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All posts by Mary

Really-Real Africa

By | Our Travels, Parks | No Comments

As our time in Namibia is drawing to a close, I’m finding a part of me already misses the incredible skies and vivid sunsets of the desert. As barren as those lands were, they held something special. I can’t deny though, that being next to a river is food for my soul. Watching the hippos wallow in the river, and seeing the crocs cruise by, fills me with such a sense of peace. It also makes me want to hop in the river however. They seem to have such fun cooling off while the rest of us land dwellers over heat in the upper 30-degree weather. And this isn’t even the hot season! I don’t know how the people here cope in the summer months. The last week has been unbearable, we have been doing game drives in the middle of the day, even though we know we’ll see no game, just because we need to cool off. Our thermometer measured 41 degrees a day ago, luckily that wasn’t the day we got ourselves stuck in the sand…

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Life On The Road

By | Hikes, Musings, Our Travels, Parks | No Comments

It’s always the people you meet that add the special moments to an adventure. The stories you hear, the cultures you learn about; they add the little bits of ‘real life’ to an otherwise beautiful yet foreign setting. We have spent the last 3 days in Etosha with a social calendar that rivals ours in Cape Town. It’s been such a lovely few days. Feels like we’ve been able to have a bit of normal in an otherwise bizarrely abnormal life arrangement. Read More

Africa – A Place of Extremes

By | Hikes, Our Travels, Parks, Uncategorized | 4 Comments

As I sit here watching the sun rise over the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, I am struck by the extremes in Africa. Yesterday we got sun burnt… this morning as I scrambled out the van with numb fingers, desperate for a cup of warm tea, I found the kettle water had frozen over night. I mean it’s not like we don’t know Africa, we have lived here our whole lives, but I feel like the African bush is a different place. It’s run by different rules, and it’s ruthless. You can’t be soft here or you wont survive, maybe that’s why so many people fall in love with the place. It’s raw and it’s brutal, but it shows you life in a way that city living just can’t. It makes you see things differently, or maybe it just makes you see things for the first time. Life is fragile. Read More

Wuths Gone Wild – Africa 2018

By | Cape Town, Our Travels, Parks | 6 Comments

After months of radio silence, we’re back! We hope to incite a lust for adventure by supplying your inbox with a gentle stream of African road tripping images, wildlife shots and general Wuth family shenanigans. Hopefully they’ll burn a desire in your heart to head out into the wilderness and experience the beauty in this world. Maybe they’ll be enough to satisfy your desire, but either way, we hope they give you lots of enjoyment. A glimpse into our life for the next 6 months, the good… and the not so good 🙂 So before all that begins, here is a little bit of what we’ve been up to and how we got here… Read More

A Holiday Less Travelled

By | Hikes, Our Travels, Uncategorized | No Comments

Honestly, I am as surprised as anyone that my kids are prepared to put up with us. I keep expecting them to disown us, to beg for parents who don’t think that wandering the mountains whilst lugging all their gear on their backs is great holiday fun. But they have surprised us at every turn.

Escaping into the Cape Fold Mountains might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but lucky for us, it seemed to be the tea of choice for our children. Parenting win! Read More

From Mom to Machine – All the Gory Details

By | From Mom To Machine | No Comments

It has taken me 4 months to finish writing about my first half iron man. I don’t think I have a good excuse for it, I think I had just reached my limit on thinking about it. I have spent the last 4 months re-living the race and what I could have done differently, but here, I will just give you my account of race day. Some of it might be overshare, but it’ll give you a good idea of what it was like. After taking a challenge that looked from the outside like an incredibly crazy thing for me to even attempt, I owned it. I didn’t smash the time I wanted, but it’s done – finished! I’m alive, although I didn’t manage that part on my own (see below for details). I have, in hindsight, likened this race to childbirth. The pain isn’t as intense – obviously (men don’t go thinking you know what childbirth is like now) but it does leave you in awe of what your body is capable of. I’m pretty sure as the days pass and the memory of the pain fades, I will want to tackle the challenge again.

