Posts Tagged With: travel blog

An appeal for those looking for a worthy cause to donate to this Christmas

kittens

So, the time has come to admit we are a little out of our depth. Not with the business… that’s a piece of piss (please don’t let that cockiness come back to haunt me). But with our growing number of animals.
Yesterday was probably our shittest day in Indonesia. Unfortunately one of the newest recruits to Cosmos’ zoo of waifs and strays – a tiny tabby kitten named Arsenal – got too close to our dog Django whilst he was eating. For some reason, most likely a survival instinct from days in the jungle fending for himself, Django went for Arsenal in an unprecedented attack and shook the poor little bugger in his jaws.
Brave Arsenal battled on, in a state of complete shock, for almost ten hours until his little body could no longer deal with the trauma. He died in our bed at two am Saturday and we subsequently buried him on the beach shortly after.


Although I am mad as hell at Django for snapping, we admit that they should never have been anywhere near each other when food was around. Because all our rescued animals are so peaceful and happy together most of the time we became lax and naive, and sadly Arsenal paid the price.
We need help. We simply cannot afford to create safe zones for our pets, whilst at the same time stumping up for vets and medical fee’s for all the animals that get dumped on our doorstep (In the past two days three ginger kittens, covered in scabs and fleas were thrown in our land. Either that or they happened to collapse in the most sympathetic plot of earth in South Sulawesi. The former I imagine.)
We cannot turn a blind eye like we probably should. We are in a position to help these poor buggers (sort of) and are trying our hardest to do so….even if it could potentially have negative effects on our business in the future;
Ten cats can produce a whole lot of shit.


Please, please help the management at Cosmos in bettering and prolonging these animals’ lives. Not only do we need to get the females spayed at the nearest vets five hours drive away, we also need to build a safe living environment for the cats. One which removes them from the risk of pythons, lizards and also our otherwise placid dog, who has really shown us in the past few hours how ingrained his instincts are and how stupid we were to think our love and affection would make him act otherwise when hungry.


A paypal account is available to donate. You would be making Tika, Medusa, Princess, Warrior, Anita, Alien, Andrew, Ragdoll, Foxy, Blister and the knobhead Django very happy indeed.

paypal email blob231086@aol.com

Thanks in advance. Please SHARE this post on your timeline.

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A boozey visit to the Winelands and Cape Town

10391722_223116455119_491616_nThe Jo’burg – Delhi Express

An adapted blog from 2010
Chapter Six

 

The morning after our meet and greet with the Great Whites, tensions between Danny and I weren’t much better than the night before. Neither of us had done anything remarkable to cause any ill feeling, or nothing that I was aware of anyway. Yet when you spend such prolonged periods of time with certain people it’s natural for personality traits to irk on occasion. Danny and I were civil to one another, offering a brief “alright” upon awakening, but did our best to stay out of each other’s way for most of the day.

When the Baz Bus arrived later that evening Danny and Monica sat in the back, whereas Dean and I got in the front seats hoping a bit of time apart would see us all right.

The journey into the South African wine lands was glorious. It was a beautiful evening, and more than once the Baz Bus driver felt compelled to pull over so we could take photographs of the sun descending over a distant Cape Town.

I’d assumed it was just me Danny had issues with. During the brief camera stops Dean too had felt a definitive frostiness, making us both baffled as to what was actually wrong. If it had just been me then I could get it – I’d been quiet the night before and he could have interpreted that as if I was sulking again. Danny and Dean had spent the night together though, getting along great with the three young English birds in the hostel common room.

Unable to come up with a logical reason for the discord, Dean and I resigned to let it be. Everybody needs a little space now and then and we felt it best to give Danny just that.

 

Arriving into the small, student city of Stellenbosch a short, fat guy working reception checked us all into our new hostel with carefree haste, practically throwing the keys at us before burying his face in a Chinese banquet spread across the bar.

Grabbing a quick shower, it wasn’t long before Dean and I were back in the chow mien stinking bar area. Ordering a couple of beers we waited semi patiently for Monica to get ready.

Danny hadn’t fancied venturing out with us when asked. Dean’s recruitment endeavours proved more successful when he cajoled two Swedish girls into joining us however. One of the Swedes was the slurring, drunken mess we’d met in Hermanus after our warthog stew. Sober, the two of them came across as very pleasant lasses and quite capable of stringing two words together after all.

When all three women had ceased tarting themselves up we set out towards Stellenbosch’s city centre. A quick drink in one of the oldest and possibly dullest bars in town was followed by a few more in a newer, more thriving nightspot nearby.

The colourful bar and restaurant teemed with young, good looking South Africans. Everybody appeared to be having a great time, either lounging on the wide, comfortable sofas or sat eating delicious looking food in the more formal dining area.

Many of the beautiful females certainly weren’t stingy with their flirtatious glances. Either that or they thought we were a couple of oddballs. We choose to interpret their occasional stares in a positive light, giving both Dean and I a real confidence boost to start the night on.

After a couple of hours doing shots and puffing on apple flavoured shisha we moved to a place recommended by a chatty bouncer. Relatively cool house music spilled from the busy looking club. A plethora of young fillies tottered through the door so we thought we’d give it a go.

It turned out to be a club predominantly frequented by Afrikaners. Dean and I were probably the only two people with a British heritage in the place. Not a great ratio when the notoriously proud Afrikaners still held a grudge against the conquering Brits. But we were well on our way to being inebriated at this stage in the evening so the Anglo-Boer conflict was hardly our chief concern. All the scantily clad tarts bopping to Euro pop were what Dean and I preferred to focus on.

Inevitably, it wasn’t long before the two of us were overheard talking in the toilet and suddenly became very unpopular indeed. The large, multi-floored establishment was filled with arrogant young lads with big, block like heads and word that two English chaps were in the building spread like wildfire. Most people didn’t seem to give a shit where we were from. Yet a good number of boorish oafs weren’t happy with our presence, taking great pleasure in knocking into us whenever they could to provoke a reaction.

Trying to avoid any trouble, we left Monica and the two Swedes on the main dance floor and went to look for a less hostile space in the club to frequent.

The top two levels of the bar were similar to any tacky student club found the world over – cheap drink, short skirts, flashing lights and frustrated lads not knowing whether to fight or fuck. The basement of this Afrikaans club, however, was a rather different affair altogether.

Rows of boys and girls in their late teens and early twenties stood facing one another in the centre of the dark, wooden room. Grabbing a partner by the hand, the strange group of revellers proceeded to dance around in choreographed circles like something straight out of 17th century Rotterdam. It was bizarre to witness such fashionably dressed young people jigging around like morris dancers. The same people had been going bonkers with Dizzy Rascal five minutes earlier, now they were thigh slapping around a log cabin like room to Afrikaans versions of country and western ditties.

Dean and I were transfixed by the youthful oddities enjoying their primitive hoedown. We stood open mouthed, unsure as to whether we were dreaming or not, until the boys who had wanted to smack us in our chops earlier began hovering again.

The five of us only stayed a short while longer in the club. It was pretty obvious we weren’t welcome there and the chances of being chinned by a deer shagging yokel were growing by the minute. Dancing around on the smoky dance floor had been fun for a while. But coming up against a group of locals who looked like amateur wrestlers wasn’t the way we’d hoped the night would pan out.

All the excitement of the evening had been too much for Monica to handle. That or she was just completely plastered once again. Either way, she was unable to contain herself on the walk home and dropped her pants outside an all-night garage and proceeded to give what suspiciously looked like a tit wank to a lamp post.

What was going through Monica’s mind at that moment was impossible to determine. Yet this was why we’d grown to love the girl – you never knew what was going to happen next.
The next morning Dean, Monica and I awoke feeling remarkably fresh. Danny, who’d opted for an early night, had arisen in fine spirits and was off breakfasting with Kat, Amanda and Rio – the three American chicks we’d dined with in Hermanus. The girls had coincidently arrived at the same hostel the night before and bumped into Danny whilst we were out on the town.

It’s amazing what a few hours of reflection and a bit of peace and quiet can do to a person’s disposition. Danny was a pillar of geniality when we joined them at the posh little bistro. It felt as if the past twenty four hours had never happened. Everybody seemed hugely relieved there was no longer any tension and the three of us got along famously.

Pulling a few tables together we sat out on the front patio enjoying the sunshine. It was a perfect morning and the sun was already high and warm despite the early hour. Everybody was in good cheer and the Americans were far more sociable than they had been in Hermanus.

Unlike the charming setting and good company, the food served at the snobby little Stellenbosch bistro was very average indeed. Despite costing three times what I’d have liked to pay for breakfast, the portions were small and thrown together carelessly. My omelette was fine – as far as omelettes go – and a few other people were satisfied with their choice. Dean, however, was not a happy camper whatsoever.

“Where the friggin’ hell’s the rest of it Trisha?” he asked the waitress as his food was placed in front of him. “I ordered the Big Breakfast?”

“This is the Big Breakfast sir.”

“It’s not so bloody big is it me lass?” replied Dean with a grimace. “It’s a plate full of bloody tomatoes. And I don’t even like tomato unless it comes out of a Heinz bottle.”

The waitress only managed to comprehend about three words of what Dean had said. She simply smiled back at him and walked away. I was subsequently awarded Dean’s tomatoes and in return he helped himself to my dwindling omelette.

“How did you know she was called Trisha?” asked Monica baffled. “She didn’t have a name tag on or anything.”

“Do you not get Trisha on telly in America?”

“Canada,” corrected Monica. “No, who is she?”

“Trisha Goddard,” answered Dean. “She’s got some sort of chat show. That waitress looked just like her didn’t she Blair?”

Raising my eyebrows I gave them half a smile as if to say ‘I can neither confirm nor deny such comments’. She looked sod all like Trisha Goddard but I didn’t want to burst the boy’s bubble. Not after the whole tomato disappointment and all.

After eating, the Americans and Monica spent a good twenty minutes fussing over a bottle of HP Sauce. Failing to be inspired by condiment based conversations, Dean and I did our best to be excluded from their idle prattle – the two of us debating whether to order another coffee whilst waiting for their saucy talk to finish.

“Pass us that menu dude,” said Dean before having a quick perusal. “A glass of red wine is cheaper than a brew in this place.”

“Its 9:30am Dean,” quipped Monica, butting in.

“Keep your bloody nose out HP knickers. Get back to discussing the ins and outs of Big Ben on a fucking sauce bottle.”

“Shut up, idiot. You’re not going to drink wine at this time are you?”

“Well, we have been saying we need to start saving money. So we may as well start now if alcohol is the cheapest option?” replied Dean, all pleased with himself for being thrifty.

“And we are in the wine region Mon‘,” I added. “It would be silly not to have a little taste whilst we’re here.”

“Where’s Trisha at?” said Dean looking around for the waitress. “I’ll get us two large ones eh?”

The red wine enjoyed post breakfasting was delicious. It was probably a very average drop for all we knew, but as we were still a bit pissed from the night before it tasted like nectar. The three American girls didn’t know what to make of us drinking at such an hour. Judging by their reaction though you’d think early morning boozing was unpopular across the Atlantic.

 

The pile of cooked tomatoes Dean had stacked on my plate, combined with two large glasses of red wine, didn’t seem to agree with my belly all that well. And soon enough it was necessary I make a trip through the busy bistro to the little boys’ room.

Saying farewell to a solid piece of business I pulled up my pants following a hasty clean-up operation. It had been a two wiper – swift and efficient, the best kind. I was feeling especially content after unloading my gurgling burden. Right up until the moment I flushed and reached for the door knob that is.

Admittedly, I’ve been known to have a few issues in the past regarding what comes out of my rear end. The front end, however, I’ve had no issues with since I was perhaps five years old. I pride myself on the fact that I don’t piss myself very often. I don’t like to brag about it, but I know it’s a gift and I’m very grateful for it.

On this particular morn though, things in the willy department were slightly amiss. Whether it was the alcohol or just sheer excitement at being in South Africa’s lovely wine lands, I’m really not sure, but I ended up leaking a good half litre of urine down the inside of my right leg.

