Greenpeace Rainbow Warrior SA Tour

This was the most beautiful experience I have had in my entire. And, significant. This somewhat paved a little piece of a pathway of the journey I would like to take in the future. I have never felt such joy, purpose and unity as I felt in the last ten days. I am certain that I have made life long friends.

Raising awareness about the negative environmental changes globally has brought us together. We have a common purpose to raise awareness about these potential environmental catastrophes; and fight against the corporates and governments that allow the practices and policies that destroy our precious home. Why do we let the power- and money-hungry run our world?

I met real Warriors. Self-less individuals that proved to me that you do not need an impressive bank account to make a difference in the world, you do not need to have a happy-go-lucky history to make a difference. You do not need to be of a certain stature, race, religion to want to make a difference. You need to care. You need to be knowledgeable enough to educate the rest. You need passion.

The Rainbow Warrior
The Rainbow Warrior
The insane 55m high A-frame masts.
The insane 55m high A-frame masts.
Rainbow Warrior Art
Rainbow Warrior Art

I ventured on this trip on Friday evening (20 February 2015). I took a bus from Durban to Port Elizabeth (a 15 hour bus trip) to meet the majesty and the dedicated Greenpeace Africa comrades. I wear the slops because my feet swell up during long distance travel and I wear socks, well, because my feet get cold. Also, it is super comfortable, I do not care what you think! Hah!

Style, comfort! Travelwear.
Style, comfort! Travel wear.

We arrived in Port Elizabeth on Early Saturday morning. I adore the Eastern Cape! It always feels like I am home. So welcoming, so fragile, so friendly.

I saw her from a distance and I fell in love. The Rainbow Warrior, that is. We arrived while the crew and volunteers on board were still waking up. Therefore, minimal chatting and coffee in hand. Thank you to the Greenpeace Africa Intern, Rea, that welcomed us on board and gave us a little tour before we got to work. It had felt as though I have known all my life that I would end up here. It felt comfortable. So inviting.

{Let me just intervene and say that this will be a rather long post; grab some tea and carry on reading..}

The Rainbow Warrior Gangway.
The Rainbow Warrior Gangway. Welcome.

I have met some of the most incredible people here! I have said this to myself a thousand times but I cannot believe that a world still exists with such people. Before I go on about the entire crew; I will start with the reason why I was on board the Rainbow Warrior.

South Africa has an energy crisis! Our government is saying yes to Nuclear energy. Greenpeace Africa and Greenpeace International joined forces to raise awareness. No Nukes. No Nuclear Energy in South Africa. We do not need this dirty energy when we have great renewable solutions. We cannot afford it. We need to start thinking about the consequences. Not just economically but environmentally, too! So, on the 27th February 2015 in Durban, Greenpeace announced that we will be taking the minister to court. You can read the online article here. Kumi Naidoo (Durban-born Greenpeace International Executive Director) released this statement alongside Melita Steele, Micheal Onyeka (Greenpeace Africa Executive Director), and Captain Mike Fincken. Kumi also gave us a little tour of his home-town. This is far greater than previous actions. This time, we demand a change, answers.

Our personal tour guide.
Our personal tour guide.

Greenpeace solely relies on individual donors. No governments. No corporates. A great way to welcome the supporters is to host open boat days. As Lanther (Greenpeace Brazil Volunteer) told the crowds, “This is not just our ship, it is your ship too.” It is a little token of recognition and appreciation for the support. And, boy! Did we have crowds, or what!? Cutting it short, the campaign, the open boats were a great success! I am ridiculously thankful that I was part of it all.

He would make the perfect BFF! Lanther asked for a photo the day we went to this beautiful Hare Krishna Temple in Chatsworth. You know, for his friends. 🙂

On the other note. Sailing in the Rainbow Warrior from Port Elizabeth to Durban with this amazing crew felt like a dream that need not end. If it were a dream, I would have forced myself to carry on sleeping. Thank goodness and my lucky stars that it was reality. I want this to be my reality in the future. To give selflessly, to stand to what I believe with no fear or favour, to treasure the memories made with the campaigners, crew and staff!

I have something to say about everyone. I enjoy being with people, talking to people, laughing, sharing experiences and having that beautiful untainted connection with a stranger. Captain Mike Fincken, what a gem! So welcoming, a true warrior and his life is an inspiration — always stand to what you believe in. No matter where the wind takes you. I would believe it was a glorious home-coming for him. If he didn’t shed a tear when he saw the crowds, sounds of appreciation and being back on South African soil, I did for him. I certainly hope we cross paths again.

