Category Archives: Humour

Mouth Ulcers – Kill or Cure!

Have you ever wondered what makes some human beings tick?  I mean, what makes some people overflow with the milk of human kindness and others with the venom of a basketful of asps?  I’m always amazed at people’s sense of humour so thought I’d share some comments that I found on a website recently.
But first let me set the scene.  For the last couple of weeks I’ve had some really dreadful mouth ulcers that have rendered me almost incapable of eating or brushing my teeth properly.  I tried all the ointments one buys over the counter at the pharmacist to no avail, and then decided to go onto a website that deals with ulcer remedies.  Like everyone else who logged on to the site, I was in great pain, feeling miserable, and thought that perhaps I might come across an obscure remedy used by someone’s long-gone Grandma!
Allow me to share some comments from folks helping each other out when they are desperate for relief from agonizing ulcers (and remember that vets euthanase animals in far less pain than this) :

Advice : “Simply dab a bit of sulphuric acid on the ulcer.  It will disappear in seconds.  I tried it and it works.”
Response : “Sulphuric acid can be found in batteries.  That is NOT good advice because it could eat through your entire lip.”  (Follow this advice and you could be asking for recommendations on a reconstructive surgeon.)
Advice :  “Pour neat hydrogen peroxide on the ulcer.”
Response :  “Not a good idea to use it neat.  I suggest you dilute it first.  It will burn like sh*#!!  but it does work.”
Advice : “Rub salt into the ulcer and then gargle with salt water every few hours.  Salt hurts so don’t say I didn’t warn you!”
Response :  “Ok, I’ve tried salt at least three times a day.  It seems to mislead you into thinking it’s working, but in actual fact it has made it worse.  Now the ulcer is twice the size it was before the treatment.”
Another response to salt :  “Holy hell!  Tried the salt and it hurts like a bitch.  Didn’t work either.”
Advice :  “Rub toothpaste into the ulcer.  It does burn a bit.”
Response :  “Toothpaste is the worst stuff to rub into the ulcer.  It actually contains the chemicals that cause ulcers in the first place.”
Advice :  “My cousin had a really bad mouth ulcer.  She rubbed battery acid on it and it healed.”
Response :  Battery acid will be absorbed into your bloodstream and even small doses can cause permanent damage.  Anything larger than 0.002 can kill you.  Please don’t do it.”
Advice : “Try Strychnine – it doesn’t only end ulcers, it’s a cure for all of life’s problems.”
Response :  “FOR GOD’S SAKE DO NOT TRY THE STRYCHNINE, IT WILL KILLYOU VERY VERY DEAD.”
Advice :  “Put some snuff on it and rub it right in.”
No response to that one, maybe everyone thought he was referring to nose ulcers.
Advice :  “Use a Q-tip to rough up the sore, which will bring tears to your eyes (no kidding!)  then take a piece of copper sulphate stone and place it on the sore.”
No response – I guess the guy who tried that one died on the spot!!
Advice : “Take a match – burn it for 5 seconds, let it cool and place it on the sore. Burns like hell, but works after a couple of days.”
Response :  Holy crap!!!  I didn’t read the bit that said let it cool down before applying to the ulcer.”
Advice :  “Vegemite – it contains Vitamin B.”
Response :  “Okay, I tried putting Vegemite on and it does burn to the point where you make funny faces and drool.  I’ll only know in a few days if it works”
Advice :  “Put a used teabag on the ulcer.”
Response :  “Oh thank you, thank you, you kind lovely lady.  Even if it doesn’t work at least it’s not going to sting the hell out of us all.”
This website is an absolute hoot and an insight into what lengths people will go to for a cure – and how gullible they are.
I’m still not sure what the cure is, but a friend has just recommended that I rub my ulcer vigorously with steel wool followed by a neat white vinegar gargle for an hour.  It sounds like it could be a bit painful – I wonder if I could replace the steel wool with a nail brush?
You’re welcome to give it a whirl, but I can’t promise that it will
a)    work,
b)    not burn, sting or make you faint,
c)    not make your eyeballs pop out of your skull or cause a stroke
d)    cause death or anything more serious.

It can’t be worse than battery acid or any of the other suggestions.

NB : Wilkinson’s World would like to confirm that this is just a tongue in cheek (ouch!!!) look at some of the cures on offer and we don’t recommend that anyone actually uses any of the ideas presented.

The Whistling Rats of Rooiputs

In 1284, so the story goes, the town of Hamelin in Germany suffered a plague of rats. A little man dressed in a motley pied costume arrived in town and offered to rid Hamelin of its problem, for a fee, to which the townsfolk agreed. The Pied Piper (as he has become known during the intervening centuries) whipped out his pipe and began playing a jolly tune as he wandered through the streets of the town. Miraculously, the rats began to follow him, enchanted by the music, but the wicked little man betrayed their murine trust and led them into the waters of the Weser River, where they all drowned.  So sad.

But, the story doesn’t end there, because the townsfolk then reneged on their promise and refused to pay the Piper. Not happy with this change to the agreed script, the Pied Piper waited until all the adults of the town were in church (apparently children didn’t go to church in Hamelin!) and then he began to play his pipe again as he walked through the streets. This time it was the children who followed him, and they were led into a cave outside the town, never to be seen again. Well, according to some accounts three of the children survived; one was lame and couldn’t keep up, one was blind and couldn’t follow the group and one was deaf and thus singularly unimpressed by the music. Thus we have witnesses to this account.

But that isn’t the end of the story either, although that is probably the part that you are familiar with. After all, that explains what happened to the rats and the children, but what became of the Pied Piper? Well, one theory (published here for the very first time!) is that he was exceedingly disenchanted with the people of Hamelin, and in fact with humanity in general, and so he immigrated to the isolation of southern Africa. To Rooiputs in the Kgalagadi, actually, although it probably wasn’t called Rooiputs in 1284.  Probably called Little Hamelin or New Hamelin or Piedpiperville.

Brants's whistling rat

No sooner had he settled down in this isolated part of the world, than the Pied Piper noticed that he was not alone! Several little grey heads appeared from well concealed burrows and several pairs of beady eyes watched his every move. Rats! He smiled. Rats he was familiar with. He whipped out his pipe and began to play. History doesn’t record the name of the tune that he played, but we like to think that it was the “Colonel Bogey March”, later (much later) to be used as the theme tune in the movie “Bridge on the River Kwai”. A jovial, catchy tune that soon had the rats out of their burrows and dancing along beside the Piper.

