August 2007


I don’t usually discuss my vajaja with grown ups, or any males for that matter especially not family members so this is for purely entertainment purposes.

The other day I was given a gift voucher to The four Seasons Spa in Paris. The gift voucher was for 50Euro which, for a little South African who times everything by ten is quite a lot, but in Paris and especially in this top spa my 50Euro voucher could not get me very far actually, the only thing it could get my was a bikini wax. So I resorted to an extravagant bikini wax which was much against my “spending morals” as nothing worth that much had ever been near my vajaja let alone done to it.

I decided to make an occasion of this Spa day and dressed up, went early, enjoyed the sauna and swimming pool as well as the herbal teas and English speaking people around. I was greeted in French by Lillian and led into a beautiful, peaceful room where my wax would take place. Petals covered the bed, classical music played in the background and sweet smelling essence filled the room_ all making for the right environment for a 50Euro bikini wax. I lay down, Lillian applied the wax and ripped (just cause it cost more doesn’t mean it hurt less), she looked and repeated the procedure. At the end of the session, she applied a soft (apparently secret Four Seasons cream although I thought it looked like good old Vaseline) and poured me some more relaxing tea.

I went to the change room and put on my clothes not inspecting my new 50Euro piece of art, handed in my voucher and went back into reality of hot weather, grumpy Frenchmen and my room which is smaller than one shower at Spa. That evening I got undressed and as I looked down I saw what every women dreads: a lopsided vajaja! Yes that’s it right, after excruciating pain and 50Euro I was now lopsided..

So Koeksisters is back! Well I’m not sure if I will juggle two blogs very well but will try my best (Travelling Roystons is up and running while Husband and I travel the world).

What is it about a gorgeous, deluxe hotel? I can spend hours surfing the net ogling over OTT hotel rooms and intimidating lobbies, over cutting edge design and dream restaurants, over perfect locations and xtreme attention to detail with no immediate intention of ever staying at the lustworthy hotel in question. During the last 2 months in South America, Husband and I have stayed in our fair share of dubious places and a couple of days ago Hotel Garden sent me over the edge … I don’t expect a lot but we have managed to stay at some lovely budget places, e.g. Hostel Macondo in Cuenca, Ecuador, and Hostel Akari II in Cusco, Peru – places that are clean and comfortable, friendly and warm. Beds you look forward to climbing into at the the end of a long day. Hotel Garden was not – it was dirty and worn, tired and unappealing and brought to my mind imagined hourly rates. That’s when we realised we had strayed from our Flashpacker roots – hotels do matter to us and do affect our experiences. Who were we trying to kid? So our approach has changed, we are back on track and our level of discernment will not flag in the face of a budget, after all this is OUR dream trip so we should have sweet dreams (even if they’re not in the Gansevoort just yet).

P.S. Glad to report that we are now snugly tucked in at La Escondida, a charming B&B in Mendoza, Argentina!

American novelist Thomas Wolfe said “One belongs to New York instantly, one belongs to it as much in five minutes as in five years.” It’s a welcoming thought but I didn’t feel I belonged from the moment I stepped off the plane. I felt overwhelmed. I felt excited. But I felt like a stranger in a city of strangers. The other school of thought says you have to earn your stripes as a New Yorker. Well, the 25th of this month marked, to the day, my arrival in New York two years ago. And I now feel I belong. This amazes me. I have been living in New York for two years!!! I had the dreams that many have of experiencing New York  but I never imagined it would be the city I would come to call my second home.

So I would like to make a toast, to the greatest city in the world:
Here’s to waking up one day and seeing the beauty in the city’s dirty streets
Here’s to once living in a room with one window, and to views of brick walls.
Here’s to thinking a studio the size of a walk-in closet is a great find.
Here’s to my five-floor walk-up.
Here’s to hailing down cabs in peak traffic. In the rain.
Here’s to cab ride stories. And to the enviable driving skills of the drivers.
Here’s to cheering with the audience at Bryant Park when New York is mentioned in a film.
Here’s to wearing black.
Here’s to knowing where to get the best cup of coffee.
Here’s to the best bagels in the world.
Here’s to Saturday brunch in the village. And runs along the Hudson. To late night dinners and later night parties.
Here’s to a city that never sleeps.
Here’s to the delicate intricacies of the different neighborhoods. To countless cities on one island. To discovering a different world on your doorstep each day.
Here’s to getting around without a map. To knowing which way is uptown. To understanding the subway.
Here’s to the one train. To the art of jaywalking. To waiting inches away from speeding traffic rather than waiting safely on the sidewalk to cross the street.
Here’s to New Yorkers. To those that make you laugh. And cry. To those that drive you insane. To those that make you know why you live here.
Here’s to my Mexican flower vendor, my Israeli grocer, my fellow South Africans, my Italian super, my Korean postman, my Japanese flatmate, my Canadian best friend and my American friends, my Chinese laundry guy, my favorite Croatian bartender, and my Indian newsstand man. To the strangers. And the people I’ve yet to meet.
Here’s to the firemen. And the gentlemen. And the whistles of the builders.
Here’s to fire escapes. And rooftops. And to Central Park.
Here’s to not noticing sirens anymore. To a silence that never is. To sweltering summers and subzero winters.
Here’s to extremes.
Here’s the changing colors of the Empire State Building at night. To the lights above the skyscrapers, the closest thing we have to stars. To infinite possibility.
Here’s to you, New York.

This is a true story. It happened (or is happening???) to some one you know. Yours truly.

Jamba Juice is a smoothie chain. My favourite drink is a medium carrot and oragnge juice. Yummo. Ok, so last week I go into Jamba and am told about a special offer- get a free smoothie if you buy a Jamba card for $25. The card works like a voucher so I thought why not… They don’t expire and I go there often enough. Going through the process, the machine (or whatever it is that activates these cards) refuses to work. So I said, don’t worry about it, I will just buy a single medium carrot and orange juice. The lady serving me felt so bad that the card didn’t work that she gave me the juice for free anyway!

A few days later I go back to the same branch and, recognizing me, the lady said the machine is now working and I can get the card. Great. Especially considering I had already had the free juice. But she gave me another free one anyway.

A day or two after that I pop into another Jamba branch (going through a carrot-orange obsession at the mo) and order a medium carrot and orange juice. They by mistake made a a large (which in American terms is HUGE), apologised and gave me the large at no extra cost.

The next time I go to Jamba, yet another branch, the exact same thing happens.

And wait, the story does not end there…

Yesterday I ran into Jamba before calss to get, yes, you guessed it, a medium carrot and orange juice. But alas, they had run out of carrots. The lady that was serving me (the original one) felt so bad that she gave me a voucher for a free smoothie next time I go in!

Here is a little poem for you. Someone gave it to me…

somewhere i have never travelled, gladly beyond
any experience, your eyes have their silence:
in your most frail gesture are things which enclose me,
or which i cannot touch because they are too near

your slightest look will easily unclose me
though i have closed myself as fingers,
you open always petal by petal myself as Spring opens
(touching skilfully, mysteriously) her first rose

or if your wish be to close me, i and
my life will shut very beautifully, suddenly,
as when the heart of this flower imagines
the snow carefully everywhere descending;
nothing which we are to perceive in this world equals
the power of your intense fragility: whose texture
compels me with the color of its countries,
rendering death and forever with each breathing

(i do not know what it is about you that closes
and opens; only something in me understands
the voice of your eyes is deeper than all roses)
nobody, not even the rain, has such small hands