Monday, 29 November 2010

Desert gaiters, v3

Since last year's Abu Dhabi Adventure Challenge, I've been cooking up modifications to make to my previous desert gaiter designs (2009 version).

Although my design last year worked really well, the main problem was getting to the laces and also the hassle of getting your shoes on and off. The thing is that the gaiter was stitched to the shoe - by hand. There was a velcro-sealed 'window' to access the laces. But, the design needed work.

This time I've gone with a more traditional approach of having the gaiter around the whole shoe, attached by velcro. We've had the velcro stitched around the base of the upper, by a cobbler.

In additon the gaiter has some neat innovations to accommodate different shoe sizes (we've made two patterns - the smaller one is good for up to a UK8.5 or so. The bigger one is from a UK9 and up) and to tighten the neck, especially for going down big dunes.

We've made four sets; for us (Team AR, white), for Cyanosis (cyan blue), Msanzi (a kinda chartreuse) and GRM Loggerheads (Abu Dhabi team of Aussies; a fun floral pattern).

On Saturday I went to my mom's place to help her finish off a new modification to the shape of the front. We were having such a nightmare because the sewing machine (a new one!) kept seizing and wouldn't sew a stitch. We were in a panic because we had so many to finish off.

We dismantled the holder that the bobbin goes into. Like the needles, which we were chaging regularly, it gunked up with adhesive from the velcro. We cleaned it up with turps and tried again. And then it seized again.

We couldn't figure it out because we'd been sewing these before without this amount of hassle. We wondered whether this was a different brand of adhesive velcro that our local store was bringing in? This whole headache took about two hours. I then got the idea to put the gaiters in the freezer to chill the adhesive, thinking that it was nothing more than the heat causing all the problems. It worked! The problem was that in the heat the adhesive was more sticky so it was gunking up everything and we could barely force the machine through a few centimetres.

We modified and completed 10 pairs in the next two hours with me cutting, pinning, sticking and running up and down the stairs between the freezer and the sewing machine. Hahaha ;)

Desert gaiter sewing is definitely best suited to winter.

Do you eat it?

I like this. Works for me. Unless it's a blob of mashed potato that goes 'splat', I'd probably eat it. Then again, it depends on the surface that the food item lands on. The ground (grass and regular dirt)? For sure. A pavement in downtown Jo'burg? No way.

Four out of five Kinetic Adventure wins

Yesterday was the fifth and final event of this year's Kinetic Adventure sprint series. It was held at Hennops Pride, an area near Hartees that I know from orienteering.

This time I was racing with Lizelle and Vicky. Lizelle has been in the team the whole year, taking Debbie's place. Lauren, an original team member, raced the first two events of the year with me and Lizelle. She's been doing a trail guide course, which she recently finished, so her weekends have been filled with outdoor components of the course. Lizelle Smit, one of my Abu Dhabi teammates, did the next two events with us; and Vix jumped in for this last one.

Lizelle, Lisa, Vix and Calvin

This event was easy on the nav and tricky on the bike, with technical biking on slippy and rocky terrain. We made sure to keep our lips sealed on the short paddle on the Hennops River. Last time I did a race out here - on a nearby farm - we tubed on the river and I spent a good 12hrs next day in the bathroom, unable to move more than a few metres from the loo. Let's just say that there are more bacterium in this river than a children's pre-school... and that's quite something!

Vix plays piggy-in-the-middle
Overall we had a smooth race to take the podium for the fourth time this year in the women's team category. We came second in one of the earlier events.

Lisa, Lizelle van der Merwe and Vicky Wirsam Wagner
Our thanks to Triumph for sponsoring our girly team for the second year. We're through-and-through Triumph girls - it's the best support a sporty woman can have.

Heidi and Stephan (and your team of helpers) - wow! You have done so well again this year to continually improve the courses, venues, variety at the events and a wonderful vibe at the race. Thank you for all those hundreds of hours you've put in to present these funfilled events.

* Photos by The Big Baboon

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

A Ran fan

I've been an avid follower of Sir Ranulph Fiennes for about a decade. In 2002 I scraped together my pennies (I had very, very few of them at the time) to buy a ticket for a seat at a breakfast function where he was a guest speaker. I had a few words with Ran after the breakfast, during the book signing. Yes, I have a very treasured, signed-copy of 'Mind of Matter', Ran's account of his epic trans-Antarctic man-haul expedition with Mike Stroud (I've got Mike's book too).

