican territory. As most of them looked to be transitory goods, I can only conclude that South Africa is not supportive of the Mozambican economy – a real shame. I suppose I don’t have to list all the reasons against such policy.

Thanks to bureaucracy, we missed the lions and leopards signaled early morning near the entrance gate. Forget the large breakfast. People usually don’t eat well when their initial expectations are spoiled by doubtful agendas.

Well, it felt strange once inside the Kruger. The day was hot but not that hot to justify the heavenly quietness of the park. I only understood that peacefulness later on when I witnessed the massive number of elephants. Usually, if we are lucky, in a one-day visit, we spot one or two groups of less than 10 elephants. This time they were everywhere and in large groups, always with one of them working as a sentinel. Zebras, gazelles and wildebeests must have felt somehow pacified and protected. If such a giant is so peaceful, then the universe has to be peaceful too…

They walked near and between the cars with their quiet and solemn manner. One of them came from the bush and placed its potent grey body right in front of our car, precisely the moment my camera went on strike. Instead of turning to the right, where our car had stopped, the elephant turned left and followed the road towards a small white car whose occupants must have felt some panic, since they kept reversing as the elephant progressed straight towards them. This walk lasted almost half an hour. The elephant only left the very hot tarmac after defecating, forcing me to conclude that: 1) The elephant suffered from constipation. 2) The elephants use the roads we cross as a toilet. (And if you think this was enough for one day, precisely the same happened a couple of hours later when my camera behaved and allowed me to capture the moment the elephant entered the road and, instead of crossing it, decided to turn left and face another white car, forcing a wise second speedy retreat. Maybe I should add a third conclusion here: 3) White cars bother large grey elephants.)

Besides the elephants, I spotted rhinos and buffalos. To meet the Big Five I would have to cross a different South African border. I also watched small birds, large hippos, young and old visitors, men and women, a rainbow… Because of my “elephant day”, this is my “elephant month” too.

What Men Want


 

Paraphrasing the movie “What Women Want”, I think I’ve figured out what men really want. My conundrum is based on real cases that I observed:

Case 1: Young man left a nice girlfriend and explained: “I want to go to parties, drink and enjoy life. She would never understand”. A little while later, he began to date someone less serious and much more sympathetic to partying habits.

Case 2: Middle age and divorced. When I asked him why he preferred to be alone, he answered me with certainty: “It is not that I lack women. I want to do my life without them always coming to me with reproaches.”

Case 3: Middle age, after ending a relationship due to communication problems. What are these problems? “We do not know how to communicate or overcome our differences.” I asked him what he expected from a relationship. That she would leave him alone? From his smile I saw that I had hit it.

Case 4: Almost in his seventies. He was able to lie, to hurt, to almost destroy a relationship that they are fully aware of being a gift from the heavens. What is wrong with him? He does not prioritize anything that women think is decisive in a relationship: attention, gentleness, intimacy, romance, and the like. What does he prioritizes? He prioritizes that the woman next to him is tolerant towards the space he needs, to his moments of bad mood, to his addictions, to his routines, to his inattention to her and to their relationship, to his absences, to his forgetfulness…

As Valentine’s Day approaches, I thought I should say what I feel about what men want. It is not that women do not want tolerance from their partners. Of course, they do. It is important that they be understanding about our culinary failures, our veins in the legs, our extra pounds, our bad hair days and a lot more. The difference is that for us this tolerance does not seem to be so absolutely decisive for the success of the relationship.

Quitter


 

I do not like to consider myself a quitter, but I have to agree that I quit dance very easily. Today I woke up with the word “quitter” in mind. Maybe I reminded my contemporary dance teacher’s disapproving face the last time I saw him.

What is the behavior of someone who does not want to feel guilty? Usually he or she makes excuses. That’s what I did. Before getting up, I had two good excuses in mind: my tired legs and my honeymoon. I think I’m the kind of people with “honeymoons” that last for tens of years. What about that as an excuse?

On the subject of honeymoon, this week I was in a wedding. It had sea and blue sky. It had violins. It had a banquet hall with candelabra. All very beautiful, but I still consider myself luckier to wake up every morning next to someone I like.

Challenges


 

As if life was not already a challenge, we also have the challenges of Facebook. This is a seven days challenge in which black and white photos of your lives are published. The rules are: “No people. No explanation. Each day, nominate a friend.”

I decided to accept the challenge and bring it here. After all, I’m always using words and this can be an opportunity to do a different thing. Today is the second day of the challenge.

Day one:

 

Day two:

 

Games


 

I used to criticize people addicted to phone or computer games. Now I became one of them. I do not know if my addiction is the consequence of a natural inclination or pure stubbornness.

I think I play because I like challenges. It is useless to look for excuses and theories. Whatever the reasons are, the only conclusion is that games are very addictive.