Internet meanderings: On gritty New York

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At the end of my final year in school, my best friend and I convinced our mothers to take us on a mother-daughter trip to New York before we headed off to University.

Frank Sinatra will tell you. Alicia Keys will tell you. Jay-Z will tell you- New York is the city of possibility. It’s the place where dreams are built and hopes are dashed.

Living in South Africa for my entire life made the idea of New York a completely foreign concept to me. The beauty of this country is completely different to the lure of a big city like New York. Seeing it on TV and in movies made me desperate to visit the city and experience the vibe for myself. Surely, with all the hype surrounding it, it had to be amazing? But what if it was disappointing after all the years of building it up in my mind?

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Beginning Dark Star Safari

Taking out books from my university’s library is one of my favourite academic related activities. This is because the book check out machine is self-service and when I use it I feel like Dr Who inside the Tardis, pushing buttons and generally just being a cool, time travelling bad ass (minus the time travel).

A few weeks ago, my writing and editing lecturer scrawled a note on the bottom of one of my assignments suggesting Dark Star Safari by Paul Theroux as a book I might enjoy.   So, this past Monday I was even more excited to visit the library (nerd alert)than usual because not only would I get to use the cool self-service check out machine, but I was taking out a book from the Rhodes Library for reading pleasure as opposed to academic use for the first time my entire university career.

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Internet meanderings: looking for the lols

Don’t get me wrong; I absolutely love reading incredibly detailed, beautifully narrated and deeply detailed pieces of travel writing. Anything that gives me a small preview of what my future could hold will pull me in.

But, in all honesty, the columns/posts/books that truly make my day are the funny ones. If you make a post about the top six worst kind of travelers you can run into which includes “Mr Backwards Backpack Guy” and “Miss ‘Look at my Titties'” or a post about that time you nearly shit your pants in the middle of Bangkok, I’m on it like a car bonnet.

There’s something about humour that draws people in; possibly the human element that it adds to writing. It can bring writing onto the level of the everyday person. For me, I love the the lightheartedness and (due to me not being able to go for more than a few days without seriously embarrassing myself) the relatability of the writing. Humour and wit, when done well enough, pull readers in and allow them to imagine themselves in your shoes. The relatability creates a bond between reader and writer. If the people who read my blog (all five of them. Hi again mom) start forming these bonds and genuinely begin to connect to me and share in my wonder, embarrassment and even sadness, then I feel like I’m doing my job as a writer and travel blogger. Continue reading

Internet meanderings: the pros and cons of creeping on fellow travel bloggers

Following other people’s travel blogs is both a blessing and a curse. A blessing because it is a chance to live vicariously through other bloggers and imagine yourself in their position; taking selfies next to the lakes in Slovenia or sampling some Icelandic delicacies such as Hrútspungur (ram’s testicles) and Svið (singed and boiled sheep’s head) which both sound ridiculously delicious. Lol jk I would rather relive my tonsillectomy than try one of those bad boys. Despite some of the questionable cuisine I come across, perusing other travel blogs is increasingly becoming one of my favourite procrastination tactics past times as they give me a taste of what I hope my future holds (minus the ram balls and sheep skulls).

Scrolling through travel blogs comes with its dark side too. The blog posts, Instagram pictures and videos all act as fuel for my desire to travel. They kindle my wanderlust and prod at my restlessness. It can become frustrating experiencing the adventures of strangers through a computer screen while I’m stuck in my bedroom, taking a break from dragging a highlighter across yet another reading on environmental ethics (Third year politics everybody. Hoot hoot). Continue reading

Living the high life

I hate flying.

That’s a lie. The up-in-the-air part I can handle; it’s the take-off and landing that turn my stomach into a cesspit of anxiety.

Earlier this year, I experienced the worst landing of my life. As Emirates flight EK 306 approached the landing strip at the Beijing International Airport it descended down as unpleasantly as possible. When I was younger during thunder storms, I was quite the wuss. My aunt Maggie would calm me down by telling me that the big bangs were simply God rolling potatoes down the stairs. “Why would God be doing that?” I would ask. She didn’t have an answer but it soothed me none the less. During that landing it felt exactly as if the plane was one of those potatoes bouncing its way down through the smog-ridden Chinese sky.

That flight made me even more of a nervous flyer (Well, take off and land-er).

My ambition in life is to be a travel writer and travel usually involves flying (unless I’m resigned to travelling by foot, car, camel and/or boat— actually don’t even get me started on boats. That’s a whole other post). So, you may ask, how the heck do I plan on making the ‘travel’ aspect of my ‘travel writer’ plan work? Continue reading

Why I write

**Note: This was completed as an assignment for a Writing and Editing course I am currently completing at Rhodes University. We were asked to think about why we write. I had to sit and think hard about my reason for adding my scribbles to a universe that is already so full of the ramblings of others. The reason I write is the same reason I started this blog; because I love writing and sharing my experiences and thoughts with the world. If my work can make just one person smile, laugh or simply just stop and think, that’s when I am the most fulfilled. As cliche as that all sounds,this post will help explain. 

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When I was in Grade 2, I was determined to be a paleontologist. My class did a series of lessons on dinosaurs and with every day that passed, my two-font-teeth-less grin grew wider and I grew more convinced that excavating fossils and researching the long-gone reptilian ancestors would be my end-game. Fast forward a few years to grade 7 when, following my stint as the lead in my schools production of Archie &Friends, I truly believed that acting was my calling. My twelve year old brain was resolute in its belief that I would be the next Charlize Theron (albeit paler and more freckled).

Clearly my first two career options didn’t work out as I have yet to unearth any stegosauruses or tearfully accept an Oscar for Best Actress.

In Matric, when my initial job aspirations were out of the picture, I had absolutely no idea what I wanted to do with my life. It’s a feeling I’m sure many of us have faced and it’s terrifying. Continue reading