Part 3 will soon be upon us, but before its arrival, I give you here-under a sneak preview of a very like-able chap that I met.
You will see more of him and hear of his exploits in the next post.
Wikipedia describes Port St Johns as follows: “Port St. Johns (or Port Saint Johns) is a town of about 5000 people on the Wild Coast in the Eastern Cape province of South Africa. It is situated at the mouth of the Umzimvubu River, 220 kilometres (140 mi) northeast of East London and 70 kilometres (40 mi) east of Mthatha.”
South Africa Info is way more descriptive: “Port St Johns is a swashbuckling village of legend on the Pondo side of the Wild Coast of the Eastern Cape. It is also one of the highlights on any international backpacker’s world itinerary because of its natural setting, frontier atmosphere and appeal to more adventurous younger travellers.
The backpacker facilities in this African village are excellent. They cater for couples, solo travellers and small groups of young people. The backpacker lodges will help their guests set up activity itineraries every day, which include everything from jungle swings to unusual walking destinations.
Four backpacking establishments that come highly recommended in Port St Johns are:
I stumbled upon PSJ (Port St Johns) for the second time in 2004. It has a special place in my heart.
Whilst I am no expert of the goings-on in PSJ, I do know a few things that work well for me when there:
Early morning view from airfield
“Don’t land now as we are busy grazing”
The birds are far & few but laid back 😉
Pic taken from Spotted Grunter side of river; Cremorne is in the rear
Buy your nuts, bananas and avocado pears on the roadside
The view from a table at DM (Delicious Monster) Restaurant at 2nd Beach
DM undercover & open eating / chill areas
My no 1 dish Crayfish Thermidor
Timol’s choice of a meal
The other / alternative “facts”:
I have never telephoned Daryl although he gave me his mobile number years ago.
We called Daryl’s number last night; I’m not sure what made us do this. It might have been because we were sipping on a few beers, having fun, laughing and enjoying the company of family – the moment was good despite other heart-wrenching things going on in our lives at that time.
Alas, a feeling of sadness came over me when I heard that Daryl had passed away in April 2012 – no doubt shortly after that last fishing trip.
Below are some pics of the Legend.
Daryl in 2004 telling us the “octopus story”
The last fishing trip in early April 2012
Goodbye mate, until we meet again in person or spirit.
It was all engines go and roaring for the UK and then Turkey in my last post. It was set in stone – tickets & accommodation were all booked. I explained in great detail to friends and colleagues how Timol and I would walk the markets and alleyways of Istanbul, and then sit down to rest with a Turkish coffee and hookah. Really now, what could go wrong?
We landed in the UK and had two days at New Barns farm outside Birmingham and exploring London CBD before I received the first SMS / text.
I am sure all of you know some of the Baz Luhrmann lyrics to “Everybody’s Free (To Wear Sunscreen)”. The full lyrics appear at the end of this post, but for here & now I specifically highlight “Get to know your parents. You never know when they’ll be gone for good”. This was said for good reason.
The SMS suggested I return home immediately as my Mother was critically ill.
Within 5 hours of getting that message (only 48 hours after landing in the UK), Timol and I were boarding an Emirates flight to head back home. Turkey was out the door.
I didn’t know if Mother would make through the next 22 hours whilst we hurried back home. I sent messages asking that she just hold on a little while longer: that last smile, warm hand, touch, goodbye, word, bit of advice, smell seemed all so very important at that point but definitely not when I hurriedly left Mother about 3 days before, to look after things while I was away.
Long story short. I have been home 9 days, never saw Turkey but did see Mother tonight at the hospital. We watched a little television, shared some memories and how our days went today, got some fresh air outside, sampled the view over Durban CBD, held hands and made arrangements to see each other tomorrow.
Things are not at all well with Mother and the chances of improvement are ultra-slim to nil, but we have shared 9 glorious days that perhaps should not have been ours – I have told Mother that this is indeed our “bonus” time; like in pinball: we are scoring big and I for one love it!
Yes, our days together are surely numbered but I think that they have always been; from the moment I entered this world from her womb. It only now that we appreciate this a little or lot more.
A little advice from my Mother today “savour, enjoy and appreciate that simple cup of tea or plain apple, because you don’t know what it’s like (how terrible and torturing) when you can’t have them any longer”. Mother is no longer able to eat in the conventional manner and in all likelihood will not do so again in this lifetime.
I cannot even begin to describe Mother and the enormity of her heart, the unconditional love, care for all, warmth, courage of a Lion (she is a Leo) and many other talents.
Perhaps the pictures below of Mother and her son (me) taken about 40 years ago will provoke some thoughts.
It’s nearly bedtime for me so let me leave you with the promised lyrics:
“Ladies and gentlemen of the class of ’99:
If I could offer you only one tip for the future, sunscreen would be it. The long-term benefits of sunscreen have been proved by scientists, whereas the rest of my advice has no basis more reliable than my own meandering experience. I will dispense this advice now.
Enjoy the power and beauty of your youth. Oh, never mind. You will not understand the power and beauty of your youth until they’ve faded. But trust me, in 20 years, you’ll look back at photos of yourself and recall in a way you can’t grasp now how much possibility lay before you and how fabulous you really looked. You are not as fat as you imagine.
Don’t worry about the future. Or worry, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubble gum. The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind, the kind that blind sides you at 4 p.m. on some idle Tuesday.
Do one thing every day that scares you.
Don’t be reckless with other people’s hearts. Don’t put up with people who are reckless with yours.
Don’t waste your time on jealousy. Sometimes you’re ahead, sometimes you’re behind. The race is long and, in the end, it’s only with yourself.
