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 Speed Dating

On the first day of being officially on the road, I woke up with a hangover the size of Texas. I've never been to America, but Texas must be pretty big, because it was bad. I think you could have called it: a Mexican hangover by an Afrikaner the size of Texas. I curated my poetry evening the previous evening at the Blah Blah Bar in Kloof Street, and it was a hit, the best one yet. The Jeremiah Brimstone Band kicked ass and everybody was happy. It was also my farewell, and I made good use of the sympathy, gulping and gorging down free drinks and a pizza a lovely damsel bought me. (Thank you Francis!)

Some might say that it is unwise to divulge my social habits on a public platform (that I should consider the whole BS game concerning future employers and that whole racket), but part of the 'free' in the Free Wild World means that I made the conscious decision to be my authentic self in all spheres of my life and not to represent an artificial image of myself, and people just have to deal with it. To hell with all the social lies and misrepresentation in the name of approval, I am what I am in that moment, if I'm cool, I'm cool, if I'm mad, bad or sad; well so be it.

So what has this got to do with speed dating? Absolutely nothing. How did I end up doing it? Simple: after waking up with mentioned hangover I put it out on facebook that I needed a lift to AfterMath, the party I was on my way to. The Sheriff kindly offered to give me a lift, and after I walked down to Nansen Street with my insanely heavy backpacks (torture all the way), he mentioned the fine 'print' in our oral contract, and that is attending the Speed Dating event. For the first few seconds I felt apprehensive, I'm not really into the concept of 'dating'. I'm more into mystical chemistry, meaning you get along or you don't, and you know it in the first few seconds without talking too much or going on expensive and uncomfortable 'dates'. But, me officially being a professional blogger now, I decided what the hell, don't say no to anything, try everything that comes your way with the potential of making a good story. I also knew that the Octopus Garden in St. James happens to be one fine and funky venue, so the chance of meeting rad folks were pretty good.

First we cleaned up a bit and I had some cheap sherry to take the edges off. I was tired, but also pretty excited to try something new. We arrived, chose a name for the evening,  had an awesome meal (thank you Sheriff) and then after some explaining the dating started. The men moved around to the toll of a bell and we had five minutes with each 'contestant'. I decided my tactic would be to answer with the most offensive answers my muddled mind could come up with, the thinking behind it being that if we could still have a laugh and a relaxed time in the few minutes after that, that we would probably get along just fine. Of course my logic is a bit screwy and I wouldn't advise anybody to try this unorthodox tactic because it has a tendency to lead to uncomfortable silences, like chewing on a piece of sinew at the table of someone who's cooking you don't want to offend, so you keep chewing and pretending, anxiously waiting for the tolling of that obstinate bell.

My thoughts on the concept in general? I think it is a fantastic idea. The venue is great, our hostess was charming, explained the process well and after you got over yourself it was pretty much plain sailing and allot of fun. I don't think any of us got laid or met their eternal love match on the night, but it was a first and I think the potential for people to mate up is pretty good. Besides that, it's a fun thing to do, challenge yourself, go try it out.

Will I do it again? Hell no, I'm doing a travel blog dummy, ain't got no time for dating.


AfterMath

Amongst the green rolling hills dotted with pretty yellow flowers in the Swartland wheat and canola fields no too far from Riebeek West a tiny explosion of consciousness happened. This was the second year of AfterMath, a gathering of unique souls rejoicing in an authentic life experience where each individual is regarded with equal respect. Emphasis is placed on self expression, gifting and selfless contribution to the collective, all good things which I for one can relate to when it comes to some sort of philosophy which must surely be a positive progression on the one of us living in a 'dog eat dog' world where 'survival of the fittest' is emphasized. It was a beautiful thing where real bonds were formed under an exceptional moon and around fires, beverages, music, little happenings and good food. Well done Danni!





We (Almost) Went Sailing

 

In my first week of starting this blog I met a girl, a really nice girl; and we almost went sailing. I went to visit her in Stellenbosch and a mutual friend invited us to spend the day with him at the Gordon's Bay yacht club, and what a perfect day it was:

Stellenbosch is a pretty seductress, spend too much time in her protective womb filled with nourishing coffee shops, student parties, an active night life, good restaurants, wine farms etc.  and you might be tempted to rob a bank and buy a house there and never, ever leave again. It is a trap so comfortable with teeth so exquisitely curved that it's easy to ignore the discomfort of being attached to a place small enough for a reputation and developed enough to a point where it has all but lost its small-town charm. (To my taste the 'town' is becoming glitz-ugly, the result of an obsession with modernization.)