Brants's whistling rat

“Wait a minute!” thought the Piper, “the German rats marched behind me in orderly fashion. Left, right; left, right. Proper goose-step. Left, right; left, right. These miserable rats are dancing! Don’t they understand discipline here in Africa?” He stopped playing for a moment, indignant at their behaviour and intending to reprimand them in no uncertain manner, but the rats would have none of that and insisted that he play on. This was the most fun they’d had since Bushy passed by with his one string guitar in the winter of 1167. Short on repertoire, the Piper played the “Colonel Bogey March” again, but the rats had his measure now and began whistling along as he played. (Whistling? Could this have been the inspiration for the whistling soldiers that were featured in “Bridge on the River Kwai”?)

Brants's whistling rat

Now please take note – this was a momentous occasion. This marked one of the great, unsung evolutionary leaps that has gone unrecorded in most textbooks. The rats had never whistled before! They didn’t know that they had it in them, but “Colonel Bogey” they could not resist. They stared at each other in delighted amazement at this unexpected development, and enthusiastically increased the volume of their whistling, almost drowning out the piping of the man in the pied outfit.

Brants's whistling rat

The Pied Piper marched through the Kgalagadi, surrounded by his growing troupe of dancing rats, all whistling in tune as he played. He was intent on getting rid of the rodents as he had in Hamelin, in spite of their undoubted musical talent, but, alas, this was not Europe. The rivers of the Kgalagadi are dry for much of the year and the Pied Piper was unable to find any water to drown them. Instead it was he who eventually succumbed to exhaustion, slumped to the ground and melted in the heat. All to the refrain of  the whistled version of “Colonel Bogey”.

The rats, on the other hand, flourished.

Brants's whistling rat

If you visit the semi desert of the Kalahari and sit quietly in the low scrub at sunset you will hear the wonderful whistling of the descendants of these Pied Piper-inspired Whistling Rats. You may not hear the “Colonel Bogey March”, but, then again, you might. Who knows? A close friend swears he heard them whistle “Nine Million Bicycles in Beijing”.

The deadly Peregrinatio cimex

Everyone is familiar with measles, mumps, rubella and the like. These are minor, mostly childhood infections that are well under medical control and no longer a real threat to anyone with reasonable access to medical care. So, forget about those. Africa faces bigger challenges from bugs; from really small bugs to the somewhat larger.

The bite of the mosquito can transmit Plasmodium falciparum and cause malaria. The bite of the tstetse fly can transmit Trypanosoma brucei and cause sleeping sickness. The bite of a meercat can transmit the Lyssavirus that causes rabies. Tramping on a rusty nail can result in an infection with Clostridium tetani and cause tetanus. The list is endless and the threats diverse, and each infection is costly to treat.

But none is as costly as the infection with Peregrinatio cimex. Spread through exposure to the magnificent scenery; the blue skies by day and the star-filled skies at night; the wonderful assortment of animals and the incredibly diverse people, Peregrinatio cimex is deadly. Although physically painless, it eats up the family budget rapidly and is no respecter of pension funds, college funds or any other jealously hoarded sum of money identified for some well-conceived, all-important objective. For Peregrinatio cimex is the Travel Bug.

Travel bug

Just a single bite from the P. cimex causes itchy feet and restless legs; the need to keep moving on to see and experience new things. The need to see what is over the next hill, across the next river, down that interesting looking track. The need to visit places just because they have fascinating names, or because you heard mention of them sometime in the dim and distant past. Glazed eyes at the thought of work, clearing instantly at the sight of a road map of some exotic clime. The bite of the Travel Bug is largely incurable, and although sufferers may concede that it is nice to return home after a trip, a relapse is inevitable and they will soon feel compelled to move on, forever bemoaning the shortage of time and money.

A bite by the Travel Bug will lead to all manner of new experiences, including exposure to more bugs. Some of the larger bugs that will be encountered are interesting and less destructive than those referred to in the first paragraph; some are even large enough to be photographed. Let’s look at a few.

Here we have the fierce-looking (but harmless) Koringkriek, or Armoured Ground Cricket.  In some areas of Namibia there are armies of these wandering on the paths at certain times of the year, migrations may be seen crossing the road, many losing their lives under the rolling rubber of passing vehicles.

Koringkriek

Then there are scorpions.  These little creatures have tails that curve up over their backs and their poison is potent enough to ruin a holiday.  It is always advisable to wear closed shoes after dark when they are most active.

Scorpion

And the infamous camel spider.  This  nasty little beast has a number of aliases because it isn’t really a spider at all, but a solifigud (a rather awkward name which apparently means ‘escaping from the sun’).  Also known as a sun spider or wind scorpion, this is not a gogga to mess with.  It moves very quickly and often appears to run after someone walking in the sun, although what it is really doing is looking for shade.  We were terrorized by camel spiders on Christmas night at Khamkirri on the Orange River (and it wasn’t only the ladies who were climbing on chairs!)

This first picture is of a female camel spider –

Female Camel Spider

The male is much smaller and has a very ferocious-looking face.  Love the red hair!!!

Male Camel Spider

On a larger scale and perfectly harmless, but a bit alarming to find climbing on your chair is the Turner’s Tubercled Gecko (not a bug per se but it falls into the creepy crawlie class).

Turners Tubercled Gecko Turners Tubercled Gecko

In fact folding camping chairs seem to be magnets for bugs.  Put a hand on this hairy caterpillar and you could spend the next hour getting rid of its prickly hairs.

Hairy caterpillar

Post script:
For those with a scientific bent, the binomial Peregrinatio cimex derives from the Latin “Peregrinatio” meaning “travel” and the Latin “cimex” meaning “bug”. The Travel Bug. Of course it doesn’t really exist (as if you thought it did!), but doesn’t it make a wonderful excuse for all those rather expensive and pointless excursions?

A Namibian Christmas Tale

The Godfather

The Godfather

He was known throughout the bulbul kingdom of Khorixas as “The Godfather”.  Wise beyond his years, he was the acknowledged guardian of the tribes folklore; he alone had access to the collective wisdom of their collective ancestors. Well, that‘s what he said and although some of his elders felt that a lot of his stories were just that –stories, he was big, strong and ruthless. And so no bulbul in Khorixas ever challenged his claim to the wisdom of the ancients. Besides which, he attracted a lot of young ladies to the group…

The Godfather

The Godfather

Periodically The Godfather called his flock together so that they could enjoy a few of his stories, and although this was seen by some as an exercise in self indulgence and self aggrandizement as The Godfather was usually the hero of his own stories, even if they were supposedly set at some time in the past.