I simply couldn’t control it. My bladder had a mind of its own that instant – it and mine having two very opposing opinions on when apt to secrete a jet of piss. It all happened too fast to whip the old todger out and aim it at the pot. All I could do was stand there wondering what the hell was going on – my jeans filling with warm wee until eventually it seeped into my flip flop.

When the flow finally ceased I looked down at my bandy legs and shook my head in disbelief. The grey skinny jeans I had on were sodden. I couldn’t get my head around why my knob hadn’t fired when I’d given it licence to a few minutes earlier. Perhaps it was rebelling against the lack of action it had seen in recent months and this was its way of getting me back for not introducing him to more ladies. I was on his side though. My recent celibacy hadn’t been something I’d willingly entered into, I’d just been shit at chatting up of late. Turning against me in golden protest certainly wasn’t going to make me anymore desirable to the fairer sex, that was for sure.

Having considered taking my jeans off and holding them under the hand dryer I eventually decided the best way to avoid embarrassment was to not give a shit in front of our little breakfast club. If I acted like everything was perfectly normal then maybe they would feel like idiots for not soaking their legs in liquid waste.

With the aforesaid attitude I strode through the busy bistro with my head held high. Reaching our table I curtly announced what had just transpired in the toilet. Possibly a little too smugly in retrospect.

“You did what?” asked Monica, looking at me all weird.

“I pissed my pants.”

“And why did you piss your pants? You were in the toilet; why not aim for the hole.”

“It wasn’t that simple. I’d done my thing and tucked it all away nice and snug in these skinny jeans, and then all of a sudden it just poured out. I couldn’t stop it.”

“Is this normal?” asked one of the disgusted looking yanks in a tone which knocked my misguided confidence.

“No, it’s not. It was just an accident.”

“Then why look so happy about it?”

“I’m not happy. These clothes are now going to have to get washed. And laundry makes me far from happy when my mother’s not doing it. I just thought there is no point crying about it, I may as well embrace the fact I’m incontinent and have a laugh about it.”

Following the initial repulsion, my piss filled pants did bring forth some joviality. The faux nonchalance had worked a treat. I would’ve taken endless glee in ridiculing the offending party if the shoe had been on another foot. How could they mock me though if I did it all before them? Instead then, my uncontrollable bodily actions made me the toast of the town. I exaggerate slightly, but I didn’t get any stick and they all soon forgot about it so I was happy about that.

 

Our newly formed gang returned to the hostel a lot closer than what we’d been a few days previously. Initially I’d thought the American girls to be snooty intellectuals who looked down on us a little. After the nice breakfast we shared I felt we’d all united a little more. They still probably looked down on us a bit, and who could blame them when Dean and I were pissed by ten in the morning and I behaved like I needed a nappy. But the girls had certainly warmed to us a touch it seemed.

Having picked up a few items at the hostel our gang of seven set out towards Stellenbosch’s tourist office. To visit South Africa’s famed wine region and not sample its produce would have been a terrible shame, so with this in mind we all went to sign up for a tour of the local vineyards.

The group unity created over breakfast was to be short lived. Dean and I refused to pay the ridiculous price of the bus tour, judging it to be expensive and pretentious sounding. Resisting some pretty intense peer pressure, we insisted the rest of them go and have a lovely time if they had money to burn. Instead, we set off into town having decided to hold our own Stellenbosch wine tasting event – except ours would be cheaper and much more supermarket based.

On our way to the shops Dean and I encountered a large grassy park I half remembered from the evening before. The area was quiet, save for a couple walking their dog and a small group of homeless people warming themselves in the sun.

In one of the far corners of the park was an enormous bronze rhinoceros which practically begged two inebriated idiots like us to play with it. Swinging from the beast’s horn for an amount of time that could be deemed excessive for two people who supposedly don’t have learning disabilities, we then decided to take things further and scale the monster’s back.

It was a bloody big statue, and a very long drop should we fall. I struggled to find an appropriate footing for my slippery flip flop initially. But was soon aided by a middle aged gentleman who I discovered by the smell of him to be a homeless drunk. Whether he’d been a Himalayan Sherpa before hitting the bottle or just a dab hand at mounting animal statues, I really don’t know. He was up there straddling the rhinoceros’s back as quick as a flash though, dragging me along with him as he went.

After a knee trembling photo with the toothless urchin I managed to climb down without breaking any bones. Generously rewarding my guide with the cash to buy himself enough methylated spirits to ward off the night’s chill, we then pressed on to the supermarket.

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Every bottle of local wine procured for our day long tasting event had to match a strict set of guidelines: They must be red. They must have a pretty label. And most importantly, they mustn’t cost more than the equivalent of two English pounds.

With this austere criteria met, we sourced a selection of appetisers to bring out the unique flavours of our wines; namely two chicken and mushroom pies apiece and some potato croquettes.

On the way back to the hostel Dean suggested we transform ourselves into one of the modern day great travellers: The very brilliant Keith Lemon. Keith’s World Tour had recently been aired in the UK and was a great inspiration to us both – his sage, rousing thoughts being quoted regularly throughout the trip, mainly because we didn’t have an original sense of wit of our own.

On the whole Dean and I enjoy very different types of humour, so the one time we liked the same thing we decided to embrace it tenfold. The two of us bought a big animal tooth necklace apiece from a Rasta market similar to Keith’s, just much smaller and cheaper. And once back at the hostel we set about removing all of our facial hair, with the exception of our ginger hued moustaches.

Personally, I absolutely hate being clean shaven and avoid it at all costs. I look prepubescent without any growth. My furry facial covering is the only thing stopping me resembling a youthful Martina Navratilova, so taking it all off was a very big deal for me at the time.

A sink full of bum fluff later and we were ready to unveil our new Keith Lemon look on the world. And by world, I mean the two Swedish girls we’d gone out with the night before.

Admittedly, an animal tooth dangling around our necks and a wispy moustache hardly qualified us as masters of disguise, but the thought was certainly there. The Swedish philistines were unimpressed with our efforts however, principally because they hadn’t a clue who Keith Lemon was. They were much more interested in getting a tan on their enviable Scandinavian skin and we certainly didn’t hold it against them when they slipped into their bikinis.

 

After a lovely few hours of wine tasting Dean and I returned to the supermarket for more bottles to scrutinise. The others had returned to the hostel whilst we were gone. Staggering around the back garden like anaesthetised apes, Danny, Monica and the three Americans were that drunk they actually made us look sober.

The five of them were leathered; giggling like idiots and flopping all over one another beside the shimmering pool. It was despicable behaviour. How dare they look like they’ve had a better day than us? ‘We have moustaches!’  I wanted to shout at the dribbling buffoons. ‘We are far more fun than you lot!’

Reluctantly accepting that they were probably having a more agreeable time, Dean and I decided to join their party and did a bit of flopping around ourselves. An affectionate reuniting ensued, followed by a few more hours pouring local produce down our necks under the hot sun.

Wine tasting in Stellenbosch had proved to be a consistently enjoyable pursuit. And it was with great sadness that we called a temporary halt to our drunken frolics. The three of us lads and Monica had to catch our final Baz Bus to Cape Town that evening. The American girls were heading that way also though, and agreed to meet at our intended hostel to continue the festivities.

Hastily packing up their rental car, the yanks somehow managed to drive all the way to Cape Town. All of them had gone at the wine with the tenacity of a part time alcoholic and were well and truly under the influence. I don’t condone drink driving at all, although in South Africa where it can sometimes be safer driving home after a few drinks, I can certainly see the logic. Driving to Cape Town in the state these girls were in was a terrible decision though. I was too drunk myself to care at the time, but in retrospect they were incredibly lucky they didn’t hurt themselves, or anybody else for that matter. They should really have known better and caught up with us all in the morning. It just goes to show that being intelligent is not necessarily synonymous with having any common sense.

 

*

 

The short drive from Stellenbosch to Cape Town was a good one. I sat at the back of the Baz Bus with Danny and we drunkenly discussed the slight ill feelings we’d harboured towards one another over the past couple of days. It was all put down to a misunderstanding once again, and we hugged it out before becoming as thick as thieves for the remainder of the night.

Testing the patience of the exceedingly big African guy working on reception, we checked into Cape Town’s Ashanti Lodge with great effort. I could barely write my own name after drinking wine all day and the others weren’t much more capable.

Dumping our bags in the shared dormitory, we proceeded towards the hostel bar. Being one of Cape Town’s most popular backpacker accommodations, the bar at Ashanti Lodge was filled with travellers. Here, Dean bumped into Charlotta, one of the two Swedes he’d gotten along well with since the day of the bungee jump in Storm’s River. Not having taken to the Americans quite as well as the rest of us, Dean stayed with Charlotta and her pal for the evening whilst Danny, Monica and I went to visit the yanks in their room.

It just so happened to be thanksgiving, that famed public holiday hardly anybody out of North America knows anything about. I’ve read that it’s a day of giving thanks to God for the new harvest or something silly and biblical. In the case of these particular Americans it should have been offering thanks for not crashing on their recent drunken drive from the wine lands of Stellenbosch.

Between us all we ordered a take away chicken and a variety of sides from Nando’s to celebrate the festival. A tin of Ocean Spray cranberry sauce was rummaged from the bottom of a backpack – tinned, gelatinous fruits being an essential travel companion for all true Americans – and with the accompanying chips and coleslaw we had ourselves a lovely thanksgiving feast.

With the dinner finished, I amused myself for a while by fabricating the chicken carcass into a Frankenstein like creature, much to the bemusement of the females in the group. Drink driving was embraced, but show a bit of artistic flair and one is ostracised for their efforts.

Tidying away the bones and skin, we refocused on the alcohol consumption once again. Chatting gaily for an hour, it wasn’t long before we were well acquainted with the other dorm room occupants. A small posse had formed on the floor of that boisterous dormitory and everybody appeared to be enjoying each other’s company immensely. So much so, things then got a whole lot more interesting.

Never have I had the pleasure of attending an orgy, but they do look quite marvellous things. A bit unhygienic yes, fantastic fun though all the same. Or the ones in pornos do anyway, in reality I imagine they’re a bit more aged and depressing. However, what happened next in the American girls’ dorm was the closest I think I’ll ever get to finding out what an orgy is actually like.

I have no idea who initiated it, or their reasons for doing so, but all of a sudden people were touching and grabbing at one another’s body parts. A young Yorkshireman who’d joined us had his top off and was being massaged by a gigantic, pretty faced German girl on a bed at the back of the room. Danny was sensually rubbing Kat up, while Monica and Rio were both caressing each other’s feet.

For most of the night I’d been chatting to Amanda, the American girl I’d gotten along best with. Both of us were more than a little confused as to what the hell was happening when we became aware of the situation. One minute all had been normal, the next people were semi naked and the place had transformed itself into a big, greasy, massage party.

“What’s going on Monica?” I asked, taking in the scene.

“Were massaging, what does it look like?”

“I can see that, but why?”

“I don’t know. Rio just started rubbing my feet, and she’s hot so I started doing hers,” replied Monica with a drunken smile. “You guys should join in. It’s sweet! Pass me your foot.”

Acquiescing, I offered her my scabby hoof and realised she hadn’t been exaggerating. It most certainly was sweet. Grabbing the bottle of moisturiser that was doing the rounds I followed suit and took a hold of Amanda’s tootsies. Giving them a good rubbing, I then shoved my spare foot in her direction in order for her to return the favour.

Having your feet massaged by two different women feels a little bit like what I’d expect heaven to be like. It was that nice it almost made me want to believe in heaven and all the other nonsense that goes with it. Our horny little rubbing party was fantastic. And I’m pretty sure it would have continued long into the night had Amanda not suddenly decided she was going to throw her ring up.

Feeling a little guilty that my scabby feet may have induced her nausea, I went to assist Amanda in the toilets. She had been the only girl in the room I’d felt on a similar wavelength to, besides Monica but she didn’t count. Amanda was good fun, with a very dry sense of humour and didn’t take offence at some of the more risqué things I’d come out with that night. When I’d made a rape reference earlier an Australian girl had walked out in a huff, whereas Amanda thought it capital fun and took the joke in its intended sense.