I have made life-long friends. I hope to venture on a hike with Fernando, Chief Mate, as he had many stories to share about his adventures. His curiosity about nature, cultures, people, and diving. It is a whole new world out there. Usnea, the most energetic person I have met yet.  A real activist in her own right with an infectious laugh. You can’t help but want her a part of your life – nothing can get this girl down! (Have you seen her muscles?!) We were always first in line when it was lunch time or dinner time. I do miss this. She was the one to announce 10:00am and 15:00 smoco (smoke or coffee) time. And, Amrit. Amrit was also well aware of the tea times. I met Amrit on his day off and he joined us on a little beach trip in PE. He was very quiet and was reading a Sci-Fantasy book thicker than The Lord of the Rings Trilogy books put together. An avid reader, insane sense of humour, calm spirit. Another calm spirit with a wicked sense of humour was the electrician, Florin! Also a reader, we both enjoy some Icelandic music and would crack a one liner joke in a soothing whisper!

Crew: Usnea (Deckhand), Florin (Electrician), Amrit (Deckhand) and Fernando (Chief Mate).
Crew: Usnea (Deckhand), Florin (Electrician), Amrit (Deckhand) and Fernando (Chief Mate).

Angelo, proper Italian. Makes you fall in love with food all over again, especially toasted cheese sandwiches late at night. How did he make these toasties?! From asking for one bite…ended up being a whole sandwich and wanting more… He has a lifetime of knowledge and a sense of humor. Sometimes you ask yourself, “Is he kidding or serious?” Ocke, an animated sense of humor with a fantastic nerdy side. Ask him about charts, he knows it all. I knew I would find him tucked away in the Bridge looking at some charts or routes. I learned SO much from him. Fred! Ah, he looks so serious from afar! Have a chat and you will be wowed! He was okay with me following him about so I can be trained as his future deckhand. He must have thought I was mental at first but he warmed up to me. I will forever remember the call outs for “anybody for vino” and “ciggarettina”. Fred and Gionny have a great friendship and you would often find them chatting together at meal times or out on the deck. Gionny, please can I have your vibey Italian music!! You know what I am talking about.

Ocke (right) with Sinja. Trying to find where Ilmenau is in Germany.
Gionny and Fred. having a look at old photo albums... They'd rather look from afar!
Gionny and Fred. having a look at old photo albums… They’d rather look from afar!

Antonio. I still have not found that squid bait! The most soft-spoken crew member. He kept tucked away in the engineers room at the lowest floor. It was almost a like a little den. Dian and Antonio were seen during meal times and special occasions. Another engineer that was mostly out and around messing about with fibreglass was Rob. A very strange sense of humour that makes you shake you head, laugh and think, “did he really just say that?” Funky dance moves, onesies and a love for goats!

My sunburnt face, Rob (Engineer) and Cat (Deckhand) at a welcome event in Chatsworth! Great, spicy Durban food!
Hasina (Greenpeace Africa Volunteer) with Antonio (Engineer).

Lastly, in the image above, you will see Cat. My cabin mate. Quite reserved but she could not help it but asked to touch my little Afro! Love it. I will always remember how to use a defibrillator in case of an emergency. Beautiful skin, beautiful personality, and always curious.

We had people from 20 different countries staying together in one ship. Magical.

I also made great local friends: Hasina, Rea, we spent time together on a different level. We got to pick each other when we were feeling down and out. Rea and I soon found out that red wine on the Heli deck was a great way to relieve stress. Ricardo, I cannot wait to see your artwork. Ricardo, also a Greenpeace Africa volunteer, the youngest on board. Not a fan of parties but talk about books and art, you will be chatting the entire night.

Myself, Ricardo and Usnea.
Myself, Ricardo and Usnea.

Thanks to Rob, I have a Boat Jam playlist on iTunes that consists mostly of Kings of Leon. My life has been changed by meeting these individuals, working with the organisation and being a part of Greenpeace Africa. Thank you Diana Waters, Rea, Dianne McAlpine, Penny-Jane, Melita, Lesego, Tshepo (I am still repeating his name just so I can pronounce it perfectly next time!), Meshak, Mbong and the rest of the staff for making this possible.

My life has changed.

Love & Light,

x

PS: I will put up all of the photos of the tour in the next post.

PPS: We. Worked. Hard.

_SAM3839 _SAM3842

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