This particular morning, though, was different.

No water in this pool!

No water in this pool!

His kingdom, as he liked to think of the 1000 square metres occupied by his flock (because that made him a King!), was in the grip of a severe drought. The heat was intense, day after day, but it had not rained for weeks. Or months even. Most of the bulbuls couldn’t remember when last it had rained. Not surprising, really; most couldn’t remember what happened yesterday. But The Godfather could remember and that, too, set him apart from his fellows. Not much point in claiming possession of all this wisdom if you couldn’t retain the memories.

No rain for months, and all the standing water was long gone. Not a dam, not a puddle remained.

The enthralled audience

The enthralled audience

So the lesser bulbuls heeded his call, dropped what they were doing and gathered in orderly fashion to listen to The Godfather.

When there was water

When there was water

“There was a time”, he began, without preamble, “when there was water here at Khorixas. Not just a few drops of dew hanging from the branches – I’m talking about enough water to swim in!”

There were gasps of amazement from the listeners. Some gasped at the thought of so much water, some gasped because they had just heard a new word – “swim” and some gasped because the others were gasping and they didn’t want to feel left out. The youngest gasped in dismay because he had thought they were gathering for lunch, not for some far-fetched story about water.

Sharing with the weavers

Sharing with the weavers

“So much water,” The Godfather went on, “that we shared it with our friends, the weavers.” More gasps.

“Since when are we friends with the weavers?” some thought.

“What’s a weaver?” some thought.

“When’s lunch?” the youngest thought.

The Godfather (again!)

The Godfather (again!)

“ And now…” a dramatic pause. “The weavers have returned the favour!

“A few minutes ago I met with my counterpart amongst the weavers, and she led me to a source of water!”

More gasps.

What was “a source of water?” The youngest thought. He knew about Tomato Source. Worcester Source. Even Tabasco Source. But “a source of water?” And why would you want to turn water into a source anyway?

Inspecting the water-tree

Inspecting the water-tree

“I have been to see this water,” The Godfather said proudly, as if he had discovered the origin of the River Nile. “And it is wondrous to behold!” He paused for effect.

“When’s lunch?” the youngest thought, missing the drama of the pause.

“It doesn’t run along the ground, this water,” The Godfather explained, “or lie still upon the ground in the form of a puddle. No.” Another pause. “There is a little silver tree growing from the ground without any branches or leaves and this tree spits out the water! Clean, cool water!”

There really is water!

There really is water!

The oldest bulbul rolled his eyes. A silver tree without branches that spat water. What bulbulsh*t!

“And I shall take you all to see this magical tree right now!”

“Can’t we go after lunch?” thought the youngest.

And so The Godfather led the group across the desert to the silver tree that spat out water.

The eldest bulbul visits the water-tree

The eldest bulbul visits the water-tree

“I will perch on this oddly-shaped stem”, he announced, “and you can all check the water yourselves.”

“What’s an oddly?” thought the youngest. “Pear-shaped I understand. Pyramid-shaped I understand. But oddly-shaped?”

The eldest was the first to approach the tree after The Godfather, as was his right. Lo and behold! There was water. Not a lot, to be sure, but a steady drip. Not enough for a bath, but, if you showed some patience, enough to drink.

Yes, the presence of water in confirmed!

Yes, the presence of water in confirmed!

“You are right, Godfather,” said the eldest, looking up at the leader. “This silver tree spits water! It is a miracle!”

The Godfather smiled. “And just in time for Christmas. I shall call it the Tree the Angels Provided or a TAP for short.”

The eldest bulbul leaves to spread the word

The eldest bulbul leaves to spread the word

“I shall spread the word,” the elder said as he sped off from the Silver tree. “We now have our own tap.”

“Great,” said the youngest, finally speaking aloud, “we have a tap. Perhaps we can have lunch now?”

Try camping – Rob’s response

Anyone who read the post “Try camping – it’s much cheaper” and thought that it was about camping and buying stuff for camping missed the point. It’s really about the differences in the way men and women see the world. Observe a couple in a TV store  – the male will immediately see the importance of owning a 42 inch plasma TV; the  female will roll her eyes and tap her foot. A foot encased in a shoe that cost half as much as the TV, but which she considered a bargain.

Let me explain a few things that were omitted from the post in question. There are a few snide comments on buying a 4X4, but this was a no-brainer and really not worthy of further discussion. I proved that by taking the Opel Monza up the first stretch of Sani Pass. Point made.

You'd take a sedan up here?

You'd take a sedan up here?

So let’s consider the other items.

A man says “I’m going to buy a rooftop tent” and his wife thinks he is going to buy a rooftop tent. Only a rooftop tent. But the man knows that you need load bars to fit the rooftop tent to the bakkie – how else are you going to put it on the roof? Nail it on? The load bars are so obvious, it isn’t really worth mentioning them. If you are going to buy shoes, you don’t really have to mention that you need shoe-laces as well, do you? And if you buy a rooftop tent, then clearly you plan to go camping, right? In remote places (in Namibia anywhere outside of Windhoek is remote). So it is a given that you will need some recovery equipment – high-lift jack, tow strap, sand tracks, compressor, spade. No point in taking a chance on getting stuck out there in remote Namibia. And of course you will need camping stuff like sleeping bags, gas bottles, lights, chairs. So if a man says “I’m going to buy a rooftop tent”, he doesn’t mean only a rooftop tent, he means that he wants to go camping. I would have thought that much was obvious. Anyway, it was Jane who wanted the chairs.

And, to set the record straight, the drawer system so derisively referred to in the post below was made absolutely essential because of the amount of unnecessary “stuff” that Jane has to cart around with her. Take toiletries. I take nothing from the bathroom on a camping trip beyond a toothbrush and toothpaste. After all, you don’t need a comb if you wear a hat; you don’t need to shave if you don’t take a mirror. Jane? 321 separate items in a toiletries bag the size of a respectable Nike tog bag, most of which are unidentifiable and some of which look positively lethal. So the drawer system was actually bought in self-defense to contain these weapons of mass reconstruction.