Unable to drink anymore, Amanda and I decided to call it quits on the wine. We’d done our fair share of tasting and had come to the sound conclusion that South African vino was bloody good stuff. Many of the rubbing party had disappeared by the time we returned from the toilets or jumped onto one of the surrounding bunks. We followed suit and consequently shared a nice bit of smooching. Amanda had brushed her teeth before the encounter I hasten to add. She may have been both pretty and funny, but she wasn’t so enthralling that I wanted the taste of her sick in my gob.
England were set to play South Africa in an international cricket test the day after our foot rubbing debauchery. The three of us lads had been saying for a while that it would be great to attend the match, despite the fact we all believed cricket to be a monotonous pursuit.

Feeling absolutely awful, Danny, Dean, Monica and I all caught a taxi to the Newlands Stadium on the other side of Cape Town. The area was busying upon our arrival. Joyous sports fans mixed with various vendors in a relaxed and happy melee.

Searching for the ticket office, we were confronted by an overweight Shane Warne look-alike who offered us his services. Shane’s friendly patter and jovial nature convinced us to buy four tickets from him, claiming he couldn’t use them due to making prior engagements. They were half the price of normal tickets so our interest was naturally piqued. Having asked a steward if the tickets were legitimate, we handed over a wad of Rand and became rather smug at our prudent purchases. Idiotically, we then went and spent all the money we’d saved on ridiculous hats and flags in hopes of looking more ‘crickety’.

My throbbing hangover intensified as we awaited the stadium gates being opened. I found a cool little spot in the shade of a tree and curled up there feeling very sorry for myself while the others socialised with the excited South African fans.

When the gates were eventually unlocked we entered the stadium with little fuss. Trundling behind, I followed the others in search of the stand written on our tickets. Unsuccessful, we then asked a steward to direct us to our seats.

Ushered into a glass lift, we were led by the stern faced steward towards the executive suites. This is brilliant, we thought, fat Shane Warne has played a blinder. He’d sold us tickets to an executive box for a pittance.

While Danny went to find somebody with the keys to our own personal suite, Monica convinced a cleaning lady to let us through a well catered box so we could wait in the stands.

The Newlands Stadium has to be one of the most beautiful sporting venues in the world. Table Mountain towered majestically over the bright, airy stadium – the manicured field contrasting brilliantly with a sky so clear and blue that it couldn’t have looked any more stunning.

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Choosing the best seats in our lofty segment was easy considering we were the only people in there. The four of us sat patiently awaiting kick off – or whatever it’s called in cricket – soaking up the amazing scene in front of us. Fans from both sides were rapidly amassing, singing and dancing in their droves.

As much as we loved our executive setting, it was a little disconcerting that all the other boxes around us had catering staff flitting in and out, whereas ours was still locked up and gloomy within. Danny had been unsuccessful in getting anybody to open up our suite, so we decided to just wait and see what happened.

Monica continued to walk nonchalantly through the other boxes – much to the annoyance of punters and staff members alike – heading to the toilet or bar every ten minutes. Eventually she irritated one woman sufficiently with her coming and goings that the lady said enough was enough. If we couldn’t open up our personal suite then we would have to leave the stand.

With none of us deft in the art of breaking and entering we made the pained decision to depart with little fuss. Our prime positions had been snatched away just as effortlessly as they had come. Dejected, we headed back down to the plebeians below.

It was gutting to have been conned by a ticket scammer. Not because of pride or anything like that, but because we then had to traipse around the whole of the lower sections of Newlands Stadium trying to sneak past stewards in order to find unoccupied seats. And for someone who was suffering from the worst hangover of his adult life, this was a far from pleasant experience. My head felt as if it was on the verge of exploding.

The whole point of going to the cricket had been to get drunk with the other fans and enjoy the carnival like atmosphere. I couldn’t touch a drop of alcohol in my fragile state however, so despite the incredible setting, being there seemed completely pointless.

Staying for the toss, which is apparently a coin throw to decide who bats first and not a metaphor for the game of cricket as a whole, I then attempted to convince Monica that this was as exciting as it was going to get and that we should head back to the hostel directly. It was so unbelievably hot that day, and having to move from one empty seat to the next every five minutes was far from my idea of fun. Thankfully Monica was feeling pretty ropey herself and didn’t need much persuading.

Dean and Danny stayed to watch the match for a while. Although they soon grew bored of the mundane sport and drinking the stadium’s crappy, warm beer. Instead, they took a taxi into the city dressed in their cricket fan gear – Dean in a St George’s flag coloured Mohawk wig and Danny sporting a giant false moustache a colonial pith hat. Whilst browsing the shops in Cape Town’s heart they inadvertently got a guided tour by two fourteen year old girls. Unable to shake off their young admirers, and fearing a police caution for socialising with minors, they soon returned to the hostel and continued on the beer beside the pool.

On the whole the cricket had been a disaster, which was a shame as it could have been quite a novel experience. If I hadn’t have felt terrible, and we’d acquired genuine tickets for the grass embankments with all the fun loving supporters, it would’ve no doubt been great. Sadly, it just wasn’t meant to be.

 

After a good night’s sleep my hangover had all but gone. Unfortunately though, my kidneys had now started giving me angst. I was a far cry from 100%, yet felt well enough to attempt scaling Cape Town’s iconic landmark: the very impressive Table Mountain.

Dean had been out again the evening before. He’d drunk late into the night with the two Swedish girls and was feeling a touch delicate to say the least. Danny and I had been sensible on the other hand (only because I’d convinced myself I was having kidney failure) and gone to bed relatively early.

None of us had quite anticipated how challenging the climb up Table Mountain was going to be. It doesn’t even have a top half, I’d thought, how hard can it possibly be?

Dean and I were knackered before we’d even got off the tarmac road at the foot of the famed mount. Dean’s head was pounding and my kidney pain was back with a vengeance. To make matters worse, neither of us had considered bringing along any water for the gruelling two hour trek under the scorching African sun. Thankfully Danny had brought some and kindly rationed it with us two unprepared retards.

To say coursing my way to the top of Table Mountain was an enjoyable experience would be an out and out lie. It genuinely wasn’t. It was rubbish in fact and I felt like death for the entire ascent. Yet reaching the flat, bush scattered summit and being afforded sublime vistas of Cape Town and the surrounding coastline was hugely rewarding. The city looked incredible from up here and well worth all of the suffering.

Despite the pride of reaching the top of Table Mountain there was no way we were going to walk back down. Danny wouldn’t have minded the descent, but Dean and I outvoted him. So after a couple of cans of sugar laden drinks we took the cable car to the bottom and a taxi back to Ashanti Lodge.

 

That evening was to be our last with Monica, our wonderful Canadian mascot. Since picking her up three weeks ago in Swaziland we’d grown increasingly close to the girl. It genuinely felt like she was an established member of the group. Monica had been an amazing travel companion for us all in different ways. She was a fun little enigma we’d all loved having around. Very switched on in so many ways, yet utterly clueless in others, her bizarre conduct made for great entertainment. If Napoleon Dynamite had a sister, she would be just like Monica.

To say farewell, and celebrate three great weeks with our Canadian barrel of fun, we took a taxi to a restaurant of Monica’s choice on Long Street. Joining us at the fancy burger joint were the two Swedish girls Dean was pally with and a Swiss friend of theirs called Rosie.

Long Street is the supposed party place of Cape Town. It teemed with bars and cool eateries, although I wasn’t particularly impressed. The area had a real sinister feel. In its popularity Long Street had become a magnet for local thugs who preyed on isolated revellers. It certainly wasn’t a terrible place, it just wasn’t all it was cracked up to be and the genuine essence of danger was more than a little disconcerting.

The food at the highly recommended burger restaurant was lovely, as was the banter flying around the table. So much so, on several occasions we were given dirty looks by the staff for being too rowdy. To avoid disturbing anymore customers they soon began making subtle efforts to hurry us on our way.

“Whoa, whoa, whoa…..where are you going with that Adebayor?” quizzed Dean in annoyance to a dreadlocked girl who tried to take his plate away, “I’m not finished with that yet lass. There’s a few chips left on there.”

I had to look at my own plate in hopes of not laughing and making the girl anymore uncomfortable. The poor lass didn’t know what to do. Like most people in Africa I doubt she understood what the hell Dean had said, but it made her embarrassed all the same.

This wasn’t the first occasion Dean had cracked me up in a local woman’s face. He had a knack of waiting until a girl was about two feet away before mentioning the name of a long haired footballer she bore a vague resemblance to. I was positive Didier Drogba was going to knock my teeth out down the veg aisle of a supermarket in Johannesburg one time.

 

The Dubliner appeared to be somewhat of a Long Street institution. It was to be the first and last bar we frequented on our so called pub crawl for Monica’s departure. Nobody seemed to mind however; the place was full of life so most people were content enough to stay for the duration.

My internal organs were still giving me pain. All I wanted after dinner was to go to bed and rest. As pathetic as it sounds, I was genuinely concerned that my kidneys were failing. However, trying not to look a complete misery on Monica’s last night, I stood with a bottle of cider in hand drinking my way through the agony. This wasn’t exactly the medically recommended cure for organ malfunction, but I really didn’t want to be there any longer and assumed getting pissed may make the evening more tolerable.

The Keith Lemon moustache that had seemed like such a good idea when drunk in Stellenbosch wasn’t quite so fun anymore either. I’m not particularly a poser, yet I am quite self-conscious as to how I look when I’m out on the town. On occasion these insecurities can become rather excessive, and if I think I look like a tit I can’t seem to let myself go. Tonight was one on these nights.

It really wasn’t a good time for me to be ill at ease with myself. The Iranian girl Pariah, whose company I had enjoyed in Knysna, was on Long Street that evening and had sent a text saying she would be in The Dubliner shortly.

My confidence was at rock bottom and I felt like shit. Not the greatest cocktail for a spot of potential Anglo-Persian fornication. To combat these frustrating issues I upped my alcohol intake and hoped to inebriate myself into a happy go lucky attitude. The more I drank though, the more my insides began to pound, which in turn made me unable to relax.

It was nice to see Pariah again when she eventually turned up. The last time we’d met I had really enjoyed her company. Unfortunately, this time around my agitated state got the better of me. I came across awkward and nervous when we reunited in the busy bar. I couldn’t get my words out and must have looked a complete tool.

Sticking to my idiotic theory regarding drinking more to feel better about myself, I told Pariah I was nipping to the bar and I’d catch up with her a bit later on.

Ascending the stairs to a less raucous part of The Dubliner I sat with Dean’s two Swedish friends and began a punishing assault on the alcohol. The beers failed to have the desired effect and I didn’t feel the slightest bit better. Even a free double vodka and orange bought by two sweet English girls from the hostel couldn’t perk me up.

Eventually my melancholic state bored everybody into buggering off to the dance floor, leaving me to feel sorry for myself alone at the top bar.

“Right,” I said to myself. “If you don’t shape up you’re gonna put Pariah off and make everybody else think you’re a miserable cock. Now get your finger out of your arse and have some fun.”

Finishing my drink I then sauntered downstairs. Wiggling into the middle of the dance floor with a big false smile and an awkward spring in my step, I came face to face with a scene I really hadn’t expected to find: Pariah with her tongue down another guy’s throat.

I was gutted. The tiny threads of confidence I’d manage to salvage were ripped to shreds in front of my very eyes. All I could do was stare at the kissing couple until Danny grabbed my shoulders and dragged me over to where they were dancing.

I knew I hadn’t made a great effort to talk to Pariah that evening, but it hadn’t been through not wanting to. It was because I’d been incredibly down on myself and hadn’t believed she could possibly want to spend time with me in such a state.

Even though she wasn’t to know how I was feeling inside I felt Pariah was taking the piss. Especially after all the email and SMS contact we’d had since we met a week or so earlier. Granted, I’d kissed Amanda a few days earlier. But I hadn’t known Pariah and I were actually going to reunite. Getting off with a guy right in front of my face was totally out of order and I was furious.

