Got your attention?
I'll tell you straight up, this isn't about Johnny Depp
But that was a fabulous excuse to go find a picture of him...
It has been mentioned once or twice here and in Glamorouse
that I spent a year in South Africa as an exchange student.
When I first found out that was where I was going I admit I was a bit disappointed. It seemed too similar to Australia and I had really wanted to go somewhere in Europe.
The Rotary exchange system, however, was very big on interviews and screening and just allocating you wherever the Rotarians and (ugh) Rotary-annes felt you were best suited, personality wise.
Later, at our pre-departure camp, a Rotarian explained the country selections to me.
"Look around," he said.
"The jocks and cheerleaders go to north America where they can speak English and keep out of trouble doing sport; the giggly girls go to Japan and Korea where they'll be watched 24 hours a day, and the ones we think we can trust go everywhere else."
He was spot-on about the girls they sent to Japan, but as for the rest of it? There are so many flaws in his argument that I should just leave it there. Not, however, before I pause to enjoy a quiet smile thinking of Suse
being a cheerleader type in high school.
The point today is that I had a glorious year in Africa which - who knew? - turned out to be incredibly exotic and not at all like Australia after all.
I left sobbing and vowing to be back within five years.
That was 20 years ago this year.Sob
About 10 years after I'd left, some very good friends asked me about travelling in Africa. Was it worth it, they wondered? They'd lived in England and travelled a lot around Europe and elsewhere and were looking for fresh adventure.
Was it WORTH it?!! I gave them the full sentimental gush. I may even have waxed lyrical about thorn trees and gorges and the quality of the light and the way the air felt different and the sky was bigger and blah blah blah.
I definitely told them about the monkeys. Monkeys all over the place, even through suburban backyards. I loved the monkeys.
In the decade or so since that conversation, which may or may not have helped them to decide, these friends have established the kind of life that most of us might dream of - assuming one allowed one's dreams to include a globe-spanning existence that allows for half the year in one's Australian home and the other half living on safari locations in South Africa and Zimbabwe, writing novels that actually get published
and enjoying the scenery.
I'm not sure my dreams would ever go so far. But then, my dreams are usually interrupted by the patter of six little feet. And - sighing
- they're not monkey paws.My good mate Tony,
and his wife (who has a perfectly lovely name but Tony keeps calling her 'Mrs Blog' over his way so I will respect the title), Mrs B, are back in Africa again. Due home (this time) at Christmas.
You have Tony to thank for pushing me to add Root Shoot Marry to the Ladies Lounge
I am very much looking forward to the chance to play it again in real life when they return.
In the meantime, he is back in internet range, blogging his 6-foot-6 heart out, and has recently written a hilariously bawdy account of the Monkey Pirates they deal with on a daily basis on camp in Kruger.
You should go and read about Kinky Monkey Pirate Sex
, and maybe some of their other adventures with Tonka, the 22 year old Landrover.
Maybe you could share some comment joy with him, because at the moment it's just me, his Italian publisher and someone called Deb, and honestly, his stories are worth more than that.
And then you can come back and pat me on the shoulder and tell me it's ok.
Because it's sinking in that it has really been 20 years since I left Africa. And it's making me cry all over again.