I've got a good number of Ran's books - stories of expeditions, biographies... I recently discovered that my copy of 'Atlantis of the Sands', Ran's story about finding the lost city of Ubar in Oman, is missing. If you've got it, please return it...

Although Ran is not on my dream-date list, which is currently topped by Alexander Skarsgard and Felix Baumgartner, I would absolutely love to have dinner with him. Or lunch. Or brunch. Or just coffee. Or even five-minutes sitting on a park bench. We'd have so much to talk about. He also just seems like a nice chap.

Anyway, last week, while working on FEAT for Cape Town in Feb, I thought I'd drop Ran an email. Imagine having 'The Worlds Greatest Living Explorer' at FEAT! I have such a super topic in mind for him.

I received a reply from Ran last night - the best invitation decline I've ever received.
Many thanks for your kind invitation of FEAT. Sadly my 2010-2014 diary is jam-packed with expedition preparation, charity fundraisers and paid conference events. But my thanks for thinking of me as a presenter.

I replied to say that I hoped to catch him in 2015, by which time FEAT would be a global phenomenon, celebrating adventurers around the world.

Of interest, Ran is now 66 years young and still going strong.

2015 is only four years away. I look forward to meeting him then ;)

Monday, 22 November 2010

A second FEAT

Yes, the news is official! FEAT is coming to Cape Town in Feb 2011. The 12th, to be exact.

As a personal note - I have special thanks to FEAT's sponsors, who I saw in Cape Town recently. It is special to have such super brands on board and also to have their unhesitating support for this event. FEAT will go through so much growth over the next few years; and I have no doubt that it wouldn't be half possible without this support.

The official announcement is below.

What do you get when you have two handfuls of adventurers assembled under a theatre roof – invited to talk on recent expeditions and topics related to adventure – with legendary runner Bruce Fordyce as the MC to introduce the speakers? It’s FEAT, an evening of time-limited talks on adventure sports and expeditions. FEAT comes to Cape Town for the first time, in February 2011.

The inaugural event, held in October in Jo’burg, was sold out two weeks before the night. Feedback from the audience confirmed that while they’d expected FEAT to be good, they didn’t expect to experience ‘mind-blowing’, ‘inspirational’ and ‘awesome’. More than one audience member left the theatre wondering how to get a few weeks off work to undertake an adventure they’ve dreamt about!

“What an amazing event and what brilliant speakers,” says FEAT MC, Bruce Fordyce. “The format was perfect for keeping the pace fast and exciting. I sat spellbound listening to each dynamic presentation. It was an honour and privilege to share the stage with such special people.”

FEAT director, Lisa de Speville, says that the Cape Town event has an exotic mix of speakers. “We have a few names that people will recognise from mainstream media exposure, like ocean-rower Peter van Kets and ultra-distance runner and tv presenter Braam Malherbe. We also have people whose names the public won’t recognise – and this is just what FEAT is about. It is a platform to promote and publicise adventurous exploits by any South African.” De Speville adds that these speakers have completed exciting adventures and their accomplishments are inspiring.

Seven of the ten speakers at FEAT CT are Allyson Towle with Marc Booysen, Braam Malherbe, Howard Fairbank, Monde Sitole, Peter van Kets, Tatum Prins, Team CounterBalance (Alan Read, Donna Kisogloo and Johnny Cronje). Presentation topics cover mountaineering, mountain unicycling, ultra-distance running expeditions, adventure racing, ocean rowing, adventuring lifestyle, a North Pole expedition and tall ship sailing. The final three speakers are still to be confirmed. Speaker bios are available on the FEAT website.

FEAT celebrates the achievements of South African adventurers, bringing their outdoor experiences indoors. FEAT is the ultimate armchair adventure experience.

FEAT will be held in Cape Town on Saturday, 12 February 2011, at the Artscape Theatre on the Foreshore. Tickets will be available through Computicket from early December 2010.

FEAT is made possible by its sponsors – Black Diamond, Buff, CAPESTORM and Hi-Tec – and media partners, and Go Multi Magazine. For more information, visit the FEAT website at and FEAT page on Facebook at Photos and videos of talks, from the inaugural FEAT event held in Jo’burg in October 2010, can be viewed on these websites.

Saturday, 20 November 2010

What does your mall face look like?

A couple of weeks ago I assisted a client with a mall activation. She co-authored a book (now in its second edition) and we promote it through various avenues. It has been on the cards for months to have a table in our local mall and to gauge the response. The response was good with some post-event follow-ups. But, what I found most interesting was our interaction with people - only if you've done something like this can you completely understand.

