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Monday, January 18, 2016

Mama Grace.

Mama Grace.  Coffee Bay 2015

I have this photo of Mama Grace on a table in my lounge.  I look at it a couple of times a day and it always evokes the same feeling in me.  I've got to get back to Coffee Bay.  Mama Grace is calling me.
This year I need to make a proper mission.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Coffee Bay under the stars...

Okay, I'm just playing a little with a fun filter to see what would Coffee Bay look like if it was covered in stars... Pretty hey?

I sometimes think of Coffee Bay, this Paradise Lost, this little rural traditional Xhosa place that has the Western world crashing into it with giant yellow noisy machines wiping out everything in it's path to build a highway straight through it. Backpackers, tourists from all over the world visiting every day, as neglected people struggle to make a living from sunrise to sunset, as a place somehow similar to Bethlehem, where perhaps a baby could be born someday unsuspected, Messiah, born on the floor of a humble mud hut - stars bright in the sky, to grow up in simple surroundings, with the sole purpose of saving the world from darkness.  That's just my imagination running wild.

12 day visit to Coffee Bay 2015. Day 1: Thursday 130815


Ive just had my evening warm water bucket bath and Im clean and happy sitting on my bed in my little caravan.  Music from my ipod and mini speaker & kettle boiling for some tea.  I am slightly hungry but all is good really.  God is good! Gypsy girl is back! (Even though only for 12 days)

Arrived yesterday about 5pm after 18 hours on the Intercape and another 1.5 on Coffee Shack shuttle.  Yes, I was super lucky as the shuttle arrived in Umtata the same time as me and they had one seat open because of a cancellation!  So I didnt have to do the dodgy taxi mission (involving standing next to the highway holding a paper with XAE  for Mqanduli and changing there to another taxi) Good start! 

Arrived at the campsite to find my caravan in the exact same condition as I left it a year ago (apart from a little bit of dust and some gecko poo)  I have electricity (brought a long extension cable with me) and my lamp is working, yay! 

Had a bucket wash before Gavin fetched me for dinner at Noen and Tuppys house.  It was a bit of a festive occasion, celebrating Lindas 50th birthday.  I am by 12 years the youngest in this crowd but its cool, theyre always interested in what I have to say.  So awesome to see Robin again after a bit more than 2 years. 

This morning I caught a taxi to Ngcwanguba (the general dealers close to Coffee Bay) and the driver charged me only R10 instead of R14 just out of being nice.  Thanks man!  When I got into that taxi the memories came back to me of why I love this little part of Africa so much. To see the people, hear the taxi music, I felt so real and alive.  I felt myself and happy.  As we drove the 20km to the shop I felt like I wanted to cry.  Not for joy then, but for compassion for the people sitting in the taxi and walking on the road.  They are so rich in their suffering.  I dont know how else to explain it.

Got all the supplies I needed for the 12 days (tomatoes, onions, cucumber, broccoli, spinach, milk, cheese, yoghurt eggs etc. for under R300 (and that included a bit of a luxury item I couldnt resist – a mokha coffee pot for just R69!!! Ive always wanted one)  Transkei avos from Ngcwangubas own tree are just 79cents. For real!!!  Only thing I forgot to get was flour for chapatis and toilet paper.

Met Robin later and we walked to the backpacker side to meet some people.  Robin handed out reading glasses to the bead mamas.  I regret not bringing more as well.  There are never enough.  Or Xhosa Bibles, not to mention the beads.  I only brought wooden beads and wires that some mamas specifically requested a year ago.  My budget kind of ran out and I didnt get them any other regular beads which wouldve helped them a lot right now.  Ill have to buy beads from every single mama to support them equally.  Robin only packed one jean and one skirt for herself, for her whole trip from America.  The rest of her suitcase held items for the people, from clothing, baby blankets, glasses and Bibles.  I was a bit more selfish I admit, I only brought one bag of beads.  I would love to come next year with my car and bring a whole lot more stuff.  The mamas also need bags to carry their beads in.  Even their plastic bags are disintegrating.

We went to 'Friends Cafe' up the road to say hi to Linda and had some delicious meringue and coffee with a awesome Coffee Bay view...

