Predator Has Arrived

GTC
Grand Theft Conscience

Some of you may have had a brief visual introduction to her on Instagram.

Anyways, she has arrived in Constantia and has decided that my blog isn’t worth reading because it is so “blanched.”  I thought she meant as in, “Blanche Dubois” but sadly that is not the case.  And she is such a dominant cow that she won’t let me write any more for awhile.  What follows is Predator Speak. (She thinks she can write but she can’t).  (She has a foul mouth and she drinks irresponsibly).  (She probably smokes too but I can’t say for sure).  (And she litters).

P: Yo.  I read a blog about someone’s extended holiday somewhere exotic where the slaves are all happy and the owners are all benevolent.  I thought I would puke.  Little context here —  Constantia was designated a “whites only” district in the 50’s or 60’s or something. I don’t really care about details so don’t expect accuracy in that regard.  And that was only after it was farmed by a couple hundred slaves in the 1600’s so when you drink the wine from there it is like drinking blood.   And when you love the white town just remember its been white washed.   Just saying.  Yah, I realize there were lots of slaves everywhere and I’m not saying never drink the wine. Obviously.

Sara and Sean have already put there kids in tennis, water polo, horseback riding and squash and fuck, one of them has a personal trainer. Why not try to do something of consequence you upper middle class privileged pieces of white joy.  Ok, let’s just say, maybe take off the sunglasses for a few minutes.

Later.

A Shark In Space

Framing by sara marino

BROUGHT TO YOU BUY NATURE and a nature faker

Why South Africa?

Many people have asked us why we chose South Africa for our final sabbatical and the answer is fluid.  Here are some of the reasons that stand out to me today:

  1. Initially, we were thinking of South Africa as a departure point for more further afield adventures.   We thought that on school breaks we could venture to Windhoek, Namibia, or Maputo Mozambique.  We planned on side trips to Madagascar and possibly Uganda — all of which seems more possible when you are in this neck of the world.    I still expect to travel to some of these places but what we are finding, slowly, is that there is so much to discover right here, right around the corner.   Which leads me to number two …
  2. The city, and perhaps the country, is so culturally vibrant that it is difficult to describe.  The visual art, dance, music, film, puppetry, movement, food, crafts, markets  — it is stunning.  I wonder if I am just more open minded and that is why I see it everywhere here as compared to elsewhere.   More than one person has suggested to me that the “vibrancy” I describe is partially a result of a proximity to death that is absent where I live.   Which brings me to another point altogether — the violence, which I want to discuss.

As we have moved in and are trying to move on, we are out and about more — venturing further afield, and even going out at night.   At no point do I ever feel like I am in Toronto in terms of safety.  I am aware at stop lights of people outside of my car and I am on the look out for suspicious activity.   I am afraid of a “smash and grab” or worse.   When I pull up to my new home, although it is not in a gated community it has a gate.  I look around before I open it and I wait for it to close before I continue up the driveway.   We alarm the house at night time (and set it off by mistake almost every day).   We park close to buildings that we plan to enter (groceries, or movie theatres) etc.  We haven’t returned to Hout Bay.    That said, we have hiked up a mountain on a trail even though we didn’t see other people.   (I did check with a couple of sources about this particular hike first — something I would never do in Toronto.  I would just hike it).   We  walk around our big dark yard with the dogs night.   We do a number of things that less than ten years ago I really wouldn’t have thought possible.  I am learning so much.

 

IMG_6623Peace 🙂

 

Camping South African Style

July 8 – 10th, 2017.

From the Hermanus Golf Club we caravanned across beautiful farmland to a park that I don’t think I would have ventured to by myself.

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Annette, Simon, Luke, Kieran and their friend Daniel took us to De Hoop Nature Reserve.   We stayed in self catering cottages – each with three bedrooms, kitchenettes and they had HEATED mattresses.  Yah, not really camping and I liked it anyways!

De Hoop Nature Reserve is at the southern most tip of South Africa where mountains and dunes meet the sea.  There is a staggering amount of wildlife.  The boys thought the eland – the world’s largest antelope (think moose meets elk) were hysterical.  Leo wondered aloud about the “giant hairy ball sack” on its neck. Nice. There were ostrich, zebra, dassies, and baboons.  The baboons were problematic.

Coco squealed with fear / joy as she watched one break into Janet and Rob’s cottage.   I think Janet was in the shower (paralyzed by nudity and fear).   Simon, charged in running after it carrying a dishtowel (or maybe a doily) like a matador and screaming like a banshee and the baboon was scared sh*tless.  Literally.  Fortunately Rob documented the mess (see below) before he cleaned it up.  Then to make matters worse, another baboon scoped Simon’s pad and whilst he was away, dashed in, grabbed a loaf of bread from Annette and exited the rear window.  Skillfully,  the Aylward/Marino clan managed to keep the non humans at bay — probably because of all of our bickering.

Baboon Poo.

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We had a braii – which is a South African version of a bbq – lots of meat and Annette made a spectacular vegetarian dish too.   The kids stayed up and roasted marshmallows and everyone was content.      The next day was a hike to the aquamarine beaches on this part of the Indian Ocean and tall white sand dunes for as long as you can look.    I have seen beaches and dunes before but I think I am on the cusp of an epiphany and just realized it this weekend while whale watching from those dunes.

