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Black Friday

What a black Friday it’s been. This afternoon I stocked up on local SA wine (I don’t buy anything else since… well u know…), looked at broadband deals (just in case it’s my next Netflix season). Booked flights to and from the Wilderness (ever the optimist). Still on my list are new trainers as I could be exercising in my back garden during December instead of enjoying the freedom of Paradise Ridge… I should probably get loo paper, and buy some staples in the event that I need to soak up all that wine… I’ve also spoken to a number of Brits out in SA on probation, now on their way to the tjoekie.

Today South Africa went onto the red list of many countries, due a new variant of the virus. This roller coaster is exhausting. It is what it is, but how many more chapters of this story need to be written?

Two of my COVID-related short stories were recently published in an anthology, called The Year We Stayed At Home: when life as we know it changed, compiled by author Drienie Hattingh in the US, and available on Amazon. A good friend who bought and read the anthology said she hadn’t realised how much the pandemic had affected her personally. Reading all the stories made it apparent to her that she still had a lot to process, including her son’s brush with death, thanks to the pandemic. She is doing a bit of writing on her own and speaking with her really brings home just how much writing is therapy for me. And also, how overall, in spite of quite a lot of upheaval in my life, I’ve gotten off quite lightly.

I guess we’ll see what tomorrow brings…

So how’s your Friday been?

Khobi and I enjoying free-flight along Paradise Ridge

Happiness is a vetsak…

Three weeks – well, tomorrow it will be. That’s how long I’ve been back in South Africa, and keeping a low profile… I think it’s called denial, but unfortunately denial doesn’t pay the bills (or buy you a vetsak) so I’m sort of back to normal. Whatever that means.

I dislike mentioning brands in my blog – but with a name like this, how could I not?

Let’s go back just over a month… my trip back from Gran Can to Zurich was mostly uneventful, apart from the fact that on the last few days on the island I caught a cold, and that paranoid corner of my preconceived mind was almost certain that I had COVID… I guess it’s easy to forget that it is still entirely possible to catch something else… And I’m not trying to make light of this terrible virus at all. I’m just conscious of the fact that for the last eighteen odd months my personal go to, even when I have a bout of indigestion, (and it seems even when fully vaccinated) is: “It’s finally my turn”. Anyway, I didn’t. During my last week away, I tested negative three times – twice a nifty little rapid self-test that one can buy over the counter abroad, and then before my flight to SA, the full-fat PCR version.

This is the view from the plane as we left the Canary Islands… Glorius!

Has anyone else noticed that in very recent times much of humanity blames almost everything on either the virus, or the vaccination. Or of course politicians, but that’s nothing new… (eligible South Africans…please don’t forget to vote on 2 November hey…). Virus, vaccination, and vermin aside*, my flight from Zurich to JHB was a bit more eventful – or rather, the first stab at getting away was a total non-event. The ground crew detected some explosive residue on two bags and had the bomb squad out to investigate. We were put up in a hotel overnight, and our second, successful attempt saw us take off almost twelve hours later. I eventually arrived home late on a Tuesday night, and in the weeks that followed proceeded to redecorate my entire little apartment – walls were painted, furniture was painted, things were removed and moved – even the plants were relocated a few times. My first-draft manuscript has been printed and bound, but I’ve not re-looked at it yet. Soon. Soon. Like I said… denial, or just not ready to get back to normal.

I think my sabbatical is officially over now, probably for at least a week, but I am still not ready… Or maybe the emotions and feelings that I experience every single day, are in fact a return to normal.

Last week I worked on a client book that has been very uplifting; I’ve written an intensely sad and disturbing story for a GoFundMe page; I’ve spoken with people who’ve recently suffered unbearable loss; and met with an expectant mother who is positively glowing with the prospect of the new life she will be bringing into the world. I find myself reflecting on love and on life…

Every single day seems to bring with it highs and lows, sad moments, followed by joyful ones, or random hilarity. A sense of real normalcy, followed by “what’s the point?” Followed by “ooh, how exciting” Followed by “wow, I’m blessed!” Followed by “no way, they did what?” In no order at all. And on top of all of that, I do feel very sane and well rested.

