Today, for the first time, it has been really cold, even since the sun came up. “What is this?” I hear you cry. “Carl, up before dawn? But I thought he had a cushy holiday job that started at eleven!” Well, today I was brave enough to drag my dozy bones out of bed at (wait for it) SIX in the morning, to drive Lizzie to the airport. She’s off to sunny Hong Kong to teach English for six weeks and despite the astonishing cold we made it safely. Halfway there we were treated to a classic dry-season African dawn, bright red through the mist on the rivers; beautiful.
Matsapha airport is tiny; about the size of the East Slope bar at Sussex; if you got busted at customs here, you could make a dash for it and be out of the car park inside 90 seconds. It’s been a funny week for arrivals and departures, actually, with a visit from the Chinese president, the Queen of Lesotho, Prince Edward (and wife) and, most recently, Colnel Gadaffi. The latter is perhaps the most surreal; they’ve stuck up pictures of him in his classic Top Gun sunglasses pose on all the lamp posts in Mbabane. Why, I do not know, but it’s completely bizarre.
Those of you who were desperate to call me directly this morning (I know, I know, form a queue) will be thrilled to hear that the dead line doesn’t mean they have got the wrong number but there is merely an interruption in service (just for fun) until about 2pm BST. For those of you who don’t know yet, the number is +268 60 79 759. If I successfully receive a text message from outside SA or Swaziland, I’ll let you know, but I haven’t done so yet.
I didn’t manage to pick up any E99 trainers, due to a lack of size 12s but did succeed in tracking down a pair for E299 (XE.com reckons £19.25) Hi-Tecs from the place across the road. As Desmond pointed out, at least I know these ones won’t disintegrate halfway round the Kruger Park, leaving me stranded by the roadside, surrounded by lions with thorns in my delicate European feet. I fully intend to start training tonight with a leisurely walk to Pine Valley after work. Noel is quite right when he suggests I start slowly; the altitude could hit me if I get too engergetic; the closest I’ve come to physical exercise so far is throwing a plastic ball to Ava. However, Noel also works for an Internet company and looks like Nick Cave (a photo of him enjoying a beer at the Chillage is here) so I am wary of his advice. Blimey, I must get this camera fixed; I can’t resort to 15-month-old pictures, can I?
Khanya surprised me at work yesterday; I haven’t seen him in a couple of years. He invited me straight down to the farm where he is staying with Bob (a friend, not the dog) although he waited until we were nearly there before telling me about the dirt road – always a joy. Still, despite the drive and the aching cold, it’s a lovely place; the advantage of being so far out of town is that there’s no horizon glow, just a sky grey with stars. He had left some soup simmering all afternoon and we demolished it by a log fire, to the sound of Dark Side of the Moon. To this, one could easily become accustomed.
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