Remember compliments you receive. Forget the insults. If you succeed in doing this, tell me how.
Keep your old love letters. Throw away your old bank statements.
Don’t feel guilty if you don’t know what you want to do with your life. The most interesting people I know didn’t know at 22 what they wanted to do with their lives. Some of the most interesting 40-year-olds I know still don’t.
Get plenty of calcium. Be kind to your knees. You’ll miss them when they’re gone.
Maybe you’ll marry, maybe you won’t. Maybe you’ll have children, maybe you won’t. Maybe you’ll divorce at 40, maybe you’ll dance the funky chicken on your 75th wedding anniversary. Whatever you do, don’t congratulate yourself too much, or berate yourself either. Your choices are half chance. So are everybody else’s.
Enjoy your body. Use it every way you can. Don’t be afraid of it or of what other people think of it. It’s the greatest instrument you’ll ever own.
Dance, even if you have nowhere to do it but your living room.
Read the directions, even if you don’t follow them.
Do not read beauty magazines. They will only make you feel ugly.
Get to know your parents. You never know when they’ll be gone for good. Be nice to your siblings. They’re your best link to your past and the people most likely to stick with you in the future.
Understand that friends come and go, but with a precious few you should hold on. Work hard to bridge the gaps in geography and lifestyle, because the older you get, the more you need the people who knew you when you were young.
Live in New York City once, but leave before it makes you hard. Live in Northern California once, but leave before it makes you soft.
Accept certain inalienable truths: Prices will rise. Politicians will philander. You, too, will get old. And when you do, you’ll fantasize that when you were young, prices were reasonable, politicians were noble and children respected their elders.
Respect your elders.
Don’t expect anyone else to support you. Maybe you have a trust fund. Maybe you’ll have a wealthy spouse. But you never know when either one might run out.
Don’t mess too much with your hair or by the time you’re 40 it will look 85.
Be careful whose advice you buy, but be patient with those who supply it. Advice is a form of nostalgia. Dispensing it is a way of fishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off, painting over the ugly parts and recycling it for more than it’s worth.
But trust me on the sunscreen”
I stumbled upon The Paradoxical Commandments, or a variation thereof, yesterday on a poster at a medical practitioner’s office.
The words moved me and had a calming effect. I took a photograph of the poster and looked up the origins today.
The original version I read is reflected below:
The Paradoxical Commandments by Dr. Kent M. Keith
“People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centred.
Love them anyway.
If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives.
Do good anyway.
If you are successful, you will win false friends and true enemies.
The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow.
Do good anyway.
Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable.
Be honest and frank anyway.
The biggest men and women with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the
smallest men and women with the smallest minds.
Think big anyway.
People favour underdogs but follow only top dogs.
Fight for a few underdogs anyway.
What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight.
People really need help but may attack you if you do help them.
Help people anyway.
Give the world the best you have and you’ll get kicked in the teeth.
Give the world the best you have anyway.”
© Copyright Kent M. Keith 1968, renewed 2001
A version of the commandments that has been circulating on the web under Mother Teresa’s name is a version sometimes called “The Final Analysis” because of its last two lines.
Here is one example of that version, being the same version on the poster I saw:
“People are often unreasonable, illogical, and self-centred;
Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives;
Be kind anyway.
If you are successful, you will win some false friends and some true friends; succeed anyway.
If you are honest and frank, people may cheat you;
Be honest and frank anyway.
What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight;
If you find serenity and happiness, they may be jealous;
Be happy anyway.
The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow;
Do good anyway.
Give the world your best anyway.
You see, in the final analysis, it is between you and God;
It was never between you and them anyway.”
Read Kent Keith’s comments here.
John Unger just wanted a friend to take a nice photo of him and his 19-year-old dog, Schoep, before it was too late.
He (John) said: “I decided to use my energy not to focus so much on what I was feeling but to give my dog the best life I could. In the process, I helped myself, too.
We give animals as much as we can; in return, they give us their all, no matter how little or how much we give them. I have given Schoep as much as I can, although it was very little at that time. He has always given me his all.”
Read the full article here where John explains how his dog Schoep (both pictured below) helped him through a difficult patch.
Like John and many other people through the ages, I have also been blessed with some really close forgiving companions who love (loved) me unconditionally.
Whether I came home at 03h00 in the morning or even a few weeks later, I was always greeted by a broad grin and wagging tail.
The unconditional love given by a dog is not fazed by bad moods, absence, shouting or any “bad” behavior that a fellow human being would crucify one for.
Charlie, a little lady, joined me in 1999.
Photogenic from day 1.
A good swimmer in the pool.
Trips to the beach in the utility van were always appreciated.
Charlie enjoyed relaxing on the veranda chair.
When inside, she shared the couch with Tiga the cat.
Charlie was the only dog that did not annoy Tiga, who was a fussy boy that “moved out” of home after staying with me for 5 years!
Charlie enjoyed playing with plastic toys that squeaked. She loved tossing them in the air.
Brighton Beach January 2011: a few months before she passed away.
During early April 2011 Charlie was diagnosed with severe / advanced Cancer and passed away a few days later without whimper or complaint. She made her way to a corner at the bottom of the garden and lay down for her final rest.
An Angel left earth that day.
Like John, I also have my own story about how Charlie helped me through a difficult patch. That’s all for another post at another time.
Love your Angels (dogs) back while you have a chance.
The tribute to Charlie video can be viewed here.
“Our animals shepherd us through certain eras of our lives. When we are ready to turn the corner and make it our own…they let us go.” Author Unknown