I know one cannot expect to feel happy and content 24-7. But if happiness is not a constant, then we should look to repeat the moments where our hearts and souls smile. It could be a place, it could be a person, it could be a pet, a book, a hobby, a movie…but I think happiness requires some planning, I doubt it will just fall into our laps.

I have so many plans that I think will add to my “happiness”, and I’m not sure how I’m going to make them all happen but happen they must! So, I dream, plot, pray, plan and discuss, in the corner of my lounge, ensconced in my vetsak. Reading, chatting with a friend, on a phone call, watching a movie, and yes, even working there.

Right now, I’m back to the sanctuary of my denial corner…but I know that dreaming, plotting, and planning is not enough. One must act to make things happen.

I wonder if you have a version of my vetsak?

Till soon,

*Apologies to the two stand up politicians I may have insulted with the vermin reference. It’s a grim political landscape out there.



All good things…

Firstly, I feel I must apologise to Agaete for saying it had little green to offer. It has since been serving up little oases of green daily. I’ve also been told, by a visiting Brit, that it may rain this week and I’m sad that I’m going to miss that. I bumped into the camera-wielding Englishman on a rocky path, and established that he is a studier of, amongst others, the Great Gran Can lizard. Naturally, I asked if he’d already seen Tomato, and, of course, he has.

Plaza de la Constitución – the coolish tree-lined town square is also one of my favourite spots to escape the heat.

I’ve come across some interesting folks on the island – including a French tourist, who was a co-passenger on a nail-biting 101 ride along the GC-200; a Colombian, who lives and works here now, but travelled here via Norway; and a couple from Mali, West Africa who have a market stall at Puerto de las Nieves. I chatted to them while buying a sunhat that could weather the wind, while protecting my ears and nose from getting crispy. They have lived and worked on Gran Can for the past twenty years.

I have no idea or information on what their home country was like two decades ago, but I remember reading about the Senegalese military building a camp near Mali’s borders, so I assume there is ongoing instability. A few months back I also read The Beekeeper of Aleppo which tells the story of refugee movement from Syria to Europe (tough read, at least for me). Add to my flimsy information base above the fact that hundreds of migrants from West African countries land on the Canaries every year, and you may understand why that shameful corner of my preconceived mind was having visions… Visions of a treacherous journey from landlocked Mali, including a precarious, scary and desperate time in a small-overfilled boat.

I casually asked him, how they had travelled here, hoping I wasn’t overstepping, but too interested not to ask. He looked at me a little strangely, answering: “The normal way. We took flights and had visas”. Boom! And as he dropped the mike, I decided that I needed to go and re-watch that epic 2009 TED talk by Chimamanda Adiche “The danger of a single story”.


Sadly, my time here is nearly done, and what with all the distractions, I haven’t quite finished everything I intended to do – but as Trevor Noah says, in order to do comedy, you need to do life (or something similar). Anyway, I’ve tried to live a little, and not only hole up to write amongst other things, the first draft of my memoir. Yes indeed, a memoir!

It has been a particular treat chatting to people and seeing their faces when I respond to their question: “What are you writing at the moment?”

Me:                              “Something along the lines of a personal memoir.”

Person:                        “Oh.” (looks uncomfortable, as though trying to place what B-Grade movie they may have seen me in)

Other person:             “Aren’t you a bit young?” (trying to muster supportive face, but sceptic face wins, hands down)

Yet another person:    “Are you dying?” (again, trying to look supportive, then horrified that the thought passed their lips).

