Getting high in Central America

A clammy equatorial fug hit me as I sloped out of Juan Santamaria International Airport with the ink of a three-month visa still wet in my passport. Fug this, I thought. Worse than Durban in February. But there was no turning back. Loinfruit and Bloke had booked me a hotel room and promised to fetch me in the morning.

I was savagely jet-lagged and in no mood for plans to go awry, as they usually do when my family is involved. I came close to causing an undiplomatic incident when I discovered the minibar in my room was empty, but then let is slide when my brain reminded me it was still operating on SA time and that it’s probably not the best idea to start drinking at 4am. Stupid brain. It knows nothing about such matters.

The hotel was near the airport and the roar of outgoing flights had me thrashing about in sweat-soaked sheets shouting, “No, no! Not seat 38C!”

Loinfruit and Bloke arrived late. “Pura vida,” she said, pushing a cold Imperial beer into my sweaty paw. “Let’s roll, daddy-o.” The sides of her head were shaved and she had new tattoos. They were driving a modified Suzuki Samurai with tinted windows and raised shocks. It was like being on a jetski in choppy seas. I was told to stop squealing like a castrated goat every time we went around a bend. In Costa Rica, there are no roads without bends. This is serious hill country.

Bloke seemed at ease driving on the wrong side of the road and was amused by my repeated flinching. He told me to relax and claimed that countries with suicidal drivers have the fewest accidents. When pressed for his sources, he changed the subject and opened a beer. It sprayed his sunglasses and there was a long moment when nobody was driving the car.

“Jesus, take the wheel!” I shouted, assuming the brace position, which isn’t easy in the back of a Suzuki.

We wound our way down to the coast while I shouted and gestured at other drivers who were clearly out to kill us. Loinfruit and Bloke seemed oblivious. They live in Namibia, came here for a short holiday and got trapped by the lockdown. That was nine months ago.

They’ve since bought a house and show no signs of ever wanting to return home. Flexible generation, the Millennials.

I spotted a turnoff to a beach town called Jaco and suggested we check it out. Bloke said it was full of seedy bars, hookers and hustlers. Sounds fantastic, I said, bouncing up and down like a hyperactive child. Loinfruit gave me the lazy eye and Bloke kept on driving.

Their house is in the mountains. It’s probably about 3km from the coast as the pigeon flies. I mean a local pigeon, not one of our idiots that would get lost or forget where it was going or get distracted by a girl pigeon who might be up for a bit of a shag.

In a car, it takes thirty minutes to climb 900m. There are so many switchbacks that I lost track of which direction we were travelling in. Hemmed in by the jungle, we went through several climate zones and I soon began to feel like Edmund Hillary trying to summit Everest in a Suzuki.

“Hypoxia is setting in,” I whined. Loinfruit and Bloke glanced at one another. She turned around and frowned. “Do you think you might have the Rona?” I know these people. If they thought there was any risk of them catching something nasty, they wouldn’t hesitate to leave me on the side of the road.

“I’m fine,” I said. “You can’t even catch the attention of a cabin attendant on Lufthansa, let alone a disease.”

At the top of a misty hill, we took a sharp left and went bouncing down a dirt track in such appalling condition that we were all drenched in beer by the time we finally reached their house. We were deep in Tico turf. The locals are called Ticos. We’re called gringos. I’m sure there are less polite names for us. Well, for the Americans anyway.

The house looked like something Pablo Escobar might have used as one of his holiday homes while on annual leave from the Medellin Cartel. Mind you, the man who built the villa was a general in the Ukrainian army. He probably made Pablo look like a Boy Scout.

I didn’t want to ask where they got the money to buy a place like this. It’s unlikely I would get the truth. If they do turn out to be running guns or drugs, well, there are worse people to have in your family. In a best case scenario, I would have had a second kid who became a lawyer.

Christmas was fun. Bloke found a plastic Christmas tree left behind by the general. It’s probably still broadcasting to the Ministry of Defence in Kiev. Good luck deciphering those conversations, comrade. I barely understood them myself, largely because everyone was drunk by 10am. Which, I imagine, is standard operating procedure for the Ukrainian military.

Bloke gave me a razor-sharp machete as a gift, which was fantastic because I’ve always had a thing for blades. I showed them a couple of moves I’d learnt with a panga in Durban’s cane fields when I was younger. Loinfruit threatened to take it away from me after Bloke narrowly missed losing an ear.