There was nothing I could do about the situation. I couldn’t exactly go and smack the guy. Pariah wasn’t my girlfriend. She owed me the respect to not try and hurt me, nothing more. She hadn’t given me that however, and this really upset me, even if deep down I knew I’d caused the situation by being a miserable introvert.

 

Trying my best to forget about Pariah I stayed at the opposite end of the dance floor. Witnessing Monica get her face sucked off by an Erroll from Hot Chocolate look-alike certainly cheered me up a bit. It was great to see Monica having a good time on her last night, yet after a while I started to become suspicious of the guy’s motives. There was something in the way his hands were all over Monica’s body, and two other local women watching on with keen interest struck a negative chord also.

My doubt was confirmed when I found the burly African trying to lure an inebriated Monica into the men’s toilets, most likely to have a diddle and rob her at the same time. It could have all been innocent, but the cold, insistent way he acted led me to believe it wasn’t just her spam purse Erroll was after, the leather one was about to have some sticky fingers in it also. Dragging Monica away to the bar I gave the tall black guy as dirty a look as I dared – which wasn’t all that filthy considering he was twice the size of me.

Back on the dance floor I made one last attempt at having fun. It really wasn’t working for me that evening though. Everybody else was having a great time, especially Dean, who at this point had taken his top off and replaced it with a girl’s tiny cardigan. Even his button busting shenanigans failed to raise much mirth in me as I could still see Pariah and her friend Denise dancing close by. Unable to control myself any longer, I stormed over and made a complete arse of myself.

“What are you doing?” I asked angrily.

“Dancing?”

“Why here? Just fuck off over there will you. These aren’t your friends.” I said, pointing at the group of travellers from Ashanti Lodge. “Stop taking the piss out of me and fucking fuck off!”

My rant at Pariah worked temporarily. She and Denise disappeared, and for a while I actually began to relax somewhat. That is until I got a tap on the shoulder.

“Jordan, can I have a word?” she asked.

“Why?”

“I want to talk to you. Can we go outside?”

“You didn’t want to do much talking an hour ago did you?” I snarled sarcastically.

“And you did?” replied Pariah, sounding annoyed. “You were sat upstairs talking to every girl in here apart from me. All I got was a little wave.”

“I was sat talking to a girl who really likes Dean.”

“And the other two girls at the bar? What about them?” She had me there. I wouldn’t have minded a little roll around with one of them but I wasn’t going to give her that so easily.

“They’re friends from the hostel. There was nothing going on.”

“How am I supposed to know that when you’ve ignored me all night? Please, let’s go outside and talk. It’s too noisy in here.”

Yielding to the persuasive Iranian, the two of us ventured outside. It was a warm night on Long Street. The area teemed with people, many of them incredibly dodgy looking. Sitting on a kerb in safe view of the pub’s hard looking bouncers Pariah began trying to justify her actions.

She said over and over how sorry she was, and how she’d thought I wasn’t keen at all. I then began trying to explain how I’d gone to get more drinks in order to feel confident enough to talk to her, yet neither of us would fully accept the others’ excuses and continued going round in circles for over half an hour.

Eventually, we almost accepted each other’s way of thinking. I was still hurt, and my pride would take more than a kerbside chat to offer it solace. As I helped Pariah stand, however, I knew she wasn’t completely to blame. I shouldn’t have avoided her. I should have manned up and let her know how I felt instead of feeling sorry for myself and relying on alcohol once again.

The two of us said goodnight, sharing an awkward hug Pariah initialised, before I crossed the road and met the others outside a dirty kebab shop to share a taxi home.

 

The next morning I awoke to the sound of Monica noisily packing her bags. Of all Monica’s many qualities, subtlety was not one of them. When she’d finished cramming all her Tina Turner T-shirts into her backpack, Danny, Dean and I wearily forced ourselves out of bed. Slipping on sufficient clothing to adequately cover our morning erections, we then helped carry Monica’s gear towards the hostel gates.

When her taxi pulled up outside Ashanti Lodge the realisation Monica was leaving us truly hit home. It was genuinely very sad to see our new friend go. Monica had experienced pretty much everything with us up to this point. To know she wasn’t going to be around calling us retarded, farting on our legs, talking utter crap or being a wrestling buddy for Dean anymore was pretty hard to take.

We said our goodbyes, had a long group hug and stood waving at Monica’s airport bound taxi until it was out of sight. Shuffling back to bed, my ipod speakers were subsequently plugged in and Mariah Carey’s greatest hits played throughout the room. The three of us lay on our bottom bunks, transfixed with melancholia, hoping the sorrowful wailing of Mariah would send us back to sleep.

“Drink anyone?” said Dean after half an hour.

“Yep.”

“I’m in too.”

 

Making our way back to The Dubliner, we holed ourselves up with a beer in order to watch the Liverpool and Arsenal games live on TV.

Pariah had known there was a good chance I’d be in The Dubliner that day from an email I’d sent her a few hours before our little bust up. She’d come into the pub to see if I had still made it for the football with the hope of us reconciling our differences.

Appreciating the effort Pariah had made, I was pleased to see her but didn’t let her know this straight away. My pride was determined not to let her off the hook so easily. She was looking incredibly fit however, so eventually I invited her to a little soiree we’d considered having in our dorm room later that evening. She said she hoped to make it, before leaving us alone to watch the hugely disappointing games of soccer.

We returned early hoping to catch the second half of the Arsenal game in the hostel bar. It was already occupied by people watching cricket, so instead we had a few peaceful drinks sat around the pool.

The harmony by the swimming pool was soon ruined by an annoying brigade of Dutch girls who were either on crack or had intense personality disorders. So, leaving the riotous Dutch to their bombing and squealing, we then headed back to bed for a short siesta before getting our dorm party started.

A pleasant British guy called Nick had shared our room in Ashanti Lodge. Nick had paid for a single night, yet ended up staying for another six in the dorm as nobody was any the wiser he was still there. I’d enjoyed talking to Nick. He was a good hearted, clever guy with some pretty entertaining terms regarding his wooing of the ladies. One particular favourite was the word he adopted for making love. Although when I heard him actually ‘ruining’ a girl during his free stay I wasn’t such a fan. During this awkward period Nick was doing his level best to make the phrase literal rather than metaphorical. I don’t know what came off more ruined mind, the Danish girl in question’s fanny or the bed springs. My sanity didn’t cope too well from the late night dorm romp either.

Nick had flown back to England a day earlier and left us all some wine he couldn’t be bothered carrying back with him. Buying whatever red wine they had at the hostel bar to add to Nick’s parting gift, we amassed our wares for what we hoped would be one of the wildest parties in Cape Town that night.

In all honesty, our shindig didn’t really hit the heady heights we’d aimed for. Dean’s Swedish friends arrived with a loaf of Banana bread rather than the vat of KY jelly and loose morals he’d craved. And their friend Rosie brought along a bag full of various cheeses, so it wasn’t exactly the free love orgy we had envisaged. The goat’s cheese of Rosie’s was delicious however, so every cloud does have a silver lining I suppose.

Pariah arrived at our massively dull party with her friend Denise, staying just long enough for me to offend her greatly. I’d joked that she was virtually Pakistani due to Iran and Pakistan’s close proximity – not that there is anything wrong with being from Pakistan, I just said it because I knew it would wind her up, like calling a Scot an Englishman. Knocking her down a peg certainly made me feel a lot better after the previous evening’s escapades. Although the elbow I got to the guts in response didn’t make me feel overly special.

Our mini party proved to be an embarrassing failure. Whether due to fatigue or us all missing Monica, the small gathering was a very morose one indeed. We tried to salvage the night by frequenting the hostel bar for a bit, but no one was in the mood to drink it seemed and eventually everybody dwindled off to bed.

Dean had managed to coax Charlotta into coming back to his bunk with him, an act which she had staunchly resisted since their first encounter in Storms River. As it was her last night she’d thrown caution to the wind and entered his bed for a cuddle.

Danny was soon fast asleep in the bunk below me. I was drifting in and out of consciousness myself, but kept being awoken every ten minutes by a new text message from Pariah who was back on Long Street. She was keen for us to meet up again later that night. As was I, despite her making a complete twat out of me less than twenty four hours earlier. A semi erect penis and a full sack works wonders at erasing self-respect it would seem.

I was in no mood to go out into the city, no matter how horny and forgiving I was feeling, so I invited Pariah up to our hostel again instead. She accepted the offer, on the frustrating proviso I pick her up from Long Street, giving me some none too pleasant rape statistics concerning taxi drivers to play on my guilt.

Reluctantly I agreed. All the juicy kissing noises emanating from Dean’s bed were making me jealous and I was determined to get a little bit of loving myself. Slipping on some jeans and a T-shirt I asked the others if they fancied escorting me into town. Receiving only a snore from Danny, a grunt from Dean and a whimper from Charlotta I took their responses as a collective no.

Long Street was crawling with the usual hordes of drunks and scumbags when I arrived. I found Pariah in The Dubliner and said I’d wait in the taxi while she said goodbye to Denise. Walking out of the bar I hopped into the back seat. Seeing me alone, a burly African guy proceeded to stick his head into the passenger side window and give me all manner of intimidating abuse. I had no idea what he was saying, but it was scary all the same. One thing sounded like he was complementing me on a ‘nice wig’ so I thanked him kindly and he eventually buggered off. I was a relieved boy when Pariah finally joined me in the cab and we sped out of the area and back to the safety of the hostel.

 

The two of us sat talking on a sofa atop a grand staircase for what seemed like an eternity. The chatter was nice for a while, but I was exhausted and Pariah’s constant, excitable patter began to grate on me a little. Chancing my luck, I asked if she fancied retiring to the boudoir. Receiving an affirmative I breathed a sigh of relief and led her by the hand to the ground floor dorm.

Sneaking into the darkened room, we used the slobbering kisses oozing from Dean’s bunk as a guide to find my own little love nest in the corner.

Pariah and I proceeded to fumble around in my squeaky little bunk. With my loins charged I soon forgot about all the miscommunication the eve before.

Unsure how she wanted to play things, I was coy in my approach. Yet I was soon asked that wonderful whispered question which affirms to a gentleman that his luck is very much in.

“Do you have a condom?” Pariah quizzed, looking longingly into my eyes.

Do I have a condom? I had a frigging backpack full thanks to the Swaziland health authorities. My bag literally spilled over with semen receptacles due to the amount of free condoms I took from the border crossing a few weeks back. Although on the exceptionally rare occasion I needed a jonny I couldn’t find a single one. Searching in the dark for a libido quelling five minutes I finally admitted defeat.

“God knows where they’ve all gone.” I said, annoyed with myself.

“Can’t you ask Dean for one?”

“I think he’s a bit preoccupied at the moment. Hang on, I’ve had a brainwave.” I whispered, wriggling into my jeans. “I’ll be back in a second.”

I’d just remembered a Baz Bus condom dispenser situated a few metres from our door. So, like a navy seal, I stealthily made my assault on its wares. Little did I know the hostel’s huge, black security guard was doing his rounds at this time and I practically ran into him – the purple headed mushroom peeking over the top of my jeans almost grazing his hefty thigh. Smiling as innocently as possible, I bid him a goodnight before grabbing a handful of condoms. I think he was in too much shock to challenge why I was running around semi naked and hastily left the scene.

Back in bed, awkward prophylactic acquisition achieved, things quickly turned lovely and heated once again. It was all very nice I must admit. Possibly too nice even, and I thought it best to highlight such. It’s always good to lower a girl’s expectations – it reduces the levels of inevitable disappointment.

“Erm, we might have to go a bit slow.” I urged into the darkness.

“Why? Because of the noise?”

“Well, the noise yeah. And, erm, I’m not a million miles away from…. you know.”

“Coming? But we haven’t even begun having sex yet?”

“I know. But it’s been a while, and we’ve been playing around for ages.”

“Five minutes?”

“Exactly!” I replied, relieved she understood my plight. “So just go slowly ok?”

“Ok.” answered Pariah, grabbing my stiffy and lowering herself onto it. “How’s that?”