 

For those who haven’t done a triathlon (or Ironman specific event) you might find the details interesting, or at least informative. It might put you off wanting to try, but don’t let it! Race day details are seldom fun when you live it, but in hindsight I think most people are pleased they did it.

 

This is my day in review:

 

4.30am and the alarm signals the end of a difficult nights sleep. In a way, starting the day is welcome. After such a build up, I was looking forward to getting rid of the nerves. So up to breakfast we went. Getting food down your throat before 5 in the morning is always a challenge, but it has to be done. We sorted our gear the day before, putting ‘swim to bike’ transition gear in one bag, ‘bike to run’ gear in another, and ‘street wear’ in a separate bag that hangs at their respective ‘finish lines’. We took our bikes to the transition area and racked them the day before too, so all our gear was ready and waiting. The only thing left to do was arrange bottles of juice and make sure we had our nutrition sorted.

 

5.30am had us walking down the East London peer, on route to the transition area and start line. It is imperative to re-orientate yourself with where your bags hang and where your bike is racked. When your bike hangs amidst 2200 other bikes, best you know exactly where your number is so you don’t get lost during the race. You’d be surprised at how many people take the wrong things in their flustered state during transition. In a recent ironman event overseas one of the pro’s ended up running the 21km’s barefoot as she couldn’t find her shoes in transition! So, re-orientation, last minute touches and bottles done, it was time to head down to the beachfront with the 2200 other competitors to suit up for the swim.

 

6.30am by this point in the game, you should have a pretty good idea of how long it will take you to swim 1900 meters, so your start time is left up to you. If you start amongst swimmers of your speed, you will be swimming over fewer people and have fewer people swimming over you, both very advantageous if you’re not looking to drown. Pick the pen with your estimated finish time and wait for your start. Oh the nerves!

 

7.15am my time had come. Thankfully Shaun and I swim at similar speeds so we could wait in looming fear together, huddled like seals amongst the other wetsuit clad participants. All I could think was; don’t forget to put your goggles on! And then we were off. The water was magic, after training in the Atlantic in 11 degree water, East London’s Indian Ocean felt like a hot tub by comparison. Starting with people of a similar speed was the cherry on top, we swam as a pod instead of a school of piranhas, making it a thoroughly enjoyable experience. The conditions were close to ideal and there was only a mild current. The fact that the swim was 300meters further than it was supposed to be didn’t bother me at all, I could have swam happily for hours, but the bike was waiting and out I had to come.

 

Swim time: 40:01 minutes – 1900m (in reality 2200m)

 

Transition time: 6:20 minutes

(This is how long it took me to run from the sea up to the transition area, find my ‘swim to bike’ bag, get out my wetsuit, into cycling gear, find my bike and run out of the transition area – you only mount the bike on the road)

 

I started the cycle feeling strong, and ahead of the crowds, which was a great feeling. I could find my pace on the road and start notching the hills off the race profile. There is no slipstreaming allowed in triathlon so it doesn’t matter where you begin. The 90km cycle is gruelling, you have the same amount of climbing in the first 45km’s as you have in the whole Cape Town Argus, it is no walk in the park. 10km’s in and my stomach was protesting, I could feel it was full of air but I was far more focused on climbing the hills than I was on trying to burp the air out. Whether this would have helped or not – I don’t know, but what I thought would pass only got worse the further I went. By the 45km turn around point I was so sore and so emotional that when somebody shouted my name and some words of encouragement, I dissolved into a whimpering mess, trying to stifle my sobbing so I didn’t attract the attention of the race marshals who were told to pull anyone who looked like they weren’t coping off the course. At this point I reminded myself that I was half way through the most gruelling part and all I have to do is make it back to transition and I can walk the run if I needed to. Getting back to base was harder than you would think given that we’d done the climbing on the way out, but East London has a howler of a wind, and it blows right into your face on your return. All you can do is grit your teeth and sink as low as you can onto your bike to minimise your wind resistance. I drank my fluids and I forced my granola bars down my throat, keeping to our race plan of when to eat, even though it was the last thing I wanted to do. I would be thankful for this later. I was pleased as punch when I rode along the East London pier towards transition, all I wanted to do was get my running shoes on and hit that last leg. This was undoubtedly a mind game and mine was working over time.