Every year over a hundred Southern Right whales can be seen just off the shore between May and October.  We saw many.   It was spectacular to see these animals — not from a tour operation, but from a respectful distance somewhat afar.  It was very un-National Geographic.  I liked how I felt with this distance between us.  The majesty of the whale seemed more in focus to me than ever before.

I’m still trying to upload photos from the dunes but here is what I have so far …

DeHoop Nature Reserve

Hermanus

We drove three hours north to a beach town to meet up with our crazy cousins.  We crashed “Gentlemen’s Night” at the golf club, ate at Oskar’s, saw a Coco’s, hiked for seven hot as Hades kilometres  along a beach, got separated, got the only uber in Hermanus (YAY) and managed to have a great time.

Two more days until the furries arrive!!!!

 

I have now discovered how to create a google photo album and give you all access to it.  Yippee!  So here are a few more pics of Hermanus Hike.   (Mostly kids fyi but you’ll get a sense of the beautiful beach).

Hermanus Photo Album

 

I’ve added a little video about climate change just to be more smart.  I did it a long time ago but nobody watched it then so I thought I’d give it another chance.

A Soccer Field In Kibera

So Much Has Happened

Hello People! This post is about some of the good, the bad and the ugly  that we have seen so far. It’s much longer than I will typically post but my first ugly needed some context.  

It is slowly starting to sink in that we have moved to South Africa.   We have joined and used the local gym; ate and drank at the local rugby pitch;  gone grocery shopping twice and found our favourite coffee spot too.  Oh, and the rugby field was packed with barefoot kids ranging in age from 5-14 playing soccer while dogs ran freely between the field, the out door patio and all over the inside of the clubhouse.  My kinda place!   Our own menagerie is expected to arrive on Monday although I’m not holding my breath.  The logistics of getting the nonhumans to Africa make what the humans did seem like a piece of cake.  All in all, the moving in is moving along.  So far so good.

On that note, so far so good is due in large part  to our friends who are helping us to move in and settle down.  I  want to give a massive shout out of thanks to  Rob, Janet and Justice Balfour.   Thank you !!!!

Aside from moving , we are still acting like tourists and just yesterday went to Hout Bay to swim with the seals.  You take a dingy out to sea and jump off in a pod of seals and swim around with them.  It is super cool.   Check out my movie and remember: a) I am a director NOT an editor or a SHOOTER; and b) I can only improve from here!

I  considered not putting this next part in at all and still hesitate to do so.  But I set out to write about the the good the bad and the ugly of my experience and that is what I am going to do–as honestly as possible.  Here is some bad…

In order to get to the seals we had to drive past a couple dozen emergency vehicles (police mostly, but fire and paramedics too) due to a protest/uprising that has been taking place in an informal settlement on the outskirts of Hout Bay.

For more information check out:  South Africa News

It looks and sounds quite frightening but I am acutely aware of how I would have read this news five years ago, and how I read it now, having a little more experience here. I am posting my experience of this news because I would like to be transparent about my understanding of violence in South Africa, and,  I am trying to sort out, (using writing as a method), my own mixed feelings about coming to South Africa.

To oversimplify (as I understand it), the people are protesting (with some violence) in order to draw attention to the fact that they were promised housing after a devastating fire in March and they have yet to see it.    This impacted us in a few discernible ways: 1) we saw and felt unrest as we drove by; 2) we saw and felt the presence of “law and order”; 3) because of a road block and subsequent detour we had to drive farther and  longer than expected to get home after  a day at Cape Town’s waterfront.   Moving forward, we won’t go to Hout Bay again for awhile.  We probably won’t drive in that direction again unless we have a specific reason to do so– at least until things settle down.  And, unlike if I were in Toronto, I will keep a close eye on the situation to see if it escalates.  Now you might be saying, so what? There is violence in South Africa – shocker.  I am trying to put some specifics to this generic idea that circulates  in Toronto and elsewhere   of a violent and out of control war zone.    There are for sure elements of out of control and there are even elements of war zone.   It’s true.  But of course the real “ugly” of what I am saying is that in many ways it is possible to insulate oneself from this civil unrest — here  just like it is possible to do so in Toronto and this makes me feel very uncomfortable.  I wonder if and how I might change over the course of the next ten months…

 

 

 

 

 

Prequel Day One

Migration of humans and animals between Mozambique’s Limpopo to South Africa’s Kruger.

We left, we flew, we landed, we drove, we arrived – with the Balfour Clan at Sabi Sands Reserve near Kruger Park.

Sabi Sands emerged in 1898 when a collection land owners got together and decided to work cooperatively to form the first private reserve in South Africa.  Fences went up and down between the national Kruger Park and the private Sabie Sands until 1993 when they came down permanently in order to permit free migration of animals between the parks.

I am interested in human and animal migration that takes place between Mozambique’s Limpopo National Park and neighbouring Kruger.    Depending on a human migrant’s economic status there appear to be a few ways to get to South Africa (where the real and perceived quality of life seemed to be greater).  With some money one could get on a tour bus in Mozambique and hop off in Kruger (South Africa).  With less money one could hire a human trafficking service.  With even less, people desperate for a better life, can cross on foot.  It is easy to imagine how a human’s experience of migrating animals would be very different in each scenario.  Park predators are opportunistic.

In the meantime, some photos of the bad boys and girls you wouldn’t want to meet outside of a vehicle…

leopard test 2

 

leopard leaves

 

Drinking Lion

 

Roaring Lion