“Ohh, hmm, that’s very nice.” I answered, trying desperately to think unattractive thoughts. “Slow down a bit thoughhh……Jesus, shit, bollocks!”

“Are you ok? Have you come already?” quizzed Pariah, wriggling free of the knee trembling bear hug I’d just given her.

“Nope.” I lied.

“Are you sure?”

“Nope.”

“So you have?”

“I may have done a little bit.” I said, slightly embarrassed. “Sorry about that.”

“It’s ok,” she replied with a little giggle. “I’m tired anyway. Goodnight Jordan.”

If only the political representatives of our two nations could resolve little spats as easily as my Iranian friend and I. Tensions in the Middle East would be far less explosive. Forget pride, it only brings a person loss. The UN should incorporate a spot of dorm room coitus in the peace process every now and then.

‘You want nukes Mr Armedinajad? How about I gently jiggle your bollocks for five minutes instead?’

            ‘Annihilate Israel you say? Surely a nice spot of rumpy-pumpy would be a far more agreeable idea?’

Simple. Although they may need to last a little longer than the measly thirteen seconds I clocked in at.

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Fun times in Durban


durban
Booze loving Lads travelling Southern Africa

 

Chapter Three

 

Driving from the wet, mountainous region of north western Swaziland, the Baz Bus descended into a hot, arid environment from where we crossed the frontier back into South Africa.

Within five minutes of having left the border post I spotted two giraffes grazing on an acacia tree. They were definitely real ones this time and not heavy machinery look-alikes. The elegant animals were stood near the main road, only a few feet away from a woman who strode along the hard shoulder wearing a traffic cone on her head.

We’d been lucky enough to see a good number of giraffes since landing in Johannesburg. Yet no matter how unoriginal they were slowly becoming, seeing such wild beauty never failed to rouse an awareness of how lucky we were to be in Africa.

The long, full day drive to Durban was expected to be a bit of a nightmare. In actual fact, it ended up being a very enjoyable journey. Dean and Danny passed the time by trying to chat up a young Dutch girl on the back seat. Whilst I sat alone, listening to my mp3 player and relishing the picturesque scenery that rolled by.

Originally we had planned to stay in the centre of Durban for the entire weekend – principally to enjoy its reputedly good nightlife and infamously loose women. Having enjoyed Anusa’s company greatly whilst at Legends, the three of us decided to accept his invitation and stay at the Black Mamba Lodge instead, a hostel owned and run by his older brother out in the suburbs.

The eccentric Monica, whom we had all developed a soft spot for by this stage, decided to come to Black Mamba too. All of us really wanted to show our appreciation of Anusa’s kind offer and were genuinely looking forward to our stay.

However, when Anusa also invited a Dutch guy sat next to him on the Baz Bus we all had a sudden change of heart. This lanky prat had been a selfish gobshite for the entire drive. Arriving back late from every toilet stop, he stunk of stale fags and bored the bollocks off anybody who had the misfortune of speaking to him.

Except Anusa, obviously.

Dean, Danny, Monica and I had already told the gracious Malawian we would go with him, and it was too late to back out at last minute. Alighting in the city centre then, we waited patiently beside a quiet lane before being picked up and driven to the suburb of Hillcrest, located half an hour away in the Valley of a Thousand Hills.

 

The Black Mamba turned out to be an absolutely fantastic place to stay. It was everything and more a backpacker could wish for. Anusa’s big brother Tease proved a gracious host also, grabbing us all a welcome beer at the hostel’s cool little bar as soon as we walked through the door.

The barmaid who served us our complimentary brew was just as pleasant as the setting. Her most appealing asset not being her geniality, albeit lovely, but came in the form of the two gargantuan bosoms that swung from her enchanting rib cage.

I’d never seen breasts like it. They were colossal, and precisely what the doctor ordered after ten hours on the road.

Dean and I sat at the bar ogling the barmaid’s awesome cleavage all evening. The two of us ploughed through the hostel’s stock of red wine in no time, before Tease and Anusa quite forcibly introduced us to their wide selection of shots.

It wasn’t long until I was plastered. Therefore my recollection of the evening’s events is limited, although the pictures on Danny’s camera enlightened me a little more as to what had transpired.

As well as Salome, the buxom barmaid, one of the other staff members at Black Mamba was a cute young black girl named Zola. She was very well behaved and sensible during work hours. Yet when Zola finished all her jobs and got on the Tequila with Dean and myself, it appears as if we managed to coax a bit of the devil into the faithful church goer.

As I mentioned, my memory fails me as to exactly what happened during the night. But there is photographic evidence of myself and the lovely Zola indulging in a hearty bout of smooching. Another picture shows us prancing around the common room like a poor man’s Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers; just decidedly less nimble on my behalf and considerably more African on Zola’s.

Zola and I seemed to be having a ball in our drunken merriment. At the same time however, we appeared incredibly ill matched. I bore a scary resemblance to Fagin from Oliver Twist in Danny’s photos – all nose and gangly neck, hunched over like a personified question mark. While poor Zola looked like a more feminine version of Arnold from Different Strokes.

We were a strange looking duo, that’s for sure – possibly too peculiar for the bubbly Zola as she put me to bed shortly after our dance. And from waking up fully clothed, it’s safe to say I didn’t manage to slur her into any form of drunken immorality along the way.

More’s the pity.

 

The following morning I felt dreadful. Merely picking at the English breakfasts sat in front of us, Dean and I soon gave up on the idea of eating for fear of being sick. Taking to the giant hammock in the garden, the two of us swung in it lazily whilst weighing up our options for the day ahead.

It had been decided the evening before we would stay longer at Black Mamba. Not because there was a lot to see and do in the surrounding area. But simply due to the fact Black Mamba was a quality establishment and it would’ve been a shame to leave so soon.

Danny had been sensible and arisen early that morning, driving with Tease into central Durban for a spot of exploration. He hadn’t drunk much the evening before and was therefore fresh on. Dean and I on the other hand had slept until eleven. Neither of us could be bothered doing anything overly strenuous in our fragile states. And in a joint effort of creativity, concluded that the best thing for us to do was start drinking again post haste.

I couldn’t stomach anymore beer and opted for vodka on the rocks for my hair of the dog. And within the hour we were suitably leathered once more, to the point of being immature pillocks.

Since the trip began there’d been a considerable amount of piss taking going on between the three of us lads. It was usually based around the size of Dean’s giant forehead and the dimensions of Danny’s and my own extra-large noses. In our puerile drunkenness, Dean and I had decided to wear Danny’s clothes for the day. Not out of malice or to really wind him up, but just to get a bit of a reaction when he eventually turned back up.

The more alcohol we consumed however, the more we forgot what we were wearing. And by early afternoon, having lain out in the hammocks with the hostel’s resident canines for most of the day, we had enough dog hairs on us to qualify for jobs leading the blind. Realising we had probably taken our silly antics too far, we slipped out of Danny’s freshly laundered clobber and gave it a good shake off.

Joining Monica and a South African lady at the bar, the two of us began trying to act our age. It was tough. But we almost managed it.

The South African woman was called Mandy. Although she seemed to exaggerate a little, Mandy had an almost mothering quality that made her pleasant to be around.

“I work for a charity.” She said as I quizzed her on her job.

“What sort of charity?”

“It’s difficult to explain,” replied the older woman. “But basically I go around encouraging local artists to produce pieces of art to be auctioned off for the needy.”

“Sounds interesting. So why are you at Black Mamba then?”

“I’m at the hostel checking it out. I want to see if it’s a potential place for my artists to stay whilst in the Durban area.”

There was a bit more to it, but I lost interest in Mandy’s job after a while. She seemed hesitant to go into any real detail and would often contradict herself. Mandy seemed like a nice enough woman though – if a tad simple – and didn’t make for terrible company during those early hours boozing by the bar.

 

The drink was taking its toll by the mid-afternoon. Collapsing on a giant L-shaped sofa, I rested my head on Monica’s knee as she multitasked playing with my hair and reading Nelson Mandela’s autobiography. Individually, most females would rather cut off a toe than pursue either of these activities. Not Monica though. She endured both tasks like a true stalwart.

Just as I was drifting into a vodka induced slumber, I heard the front door slam shut. The loud bang was shortly followed by the promising clip-clop of high heels against laminate flooring.

Opening my eyes I was rewarded with the sight of five attractive African girls sauntering through the living room. Smiling in salutation, the girls proceeded to take up residency at the hostel pool table.

Full of drunken beans, I shouted over to the newcomer I deemed to be the most attractive and asked how she was doing. She didn’t ignore me, much to my surprise, and receiving quite a pleasant response in return I was encouraged enough to take my head from Monica’s lap and engage in a full on pull offensive.

“Are you girls staying here?” I asked, hoping for an affirmative.

“No, we’re friends with Anusa,” replied the fit one. “He invited us up for the day.”

“Your boyfriend is Anusa?” I quizzed disappointedly, mishearing her retort.

“No, I said we are all friends with him.”

“Ah, sorry, I can hardly hear you. It’s a bit noisy in here, do you fancy coming outside to the hammock? I’ll let you have a mouthful of my vodka if you do.”

“How kind of you,” responded the pretty black girl.

“Well?”

“Sure, why not.”

Smooth operator.

Wrestling the dogs out of the hammock, I assisted my new friend into a comfortable position before hopping in beside her.

The ensuing conversation flowed easily between us – which was a real rarity for a social retard of my calibre. Aided considerably by the drink, I managed to come across as a confident, semi intelligent and perhaps even witty young man during the couple of hours we sat chatting. So much so that Ada, the very attractive young Tanzanian girl sat next to me, appeared to be rather smitten.

When the evening chill drew in Ada and I were forced back inside. The two of us joined Dean at the bar whilst he playfully mocked Ella, the nineteen year old Dutch girl he and Danny had tried chatting up the day before.

I’d given Dean a book called The Game before we left the UK which documents one man’s mission to become a master of seduction. It sounds a bit sleazy and pathetic, but it is actually a very well written, interesting and amusing book. Dean himself would admit to being a reluctant reader, but he’d relished The Game and was using everything he’d learned from it in his pursuit of Ella.

One of the things we had both taken from the book was to give negative compliments to a girl. For example, ‘that’s a nice dress’ (compliment), ‘I saw a couple of girls wearing the same one last week’ (not so complimentary). This, if executed correctly, will hopefully keep a lady on her toes, making her think you may be interested, although she isn’t completely certain she could have you if she saw fit. And because women are odd, this doubt strangely makes them all the more keen.

Dean and I took this idea of negative compliments and elevated it to the next level – almost to the point where we were basically just uncomplimentary. Neither of us was ever nasty, as that would have got us nowhere. But a cocky, piss taking approach gave us far more success with women who had a sense of humour than the false, Mr nice guy method favoured by many other gentlemen.

Assisting Dean for a while with his joking put downs, we were soon joined at the bar by some of Ada’s friends. Ordering round after round of Savanna Cider, here we all stayed for much of the evening.

Dean and I loved the crude banter we all shared, and before the night was out we decided to enlighten our harem of women to some of the finer points of British comedy. And by some, I mean the one Dean and I were fixated with at the time.

Namely, Keith Lemon.

“Say bang tidy,” Dean urged Lily, Ada’s only friend who wasn’t referred to by what she was wearing or the size of her knockers.

“Bong tardy,” replied the Tanzanian.

“Bang tidy,” corrected Dean, repeating Keith Lemon’s catchphrase. “With an ‘a’, not an ‘o’.”

“That’s what I said, bong tardy.”

“You’re saying frigging bong, its bang. Bang tidy. Not bong-tardy.”

“Bang tardy.”

“Jesus Christ, that’ll do. How hard was that?” commented Dean to me, wishing he hadn’t even bothered. “These lot are supposedly at university. Do they not teach you English there?”

“I said it just like you!” protested Lily. “What kind of shitty English accent is it you guys have anyway?”

“That’s Cumbrian lass, now shut thee mush.”

“What?”

“Never you mind, now get the drinks in.”

With Ada having sat on my knee for the past hour, unfazed by the semi erection I’d struggled to conceal under my belt, I thought it was now or never to see how interested she actually was.