“We thought you might be old enough to have one of these, but apparently we were mistaken,” she said, sucking on her 10th beer of the morning while swaying gently in the tropical breeze.

They warned me about the dangers of the jungle but I couldn’t wait to get out there. Fer-de-lance? Please. You speak with forked tongue, señor viper, and you shall feel the sharp edge of my weapon. Bloke told me about the Brazilian Wandering Spider whose bite can cause an erection lasting for up to four hours. Bring it on. The worst thing that could happen is that I’d have to join Tinder.

Apparently it also causes cramps, hypothermia, vertigo, blurred vision, intense sweating and convulsions, all of which are normal side effects of sex anyway, if you’re doing it properly.

I watched Cyril’s family monologue last week and it’s clear I got out just in time. Here, I can go to the beach and buy beer in the local supermarket whenever I want. The sea is 28ºC and there are no power cuts. The towns and villages are clean and the government takes good care of its citizens. There is no army and protected national parks everywhere. There are sloths and toucans and nobody wants to break into your house and iron your face just for the hell of it.

If anyone can think of any good reasons why I should come back, do let me know.

 

Welcome to Pandemic Air

I am sitting under a tree in the northern hemisphere in the middle of winter with barely any clothes on. Before you start feeling sorry for me, I should add that hypothermia is not about to set in any time soon. In fact, if I weren’t guzzling cold beers, it might very well be dehydration that finishes me off.

A couple of weeks ago, I woke up and realised I was in the wrong place altogether. Where I should be, I said, pushing the neighbour’s cat off my face, is in Costa Rica. The cat sat up, half closed its eyes and nodded as if to say, “Obviously, you idiot.”

A few days later I was shambling around a deserted Cape Town International Airport, hungover, dragging a suitcase held together with packing tape, facing not one but two 12-hour flights, and trying to find a way to blame the cat.

Was this a good time to be flying to the other side of the planet? At a time when a layer of pestilence has formed between the troposphere and the stratosphere? Inside a metal tube with the virally tainted for company? Of course. There is no better time to travel.

A friend had offered me one of those weird semi-prosthetic neck cushions for people with heads that flop around like beached sardines every time they close their eyes. I was having none of it. It’s not the risk of floppy head that keeps me from sleeping on a plane. It’s the trying to fit a 1.9m body into an economy class seat. Bits of me have to take it in turns to sleep. A foot here, an arm there. Never the brain, though. The brain thinks only murderous thoughts all the way through.

I glanced around at the masked vectors of infection and tried to pinpoint who would be the one to kill me. They all looked like attempted murderers escaping the country ahead of consequences. Not that we have those in South Africa.

Some were dressed for summer. Had these people never flown before? You dress for the climate at your destination, surely. What kind of monster gets on a long-haul flight to Frankfurt wearing shorts? Didn’t they know it was winter in Europe?

The plane stood on the apron for ages because there was something wrong with the machine that charts the route. You’d think the pilot would know the way by now. How hard can it be? Swallows do it every bloody year and they don’t need a machine.

The flight was half full but I preferred to think of it as half empty. A flight attendant with a disturbing resemblance to Charlotte Rampling in Night Porter said if I was quick enough I could snag myself an entire middle row after takeoff. I was nowhere nearly quick enough, even though I wanted this more than I’d ever wanted money or women. Germans are supernaturally good at grabbing things for themselves e.g. pool loungers, tables near the buffet, Poland etc.

By the time I got my seatbelt off, the only empty seats left were a window and aisle, both of which are useless for sleeping because the middle armrests are welded into place to prevent South Africans from stealing them.

We landed at dawn in a heavy fog. As we touched down, Charlotte clapped once, shouted “We made it!”, looked across the aisle at her buddy in the other jump seat and gave a double thumbs up. Bit worrying.

Security at Frankfurt airport was tighter than Jupiter and Saturn were the other night. I am partial to a girl in uniform, but not when she’s my height bulked up with kevlar body armour and an automatic weapon slung across her substantial chest.

It’s roughly at this point, after my stuff gets sent down a conveyor belt and into a darkened tunnel, that I expect to be arrested. It happens every time I fly. I almost assume the position to save them the trouble. Actually, there was a position to be assumed, beneath a moulded plastic arch. Some kind of X-ray device that sees through clothing. Feet in the footprints place, ja. Hände hoch!

