Saturday, May 30, 2009

to sum up my evaporation… and Port Nolloth too…

on the N7, 750km separate Cape Town from Port Nolloth ~ vastness

I have been contemplating the ocean for a week, I just can’t produce the article that will evoke my stay in Port Nolloth, small port town located 144km north-west of Springbok. Therefore I will just publish a few pictures I’ve taken and thank Tilly for the“sponsored” article.

every night, I am blessed with a sunset, from the room in the lovely guest-house in Port Nolloth, Northern Cape - @ BedRock Lodge

You can have a look at Tilly's other contributions, and especially her court report on a case I had modestly relayed on my former blog : the case involving the filmaker Pierre Etaix and an unscrupulous production company. [for the English-speaking readers, see the full english press file HERE

still from my window, boats "fishing" for diamonds.

For the average reader who ends up here, Tilly wrote a chronicle on my "evaporation" (in French though…) : you can read it here. Even though I keep telling myself a birthday is like any other day, I am touched par the various attentions : the phone call from my parents, the breakfast in bed, the birthday cake baked by Cassie, a friend of Fred’s, the guest-house manager; the “happy birthday” chorus sung by the maids, etc. I am telling you, I won’t forget my 36th birthday*. To Tilly who wrote about me reaching thirty something, I will answer that my "evaporation" was probably the result of a huge and early mid-life crisis.

* and if I had the choice, would I do it all over again ? Non, I wouldn’t**. Yes, I have regrets. It is commonly wise to claim : I don’t have regrets, at all ! It is a lot easier to say than to do.
** with ifs…

one can admire the Wall of Expression ~ the name in mosaïque are the names of locals, contemporary people in general ~ those kids can read for instance the name of a diver, a miner, a grand-parent, a neighbour

local craftsmen learn how to do mosaïque ; it is a very long and patient work to accomplish the decoration of a wall that is winding on kilometers and separating the gigantic real estate project named Kai-Kai from the people living on the other side; a good way of making the whole project sound acceptable for the authorities… but you’ll say that I’m being too suspicious… (am I?)

I have picked up waste near the wall

Port Nolloth stadium

the (in)famous real estate project where one can make out the Wall of Expression and the 150 future villas

more basic houses, in the Black area ~ still today, people don’t really mix up : the Blacks live on one side, the Coloured live on another side, the White live on another side… and they get on relatively well. But poverty strikes everyone.

just outside Port Nolloth, a fascinating semi-arid landscape

Ninety four pictures can be seen by clicking on the flickr logo, on top of the right hand column. Or here. I am sorting out the next hundred and I will let you know when they are ready and published.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Would you like a glass of Bonheur ?

The Alphen, country house hotel, Cape Town

It is weird to be looking at job offers from the other side of the world. Learning just recently that my bank account was being closed, I decided to write my CV. But what CV for what job? Since I left, I have found some friends. Karelle, whom I had met at university approximately 15 years ago, helped me giving a few phone calls. She also wanted to fill my overdraft. Firstly I was surprised: “Oh! Are you serious?” She said something like: “I have some savings. Sometimes they are meant to help friends who are in need.” And then I thought. “Oh no! You can’t do that. My creditors will throw themselves onto it like starving predators. In a way it is helpful. But it won’t pay the metro tickets I’ll be needing when I’m in Paris or the groceries I’ll buy to cook myself a few meals.” So she sent me cash via Western Union. Money I got instantly. “Drink a glass of that wonderful chardonnay they have!” she said. Across the road, at Manhattan Café in Sea Point, they just serve sauvignon blanc by the glass, I thought I would buy a bottle of chardonnay at Pick’n’Pay. They got me with a very clever marketing name. I bought a wine called “Le Bonheur” – meaning Happiness. I drank a toast to Karelle, and to all the people who have helped me to live through this long journey. To the ones that made it special.