When asked, I remind myself that there is no need to justify everything one does, and, in answer, I just smile sweetly… It will probably not be as successful as Eat, Pray, Love… although one can always hope, and you’d buy it, right? Most importantly, I do believe that the exercise of writing something like this, i.e., something that I truly enjoy writing for others, is going to make me better at what I do. For the most part it’s been rewarding, but it’s also been a hard and ugly slog on some days. It’s good to know how this feels. And how uncomfortable getting personal can be. And how one is rarely the hero of one’s own story.

I must add that writing is cheaper than therapy (could that be the sweet aroma of justification we smell?) – even though my experience of therapy is somewhat limited, and I of course, like so many others, definitely do not need expensive therapy. Having said that, coming away isn’t exactly for free, is it. But that’s beside my point… Focus. Back to therapy, and my limited exposure… Therapist One (relationship) told me that if I was their daughter, they would suggest I leave the relationship (spoiler alert, I did in the end). I think I heard Therapist Two (sports) telling me that I’m perfectly normal, but that I needed to redefine my relationship with a specific person. More recently, I believe that Therapist Three alluded to the fact that I was the problem, and a change in my behaviour was required to remedy a situation. Makes one wonder what conclusions a – I mean my (see, I’m still struggling to own it) – memoir may reveal!

But enough about me and my troubles (and truthfully, I am a big champion of therapy…).

Soon I’ll be donning a mask again, catching a bus (big yellow house on my back) and then a plane. Then I need to pass/fail a test again, so that I can travel back to South Africa, and be allowed back into a complicated country that I feel both loves and hates me. Nonetheless, I’m excited about what tomorrow brings.

Lots of love,


What’s in the Yellow Bag?

I decided to use my Iberia voucher (for a flight I couldn’t take last year) and have collected my over-sized bright yellow tog bag in Las Palmas, Gran Canaria where Africa Mercy is in the shipyard, in the dry dock. The bag stayed behind when I left in March 2020 as I’d naively expected I’d be back onboard soon as… It feels like an absolute age since I purchased that Iberia flight from Dakar, so using this voucher now felt like I was flying here for free…

What’s in the bag, that was so important that I made the trip here? So important that I left the green alpine meadows of Switzerland that I quarantined for ten days for, so that I could frolic in the mountain lakes with Annette and Marcel? Important enough to leave behind the cheese and chocolate and spend time on an island with little green grass.



To be honest, when I unzipped the bag in my B&B in Las Palmas, it was a bit of an anti-climax – I’m not sure what I expected? Closure? To hear puzzle pieces clicking back into place now that I had my belongings back. Equilibrium restored? Clarity on what comes next. Or…was I just looking for an excuse for another adventure?

When I first saw my yellow tog bag again, I was rather taken aback at its size – how had I gotten two of those to Dakar? Goodness, I hadn’t even booked a flight off the island yet, and that monster had to do public transport with me, for the duration of my stay…I needed to whittle out, nip any hoarding temptation in the bud, and minimise – if for no other reason than for the sake of my fifty-year-old back.

The bag contained some sentimental items, and I’m very happy to have my copy of “Ships of Mercy” back, so that I can finally finish the book – I also have a thing about collecting books signed by their authors, and Don Stephens (Mercy Ships founder) had signed my copy for me when I met him onboard in Jan or Feb 2020. Also in the bag: a Senegalese dress that Zackaria’s mom gifted me, and my writing pants (a gift from KJ many moons ago, as an alternative to wear on my “pyjama days”). A few other sentimental knick-knacks I’m happy to have back, as well as my Mercy Sheep (more about him/her another time).

When I purposefully trotted off to catch the 103 to Aga-e-te (mask-clad and carrying my yellow house on my back), I left behind yet another bag of previously-loved-but-not-coveted possessions, which my gracious B&B host promised to drop off somewhere, where they would be put to good use.

Why to Aga-e-te? I had never heard of this pretty town before planning this visit to Gran Can. In fact, Gran Can had never really featured on my radar, as a place to visit, prior to my joining Mercy Ships. In the shameful corner of my preconceived mind, the Canary Islands had always been a convenient package holiday destination for European tourists . I totally get it now.