 

Bike time: 3:29:43 hrs – 90km

 

Transition time: 5:12 minutes

(This is the time from hopping off your bike, handing it over to get racked, running to find your ‘bike to run’ gear, getting out of your cycling gear, getting your shoes on and running out of transition)

 

It was at this point that I was hoping for a miracle. My stomach still wasn’t happy and I was hoping that standing up straight would help straighten things out… It was wishful thinking. My legs were feeling ok, I had juice in them at least, but I couldn’t put any juice in my tummy. Without being able to top up the tank I knew my legs would eventually give in, but I just couldn’t do it. I grabbed some water from the first water table and after taking a sip I had to walk for a few minutes to prevent it coming out again. This turned out to be the routine for the race. I tried periodically to get some fluids in because the temperature was around 34 degrees and I knew it was crucial, but I had more luck with squeezing the water soaked sponges over my head and drenching myself to bring my body temperature down. I think the volume of fluid I took in on the cycle was my saving grace. I put my head down and thought of why I was doing this race, but when you are that tired most thoughts are random and fleeting, leaving you fixating on things like peoples shoe colour and how many bands they have on their wrist (you get a band for each lap you do). All I wanted to do was get to the top of the hill and score my second band, I knew once I had it I would be home free. Well, not quite home free; I still had 5km’s to get back to the finish, but that’s nothing at the end of a race this long. I would have crawled it if I had to; it’s amazing what your body can accomplish when you put your mind to it.

 

Run time: 2:18:17 hrs – 21km

 

As I made my way over the finish line I couldn’t have been more relieved. It was without a doubt the hardest race I have ever done. I was in more physical discomfort than I have ever been in a race, and not from sore muscles or tired limbs. I mean they were tired, make no mistake, but whatever had gone on with my stomach was beyond anything I could have prepared for. It’s incredible how as soon as you don’t have to carry on, your body seems to loose the ability to keep itself together. Suddenly I couldn’t take another step. I literally collapsed in a heap. I sat that way, not getting up for food, or looking for Shaun, until my body suddenly screamed ‘BATHROOM’ at full volume. Apparently when your body is chronically dehydrated, it is unable to absorb fluids or food, and your stomach actually rejects it. It comes out either end with large amounts of gusto, leaving you shaking uncontrollably, and largely unable to move.

Thankfully a good Samaritan was on hand to call the paramedics and alert Shaun to where I was. I was hooked up to a drip and rolled off on a stretcher to the medical tent, where I had to have 2 bags of fluid injected intravenously, and lie there until I stopped shaking. When I finally managed to accomplish this, I had missed all the festivities and largely ruined the excitement of the end of one of our biggest races. I was still suffering the effects of dehydration and my stomach felt battered and bruised and full of air, leaving me with little to no appetite and feeling very sorry for myself. After all the excitement and all the training, to have been thrown off my game by my stomach was rather depressing.

 

Shaun obviously had an ordeal waiting for me outside the medical tent while I recovered from my 60/40 blood pressure (not for the first time), and he had some stern words for me on taking care of my body and not carrying on when I am clearly in no condition to. It’s hard to accept that sometimes there are times when no matter how hard you have trained, and no matter how much you want something, it’s better to take care of yourself than to almost die reaching your goal. A bit melancholy, but true none the less.

