Gone Tribal……

Mark Twain wrote:

“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.”

People need to travel – for the sake of those they share their space with,

because it opens up our world,

and helps build confidence,

enriching our interpersonal relationships through shared experiences.

For the record, these bags contained all personal items, school books and musical instruments for an extended stay. Still tough for Eric though who always travels with carry-on only no matter the distance – to be fair to ourselves we did follow suite when we traveled from the Middle East to Sri-Lanka – showing huge restraint, mind you!

My personal preference, when it comes to exploring the planet has always been to plant a few roots, rather than take a 7 in 7 style tour…..Sharing a space in the village provides a hands on experience that I believe cannot happen on a ‘back-pack/fly-by’.

Whether attending junior high in Texas, packing fish in Iceland, counselling kids in the Catskill’s, serving cocktails on the Greek Isles or playing ‘house’ along the shores of East Africa, my travel experiences have helped mold me.

And now back ‘on the road’ my style – I am immersed in yet another set of cultures, different from my own – and far from the place I call home.

It has been an amazing experience to travel again and share the experience of travel with my kids and through it I have watched them grow in many positive ways, as they have had to cope with saying goodbye and saying hello – dealt with international arrivals and departures, overnight flights, odd looking cuisine, the fluidity of expat culture and very different currencies, cultural beliefs and rituals..and they are, I believe, open-minded, nonprejudicial and are certainly not bigots –

But don’t for a moment be fooled into believing that it is all happy, fun, glam filled days of games, travel-play, sight seeing and smooth sailing…

Packing up and saying goodbye to those you love and the space you consider home is no easy task.

And while I am grateful each and every day (although deeply heart-sore that the situation exists) that we are not being forced into traveling on foot with whatever we can manage to carry on our backs – as ours is a privileged and protected experience – it still has aspects of physical but mostly emotional rigor and it takes courage to walk into a new environment with your happy-face on, your head held high and your hand outstretched – and if you don’t, the result is real loneliness…

So there are plenty of positives that result from experiencing beautiful, interesting and different places, and tapping into the tantalizing taste of something new, along with the momentary escape from one’s current reality: and who doesn’t need a piece of that every once in awhile??

But there is perhaps the biggest positive of all…

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and that is the deep appreciation of what you have left behind – which perhaps is only realized through distancing oneself for a while,

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and the joy felt when you return to your people, whoever they might be..and realize that you, too, have a tribe……

October 2016: Celebrating the rigor of travel and the love of home.

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Business School for Beginners

Home-schooling or rather Un-schooling – Who was to know the intensity of it when we first started out? ‘Full-on’ is a word that springs to mind when I think about the level of engagement required. Survival at times requires pulling tricks out of a hat, which if well presented, might even be understood as some of the very best free-range education.

So when 9 year old Sarah decided that running a Pancake and Coffee Stall at the beach was her ideal way to spend the summer holidays, we (the doting parents) happily jumped on board….thinking this would be a fine way for her to learn a few business skills. That was back in the beginning and we were still naïve, but you can read more about that adventure here.

The short of it was that as the cheap labour force, we (the doting parents) quickly decided that this level of educational input was overkill, especially when the wind blew east and the kites went up and we were stuck tossing pancakes or packing up gazeboes. Fortunately our daughter agreed and anyway she was rich now and wouldn’t need to work again for sometime.

We came away from this experience having learnt the following lessons: We learnt that working through the holidays is challenging, tiring and frustrating although admittedly fun at times. We learnt how to work together as a family, and we certainly learnt how to toss a pancake.

And because sharing is caring, when a local Play-School decided to throw a fund-raiser the following year we volunteered our now expert pancake skills. So for the past few years our pancake stall equipment has been dusted off once a year for the Acacia Tree School’s Moonlight Market Fundraiser.

But then, just as we were settling comfortably into our annual routine, Angus the ‘Nougat Guy’ spotted us, possibly drawn to our talent and flare – although more likely drawn to the smell of pancakes smothered in cinnamon sugar and lemon – and invited us to join a monthly town market underway and in desperate need of a Pancake Stall.

Now the thought of pancakes once a month was far more manageable than every. day. of. the. holidays… and Leah was showing strong potential as assistant to her big sister and now expert Pancake Stall Manager, Sarah. Of course the continuation of their business skills program (the girls are responsible for everything) and extra pocket money couldn’t hurt either.

But the deeper truth as to why this was such a great learning opportunity and needed to be developed lay in the fact that ‘Mom’ loves a Market (almost, although not quite as much as she loves a Junk Shop) and was drawn to the idea of floating around, coffee in hand, perusing the love and toil on display in between hanging out with buddy Lou who runs a divine food stall just down the row…. while the ‘lil ones worked for their income and learnt more about the ‘Real World’.

Hah! How time does blur the memory…and as usual I was the one getting the lesson.

While the girls are responsible for everything, the cheap labour force I find, is still very much in demand at quite an intense level –  admittedly and thankfully this improves with each passing month as our little entrepreneurs grow into their roles.

However for the time-being even The Dad gets roped in if Market Day happens to fall on a home stint.

