I am Mist

I am mist

Here today, gone tomorrow

Hiding blemishes in the landscapes

Letting the sun mix with my murky white to create quiet, hopeful beauty

The trees look more magnificent, the mountains look more majestic when the sun and I play around them

About a Girl

Last week, South Africa heard the cry of her women who have had enough. Rape story after murder story plastered the news and angry ladies marched the streets, proclaiming that they would not stand for cat calls, male expectations on them, rude or stereotypical comments made about females.

The injustices done to women because they are women hit a peak when a beautiful young lady was raped and murdered in a post office. The outcry was immediate and the women finally screamed, “This isn’t our fault that these incidences keep happening!”

There were news reports, poster boards, new hashtag movements and social media posts colouring South Africa in deep shades of angry red.

I love how our generation know how to speak up. Older generations criticize us for being idealistic and individualistic, but our parents always told us to follow our dreams and always be on the look out for ‘stranger danger.’ Well, this generation are now fighting for their dreams; dreams to be able to safely mail a letter. This generation are now screaming because they know that both strangers and friends are danger, and they are willing to scream until they are heard.

Image result for women protest south africa
https://news.yahoo.com/africa-toxic-masculinity-film-hailed-womens-protests-grow-091940167.html

However, in the midst of blasting canons full of sore words and angry tones, I sat in the back row in church on Sunday and listened to one girl’s voice. It was strong and rich and said things that unraveled things in the hearts of her listeners. Waterfalls of words splashed the cheeks of the people listening with their ears, their eyes and their hearts.

She spoke a poem that she had written to herself on her twenty- first birthday, ‘Daughter.’ She described her beauty, her curly hair, and rich dark skin, her worth and her place in a white city. She asked white women to raise their daughters to see all the different shades of skin colour and to love the rainbow that they create. She promised to raise her daughter just the same.

Her audience could not sit down at the end of the poem.

Through the chaos and the desperate screams of a desperate country, the #menaretrash and #aminext movements fell away. Men looked at her in awe and wonder over her incredible gift (not at what she was wearing or what she owed them), and I think many women answered her request with a solid ‘yes.’

Whenever I speak about it, my words ironically gush in nonsensical rapids of excitement over just how beautiful, powerful and defining it was.

Blind Date Genius

Yesterday I came home to the bathroom screaming Taylor Swift’s new lyrics, my housemate frantically applying mascara, and then more mascara, and then a little more after that. “Does this shirt look good, or should I change it?” she asks me and I start telling her about my day, the funny stories the kiddies wrote for me with their actions, and my friend and I sitting on a roof sipping hot coffee.

If she is distracted she won’t stress so much about the blind date that I set up for her. For a moment she is listening to my rambles, but eventually I have to bust her tranquil forgetfulness with reality. It’s time to leave, and I would rather she isn’t too late for my friend who would so patiently wait for her should she be.

The delay tactics she plays are good, but another housemate helps me in ushering her to her car. Now it’s just fingers crossed that she will drive to the meeting place, walk into the meeting place and talk in friendly tones to the meeting face.

I got a message from her telling me that she had just parked, and then it was her turn to fly, “fly little bird!” Can I tell you the helplessness you feel being on the wrong side of the blind date. I mean, my boyfriend wouldn’t appreciate me being set up on one of those, so I guess it’s a good thing I was on the wrong side.

I sat on the couch, waiting to hear the gate bumping open. I was joined for a bit by my housemate who eventually lost interest and went to get ready for bed. My boyfriend also kept me company for a while, bringing me tea and playing ‘Friends’ in the background of my anxious wait.

JC with the feline, while cooler people are out on dates

Minutes turned to hours turned to days…

Kidding. She finally walked through the door, “be cool, Jordy. Be cool.” I held my tongue, but couldn’t hold my giant smile that scared her as she came in. “All I’m going to say is that you chose well,” she said as she ran upstairs to pajama herself.

You guys, I crushed it. Maybe they won’t go out again, maybe there will be one or two more coffee dates, maybe something more, but there was a date with lots of talking, laughing and stories because two people were brave enough to trust their friend.

I didn’t even go on the date but in the end I think I felt the happiest out of everyone involved.

And we keep our pet lions in our backyard

Last post on my Kruger trip, promise!

As we sat side- by- side in our ‘bundu- basher’ car on day three, all walls had finally been torn down. Secrets had been shared, poops had been described, mean words had been exchanged. Gross, I know, but this is just what happens when relatives are squished into cars together for four days.

After a bit of a dry spell on the animal hunt, my cousins found some old, crackly CD that used to entertain my baby brother in the car. We near- fishtailed along the road, blaring ‘Ronnie the rambunctious Rhino’ and scaring away any potential sightings.

Once the CD had run its course, and half the car won over the other half who wanted to play the album again, a British voice piped up and asked one of the passengers, “Didn’t you have a boyfriend who dumped you because he didn’t like your boobs?” Debate time went down where everyone else in the car begged her to tell them where she heard such a story, and the victim desperately defended herself to deaf ears.

We finally got the story, where a boyfriend left his girl for another girl who had bigger boobs… or that’s how the story went. The narrator is happily married, and the one teenage girl responded, “Well luckily your husband doesn’t really like boobs.”

Crickets. And take two:

“I didn’t mean it like that! I meant that you’re lucky he really likes your personality.”

Obviously this was met with more amused stares, and the second British voice came in rescue of her sister, “No guys, what she’s trying to say is that you have nice boobs, you just don’t have big boobs.”

The conversations you will have when you spend your holiday searching for animals with your extended family will horrify and delight you all at once.