 

I have no regrets, but that’s because I made it out alive. In hindsight, I should have stopped when I realised I couldn’t take in any fluids, especially on such a hot day. It was one hell of a race, but I am so glad I can say that I have done it. I have opened a door I never expected to open, one where you glimpse exactly what your body is capable of and what your mind is capable of overcoming. I’ve often wondered just how a person gets through big, physically challenging events, now I’ve gleaned a little more understanding, and it’s addictive!

 

Friends and family have asked, despite everything, will there be more? There really is only one answer …most certainly! Hopefully with a little more finesse.

 

The Great Escape

By | Hikes, Our Travels | No Comments

As the year screams by and we hit the second school term like a herd of stampeding wildebeest, we realise how important it is to stop and take a look around. It’s May for crying in a bucket. We seem to have snoozed through 4 months of the year already and before we know where we are, our kids have lost another tooth, decided sleeping at friends is way cooler than sleeping at home, and taken up computer games as their official hobby. How did this happen? Snooze through another stretch and we’ll find them driving out the front gate yelling, “See you after first semester!” It terrifies me. I’m no longer creeping closer to my mid 30’s, I find myself in a head on collision with my 35th birthday and no way of avoiding it. How did that happen? Where are the brakes?

Luckily, the Easter holidays meant we could escape for 3 nights in the Cederberg mountains, about as close as we could get to hitting the brakes on life. Just the 4 of us, mountain paths for miles, with all we needed slung over our shoulders. We could do as we pleased, governed only by the sun and the stars; no technology, no phone calls, no work… nothing short of bliss.

The kids have been nagging to do a trip like this since Shaun and I did a similar one last year for our 10 year anniversary. They made sure we knew what their requirements were. They wanted to:

     1. climb lots of rocks,
     2. sleep in a tent,
     3. swim in a clear mountain pool, and
     4. not do too much hiking.

1. Tick 2. Tick 3. Tick and 4. …we’ll try our best.

Knocking our intrepid Wuth exploration genes into the background, we set about planning a route that was low on mileage and high on fun! Then we started with the practicalities of what we were undertaking; we put the kids’ packs on their backs and filled them up to test how much weight they could carry.

4.5kg’s, that’s it. It is 1/6th of their body weight, but it doesn’t go a long way in covering what they need for 3 nights in the mountains.

To put it in perspective, they could carry their clothes, and a camelbak bladder full of water. So Shaun and I equipped ourselves with some lightweight packs with extra storage space so we could carry the additional sleeping bags, mats, bottles and food we would need. We also had to take a 4-man tent as opposed to a 2-man one, which added an extra 4kg’s. At this point we were extremely grateful for all of our ironman training – it was going to be necessary.

Logistics taken care of and packs filled to overflowing, we set off for the Cederberg. Thankfully we had called ahead to check on the level of the rivers to make sure there would be water on the route we had decided on, only to find out that the route we had planned had been devastated by a fire a few months earlier. This meant a last minute change of plan. No major shake up for the gallant Wuth clan, we amended the route, ensured there was water available in the rivers, and hit the trail. Not before we could each stuff 2 white candy Easter eggs in our mouths of course, it was the Easter holidays after all.

We started our hike at 5pm and we had an uphill climb of about 3km’s before reaching an area flat enough to pitch our tent. We had worked out our route based on the Slingsby maps and quickly realised that they were not entirely accurate. At 3km’s up we realised that it was more like 5km’s until it flattened out. The kids were troupers, pushing through the first gruelling stretch like mountain goats. The 4kg packs turned out to be perfect in weight for them, and they could surge on ahead of us while we laboured under the weight of 4 days’ worth of food and 10 litres of water. Thankfully the kids happened upon a perfect little patch of flat ground that looked out over the Algeria valley, just as the light was reaching its last faint breath. It was perfect. Even a dinner of cold rice and biltong wasn’t enough to dampen the children’s spirits, and they went to sleep happy, with the stars an unspoiled canopy above us.