A woman with the eyes of a jumping spider kept me in position for longer than necessary. Getting a good look at my willy, no doubt. I wiggled my hips suggestively but she seemed unappreciative and ordered me to move on to the next step, which involved a young deviant with obsidian eyes giving me a full-body frisk. It didn’t feel as unpleasant as it should have.

Everything was foreplay up to that point. The real heavy duty stuff, or in my case, duty free stuff, came at the end of the process. You’ve passed the body test, but you don’t know what they might have found in your belongings. I was almost home free when a gloved hand shot out. He picked up my Tanqueray and Havana Club and told me to come with him. He unlocked what looked like a broom closet. I baulked. No way was there room for both of us in there. What did he have in mind? A bit of my brandy and a little heavy petting? Instead, he put the gin into a scanner. I asked what he was looking for. Explosives, he said. I laughed and said I’d had some pretty explosive evenings on that filth but I sensed he wasn’t interested in hearing more.

Ten hours later I boarded the plane to Costa Rica. It was packed with Germans fleeing their country’s hard lockdown.

I had a window seat and a vial of Xanax and intended to make full use of both. The plan changed almost immediately when a hefty fräulein hove into view and began making moves to wedge herself into the aisle seat. The fear of being trapped between her and the aircraft was overpowering. I suggested we swap seats. Little Lotta grunted in what I took to be agreement. The way she carried on after that, it was as if we had exchanged bodily fluids, not seats. Everything I had potentially touched, she wiped down with sanitiser. She also flinched every time we inadvertently made contact. It was horrible.

I couldn’t even risk taking the Xanax because I would have slumped unconscious into the aisle and it would have taken four strong men to haul me back into my seat and strap me in place. I would wake at 3am two hundred miles above Haiti and find myself in restraints. It would get ugly. Someone from the cockpit would be summonsed to stab me in the neck with a tranquilliser dart and police would be waiting when we landed.

Despite asking the man-child in front if he wouldn’t mind not reclining his seat on account of me not having anywhere to put my legs, he did it anyway. My headphones weren’t working properly so I couldn’t even watch a movie. And I certainly couldn’t risk falling asleep on Little Lotta’s shoulder.

Costa Rica seemed a long way off. It’s unlikely I will be returning home any time soon.

Cuervo, cane rats and couches

It’s the nights that are the killers. What to do when the sun goes down. There is only so much beer the human stomach can accommodate before exploding.

I am divorced and the child is grown. The dream is gone. I have become uncomfortably numb. The air is heavy with pestilence and I dare not venture far from my bubble. Not that I have one. There isn’t even a word for people with no bubble. How terribly sad.

I suppose there is always television. Not that I have one of those either. If you’re thinking of calling Gift of the Givers, please don’t. I’m fine. I have a car and clothes and I weigh 100kg. My body could feed off itself for months before it needs restocking.

It’s the nights. I am starting to get on my nerves and I don’t have access to the kind of medication one requires to get away from oneself. There is no need to involve psychiatrists. Not yet. Not while I still have two constantly copulating pigeons to feed and a resident rat to talk to. The rat has been kind enough to retain his quarters in the garden, although I am sure he would move in with me were an invitation to be extended.

While I lack a television, I do have a screen which is allegedly hooked up to Netflix. Having a screen of any kind is enough to get the werewolves of the SABC’s legal department smashing down doors and putting people in chokeholds until they cough up a licence fee. Or arterial blood. Word is they are happy to settle for either. I am ready for them.

While I nurse my beer – or my beer nurses me, one can never be sure of the order – I look around at the furniture. It can only have been bought at a secondhand shop at the bad end of the 1980s. Probably near a harbour. An Asian-looking woman would have been behind the counter, smoking a cheroot laced with cheap opium. It would have been a time when cane furniture was popular. A time when cane lent a room a vaguely colonial ambience long before shabby was chic.

Like hamsters and very small children, cane furniture was never designed to be sat on. You’d be more comfortable reclining on a chair made of pangolins. Or on the floor, which is where most people with cane furniture end up because they are too hammered to make it to the bedroom. Or so I’ve heard.

If you ever have the misfortune to visit people with cane furniture, they will pretend to be out of cabernet sauvignon and offer you a glass of Cape to Rio. To match the furniture? Sure, why the hell not.

