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jeepers we have some incredible friends

27 Jan

We have just spent the evening with Dr Dave who demonstrated how to suture nectarines and insert drips. (I practiced on Stoffel. Stoffel practiced on Dr Dave. I’m a little sensitive about having veins punctured unnecessarily.) That man has completely orchestrated the best first aid kit known to mankind.

As our friends make more and more of an effort to see us or call us or just send us some love, I become more and more in love with the people I know who live in this beautiful Cape Town.*

It makes leaving both harder and easier. Harder, because of course we will miss them. But when we know that we will return to the raddest, most marvellous crowd in the city that knocks your breath out with spectacularity (not a real word, I know…), it all seems a whole lot cosier. There is something very reassuring about setting off on travels when you know where your home is.

* I also intensely love many of my mateys who do not live in CT, but I don’t see you as often, so the shift in our friendship when we leave will not be felt as intensely. ok?

news: some kakky, some exciting

26 Jan

Disastrous news first: Stoffie has been struck down by a ghastly 24 hour (we jolly hope) stomach bug!!! That’s like 1/6th of the whole time we have left here. yheeee.

BUT on another altogether marvellous note: Something That Deserves A Post All Of Its Own (and, particularly, free from panic-inducing sickness notifications)… but I have blog-time so infrequently these days I might not actually have time to post it and that would be a tragedy.

Ladies and Gentlemen: I introduce our “boat cards”. Boat cards are a lot like business cards, except, there’s not too much business-y about cruising, so calling them business cards would just be cheeky. Our amazing and brilliant friend Sam designed them and they are being printed as I type!

Ilovethemthemost!

More excitingly, they are the basis for the new look decal for the Laura Takalani and the new look of this here website! Which will happen some time soon. Flippin awesome.

i got cash…

25 Jan

After some long hard months of saving, we’ve finally had to start spending on stuff for the boat. And I, Sara Lynn Hillratt, have been BLEEDING cash all over Cape Town.

Perhaps some perspective (and a small story)? I’ve got a bit of a frock-weakness. Some women love shoes, handbags or underwear. I love a dress. LOVE. I can walk into almost any store anywhere and I will become infatuated with at least one frock (probably more) on the rails.

Two seasons ago, I had a particularly “liberal” approach to purchasing those frocks. Until I found a particularly spectacular floor-length, flowing silk, halter neck (great cleavage), dress which I knew I had to have. Except, it cost about six (ok, maybe eight) times more than the amount that I normally consider to be reasonable for frock spending. Of course I bought it. But I did promise myself that I would exercise self-discipline for the rest of the season and not buy another dress. And if I can’t spend my money on dresses, then I somehow find it rather easy to avoid spending money at all…

Next thing, Stof and I came up with this rather romantic notion of travelling around the Pacific. So operation Save-As-Much-As-We-Can was launched, thereby cauterising the flow of unnecessary money from our household.

We’ve done a fair bit of saving from a solid year-and-a-bit of being on low cash spend.

Suddenly, I have had to buy a whole bunch of the things we have been saving for! It’s as if some long-forgotten spending beast has awoken in me. Besides buying the necessary (ropes, radios, cameras, memory cards, underwear, dry bags, bags, nifty gadgets, LED lights, books, bikinis etc etc), I have been treating myself to the odd luxury with the self-explanation that “they won’t have this in the Pacific”!

There is a considerable reserve. We’ve been saving for some time because we hope to travel for some time. It is rather easy to feel like you’re rich when the bank account is looking, ahem, healthy.

But the realisation that I had been spurting cash unnecessarily hit me Saturday night when out on the town for a Hen’s Party. At the bar with my friend Jen who has recently returned from their circumnavigation, I was enticing her to share a bottle of bubbles, because:

SAARTJIE: …it’s the only drink I felt like drinking.*

JEN: Hmm. The bubbles here are a bit ridiculously expensive.**

S: But I think I might need to drink the bubble…

J (funny look): Gosh. You are going to have such a different experience to us crossing the Pacific drinking champagne!

S: Oh, but I’m only drinking it now because we probably won’t have champagne at sea.

I didn’t order the bubbles. Thanks Jen. I think I needed to articulate it to realise that “about to leave” should not equate to spendspendspend!

* Hmm. The power of self-deception.

** Yes they were: triple the retail cost.

disappearing…

26 Dec

I hope you had a beautiful Christmas. Ours was pretty flippin’ marvellous!

Stoffel and I are now on our way to Bulungula for our traditional new years of beach party and mates. It will take a small road trip to get there and back and we’re looking forward to the time together to run over what still needs to be done. There is barely cellphone reception in the T-kei, let alone loads of internet access… so I’m logging off until the new year.

