Saturday, December 29, 2007

Caution: Risky Reading Ahead

Yes, it's appalling I haven't posted in so long but I've been dealing with some very intimidating moms here on my travels in South Africa: Indeed, there are these moms here that remind me of the worst Crabtown ubermoms— aloof, hyper-athletic, territorial when new moms come along...

So we've been bashing along through the bush, removing ourselves from civilization and even from Crabtot for a few lovely remote days on safari. Bliss! I absolutely adore looking at moms and babes in the wild and then, you know, just MOVING ON to a station where a good cocktail may be imbibed. They do these weird little fabulous things for you on these luxe-safaris, where you trundle along in your jeep scanning the veld for warthogs and whatnot, and then just when you're about to think of a nice alcoholic libation, you arrive at a spot in the road and there before you is a little table sporting ostrich kabobs and gin and tonic! A bit silly really, but who am I to look down upon local (read, tourist) tradition?

Unfortunately we've had a rather tittish mom and son duo on our game drives, meaning we all pack into one jeep for intimate bush excursions 3 x a day. Mom is one of my worst kind of expat South Africans; namely a colonial circa 1950, who left Africa at 17 and now makes regular voyages in style, whereupon she insists she is one with the people, a real insider/local even as she adores giving commands to anyone of color. Her name is Bridget, which somehow has always annoyed me, in that I never really knew a very fabulous Bridget, mostly just those whiny, painfully thin vegetarian sorts of Bridgets....But our Bridge is not painfully thin; on the contrary, she is a squat handsome imperious woman, monopolizes the game ranger, knows "loads" about the bush, yadda yadda, yawn. Son is a total wash, doesn't say a word, fully grown, a real mom's boy who takes all his holidays with his mummy. I used to think there was something a tad charming about mommy's boys; but when they are 40 and wearing mom-and-son matching safari gear, shweeesh! Tweaks my vibe!

Annnnyhoo! Nothing like whining about luxury travel, eh? Truly I think I am perhaps not made for loafing. Telling Crabhub and I to sit and relax in nature for three days is like asking two hornets to get a massage. Sadly I always yearn for vacays but when on them, I long to be on another, different vacay, a vacay of the future in which I am already planning an amended, better, more relaxing itinerary than the present one.

Luckily Her Petite Crabbishness is having a ball. While we fretted over treacherous unfenceable swimming pool scenarios at Crabgrandma's, as well as a lack of small children for Crabtot to play with in the family, etc etc., she seems to have slotted in very well to South African life. I might also add that while I can't call myself the world's most chilled out holidaygoer, my American Mommy fear factor (the helicopter parenting thing, the neurotic-momming) has gone down considerably since arriving here. I think it may have to do with the fact that in South Africa there are so many bigger things to worry about than scary infant cold meds and how many harness points you need in your carseats, that in the end, one can have a much more relaxing mom-time out here. So I guess what I'm saying is that when you live in a country of frequent carjacking and murder, you really don't sweat the lead paint in the toy piano!

I don't plan to pontificate deeply on the state of South Africa in this blog; nor, as a native of the country but one who has lived in the USA for 14 years, am I perhaps the best person to comment on how things really are down here, politically and so on. But while a lot of things aren't obvious about SA, what seems obvious to me is that it's a country of extremes: terrible and magnificent, fabulous and foul, sometimes all at once and in the same moment. Case in point:

We went a beach I know from childhood and enjoy a lovely afternoon frolicking in the waves. We also frolic in a warm brownish river running down the dunes and into the sea. I remember this river from childhood...but it is only after we have all splashed and played in it that we see signs cautioning us not to dip even one crabtoe in it. Because apparently, duh, Crabmommy, a few things have changed since you were a kid on this beach. And now looking up across the dunes at a major slum that has developed over the last decade, one can see that the inviting mountain stream has in fact morphed into a river of sewage. The brown water is not the rust-tinted loveliness of the mountain streams of yon, but is more shall we say excremental in origin.

Naturally we freak out when we figure this out and rush back home to disinfect the entire Crabfam in a boiling bath. Poor C-tot is practically peeled and bleached twelve times by her terrified parents...I race to the computer to try and figure out what might befall her after sloshing through that inviting brown mire, but Dr. Sears doesn't have a section on what to watch out for when you take your tot swimming in sewage. Later in the evening I ran into a parent-pal I hadn't seen in years at the supermarket, and felt compelled to relate the story in my customary guilt-needs-confession sort of way. But this pal was completely unimpressed by our drama and just shrugged. "Ja, that stream's a bit dodgy now," he agreed. "But so long as she had a nice bath..." Says he, jiggling his own tot on his shoulders!

So I guess the moral of the story is if you're as freaked out about toddler safety as we are in the so-called fancy first-world, just take your tot for a nice sewage-y swim! Believe me, there's nothing quite like a fecal frolic to ensure that you'll never again worry about the vaccine wars or whether the Teletubbies are sending subliminal homosexual messages to your tyke. So take the plunge, have a bath, and then if you're all still smiling, you know you're invincible!

Why is this post so long? I have no idea. Lawd. If you want still more, there will be more this week and next at the bloglet.


Leann I Am said...

That is wonderful. And you're RIGHT. Lead paint and car seats are the least of our worries when it comes to looking at the grand scheme of things. Those are just details, the 'small stuff we sweat.'

I would LOVE to see more pictures, when life settles down some. In the meantime, you have been 'tagged.' Check my blog for details. I do hope you play along because I would LOVE to read what you have to say about this one!

Daisy said...

It puts things in perspective, all right. Are we lucky to be able to worry about lead paint and 5-point harnesses? Or just over-anxious? Hard to say.

Anonymous said...

You know. It might be a good thing if it were a rule that parents had to take the kind of trip you're on every couple of years. It would help to keep things in perspective. In fact, maybe everyone should take a vacation every couple of years and go to a location that is at least 3 or 4 steps down the economic ladder. I think we'd all start to appreciate what we have.

I love photography, and every couple of years my wife and I go on a cruise, usually in the Caribbean. I always feel guilty lugging my expensive camera gear around islands where the permanent residents live in houses that would be considered shacks at home. I do appreciate what I have, and I'm not rich by any means.

Mamma Sarah said...

Great post. Sounds like you all are having a fun time bonding. You totally have to post more pictures!!! :-) said...

Four kids and being OLD helps me with the perspective issue.

MK xo

Anonymous said...

Gotta love family travel for a good toss out of one's comfort zone. I always find my paranoid American hovercraft parenting approach to be at its lowest upon our return from the annual trip abroad.

Fab photos here and at the bloglet. HNY! ox

Mel said...

Howzit from Fish Hoek, CT! Wondering if it was our local foecal stream you were playing in!! Glad you came home to visit a bit. Love your blog tagline. That is why I had to pop in!