I cannot sit in this room, which only qualifies as a lounge because it has cane furniture in it, and watch Netflix on the big screen. It’s not even that big. Most people these days have screens the size of a netball court. The problem is that my body is ill-suited to cane furniture. Being 1.9m tall, the chassis needs to unravel and mould itself to the environment. It is a body made for Coricraft couches. They once had girls’ names, these couches. I remember falling for one called Jezebel. Maybe that was … I don’t know. Couches, girls, it can be hard to tell them apart when you’re perpetually on the rebound.

I do apologise. Journalists are meant to avoid using brand names because it could look like we’re angling for freebies. I am certainly not fishing for a free couch, no matter what her name is. Obviously I’d prefer it if a tequila company came forward, but it would be unethical to mention names. Am I right, Jose Cuervo?

But back to the long, crazy nights of pandemia. I have begun watching the latest series of The Queen. Not from the lounge, obviously. I take my laptop to the bedroom, just like you do. Covid-19 has reminded me that I am able to meet all my professional and personal needs from the supine position. Thank you, Mr Virus. Sometimes I feel there isn’t enough appreciation for what you have done for those of us who prefer to work from home, in bed.

Having watched previous seasons with a girlfriend of whom we shall not speak, I knew I ran the risk of being triggered by watching The Crown on my own. I went to bed and pressed play. But instead of being overwhelmed by loneliness, resentment and remorse, I felt increasingly comforted.

My emotions were quickly channeled into a fierce hunger for Princess Diana and a deep and abiding revulsion for Prince Charles and his shameless side chick, Camilla.

I was also reminded, in every minute of every episode, that there are families out there way more dysfunctional than my own. A warm glow of schadenfreude remained with me long after the final credits rolled and it seemed that not having a bubble might be the way to go after all.

So thank you for that, your majesty.

  • This column first appeared in The Citizen on 2 December.

To the Class of 2020

What an exciting time to be venturing out into the world! It’s not every generation that gets to begin life’s journey in the middle of a pandemic. Such a story to tell your children. Assuming you survive, of course.

When I left school, the prospect of dying an early death with a ventilator lashed to my face wasn’t something I had to consider. On the other hand, I did have to consider the prospect of dying an early death somewhere north of Oshakati.

Spoilt brats, you are. The next time you complain about having to wear a mask, just remember that I had a Soviet-made anti-tank missile explode in my face. Well, it might have if I hadn’t spent the war in a signals office in Defence HQ in Pretoria, which, let me add, came with hazards of its own. Mostly related to drinking, admittedly.

Have exams been going well? I imagine not. I imagine it’s been devilishly hard to focus on square roots and dangling participles when you’ve spent virtually the entire year with grown-ups telling you that if you cough near your classmate her grandfather could die, and that if your mother doesn’t disinfect the shopping you can be sure she is trying to kill you.

I apologise, on behalf of the education department, for your having to learn stuff that is available almost instantaneously on your phone. Google has made school obsolete. But that’s a conversation for another day.

Dates in history have become meaningless. The only date that matters is March 5th, that sultry summer’s day when the health minister announced our very first case of Covid-19.

“The patient is a 38-year-old male who travelled to Italy with his wife,” said Dr Zweli Mkhize proudly.

Being the red-blooded patriot I am, I might well have applauded the news. Our first case. Hoorah! What a shame we don’t know who he is. We might have erected a statue in his honour. Or declared March 5th a public holiday in his name. Or we might have hunted him down and set his house alight, which would seem the more South African thing to do.

The very next day, the education department should have called a press conference to announce that the curriculum was changing and that nothing would ever be the same again. Henceforth, there would only be two classes and two exams. Sex education and survivalism.

You would learn foraging and tracking skills. How to light a fire in the rain. Where best to build your shelter. How to give yourself stitches. Learn to use a bow and arrow and live by what little of your wits remain after twelve years of government education.

And when it comes to sex, it’s no longer a simple matter of coyly asking, “Do you have protection?” or, in my case, “Are you old enough to have stopped ovulating?” Now one needs to ask one’s partner to keep his or her mask on or, even better, remain in the other room while matters are taken in hand.

I don’t personally know anyone who is writing matric at the moment, but I imagine the cry, “Why are we doing this when the world is so irrevocably changed?” is not an unfamiliar one. I know quite a few adults who don’t know the meaning of “irrevocably” and they’re doing fine. Not really.

Your generation no longer needs to know words of five syllables. In fact, it’s best you don’t use them at all. The last thing you want are people leaning into your personal space shouting wetly, “What was that?” Our muzzles have made grunting an acceptable method of communication.