One of the black bags is Jane's toiletries bag

The black bags on the left are Jane's toiletries bags

Now I concede that a man may be vain enough to sneak a peek at himself in the rear view mirror once or twice during a camping trip to see how his beard is progressing, or how his hat fits. Bad mistake. Beards always feel better than they look, and although women look great in hats, men just look like dicks. But we might sneak a peak now and again. Women, on the other hand, look at their reflection in any shiny surface that they can find; a silver tea-spoon, a pot lid, a darkened car window, the neighbour’s bald head. Even a mirror. A big mirror, which they will take with them expressly for this purpose. Into the drawer with it.

Camping vs hotels - would you really trade this for the bathroom at a Holiday Inn?

Camping vs hotels - would you really trade this for the bathroom at a Holiday Inn?

Campring vs hotels - Or this shower for the shower at the London Hilton?

Camping vs hotels - Or this shower for the shower at the London Hilton?

Of course, women do have more reason to look into a mirror than men; most men have bodies that shouldn’t be seen unclothed in daylight; women are works of art. Have you noticed that just about all men’s magazines have pictures of near-naked women in them? And most women’s magazines also have pictures of near-naked women in them? I’m not sure what that proves – just thought I would mention it. I read somewhere that most women would rather get undressed in front of a man than in front of another woman. This is because women are critical; men are just grateful.

Back to the drawer system. Another reason that it proved essential was to accommodate the clothes that Jane takes camping. A separate outfit for every day and every weather condition, plus a few spares. When all you really need is a change every couple of days. (Clean underwear becomes quite a treat after a few days!) We take off for a weekend in the Namib Desert; she packs a raincoat. But, with all those outfits, she will still find it necessary to launder something sometime during the trip. Amazing. Why can’t she just turn the stuff inside out and carry on wearing it?

So was all this camping stuff expensive? Depends on your frame of reference, really. A man will happily pay $500 for something that is only worth $250 if he really wants it. A woman will pay $250 for something worth $500 that she has no use for whatsoever, and think she got a bargain. I wanted the camping stuff, therefore it was cheap at the price.

In conclusion, to compare the cost of camping to overseas holidays doesn’t make any sense at all! Only a woman could possibly think that a romantic evening wining and dining on the Champs-Élysées in Paris is more fun than digging your 4X4 out of a river bed under the blazing sun in the Khowarib Schlucht in Namibia.

Far more interesting plants here than at Kew Gardens.

Far more interesting plants here than at Kew Gardens.

Now, if we pass up the trip to the Greek Isles next year, I can get a set of Old Man Emu shocks and maybe a snorkel ….

Try camping – it’s much cheaper

As you have no doubt gathered, Rob and I are inveterate travelers and will pack a suitcase at the drop of a hat.  We’ve been privileged to visit many overseas countries (at great expense because of our darned weak currency) and so whilst sipping cool beers on our front patio one evening, we decided it was time to pull in the reigns on all this travel spending and lower our sights a bit.  We would take to camping and explore Southern Africa instead.  This would have a twofold benefit – we would save a fortune and get to know our own and neighbouring countries much better.

Here’s what our first attempt at camping looked like:

A modest start

A modest start

After one or two these trips Rob got this faraway glint in his eyes and started dropping hints about how nice it would be to have a 4×4 so that we could visit Namibia.  “Not a new car”, he said, “we could perhaps get ourselves a good second-hand one.”

I think Rob must have worked for the CIA at some stage because he then started applying Chinese torture tactics and the hints fell like water dripping on a stone.  The clincher for the deal was when he insisted that we drive my little car (featured above) halfway up Sani Pass.  Anyone who knows Sani Pass knows that it isn’t a road, it is a rocky track designed to remove the bottom of one’s car and chew up tyres within eight kilometers.  After we finally managed to lever my car off a boulder and tie the exhaust back on with a piece of wire, I threw my hands up in despair and said: “Okay, you win, let’s go and find a 4×4!”

And so with great luck we managed to buy an almost new Toyota Hilux in mint condition.  The only snag was that it needed a canopy otherwise we couldn’t store any of our gear on the back.  Things were definitely looking up though.

Then Rob started buying the Getaway magazine which features all the mod cons that are a must for camping, and guess what!  The perfect accessory (according to him) was a rooftop tent.  “They don’t cost much,” he said “and make camping so much easier as they can be put up in minutes.  We’d have much more space in the car for all our gear and utilities.”  This sounded like a plan, but at this stage I had also been paging through the Getaway adverts and saw the ultimate camping accessory – a 40 litre Engel fridge.  Now I had some leverage.  “You get the rooftop tent if I get a fridge.”  We had battled in the heat with cooler boxes and the like, so a fridge, as far as I was concerned was a necessity, not a luxury.  I won!  Off we went to the Safari Centre to buy these TWO items.  What an ignoramus I must have been.

Two hours later we staggered out of the shop with a highlift jack, a compressor, a fridge, two folding chairs, numerous jerry cans, water bottles and an appointment to come back the following week to have the rooftop tent fitted – on roof tracks – next to a roof rack.  “What had happened back there”, I wondered.  “I thought we were getting ourselves a tent and a fridge.”

And we're off

And we're off

I must give Rob credit though – once we were kitted out, our camping became a delight.  We thought that as campers we had finally arrived!  But wait, what did the latest edition of Getaway come up with?  A drawer system for the bakkie (in Africa we call a truck a bakkie).  These are great because they come with a sliding section for the fridge to come right out of the vehicle and make it more accessible.  Yes, we definitely needed one of those.  No more utility boxes cluttering up the car – we could put all our food and clothing in the lock up drawers.  Perfect.

Anyone who visits Namibia or Botswana knows that there isn’t always a shady tree to camp under and when temperatures soar up in the 30C’s and 40C’s you definitely need some shade.  Getaway was advertising some wonderful canopies that attach to the side of your vehicle.  They pull out about three meters, giving you loads of shade.  Oh yes, we had to have one of those.

The full monty!

The full monty!

The latest acquisition was a GPS as we would be traveling in such remote areas that we could disappear off the planet without knowing which direction we were taking.

So now, let’s get back to those costly overseas trips that we were complaining about.  Let’s work out what this camping has saved us over the last five years:

Item Equivalent to
Toyota Hilux 4×4 & canopy Three round the world trips for two
Rooftop tent One week at the Paris Hilton Hotel
Compressor & highlift jack Five nights at Sun City with free  casino vouchers each night
Engel fridge Two week overland trip from Nairobi to Cape Town
Drawer system A luxury cruise on the Nile
Shade canopy Flight to Durban to see the grandchildren
GPS Elephant safari in Thailand
Repairs to the Toyota after heavy 4×4 trip A tour of 21 European countries in an air-conditioned coach, staying at 3 star hotels, including all meals
New tyres for the Toyota A visit to the gorillas of Rwanda for a party of eight.