Passersby are either friendly and interactive, happy to take the small card to look at (some stop to chat and ask advice, which we were there to give); they acknowledge you and walk swiftly past; or they completely ignore you, not making eye contact. There are open faces with warm eyes, blank faces that are devoid of emotion (and personality) and sad faces - a few very sad faces with owners I wanted to hug.

This experience got me thinking: what does my mall face look like?

As a school pupil I recall doing a charity collection, with a money box, for a charity supported by my school. A majority of people rushed past, completely ignoring us. At varsity I did a few years of Wits Rag magazine sales at traffic intersections. Again you get the people who buy with a smile, those who acknowledge and say 'no thanks' and those zombies to stare straight ahead, trying to wish you away.

This is something I absolutely hate. I'm one for a simple "yes" or "no". The actual answer is never the issue, it's the acknowledgement. Do you want to come for lunch? Yes/No. Here are free tickets for FEAT, would you like to come? Yes/No.

As such, I've always made a point of acknowledging people handing out flyers (yes, I do take them) on street corners, those begging for food or money and even those pesky window washers and car guards. If they persist and mess with me, I'll tell them where to go, but I always acknowledge them. In malls I accept flyers, smile at those manning stands and I'll occasionally stop to chat if the display is of interest.

I've just started reading Riaan Manser's 'Around Africa on my bicycle'. In the very beginning he comments about his mall experiences when he set up displays in malls to publicise his expedition. Of this he says:

Many of the people were interested in my journey and my ideas, while most would chat for a few minutes and then wish me lots of luck before leaving. Not all, though. Some people thought I was raising money and waved me away as I approached to give them a brochure. But I laughed off the occasional rude rebuff; such miserable people damaged themselves and those who had to live around them, not me. I was amazed at how they stood out like sore thumbs among the thousands who passed my stand, positively radiating negativity, and I remember thinking that I didn't want to be like them - regardless of what they might have had in terms of material wealth, I wanted to be on the other side of the equation as a human being.
When you hit the mall this weekend, give some thought to what your mall face looks like and how you interact with these strangers. They're people too.

Friday, 19 November 2010

SPAM emails vs spam emails

There are SPAM emails that offer medications, wrist watches and various other items; and also those lottery and banking scams. And then there are spam emails from well-intentioned people who don't have a clue.

The dictionary definition of spam is "a disruptive, esp. commercial message posted on a computer network or sent as e-mail".

Occasionally, depending on my mood, I reply to them. I like to think of it as public relations activism ;)

My pet hates include emails with attachments (big PDFs) from people I don't know with nothing but a signature and phone numbers in the email message; and also those postings that ask me to click on a link to something when I don't know either the person or their company.

Something else that drives me insane is when people don't bother to respond for months - even a one word reply that says, "Cool" or "Nice" or "Ok" or "Done". And then, out of the blue they email me asking for help/advice or to do something for them when they've friggin' ignored me... hrrumpf! I'm taking a stand on these too.

My theory is that if you want something from someone, even their attention, you should take a few minutes to communicate clearly with them.

I received an email late last night from a guy in Cape Town. I replied. He replied. I replied. He replied. He seems like a decent guy and his work is probably credible and good, but he doesn't have a clue when it comes to emails. Perhaps our interaction will be of benefit to his business.

The emails follow in chronological order. I've change his company name to 'Yellow Banana', which is not its real name. I'm in purple. 'Joe' is in blue. (Cee, I know you'll enjoy this).

Sent: Thursday, November 18, 2010 11:45 PM
Subject: Yellow Banana website has launched

Hi Lisa,

Hope you are well. Check out to view our new site.


Creative Director
(with contact details)

On 19 Nov 2010, at 12:19 AM, Lisa @ AR wrote:

Heya Joe,

Mmmm... Am I meant to know what this is? Can't place you either. Out of context - and it is late.

And I don't click on links unless I know what it is about...


Sent: Friday, November 19, 2010 12:31 AM

Hi Lisa,

It's just a link to our new website showcasing some of our work. Yellow Banana is a graphic design company. I sent out a whole bunch of automated emails to my entire address book.

I can't place you either, but if you need any design work done you now know who to call ; )

Keep well

Creative Director

On 19 Nov 2010, at 8:26 AM, Lisa @ AR wrote:

Heya Joe,

Here's a tip... (I'm in public relations and media).

Your first email looks like spam - which it is. I emailed back because I do that occasionally when people don't seem to have a clue. Don't take offense from my comment, it just is. And if my reply to you can make a difference and stop stupid emails in my inbox, then I've succeeded.