Sunset over Pico del Teide, Tenerife.

When I travelled to Europe in late June, the hope was to be able to visit with friends and family in other countries too. There was a lot of pre-planning, planning, re-planning, pre-planning, planning… repeat – you know the drill. The UK was going to be far too complicated to get to, so on 1 August I mentioned to one of my besties that I was thinking of flying to Gran Can.

Her:     “Wow! Love it! What are COVID protocols?”

Me:      “They require covid vaccination certificate.… wanna join for some of the time?

Her:     “Do you have to do a PCR test?

Me:      “There’s a travel form you have to fill in prior to going, then the vaccination certificate (must be fourteen days after second vaccine), plus you can do either a PCR (72 hours) or a Rapid test by the looks of it, 48 hours prior.”

Her:     “I will seriously consider but will be honest, am anxious about all of the testing requirements for a short stay. Worth it if going for 2 to 3 weeks.”

Me:      “Let’s chat after I get my second jab… then I feel like I can really start planning the next steps…”

In between vaccinations I stocked up on some mountain adventures, made all the sweeter by the delayed gratification. Coming down the mountain, after a four-day hike with Annette and Marcel, felt a bit like a post-sugar-high depression.

A few days after that trip I graduated to full vaccination status and hopped on a train, wearing a mask, straight over the border and into Germany to catch up with friends and family. After a memorable week, I donned another mask and joined the queue to fly out of Dusseldorf Airport, to Gran Canaria, via Madrid. My trip here was long (I’ll take a more direct route “home”) but logistically much simpler than Sarah’s. I also received nothing but moral support and encouragement from my family and friends (in Europe and back in SA) – honestly, when you feel as though you’re about to embark on a covert mission, it sure helps to have allies. A lot.

Have mask (plus vax passport in the bag), will travel…

Some last-minute uncertainties threatened to upset our plans – like rumours that Spain might move from the UKs amber to red list, but we were given some respite and Sarah and I arranged to meet up in Agaete – in the north-west of the island and off the usual tourist track. The town also borders a national park and mountains to satisfy her appetite for crazy trails. And for the more faint-hearted there’s also tapas, coffee and wine tasting nearby, local giant Gran Can lizards, volcano rock pools, promenades, as well as the GC-200. This coastal road is said to be the most dangerous road in Spain… And I’ve indulged in a good few adrenalin fixes on Bus 101 on route to, what is in my mind, one of the most gorgeous stone beaches. It’s impossible to enter the sea elegantly here, but no sand in your pants – I mean, what more could you want?


My new favourite place, Playa de la Aldea.
Mid-centre is a Gallotia stehlini, a Gran Canaria giant lizard… they grow up to 80cm, and love baking on the rocks. We nicknamed this big boy Tomato.
Maskless for a change, and treating ourselves to a sundowner in a wind-protected spot.

The wind here provides sterling ventilation. We’re surrounded by the Atlantic, so being windy makes sense. On an extreme day, think way too windy to fly in Porterville or de Aar; Wilderness whitecaps that mean milkshakes or cappuccinos are on the menu; or a dust-free doctor wind you just cannot escape.

It’s almost two weeks now since I sat in Agaete’s Plaza de la Constitution waiting for Sarah to arrive. I remember sitting in the cool, relatively wind-protected tree-lined town square, enjoying the normalcy of being surrounded by mask-clad folks, going about their regular routine, laughing, talking, relaxing. I felt quite content, if not a little nostalgic after reading a few more chapters of Ships of Mercy and thinking of the talented communications team I only got to work with for such a brief time. Sarah’s been and gone now. I’m grateful to have been able reconnect with a dear friend, who has been a part of my journey since we were kids, and to mark the year we both turn 50 in an extraordinary way. 

I stayed behind in Agaete for a little while, to write, and to think, and to think and to write. And to frolic in the sea every now and again. And to prolong this incredible sense of freedom that has settled over me, in the time that has passed since collecting my over-sized yellow tog.