When we decided to go through the Central Kalahari, Rob started talking about having a snorkel attached to the car because of the dust and deep sand.  Enough is enough.  If I have any say in the matter, the only snorkeling we’ll be doing will be in a shallow lagoon in the Seychelles.  Who are we kidding – this camping lark isn’t saving us a cent!!!    But it will from now on, as we have everything we need – if we stop buying Getaway.

Note to the kids:  If you give Rob a subscription to Getaway for Christmas you will be disinherited!

A trifle bizarre!

When you think back over your life, who are the folks that you remember most? It’s not the quiet peaceful guys that stand out in your mind but those unconventional people who did extraordinary things, drove you mad, or made you laugh. It’s these delicious characters who make life colourful and its always a delight to come across them. You’ve probably met quite a few in your lifetime and no doubt they will spring to mind when you read this. Perhaps you’re even one of them! If so, good for you.

My own family has been blessed with crazy souls – I remember my eighty year old father-in-law replacing the entire roof of his house without any help whatsoever. This was an amazing feat for an octogenarian, but sometimes his enthusiasm for the job was so overwhelming that he forgot to dress appropriately and on at least three occasions he was caught working in his slippers which didn’t give him any grip on the slanting roof.  His craziness wasn’t limited to fixing roofs in his eighties, but we won’t go there right now.

You have to be a bit weird to ride a bicycle across continents don’t you think. I have to admit that being married to someone who does this occasionally makes for an interesting life. We met an Australian male nurse one Christmas and told him that Rob had ridden across Australia in just twenty-eight days (see account of this trip and others under his Cycling page on this site) but this gentleman was totally unimpressed, telling us that he had ridden around the whole perimeter of Australia on a horse. Well not exactly one horse – it had taken him four years and numerous horses to make this incredible journey. His hobby was to go around the world and join in re-enactments of cavalry charges of famous battles. I just love these people who travel the road less ordinary.

I could go on about eccentrics and achievers we know, but let me tell you that unusual behaviour is not limited to homo-sapiens. We’ve seen quite a few animals that defy typical behaviour for their species.

Some people take domestication of animals to extremes. We came across this goat at the same place where we met the Australian horseman and were amazed at how this animal was addicted to TV. According to his owner he loved watching sport and would sit on the couch for hours glued to the telly. However, if they changed channels to SkyNews, it would really get his goat (sorry about that) and he would promptly drop off to sleep. This same household also had a beautiful otter as a pet, but it’s toilet training left a lot to be desired. 

Oh no! Not SkyNews again!

Oh no! Not SkyNews again!

We spent last Christmas at a farm in Namibia called Namibgrens and here we came across a tame baboon that had been hand-reared by the farmer when its mother was killed accidentally. Bobby was a real character because he grew up with a herd of goats and didn’t realize that he wasn’t one himself. He spends his days harassing the goats on the farm to such an extent that one has to feel quite sorry for them. Bobby’s fame spread far and wide when he captured the imagination of the editor of a magazine called Drive Out and featured in a little write up on the leader page.  

Bobby thinks he's a goat

Bobby thinks he's a goat

At Roys Camp near Grootfontein we were preparing a New Year’s Eve braai when an Eland walked into our campsite and helped itself to half a loaf of bread on the table. Once it had finished eating it came and said hello before disappearing into the bushes. We were left wondering what his story was.  

Rob and the Eland

Rob and the Eland

At most of the campsites we visit we usually find hungry cats and always put milk out for them. They are mostly wild and very timid. However, at Harnass, a wildlife rehabilitation centre on the eastern side of Namibia, we were visited by an enormous ginger cat and his companion, a mongoose. What an unlikely friendship.

Strange friends

Strange friends

If you spot warthogs in the wild they usually run off at great speed with their tails straight up in the air. At the Chobe Safari Lodge campsite in the Caprivi, we were a little intimidated when an enormous warthog came into our space. We needn’t have worried though, as he turned out to be quite docile with a penchant for Romany Cream biscuits!

Warthog at Chobe

Warthog at Chobe

Even birds sometimes show their little characters in delightful ways. This crow at Sossusvlei caused much amusement in our party when he aggressively jostled with the bulbuls and sparrows for bread. He didn’t eat it however, but buried it all around the area to dig up at a later stage. I guess that is a survival thing in the desert. We had to hang onto our food as he was quite prepared to grab it off the table in front of us. 

Bread thieving crow

Bread thieving crow

And lastly, this sweet little Trac Trac Chat greeted us on arrival at the Moon Landscape near Swakopmund and followed us around as we checked out the scenery. He was no slouch as can be seen from his dead straight back. I immediately stood more erect in his presence! He so impressed our party that  my brother Vaughan and Mary made up a limerick about him on our drive home.  (This is an abridged version!   Note:  Vaughan and Mary join our list of weird and wonderful people as they make up limericks about everything in sight)

The chat is a quaint little bird
Who lives in a place quite absurd
With just desert and sand
And no food right on hand
He’s thinking of moving, we’ve heard 

Welcoming Trac Trac Chat

Welcoming Trac Trac Chat

These wonderful encounters, both human and animal, make life so interesting and I can’t wait to see who or what will be next to enrich our lives.

Rastas Never Die

I’ve got a strong belief that what you focus on grows. The more thought you give to something, the more it pops up in your life. On a recent holiday I heard (what I thought was) a great Lucky Dube song called Reggae Strong and was delighted when Rob bought me his CD with lots of lively Rasta music. I played it constantly before going to Cape Town for a week and, sure enough, it brought some Rastafarians into my life!

But before I tell you about the Rastas, let me set the scene. I was returning to Windhoek on a luxury bus – something that is always an absolute treat given the stunning scenery that one passes through along the way. Also, it is now late August and the time of the year when the Spring flowers are blooming in profusion. The roadside and hills are covered in blankets of yellow, orange, purple and white flowers and Arum Lilies grow next to all the streams. Never mind the 1265kms that stretch ahead to be eaten up over nineteen long hours, with padded seats that recline practically horizontally and enormous viewing windows, the journey is normally very pleasurable.