If you want people to interact and respond to what you send out, especially when people don't know who the hell you are, then write them a decent email.

I have amended what you sent me - I've made up the content, obviously.

Hi Lisa,

Hope you are well.

Our company, Yellow Banana, is a graphic design company based in Cape Town. We have recently revamped our website to showcase some of our work from this year. Although our gallery of flyers and brochures is striking, we specialise in the design of company logos, creating something to complement the spirit of the organisation. Our favourites from 2010 include the whacky character spiral for Monkey Pie, the green-themed baobab illustration for Bigger 'n Better and 'James', the friendly frog for the Frog Preservation Society.

Our new website can be viewed at To view our favourite designs from this year, click on the link for 'Gallery'.


Creative Director


Sent: Friday, November 19, 2010 10:55 AM

Thanks Lisa, have a wonderful day.


Creative Director

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

We need a Mr Condom here too

My day job is as project manager for a sporting programme supported by UNICEF. We place coaches in schools earmarked by Dept of Education as bad in all manner of social evils: drug and alcohol abuse, violence (ja, stabbings and all, at school!), gangsterism, high absenteeism, failure rates, HIV affected, child-headed households and teenage pregnancy. Sport is used as a tool to teach life skills as well as providing the children with regular exercise and an activity alternative to hanging out in gangs, drinking away the afternoons.

A recent component of our programme has been a mass talent identification testing project and we've encountered large numbers of girls - in a range of grades - who didn't take part because they were pregnant. *sigh*

I'm a big supporter of contraceptives (of any form) and I do believe that there is no reason why, in this day and age, women should fall pregnant without intention - provided they are educated about family planning and have access to contraceptives. Life is tough enough without being young, unemployed and pregnant. Oh, and add HIV infected to the mix for good measure...

One of my most favourite TED Talks is this one, by Mechai Viravaidya, also known as Mr Condom in Thailand. Mechai spoke at a recent TEDx event. I'm a big fan.

We have HIV Awareness programmes as well as contraceptive education in schools and yet we have this ever increasing rate of HIV infections and pregnancies. There's a difference about knowing and accessing. I believe that Mr Condom has nailed it with accessibility of contraceptives, empowerment of women and also a societal responsibility to reducing family size for a better quality of life for the community.

 Imagine being able to go to your local spaza shop and to be able to get family planning advice and your contraceptive pills (plus condoms for infection protection) with a loaf of bread and a litre of milk. Contraception is not rocket science.

This whole doctor/nurse/clinic setup that we have is difficult for too many people to access (large distances, lack of transport...). Government provides child-grants for women with children (this is contentious because rumour has it that women - young ones especially - have children to get the grants, which they don't use for child-care)...

What about financial facilities and incentives for non-pregnant women? Like micro-credit and assistance with setting up businesses? As Mr Condom says, "If you're pregnant, take care of your pregnancy; if you're not pregnant, you can take a loan out from us". And these non-pregnant women contribute to their communities.

I love Mechai's 'Vasectomy Festival'. I cannot count how many male friends I've told to go for a snip. They've had children and don't want any more - but they just don't go. Dudes, you've still got that rifle, it just ain't got any live ammo. Stop being so chicken, irresponsible and self-centred. Your wife shouldn't have to keep taking artificial hormones when you could go for a little procedure. Geezzz... I've done this to rats - it really isn't a big deal.

Interestingly, Mr Condom's primary goal is not population and HIV control, it's about raising the standard of living of people in his country. But, it starts with population control.

I recently did some school visits in the Free State - schools under my wing where our coaches assist with Life Orientation teaching and sports coaching. Every school has a feeding scheme where they provide the children with lunch; beans and samp, pap and gravy or such. This is probably their main decent meal for the day. We've got 36,000 children that our coaches access weekly - and that's only in 71 schools of the thousands in SA.

Most of the children can't take part in after-school activities because they have to rush home to take care of younger siblings. These child-headed households are a serious and sad reality.

We have a poverty problem AND we have a population problem. Dealing with the latter goes a long way to fixing the former - it may take 30 or 40 years, but Mr Condom has proved that it works.

Sunday, 14 November 2010

Friendly running

I don't often run with people because I generally don't like being tied to fixed running times. Paddling fixtures work well (afterall, I usually paddle double!); but for running I like variability.

