Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Bus vs Bike

It's been a while now that I wanted to try Cape Town's new MyCiti IRT for commuting to work. I was thinking that on really wet days it might be a good alternative for the bike seeing that getting stuck in traffic with a car on a rainy day in Cape Town traffic is something you prefer to avoid at all costs. I had to wait for an actual day with a rain forecast because until now I just could not get myself to leave the bike at home while the sun was shining outside. Well, today rain was predicted and I decided to give it a go. Armed with an umbrella and my MyCiti bus card I hitched a ride with my neighbour to the main bus stop in Tableview. If he was not around I would've had to walk about 10 minutes to the closest bus stop, get a feeder bus to Tableview and that would've taken 20 minutes at least. So I scored on some time and effort here.

I am not really that unfamiliar with riding bus. I frequently have to take the bus from the terminals at the airport to the plane. So how much different could this be? I first had to pay to get sufficient funds on my card. The bus card is also a debit card and you cannot ride without one. No cash any more. Fortunately the card I had, but the PIN number eluded me for a moment and with anxious passengers behind me in line I had to try all the PIN numbers I had stored in my brain somewhere. Fortunately for me the first one worked and the sun came out at the same time. It seemed like it was going to be a good day after all. There was still time to turn around and go get the bike now with the sun out, but I was not backing out now. 

Last 10 min walk to my office
We left the house at 7 and got on the bus at 7:30. We were last in line but because of my PIN issue we missed the first bus and was first in the line for the next one. This meant that we could get seats. I like riding bus while standing, it is like surfing or skateboarding on a bigger scale, but the ride was about to last 35 minutes to town and sitting would just make it easier to at least have a conversation with my buddy. I guess it can get boring with no-one to talk to all the way. The people look better than the ones I saw on the Metro in Prague, but no-one was talking much, except for this girl behind me who was explaining events from the Bible to her friend like she was there when Jesus walked on the water. My buddy and I talked about kite surfing, RC helicopters, various gadgets, travelling and the normal stuff guys talk about. Time passed quickly and soon I had to change buses at the Civic Centre. My next bus would be the Waterfront feeder bus with the second stop being the one where I need to get off. Transferring were easier than at Schipol Airport and soon I was on my second leg. I arrived at my stop at 8:20 and was left with another 10 minute walk to get to the office. I arrived at 8:30.

So, what's the verdict, bike or bus? Time wise, the bike is better, 20 mins compared to 90 mins. Money wise, if you have a bike already it works out more or less the same, approximately R25 a day. Comfort wise, I think walking in the rain for 20 minutes might be just as bad a riding in the rain for 20 mins. Definitely safer to take the bus but with no excitement and adrenalin I would prefer to be on a bike. The worst of it all is that I am in town now with NO transport, and if I want to get back home in a rush, then I have to prepare myself for another 90 minutes before I get home, even more if I have to wait for buses and if I add the last walk to my house. Unless you can sit on the bus and meditate or answer emails, I cannot see how anyone can waste 3 hours a day on just commuting. Life is too short for that. 

The sun is shining at the moment and I am probably the only one with an umbrella today, but at least now I know what it's like and no-one can accuse me of not trying. In future I will however stick to the bike, thank you.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Those were the days....

This was many years ago before we had GoPro Cameras and other fancy video recorders to capture that "first jump". This however wasn't my first jump, it was indeed my first free fall of 5 seconds.  Not much, but having to pull your own rip cord after 8 static line jumps it felt like forever. With me is Henk van Wyk, my jump master from Mossel Bay Skydivers and the same guy on the tandem picture from my previous post. I did a few more jumps after this but eventually stopped skydiving after I moved to Cape Town. I changed  over to paragliding and invested all my money in paragliding gear. Those were the days.....  

Blood stains on the carpet

Guess who's been having more fun than me lately?
I just stumbled upon a picture of a friend of mine on facebook where she did a tandem jump a few months ago. I spoke to her last night to hear how she was doing. Over the past few weeks she has been paragliding in Barberton, 4 x 4-ing (if you get such a word) in the Richtersveld, been to Mauritius for a break and then returned via Mozambique where she was deep-sea angling from a jet ski."I'm going to climb out of my skin" she said, "I am as bored as hell."

Two weeks ago after shark cage diving and returning from a trip to Prague I told my wife I am totally annoyed as everybody is doing fun things and I am about to cut my wrists, bored as hell. Depression was not only written on my forehead, it was tattooed across my whole face. My one biking buddy did a trip to Sutherland with his wife, the other went to Lesotho and saw the thickest snow this country has ever seen and I was at home dealing with boredom and bad weather. Yes, I have just been to Prague and stuck my head under the water to see some sharks, but that does not mean I can sit back and relax now and that I have done my outings for the year. No, it means that I kept myself sane for a few weeks longer during this cold and raining winter season which does not seem to have an end in sight. 

Where was I when my buddy took this photo? (Photo: Francois Joubert)
While talking to the "I'm-bored-as-hell" buddy of mine last night I realized that we both suffer from something most people won't understand. It has been bugging me since I was a child as my mother always wanted to know why I could not sit still. At a point I thought I was being selfish because I always wanted to be involved in some sort of adrenalin adventure. I even thought there was something missing in my life and that I was looking for it by doing dangerous stuff. I am not an irresponsible person otherwise I would not be sitting with a steady job and a beautiful family, but today there is DEFINITELY something missing in my life....I need to do something exciting or I am going to kill myself AND the people around me. I am sitting waiting for summer to return and I have a list of things I want (need) to do. So please Mother Nature, I beg of you, bring "Summer" back, I miss her tremendously...! 