Happy 2011.

people of the south

21 Dec

I’ve been wanting to write one last post about Antarctica. Because (for me) it wasn’t all about the open spaces and beauty and delicious food and luxury. I am fascinated by people, so I was so interested to see how the bases work. The White Desert camp is not far from a Russian Antarctic station and the (a?) Indian base.

On our second afternoon, we saw an approaching ski-doo that looked like it had waaaayyy too many people hanging on to it. Sure enough, it was the Indians! They’d souped up their ski-doo such that it took an extra 5 people (or so) than the normal 3 (maximum) seater. Gotta love the Indians.*

They’d come to have their picture taken with Jenna. She’s quite famous cos there aren’t too many women stationed in ‘Tartica. Having Your Picture Taken With Jenna is (apparently) an important annual fixture in the Indian Antarctic Base calendar.

After Jenna was all snapped out, Ali and I insisted on having our pic taken with some of the team too. At first they were somewhat disappointed to have Ali in the picture, but then after we gave them beers and told them that Ali’s best mate is Gary Kirsten who coaches the Indian cricket side, then we were all the very best of friends!

The next day, instead of making a small journey to visit a penguin colony, a bunch of us elected to do the 12km trek from our camp, through the Indian camp to the Russians.

The Indian base wasn’t very beautiful. Nobody came rushing out to feed us rogan josh (or some other delicacy). The wind was icy-icy. So we moved on.

On our way the Ilyusion flew over us on its way back to Cape Town from the Novo runway. That second pic is my desktop setting at the moment. I just can’t get enough of it.

Trusty guide Stef quickly figured out that in South Africa we have a lot of rock and hills and stones. but we do NOT have a lot of ice and snow. With this in mind, he carefully selected our route to the Russians.

Arriving at the Russian base is fairly surreal. It’s perched on a hillock on the rock oasis and it looks a little like one might imagine an outpost on the moon to look.

One can take an informal ‘tour’ around an exceptionally chilly museum of Russian tanks from the Cold War.

The tanks are taken to the ice shelf by boat and then they drive them across the +/- 80km of shelf ice. Or so I’m told. It was pretty cool.

Then we came across a pole that looked like it could have been the South Pole! (It wasn’t, of course. The real south pole is a darn side more southerly and looks like a candy pole with a big round mirror globe on top with an enormous concrete American base next door where (I’m told) they don’t invite you in for tea or coffee if you have spent months crossing the Antarctic on foot (or otherwise).)

We didn’t recognise too many places. All of them seemed to be a jolly far way away and in the same kind of direction. Except, of course, for the arrow at the top of the pole and our Russian was far from sufficient to decide whether it pointed to the south pole or the other Russian base!

We hung around for a while, drank some tea (thank you, Russians, for giving us tea) and ate some chocolate (thank you, Stef, for carrying the chocolate for us).

Then we were driven back across the ice to our camp by the guy still wearing all his cold-weather gear in a heated car.

At first we laughed at him (“those Russians!”). Then we slowly and sheepishly put all our stuff back on because this guy might have know something about the risk of the car falling into a crevasse and having to lie in the ice that we didn’t know…

*Of course, if the South Africa base had been closer, it could have been either a South African or an Indian ski-doo… We also quite fancy transport that carries more people than it was originally intended to carry.

i’ve got that funny feeling

30 Nov

I’m moving out of my office: today is my last official day as an advocate. I thought I would be feeling excited, relieved and maybe a little exhilarated. Those feelings are there… in theory.

In practice, I’m feeling slightly terrified. It’s the fear of change. In the midst of what may well be one of the most spectacular adventures of my life, I still have a small hankering for things to stay the same. A segment of my heart wants to carry on living my happy life in our gorgeous home (too late!) and taking our strange little pup for walks on our beautiful Table Mountain. I quite like sitting at my big lovely desk, bantering with colleagues and turning client’s complaints into legal writing. I’m sad for the wedding and baby parties we will miss and nostalgic for the dinners, braais and weekends away which we won’t share with our friends and family over the next few years.

It’s not so say that the trade-off doesn’t trump the unease hands-down every day. But I am a little surprised at the sadness too. When I think about its dispassionately, I am relieved to be a little melancholy: it must be a good thing to mourn a lifestyle that is blessed and blissful.

This will be my last post perched on my chair in chambers… farewell, this life. The Pacific passage draws a whole lot nearer.

[I will return with more Antarctica porn when things have settled. In addition to moving, I have some outstanding work to nail AND my skipper’s theory exam to pass this evening… tra-la-laaaa!]

awe-struck

24 Nov

Our plane touched down from Antarctica at 5am south african time this morning.

It’s almost impossible to be remotely nonchalant about the couple of days that have just passed. Right now I’m still trying to process it all. And catch up with lost sleep. And scurry through the tons of work that have piled up while I was gallivanting on the southern ice with an enormous grin on my face.