The bag is currently standing empty in the corner of my room, waiting to be repacked in preparation for whatever comes next… After Mercy Ships not working out, the way I had envisioned, I do want to make the next “next” count. And how fitting that I have just read a speech by SA climbing legend “the grand old daddy of the Lost World” Andy de Klerk, that ends with this statement:

“If your dreams don’t scare you then they aren’t big enough.”

Till soon




Just checking in…

You know, when you mostly write to earn a living it never looks good if there hasn’t been much action on your website, right? So, this is me, dropping in from my little writing retreat, where the longed-for “clean headspace” has often been severely challenged by the mostly alarming news of our world. Yet, at the same time, there is still much beauty to behold!

Apart from working hard to strengthen my relationship with the usual procrastination and angst associated with getting down to the business of writing, I’ve also been reminded of how great it is to process life and my often-chaotic thoughts through the written word.

And all you have to do is show up…

There definitely isn’t magic happening every day. In fact, if I had my production-driven German game-face on, I would say productivity is below par. But the more “Chill Chrissi” says: What’s the rush. This thing you’re doing doesn’t really have a deadline.

Hopefully “Chill Chrissi” and “Consistent Chrissi” will find a good middle ground. 

Till soon,


The things you do in quarantine…

You guessed it! My test was negative, and I boarded my flight on Monday, arriving in the land of milk, mountains, and red bull on Tuesday, at the crack of dawn. Today is Day Five of my 10-day mandatory quarantine and I will go for a Rapid Test on Monday (Day Seven), to see if I’m eligible for early release. Another negative test means that I can end my quarantine early and go for a long walk along that river I’ve longingly been staring at out of the kitchen window.

Opportunities for exposure since the test last Saturday have been minimal – apart from the flight, and a short journey from the airport to my quarantine pad. Sitting in the kind of craft that helped transport the virus around the world was rather surreal, but we were neatly spread out across the plane. And, apart from a bellowing snorer one row across, it was a rather peaceful experience… Or rather, became peaceful one G&T and chocolate later, once I dealt with the odd nerves of being outside my safe zone, and settled in for the night.

Other than masking up and being surrounded by covered faces for the entire flight, there was really nothing unusual to report. And waking up to the view below was a real treat…

So, what does one do in quarantine? For the first few days it was pretty much business as usual. Finishing a few projects, connecting with family and friends, reading a little, watching series, eating great quarantine cuisine. I have no cause to complain (unlike some Olympic athletes) – just look at what I cooked on Thursday night…or maybe it was Wednesday? Never mind, it was delicious! My quarantine host has provided catering fit for royalty.

And what else does one do in quarantine? Within the safe four walls of an apartment, in a country that seems to have gotten a handle on things.

I worry. I worry about the people back home. I worry about the hospital capacity. I worry about the ever-increasing positive cases within my network and circle of friends. And the fatalities.

My heart goes out to my friends who have lost their parents. And to D, who lost his mom this past Mother’s Day, and sent me a message this afternoon, asking me to tell my parents to be extremely careful. Before telling me, his aunt and uncle both died today. It’s a struggle to make sense of it all.

My heart goes out to Hendrik’s family and friends – sadly, he died of COVID-19 on Thursday. We were not very close, and didn’t see each other often, but he was a part of a paragliding group of friends who have always made me feel very appreciated and welcome. I remember him as always moving at full speed, tirelessly winching as many people up into the air as possible, sometimes even hopping out of the bakkie while it was still moving… like every second counted! I asked how others, who knew him much better, remembered him. Buzz said: “Quiet, friendly, always smiling and eager to get involved and help out.” Charles also remembered the bakkie, adding: “Always with that khaki peak cap with the flap. Always high intensity but never losing his cool.” Gary sent me a video of the lads enjoying a post flying drink, saying “I suppose his boyish naughty laugh and constant smile.” The camaraderie in the video is palpable.