“Your hair feels nice lass,” I said, patting her afro. “It feels like an old man’s beard.”

“You cheeky prick!”

“What? It’s nice, I like it.” I repeated, stroking it a little more. “I wouldn’t wanna be the one that had comb it mind. I’d need a bloody wire brush.”

Receiving a smile along with a sharp nip to the inner thigh, not a million miles away from where my gonads were gently throbbing, I couldn’t help but think I was in.

“Here, I’ll show you some of Keith Lemon’s world tour on youtube. If you don’t find it funny I’ll buy you drinks all night. Deal?”

“Deal,” replied Ada as she led me by the hand to the hostels PC.

Thankfully Keith didn’t fail to raise a smile, much to the relief of my wallet. And at full volume, he managed to bring cheer to most of the hostel patrons too.

When those that had gathered to watch buggered off back to the bar, I seized the opportunity to plant a big, fat kiss on Ada’s voluptuous black lips. I wasn’t head butted or looked at with disgust, so I took this as a positive sign to carry on; inevitably evolving my semi into a full on stiffy.

“What’s that?” asked Ada being cute as my wand began stirring under her buttocks.

“That would be my growing penis,” I replied bluntly, too tired to beat around the bush.

“Nice.”

“I wouldn’t go as far as to say nice, but it occasionally does the job.”

“That’s good to know.”

“Indeed. Would one care to come and have a look at the dorms?” I chanced, hoping that Ada wanted to continue this delicious spot of amour.

“By ‘dorms’ do you mean that thing I’m sitting on?”

“Heavens no,” I fibbed. “What kind of guy do you take me for?”

“You don’t want me to answer that. Come on then, let’s see these ‘dorms’. But I can’t stay long.”

“That suits me just fine.”

 

The dormitories at Black Mamba were very smart for hostel standards. Tease and his manager Darren had crafted the excellent bunks themselves – each bed having a comfortable mattress and fresh, clean sheets. This was a real rarity on the budget traveller circuit. Usually the sweat stained foam mattresses feel as if you’re sleeping inside a dirty hotdog bun.

It was almost pitch black as Ada and I descended into the dorm. Gentle snores emanated from the throats of a few other travellers as we tiptoed in, one of which I assumed belonged to Danny, and another to the annoying Dutch bloke Anusa had befriended on the bus.

“Which is your bed?” asked Ada.

“Shhh, I don’t wanna wake anybody up. It’s that one.” I whispered, trying to be considerate whilst directing her to the clothes covered mess in the corner.

“Ok, I’ll be as quiet as I can.” She replied, before dragging me under the sheets.

The next fifteen minutes proved a somewhat erotic affair, much to my pleasure. A good amount of kissing and cuddling ensued in that dark bunk. Soon to be followed by a spot of licking and tugging.

As our lascivious encounter came to a climax, I felt as if I’d short changed my companion slightly. It seemed ungentlemanly of me not to offer my services at this point.

Better late than never.

“Are you sure you don’t want me to return the favour?”

“No, it’s fine, honestly,” replied Ada. “I’m cool. Let’s just lie here.”

“Erm, well, thanks then. You can come and watch me wee if you want?” I proposed as I nipped to the bathroom.

It turned out Ada wasn’t a fan of voyeuristic urination. She could have been for all I knew though, so it was certainly worth throwing the offer out there.

 

Danny had decided to visit a few extra places along the South African coast where he could learn to surf. He left early the next morning, well before Dean and I had even considered surfacing.

We thought Danny would’ve at least said goodbye to us before he left on the Baz Bus. Yet we figured he’d either done so the night before while we were drunk or simply failed to wake us up. Not thinking much of it, both Dean and I hoped he had a good time wherever he ventured to. We, on the other hand, loved it way too much at Black Mamba’s to leave just yet and booked in for an extra couple of nights.

Later that day, as we suffered in silence from yesterday’s drinking binge, I sent Danny an email berating him for the lack of an emotional farewell. It was all done in jest, but when neither Dean nor I heard back from him during the rest of our stay at Black Mamba we began to grow a tad concerned.

As I played around on the PC one time, checking to see if I had anything in my email account, Darren – the hostel’s manager – returned after being out at a meeting.

“Alright mate?” asked Dean

“Not so bad. I’m tired though. All because of that fucker over there!” replied Darren pointing at me.

“What have I done?”

“It was you and that bloody chick last night.”

“Eh?”

“I heard it all unfortunately. Every last suck”

“How?” I asked, before it dawned on me who had actually been in the dorm. “Oh shit. Was that you on the opposite bunk? I thought it was that weirdo Dutch guy.”

“It was me sadly. Until I moved and slept on Tease’s floor that is.”

“Sorry dude,” I said panicking. “I wouldn’t have gone down there if I knew you were in the dorm also.”

“Yes you would,” replied Darren. “I fucking would have too. You would have been stupid not to. She was nice man. I dropped her off in Durban this morning.”

“Ah, so that’s where she went.” I replied, thankful he wasn’t overly irked. “So were we really noisy then?”

“You weren’t so bad, apart from asking her if she wanted to watch you piss? That was a new one on me. It was mainly your friend though. All I could hear was her slobbering all over your nuts.”

“Ha ha, it wasn’t that bad.”

“It was mate. But sod it, it’s all good fun. I’d have watched if I didn’t have a meeting this morning,” joked Darren. “You two fuckers look ill by the way, you’re having a shot.”

Had I not kept him awake with my late night antics I would have kindly, yet firmly, declined this suggestion. But as I had, I reluctantly consented. Darren and Tease came back from the bar with two tall shot glass filled with a sickly brown potion that smelled like something you would paint on a garden shed.

“What the frig is this?” asked Dean, grimacing at the fumes being emitted from the shot.

“It’s called Stroh. It’s 80% proof so good stuff,” replied Tease.

“Brilliant. It sounds it.”

“Come on boys. This will sort you out. After three; One, two….”

Dean and I downed the noxious brew and instantly began to spasm. The Stroh coated the inside of my mouth and clung to the full length of my throat like an evil, sadistic version of an antacid advert.

The burn and taste of the strong rum was almost unbearable. There was no way we could throw up and give Darren and Tease the satisfaction they wanted though. Suffering in silence, Dean and I attempted to look unfazed.

I was pissed again off that one glass. Not a nice drunk however, more of a befuddled, anxious drunk. A drunk I felt was better slept off before the merciless bastards made me do another shot.

 

On our last full day at Black Mamba a few of us caught a lift with Anusa into Durban’s city centre. Driving through a squalid, down trodden part of town called The Point, Anusa warned us to steer well clear of this area when exploring because of its dangerous levels of crime.

Ironically, having driven out of The Point for less than a minute, we came upon a ridiculously grand development called Usharka. It was such a bizarre contrast to be cruising through one of the roughest, most perilous areas of the city one minute, and then the next you are in one of the safest and most affluent.

Monica wished to visit the aquarium at Usharka but neither Dean, Ella nor I could be bothered. Instead, the four of us meandered amongst the expensive shops and amusements within the aquatic complex. We then watched some traditional African dancers stomp and jump along the pretty esplanade, before ending up sat outside an exclusive bar with a bucket full of beers.

I really didn’t fancy drinking again once the alcohol hit my stomach. And neither did the others particularly, so once we finished our bucket we went for a stroll in the hope of finding Victoria Street Market.

The idea of being energetic in the midday heat soon lost its appeal for Monica and Ella. They fancied taking a minibus to the market instead. Looking at the map in my guidebook however, I figured it would be pretty easy for us to get to there on foot. We had no idea which of the reputedly dangerous minibuses travelled the route, and the risk of being pickpocketed or lost didn’t seem worth it to me.

Getting my way, we set off walking along the beach front before cutting across the car park of a derelict hotel. Turning left, we proceeded towards Durban’s centre. All of the street names matched the map I was referencing, and according to my calculations all we had to do was keep heading north and we’d soon stumble across our destination.

Five minutes’ walk along Pine Street, having reached the brow of a small hill, we came across an altogether discomforting scene. The attractive, safe feeling esplanade to the south was rapidly replaced by poverty stricken, pot holed streets housing an array of very dubious looking characters.

Unperturbed enough not to turn back, we continued on towards the market. Dressed in our expensive, brightly coloured clothing and carrying all our valuables, we stuck out more than Pinocchio’s conk would’ve had he chosen a career in politics.

It was necessary we pass a dozen young black men, all dressed in grey, tattered rags squatting on the pavement. They were gambling with dice for a stash of notes piled at their feet.

“Shitting hell,” urged Dean as we neared a crossroads. “That looks like the place Anusa said to stay well clear of. The Point or whatever it was called.”

“It is,” confirmed Monica. “I recognise that red sign on the right. Nice one, Jordan.”

“If we carry on it might be ok.” I replied, hoping I hadn’t led us into any danger. “Come on, let’s stop fucking about, those lads are all staring at us now.”

We crossed the road and Dean and I stood outside a corner shop while Monica and Ella went in to get a drink. As we waited, discussing how it probably wasn’t all that dodgy after all, a car swerved to the side of the road and pulled up next to us.

“What are you doing here?” a concerned looking woman in the driver’s seat asked. “You need to get out of here now.”

“We’re going go to Victoria Street Market. Is it far away?”

“Yes it is. Look, you honestly need to get out of here before something happens to you. This is a very dangerous place for you to be in.”

“Shit.” I said to Dean, looking into the shop. “What are those bloody women doing in there?”

“Get a taxi if you must. Just get out of here quickly” reiterated the lady.

“Any chance you could give us a lift?” Dean asked cheekily.

Conferring with her elderly passenger, the South African lady ushered Dean and I to quickly get in. The girls eventually exited the shop and crammed into the back of the small white car too. As Ella perched on Monica’s lap, the car speed northwards no sooner had she shut the door.

“What were you doing in The Point?” the old woman in the passenger seat asked.

“It doesn’t matter Mum. They are ok now.”

“I thought I could get us to the market on foot.” I answered sheepishly. “I don’t like the look of minibus taxis. They seem dodgy.”

“Some taxis in Durban are fine. Just be careful on the shared ones,” replied the younger of the two women.

“It’s the bloody Nigerians mostly.” chirped the mother.

“It’s not just Nigerians that are dangerous Mother. The Zimbabweans cause trouble in the taxis also, and we have a lot of criminals of our own too.”

Thanking the sympathetic women profusely, we alighted on Victoria Street and made our way into the market.

After all that drama, the place was a complete waste of time and energy. I’d expected a vibrancy of life here. Spices, colourful produce, music and happy vendors. But the covered market was practically dead upon our arrival and subsequently held little appeal.

Although quiet, I was still very much on edge after our recent scare, nervously eyeing anybody who came near us in the market and surrounding streets. All of us felt similar, with the exception of Monica perhaps who was constantly in her own little world, so we left ten minutes after having arrived

This time the girls got their way and we caught a taxi safely back to Usharka. Luckily the driver was a friendly South African native. And not a ‘bloody Nigerian’ the lovely old xenophobe had warned us against earlier.

 

Returning to the hostel, we walked into a right old hoo-ha as both Darren and Mandy – the peculiar South African charity worker – stormed around the place exchanging nasty looks and comments.

“I’ll eat him for breakfast!” fumed Mandy repeatedly, making herself look an idiot.

It transpired that after a little snooping around, Darren had uncovered that Mandy was a con artist who went around the country scrounging free food and lodgings from gullible hostel owners. What she told us all regarding the artists and scouting out potential accommodation options was all a pack of lies. Tease had been giving her a free room and meals, as had it been true it could have been a good business move. Unfortunately for him, it was a load of old bollocks.

I had seen cracks in Mandy’s pious façade when Ada and her friends had been present. She would regularly sway over and fawn for mine and Dean’s attention as we chatted up the girls. When she didn’t get it she’d attempt to cock block us both by telling Ada, Lily and Ella that we were ‘naughty boys’ and ‘sleazy’ and to stay well away. Both these comments had undertones of truth perhaps, but it really wasn’t her place to broadcast them.

