Monthly Archives: April 2013

Picture This: You’re in France

First of all…. what would France be without wine? Here I am enjoying two bottles of some interesting Grapefruit Rosé which came to the amount of about R60 or 5 euro. Also, to be able to drink in public makes sundowners on the beach a real attractive option. And also, commuting between venues-of-consumption with drink in hand is a winner. 

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A very ‘French’ picture considering the black and white stripes. All she’s missing is a beret and a little red scarf. Also, being a young, petite, attractive woman is also quite French…. Perhaps a diet of bread, olives, wine and cheese makes Coco a healthy girl.

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What can I say about this one? A typical image of land and sea meeting on the French Riviera. The sea is more like a lake, I must admit. No waves or visible difference in tides. 

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This young man looked a little out of place as a fisherman in this port filled with mega yachts. Notice them in the background along with the tents for the Antibes Yacht Show. An event that originally tried to sell tickets at 20 euro per day and ended up handing them out by the bucket load. Probably because such a small fraction of people in life are rich enough to attend and spend. you cannot fathom the money in this industry.

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If you are French you have a dog. No, correction. If you are French you have a small dog. These will be the most well groomed dogs you will ever sea, except sometimes they should rather pass for rats than dogs (note my position on small dogs). Here though, you sea a cat (and half a dog). A huge number of homeless people, perhaps even the majority of them, keep pets. 

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Please excuse the lack of photos taken. I have been bad. I blame it on the smart phone. But these are some good ones Iv got so far on the Canon G12. 

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Video Diary: Behind Couchsurfing Doors

I am still couchsurfing and here you see a sneak peak behind closed doors. Get a guided tour of the loft apartment where I have been laying my head…. its perfect in some ways and really not in others. But its free, what more can you ask for?

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The Dock Walk and the Sailor

It’s only a few days into the dock walking thing and as I write this I wonder how much of a toll the search for that illusive yacht job will have on me. I hope that the physical toll is a drop in 2-3 kg’s but I fear that emotionally speaking it will be a roller coaster ride.

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To dock walk means to gather your CVs, put them, along with some water and a snack, into your backpack and wander around the marina dressed in your best yachtie clothes. These range from long or short black, camel or blue pants and a polo shirt- usually white. They say the trick is to strike up conversation and try not let the question of a possible job come up until it does so ‘naturally’. However, the fact that I am wearing the above mentioned clothes alone singles me out as someone who is looking to be hired. So that makes striking up a genuine conversation a little tricky.

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Now that we all understand what ‘to dock walk’ means. Let’s understand how it can go one of two ways. Either the member of crew that you see onboard gives you a look and as if you don’t deserve any better, just shakes his head meaning ‘there’s nothing available here’. Otherwise people are generally friendly. I’m actually pleasantly surprised at how few the blunt and unfriendly responses are compared to the number of helpful and encouraging ones.

Most of the time, at this early moment anyway, the yachts you approach are fully crewed or are looking for someone with prior experience (aka not me). Still they tell you to ‘keep smiling’, ‘don’t give up’, ‘you’ll be fine’. And because you want to believe that they know best….. you do what you can to take it to heart.

Sometimes you come away feeling good. You chatted to a few people and handed out a couple CVs to boats hiring for your position (stew/deck hand/cook etc.). Other days are not so positive. Take for example today- a friend arrived from the UK and before hitting the docks, registered with one of the crew agencies. A few hours later she had an interview.

Although everyone is generally very supportive of each other, something like that’ll really take the wind out of your sails. Tell you what! This just enhanced my annoyance at travelling with a South African passport (please don’t read as anything anti-nationalistic…it’s no secret the Green Mamba is an inconvenience).It’s not unheard of for South Africans to job hunt for up to six weeks before anything surfaces. I just have to keep in mind that it’s a marathon not a sprint.

