Kissing Cousins And Strip Mines

I was going to write about politics this week but the moment I typed the word “Mangaung”, I projectile vomited. I tried again and again and each time I lost more and more of my lunch.

The sound I made was not the traditional “raaaaalph” but the more gut-wrenching “zuuuuuma.”

By the time I had progressed to the dreaded dry heaves, the far wall looked like a Jackson Pollock painting, had he chosen to work in beer instead of acrylics.

The doctor said I was suffering from politicalitis caused by an overexposure to lies and corruption. He suggested I avoid newspapers for a month and prescribed six tequilas three times a day.

And so I find myself back in Mtunzini, this time with my rabidly atheistic loinfruit, Clive, and his perpetually underdressed cousin Roxanne who has gone from being a slutty adolescent to a wanton herpetologist.
When I learnt of her new-found passion, I pointed out that Clive would be an ideal subject because the horny little toad was in all likelihood riddled with herpes. She enlightened me as to what it was that herpetologists did and I said in that case Clive would be an ideal subject because of his scaly skin, hooded eyes and forked tongue. He denied having a forked tongue.

So why do you speak with one, then?” I said. He had no answer to that, largely because by the time I came up with this punchy rejoinder he had already left the house.

Typical spineless reptilian-amphibian conflict avoidance behaviour,” I said to the cat. The cat nodded without opening its eyes.

I had a feeling Clive and Roxanne were rutting like wildebeest whenever my back was turned, but intervening would simply enable the brat to give me his stock response: “But dad, there is no God!”

I can’t work out if he is a genuine atheist or merely using it to get away with heinous acts of depravity. Anyway, there seems little point in stopping first cousins from getting jiggy on the grounds of morality when our leaders are sloshing around knee-deep in whores and blood money.

I decided to take them to Mtunzini in the hope that the sounds of the forest would drown out the stampeding of their pheroponies. I remain the sole responsible adult after Brenda went off three months ago to find herself (she should try looking up her ass).

Mtunzini is a quirky little town full of reclusive hippies, itinerant zebras, unmarried mothers and snaggle-toothed hillbillies. It lurks damply just south of Richards Bay and it’s about to get a whole lot quirkier thanks to a mining company called Exxaro KZN Sands/Tronox.

The forests and wetlands of neighbouring Fairbreeze contain noo-noos who care very little for the economy of this great country. They also contain titanium. Frogs are less important than titanium so the trees must be cut down and the dunes torn up. Anyone who has ever tried to build a jet fighter out of frogs will know this is the way it should be.

Approaching Mtunzini, Roxanne sighed deeply and remarked on the primordial power of the dune forests. Apparently this is how herpetologists talk. I told her to take a good look because the next time she comes this way, she’ll be looking at giant toxic slimes dams and a landscape bleaker than the dark side of the moon.

Tears welled up in her big blue eyes. Clive consoled her by putting his hand up her skirt. That’s my boy.

Being a sensitive man, I didn’t mention that the opening of a new mine meant the Chinese wouldn’t be far behind with takeaways along the N2 selling fish-eagle-cakes, sweet-and-sour blue duiker and bushpig-on-a-stick.

The Umlalazi Resort isn’t really a resort. A proper resort has strip bingo and pool tables and a man who sells drugs to the needy. Umlalazi has a riverboat moored in the parking lot that looks like it detonated a floating mine. That’s about it as far as entertainment goes. There are also millions of fiddler crabs, which aren’t as much fun as they sound, and the allegedly endangered Pickersgill’s reed frog, which is no fun at all.

I suppose one could have a swim in the river, assuming one doesn’t mind being bitten in half by a hippo and then having a crocodile use one’s spine as a toothpick. Failing that, there’s always a romantic evening around the fire inhaling mosquito repellent and biting pepper ticks off each other’s faces.

Or you could try identifying the birds, one of which makes the delightful sound of an infant being dangled in boiling water.

Leaking hormones, Clive and Roxanne wandered off to photograph “the wildlife”, leaving me alone on the veranda of the log cabin.

I stared into the forest wondering what was the point of trees. All they seem to do is stand there swaying in the wind and randomly waving their limbs. A bit like car guards, really. I should probably tip them when I leave.

A tiny antelope stepped daintily out of the forest and into a clearing. It twitched its nose and wagged its silly little tail and looked at me with big doe eyes. It is moments such as these that inspire poets to dash off a few stanzas before dipping into the morphine. All it did was make me feel hungry so I got into the car and dashed off to the Spar for a chicken pie.

Later, I combined the two events and wrote an Ode to the Antelope Pie. After using pope, dope, lie and cry, I ran out of rhyming couplets and went to bed.

The next morning I went looking for palmnut vultures, billed as one of the rarest birds in South Africa. The problem with rare things is that you never actually see them.

After staring up at a bunch of huge raffia palms for at least five minutes, I saw nothing other than tiny pinpricks of light followed by darkness and a sudden falling to the ground.

How do I know the palmnut vulture even exists? I can also go around telling people about the incredibly rare tree-climbing spider-dog that spins webs and barks only when there is nobody around to hear it.

When we left I cast an eye over the inventory to make sure the kids hadn’t stolen anything. One of the items was “whiskey”. I peeled Clive off his cousin and threatened to put his fingers in the toaster unless he confessed. He said God didn’t exist and demanded to be set free. When that didn’t work, he claimed not to have seen any whiskey in the cabin and said he thought it was meant to be “whisk”. I found it highly unlikely that an organisation as efficient as Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife would make such a horrific error.

I released him and he scuttled off in tears. Later I saw Roxanne helping to stifle his sobs by putting her tongue in his mouth. What a selfless girl she’s turned out to be.

I haven’t told Clive, but I subsequently found these items on the inventory. Egg bitter. Braai tooke. Five peace calving set.

And we wonder why they can’t keep their rhinos alive.

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