Personally, I’d pissed Mandy off the night before when she’d asked for a kiss on the cheek. Not keen on the way she leered at me, I had stuck my tongue in her ear instead. I’d realised by this point she was a bit of a twonk, so her ignoring me for the remainder of the night was a welcome relief.

Mandy proved herself to be a crass, humourless bullshitter. And watching her get forcibly evicted the following day proved very good sport indeed.

Categories: Chapter 3, humour, The Jo-burg - Delhi Express, travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Swaziland

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The Jo’burg – Delhi Express

Chapter Two

Although South Africa is an English speaking country with a wonderful climate, it is a nation remarkably less traversed by the backpacking masses. This could be due to an ignorance of the country’s inspiring natural beauty and fantastic travel opportunities. Or it could be a continued negativity towards the terrible apartheid era and well documented social inequality. I’m not sure of the exact reason as to why South Africa isn’t just as popular to travel as Australia, New Zealand or the USA. But for the semi-adventurous who do decide to frequent this misconstrued part of the world, a popular way for them to get around is by using what’s called the Baz Bus.

The Baz Bus is basically a hop on, hop off bus service along a variety of routes throughout Southern Africa. The simple accommodation pick up and drop off concept eliminates the ever present dangers of dodgy bus terminals and untrustworthy taxi drivers, whilst adding ease and efficiency to an individual’s trip.

The route of the Baz Bus is chiefly directed between Johannesburg and Cape Town, stopping at most towns and places of interest along the way. Passengers also have the option of going via the gorgeous Drakensberg mountains, or alternatively, follow the path we chose and venture through the leafy Kingdom of Swaziland.

Danny, Dean and I had all purchased a two week Baz Bus pass back in the UK. Having said goodbye to our amazing hosts Trigger and Kerryn, we initiated these passes by departing the uneventful city of Nelspruit and set out for the verdant Ezulwini valley, located deep within the green hills of Swaziland.

It truly was a gorgeous drive. The views as we rose from the dry low lands of South Africa towards the mountainous border control were stunning. Undulating grassy valleys rolled over one another as far as the eye could see. And random bush fires on the horizon sent plumes of smoke spiralling into the sky, forming a dusky haze over the afternoon sun.

“Dean,” I said, reaching behind me and tapping him on the thigh.

“What?”

“Over there look, on that second hill.”

“What am I looking at? The bush fires?”

“No, to the left a bit. Just on the top of that big mound, can you see the two massive giraffes?”

“Where at?” asked Dean dubiously. “There’s sod all there pal.”

“Not this first hill, that second one,” I added, hoping my spotting skills would impress. “Next to that big plume of smoke. One of the giraffes is bending over and the other one’s just dipping its head slightly.”

“That’s two JCB diggers, you daft prick.” replied Dean annoyed I had disturbed him.

“Is it? Oh…bugger. Never mind then.”

Foiled by my shitty eyesight once again.

Arriving at our first border crossing of the trip I expected the usual frontier hassles. Exit forms, entry forms, passport stamping, visa purchasing and money changing, plus the usual procession of conniving border conmen to deal with. However, I was pleasantly surprised when the driver of the Baz Bus took control of the situation and made the whole process remarkably stress free.

While waiting for a customs official to stamp me into Swaziland I noticed a small dispenser a few counters along. It was offering little blue packets that people were readily snapping up for free. On closer inspection I realised they were packets of condoms and optimistically shoved a handful into my jacket pocket also.

I was spotted on this prophylactic pilfering by a wizened old Canadian woman who looked like an extra from the film Labyrinth. The little goblin bound over to where I stood, grabbed a packet for herself and studied it with interest.

            “Sweet,” she cooed. “Are these candies?”

“Yep,” I answered coyly, unsure whether she was being sarcastic or not. I assumed the big, red AIDS ribbon would have been a bit of a giveaway, but perhaps she just though the sweets were 100% HIV free like all good treats should be.

“Neat. Are you sure they’re free?”

“They certainly are. You might have a hard time chewing them, but get stuck in.”

Once she realised they were only fit to enter a mouth if a person’s trade included giving blowjobs, the gobby Canadian became rather annoyed at me. Scowling from thereon in, she muttered something in my direction before storming back onto the bus.

It was a murky, humid evening when the Baz Bus arrived in the Ezulwini Valley. Dropped off at our respective accommodation choices, the three of us checked into Legends – the so called party hostel of Swaziland.

The morgue like atmosphere within was hardly striking of carnival tones. Yet in fairness to Legends, you can hardly expect an Ibiza style reception when there’s only one other guest staying there. Sucking up our disappointment at the quietness, we handed our money over and hoped to make the best of it regardless.

The aforementioned other guest came in the form a tall young German girl named Klara. Klara had been sat in the dining area quietly reading a magazine when we all piled through the door. Spotting her straight away, she instantly became the recipient of a good old chatting up. Not just by me specifically, but by the three of as a whole. A horny, desperate trio of sleaze.

By no means was Klara a beauty. But she was single, friendly and most importantly female, so she ticked all the boxes. As I was working through the usual boring questions a traveller instinctively seems to churn out on a first meeting, a late arrival off the Baz Bus barged over and cut in. Offering her hand to Klara, the uncouth girl then sat down at the table, completely ignoring us males as if we didn’t exist.

“I’m Monica,” she said to Klara. “So what’s your story?”

“Excuse me?” replied Klara, rather caught off guard.

“Why are you here? Are you travelling, working, studying or what?” asked this stout little enigma, still without acknowledging me or the other lads.

“Erm, I’m studying for a semester at Stellanbosch University. But now I’m on vacation. And you?”

“I’m here visiting a friend who’s studying in Johannesburg. We’re travelling to Cape Town on the Baz Bus,” answered Monica, “I’m meeting her in Durban though as she has classes right now.”

At this point we left the two of them to it, not particularly inspired by the thought of conversing with the strange girl in the Tina Turner T-shirt who’d interrupted our charm offensive.

Once showered, we asked what there was to do at night in the area, to which the skinny guy on reception answered “very little.” Not overly enamoured by this response, we then quizzed whether there was anywhere we could buy alcohol. His response was a little more positive this time, telling us that if we hurried we may still make it to the Pick ’n’ Pay supermarket before it closed.

Upon hearing this, Monica – the peculiar Canadian girl who had ignored us half an hour previously – finally deemed us worthy to talk to and asked whether she could join us on the walk to the shops. Not being petty for a change we acquiesced, and the four of us set out in the humid darkness towards the quiet supermarket.

The Ezulwini Valley is located within an elevated region of Swaziland. The quiet settlement has a very small population and a limited infrastructure to match. Streetlights were wanting in most areas of town and it was pitch black out, even on the busy main road. To prevent breaking a limb, each of us had our torches on illuminating the mud strewn path we coursed.

Ambling towards a set of flickering lights in the distance, we were like the three wise men carrying a Canadian curio as an offering. Once we neared the distant lights it was necessary to cross a dark, grassy patch of wasteland. The route was like a bog in parts due to a heavy rain shower which had decided to fall a few minutes after we’d set off. Tip-toeing our way around the filthy puddles we heard rapid footsteps closely behind and all began to panic.

“Get your weapon out Dan!” I squeaked, referring to the non-euphemistic knife he kept in his trousers.

“It’s out lad, don’t worry.” said Danny looking back into the darkness.

“Good. Let me get behind you then.”

The footsteps got closer and closer until out of the shadows strode a lithe, athletic black guy drenched to the bone in just a basketball vest and shorts.

“Hey guys. Do you mind if I join you?” he said in a strange Americanised accent.

“Where are you off mate?”

“Same as you, to the Pick ‘n’ Pay.”

“How do you know that’s where we are going?”

“I checked into Legends after you folks, remember? The guy on reception assumed you were heading that way.”

“Oh aye, that was you was it? We thought you were coming to mug us just now.” I said upon recognising him from the hostel.

“No, it’s all good. I’ve just come to grab some beers. I’m Anusa by the way. Nice to meet y’all.”

Having stocked up on plenty of alcohol we all slowly made our way uphill and back towards the hostel. The common room at Legends was basically an unused car garage. It contained a TV, a few musty old sofas, and when we burst in it had the addition of a half asleep security guard wielding a big stick.

Once he’d calmed down from being caught sleeping on the job, the guard became quite chatty. His English deteriorated rapidly when we requested he turn whatever rubbish he was watching on TV off and put on some music, yet became strangely fluent again when asked if he fancied a beer.

Klara, the young German girl from earlier joined us in the morbid little outhouse and began downing glass after glass of Dean’s wine. He didn’t seem to mind though, and it wasn’t long before her hands were wrapped around his broad shoulders giving him a vigorous massage in return.

At this juncture in the evening I’d drunk a couple of beers and a little wine. Instead of being giddy like everybody else I felt really fed up. I was tired, and the lack of excitement in the hostel had made me morose.

Leaving the rest of my wine with Monica – who’d opened up a lot more since our first meeting and was beginning to show her true character – I then moped off to bed in an inexplicable sulk.

I had warned Dean and Danny many times before setting off that I regularly get pissed off at myself for no apparent reason. I’m almost positive that somewhere deep inside my abdomen dwell two quasi obsolete ovaries which release a little bit of oestrogen into my system every so often. I hate the fact I can change into a menstrual, miserable mess in the blink of an eye. It not only negatively affects my day, but it disturbs the dynamic of those close to me also.

Having travelled with other people beforehand and realising that when I get this way I can be a real obnoxious tit, I made sure that the other lads were aware of its inevitability and to not take offence when it happened. I told them to ignore me and just leave me to it. I love my own space at the best of times – not really being a great people person as such – and when I begin to feel a bit low, solitude is often my only real comfort.

On that first night in Swaziland I thought it best to just hide away in the empty dorm and sleep off my depression. If I took my pouting face away from the action then hopefully I wouldn’t drag anybody else down with me.

Waking up the next morning I felt fresh and full of the joys of spring. Or, more likely, I was enjoying the temporary loveliness from atop my bipolar based peak. But whatever it was, I was in grand spirits and set about waking up the other lads.

“What’s up with you?” I said to Danny as he growled at me from his pillow. “You look like a slapped arse. Feeling a tad rough this morn?”

“No, I’m not rough,” he answered groggily. “I just got no bloody sleep.”

“Why not?”

“Ask lady killer over there,” replied Danny, to which a snigger came from underneath Dean’s duvet.

“Has one been shagging sir?”

“No mate. I don’t know what he’s on about.”

“Care to elaborate then Danny?”

“He knows fine well what I’m talking about. That tall German bird was in here until god knows what time. I don’t know how you slept through it all.”

“Was he bonking her then?” I asked good humouredly, trying to disguise a tinge of jealousy.

“I don’t know if he got there in the end but he was giving it a good go. All I could hear was her saying ‘nein, nein, your friends vill see!’ and him going ‘will they buggery lass, now get thee bloody bra off!’ It seemed to go on all sodding night.”

“Good work brother, did she give in then?” I said to Dean.

“No mate,” he replied, finally emerging from his bed sheets with a big grin on his face. “I told her to do one in the end. She did my head in. She supped all my wine and wouldn’t even get the old nipples out. It was rubbish.”

Sufficiently enlightened to the previous evening’s events, I went and inquired at reception as to what we could do to amuse ourselves around the valley that day. Handed a leaflet, I browsed the options in the sunny garden. A myriad of activities were listed, from quad biking to kayaking and everything adventuresome in between. Although great sounding, all of it far exceeded our daily budget. So I threw the leaflet away and began looking for some penny pinching inspiration.

While waiting for the other lads to get ready I spotted a giant peak in the distance. I found out from the rotund lady on reception that this particular mountain was called Executioner’s Peak, due to the forced leaping of criminals in the not so distant past. When Dean and Danny were dressed and joined me in the garden we unanimously decided to try and climb it.

After a quick change of apparel, slipping from casual shorts and flip flops into our idiotic looking hiking gear – a swap that would consequently make us stand out even more in the predominantly black community – we then set out towards the mountain.

