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.
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.
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.
All 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!
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.
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!
Doha 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.
I 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!
Adventure 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.”
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 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:
Energy conservation should be built in to every stage of production.
Carbon emission prices should be introduced as energy tax!
Countries should invest in public transport. Less traffic, less emissions, less demand for cars. Happy cyclists.
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.
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.
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!
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!
So, from now on, I refuse to say, “I can’t…”
Loads of Happy Hearts and Smiles.
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!
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!
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…)
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 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.
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”.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!).
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 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.