In the Woods Somewhere..

Today is one of those days when all I want is to hide away in the woods…somewhere. I need an escape from the chase, or lack thereof. It is probably time to take a step back and really look in to what I really want to do.

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I may be having an existential crisis (read: quarter-life crisis). My mind is always doing back-flips and somersaults, nothing is constant up there. Which is a great thing, obviously. But, frustrating at the same time. You know.

I am hoping the universe helps me out along side the long pros and cons tables, early mornings and late nights. Somethings gotta give, right?

I will be standing at this crossroad for some time – it’s all up to me.

No pressure.

With love & confusion,

xcave

Not All Those Who Wander are Lost: Turkey

My first international trip. I decided to spend two weeks in Istanbul, Turkey. I am travelling alone and everyone I have met has told me that I am brave, or absolutely mental. It has been great either way.

It took a lot of planning for me to get here. With a minimal budget and hopes to have a mellow yet memorable time away, I made it.

IMG_0872All packed and ready to go. I left Durban on Thursday evening (11 June 2015). I was excited with fluttering and spasms all over my body. Oh, my poor nerves. I may have checked whether I had my passport, e-visa and plane tickets about 500 times. I honestly had no idea what to expect and I forgot to ask the avid travellers for advice. The Durbanite that I am, I was “winging it”.

It was a first for many things. My first Gautrain experience to take me to the OR Tambo International airport. Escalators with a 20kg suitcase was a bit of a mission. Why did I pack five pairs of shoes?! I am only taking a backpack with me on my next trip!

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The gladdest moment in human life, me thinks, is a departure to unknown lands. This! No one will ever understand the happiness the moment I received my boarding pass. I cannot describe it to you but a moment I will always hold dear to me forever.

IMG_0892 I sat next to a friendly South African girl (my age) that was travelling to London to meet up with her friends. Her boyfriend was also in London and she lived in Johannesburg and her parents in Zambia but grew up in Zimbabwe. I felt pretty average after that! haha.. There were some drunken Saudi Arabian guys that barely spoke English but they annoyed the stewardesses immensely. Shame. We drank red wine until we could fall asleep. I will do the same upon my return. Hah!

IMG_0895Doha Hamad International Airport! I mean, I have not been exposed to many airports but wow! Was this even built by humans? It’s like walking in to the future. Or, I am just from Africa…

Naturally, with a 9 hour lay over, I picked a bench to rest on. It was cold and I didn’t have my luggage with me so I curled myself up in to a ball and slept on my laptop backpack.

IMG_0901I could not pass out between Doha and Istanbul. The view from the plane was just too breathtaking. Flying over Qatar and the deserts of Saudi Arabia. Perfect!

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IMG_0902Adventure is worthwhile. All of it. I arrived at Sabiha Gocken International airport at 14:00 on the 13 June 2015. Hot. Humid. Sticky. I sat next to yet another friendly South African, Dilnaaz, engaged to a Turkish gentleman who helped me get the Havatas bus that would take me to Taksim. This is when the real adventure began.

I should have learnt more Turkish.

More to come.

With Love, x

“No place is ever as bad as they tell you it’s going to be.”

The Undeniable: South Africa’s Energy Crisis

The Low Down

In the time where nations are divesting in dirty energy such as coal and nuclear, South Africa, one of the largest economies in Africa decides to invest in almost R1 trillion in nuclear energy. This comes at a time when South Africa is having a serious energy crisis. Loadshedding, a period of strategically scheduled black-outs, began towards the end of 2007. The parastatal Eskom was having crisis. It is now 2015, Eskom is still having a crisis. South African citizens have been warned by Eskom that we should expect further black-outs and an 18 percent hike in tariffs, yet the government still provided $2 billion to bail out the parastatal.

Ahead of the United Nations Framework for Climate Change Conference (UNFCCC) in less than six months, we need to give the government a little nudge in the right direction or, maybe get its head out of the nuclear cloud.