It wasn’t long before we lost sight of Executioner’s Peak. A mass of thick cloud had descended and our hapless wandering landed us deep inside a ramshackle village. Initially we felt ill at ease in the impoverished settlement. Had this been South Africa, we would no doubt have been in grave danger being the only white faces in such a destitute community. But here in Swaziland it turned out that attitudes were considerably different.

We had nothing to offer any of the lovely people who greeted us that morning. And they wanted nothing in return besides a happy salutation or a shared smile.

Everybody we met in the village was amazingly friendly – especially the happy children. One little girl walking with her mother in particular made us all feel wonderful. The toddler waved continuously until we were out of sight, hollering ‘hello’ and ‘bye-bye’ as her little pink palm wagged jerkily from side to side. It was very touching, and I think we were all uncharacteristically moved by the gesture.

Children are definitely one of the most heart-warming and rewarding things a person can experience whilst away travelling. To share a few words with a kid and to make them smile or laugh is enjoyable in itself back home. But to do this with a child from an entirely different cultural background to your own brings a real warmth that you don’t get from many other experiences in life.

Young kids are generally unaware of racism and social difference. Their minds have only the natural curiosity we are all born with and are yet to be poisoned by the prejudices and delusions that humankind seems to adopt with age. This in turn makes them a joy to be around – providing they’re not snot encrusted, spoilt little brats that is.

With regards to personal safety, I’d admittedly been a little concerned about Swaziland, and black Africa as a whole for that matter. Being brought up in a working class, predominantly white rural environment, I’d never really mixed amongst the black communities much. Through my lack of exposure a slight ignorance had formed, followed closely by ignorance’s sibling emotion: Fear.

My Dad had made great efforts in bringing up my sister and me as non-racists. And in this zealous effort he had possibly raised black people to a higher pedestal than was necessary. It was like living with Malcolm X at times, especially when rifling through his soul records on a Sunday afternoon or John Barnes was on the telly.

This well-intended perception of black people being as good as, if not better than whites in the majority of areas produced a sense of awe and slight intimidation in me. If I ever came across a black opponent whilst competing in a judo competition in my youth for example, I would automatically assume they were better than me and go into the bout having lost in my mind already. The same applied with football matches and school rugby.

This minor sense of inferiority – coupled with the media’s negative reflection of Southern Africa’s black communities – had put me on real tenterhooks entering Swaziland. Yet I ended up loving that morning’s stroll around the run-down little village. Even though we’d got lost and never made it anywhere near Executioner’s Peak, I felt as if the experience had broken down a few barriers of apprehension within me that needn’t have ever existed.

After the unsuccessful summiting, we made our way back towards the centre of town. Walking past a fearsome looking troop of machete wielding prisoners on grass cutting duty, we then ventured into the mausoleum of King Sobhuza II.

Not knowing a great deal about the former king made the visit a rather dull one in fairness. And apart from a giant portrait of the former leader which looked like the annoying West Indian guy who moaned incessantly on the TV show Desmonds, there wasn’t much else we could relate to.

The three of us had a quick peek in the National Swazi Museum next, but like King Sobhuza’s mausoleum we really weren’t in the mood for it. Danny, who wasn’t quite so uninterested, learned a few snippets of information and kindly passed them on to us philistines. The most interesting being how a Swazi King must go out into the wilds and kill a lion to prove he has the courage to lead his country before a coronation.

In most people’s book this would be deemed a quite charming fact, and it did coax a raised eyebrow or two between Dean and me for a split second. But while our mature friend was further educating himself on the ins and outs of the Swazi Kingdom, Dean and I were more interested in locating local head-dresses we could put on and prance around in.

Unsuccessful in our pursuit, the museum failed to provide the stimulation required for visitors of our mental capacity, so we pissed off back to the nearby supermarket instead.

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            Purchasing a single piece of steak weighing in at an impressive 2.3kgs, we sauntered back to Legends in order to light the hostel’s barbecue. Monica, who we had now fully warmed to having initially thought she was a freak, joined us for the early afternoon garden party. As did Anusa, the American sounding Malawian guy we’d met in the muddy field the eve before.

To our quarter of a cow Anusa literally added a five foot beef sausage. The thing was massive, and proved an excellent allegory for his more than probable giant knob.

Is assuming a black guy would have a mammoth penis racist? Possibly, but I don’t think it’s a generalisation that would upset too many people so I’ll stick with it.

Vegetarian Monica also supplemented the feast. Her generous offering was a two day old peanut butter and jam sandwich which she said we were all welcome to indulge in if we saw fit.

A wonderful meat filled afternoon of barbequing ensued. A troop of monkeys who repeatedly attempted to steal our food added mirth to the affair. Especially when Dean chased one around the garden with a plank of wood after it grabbed a handful of Doritos.

Shortly after we’d all eaten our fill, the dense clouds that had covered Executioner’s Peak began slamming paintball sized hail stones down to earth. When the painful hail subsided heavy rains came, producing one of the strongest storms I had seen in a long time.

Not being the cleverest bunch of travellers in the world we chose this tempestuous period as the most opportune moment to set off on foot to the local hot springs. Why wait for it to pass like the big woman on reception had suggested when we can walk in bitter winds and torrential rain? It would make it all the more rewarding when we got there, we concluded.

What a bunch of dickheads.

The supposed twenty minute stroll to the hot springs was more like an hour long power walk beside what seemed like the busiest road in the country. The rains were absolutely freezing and I was ready to give up shortly after setting off. Danny and Dean were men on a mission though, and as I didn’t want to appear the pathetic little soft arse I possibly am, I battled forth to save face.

We all came very close to death on numerous occasions along that terrible jaunt. Petrol tankers and huge lorries would zip by at breakneck speeds. The busy two lane highway was an accident waiting to happen. One false step to the right would have seen us crushed to death by a speeding vehicle. Whereas a foot or so to the left would have sent us tumbling into a Willy Wonker like sluice drain filled with a thick, chocolaty river of mud; the brown torrent travelling rapidly along its deep drainage channel before making a vertical drop into a scary looking abyss.

When we finally arrived at the hot spring – a site that would more accurately be described as a heated outdoor swimming pool – I was shivering like mad and almost in tears from the cold. The iciness in my bones was quickly washed away though. And no sooner had the five of us jumped into the glorious, bath temperature pool we all became buoyant in spirits once more.

We bobbed and swam around in steaming springs for an age, trying to get the heat back into our hypothermic bodies whilst doing our best to ignore the fart like smell of sulphur emanating from the waters.

The loveliness of the hot baths was brought to an abrupt end half an hour later. A bolt of lightning from the enduring storm smashed into the ground thirty metres from where we frolicked. The surging electricity could be felt on our shocked faces as it hit, temporarily blinding those looking in that direction.

Reluctantly we departed the spring’s warm embrace soon after, setting off home before we were all suitably fried to a crisp.

That evening Danny, Dean, Anusa and I took a stroll down a dark, winding path to a swanky lodge for some drinks. It was the closest thing the Ezulwini Valley had to a bar, and after our not so enjoyable episode trying to find the hot springs we were all in need of some pleasant refreshment.

Draining our second beer we were thus joined at the table by a drunken Zimbabwean named Louis. Bossily ordering the barman to procure another round of drinks for us all, Louis then entered into a discussion about architecture with Danny as they were both relatively knowledgeable on the subject.

Their educated chat didn’t last long. In his growing drunkenness Louis became somewhat boisterous and a little overwhelming. He liked to be heard, and didn’t seem overly keen on listening to others either.

Anusa soon lost patience with Louis and began chatting up two local Swazi girls. The other lads quickly became fed up with Louis’s conversation domination also and followed Anusa in his pursuit of the local talent. The two women looked remarkably like chubby prostitutes, so I stayed and talked to Louis about Zimbabwe instead.

“So what’s it like there at the moment?”

“It is not good,” replied the red eyed African, before barking more drink orders at the patient barman. “Since the economy crashed, things have gone from bad to worse.”

“What do you think of Mugabe?” I asked.

“Robert Mugabe is a very, very intelligent man.”

“So I’ve read, but do you like him?”

“Can you really like someone whose government has lost everything you have ever worked for? All of my money I had in the bank is gone. I have had to start again from scratch. But there are no other options for the people of Zimbabwe right now.”

“Wouldn’t that Morgan Tsvangirai dude be a better bet to rule the country?”

“Morgan Tsvangirai is a simple man. He is not an intellectual like Mugabe. I really do not know whether he would be any better or any worse, but it is unrealistic to think he will gain control of Zimbabwe. Mugabe is too powerful.”

Louis and I continued to talk about his country, briefly eluding to the ordeals it has gone through under Robert Mugabe’s white man hating regime. All throughout our conversation Louis never once said a bad word about the fuckwit Mugabe, which I found strangely fascinating. Was he scared, or did he genuinely believe Mugabe was the best of a bad bunch? I really don’t know. But talking with the guy proved insightful and I’m very glad I had the opportunity to do so. Plus he paid for my drinks all night so it was a win-win situation.

On our second full day in Swaziland we were at a loss for affordable things to do. Another wander to the Pick ‘n’ Pay supermarket didn’t knock our socks off with excitement, so we decided to get on the next bus heading to the capital city with hopes of finding something interesting there.

The ride to Mbabane didn’t take long at all due to Swaziland being a tiny country. Upon our arrival, we drifted along on the scent of fried secret spices and wound up within the confines of good old KFC.

The price of meals in Mbabane’s KFC seemed ridiculous in comparison to what we had been spending on food of late, so we hastily bid the Colonel good day and went off in search of more economical fare.

Ending up in a small local café we ordered whatever was cheapest and were unsurprisingly disappointed with the results. The chicken casserole I got was a foul brew (no pun intended) of skin and bone with the odd diced carrot thrown in, served on the local staple known as pap.

Pap is a tasteless white lump of cooked ground maize. It is the African equivalent of mashed potato or rice I suppose, just nowhere near as enjoyable as either.

Despite tasting pretty gross, pap does have its plus sides. This comes in the form of what is known locally as a ‘pap ass.’ The thick, stodgy mass is laden with calories and the ladies of Africa can’t seem to get enough of this white gunk inside them. When not burnt off, these calories migrate straight to the ladies rump and form enormous, juicy looking behinds.

A big, fat arse doesn’t exactly sound all that enticing, but believe me, it really can be. These rotund derrières look magnificent fun just sitting there, defying gravity like two smuggled footballs stuck in the back of a woman’s knickers. So, having left most of our crappy meals, we spent the next few hours walking around the capital Mbabane being inter-racial perverts and checking out these gorgeously massive bottoms.

Personally, I think black women are beautiful. I like all women in fact, but there is something about the exotic femme – be they of African, Latin or Asian descent – that really gets me going. Here in Mbabane then I was totally in my element. Dean surprised me too with his ardent admiration as I’d always figured him as a busty blonde kind of guy. The two of us were in cahoots on this one though, and couldn’t keep our eyes still for a second.

Not only were we admiring the perfectly stout ‘pap asses’ of these mysterious black beauties, but we couldn’t help noticing the enormous boobs the Swazi females appeared to possess also. Dean and I were agog at the plethora of busty stunners. Danny remained calm and composed on the other hand, offering fatherly advice every now and then when we got a little overly excitable.

It’s no secret that Africa has a very large problem with the AIDS pandemic, and Swaziland has one of the world’s highest rates of infection amongst adults. So whenever Dean and I would ogle or comment to one another about the perfect dimensions of a particular ladies chest (all done in the most tasteful sense I strive to add) Danny would inform us with an air of learned disinterest that “they might look nice boys, but they’re full of sour milk.”

Not letting the political correctness crew off work just yet, Danny soon changed his tune on the local female populace when an absolute stunner dressed in a tight black pencil skirt and low cut, pink blouse sat next to him on the minibus home.

“Get her chatted up brother!” we urged quietly from the seats behind.

“I might do lads,” replied Danny, unintentionally loud. “You know what they say, once you’ve had black, you never go back.”

His well-known quote wasn’t a terrible thing to say. On the contrary in fact, it’s a compliment if anything. But when said at considerable volume in a minibus full of already staring locals, it may not have been the most appropriate piece of praise given the circumstances.

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