Stellenbosch is where my friends Margot and Paul live, and this is where I studied for four years and lived for another ten before I fled the myopic view of the universe a comfort zone like this tends to cultivate. But this blog is not about Stellenbosch. That story will have to wait a while.

That being said, when the sun shines on this part of the Boland and there is no wind to terrorize the senses, there is probably no better way to spend your earthly hours than by going on a little adventure with a charming and beautiful lady. These are the days I blog for, man. Wake me up already, is it over? Can we do it again, PLEASE!

Gordon's Bay must be one of the windiest harbor towns on the African coast, but when you strike it at the right time like we did on that day, it becomes a sublime pseudo Mediterranean charmer with a gypsy feel around the edges. The little harbor hosts a yacht club and the pier makes for good tipsy strolling when the sun sets over a flat sea, an excellent place for taking a swim which you can enter from Bikini Beach, a secluded little strip of sand right next to the pier.

We started our day with cold white wine and faffing about among the yachts, swimming, observing the collecting of mussels and being blissful pretenders in the yachting scene which seems to breed a laidback and relaxed culture. Afterwards we braaid  boerewors and mussels at the club house, a strange but delectable combination, and a first for me. What do you know? If I run out of food because nobody supports this blog I can simply go and harvest bucket loads full of mussels from the yacht moorings and cook them directly on coals. What a brilliant and truly tasty concept. Thank you Christo Strauss for the cooking tip (which he explains in his own words in the video).

After lunch, as the sun was getting low, we made our sailing attempt on a day with so little wind that the regatta was cancelled. (I wasn't complaining, it was perfect for lounging and drinking wine in the sun.)

Alas, it was not the lack of wind that put a halt to our sailing adventure, but a flat battery that couldn't be revived, so we sat around drifting and losing hope for a while until we eventually realized that the only action that will save the day is a walk on the pier enjoying a perfect sunset ending to a perfect day (weather-wise anyway). So PLEASE, can we do it again, this time with charged battery and champagne perhaps? Let me know.... and THANK YOU Paul, Margot, Christo and to all the others that were present. Ahoy!



 

Litten's Story

I met Litten Francis Densham Viner, (or 'Lite On' as he likes to refer to himself) at AfterMath, a little outdoor party just outside Riebeeck West. I immediately felt a connection with this brother from another mother. You recognize a fellow wanderer by the twinkle in his eyes and the stories in his face. When I confided in him that I at times feel a bit uncertain and confused about my restless future he reassured me with kind words, a few hearty laughs and some tales about his own life as a nomad in Africa. This is one of his stories. (See video)



Secret Karoo

If I had to write an add to promote the benefits of existentialism, it would go something like this: tired of people, the noise of the city? Feeling confused and out of place? Lost your zest for life in the dolorous drone of cars, humming machines and wifi networks? Lost your girlfriend or boyfriend, car keys and unholy way in the mercantile jungle of urban smog and restless decay where dead rats and unrecyclable plastic people trash your sense of well being, disregard your sense of self? More to the point, do you have allot of questions about the meaning of life and your place in it when the booze stops working and the hangovers fade away? Do you ponder on topics like your unique identity in the mayhem of life? Go to the Karoo and think about shit. Get some space, get some sunshine, get some lekker lamb tjoppies my bra; and get some righteous perspective. Go see how bright stars can glow and how small you can feel compared to the celestial expanse. Check out some ants, a few plants, a boere-omie pens and listen to the wind hissing through the fluttery vocal chords of trees where birds perch noisily at the beginning of a day when doing nothing but thinking becomes a silent and unspeakable virtue onto itself. Go get your shit together, cowboy, cowgirl, and return to the rodeo of existence when you get your buck back. Now go forth and existentialate until you become a beautiful, vibrant, single individual human again with respect for the vastness of living! (R 0.00. No terms and no conditions.)

 

Ja swaar, the Karoo can do this for you. This dry silent expanse can scrub your mind clean like no other thing (except severe sleep therapy perhaps.) After ten days of hard partying, getting a heart bruising and questioning my faith in my own rationality after a near bar fight (I thought I was over that nonsense), I was ready like a bullet in a Mexican stand-off to go get me some endless horizon. [Emotional maturity sounds like death to me: I cannot imagine a life where I am not devastated by feelings, by imaginings and by (the loss of) beauty. A state of existence where you never 'lose it', where you never go insane and weep. What will I write about? Who will I sing to? Where will the color in my dreams come from? How can you live without frequent resurrections induced by your own free will? I am a child and it hurts so good.]