 

The Problem

The problem here is that South Africa heavily relies on coal energy. Approximately 70% of country’s electricity is generated from coal, the dirtiest of the fossil fuels. The other problem is that South Africa somewhat enjoys taking a few steps backwards. When countries such as Germany and Ireland decide to phase out their nuclear power plants, South Africa invests in nuclear. So, it appears that South Africa is in favour of the controversial trio: coal, fracking (hydraulic fracturing) and nuclear.

You would ask yourself why a country with favourable renewable energy conditions not opt for solar energy as its first option? Why a country with recurring blackouts that affect the economy not opt for an immediate solution? A developing country with a declining economy choose to invest billions in a project that might not even lift off? Why a country with scarce water resources continue to invest in coal which uses up to 10 000 litres of fresh water per second? Let that sink in for a moment.

Why? The only explanation would be money! As we have learned with the recent FIFA scandal, money is often the route of all bad decisions made by a government. The crisis feared by this developing nation is the employment in the mining sector. One step at a time now. A new renewable energy investment will create just as many jobs, if not more.

 

Let Us Move On, Shall We?

Let us move away from the idea that renewable energy is an intermittent backup solution. The great news is that over the last two years, the average solar tariffs have decreased by 68% and wind dropping by 42% which makes it more affordable. A report from South Africa’s Council of Scientific and Industrial Research stated that wind and solar projects last year delivered R800 million more in financial benefits for the country than what they actually cost. What the cash-strapped municipalities don’t want you to know is that they often purchase energy (from Eskom) in bulk and then sell to the consumer. This is one of the many reasons why they are not promoting renewable energy as much as they should.

On the 26th of May 2015, the Energy Minister, Tina Joemat-Pettersson announced that they will continue to build a fleet of the nuclear power stations. This is the same Energy Minister that Greenpeace Africa announced to take to court on the 27th February 2015. The international organisation rightfully states that the Energy Minister, according to the National Nuclear Regulator Act 47 of 1999, is responsible for determining the appropriate levels of financial security to be provided by the holders of nuclear licences in the country. Quite frankly, South Africa cannot afford this. We all know this. To make matters worse, there are numerous unanswered questions. The cost analysis does not include the final bill for radioactive fuel storage, security, or decommissioning these nuclear plants at the end of their working lives. Honestly, where are we storing the nuclear waste? If you recall grade school Chemistry, radioactive mother-daughter reactions can go on for hundreds of years depending on the element! We do not need to have a tsunami for disaster to strike.

 

We are six months away from the UNFCCC COP 21 in Paris yet South Africa has not submitted its Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDC). The INDC is a document whereby nations publicly outline what post-2020 climate actions they intend to take under a new national agreement. I have a few suggestions:

  1. Energy conservation should be built in to every stage of production.
  2. Carbon emission prices should be introduced as energy tax!
  3. Countries should invest in public transport. Less traffic, less emissions, less demand for cars. Happy cyclists.
  4. New buildings should also have a strict energy criteria introduced.


It is time that the communities voices are heard. We should do away with conferences that do not have substantial outcomes. With INDCs in place, and passionate negotiators, this year should be the year that ordinary citizens speak with one voice and demand environmental conservation. We need to divest in dirty energy, especially coal and nuclear. We need to invest in safe, renewable energy. Wake up South Africa! Rainbows are meant to be colourful; they should not be tainted by coal and nuclear clouds, and respiratory masks.

Good Samaritan Saturday..

Well, my mother is. I tagged along to help her out. On the 16 May, my mother had her little tea garden stall at a local Flea Market. This was not just any flea market. She was taking part to raise funds for Ningizimu Special School.

Ningizimu is a school for children, up to the age of 18, with special needs. They range from Autistic children with learning disabilities, happy little girls with Down Syndrome, positive kids in wheelchairs. They are all happy, lively young people with a positive outlook! As you may have guessed, this is not a mainstream grade school; however, they learn a range of skills from playing the Marimba and being a part of a steel drum band, pottery classes, sewing & upcycling classes.

