Home, out, and home again.

2:27am 17th May 2008

So, since I came back from the Pai CouchSurfing collective, quite a bit has happened. We installed a fingerprint lock on our front door in response to the total mess that was the Gassiep family key management procedure, and I am pleased to report that it has been a total success. I have enrolled two fingers of each family member into the lock, and nobody has been locked out since. Furthermore, there's no more rummaging for Mum who has a handbag like the Tardis, or trying five different keys for Dad who refuses to cull his keyring which must have at least 50 keys on it. The model we have is the FA6600 and I highly recommend these units. They're easy to use, solidly built compared to standard front door latches and seem to have very good fingerprint reading capabilities.

Since then I've been overseas again, I visited friends and family in South Africa as well as making a stop off in Thailand to do another unit of training in Scuba diving. I've just returned home today. While in South Africa I stayed at my Aunt's place in Johannesburg, which is always a pleasant holiday. I accompanied my mother there, and we took Zayd there to meet my cousin's kids. He had a great time, he doesn't get a whole lot of family contact here in Australia, as there just aren't that many kids here that he can relate to at his own level. It was also great seeing everyone there, I haven't been in about 18 months. I didn't stay there for very long, and didn't get to catch up with as many of the people there that I would have like to, sorry if you're one of them!

On my way back I met Gemmell in Thailand, where we completed the next level of PADI diver training, Emergency First Responder and Rescue Diver. These two units are the last ones we needed to do in order to go into professional diving, and the last one before Master Scuba Diver, which is the highest qualification outside of professional diving. In order to get the Master Diver qualification we need to be supervised for 5 specialties. We've already done the first dive for our chosen ones the last time we were in Thailand, we just need to get them logged, and then ensure that we have 50 logged dives in total. In other words, we just need to get some dives logged, and we're there.

So now I'm back at home. I have a few things that I'm working on, including Twerl. Oh well, back to the grindstone again until I find an excuse to flee the country again. I'm thinking of doing some winter dives here in Melbourne so I have an excuse to try out the dry suit that I bought from my first instructor in Thailand. I've never used it, as I've not done any diving in water cold enough to need it. I'll keep you all updated on how that goes, so watch this space! Naz out.

South African adventures

5:20pm 3rd November 2006

Well it's been an eventful stay so far. My cousin's wife, her brother and sister in law are currently in court, accused of murder charges. For those of you who are not familiar with this, Google can help, look for "Kadwa murder trial mayfair" and you should get some information returned. I've been to the court a few times, and I must say the trial is quite an interesting, if disturbing, one.

I haven't had much time to meet up with everyone here yet, but I'm getting around to it. If you're from here and you're reading this and I haven't spoken to you please don't think I'm ignoring you. It's just that I just don't have time for you because you're not important enough.

Yes, I've been eating lots of Wonder Why pizzas, lots of biltong and drinking lots of Creme Soda. I'm going to try to bring some cans of Creme Soda back, hopefully a box full of soda cans won't cause customs to think I'm smuggling something in. I remember last time I brought some in they made me open 3 cans up at random, and after testing them I had to drink them all. Damn fools.

I haven't managed to get time to go to Cape Town, I was hoping to go down there to do some scuba diving with great white sharks, obviously in a cage. Oh well, maybe next time. Borge, the state manager for TeleChoice, is here as well, he's from Cape Town, but I didn't get to catch up with him over here either, more's the pity. Well that's it for now. Hopefully when I write again I'll have more interesting things than murder trials to write about. Until then, bye for now.

Escape from SA!

7:33pm 10th March 2005

OK what a drama! On my way to the airport, after 4 delayed departures, I finally have my bags packed and am ready to leave. I have organized myself well and everything is settled, and most importantly, I am mentally prepared to finally leave South Africa and go home. Who would have thought that this one time, when I was really ready to leave, we'd have a tire blowout on the freeway? Not a puncture or a flat, but a blowout. The entire inside wall of the tire was shredded like someone had attacked it with a chainsaw. OK, no problem. Get the spare out. Right? Wrong. The week before there'd been another blowout on the way back from a nice BBQ night and that too was not just punctured, but chewed up like a mummy great white shark gave it to her baby as a pacifier. What are the odds?