We've made a date for the weekend to discuss plans on how we are going to make sure we going to keep ourselves "alive". My only salvation is the fact that I have slightly more activities I can get busy with when the weather does not play along, but we still seem to be fighting our own boredom wars alone while we could be sharing ideas and trips. I wanted to finally do my scuba course this year, but I think I would rather invest more time and money in my paragliding. I need a new kite for kitesurfing and she said she is going to give it a try too. Then for rainy days there is indoor rock climbing maybe. I also play squash a lot although I would not classify that under "dangerous stuff", but it surely helps for seasonal affective disorder. Sadly I am a sufferer of that too. Anyway, what I need is balance in my life because at the moment it is toppling over towards boring and suicidal and it has to be corrected. No-one likes cleaning blood stains from the carpet.....

Thursday, August 16, 2012

XT 600 through Africa?

For the past three mornings while having breakfast at Russel's in Pemba, I been checking these bikes out hoping to get a chance to speak to the guys who it belong to. I have not seen them, because it seems they party late and sleep late. I assume they are guys and not a girl and a guy because they don't share a tent. This morning one of the tents was open, but no-one around looking like a biker that is crossing Africa on an XT 600.

From the number plates I assume that they are Swizz. Whether they are going down or up in Africa I cannot tell, but I can only make an assumption there as well. What I do know is that they are in no hurry because they have been there for 3 days already. If someone knows them, please tell them I wanted to ask them about their trip so far....

Restaurant 556

The more visits I do to Pemba, the more surprised I am with the amount of South Africans living here. On this trip I met Cor who owns the Restaurant 556. He's been living here for many years and he makes sure that the South Africans that do come here do not get homesick. His restaurant specializes in South African cuisine, and if you don't know what that is just think anything MEAT.

I loved the menu, definitely more than what I loved the furniture and decorations. Fortunately I pay for the service and food and not for the looks. In Africa that is a bonus if it's good. A friend suggested I go for the "Beef 556" with peppercorn sauce. I did just that and added beer for starters along with some really good chilli bites (the biltong kind). All the meat on his menu comes from South Africa, so I was not worried about bush meat and/or possible road kill landing up on my plate.

The place is a bit pricey, but it definitely caters for the upmarket people with no fuss over fancy serviettes and fine china. The typical South African meat loving type of guys. Apparently the view from the restaurant is also good, but I didn't even see that; I think we were seated at the wrong side of the restaurant, at the bar area. 

The Beef 556 is a piece of rump steak filled with cheese and mushrooms, done as per your request. My buddy ordered lamp chops. Cor added an extra chop just because he felt the ones he had was a bit small. Both meals were well prepared. Will definitely go there again.....

Instant headache

Three weeks ago I spend a a few days in Prague where I drank more beer in 5 days than what I normally do in a year. The beer was cheap, cold, and tasted sweet like a fairy peeing on your tongue. On my way to Mozambique I bough a South African travel magazine where one particular writer suggested that 2M (pronounced "doshem"), the Mazambican beer is far better than another local beer called Laurentina Premium...just in case you had to choose. Listening to his advice I wished an hour later that I didn't. This is instant headache stuff.  My opinion...rather go for the Premium...or go to Prague.

I love my picture

I took this picture in Pemba and edited it with some basic software I have on my phone. This happened at 3 am as I was awake and couldn't sleep. I love the final product though....

What you see and what you get...

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Choosing the best angle for your pictures

I posted a couple of photos on Facebook which I took in Pemba. The response from the few who commented was all in the line of "wow" and "you lucky fish". When we see beautiful pictures we all want to be there, plan our next holiday there, or wish we could permanently live there. We see pictures of tropical islands and wonder what we must do to sell everything and move to "PARADISE".  But where or what is Paradise?

Yes, the beaches in Pemba are extraordinary. It is beautiful and the pictures I took really give it the impression of a tropical paradise. But it is because of the angle I took the pictures from. Had I turned my camera a few degrees down I probably would've captured a few broken bottles or plastic bags on the sand;  a few degrees south and I would've included dilapidated houses and poor people who have no reason to believe that they find themselves in paradise right now.

I live in Cape Town which is considered by many to be a very beautiful place. Some might even call it paradise. Not everyone living in Cape Town necessarily see it as a beautiful place. Once you live in one of these post card picture places one thing you cannot escape from is reality. The reality of having to work to earn a living, or the reality of noisy neighbours, or what South Africans have to deal with at the moment, a government which is busy throwing the beauty of the country to the dogs. All of a sudden the pretty pictures of Cape Town don't seem to be so pretty anymore just because we see it from a "different angle".

So from which angle do you take your pictures? Where and what is your paradise? Is is it a dream on a post card, or is it a place in your heart? You can live in the most beautiful place, but is it really paradise? What makes a place "paradise"? Definitely not a beautiful beach alone. It is the way you see life, the people you care about, your contentment with who you are, where you happen to find yourself in life and the appreciation you have for your possessions, or the lack thereof. Once you have that then you can play around with your camera and only focus on the beauty around you. Then it become as simple as the angle you choose before you press the button....