It’s heart wrenchingly sad when moments such as these, will be no more.

I worry. I worry about the people back home. I worry about the hospital capacity. I worry about the ever-increasing positive cases within my network and circle of friends. I’m not ready to lose any of you. So please take extra care out there.




Ten babies, or not

What a strange world we live in, where we have things like ghost decuplets; the White Spiritual Boy Trust; a health minister on special leave for trying to become a digital celebrity; an invisible virus wreaking havoc – I mean… you couldn’t make these things up, if you tried. No wonder the streaming services have so much content with this abundance of subject material. Never mind the captive audience.

Last night as I attended our Family Meeting in anticipation of a regulation that might scupper my future adventures, I inhaled, and told myself not to be silly. Then I remembered that we weren’t allowed to buy underclothes during our first hard lockdown, and a little paranoia crept right back in.

I plan to be away for a few months (some holiday, mostly writing), and sad as this sounds, I’m going to miss the continual soap opera plus the at times ridiculous abuse of the public goodwill, by other members of the public… I think we all agree… I definitely need to get out more!

We may or may not have been hoodwinked by ghost babies; fooled into believing there is a gazillion dollar fund; swayed by the seeming competence of leadership; or heaven forbid, postulate that the pandemic has been blown way out of proportion.

Right now, the prospect of my pending travels feels as surreal as any of the above.

I just have one last hurdle to overcome… please pray that I fail that COVID-19 test I have to sit on Saturday. And if all goes well, and I do, then my next report will come to you straight from quarantine!

A creature, a quorum and new trustees

There’s nothing unusual about politics and mayhem within body corporates – I remember sympathetically listening to friends airing their challenges, clueless as I nodded my head, a little smug that I was a free agent and silently relieved that I’ve never had to worry about such a creature. And, when I moved into an estate at the beginning of the year, that very creature was the furthest thing from my mind. I had noticed that the village I was moving into looked a little neglected and scruffy, but there were more things that spoke for it, than against.

On 13 May I received an SMS announcing that the AGM was scheduled for last night, 27 May. I had to go back on my phone to check when that SMS came in, as to be honest the AGM only really registered when the daily e-mails re proxies hit my inbox. I had plans for last night (yeah baby, birthday week and all), and had been meaning to postpone them, when I got a call from my friend on Tuesday, cancelling, as her hubby had tested positive for COVID-19.

On Tuesday there were only two proxies.

On Wednesday my doctor’s rooms called, postponing my annual check-up, as she too was down with COVID. More time to pay a little attention to the AGM, which to be honest I began doubting would happen – due to rising cases of the virus, as well as my inbox filling up with reminders and requests for proxies.

On Wednesday there were only eight proxies.

On Thursday at 12h00 there were 13 proxies.

On Thursday I visited the municipal offices, only to find them closed due to fumigation.

When it started looking like the AGM would actually go ahead, I began paying more attention, and finally cast my eye over the ninety-page document I accessed via a link in an email. As I scrolled through… Houston… the last AGM was held four years ago… we. the last four years of financials all seemed to be completed in May this year…. have… every year the body corporate was in the process of becoming SARS compliant… a problem: we were supposed to have nominated trustees pretty much 48 hours ago: I sincerely hoped that other folks hadn’t been sleeping like I so obviously had been and took myself off to the AGM.

By hook or by crook we got ourselves a quorum, which meant that the meeting could proceed. There were a number of new owners in the room, and during those first fifteen minutes – as an accumulation of mistrust, frustration and dissatisfaction was vented – I’m sure we all doubted whether it had been a good idea to buy into this place. I can’t speak for anyone else, but the clueless Chrissi-body was full-on engaged in fight or flight mode. Not quite the adrenalin rush I wished for on Sunday… I was hoping to traverse a cliff, or hike up a mountain, or board a plane, or camp amongst wild cats, or… well, you know what I mean.