Last night I was surprised by a familiar voice outside my caravan.  It was Ace, my night security guard.  Met him way back in 2011 when I first parked my caravan in this campsite.  He has a golden bear love aura.  It was so sad last year when there was another security guard here to replace him, because he was sick from having to spend every night outside in the cold.  Today we agreed that when I leave Ill give him the key of my caravan so he can use it as his shelter at night.  I shouldve done it long ago but I am so precious about my special little space.  Now I really dont mind, I would just love for him to be healthy and have some comfort.  I know that he would give his life to me in a given situation.  We are family.
Me and Ace and mama Gloria

Saw so many people in the day (Apart from about 8 of the bead mamas,Linda, Jo, Michael, Sarah and Capri, Kevin Nomonde, Ninti, Ayanda). Saw Afekile, Sinevuyo and Alithemba on my way home, they ran down the hill to greet me, I feel bad that Im spending my time with too many other people while they wait for me to go to the Reading Hut.  Soon!  Mama Gloria and Mavis waited for me by the gate when I got back, and it's great to see Joe, the faithful garden man of Villa La Bay and also of course Brandy the dog.
Mama Grace, Michael and Robin

The weather was slightly windy at some point but still much warmer than Cape Town, yay for sandal weather!  Approximate date of returning to Cape Town 24 Aug.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Mr Bom Bom - July 2014

Mr Bom Bom is a man I have great respect for.  He is one of my neighbours and owner of much of the beautiful land where I live when I'm there in the Transkei.  I took a picture of him a week or so before this one but I felt that the picture just didn't do him justice, so I was very happy when I had another chance opportunity one late afternoon as I was taking a walk and Mr Bom Bom happened to come past on his way home.    

Monday, August 4, 2014

Coffee Bay Horse Trails, with Gavin

Whilst in Coffee Bay I was privileged to go for a good number of horse rides with Gavin.  
A must for anyone visiting Coffee Bay.  
You can contact Gavin to book a ride on 071 239 0976

Monday, July 28, 2014

Back to the Wild Coast for winter :)

The past 5 weeks I spent back in the Wild Coast, catching up with my Coffee Bay family and trying to keep things going there.  (I'm back in the Western Cape now and pretty chilly here in comparison).  Definitely the best place to get away from Cape Town winter for a while.  Pretty much every single day was filled with blue skies and the potential to have a swim in the ocean...  

I was without internet the entire time, a welcome relief!  So in the next couple of weeks you could expect to see some snippets of my time there as I start going trough my pictures and remember all the little adventures I had this time round...

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

130514, Gypsy girl goes to Afrika Burn... after thoughts, tips and other ideas

Afrika Burn 2014 - from a 'virgin's perspective

One of our camp portraits - Camp Dis-connect

So yes, my virgin experience.  What to say about it in human words.  Seems kind of difficult to explain.  It was awesome on so many levels.   Glad I had some good camping experience already under my belt from being the Wild Coast gypsy girl haha.  That came in handy on a few occasions :)

First of all Id say GO EARLY.  You might as well get your moneys worth and double it up :).  We went on the Monday already and that helped so much with adjusting, because if it is your first time there is a loooooot to adjust to.  I saw some people arriving on the Thursday only and they just looked shell-shocked and couldnt really relax and enjoy themselves.  Also you get to meet more awesome people this way...

You have to first of all adjust to the DESERT.  This is a leeeetle different to city life That means for example getting used to walking a little distance to your compost toilet and getting into that little routine.  Your body needs to adjust internally to a different eating pattern required by the desert and consequently that also affects the whole circle of events going on inside your body.

Many people can attest to a bit of a diarrhoea feeling, alhough it is more like just a loose stool and nothing to worry about.  Just keep on drinking lots of water.  Your body is just adjusting.  Minimize on alcohol and other sort of chemical substances you really dont want in your body.  My favorite thing in the morning was my cup of stokkies rooibos tea (the kind you need a little sieve for) with honey and perhaps some lemon to sooth my dry throat/mouth. 

Yes it is the desert and its dry.  And hot during the day.  You want to keep in the shade.  That means getting up early-ish (you will be woken by the loud bang/ explosion/ canon shot/ whatever that is) might as well make the best of it, go for a quick toilet run and then explore the sights a bit, on your bicycle if you have one.