I wasn’t unduly concerned when a number of Congolese Rastas boarded the bus and proceeded to take up seats behind me. Admittedly, they are a little disconcerting with their matted dreadlocks and shaggy beards – I took one look at their hair and thought that it would take a sheep shearer or a mat comb to bring it into some sort of order and I wondered when last any water or shampoo had passed over their heads. Although the bus was in immaculate condition, there were no paper anti-macassars that one usually finds draped over headrests on planes and buses. I immediately wondered who had rested their head on my seat before me. Could it have been one of these kind of guys? Mark one against the bus service.

Mark two came very shortly after departure when the TV came on and we were subjected to a couple of hours of religious programmes. This had annoyed me intensely on the journey to Cape Town and to have to endure it a second time was a bit much. I was further riled when an offer came on screen for advertisers to ply their wares via this media as they had a captive audience. Christianity shouldn’t be forced down one’s throat because one is a ‘captive audience’. Shame on them. One old lady, who was seated directly in front of the TV screen ended up putting a blanket over her head in an effort to shut it out.

About ten minutes after the TV was switched off, one of the Rastas decided that it was time for us to listen to his ghetto blaster which he turned up in competition with the sedate piped music of the bus. Mark three against the steward for not asking the Rasta to turn it off.

Things started to get really dreadful on the bus when I put my seat back into the reclining position and tried to take a nap. The Rasta behind me, also in the mood for relaxing, thought it would be nice to take off his shoes. I don’t know how long he’d been in South Africa, but I would hazard a guess that he hadn’t washed his feet since leaving the Congo goodness knows when. The rotten smell that hit my nostrils was enough to shock me into an upright position. I grabbed my knee rug and plastered it over my face. My God! What a pong.

Within minutes the air in the downstairs area of the bus was blue and people were placing their hands over their noses. When the steward eventually came to check up on us, he got an alarmed look on his face and rushed back to the front to put the air conditioner on full blast. This gave us a small measure of relief, but it came at a price as we were now all sitting there freezing our butts off.

Mark four against the bus was the air-conditioning. They have a fancy little switch above one’s head where one can turn it on or off, but this is over-ridden by the main system that gushes out cold air from vents right beside the one that is closed. What’s the point. I then spent the next sixteen hours shivering and hugging my blanket to my face. I was even relieved when we were delayed at the Namibian border post for an hour and a half when two folks had hassles getting clearance to come into the country. It was such a relief to stand outside in the cold winter night and gulp in great dollops of fresh air.

Fortunately once we all got back into the bus my Rasta Rebel kindly decided to keep his shoes on – perhaps his feet were getting cold from the air conditioner. The next seven hours passed without too much pain and I even got to see the wonderful Milky Way from my relaxed position. I almost kissed the ground when I finally got off the bus in Windhoek!

I’m now in the process of writing a letter to the bus company. Oh, and I’m also disinfecting my hair. And as for Lucky Dube’s song called ‘Rastas Never Die” – maybe they don’t, they just smell like rotting corpses!

My apologies to any Rastas who might read this who do get to clean their feet more regularly.  This is not about you.

Coming to one’s senses

Being a relatively healthy individual (touch wood, of course) I’m no pundit on medicines and how they work, but I have recently developed an interest in the phenomenon of the unconscious and deep sleep state.

One doesn’t hear too often these days of delicate young ladies fainting and swooning like they did in the early 19th century, although I must admit that this does still seem to happen occasionally at rock concerts.  I rather suspect that we have evolved into a much more robust species due in all likelihood to emancipation and women’s lib.  I can’t imagine that it would have done the image of those tough suffragettes much good if they had been caught swooning whilst tied to their lamp-posts.

We could probably even trace our evolution back to the fearless girls of the sixties who burnt their bras.  They couldn’t possibly afford to swoon or faint into crumpled heaps when going braless – it could have lead to all sorts of fondling and abuse whilst they were non-compos mentis.

Looking at the solutions they used to bring the ladies of yesteryear out of their faints, one often reads of the much-used sal volatile, salt of hartshorn or smelling salts being waved under their noses.  These were highly effective due to the pungent ammonia content of the salts which was initially derived from the antlers of male deer (harts) before being produced synthetically in laboratories.

But before I give women a bad name for being wimps, let us not forget that smelling salts were (and still are) also used to revive robust athletes and sportsmen who lose consciousness when injured on the field or in the arena.  Big hulking boxers, knocked unconscious by their opponents, are brought around by the wonders of white crystalline salts of ammonium carbonate.

How these smelling salts work is by releasing ammonia gas which, when inhaled, irritates the mucous membranes of the nose and lungs, causing the patient to breathe faster and revive.  Perfume is sometimes added to the solution to improve the smell of the salts.   These days, in some medical circles, the chemicals in smelling salts are deemed to be potentially harmful and they are therefore considered dangerous.  Ammonia should only be used in small quantities in well-ventilated rooms as their fumes can be quite toxic in large amounts.

I know that great care has to be taken with animals that are anaesthetized for operations as their little bodies are not able to take the slightest overdose when putting them under.  In my research I haven’t come across any methods for bringing animals back to consciousness, although I heard a joke once describing how a cat was passed slowly past the nose of an unconscious dog to see if there was any reaction, with the owner being sent an horrendous bill later for the ‘cat scan’.

If no equivalent of smelling salts is available yet for reviving animals, then perhaps I can be of help as I seem to have stumbled upon a fail-proof remedy capable of bringing even the most comatose cat out of its slumbering state.  They say there’s none so deaf as those who will not hear and my cat is living proof of this maxim.  When he is curled up asleep on his favourite chair, with his nose buried deeply into his folded paws, no amount of calling or coaxing will get him to lift up his head in acknowledgment.  Even his ears remain motionless, making one wonder if he’s gone deaf whilst lying there or worse still, died in his sleep.

My version of smelling salts is so potent that even if my cat is fast asleep in another room, or outside in the garden, one sniff of my miracle remedy will have him wide awake and clamouring to be with me.  I aught to patent my discovery for the commercial potential is vast, but as I’m in a philanthropic mood and generally have a warm fuzzy feeling towards fellow cat-lovers, I will disclose my well-kept secret for nothing.  Dried Wors (sausage).

This will probably come as a shock to those die-hard rugby supporters who consider dried wors only as essential fare for watching a game, but this incredible sausage definitely has all the properties required to revive cats instantly.  Not only is it harmless when taken in small doses, but one gets to share it with one’s feline friend, thus bonding the relationship even further.