The call was for a video job where I would be second camera and first editor for a pilot of something I cannot tell you about. I signed a confidentiality agreement so even if you torture me on the dance floor to an electro beat I will have to swallow a small white pill before I divulge any details about the 'trip'. It went something like this:

After about five hours driving we ended up in a hunter's cottage on a stunning Karoo farm somewhere in the vicinity of Merweville. There were three of us, one huge fireplace, a few alcoholic beverages, lekker food and of course; a few skaap tjoppies we bought at the butcher in Laingsburg. I was the appointed cook, something I love doing and there is nothing I like better than braaing, especially if it is somewhere in the middle of nowhere where the silence is only broken by the subtle violence of the natural noises of a Karoo evening.

We spent two days shooting... unspeakable things, and two nights  socializing and talking about real deeeeep things. I had good company, you see? Peeps that think about shit. Folks who only shoot with cameras.

The main house a little way up was occupied by a retired farmer from Ceres who's favorite thing to do was to escape to this tranquil piece of land and tend to the werf. There were a few goats and a vegetable garden and a litter of pups who would become seriously ill the next day. He tended to them like a father and a shepherd. He was a real sweet guy with a permanent smile and always a witticism at hand when the opportunity presented itself. "I don't need anyone to entertain me." was his reply to our city Ritalin over exposed brain's incomprehension on the topic of solitude and silence. He told me about butterflies, butterflies that somehow at one time of the year appear from seemingly nowhere to feed on the veldt flowers (which were nearing the point of abundance when we were there). He reminisced on the mystery, clearly a thinking man, a spell bounded creation of his surroundings. Mysticism? Oh yes, there is allot of that in this place. Many a story, poem and work of art originated amongst the koppies and the thorn trees where whispers of human history all the way from the ancient San to the trekboere and beyond reverberate through the magical ether.

On our last day we had a farewell lunch at a farmer's house, the one our secret project revolved around. I realized that despite the many things that bother me in this country, that there are still many good people with faith and good hearts in our country. Of course They are imperfect and well entrenched thought patterns that still divide races and cultures to a great extent still (and will probably always) continue to exist, but they are trying real hard to make it work, and they are trying real hard to do 'the right thing', whatever that might be.

We finished late on the Sunday after which I asked my compadres to drop met at the best possible place for hitching a lift, which happened to be at a crossroads in the middle of nowhere outside a tiny settlement called Prince Albert Road. I was anxious and expected to spent the night next to the road. I was not looking forward to this, in fact; I almost quit this crazy road tripping mission I was on. The temptation was strong. I waved them goodbye with trepidation, but they were not even over the horizon yet when a bakkie stopped next to me and gave me a lift all the way into Prince Albert. The sense of relief was amazing. Thank you strangers with good and solid hearts. In Prince Albert I camped for two nights at the Olienhof Rest Camp, a well maintained campsite within walking distance of the town centre. They have clean facilities and power points, soft green grass to pitch a tent on and pleasant surroundings. At R 70 per person per night it was a bargain.

Prince Albert is as good as it gets as far as Karoo towns go. It is like an oasis. It is green and there seems to be no shortage of water. It is a truly beautiful town and for this reason it has become very popular with tourists. It has grown and modernized quite a bit since the last time I visited. The town is kept neat, the roads are broad, there are ample places to go to for a decent meal and there are quite a few activities to check out. You can get all the info you need at the Prince Albert Tourism Office.

My favorite part of the Prince Albert experience was ending up on a late afternoon at the Prince Albert Bush Pub. They were supposed to be closed on the day, but they had an impromptu braai where a couple of strangers and some friends spent the evening having drinks, a sit down dinner and good conversation. The pub is surrounded by water, bird life and stunning greenery. It is also well priced and you can have a radical time without going bankrupt. I would advise you visit it on a weekend night and have a jol, Karoo style. Life is short, good times must be had, yo.

I left Prince Albert on the following day with Bernie, a lady I met at the Bush Pub. She gave me a lift all the way to Knysna where I am sitting now, finishing off this blog so I can start the next one on Knysna and surrounds. Shit man, this blogging is hard work, I tell you. For me the idea is to plan a s little as possible and to see where the road and circumstance lead me. I hope to slowly make my way to Mozambique, but this might change at any moment. (It might be too hot there this time of the year?)

Thank you for reading and feel free to email me suggestions to info@freewildworld.com

Adios amigos!

Olienhof Rest Camp: olienhof@yahoo.com

Prince Albert Bush Pub: +27 (0)23 541 1748+27 (0)23 541 1748+27 (0)23 541 1748+27 (0)23 541 1748