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And so, pancake experts we are. Business skills we have, and  Saturday sees another Market at the Crossings. I will be the apron clad Mom sweating behind the pan and not the glamorous, well heeled, Suburban House Wife sipping on her take-out Cappuccino while looking down her designer nose at the make-shift Pancake Stall being run on child labour.

See you there!

Celebrating a Year of Crossings Markets and Pancake Tossing. Oct / Nov 2014 

The Shape Of My Heart

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There are various theories about the origin of the symbolic ‘heart’ shape that we use to represent feelings of warmth, love and passion.

The shape of the human heart is quoted as one possibility although the resemblance is slight. Perhaps it was inaccurately represented by ancient scribes and then badly edited in the hand-down process. Who knows?  Apparently cattle hearts, which these ancients might have had more access too are slightly closer in representation to the modern-day symbol.These may also have played a role.

A commonly held view is that the seed of the prized Sliphium plant, a fennel-like wonder-boom used by the Cyrenean’s of old as a contraceptive and aphrodisiac (most convenient, I’d say) –  was the life-breath of our modern-day heart symbol.  This seed, also used as a seasoning and for various medicinal purposes proved to be fickle when it came to its own reproductive capacity, refusing to grow anywhere except along a small coastal Mediterranean strip. Its rarity of course upped its economic value, prized to the point of having its heart-shaped image embedded into Cyrenean coins. It is not a stretch to imagine the jump from aphrodisiac, contraception, sex, love….<3

No matter where the heart shape actually originated from, today it is a couple of swirls and curls that bring on the fuzzies the world over, and certainly the sliphium seed is not natures only illustration. The necks of swans at play, the mating slugs on our window pane,

and Lili’s gifts of love for her Mama… brought back home from each visit to the beach…

Celebrating the Shape of Love – Chintsa November 2012

Ho ho ho…

Ten years ago, just before Sarah was born, we put up our first Christmas tree. It was a beautiful creation. A minimalist twig interpretation brightened with strategically placed tiny fairy lights,(that didn’t flash, come in multiple colours or play music). A neo-afro designer’s delight. Stylish seasonal home decor that yelled out, “married without kids!”

Ten years on and our christmas trees are still fallen alien twig branches gathered in the area a few days before christmas, and dragged home by the prancing elves giggling and singing merrily while pointing out the in’s and out’s of the activity to any curious passer-by who will lend an ear. There is no longer a minimalistic edge to these creations. Each year the girls make a new decoration to add to the hodge -podge of christmas type paraphernalia gathered over the seasons. The lights are brightly coloured and they flash wildly.

These trees are far removed from our first stylie creation all those years back…. but to my bright eyes more beautiful by far!

Christmas in Chintsa – Dec 2011

Moonlighting Under The Acacia Tree

You  know you’re onto a good thing when your school teacher is also a REAL clown – especially if you happen to be five years old….The Acacia Tree Nursery School is a very good thing.Tom the Clown – a Spacial Dynamics Practioner, Waldorf Teacher and Funny Guy Extraordinaire, teaches the littlies at this local Waldof School. Last Saturday evening Tom’s Circus was in full swing.

The Acacia Tree Nursery School is situated on a hill-side, overlooking the sea and the surrounding Eastern Cape bush. It is hugged by lush veggie gardens and fun jungle gyms. A magical place run by magical people. Saturday’s Moonlight Market was a fundraiser for children unable to pay fees. The Market was a colourful and bright affair with bunting blowning in the evening  breeze and trees laden with dancing fairy lights setting the scene. Tom put away his mortarboard for his colourful bowler supported by a clown size bow-tie and his faithful right hand man – Thulani. Together, Tom, his team and the moms and dads put on a grand act with side shows of great coffee, delish pancakes and amazing mexican fare, fun, games and stories under the Acacia Tree. Another amazing example of Chintsa doing what it does best  – building a nation…

Surf Legends

Chintsa is not a place of legendary waves, but it is home to legendary surfers. Dudes with Slater size personalities  (if not form), leaving their mark on the Chintsa sands of time. Young beautiful instructor types through to the salty old sea dogs, each add their trait, making Chintsa home to a welcoming and warm surf community. And now dusty feet from the dirt roads that run through the local village carry the next generation of surf legends to the beach. Young, restless and sometimes hungry these youngsters are chasing the back-line and redefining surfing in Chintsa. Standing on the shoulders of the giants who guide and challenge them, they head further and further out…breaking through crashing waves and cultural stereotypes, contesting the imbalance in the waters of South Africa. These are the kids of the Unstressed Surf School – the future legends of Chintsa.

 

Chintsa Beach – October 2011 Celebrating the 1st Anniversary of the Unstressed Surf School

Zak’s Tracks

Zak is three and he l-u-v-e-sssss trains. Always has, always will. Gran hates to waste. Always has, always……Gran loves Zak and Zak loves Gran right back. Their passions and obsessions have resulted in this bright little number which I’ve titled ‘Zak’s Tracks’ and parks off in Gran’s back-yard – waiting for Zak to come and play.

Gran claims to have been absent when the creative genes where handed around. Perhaps she has just been looking for hers in the wrong place.

What next Gran? Zak really luvvvves helicopters…..

East London, South Africa – November 2011