We all know that drugs are tested on animals prior to being unleashed on humans, and, at the risk of having the bunny huggers and green people lynching me for having tested this wonder reviver on my cat, I highly recommend that the smell of the humble dried sausage be replicated in the laboratory and given to the world as the safe replacement for smelling salts.  Whilst at present the smell of dried wors is unknown to a large population of the world, I can vouch that it would waken even the most comatose South African.  I must warn you though, for folks who have left the country for pastures green, it could probably have some unpleasant side effects, like homesickness and depression.

Bungy Jumping

BUNGY JUMPING – Gouritz River Bridge (Easter 2000)

Some eight hundred kilometers to the west of Fiji in the South Pacific Ocean lie a group of eighty-three islands collectively known as Vanautu or “the Land Eternal”.  Some of these islands are towering volcanic peaks and others are low-lying coral islands with wide, sandy beaches.  The people who inhabit the islands are, I am told, peaceful, loving and gentle souls who enjoy the sunshine, the sand and the good things of life.

Peaceful, loving and gentle they may be, but it would seem that too much sun gets to some of the men.  On one of the islands, the small island of Pentecost, the men are known to build wooden towers, often in excess of thirty-five meters in height.  They climb to the top of these towers, tie one end of a vine to their ankles and the other to the tower, and jump off.

This they may have done for hundreds of years in order to prove their manhood.  If the vine turns out to be more than thirty-five meters in length, of course, the jump simply proves their mortality.  Same result if the breaking strain of the vine is exceeded by the terminal body weight of the jumper.  If all goes well, they presumably emerge as men of whom their women can be justifiably proud.  Sort of like the circumcision rites amongst the Xhosa of South Africa, except that you get to keep your foreskin.  The tower jumps are also done to ensure a bountiful harvest of yams, although a bucket of fertiliser would seem both safer and more reliable.

On the 1st April 1979 a group of students from Oxford University in England moved this ancient tradition from Vanautu into the first world, with appropriate hi-tech modifications and jumped off the Clifton Suspension Bridge after fastening opposite ends of an elastic rope to the bridge and to their ankles.  History doesn’t record the impact of this momentous event on the Cambridge yam harvest of 1979, but presumably it helped to establish the manhood of the participants.

 The rest of the world seems to have taken very little notice of the Cambridge event and it wasn’t until A J Hackett, in June of 1987, connected himself to the Eiffel Tower with a length of latex rubber and jumped off, that the sport of Bungy Jumping was born.  Hackett went on to create the first commercial Bungy Jumping site in New Zealand that same year and the subsequent decade saw the sport of Bungy Jumping spread to many other parts of the world, including South Africa.

The first question that arises as you approach the subject of Bungy Jumping is :  How do you spell the word?  There are at least three variations that are in common use :  Bungy, Bungi and Bungee.  So uncertain is the correct form, that it is not uncommon to see different spelling being used within the same establishment.  Now English logic says that there can only be one correct form.  Americans, of course, are likely to have their own form, which the English are free to sneer at with the disdain that, they like to think, comes from good breeding.  For no sound etymological reason, I shall refer only to Bungy, and snigger at the ignorance of those who dare to choose differently.  Out of respect I shall address it only with a capital letter.

The idea of actually doing a Bungy Jump germinated in Jane’s fertile mind sometime during the early party of the year, although the desire was expressed rather vaguely at that stage.  It was something that she wanted to do, sometime.  It was really out of character and we all considered that it was very unlikely that she would actually attempt a jump, about as likely as the Pope visiting the Rheperbahn, incognito, with a pocketful of condoms, and far less fun to boot!  None of her friends expected her to do it.  But as long as it was a vague dream, it was considered harmless enough.

We planned to visit the Tsitsikamma National Park at the mouth of the Storms River for the Easter weekend.  When we found that we could get a booking for the last two nights only, the plan was hatched to drive past Storms River and on to the Gouritz River so that she could do a Bungy Jump off the old bridge on Good Friday.  We would then stay over in Albertinia on Friday night and make our way to Tsitsikamma on Saturday.  Suddenly there was a definite plan and a definite date.

Jane told many of her family, friends and colleagues that she planned a Bungy Jump and no doubt many of them laughed up their sleeves.  It did mean, however, that it would be very difficult for her to chicken out without looking like an absolute bag of wind.  Although I had expressed an interest early on in doing a Bungy Jump, I was careful not to commit myself and intentionally left the subject vague.

We arrived at the Gouritz Bridge at lunchtime and were somewhat horrified at the height of the bridge.  Sixty-five meters doesn’t sound very much, but one is inclined to think horizontally.  When sixty-five meters stretches vertically below your feet it seems infinite.  We were not cheered to see, when several small figures walked out into the water of the Gouritz River so far below us, that it was only ankle deep.  Head first into that after a sixty-five meter dive would take care of all your plans for the future.

Gouritz River Bridge

Gouritz River Bridge

We watched one or two Bungy Jumpers in action and they made it look so easy.  Jane smiled.  I turned pale and offered to take some photographs of her jump.

We were given an indemnity form for Jane to fill in.  Have you noticed how no-one ever reads these forms?  These guys are going to tie a rope around your ankles and let you jump off a bridge, but they want you to sign a form to say that they are not responsible for any injury that you may suffer.  “No problem!  Where do I sign?”

One hundred and fifty rand was handed over and Jane was asked to step onto a scale.  Her weight was recorded on the back of her hand with a black marker pen, as well as her jump number and a “B” to show that she was a Bungy Jumper.  There are also two bridge swings available, so this distinction is necessary.  Then it was on to be fitted with a safety harness.

The organizers

The organizers

It became obvious very quickly that the organizers of the jump, Kiwi Extreme, are absolutely superb in their treatment of their clients.  Everyone we encountered was friendly, knowledgeable and totally professional.  Safety is clearly their number one priority and they have seen thousands of jumpers off this bridge without a single serious mishap.  This enviable record is easy to understand once you have seen them in action.  Every step is checked and double-checked, by at least two persons working independently and every step is explained to the client so that he or she is aware of the precautions being taken.

Jane stepped into the harness, which loops around each thigh, over the shoulders and across the torso.  This harness is for backup only and will play no role in the jump unless the ankle harness should fail.  Once harnessed, Jane moved into the queue to await her turn.  I went down to the observation area and found a good position from which to photograph the action.  The observation area is situated on the cliff-edge between the new bridge and the old, facing the Bungy Jump platform.