Enjoy the cool morning air and beautiful light until it gets a bit warm and its time to return to camp for the mid-day siesta.  Which can last pleasantly long.  Dont feel like you have to rush around. Take your time to chill, have some breakfast, tea/coffee, have a bit of a wash, tidy up your camp a bit, chill some more and enjoy the company of your fellow awesome happy campers. And if you are lucky you will have a stretch tent covering your whole camp area.  Thanks guys :)

Another good idea for the morning is to pop in at your nearest yoga centre and stretch those muscles a bit to get them ready for all the dancing you are going to do for the rest of the day. Yay!!!

Or take your djembe drum and join a circle for some awesome inspired beats together with some other drummers at a great spot where you can for example simultaneously watch some silk rope action going on or whatever catches your eye

Afternoon comes and you are well rested (even if you didnt get much sleep at night – next time Im taking those industrial sound blockers, cause its been days later and my ears are still singing – if it says loud zone it means tripple stereo LOUD from club speakers 360 around you everyone trying to get their music louder than their neighbor.  Luckily I had an extra little pillow that I held over my ear to try and block some sound.  It was SERIOUSLY LOUD!!! 

Drink enough water.  Some people will say you must take little sips throughout the day.  No. Drink liberal amounts of water.  Do not ration your water too much.  It doesnt mean anything when its in a bottle, it only helps you when it is actually inside your body. Remember that!  Also take a few packets of Rehidrate and put a little bit in your water at the end of the day.  One packet can go a long way.

FOOD-WISE, think desert food.  The more you eat the more thirsty you get, so actually dont eat too much but eat clever. You should really stay a litlte bit hungry all the time.  Dates.  Raw peanuts.  Green apples. Oranges/ naartjies/ Pomme-granates  I took some avos that were great on some low Gi bread for the first couple of days.  With some fresh garlic and chilli and dont forget your A. Vogel Herbamare veggie salt.  Dont need much more flavoring than that.  For brekkie, some rolled oats is good if you pour a little hot water over and let it soak a minute or two till get it soft.  Nice with some cinnamon and apple slices.  You dont even need milk.

We had a nice big cooler box that we kept a couple of frozen meals in that we prepared before the time, things like lentil stew, kind of spaghetti bolognaise with lots of vegetables.  Keep your body healthy and youll be happy.  Someone brought some rotis with fresh stuff, sprouts, chickpeas, avo, cherry tomato. Yum.

Washing wise – yes take wet wipes, they are definitely handy.  Get those green Cherubs, Eco-Care baby wipes, they are also biodegradable and friendly to your skin.  A little bucket and a wash cloth can also do wonders.  In the end I only had one shower the whole week (the guys at our awesome camp Disconnect put up a shower for us – 3 poles teepee style, with material around – perfect.  And we had one of those shower bags, that can be left in the sun to heat up the water but a cold shower was actually welcome) which was absolutely fine, the rest of the time I kept myself relatively clean with a little bit of water in a bucket.  The dust is clean dust, you dont really become as dirty as you think.  But you will have dust everywhere haha, all the way up your nose for example.  And once you start blowing it could go on for a while it might even look like you had a chocolate factory up your nose :)

Have a look at these desert survival tips 1-4 to get a better understanding of the desert. (hopefully you dont really get lost in the desert but its always good to know a bit more about your surroundings)

Take those dust goggles!! No jokes.  You can get them cheap at the Agri market, like R10 each, take some for your friends too, theyll thank you later.  Its just a matter of time before a dust storm hits.  We were lcuky it only came right at the end on Sunday while we were packing up.  If you are  a little prepared even these can be lots of fun.  That was the time I missed my camera the most!  Next time Im getting like an underwater / dust case for my camera, cause seriously.  I have to pay a lot of money now to get it fixed.  It conked in already on day 4.  Dust is all around.  Bummer.

Oh and the ground is H A R D.  HARD.  Someone at our camp took a drill to drill into the ground for the steel tent pegs.  Obviously he was not an Afrika Burn virgin.

The evenings are cool, so boots, scarf, beanie, parka is important.