That said, a few years ago I used to run every Friday night, during a winter, with a friend who lived nearby. We'd go out for about two hours, touring through the suburb under cover of night. My regular circuit training group, which has been somewhat irregular since June, is also great fun. Circuit is something that is way more enjoyable when done with friends. I also enjoy irregular run outings with friends - these are usually trips to Suikerbosrand, most often with Tony, who loves the place too.

Yesterday I had a treat, a lovely afternoon road run with Tania, my orienteering and rogaining buddy. We set this date about two months ago! I met Tania at her place in Bryanston for a 16h00 run. Driving to her place my car's thermometer read 36C - ja, a hot afternoon.

Bryanston is a leafy suburb so we kept mostly to shaded pavements as we ran and chatted without interruption. Although we see each other at orienteering events, the opportunity to really catch up is rare. Events are usually little more than "Hi" and "Bye" greetings.

Glorious summer afternoon - running in 34C temperature. Very sweaty post-run. With Tania.
Lives filled with work, training, events, hobbies and other committments (children, family etc) leave too little time to be spent with friends. I certainly don't have the balance right, which is why my run yesterday, with Tania, was a special treat and thoroughly enjoyable for the activity and even more for her company.

Friday, 12 November 2010

What are you doing now?

Last night I was watching a YouTube clip with a friend about a guy who suffered major injury and then decided to undertake a physical challenge for a cause. He could barely walk and he completed the distance in a time exponentially greater than you or I would do it in.

While I think it is great that he has these goals and he's on a mission, I'm not completely moved. There are many other examples just like this one.

Why? Well, the questions I asked my friend was, "Why does it take tragedy or a near-death experience for people to live?" and "What did he do before the accident?".

About a year ago at my local blood donor clinic the sister told me that 89% of regular blood donors only start donating after they have received blood (operation, accident, illness). I don't see much difference between this and people waking up (figuratively) after a car accident and deciding to run a marathon, when they would have impatiently waited for a parking space closest to the mall entrance pre-accident.

Friends, wake up now. Don't wait for some life-changing incident to remind you how precious it is to be here and now. Love with abandon, strive to have job you enjoy, live where you're happiest (and with whom you're happiest), participate in any event or activity that catches your fancy and stop saving those words for another day.

Some, like the injured guy in the clip, get a second chance to do what they should have done during their 'first life'. Others don't.

Monday, 8 November 2010

Triple Challenge, triple fun

Yesterday (Sunday), I did my first Triple Challenge with ADAC teammate Adri. It's a super event that has been around for years - organised by ex-adventure racer, Max Cluer.

My report on the race is up on our team blog at You'll also find contributions from Lizelle, Steven and Adri too.

Lisa and Adri

Thursday, 4 November 2010

Donor December

I've decided that December will be a good month to encourage everyone I know (and that's a lot of people!) to donate blood. It's a time of year when around 1400 people will die on SA's roads. That said, the stats are just for the people who die; what about those who are seriously injured. It can take 25-60 units of blood to save one person's life!

So... please donate blood during December and if you are not a regular donor, see this as the start of becoming one. You need to donate at least three times a year to be classified as a regular donor in that your blood is safe and all components are used. Once-off donations make you feel good, but they're not totally useful.

SANBS needs to collect 3000 units every day; my local clinic is happy when they get 10 donations a day - they average just over 300 a month - not much eh?

I'm going to my local Bruma SANBS donation centre on Wednesday, 22 December 2010. Join me there or go to your local centre (find one here) any time during December. Please ask a nurse to take a photo of you donating and then email it to me. I'll make a nice-nice montage of the photos ;)

I've written a couple of posts about donating blood over the last year when I decided to regain my status as a regular blood donor. They explain how donation works, how blood is used etc. (30 December 2009) (1 October 2009) (27 May 2009)

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Waiting for the phone to ring

This evening I stopped at the DVD store to pick up a movie for tonight. I've had the past two days in Bloem and Welkom for work, visiting schools. The downside is that because teleportation is a no-go, we drove - and covered 1120km over the two days. I'm bombed and so in the mood for a good movie.

Walking out of the store a tall, slightly overweight young guy stops me. When he started with 'a story', I flat-out asked him, "Tell me straight what you want? Money?". You know the 'usual' hit for taxi money, money to feed three children etc.

In essence, yes, that's what he wanted.

Although I rarely hand out money (I prefer to give food, like to the people at the traffic lights) I was irritated. 20 minutes back in Jo'burg and I'm being hit for money already! And, the thing is that my heart goes out to every person on every street corner who begs for money because the reality really is that in most cases they haven't got a hope in hell of getting a job. And while some become successful entrepreneurs out of necessity, too many more can't make ends meet.