 

Day 2 we awoke on top of the clouds, a soft white blanket stretching across the valley in front of us. We were alone on the mountain, dazzling sun rising to the East, and a day of exploring ahead of us. A cappuccino and bowl of hot oats completed the perfection, and off we set to conquer the remainder of the mountain.

 

Our morning was spent lazing next to hundred-year-old oak trees on the top, and bathing in the fresh river that meandered its way across the summit. Lola found (what we decided were) leopard footprints, and we tracked them across the top as they crisscrossed our path, causing great apprehension as to whether they were hiding in the rocky ledges nearby. After consulting our less than trusty map (although we weren’t aware just how untrustworthy at the time), we decided to follow an old path down a gorge on the mountain, to a point where there were 2 large pools at the main river below. In theory, this was a great decision, in practice, something else entirely. The ‘old path’ turned out to be an ancient path. In fact, there was almost no path to speak of. To make matters worse, there had been a fire in the past few months, which the ranger had neglected to mention when we asked about the route. The fire had proved handy in that it cleared the route of overgrown vegetation, but was a hindrance in the loose rocks and ground it left in its wake. Had we realised the length of the descent we were undertaking, we might have changed our minds. At the time however, we could only see bubbling mountain pools (in our minds eye), and the shortest route of getting there. Damn our overzealousness.

 

As is the Wuth way, we spent the rest of the day scrambling down the mountain getting covered in soot, cutting our shins on the overgrown vegetation and apologising to the kids, telling them this was not our best work, and really not what we’d had in mind at all. As the sun began to set and we still had not located the path at the bottom of the gorge, Shaun set down his pack and relentlessly combed through the scrubby bush that surrounded us so at least we’d have a path to set off on the following morning. Thankfully, after about 4km’s of walking in what Shaun describes as a ‘scientifically-exploratory-fashion’, plotting markers on his watch at intervals of where the route was supposed to be, he finally found the dregs of the path. It was like finding a needle in a haystack. It was incredibly overgrown and was going to be no fun to follow, but it had to be done if we wanted to get to the river, and home. We had to settle for a small stream to collect water and wash in, but judging by the children’s glee it might as well have been a water-park. We were all exhausted, the children had been such troopers and we knew there was another gruelling day ahead of us, so we made camp on the first flat rocky outcrop we could find, and let the emotions of the day wash over us as we watched the stars climb into the sky.

 

Day 3 greeted us with blue skies and happy children, the rough patches of yesterday all forgotten – kids are amazing that way. We knew it wouldn’t last long with what lay ahead, so we let them goof about in their ‘fort’, and eat their breakfast leisurely on the top of ‘look-out’ rock, enjoying the quiet and the stillness of the morning. After getting the kids to put on their pyjama pants underneath their hiking pants to protect their legs from the scrubby bush, we were ready to hit the road. Well, not a road at all really, it was more like walking through a hedge. It was dry and rough and scratchy. We lost the path every couple of meters and had to beat through the bush to find if again. We crossed several river gorges with no water and scrambled up sheer rock faces. I’ve always said I’m not sure how we landed up lucky enough to have such resilient children, but yet again we were in awe. With the promise of a large river pool in the distance, the children pushed on. We carried them (and their packs… and our packs) when we thought the bush was too tall and the scrub too rough for them to walk through. We’d manage about a hundred meters and then have to put them down to catch our breath. It was relentless going. After about 4 hours of bushwhacking, the path finally opened up and we could actually see our feet in front of us. It was glorious! We made quick ground after that and got to our lunch spot and river pool not a moment too soon.

The water was cool, crystal clear, and sweet. There is something special about drinking water that has come straight down a mountain, untouched by other people, unfiltered and un-chlorinated. Swallowing the odd tadpole didn’t seem to bother the kids much either, but the tiny, 1mm leeches sunning themselves on a rock in the middle of the river disturbed them quite a bit – not enough to deter the skinny-dipping however.