I was sipping a glass of Bonheur in the bath when Paul called me. He was early. Well… I would shave the day after. He and Paloma (his dog) were waiting for me in the car. We were meeting for the first time. On our way to Constantia, a lovely wine area just outside Cape Town where he was taking us for lunch, we talked. I answered the hundred questions he had in mind. He had read somewhere that when you are a survivor you are able to just take a plane and fly to the end of the world. I have to agree. Because that is exactly what I did two months ago. You see… that is how I meet people. They read my blog. Some are intrigued. They want to know more. It seems I wrote about everything I could on my disappearance but in fact I didn’t. And I am not the only one who has a story to tell. Oh, no! (sorry, but I will keep Paul’s story for myself; I don’t know if he’s willing to talk about his disappearance that easily; I write a blog, he doesn’t). Anyway. We were having the most delicious lunch, sitting on the terrace under the hundred-year-old oaks in The Alphen domaine when it started raining. We had drunk a bottle of chardonnay – Paul is also a chardonnay lover. We went inside the Boer ‘n Brit pub and enjoyed another glass of another chardonnay wine, by the log fire. “What do you want to see of South-Africa? Where do you want to go?” Paul asked. I knew that he would find a way to take me there. As a matter of fact, before driving me home, he took me to see the breathtaking view from Signal Hill - on the other side of Table Mountain stands Signal Hill where one can admire the city spreading its roads and buildings along the shores of the Atlantic ocean.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

a squirrel in Cape Town

Since I am bored stiff*, I’m entering Virginie’s "wildlife" photography contest. Here is my entry, yesterday @ Company Gardens (Cape Town, South Africa) where I was busy talking with mister squirrel who offered to collect acorns for my overdraft !

- What do you mean, I can’t say I am bored stiff ?
- Come on ! You can’t get bored in such a beautiful city !
- I am not just bored, I am bored stiff !

But fortunately, I am going to get rid of that boredom next week. I was invited to stay for a few days, free of charge, in one of the cottages my host, Frederic, is managing. Here is the website where you can admire my next stopover :, 700km north of Cape Town on the western coast.

* whoever hasn’t read or written a blog while at work can cast the first stone.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

the kindness of strangers (1)

strangers who became friends in Hout Bay

There’s a quotation in A Streetcar Named Desire, the play and film based on the play by Tennessee Williams I’ve often related to : « I’ve always depended on the kindness of strangers », says Blanche Dubois, Stella’s sister in a tragic scene as she is being taken to a mental asylum. I don’t know if there’s a hospital waiting for me when I get back to France – or a psychiatrist for that matter. But I intend to have a specialist’s insight on my disappearance. Yes, I have already written about it, but I really think this disappearance is the closest thing there is to suicidal. Anyway, in this personal journey, I’ve met wonderful people who have been very kind to me. I might at times have seemed to self-indulge in depression. I left France being depressed, I don’t see how that depression could have vanished. I am sorry, Lezanne – if you ever read this – but I still disagree with you, depression doesn’t go away because you decide to get up and do something with your day. Sometimes it is beyond understanding, logic or willingness. However, your countless efforts to lift me up, to make me meet your friends, have made me more optimistic on human generosity. And should your French become better or worse when I leave this country, I will be the only person to blame.

It is amazing how quickly strangers become friends. Jonathan didn’t ask me a thing on the reasons why I was in such a despairing state – no matter how hard I tried to hide it, he knew I needed kindness. I have met his mum and dad, his friends too. They proved me that South-Africans can be warm and welcoming and… more concerned about my welfare than their wardrobe : proof is the two pairs of jeans Jonathan gave me.

Oh no ! I didn’t ask anyone for charity ! It’s just that I can’t tell I’m a regular visitor when I’m not. I can’t tell I’m just hanging around, enjoying the wonders of South-Africa when I’m on a recovery journey.

for the French version, click here !