No one in the room had been present at the 2017 AGM so no-one could vouch for the accuracy of the 2017 minutes. The 10-year maintenance plan (penned in 2017 and not accepted or updated since) and proposed budget were confusing and unsatisfactory. Apparently a R240 000 bike shed is a planned improvement, and while I think it’s a fantastic idea – R240k? I wonder what this proposed “shed” looks like, and who is being paid to build it? Another PPE-scandal unfolding right before our eyes? Oh, who to trust. I am a sucker for giving people the benefit of the doubt, you know, but when you smell a rat…

The chair constantly reminded us that we only had the room for two hours and needed to get through the agenda items post haste… as if we could cover four years of nothing, in no time at all. I asked many “stupid questions” including why we hadn’t been chased up to nominate trustees, in the same manner as we had been hounded for proxies. Granted, not knowing is not an excuse when the information is available somewhere, however, I still think we should have been encouraged by the managing agent. I guess I expected something along the lines of SAHPA where the nominations and their bios are shared with the members prior to the AGM and electing a committee, and where you get to choose who represents you. I felt like a beggar, who cannot be a chooser. And this beggar had been caught napping.

There is/was a lot going on, and obviously there’s a lot of history I’m not aware of – and I’m not sure I want to go there. Where were 2017 attendees, and why did so many people with a vested interest leave this particular meeting early. Surely the status quo was not ok?

When it finally came to the new trustees, the room was first asked how many we’d like. Someone said three. The chair said four. I said more. Another lady listed the roles that should be fulfilled. We settled on seven.

The trustees who had been nominated were then revealed to us: the three, seemingly comfortable existing trustees and one new nomination (thank you Mia for having been awake before the 48-hour cut off). We needed another three to make up our seven, and, hallelujah, three owners put up their hands.

I know what you’re thinking, but no, not me…  I did however promise moral support, a listening ear, and wine if the going gets really tough. I’m rooting for the new committee and hope they can resuscitate this creature.

I guess that’s life, right? There’s nothing new under the sun. And although I spent a restless night, thinking of the potential conflict that lies ahead for the trustees, I’m hoping with a little elbow grease, ethics and putting egos aside, we get to restore our little haven to what it was, back in the day.

And now, I’m off to traverse a cliff, or hike up a mountain, or board a plane, or camp amongst wild cats, or… well, you know what I mean.



Becoming an alumna, bubbles, and a big birthday

A few months ago, we were preparing to return to the ship, which would include a week or so of quarantine in Dakar at the beginning of June, before embarking on the Africa Mercy, and finishing the field service there. I’d got my psyche re-aligned to being ‘out in the world, living in a ship’ and was cautiously optimist about venturing beyond my comfort zone again. I had even worked out a little quarantine sanity plan: indoor exercise, Netflix movies and a reading list. I’d broken up with almost all my clients, and prepped my family and friends, when the international board made the decision to only return to Africa in 2022. So, I re-aligned my sights… Most of my clients happily took me back (again), and I’ve been busy as a bee, pushing out strings of words, like a little sausage making machine.

And so, my chapter as a writer with Mercy Ships has officially drawn to a close – and I am now referred to as one of the alumni. I always thought becoming an alumna followed some sort of achievement, which to be honest, my time with the organisation doesn’t really feel like – but it is, what it is. Who knows, perhaps in the future if the stars align, I’ll return to one of the ships, in a different capacity.

My desire is to write. Be it stories about people, that are relevant, authentic and informative; or stories about me – that entertain, amuse, and share my world view and experiences. I believe I can do this, in any one of the bubbles currently available to me. I just need to make a decision…and invest the effort.

I turn fifty next week, and while I embrace the maturity (relative) that comes with this milestone, I do want it to mark a new chapter. I could carry on doing what I do now and do it well. But I don’t really want to. It represents the safe choice, and this near fifty-year old wants more adventure (albeit not of the white-knuckle kind). I’m putting that out there into the universe and am excited about what comes next.