 

We could have stayed all day and all night in that fresh, cool, oasis of ours, basking next to the river in the dappled sunlight, but we had a fixed amount of food and we were quickly nibbling our way through our dry crackers and oat bars. Lengthening our stay wasn’t an option, we had to head for home if we wanted to be eating anything on the way there. So after soaking ourselves clean and washing our clothes, we set off. It was a steep mountain we had to climb before we found any flat ground to camp on, so we pulled out the big guns; we told the children they could eat as much chocolate as they liked when they got to the top. I’m laying it out for you: this is how we get our kids to do these ridiculous things. There is no magic to our ways, simply lots of cunning… and a large sack of treats.

We couldn’t keep pace with the kids up that mountain. Sure, we had added several litres of water to our packs, but they were fast. They needed no encouragement. They, in fact, were encouraging us. What I had expected to be one hell of an awful climb, turned out to be the easiest of the lot! Thank you Lindt!

The top of that mountain was like being on a bridge between 2 worlds. Reality and civilisation loomed in front of us, while freedom and escape lay behind us. It was our last night on the mountain, and it would be a lie to say we were glad the hike was coming to an end. It was the break we had all needed. It was full of difficult climbs and treacherous descents, baking hot weather and worries about our choice of route, but it was also full of jokes and laughter, incredible views and learning more about each other, appreciating food for the sustenance it is, and water for its life giving qualities. There was nothing we took for granted, because everything we took we had to carry. It is an experience I would encourage every family to have together, an escape hard to replicate in the concrete jungle of convenience that is our world.

We woke up on our last morning to the sounds of utter silence. Not many creatures live that high up the mountains, and it is strange to have only the gentle breeze keeping you company as you watch your tiny cooker boil water for your morning coffee. The stillness sits inside you, like a tiny pebble dropped into a lake, the ripples moving through you and over you. But the sun waits for no man, and the descent back to reality began, breakfast over, tent packed up, and off we set.

It was a long walk back; we definitely didn’t get no.4 of the kids’ demands list right on this day. It was beautiful and rugged, but hot and devoid of water. We watched 2 Verreaux eagles soaring above us for hours as we covered the 14km journey back to our car. Whether they were the same 2 we had seen on the previous days I can’t be sure, but they were a constant reminder to me of why we were doing this trip. Their grace and power was beautiful beyond words, it was awesome – in the true sense of the word.

Scraping the last of our sense of humour from the bottom of the barrel, we managed to keep ourselves together until we reached the campsite at the end of what-should-have-been-a-morning-but-turned-into-almost-a-full-day’s hike. There was really only one thing we all needed at that point and anyone within eyeshot could have told you … a shower. It really is the everyday conveniences you come to appreciate after 4 days in the wilderness. I have been trying hard to teach my kids appreciation, but all it takes is a holiday like this for them to realise all they have back home. Suddenly running water and a toilet take on a whole new meaning.

Despite the buchwhacking, the heat and the fires, the kids had an absolute ball. There were times they lost their sense of humour, and times Shaun and I doubted our sanity, but that happens no matter where we are. It was such a fantastic holiday we’ve decided to make it a bi-annual event. Now we’re all looking forward to the resurgence of some warmer weather so we can do it all again!

 

 

Living On the Front Lines

By | Musings, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

It’s hard to explain to someone who’s never lived in Africa just what it entails. How after weekends like this, Africa and its many complexities reverberate in your bones, the challenges right on your doorstep can shake you to your core. Cape Town is always plagued by fires at this time of year, having our annual rainfall in winter means summers are usually dry, but this summer is worse. We have enough water in our reservoirs to last about another 60 days, after that we are the mercy of the Rain Gods. Fires have been raging on our mountain sides like they normally do, but Friday night’s fire took hold in a far more devastating way. It started in a shack in the informal settlement Mandela Park, located in Hout Bay. With shacks built one upon another with barely enough room to walk between, let alone enough room for fire-truck access or even firemen with hoses, the fire wrecked devastation, burning roughly 1000 houses, claiming numerous lives, and leaving a yet unconfirmed number of people, but estimates are around 10 000, with virtually nothing.

