Monday, 26 May 2008

Any news from Africa?

Talking about politically correct subjects in a politically correct way?? Not always, it's too hard for a blogger like me.

So this is about Africa. You know this big place down south, on the other side of the Mediterranean.

Not a day passes without news from there. The melody is always the same, CHAOS in all its forms plus a never omitted mention of colonialism. Whatever happens down there in Africa, it is somehow our fault, always.

You want short sleeves or long sleeves? In case you answer short, they cut your arm above the elbow. In case you opt for long sleeves, off comes your hand (Liberia, The Analyst, 10 January 2008).

In South Africa between 500 000 and 1 million women are raped per year, babies included. (World Net Daily, 27 May 2008).

Want to know how to make speed killing without any modern weapons? Please inquire in Ruanda Burundi. There, only with the help of machetes and other big size knifes they killed about eight hundred thousand people in just three months.

The Democratic Republic of Congo is so fertile that you can plant a broom stick into the ground and you have a fair chance to see it turning green. Nevertheless, famine is endemic over there. It should be said that that the Congo is indulging in a civil war that goes on nearly since the Belgians left there in the early sixties. The horrors happening there everyday defies imagination (CBS News, 27 May 2008).

And so on, and so on. The list is endless.

AIDS is spreading over there like a wild fire. Naturally, we are being told that this is due to cultural particularities and culture has to be respected, anywhere. So they need Bill Gates and his billions + plus European Union Aid + President Bush and his aid program + all good people world wide. Nobody seems to tell them and us that they should simply stop screwing around whenever they leave home.

By the way, in South Africa many people think raping a baby girl is a proven remedy against aids (BBC News, 9 April 2002).

Looking for a country with inflation well above 1.000.000 percent? Just go to Zimbabwe (Associated Press).

And then - at the telly - I see those Africans dancing around and I hate to see this. Dancing for just any reason. Got a new remedy against Malaria? Let's have a dance. Someone from far away Switzerland or elsewhere shows them how to make a stove, how to cook, how to purify water, how to plant a tree that is not withering away next week! another dance. Got a new president elected at 99 percent, the old one has been assassinated: let's have a dance.

So I think Africa and our media should give me a break. Stop talking about this endless list of horrors streaming out there as well as their perpetual non-performance.

I know they are poor but they are not the only ones. Why are the Koreans able to build big ships and TV flat screens? 50 years ago this country was nothing but a heap of rubble after a devastating war. And only 25 years ago China was as underdeveloped as Mongolia. And now?

So why not Africa? Why is there not a single manufactured product coming out of this continent?

These are the real questions to be asked and to be acted upon. By the Africans themselves, just for a change.

Wednesday, 14 May 2008


Once or twice a year I am having a little flying holiday. My favorite place to go is the Pyla dune, south of Bordeaux/France. With a maximum height of 110 m (about 350 feet) this dune is the highest in Europe.

The camping is situated right at the foot of the Pyla dune, in the pine forest, five minutes' walk through the quicksand and I am right at the paragliding launching pad.

However, no wind, no flying. The day of our arrival, nearly cloudless sky but no wind. Not the slightest. There were roughly two dozens of paraglider pilots standing in the sand, waiting, waiting, waiting (www. in abbreviation).

Next day, blue sky again but the very strong wind was blowing from the land to the sea. Flying under these conditions would be a suicide mission. So we had another walk on top of Master Pyla, tourists among tourists.

The dune advances inland about 1 meter (three feet) per year, at most places. Thus all those camping sites on the inland side of the dune get smaller and smaller over the years. When walking along the water, you see the remnants of shore defense bunkers, laying half hidden in the ocean. They were built by the German army during the Second World War, now subject to tagging. When they were constructed in 1942/43, they were on top of the dune!!

Pyla is a big tourist attraction and restaurants are aplenty. There I saw a waitress who had a new way of carrying her dish towels. Have a look.

The third day was sunny again but again without any wind. Thus we went to the nearby Hydroplane Museum, featuring this kind of airplanes from about 1905 till now. The museum was closed, exceptionally. No sweat, a real "grockel" (English for tourist)can always fall back on something else. What about a Cappuccino in a good looking Café?

Well, all this is a side line. I came here for some paragliding and now I am reading Patrick O'Brian's "The Ionian Mission". Splendid book, I recommend.

Here, have a look at the camping site, right on the Pyla dune, under big fir trees.

This camp site is one of the best I know. They feature clean toilets and if you feel like it, you can get a kind of paper ring to put on the toilet seat. Hygienic shitting of stand-alone quality. I am always coming back to the place because of this.

Sunday, our last day at Pyla. Again heavy sunshine but no wind. Again those idle paraglider pilots are standing or sitting on the dune, www for some wind. Then suddenly, a paraglider appears in the sky, just one.

Everybody gets excited because there is no wind. We are all running to the other side of the dune to have a slice of this happiness. Alas, when we are there, the lone paraglider is still alone in the sky, slowly gliding down to Mother Earth. He must have had a gust of warm air, for some minutes and was smart enough to act upon it.

Monday morning, we are leaving. Thanks to YouTube, have a look at my beloved activity. I like the video because the pilots are a bit nutty. Youthfully excited as well as the music. This is "Plastic Bertrand" singing a hit of about thirty years ago, very much to the point "ça plane pour moi" (something like 'I am high' - but not in the air but in the head). Naturally, I am not flying like this, coffin lid open, but still flying, peacefully in the sun, over the sand and the water, over the tree tops.

Another post that is a bit too long. Sorry.

Sunday, 4 May 2008

Breakfast in the garden

This Saturday morning - 3rd May - is important. It was sufficiently warm and sunny to have our breakfast IN THE GARDEN. First time this year!

Weekend breakfast is always special. We load the table to capacity. That's what we had:

Croissants (four in all - two for each one) - plus baguette with sesame or poppy grains outside

Black Assam tea (for me with milk and a glass of orange or apple juice (I prefer the last)

Forest honey and Moor honey, both from nearby

Unsweetened almond paste and hazelnut paste (those two big jars) and Nutella

3 jams: cherry, cherry plum, quince.

Well, that's the breakfast. Let me stress this however: it's not French, it's not German, it's just ours.

My fellow blogger Bere in her blog A Chronology of Stupidity shows the photo of a very different kind of breakfast, US American style, I suppose. It is her post "time lost, weight gain", you have to scroll down a bit after landing there.

Here in France, most people have a very simple b. Black coffee, baguette, butter and some marmalade or jam. Frequently, the jam is skipped. So many different ways to start happily into a new day.