IMG_6701bAntibes is the biggest port in the Med. It really doesn’t seem that way to me. Perhaps it has something to do with the earliness of the season and the lack of yachts actually in the harbour but I really did expect a bit bigger and better. Today I found myself meandering in amongst some sail boats where I would almost certainly not find what I’m looking for but it was there that I struck up conversation with someone very interesting. After chatting to the Frenchman for a while he invited me to kick off my shoes and come on board. He gave me a little lesson on how things work, showed me the cabin and then told me, ‘now I’ll invite you for some tea and then you piss off.’ Turns out he was glad for the company and we chatted for about an hour while he mentored me on how to adjust my attitude from ‘how hard it is out there’ to ‘just try harder’. We spoke about the business and what it means for romantic relationships, alcohol and drug abuse and world travel. Then it was time to go. ‘I hope I don’t see you again,’ he said ‘cos that means you got a job.’

 

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Video Diary: Testing Testing

Testing testing… ‘take one’ of the new dimension to my blog… the Video Diary. In this one I write from the south of France where I am hoping to find work on a yacht. Fingers crossed!

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Arriving in France: Rich Girl, Poor Girl.

I wondered what my first Wanderlust entry abroad would be. I didn’t really anticipate it including anything about being robbed. But fate had a different plan and just after arriving on Baguette soil- I was pick-pocketed.

My flight(s) went smoothly. Perhaps too smoothly- no delays, a good night’s sleep, baggage waiting on the other side, finding a bus to my final destination…. and bam. It was probably that Algerian Laundromat owner who chatted me up in the packed-to-the-brim bus who managed to relieve me of my wallet filled with 200 Euros. As well as my brand new driver’s licence which I literally got a week ago after it was stolen in a similar situation in Chile last year.

Needless to say I had a bit of a meltdown right there amongst everyone, looking around and wondering if it would be wrong of me to accuse the dodgy looking people beside me. I couldn’t even tell you when it happened, let alone who had done it. Some kind lady gave me 5 Euros with which I could get back on the bus since I was being asked to get off and chat to the Police. The Algerian handed me 20 Euros and I took it feeling like maybe he was being so generous because he felt guilty for doing this to me.

I really tried very hard to not let such an incident and significant loss of money get me down but I couldn’t help the lump-in-my-throat feeling. Living in Africa doesn’t help you feel any less hopeless about being stolen from. It was here and now its not and there’s nothing you can do about it. ‘Its just money.’  ‘You’ve still got your passport.’ ‘It could have been worse.’ ‘Don’t let this ruin things.’ That’s what I was telling myself while trying to avoid feeling like absolute shit for too long.

I wanted to feel the way I did when I excitedly made this collage before touchdown.

I wanted to feel the way I did when I excitedly made this collage before touchdown.

Where I was trying to get to was a place called ‘Juan les Pins’ about 3km along the coast from Antibes. I had arranged, via Couchsurfing, to stay with a guy who had said it was fine to do so. His Couchsurfing profile led me to believe he wasn’t a serial killer since it had tonnes of positive reviews from previous surfers. The place instantly reminded me of my apartment in Santiago: somewhat rundown and rented out by young foreigners.

My host is Indian. Born and bred. He’s a doctor of Robotic Engineering and somehow manages to not be a complete nerd. His sister is also staying here at the moment and together they make wonderful hosts. As it turns out, Mandar is an amateur ‘slackliner’- if that’s even a word. So in the late afternoon we went out, set up the slackline between two trees and in front of old people playing boules, and taking turns, tried to balance/walk along it. While I might be poor in terms of money, how could I not consider myself culturally rich if I was in the South of France, watching the elders play boules, partaking in what I originally thought was a hippy pastime with my new Indian friends?

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Later that evening we went to a farewell/promotion celebration at another Couchsurfer’s house. At this point I was able to truly enjoy where I was since I was sipping on French wine, snacking on delicious French food, surrounded by chic French people and a view worth a million bucks.
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