South Africa a Short Life Changing Journey Off the Beaten Path

South Africa: stamps and temporary residence p...
South Africa: stamps and temporary residence permit (Photo credit: Sem Paradeiro)

I sit here amidst the jumble of a partially cleared suitcase, with the the contents scattered across the entire living room couch, an empty backpack;  trip laundry (waiting patiently to be washed) and assorted clutter from my four day fact finding mission to South Africa. As short frenetic life changing journey’s go, this one has been startling, eye-opening and mesmerising.  I did not go to the usual tourist destinations, my journey was off the beaten path. A path that is now followed by the world’s journalists who, like myself, are looking for information.

Since Friday, when I first started on this fascinating and first of many trips to the country that of South Africa, I have been conspicuously absent from the world. No posts, not even sporadic ones, on my little blog. No tweets on Twitter or Friday shout outs;  no Facebook updates. I was invisible for the entire period of my travel and return. I did post two tweets saying that all would be revealed upon my return, but that was at the end of my journey.

This is the first of a series of posts that I will be doing that are apart from my work for the Guardian Express and not of a film nature.  These will be my own personal observations and what happened (again, on a more personal level) on my journey.  I’ve already written one post and it will follow this one shortly.

I am tired and I’m still suffering the effects of an inoculation I required for my lightening visit to South Africa. I haven’t washed in two days and I’m putting it off until my second cup of coffee and second blog post of the day have been completed. One of the benefits of living alone is that I am the only one who could be offended by the odour of travel dirt and sweat and the remnants of the South African country that still cling to my clothes and body.

Hastily and only partially unpacked suitcase.
Hastily and only partially unpacked suitcase.

I stayed with our local correspondent’s friends and both sets of folks treated me instantly like a long lost relative. At all times in this off the beaten tourist path I had to take, my safety and comfort were the top concerns of my hosts. My short life changing journey was one filled with information on how to survive this dangerous part of the world. South Africa’s crime rate is staggeringly high and it affects everyone, regardless of colour. Outsiders are especially at risk.

I am deeply grateful that I had the support of these “local’s” who knew which sections to steer clear of and how to “travel” from one area to the other in relative safety.

Although I am now back home, I’ve already been told to set the groundwork for another trip to this fascinating country. I still have much to do from the first trip. As it was primarily a fact-finding mission, I have to collate all the pictures I took (over 1,500) copy recordings from an interview, transfer my notes from the visit (slowly and painstakingly from a small “reporter’s” notebook to printed page) and start work on editing the articles written by our talented staff that will be based on my informations. I will have my own articles to write as well.

I am now trying to get my things, and me, organised. Getting ready to have  a nice soaking bath. My entire body aches, I feel like I’ve gone a round with Mike Tyson. I am bruised, battered, sore, dirty, and at the same time, excited, deeply satisfied, and changed.

I have somehow stumbled into a job that I never saw myself doing. I had only started working for the Guardian Express in April this year. I was made Deputy Managing Editor/Senior Entertainment Editor and I was very, very happy. Now through the paper and fate, I’m working in a slightly more serious capacity than reporting what Miley Cyrus‘ latest tattoo is.

I am now doing things that a year ago would have induced gales of laughter from me, as I have  never dreamed of doing anything like this. My last few years of change are now cranking up yet another notch as my newly exciting life changes yet again. God must be chuckling to himself at my bewilderment.  Last year, I pretty much felt that my life was over; at least the interesting and challenging part of it. And like many other mortals, God (or whoever is in charge of our fate) has set out to prove just how wrong I was.

My short life changing journey to South Africa that strayed far from the tourist’s beaten path  has been yet another sudden change in my perspective and vision of life and where I seemingly fit into it. My own personal journey has thrown me into an international arena with professionals who deal with the type of news that I will be reporting on  a daily basis. I am now a “proper” journalist. It excites and terrifies me at the same time.  A lot like South Africa itself.

To be continued…

My work desk.
My work desk.

America the Troubled


It’s been a very violent and bloody week for this country. First a bloody ending to a national runners event that marred the day by killing and injuring innocent people taking part in the Boston Marathon and Patriot day.

That all occurred on the 15th of April this year.

Two days later, a fertiliser plant in the farming town of West, Texas exploded, killing 14 and the police are still sifting through the rubble to find casualties.

On the 18th of April, the first of two bombing suspects was shot and killed in a prolonged shoot-out with police.

Yesterday on the  19th of April, the second suspect was shot and captured.