So there we are, on the freeway, 4km from the Airport, trying to figure out what on Earth we are going to do when a nice guy in a BMW pulls up and offers help. As luck would have it, he was on his way to the airport too. He was a Muslim guy and his name was Nazeer, just like mine! He offered to lend us his spare tire, as long as we promised to return it to him when we were done. As luck had it, he worked at the airport as well. So we took his tire, amid many thanks, and proceeded to attempt to fit it. I have put up a photo of the blown tires, along with us trying to get the spare on.

It was difficult because the blowout occurred on the opposite side of the highway and we had to move the car to the other side so the flat wasn't on the side traffic was passing. After waiting for a gap big enough to move the car through, we had to carry all my bags across the freeway. The reason we'd unloaded the car was to take weight off the flat to prevent damage to the mag wheel.

We attempted to jack the car up, but ran into issues when we found that the rubber jack point had somehow fallen off the chassis. Great. The car fell off the jack twice, nearly taking my finger off the first time. Finally we got the car jacked and the spare wheel on, so we drove to the nearest tire workshop. We had our car fixed, a new tire fitted, and then headed for the airport.

First, we called Nazeer and returned his tire. He works at the airport, as the duty manager. I have to remember to take his family out for dinner one day. I went to the Emirates desk and attempted to get on the evening flight. No luck, it was full. But I wasn't taking no for an answer. I told them to put me on standby and that I'd be waiting there the 4 hours until the flight was set to board just in case there was a no show. So we loitered around the airport causing trouble as any bunch of 4 twenty something guys would do when they are bored and eventually, with a little help from my friend Ida at the Emirates desk (Thanks Ida! I hope you enjoyed the chocolates!) I got a seat on the 1915 flight at the last minute. As it turns out, it must have been a couple that didn't show, as the seat next to me is also free. Oh yea, I'm writing this in the air. I'll log it in when we land and I get to an internet point.

So here I am, 10,000 meters above sea level, finally flying away from South Africa. I don't think I really believed I was going to leave until I was actually in this tiny seat. The facts of reality only caused realization to set in my brain once lack of circulation caused pins and needles to set in my ass. Well, that's about enough for one trip. The old lady across the aisle has been looking at me with this fascinated look on her face ever since I got my laptop out, so I better put it away rather than risk being engaged in a conversation. I really, REALLY don't want to hear about her kids, their kids, and her recent hip reconstruction. So this is Naz signing off from somewhere over the Indian Ocean.

More family members!

8:53pm 13th February 2005
OK so it's official: My sister in law is pregnant and I'm going to be an uncle in about 8 months or so. Yay! Congratulations to my brother and his wife! Pretty soon I'm going to officially be Uncle Naz!

Not only that, today, about 3 hours ago, my cousin's wife Fariel gave birth to their second daughter! Congratulations to them as well. I will post the photos I took at the hospital just minutes ago so check them out!

The downside to all this is that if I thought my mother was nagging me to get married before, its only going to get worse now! Already I get the whole "it's time for you to get married" speech every second day.

Anyway I'm booked to leave here on the 18th, which means I'll be home a few days after that, by the 21st at the very latest. I'm missing everyone back home and as much as I'm enjoying being here I'm also looking forward to getting back in the saddle at home. Take care everyone and I'll see you all soon!

Back in South Africa!

11:59am 30th January 2005
Well here I am back in South Africa after a year of absence, possibly the longest time I've been away from here in quite a long time. The first thing I get told when I arrive is that my cousin just got robbed for the fifth time. Oh how I've missed this place.

I have to check my email and also send some from my laptop, however getting my laptop on to the internet is proving to be a little bit of a challenge. The ADSL provider that my cousin uses has tech support staff members that are about as knowledgeable as a cage full of hamsters, and probably half as hard working. I'm trying to get the ADSL modem's internal PPPoE client working, but the unit they bought, at an exorbitant price from their service provider I might add, is the cheapest piece of re-branded trash I've ever had laid eyes on. Their ISP doesn't allow multiple logins so I need to get the internal client working before I can connect an Ethernet switch up to allow multiple computers to access the internet. I almost appreciate Telstra's half assed bumblings when I come to third world countries and see just how much worse things can be. Almost.

On a lighter note, things are good here, everyone is happy and I think I'm going to have a nice time. I plan to visit Cape Town while I'm here, as well as perhaps get some friends together and organize a bit of a road trip to Warm Baths, which is a big outdoor water park located at a natural hot spring. My cousin's daughter Amaarah has grown up a lot since I was here last, which I guess is not surprising. I will post pics as soon as I can get decent internet connectivity for my laptop.