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My nephew, the little Picasso that he is, decided to draw me a picture of a…Rhino! Haha! Can you see the horn?! This is adorable. He was extremely proud of it and I could not take it away from him!

I found these amazing upcycled bags made by the learners. These bags could last a lifetime! Why? They are made of old Tyre tubes. Yup! This is thinking out of the box! I am now a proud owner!

The Up-cycled Bags!
The Up-cycled Bags!
I am the Proud Owner of this Bag! :)
I am the Proud Owner of this Bag! 🙂

We were also entertained by a rather impressive marimba band. The students, of course!

What a beautiful Saturday! Well spent. Worth waking up early to set up. We raised some funds for the school! Waahaay!

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Success! We are happy chappies!

So, from now on, I refuse to say, “I can’t…”

Loads of Happy Hearts and Smiles.

With Love,

x

PS: My mother is a teacher at Ningizimu Special School. 

PPS: I bought something else for myself. An old, old suitcase. Then, look inside, to see the label. It used to belong to a friend’s family. To his grandfather, to be precise! Small world!

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Autumn Hike in Injisuthi, Drakensberg..

I can use my limbs again!

Also, what I did not know was that you find little boys shouting out “SWEETS” when you drive past. Apparently, it is quite common in the more rural townships. We had about four boys herding some livestock shouting out for these sweets. We had to stop and wait for the cows to move out of the way. During this time, we had these little 8 year old boys almost climbing in to the car demanding sweets or money to buy said sweets. A friend had an apple to give one of the boys. They can get quite aggressive but at the time, it was hilarious! Little boys having fun.

Woah! Breathtaking experience that I will, I dare say, do it all over and over again!

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I organised this hike to Injisuthi, Drakensberg thinking that it would be a walk in the park. Just a walk to a cave, casually, you know. Little did I know that this trek would take 7 hours just to get there! I may have said some prayers and curses in the last hour as it was dark, I was not feeling too well (altitude, lack of food, exhaustion, hot & cold) and I couldn’t figure out why we could not find this darn cave!

We arrived at the Marble Bath cave SEVEN MINUTES before the heavens opened and it poured. It was so cosy, and absolutely breath-taking! We were completely sheltered from the thunderstorm and fell asleep like a baby with the sounds of rain, wind, river streaming and thunder as my lullaby.

Oh, I was the leader and map master! Ahem…

Here are the photos of this glorious, majestic and well-worth it hike! (Clearly I have not had enough, I am planning a four day hike as we speak…)

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Thank you, Nature! You are one helluva a stunner!

With Love,

x

PS: That water (Marble Baths) was delicious!

Today and Forever..

Friday :)

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I am absolutely living my best life! I love it. I remember texting a beloved friend last week telling him how I even embrace the bad days, I also look forward to them. They help me learn and grow. They are a part of me and who I am, too. The good days, the bad days and even the ugly days. There is nothing to regret. Or, feel sorry for. Not my warped, messed up upbringing, not past love affairs, not failing, not speaking my mind.

It is so darn liberating to feel this way!

With Love,

x

Cape Town Tickets: You Beaut!

Cape Town.

It always captures my heart. I am in my element here. It is as though the surrounding beauty speaks my language. We are in tune.

This was not a good ol’ touristic trip. It was to be reunited with my best friend who now lives and works in the United State of ‘Murrica. A weekend was not enough. Oh hell, a week would not have been enough.

The beginning of this “let’s cause a bit of havoc and occupy CT” mission started at 3am on Friday morning. I woke up way too early. Too keen.

Easter weekend. This is why there are people driving about at 4am. Oef! I was awake so early because I live approximately 40 minutes away from the airport. I love airports. You see the most genuine facial expressions here.