My original, over ambitious plan was to take all of next week off, and spend time with friends and family, marking the milestone, drinking bubbly, rehashing old memories and making new ones. That hasn’t quite worked out, so I’m stretching celebrations into June, and maybe even beyond. Because I can. And you know us “old” folk, we can get quite cantankerous if things don’t work out, just so.

till soon,



Today is 19 March

Today is the one-year anniversary of my return from Senegal. And so much has happened, since I got back here. In the world, and in my little old life too! And boy, am I ready for an aeroplane ride again. So much so, I would happily have one of those Astra Zeneca, in storage somewhere in South Africa… but that’s beside today’s point. We’ve all been experiencing a different kind of action (or lack thereof) than we’ve been used to.

However, I’m not complaining. This smaller world we’ve been living in, has definitely helped the process of making decisions easier.

I always work my way to a decision without sharing or discussing too much with those close to me. In fact, I mostly process alone, dropping a few breadcrumbs, or a turkey decoy, along the way. And then suddenly I know my decision, and I spring the surprise: This is my plan. And everyone is like: “where did that one come from? I thought she was doing this. Not that? I thought she felt this, not that. How? When?”

When I left South Africa to join Mercy Ships in January 2020, I was all in, and many were quite surprised at my decision. I left behind a pretty incredible life – family, friends, work, nature, lifestyle… I had decided it was time to do something different. Something purposeful, something in an environment that was true, and real, and meaningful, and authentic. I thought that I needed to leave here, to do that. I thought I needed to commit to a LONG time away, to do that. And, they do say that a change is like a holiday. Perhaps I felt a bit jaded in SA. Like I needed a holiday. Perhaps a change is really like one.

But I cannot lie – my ‘holiday’ was a tough one. I’m not only talking about being on the ship – my word, but the job satisfaction on that ship is on another level… I’m talking more about leaving behind a life where people know and see you. And opting for the totally unknown. I didn’t realise how much ‘being known and seen’ fuels me. I was intent on seeing and knowing those who are normally unseen. But to be honest, the ship, followed hot on the heels by the pandemic, resulted in me (for a few months) feeling quite displaced, and like a shadow of the real Chrissi. And for a while there, I did not think that going back to the ship was on the cards.

I’m not sure about all of you? Have you felt known, and seen and loved this past year? So many of us “wing it” quite well. We may just look as though we are taking it all in our stride. I think one (or two) of many things that this year has taught me, is the importance of boundaries. We can really only do so much, with what we have. And the importance of self-care. Again, we can only do so much with what we have. However, I realise that our journeys this past year all look very different.

Mine has taken me here:

On a personal level, I take such delight in having been able to spend more quality time with my family, and some close friends, this year, be it online, face-to-face, or mask-to-mask. I am so grateful for the wonderful family get-together, that was a wedding this past December. And that the party could include my sister and her other half, and that they were able to fly back home again. I am so incredibly grateful to all my beautiful friends (in South Africa and abroad) who know me and see me – you have no idea how valuable that is. Or perhaps you do.

I’m excited to be going back to the ship, with a place to come home to, at the end of that season. The timing of that, and what exactly it will look like amidst the pandemic, I’ll share as soon as I can. I am looking forward to seeing and knowing others and honouring their stories, while feeling confident in the fact that I too am known, and seen, and loved, back home.  It’s more important than I have ever realised before.

On a professional level: Is it a strange thing to have this much job satisfaction? And to take such pride in really striving to do things properly. It’s such an empowering environment when you feel you are adding real value through the work that you do. And I’ve stopped being apologetic, about being so terribly fussy about the detail.

I have so much right here. The grass is not always greener on the other side. And, if you think the grass is greener on the other side, try watering and fertilising your patch (I may as well lay it on thick, while we’re on cliches, right?)

A lot of irrigation has happened here since March 19, a year ago. 

This is me, saying thank you, for being part of this season.




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