Living in the Hout Bay valley has been a sombre experience this weekend. We watched as thousands of people covered in soot, carrying what few possessions they could carry out of their homes, amble their way down to the main road, as blackened leaves and ash rained down around us. Sometimes all people could carry was the young, disabled or the elderly, while they left everything else to burn. We are used to fires, we – sadly – are even used to homeless people, but this was so different. Listening to the sounds of exploding gas bottles every few minutes, which sounded like bombing, made me feel like we were fighting our own kind of war. It seems wholly unfair; people who have so little, losing what few possessions they have.

There is a huge disparity between rich and poor in South Africa, and a natural segregation that comes with it. One of the positives of living in Hout Bay is that our children grow up with their eyes wide open, aware of people who have less, and those that have more. We see their houses, we spend time with them and we share stories. When devastation like this happens our children are virtually on the front lines. They see the queues of people waiting for food and water, and we are forced to talk about these issues, the fact that we have so much more than so many people in the world, and there are things we can do to help. Sharing our clothes, our toys and our food with people who have lost what little they had seems the least we could do. As much as I want to protect my children from the big-bad-ugly world, I also want them to know how privileged they are, I want them to know gratitude, and I want to teach them that they have a responsibility to give back to people who need help. We are not alone on this planet; we are each other’s keepers.

Residents of Mandela Park doing all they can. Photo credit: Sullivan Photography

 

It’s so easy to look past what’s going on next to you, think that someone else will deal with it, rationalise why it’s not your problem, but if we all did that who on earth would help? Thankfully Hout Bay seems to have a lot of people who don’t behave that way. There has been a spur to action to the point where there is no bread left in most of our shops, the shelves are being cleared by Hout Bay residents who are buying food and dropping it at designated locations where volunteers feed, clothe and medically attend to those affected by the fire. Organisations are rallying to collect funds to purchase new school supplies and uniforms for children who have nothing. The community at large seems to be doing wardrobe ‘clean outs’ and donating clothing to people with nothing more than the pyjamas they were wearing when they ran from their shacks in the middle of the night. It really is something inspiring to see, when your community and your neighbours stand up and do what they can to help. They give what they can give, and pass on all the love they can. I have seen more than a few onlookers in tears and heard parents talking about their children not being able to sleep because they are worrying about their friends from school who live in Mandela Park. Let us hope this care and concern carries on, because our community will need help for a while yet, with thousands homeless and many of them needing trauma counselling and support. We all need to do our part, whatever that part is, and we need to keep doing it after all the hype dies down. Thankfully the Hout Bay community has an incredible track record of pulling together. They are a beacon of light in a country that is still torn by inequality and racial differences. Despite our many problems, and we have them – make no mistake – there are few Hout Bay residents that will turn a blind eye on what’s going on around them.

After a heavy weekend, our own disappointments pale into insignificance when looking through the smoky haze of unfairness that surrounds us. Our own problems shouldn’t be ignored, but a disaster like this certainly puts them in perspective.

Love and thanks to all those volunteers out there who selflessly continue to give of their time and energy.

Thank you to www.sullivanphotography.org for the incredible images.

FYI – As of Monday morning there was still no electricity or water in the whole of Mandela Park, including the area that was unaffected by the fire. What most people consider basic human rights, are inaccessible for a large portion of the Hout Bay population. So while our attention is needed by those directly affected by the fire, don’t forget to check in with others from Mandela Park, make sure they have a way to prepare and cook food, enough water for basic ablutions, or offer those you know, at the very least, the opportunity to get clean at your house until water pipes are mended and electricity restored.