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Upon arrival. Breath taken away. Inhale. Exhale.

I travelled with Natalie. You special person, you! She was hungover and not entirely responsive that morning. Hilarious to watch, really. I was a hobbit: by 9am, I was already on “second breakfast”.Cape Town

What a treat! Sunny with a chilly breeze. Ice cold sea water! Is that even normal? Durban has a minimum of 18 degrees sea water. Ah! Blaspheme! Needless to say, I could only stick my toes in the water. Then, I ran! Away! As fast as I could!

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After the beach, meeting Carl and his gnarly mates, it was time for a little walkabout around town. I took some photos on the promenade. Unfortunately, my battery died. I saw some middle-aged women reading magazines in their thongs. Cape Town. You would think you are no longer in Africa. I stopped by at a rather inviting place called Knead. Nothing like freshly baked bread. I bought some for the braai that we were hosting that evening.

Huh?? I don't know what this is. But, I want one..
Huh?? I don’t know what this is. But, I want one..

Our punch brought all the mates to the yard! Kelly is the queen of making deliciously potent punch (I will never forget the punch you made for your 18th…). We played a drinking game of Kings. You must know the game — it was solely invented to make the players ridiculously inebriated.

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After a blurry night out in town. We had a boogy on Long Street — and, I am told that I witnessed a girly cat fight on the dance floor. As far as I am concerned, I killed it on the dance floor. I must have paraded some wicked Durban dance moves. Or, not.

Saturday morning.

Let’s not talk about it. However, let’s talk about Saturday afternoon. Vortex. The drive was beautiful. Stopped by for a Wimpy breakfast to somewhat cure the hangover. May have worked. Vortex is a psy-trance music festival; and this time, it was in Caledon. Approximately 1 hour 30 minutes away from Cape Town. I say approximately because I was in and out of sleep (I was not driving!).

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Great stomping. Fun music. My god, I love people watching at such festivals. You end up questioning existence. Or, sanity. I woke up the next morning in the back seat of the car curled up in my sleeping bag with cramps and a rather sore hip. The word “tickets” was going around. I don’t recall why, but apparently I had these “tickets”. I mean, I was first man down… Is this the ticket for the point of no return? Someone. Please.?

Also, it was freezing! Possibly 12 degrees! Please don’t argue with a Durbanite – it was freezing cold!

That was the end of the trip. Checking in late (5 minutes before the check in closing time) and then having turbulence on the flight home after the rough two nights I had gone through. The universe was against me. Perhaps, it was trying to tell me to stay in Cape Town a little while longer. You know, to search for my name that I had chucked out the window. Mildly.

Thank You!
Thank You!

 Thank you for making this one hell of a trip. Kelly, your kindness amazes me everyday! I missed you as soon as I said goodbye! Errgh! See you soon.

I’ll sure make another date with Cape Town soon.

With Love,

x

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.

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Day 248..

After counting down the minutes and seconds at work, we had mini celebratory drinks. Celebratory and venting drinks, more like. Long week at work, and it’s a Friday! Always seem so unreal, you know, the 17:00 mark on a Friday.

A colleague, and now new friend, Jen and I went for two drinks (and a shooter). It was supposed to be one drink. Awful being the designated driver. All the time. I wish I had a driver. Or, money for a cab every time I want to head out. Drop Kick Murphey’s on Florida Road is always such a good vibe.

Sounds odd but it was great to have girly advice and venting time. Give insecurities the boot and live life as it comes; enjoy it, savour every moment and show the ones you care about exactly how you feel. No what-ifs. Noted. Many may have the same problem as I. Opening up seems a great deal. So, from this day on, I am going to be more open to the ones I like, love and care about. As Jen said that the worst thing to do is unintentionally push friends and family away because of your unconscious actions. Oef!

What you see

Because, it is a beautiful life..
Because, it is a beautiful life..

Don’t hold back.

 

Love & Light,

x