Break Away


 

By the time this post is being published I’ll be on the road, back from a very short trip to the neighbouring town of Nelspruit. What a great WP feature! Last year, I scheduled an entire month ahead of my holidays in Germany, Portugal and Spain.

We are not very enthusiastic about going to SA right now. It’s cold and such trips are always tiring. Even so, we really need things that are not available or are too expensive to buy locally.

It’s getting cold where we are, but Nelspruit is even colder. We checked the weather and it looks fine (24ºC). It seems we’ll have a break.

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Sleep & Liver

It’s three weeks since I was back from Europe and I’m not yet entirely settled. What I crave more is one morning without having to remember some obligation to fulfill before 9am. It wasn’t supposed to be like this. Holidays exist for sleeping, relaxing and partying.

Probably, it was the flights and airports. My first time as a lonely traveller! I am proud of myself for crossing Europe, Middle East and Africa, all by myself. As I watched 30 movies at least, now I still have some sleep to catch up.

My liver is also unfit. I don’t think it’s the 2 or 3 small glasses of red wine I drink strictly over lunch. I cannot stand any other kind of alcoholic drink. In my way back, I killed almost 6 hours at the Frankfurt airport by munching all kind of sandwiches and red wine. I got drunk, literally, and had strange and dangerous thoughts during the never-ending flight to Doha. Once arrived, I was sober and stayed sober. Wine wasn’t easy to find. I was sober before Frankfurt and I’ve been sober since Frankfurt. Still, my sleep and liver need some sort of special holidays…

Blame It on My Neighbours

I decided to spend a few weeks in Europe. Then, things happened. Then, I read about Europe not being secure any longer. If I want insecurity, I am well served where I am right now.

I was fighting between “go” and “don’t go” when my Italian neighbours started to play operas and arias. I am getting so nostalgic of the good old continent! If you see me somewhere in Europe, lost in the crowd, just blame it on my musical neighbours…

Feeling Guilty

This year I traveled to Durban a little earlier than usual. The reason? The reason wasn’t a reason after all. The exhibition “Interior Landscapes” was postponed. On our way to Durban and back home we saw a sad consequence of the drought on the sides of the road: skin and bone cows walking miles and miles to find the right soil and grass and, after a hopeless search, dying.

We had a large bathtub inside the room. There were water restrictions but not for paying visitors. I remember I was feeling like a good bath and had to shower. I wondered how many cows would survive with just one? It would be impossible to ignore.

Things Change

I went to Durban without Paul. Andy(s) and I remembered all the time how he loved this wonderful place. We stayed at the hotel picked a year ago. We enjoyed so much that we already booked for February 2016.

During this three days short trip I was constantly faced with the changeable nature of things. I tried to do the same gestures but the result was different. The most amazing different thing I’ve done was buying one summer dress instead of ten or more. Yes, just one. Even more amazing, I didn’t buy them for lack of money or trying. They weren’t there waiting for me. Instead, I used my money to buy colorful bags and shoes, what I didn’t expect at all. Durban is a good place to buy flip-flops and I also skipped that part. I used the money to buy gifts. People noticed it and commented how clever I was for shopping early. First time they say such thing. I am not sure if I am early or if they are late.

Anyway, I don’t intend to make a list out of this post. Andy was driving Paul’s car. I was worried because he wasn’t well. The second day he recovered and had fun. It was a full Friday of shopping. The next three days I was so tired I could hardly move.

Even though things change, some never will. I got my Christmas dress and shoes. The dress is by a South African stylist and the shoes are Zara. I had to enter three different times the two different shops to suddenly realize they belong together.

 

The way I shop is extreme and almost painful. No wonder I only do it once or twice a year! I was dead tired to look for something new to wear for the New Year when I remembered a dress that I own. I already had the shoes and the dress looks perfect with them. Major problem solved!

 

Finally, I collected my very own Christmas gift. Talk about early!

 

Durban was a good lesson. Painful or not, we have to accept changes. Slowly, and still painfully, we say goodbye to Paul. Even though we will never forget him, we accommodate to the changes created by his absence.

The Meaning

I was organizing newspapers right before our recent road trip to the neighbouring town of Nelspruit, when I occasionally 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.

Then we had a very good day until 5pm. At 5 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 (Paul said 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 those 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 transported 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 commanded Paul 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 I were dead by now, I wouldn’t need money any longer. As for the energy, who is out there to prove that there are no gyms or hardworking after death? It was a very long stretch before we reached home…

The above picture was taken that same day, a little after the trucks. You can see how dark and narrow the road is. The largest and brightest visible light is, actually, the moon.

Noisy, Violent and Corrupt

I’ve spent the first days of March in Ti’s place. That means I was in South Africa when those eight policemen killed a defenseless Mozambican taxi driver. I don’t know what they are going to say about him to justify their acts, but one thing is for sure: in the eyes of Africans that man wasn’t bad since he followed the social rules. He was working in South Africa to support the family of a deceased brother, a local tradition called kutchinga.

Those eight policemen wouldn’t have to do it, for me to leave SA thinking about violence and corruption. Six years ago I wrote about a sleepless night in a Rosebank neighbourhood. Guess what? Six years after I had another bad night thanks to wild students living nearby. These days I am getting used to noise since my next-door neighbour is undertaking one of those never-ending construction projects. Yet, those students scream, whistle and make all sorts of very acute noises, car motors and horns included. The unintelligible music is just the background for all that. Thanks to them, I suffered from a bad migraine for three consecutive days.

Now I have to say that in the same block is a very important police station and one can only wonder if SA doesn’t have rules about noise after midnight or so (the noise I am talking about lasts until daylight, 4am or more) and why don’t they reinforce those rules if even Mozambicans, regarded as poor backward neighbours, keep such situations under control?

The answer can be only one: they do it because the next-door police station admits such wild noise and possibly is involved in it too. Noise is just another form of violence against citizens. SA is a permissive country in terms of violence and I don’t feel like writing a book explaining it. A permissive society is a corrupt society. Someone is getting something out of the ruling violence. That’s all.