After an eternity, it was Jane’s turn to be strapped for the jump.  She was seated on a bench and a bright red padded protector was wrapped around each lower leg and fastened with velcro.  A flat nylon strap with, she was told, a breaking strain of 4.7 tons was looped around her ankles, over the protective padding, and then looped between her legs so that the free end faced rearwards.  This was pulled tight, as the operator explained that the loop was designed to become tighter as strain was applied to the end.  He also explained that she would double her body weight at the full extension of the Bungy cord, and that the pressure on her ankles would be similar to the feeling experienced as he tightened the strap.

She smiled and nodded, looked intelligent and heard nary a word through the buzz of her own thoughts.

A safety strap was connected from her ankles to the full body harness to complete the back-up unit.  The operators had meanwhile checked her bodyweight and selected the correct Bungy cord, each of which is colour coded for a particular range of body weights.  These cords are changed after every three hundred jumps, in spite of the fact that they are deemed safe for in excess of one thousand jumps.

Jane stood  and hopped forward to the rail.  The Bungy cord was attached to the strap around her ankles, checked and double-checked, and she was eased through the guardrail and onto the jumping platform, which juts about two meters beyond the edge of the bridge.  A few small hops and her toes hung nervously over the edge.  Nothing between them and Mother Earth but sixty-five meters of air and twenty centimeters of water.  She raised her arms at her sides so that they were horizontal.  As if she was being crucified.

“Five, four, three, two, one, Bungy!!!!”  The crew counted down in unison.  Jane leaned forward, gently supported from the rear by an operator who held onto her safety harness.  On the cry of “Bungy!!!” he released her and she dived forward.

Jane in full flight

Jane in full flight

For obvious reasons I cannot describe what went through Jane’s mind for the next thirty seconds or so, so allow me to relate my own thoughts, as they occurred the following day, when I jumped off the same platform myself.

Rob ready to jump

Rob ready to jump

I had bounded to the end of the steel jumping platform with a bravado that was well rooted in the safety record of Kiwi Extreme, but then I looked down and it was instantaneous panic.  Standing on that platform with my toes hovering in space provided the most terrifying moments of my life.  Don’t tell me that it’s safe – I know that.  Don’t tell me that Kiwi Extreme have never allowed anyone to get hurt – I know that too.  But it’s not natural to stand on a bridge and dive headfirst into nothing.  It’s not rational.  It’s not intelligent.  The mind rebels at the thought.  “Stuff this,” the mind says, “I’m quite comfortable right here on this bridge.  Why jump?”  No matter how safe Bungy Jumping is, it can’t beat just staying on the bridge.

Moment of terror!

Moment of terror!

On the cry of  “Bungy!!!” the operator released me and I dived forward.  No, I exaggerate, I fell forward more than I dived.  Collapsed, really, with a little kick attached.  Then the ground and the shallow water of the Gouritz River rushed upwards at an amazing speed as I toppled into a head-down position.  The rubber duck with its two attendants, so small when seen from the bridge, increased in size at an astonishing rate as the sides of the gorge whizzed by and the distance between us vanished.  My mind grappled inevitably with whether or not the cord would hold.

I don’t think that I screamed on the way down.  If I did it would have been an obscenity or two that escaped from between tightly clenched teeth.  Nothing more.  I should have closed my eyes to keep out the rising earth, but I am sure that fear had my eyeballs protruding too far by this time.

“Did you hear the wind whistling gently past your ears?” you ask.  “That quiet rush of air that so many jumpers describe?”  Give me a break!  I don’t think that I would have heard Krakatoa erupting if it was a few meters away.

Just a few seconds of falling that lasted an eternity.  Just twenty-five or thirty meters of free falling and the Bungy cord came into play, stretching itself comfortably under my weight.  No jerk.  No noticeable feeling of pressure around the ankles.  No retina-detaching jolt.  Just a slowing of the rapid descent until the elastic cord reached the limit of its extension, and then I was on my way up.

Good grief!  The underside of the bridge approached me at what seemed to be a faster rate than the ground had done just a moment earlier.  My mind latched onto the fact that there was nothing to stop me hitting the bridge, save the force of gravity.

“You won’t hit the ground,” I had been assured earlier with a derisive chuckle.  “The Bungy cord will never break.”

Okay I accept that.  Just proved it, in fact.  But what’s going to stop me hitting the bridge?  How come I hadn’t thought to ask anyone this suddenly vital question?  Is there some obscure rule somewhere that insists that you will never rebound to a height approaching your starting point?  I blinked.  Okay, it was a long blink.  In fact I didn’t open my eyes until I was on my way down again, after not hitting the bridge.  I was rotating like a top and the sides of the gorge processed in and out of view in an orderly fashion, but this gradually slowed.  The bouncing also grew less and finally they both stopped.

I looked up at the bridge, then down at the ground.  What a ridiculous position to be in, I thought, more than a little relieved at finding I was not to be the one to spoil the operator’s perfect safety record.  Hanging by my ankles, suspended somewhere between the bridge and the ground on a piece of latex rubber.  And I had paid good money for this?

Slowly I was lowered to the floor of the rubber duck, onto my back, and unstrapped from the safety harness.

“Now wasn’t that great?” the boatman enthused.

Now that it was all over, well, yes, I suppose it was great.  Not great enough for me to want to do it again, mind.  I felt foolish at the few moments of terror now that I was safely on the ground.  It is illogical to be fearful of something that is patently safe.  But then, fear is not always rational.  Why are so many people fearful of non-poisonous snakes or spiders?  Or the dark?  Or roller-coaster rides?  Or, I thought, Bungy Jumps?

I sat in the boat and watched the next jumper come hurtling down, a young girl who became garrulous with released tension now that her first jump was over.  She wanted to do it again.  She wanted to do the bridge swing.  If only her boyfriend wasn’t so scared.  She wanted to do somersaults off the bridge next time.  Well, why not?  Having done a Bungy Jump makes some people feel that they are ready to tackle just about anything.

The following jumper showered us unintentionally with the coins that he had not removed from his pockets, which was not only silly, but also dangerous.  Having survived a Bungy Jump, death by a cranium crushing fifty cent piece was an irony I could happily do without.  Once the third jumper was safely in the boat we were pushed across to the bank where we disembarked.

The climb to the top of the gorge was a steep one, with ladders and ropes being provided to assist the climbers over the more difficult sections.  At the top I collected my certificate and video, and the jump was complete.