I’m back at it. Swinging into the things, setting alarm clocks and home school lessons, and forcing myself to walk or run or something each morning. Being reminded that even though I lost a lot of friends to the terrible ailment of immigration, there are still some pearler people here in my city.

So in the midst of the annual start of a year, here is a holiday reflection from me to you:

There were days of rest, aka complete lack of movement.

There were days of pools and tans and watermelon, and pretty much living my ‘basic girl’ life (hashtag peace sign)

There were days of Christmas music playing in the background, and Christmas mince pies making the house smell delectable, and cheesy Christmas movies on the TV (reminder to you Northern ‘Hemispheresers’ that we, below the equator, celebrate a summer Christmas)

Beach walks, evening runs, delicious breakfasts, shopping trips and family dinners were ‘smooshed’ in between to make the days seem longer and happier and ‘holiday-yee.’

I got to see friends that I don’t get to see during the year, and family that make me happy. I got to hang out with the coolest younger brother who can make me cry laugh, who is a mean hoola hooper and who will dance with me for hours if the right music is playing (which it always is when we’re around)

At the end of the holiday, we decided that it was about time that my coastal parents met my inland boyfriend (there’s a bigger separation between these groups than you might think). So I spent my last happy days entertaining him, and watching my family grow to like him. (can we all breath a unanimous sigh of relief).

Has anyone ever seen a more attractive photo of me?

To end off my fantastic walk down December holidays lane and photo journey, Boyfrand and I drove back to our respective city. He had to drive the whole way while I cried the whole way. Yes, you read right, I couldn’t stop my fat tears from rolling down my cheeks as I said goodbye to the family and the city that I love most in the world. (The whole ‘doing nothing- but always having food- swimming ad hoc- never having to drive anywhere- end of holiday feels’ may also have been a partial reason…)

Here’s me, making sure that my tear- stained, puffy- eyed face doesn’t ruin the picture

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

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.

“Back to school, back to reality”

Back in reality, so distant from hyena calls at night, glorious purple beach sunsets and slow- morning sleep- ins. Life is accelerating into needing a weekend after the weekend; “should I really eat another piece of cake?”; early nights for early mornings.

The lazy holiday feels have evaporated and I find myself arguing with my student, “I know your mom said you can eat when the food is ready, but I said you can eat when your work is complete.” Unfortunately my anger levels never reach above a 2 out of 10, and I can’t stop laughing at her death stare that she so kindly and perfectly shares with me.

We do have a lovely relationship with lots of giggles and disses and hard school work, and after our little tiff she walks me to my car and asks me to stay a little longer.

Even in the busy mundane of working days, there are moments of true hilarity where water snorts out your nose, true understanding where you watch the animated light bulb atop their head ‘ting’ on, true friendship where a secret is shared with you that you promise to keep safe.

I’m so corny, it’s face flushing. I always get sentimental when the holiday comes to an end.

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”

Wine and Trouble mix too well

Too much wine calls for too much trouble.

Saturday was slow and lazy, filled with good friends, good food and good coffee. South Africa played New Zealand, and the girls played with the happy baba running around dropping sips of tea all over my best friend’s home. Who cares though, when you’re that cute?

Everyone went home, except for me, who made herself comfortable on the couch with tea and a blanket and an episode of How I Met Your Mother.

Eventually bff coaxed me off the couch with promises that if we left the house, we would be able to have scones when we got home.

We had to buy birthday presents, braai meat and scone ingredients; prepped for the rest of the afternoon.

Our scone- eating slightly coincided with our friend’s braai, and my friend, her husband and I pecked at our overloaded plates, trying to look enthusiastic about the excess food in front of us.

Bff and I eventually have up on the eating thing and turned to the wine glasses we had placed next to us. It wasn’t excessive, or strong, and we really didn’t let ourselves go.

We may just have had enough to lose our sense of compassion.

Our slightly sensitive friend was butchering his braai meat (no pun intended), and we took it upon ourselves to point it out to him… multiple times.

After observing that he wasn’t taking the jokes so well anymore, I turned to friend and shared my observations with her. “We push him until he cracks.” And crack he did.

Oh, just me and my partner in crime

He scooped up his parts of meat and stormed off to the kitchen, having had enough from the two peanut gallery imbeciles on the bench nearby.

We lost a friend that day.

Just kidding. This dance is repeated many times. It’s not okay, but it’s still a little funny. Luckily he is a forgiving soul who returns to the friendship time and again.

And don’t think that he doesn’t give it back. Past shameful memories are embellished and told to strangers, thanks to him. He tunes us solid and can make the most cutting of remarks.

It’s a give and take kind of relationship. Beautiful and messed up at the same time, and sometimes we let each other reach their snapping point, just for lols.