You are entering a regressive world, boys and girls. Everything is going backwards. It’s a global reset and you have to be ready for it. Yes, the adults did nothing to help you to be ready, but it’s better than an anti-tank missile in the face.

Survivalism is the new capitalism. Forget carving out careers. Find a tree trunk and carve out a statue of the twelve gods of destruction. Sell it for a million dollars to a Swedish tourist. Or recruit your most outlandish friends and ride fast and furious through the Karoo on heavily chromed XT500 motorcycles as the new horsemen of the apocalypse. People will give you money. Or try to kill you. It is what it is. Take what you get.

Right now and for the foreseeable future, everything is a gamble. You would be a fool not to gamble. As you peer anxiously across the narrowing ravine that you must traverse to become an adult, you absolutely have to take giant leaps of faith and go laughingly into the unknown.

Your parents will be sad to see you go. For about an hour. My father turned my bedroom into his office within a week of me moving out.

I feel I should apologise for the mess you’re inheriting. I can’t really, though. And not just because I’m a man and would rather hammer a porcupine quill into my earhole than apologise. The real mess started long before I was even born.

Anyway, good luck changing the system. If you do inexplicably feel the need to breed, please don’t call any of your children Vaccine.

Jacob Zuma – On The Run

I usually avoid watching the Zondo Commission because I find it triggering. Evidence leader Kate Hofmeyr reminds me of an Afrikaans girlfriend I once had who interrogated me relentlessly if I failed to come up with a plausible explanation for something I might or might not have done. And the head of the legal team, Paul Pretorius, reminds me of a PT instructor in the army who did his best to kill me because I was from Durban and seemed not to care that we were at war.

I did catch a bit of the show on Monday, though, but only because Jacob Zuma was due to make a rare appearance. It was like getting the chance to watch an alpha lion sneak into another alpha lion’s den. Anything could happen, especially when the one lion has been doing everything it can to avoid encountering the other lion and is only there under tremendous duress and is massively grumpy as a result.

It’s as close as we can get to the good old days when gladiators fought, red in tooth and claw, before the roaring crowds in the Colosseum. Sadly, Hillside House in Parktown is a poor substitute for the Flavian Amphitheatre. It might be a bit of a circus at times, but it’s a far cry from the Circus Maximus. And cheap nylon suits are no match for the deadly tridents and golden armour worn by the likes of Spiculus and Spartacus.

Also, and I hate to say it, Judge Zondo is no Julius Caesar. By the looks of him, it’s unlikely he has even seen a Caesar’s Salad. Actually, that’s not right. I do apologise. It was Emperor Joaquin Phoenix who gave the thumbs-up to the Hispano-Roman soldier Maximus Decimus Meridius, known by his slave name Russell Crowe.

I don’t want to get too heavily into it, but there are distinct parallels between the Zondo Commission and Ridley Scott’s Gladiator. I must say though, the commission could do with a Juba. And I don’t mean iJuba, although that wouldn’t hurt either. Juba was a fierce Nubian gladiator who … ah, forget it.

There’s something very soporific about watching Zondo go about his work. He is a master at lulling witnesses into a false sense of security. He is also a master at lulling people to sleep. It’s an interesting tactic, because if everyone falls into a vegetative state, we can be done with this filthy business before another generation of lawyers is unjustly enriched.

I would have loved to have had Raymond Zondo for a grandfather. Of course, he would have had to make sure he was out of Durban North and on the bus to Umlazi before sunset. Unless he worked for my parents, in which case he would be able to stay overnight in the kaya if his papers were in order. But if he was my grandfather, that would have made my mother or father black, in which case they’d have been living together illegally and … and I might have gone on to host The Daily Show and never worried about money ever again.

Anyway. Monday wasn’t as wild as I was hoping. Zuma sloped in and sat down. Two hours later he stood up and sloped out again. He didn’t have his umshini wami face on, that’s for sure. I wouldn’t have liked him for a grandfather. Not with that look. Or that many children. I already resent having to share my paltry inheritance with my sister. I can’t imagine how I’d feel having to share the spoils with a couple of soccer teams worth of siblings and whatnot.

I couldn’t help feeling a bit sorry for advocate Muzi Sikhakane. He was admitted to the Bar in July 1992. I was admitted to sixteen bars that very same month. Okay, I was thrown out of most of them, but still.