  • Big sun hat
  • Shades
  • ·      Umbrella for the sun (it didnt rain while we where there but check the weather before you go, cause that can change things dramatically, that desert does not soak up any water, it all floods)
  • ·      Sunscreen
  • ·      Lip ice with Spf
  • ·      Water mist spray bottle for those hot days – flavour with buchu/ or whatever you want (you can make many new friends in an instant if you have this little gift to share)
  • ·      Germolene – handy antispetic cream for minor bruises, burns etc.
  • ·      Scissors
  • ·      Elastoplast – the roll one is good, you can cut it any length and it sticks
  • ·      Rope – you can get balls of material rope at Builders warehouse, my clever camp buddy Jes, had the brilliant idea to tie everything onto the rope and then onto something else, like the tent.  From lighters, scissors, empty beer cans that served as cigarette butt cans, torches (those little solar ones you can probably get at the Chinese store became my favorite accessory around my neck J )
  • ·      A wool type scarf is great to have, for warmth in the evening and also to wet and keep you cool during the day…  A scarf can also help for breathing during a dust storm...
  • ·      If you have a bicycle, make a tag with your name, camp address and phone number for in case it does get lost.  Oh and DO get those bars attached to your bicycle (on the sides) so that you can lift a friend- your friend basically stands behind you and holds onto your shoulders – those were some of my best memories of everything!
  • DO take your favourite toys: Pois, Djembe, kites, juggling balls, whatever...?
  • DO go and boogie your ass off and have the time of your life :)
  • DO get some glow sticks for the night time, light yourself up
  • DO go out and make new friends when you happen to lose your own.  (That happened to me around every turn, I just got distracted every time and when I turned around my friends were out of sight.  But no worries, there are plenty more... :)  And it was awesome meeting y'all. 

Other random advice and good ideas:

  • ·      DO go and read other SURVIVAL GUIDES, this one is just basic and I didnt go into too much detail about obvious things, there are other guides that cover more aspects.
  • ·      If youre handing out FREE GIFTS, be sensible about it.  Dont create MOOP. Eg. a thousand tiny sunscreen samples is a very generous idea but how about using a couple of big bottles instead and just spray it on for people, much better interaction in this way as well.  Try to avoid things in wrappers

  • ·      Warning sensitive readers: This one is for the LADIES ONLY! :)
  • There is a lot we can learn at this event about preserving our earth and that we can continue in our normal lives.
  • ·      One great lesson I learnt as a woman was at the compost toilet: and then chatting to my friends about this situation of what to do with tampons that you are not supposed to chuck into the compost toilet (only human waste and toilet paper allowed).  So how about avoiding tampons altogether and investing in what they call a moon cup.  It can change your life! :)
  • ·      (you can buy it online at
  • ·      If you dont know what this is Im talking about now, go read this histerical article that promises to enlighten the socks off you.
The toilets get red flags as they are reaching their limit towards the end and you have to trek a bit further to find a white flag toilet..
  •  Okay, I think Ill stop there for now. Maybe some things youll have to experience for yourself to create a bigger adventure

Oke maybe one last thing.  You really dont have to dress up like a maniac if thats not your thing.  Some people work on their costumes all year and some people go rent stuff from the Fancy dress store.  But thats their thing.  You just go as yourself, yourself to the max.  Yourself in the desert.  Your true happy self that you love to be and no one else.  You don't have to spend any extra money that you don't have.  Well, maybe get a little something that makes you feel like a naughty kid...

And the gifting thing.  I only knew that I was going a week before the time and couldnt really figure out what to take as gifts.  In the end I had lots of gifts to give though, everything I took, like food, or little things like Zam Buk for the lips (our international friends dont know what that is and can be very grateful for it when their lips get super dry and chapped), fruit or  anything else that can be shared can also be gifted.  Sharing is caring.   Take only what you need and give the rest and everyone will have more than they need.  (The principle of the loaves and fishes is really true.) Dont hog your stuff. 

Also, if you lose something, consider seeing it also as gifting.  Probably whoever finds it will be very happy to find it Of course some things you can try to get back, like your camera or whatever.  But I lost a favorite scarf and super cool little umbrella and I feel like that I can let go of in peace and let whoever found it just have it as a gift  And I also received something in return  :)

Have an awesome spiritual experience. Be thankful for everything.  Get over yourself and love the people around you.    The Most High will lift you up when the time is right.  Yeah, He will even make you fly

Oke, good night..x

Ps.  Please excuse my spelling, I'm in a bit of a hurry and my spell thingie is out of action.

PPS. If you have any other brilliant ideas you'd like me to add, just lemme know ;)

Also check out my photo page on Facebook for more pics: Lavonne Bosman Photographic Art