The only money I had in my wallet were two R2 coins and one R1 coin and a few 5c and 10c. I gave them to him. He thanked me but really looked distressed and out of place. I listened.

David said he was in Jo'burg, from Cape Town, because a guy offered him a job and he came up here to meet up with him and to start work; but the guy hadn't shown up. He asked me if I knew if there was a shelter in the area. I didn't but I suggested that he ask the nearby car guards.

As I type this next part you'll probably think, "Geezzz, this chick is a sucker". Maybe, maybe not.

He says he doesn't have a place to stay and now this job-promising guy hasn't shown up (would have been yesterday or the day before that the guy was meant to meet David). He wants to go home to CT, where he can return to his old job (cleaner), but travelling by bus is more expensive than the train, which is R280. He has R60.

My mind was working double-time because I just had this heart-wrenching feeling for this guy. I was thinking how hard it would be to try to get five Rand and 10 Rand from untrusting Jo'burgers at a shopping centre when he has no place to stay and no job. It could take days; and where would he stay and get food? I decided to give him the balance of the money.

To add here that David is a tall, big guy with a kind face. This face also was very distressed and while talking to me he was very hesitant, on the verge of tears and his eyes were scared. Just as I trust my ability to choose a team for Abu Dhabi Adventure Challenge from superifical written applications, so I trust my judgement of people in person.

I get very emotional about situations like this because there are things about this world that I so hate and that distress me greatly - like people in need. I hate that by necessity I say no to people too many times each day when I pass them on roadsides, outside malls, inside grocery stores (yes, I'm accosted in-store occasionally too!); I hate that there are so many people who are desperate; I hate that people don't help each other because they've been scammed so many times that they don't trust...

Needless to say, I was in tears and I told him that I would give him the balance he needed because I wanted him to go home to Cape Town and to get out of Jo'burg. I told him to stay where he was. I went to the ATM in the complex and returned with the balance for his train fare plus a few Rand extra.

I told David to go home; not to ever again leave his job and home and head to a Province where you don't know a soul, without a cent in your pockets to get back if it doesn't work out, just because some guy has said he has a job for you (he agreed and said he'd learned a lesson here); that I was giving him my money because there have been so many people in my life who have been kind to me; and because I may have been the one in his shoes and that I would hate to be in the position where I needed help and noone would help me.

He asked where to get a taxi to Eastgate, to get the one going to the train station. I gave him a lift as Eastgate is nearby and on my way. We chatted in the car. I was no longer in tears, but he was teary. He said he was offered a job (no, I didn't ask by whom or how he had initially met the guy) that paid more than what he was earning in Cape Town. He said he's a cleaner and he earns R900 there; but that he realises that the R900 he earns is better than nothing and it pays for food. He wanted to earn more (who doesn't!) so he came here. I get the feeling that David and his mom live together. He's 26.

David reminds me a bit of those pretty, young women who flock to Hollywood to be models or actresses; they are spotted by 'agents' in their home towns who promise to make their dreams come true and they arrive with nothing but their clothing to find no agent and no work...

We also spoke about his job and I suggested that he stick with the job he has in CT for now and also look at other avenues like working double jobs - cleaner by day, waiter by night - to earn more. It means working double jobs but that this may present him with other opportunities. He hadn't considered this.

We also spoke a bit about trust - in the sense of people helping a stranger. I think he had been at the shopping centre for much of the day. He has probably been brushed off by so many people. It is soul destroying. He noted how people won't stop at all and I commented how they're asked so many times a day for handout or such like that they're just not interested and that they've been scammed before so they don't even want to go there.

Anyway, I dropped David off at the taxi stop and said that I didn't know how it worked here; he said he'd ask one of the people standing around. I wished him luck and safe travel home as he retrieved his large togbag from the back seat.

The train leaves in the morning and David will be safe in the waiting room tonight. I've given him my number with instructions to call me from an 021 (Cape Town) number to let me know that he has arrived home safely.

Sure, there's that little nagging feeling - born of learned distrust of people in need - that I may have been scammed. But, I also have this feeling that David is a decent guy who made a bad decision, lured by the glimmer of something better, something more for his life - offered by a dishonest stranger. And for this error David ends up stranded in an unfamiliar city with no place to stay and no way to get home... It is anyone's worst nightmare. And he isn't a man of means with cash in hand to solve the problem.

So, I'm holding on to my belief in people and my judgement of this decent, young chap. The train arrives in Cape Town on Thursday afternoon; I'll be waiting for his phone call.