Zuma’s hired gun seemed ill at ease. Perhaps he sensed that everyone already knew that he knew the outcome before the charade even began. He was quick to remind Zondo that he was under instruction from his client, the subtext being that he’d sooner be nursing baby sloths in Costa Rica if it paid equally well.

He also pointed out that he and the judge hailed from the same village. In the treacherous swamplands of the law, this could just as easily have been a threat as a display of collegiality.

Like Sikhakane, I too have feigned docility and deference while playing the long game against a superior adversary. In my case, almost always women. And almost always they never fell for it. I got the feeling the honourable Zondo was seeing right through Muzi and Muzi was seeing Zondo seeing through him and so they bared their teeth at one another knowing that a zero-sum game is sometimes the only game in town.

Sikhakane swore that his client had no intention of defying the commission. In fact, Zuma had been looking forward to it for a very long time. Super keen to appear.

“Yessss,” said Zondo, nodding sympathetically, pausing monetarily to fill in his state-issue sudoko.

Sikhakhane’s ultimatum was clear. If the deputy judge president fails to … stand down? Be more sensitive? Give Zuma a cuddle and a back rub? Stop hearing the testimony of anyone who can put his client at the heart of the state capture project? Failing which, Zuma will either clam up like Dudu Myeni or it’s Stalingrad all over again.

Sikhakhane did suggest there was something to look forward to. He said, “If you blow us today, what happens?” Well, I imagine the ratings would go up considerably. I would advise, though, that we wait until the children are in bed before we reach that stage of the proceedings. It seems unlikely, though, that Zondo will be open to granting this kind of relief.

  • This column first appeared in The Citizen on 18 November.

* UPDATE: Judge Zondo has ruled against recusing himself. After making the ruling, he nipped off for a quick wee and when he came back Zuma had disappeared. Went AWOL, just like that. Zondo, who had performed well under pressure up to this point, lost his nerve and blew the dismount by not sanctioning Zuma. The former president is a walking sack of contempt and I’ll pay a handsome reward to anyone who makes a citizen’s arrest.

Sanlam puts the fear of cancer into us all

Then, to the palpitating heart of the matter. How much cover do you need? All of it, please. The options range between R200 000 and R6 million. I don’t know what this will cover when it comes to cancer. The R200k? Probably three weeks’ parking at the oncologist’s offices. I’d like to think the R6 million includes a full Viking funeral with Roger Waters sitting on the beach playing Comfortably Numb while naked guests fire flaming arrows at my tequila-soaked body lashed to my surfboard and cast adrift on a wild gunmetal sea.

……………………………………..

There. Have a taste of my column in The Citizen on Wednesday, 30 September.

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Latest news from the ‘Just When You Thought It Couldn’t Get Any Weirder’ department.

Beaches across South Africa were opened to the public today. In Cape Town, people swam in the sea. Not for very long, obviously, or they’d die of hypothermia.

In Durban … ay, my bru. Durban ekse. It’s my hometown and all and I don’t want to badmouth it, but that municipality doesn’t make it easy.

From today you can go to Addington or Ballito or Umdloti or whatever beach you like. Of course the usual rules are in place. No camping, cooking, stabbing, shagging, drinking, defecating, organ harvesting, playing music, lighting people on fire and so on. But there’s still this one weird rule. No swimming.

That’s right. In Durban it’s legal to go to the beach but illegal to swim in the sea.

I bet you think I’m making this up. Actually, you probably don’t. Nobody is surprised by anything any more.

eThekwini municipal spokesperson, Msawakhe Mayisela, said … well, don’t take my word for it. Here it is, in his words: “We are taking the necessary steps to ensure regulations for swimming are in place.”

Apparently, “the full protocols are still being prepared and confirmation is being sought for bathing and surfing from the Provincial Authorities on certain omissions not appearing in the gazetted policy as per the National gazetted regulations.”

If separate permission for swimming in the sea needs to be specifically specified, outside of the opening of beaches, where does it end? Must there be protocols for children who wish to splash in rock pools and protocols for people who intend wading rather than swimming? And what constitutes swimming? May one go up to one’s knees or is one expected to maintain a certain distance from the wet stuff?

The country’s nature reserves and public parks are also open from today, but in Durban there’s a good chance that you have to stay off the grass until the relevant lawn-use protocols are in place and you may not come within ten metres of any tree until the Botany Bill has been promulgated.

Thank god bottle stores opened today.