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Only fools don’t change their minds

(Today, I bought 1,5kg of apples for 8,99 rands = 0,80€ & Mr. Muscles for 10,99 rands = 0,98€ when other products with revolutionary packagings and formulas easily cost 3 times more)

Only fools don’t change their minds.
As Deef put it quite rightly, why not publish here the newsletter I had planned to send ? I managed to get away with an evasive and unsatisfactory answer. And my basket of readers desperately empty. Let’s face it, it was a huge success… a hammering, rather.
But as time passed by, I realized that I missed writing. Having written a blog for three years left marks. All the more when it reached 30 000 pages viewed. When the reader is waiting for you behind the bush with his gun loaded with comments. A drug from which it is almost impossible to withdraw. Even when one disappears. Yes, I will come out. One thing at a time. I am now thinking of reappearing. Step by step. For I will need to earn a living (or rather, pay my debts).
Since I have my ticket for Paris, I might as well use it.
I almost kept no password, no document whatsoever. Besides my passport, some dreams to fulfill, and more practically, the access code of my bank account which desperately shows – 1300€ not including the outstanding payments, a dozen for now (twelve times 10€ of rejected payment fees = 120€) ; to the overdraft of 1300€, let’s add the 3000€ of outstanding payments to which we’ll add approximately 1500€ for May, then 1500€ for June and so on.
There’s a price to pay in disappearing. Especially when one doesn’t earn a living anymore.
To go to the end of the world is my retreat. Now that I am by myself, I can face my demons. I’m living on pasta, butter and thought. And I have decided to reappear, to take up my responsibilities, find a job, pay my debts, start anew.
What city will I choose?
Where one is willing to accommodate me.

Today, I’ve had an ostrich steak for lunch. Hmm, not good.
“Shut up and eat ! You shouldn’t bite the gardian-angel friend’s hand that filled your refrigerator !”
Well… I’ve been hanging around in this coffee shop for too long ; enough equivocating… I will go and see the ocean, breathe the open air.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009


I know I should update this blog more often, but I don't. There are too many things I wish I could do at a time, but I can't. Not now. A blog, a book, a life. I'm not abandoning you :o) If you're curious to know what's happening with me, click here, I'll devote some time to a monthly newsletter.

Je sais, je devrais mettre à jour ce blog plus souvent, mais je ne le fais pas. Il y a trop de choses que je souhaite mener de front. Je n'y parviens. Pas aujourd'hui. Un blog, un livre, une vie. Je ne vous abandonne pas :o) Vous êtes curieux de savoir ce qu'il m'arrive, cliquez ici, je consacrerai un peu de temps à une newsletter mensuelle.

Monday, April 13, 2009

a kiss to build a dream on

Staying in a guest house has good sides too.
When I got back the other night, there was some kind of a party going on outside by the swimming pool. I didn’t feel like seeing people. I didn’t feel like doing anything. Actually, I was a bit low. I don’t know why but I said hi. And they greeted me with a cup of wine. It was somebody’s birthday. The most handsome guy there. Fernando, alias Fer, was celebrating his 40th birthday. He could only speak Spanish. So I called my brain to summon up the little Spanish that I remembered. With a little help of his friend, Hache, who did the translation, I told himself a quick summary of my story. Oh, God! I can’t help talking. If you ever meet me, stop me before I start*. Then, all of a sudden, Fer said “give me a hug”. Hesitating, I embraced him. “A bigger hug”, he said. Everybody was watching. I had just arrived and, out of the blue, I was in the arms of the guy everyone was drooling at. When the hug was over, they looked at us as casually as possible. I said: “he asked for a hug, I gave him a hug. So what?”
But it was the warmest hug I had had in ages.
A soothing hug.

Later that night, being with Fer and Hache in a disco, I asked Fer "dame un beso". He not only gave me one kiss, but a dozen, a hundred. And enough hugs for the next few weeks. And his smile to build a dream on.

*Yes, I can be an excellent listener. Ask the friends I abandoned…