To end off my most lovely, wild, too- much- food, hysterical Kruger holiday, we sat by a water hole watching ellies fight over the best spot to drink water, baby ellie calves chasing buffalo, jackals hunting birds, and sable in the veld close by. In the silence of the bush (you will never experience such silence anywhere else), three female lion stealthily walked towards our animal show. In unison, they all bowed to the ground and waited for a buffalo bull to make his way in their direction. The lion playfully pounced on him, and more lion ran out of shrubs and bushes to play around as well. What we thought was a well- planned hunt was instead some mom lions teaching their overgrown cubs how to hunt. No one was harmed in the process, although the buffalo bull was extremely peeved at having his Tuesday evening stroll interrupted.

The photos are quite poor quality, but the memories are gold

How safe is it living in South Africa?

We were lucky to have my two British cousins in our car. The big old Prado bounced around the Kruger roads while the inhabitants laughed and blasted music and fought within. The other car completely contrasted ours, somber and serious, searching for African creatures hiding in the bush veld.

Our first full Kruger day held eight hours with these two contrasting cars zooming about the roads at a whopping forty kilometers an hour, stopping every now and then when a passenger shouted “stop!” All other passengers would magnetize to the side of the car closest to the creature of interest, a picture or two was taken, and then we would continue on with our journey.

We were kept highly entertained by the little British voices next to me. One comment that came from the young teen was, “imagine if a guy lived on his farm and had to help his wife have their baby because they can’t get to the hospital in time. He would see a lot more of his wife than he’d ever bargained to.”

We saw a jackal, a hyena, hippo and some birds of prey. Other than that, we came across a momma ellie (might even be scarier than a momma bear) eating leaves hanging over the road with her two little babas next to her.

An infantile bakkie driver (bakkie is a pick up truck in South Africa) roared past in his haste to get to wherever he felt necessary to roar off to. Momma elephant flapped her ears, desperately wanting to protect her calves, while our cars desperately reversed backwards to get away from momma ellie.

My cousins and I, who aren’t much in the way of brave hearts when it comes to elephants in their best moods, lay as low in our seats as we could. What you can’t see, you can’t fear, according to us.

Squeaks and squeezed tight eyes happened behind my parents as they tried to assess the situation, deciding when the best time to pass the elephants would be.

Eventually momma and baba ellies crossed the road and headed further into the bushes, and we were able to get out alive and tell this near death story to others.

We, again, ended our first full Kruger day with GnTs with the sun setting over the quelea- munching crocs in the dam below us.

We ride elephant to school in South Africa

Post awkward reacquaintance with my overseas family, we were woken early by our parents, squashed into our respective cars filled to the brim with holiday food and luggage, and hit up a young convoy- type road trip.

We stopped in a small town with quaint restaurant, and my “I’m not really hungry” was squashed by the array of delicious breakfasts, I spent the time picking bacon off my little cousin’s plate.

The closer we got to Kruger, the more layers of clothes we shed, as it got hotter and hotter the higher into South Africa we drove.

By the time we got to Phalabowa gate, temperatures were reaching 35 degrees Celsius- disclaimer, it’s winter this side of the hemisphere. In the park, on route to our camp, we came across tons of ellies grabbing partial tree branches, steenbok hiding in the tall grass, and the usual impalas grazing all along the road.

When we arrived at the cabins, we didn’t even go inside, we all (adults included) ran to the main deck. Sipping GnTs, we stared at the massive dam in front of us, accessorized by crocs, water buck and the African sunset. My near- hypochondriac mother went around spraying everyone with mozzie spray, fearing malaria around every corner.

Out of nowhere, the Kruger silence was broken by millions of flapping wings overhead. Little birds known as quelea flew down to the water in synchronized movements. They danced as a unit along the surface of the water, every so often being disrupted by hungry crocodile (who felt like a tiny snack) leaping from the water to catch two or three.

“Welcome to Africa”

“They don’t know that we know they know we know”- Phoebe

“Our friends are flying back to England tonight, and they are just desperate to visit the Voortrekker Monument before they leave. You studied history right? Awesome, so I’ve told them that you will go in my place and be their tour guide.”

“Uuuum I really don’t know that much about the monument, I don’t think I’ll be much of a tour guide.”

“Nonsense! You’ll be fine, you probably have more knowledge on it than you think you do.”

While you spent your Tuesday morning reading over reports, calming excitable children down, cooking delicious breakfasts for your customers or whatever else your vocation requires, I was sitting in the backseat of a minibus, frantically googling interesting facts about the Voortrekker Monument.

My girls that I teach, sitting on either side of me, were canning themselves at my expense. Snacks were passed to me on the drive and I absent mindedly, stress- ate them all.

When we eventually got there, everyone turned to me, eight pairs of eyes expectantly waiting to hear where we should head over to first. I three- sixtied on the spot to get a lay of the land and pointed toward the huge building competing with the sun for a space in the sky. “This way first, I guess…”

Questions were asked as soon as we hit the steps and I quickly perfected the, “is she shaking or nodding her head” talent.

I will say that the building is beautiful, the stone is smooth and the views are magnificent. The stairs were many and our legs were shaky afterwards. The planning of the building must have been extensive and it’s safe to say that I, the tour guide, learned almost as much as they did, my tourists.

So many awkward moments of, “I think that could have happened…” and ” we didn’t learn that in history” (although it could have also been that I wasn’t listening in that part of the class).

My girls followed me throughout the day, laughing loudly when I gave an unsure answer and enjoying my red, and growing redder, face.

Moments of called- for blushing seem to follow me wherever I go, but I guess I’m learning how to live in it, embrace it, and share it with you guys- allow you all to laugh at my expense as well. At least the awkwardness isn’t experienced in vain.

But let’s also just say that there may or may not be some lovely British people trawling the streets of England with a warped view of South African history, because of a history student who couldn’t remember her facts.