America has had a very troubled and busy week in the violence and death department. The denizens of this troubled country can be forgiven for feeling a little abused at the moment.

I wrote a blog post on the day of the Boston Marathon bombings and raised the query of security forces spending too much time looking for evil within the borders of the USA. I felt that they were looking in the wrong place for terrorists.

I was wrong.

Sadly, this terror attack did indeed come from within.


These two heinous and cowardly individuals did not originate in America. They were “immigrants” who came over with their families. According to initial reports, they’ve only lived in America for ten years.

Both, according to the news again, were recent Muslim converts.

The face of monsters.
The faces of monsters.

Oh boy. That’s going to rock the proverbial boat. As if Muslims did not have enough negative press already, they now have even more and I can imagine that Mr and Mrs America and their children won’t be inviting their next door followers of Islam over for a barbecue.

Another unsettling reason for the non-Muslim community to feel leery about this “foreign” religion and its violent outbursts against “the infidels.”

Overshadowed by Monday’s events is the explosion in Texas that took so many lives. Not – as far as I know – terrorist in nature, it is still an enormous tragedy and one that isn’t getting a lot of  media attention due to the Boston tragedy; at least not on this side of the big pond.

West Texas. Fires after the explosion.
West Texas. Fires after the explosion.

On top of the two explosive events, we have the news that guardians of justice move damned fast. Literally within days of the Boston outrage, both suspects have been dealt with. Of course the death of one and the injuring of the other, may make it difficult to find out why  these two monsters – Yes, monsters.  People do not indiscriminately murder in this fashion. – with the end result being one dead and one captured.

Suffice to say, I think I was wrong to denigrate the security forces and their head offices for watching the American people. It seems that what appeared to me as paranoia, was not.

Now it only remains for the authorities to find out why. Why killing innocent children and people was necessary and why the fertiliser plant exploded in Texas.

I cannot think of a more troubling week of events for America within her shores before. Certainly not that I can remember. Sure we’ve had international American tragedy before. Remember Jonestown? But that was outside the boundaries of the country and not on Main Street USA.

On Jonestown, I had a friend in the USAF who was at the New Jersey air base when the bodies were brought back. He was on body-bag detail. I cannot imagine the horror that must have been.

I close this puzzled post with prayers sent to all who have suffered loss in this last week. Loss of life, loss of family, friends and neighbours and loss of innocence. I also pray that we might find out that the horrid events of Boston were a “one-off” and that other recent converts to the Muslim religion who are US citizens aren’t so murderously inclined.

May the country of my birth breathe a sigh of relief now that the week-end has arrived and may my fellow countrymen rest a bit easier knowing that the keepers of the peace do seem to know what they are doing.

To the residents of both Boston and Texas I hope you can get closure for this violent and troubled week. And my the American people not be so scarred that they become xenophobic in action and thought.

And lastly, may the greatest free country in the world continue to be so and fly the flag proudly and safely.


RIP Margaret Thatcher: The Iron Lady has Gone

1925 - 2013 RIP
1925 – 2013 RIP

It was with surprise and a touch of sadness when I learned that Margaret Thatcher died today. She was 87 and a legend.

But even legends die.

This formidable women who changed the face of politics, Britain, and, in no small way, the world. Daughter of a grocery shop owner and as a child grew up in a household that was active in politics and the church.

She started in politics at an early age, running for local office in Dartford where she was the youngest and first female candidate in an all male race. It was during this time that she married Denis Thatcher.

But this is not a biographical recounting of this powerful woman, It is a look at how she embodied the theme of “girl power” long before it became an in vogue subject to talk about. She wasn’t a Spice Girl, but she was the perfect model of a strong female role model.

A role model that the world watched as she held office as Prime Minister longer than anyone before or since.

Whether you agreed with her political stance or even the party she represented, you can still admire her strength and her will, which is still being felt in the country today.

So I’m placing my metaphorical hat over my heart and bowing my head in remembrance.

So long Ms Thatcher (born: 13 October 1925 – died: 8 April 2013) – the Iron Lady is gone, but will never be forgotten.

Russian Meteorite Explosion Could Shame Spielberg

This video compilation of the Russian Meteorite explosion is brilliant. Pieced together from private footage and CCTV and traffic camera footage it give a great montage of the event.

It can be found on RT Question More  and it is almost stunning. Looking like a series of scenes from a science fiction film, it almost shames the past master’s of the genre.

It just goes to show that truth is not just stranger than fiction, but it looks more spectacular as well. Enjoy the clip.

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