Travel blog 2011-1




I am as violent as the society I live in. Written by P.K.Odendaal 27 July 2011
This is a strange name for a travel blog, but bear in mind that all my travels are also travels of the mind and the soul and the self - not necessarily on the same path or the same direction - but nonetheless travelling to that Haven of the soul where peace, joy and love abound.
Take a person living in a violent, brutal and inhumane society like Witbank, South Africa -  take him to any beautiful place and take him alone - yes - take him to that beautiful garden state called Michigan, USA  - play him some Country and Western music over the rental card radio from a station such as Western Ontario Radio -  and play his favourite song called Solitaire - play it loudly until all hear, see and other carnal senses vanish and he enters some never never land. Tell the muse to grab him by his collar and stop his car and drag him to some nearby restaurant and inspire him to write what he feels.
And that is why I am now sitting in a restaurant on the waterfront in Bay City, Michigan on the eastern shore of Lake Huron.  No, this is not a panegyric for Michigan.
There was a man, a lonely man
Who lost his love, thru his indifference
A heart that cared, that went unshared
Until it died within his silence

And solitaire's the only game in town
And every road that takes him, takes him down
While life goes on around him everywhere
He's playing solitare

And keeping to himself begins to deal
And still the king of hearts is well concealed
Another losing game comes to an end
And he deals them out again

A little hope goes up in smoke
Just how it goes, goes without saying

There was a man, a lonely man
Who would command the hand he's playing

And solitaire's the only game in town
And every road that takes him, takes him down
While life goes on around him everywhere
He's playing solitaire
And keeping to himself begins to deal
And still the king of hearts is well concealed
Another losing game comes to an end
And he deals them out again

And solitaire is the only game in town
And every road that takes him, takes him down
While life goes on around him everywhere
He's playing solitaire

Solitaire - by Neil Sedaka
I crossed the border into the USA yesterday afternoon and again came into contact with the  arrogant customs officials of that country. This not being the first time, I knew I would have a hard time as my passport and visa are not necessarily my permit to paradise. In fact - they are a very strange species - they are treating all law abiding citizens of other countries like terrorists and let the terrorists slip by as law abiding citizens of other countries. How inhumane - almost like some of the members of the society I live in. After some fingerprints and interrogation I am handed the keys of my car which they kept safe during my interrogation. On the return to my car I find that my suitcases have been raided (not raped) without my consent and knowledge, and I find my clothes in a mess - after my wife took such care to place every item neatly and precisely as she always does. Some items that I brought along for my daugther was lying outside the cases.
It reminded me of the thugs of South Africa - but there they would have taken my suitcases as well as my cars keys without returning it. So I am glad I still have my clothes and my car keys, regardless of the condition they are in now.
I suddenly knew how some of my friends who have been hijacked or robbed in South Africa, must have felt. There I was standing, with nothing, but my clothes on.
They had my car keys and my cellphone and were deciding the fate of the few meagre clothes I had brought along for the trip - and I knew - just one wrong move and I would be toast.
Hello there !!!... If I wanted to bring in explosive devices or drugs I would have rented a truck - not hide it in my socks or toothpaste sachet.

I drive along the eastern shore of Lake Huron from Port Huron where I spent the night. The scenery is rapturously beautiful, just like driving through someone's garden - and a very big unfenced garden it is, somewhat like Paradise, which was also unfenced until the enemy infiltrated and God had to fence it and close it with gates and angels with swords - I hope it does not happen here.
I try and concentrate on my driving, because I do not wish to commit a traffic offence - twenty five years in Guatanamo Bay would be a bit much for me. So I watch every roadsign - and there are so many. Speed limit 40, Do not pass, Pass with care, Do not turn right here. These signs are alternated very frequently with each other for no apparent reason, and then I also need to look out for the interspersed more welcome signs like Ice Cream Parlour left, Coffee shop this way and airfield signs. At 40 km. per hr. I can more or less keep track of them although I miss many - it can be embarassing driving in a 55 km/hr zone when you did not see the sign to slow down to 40 km/hr. . But why are all the traffic queueing up behind me - something must be wrong - Oh yes - it's miles per hour I suddenly realise !!!!  So I speed up my travel a bit and find that at 55 miles per hour these road signs flash by at four per second.
I am interrupted by the flight of my mind and soul which is starting to soar in South Africa. Why do you look at any of these signs ? In South Africa you never look at any roadsign, much less obey them. You are committing at least a hundred traffic and other law offences per day in South Africa and now you regard yourself as this law abiding citizen from some other country - maybe that customs official saw through you and was right after all. I - like so many others - never stop at a stop street and seldom at a robot - maybe on invitation only. I have learned never to stop for a traffic - or police officer either, as many of the hijackers are disguised as policemen - or are the police only wearing their day uniform at night when they hijack.
OK, ok, ok ... I am a self confessed road hog - and all my friends and family agree. Not that I drive very dangerously, as I have not been the cause of any road or aircraft accident in the more than million kilometers I have done in each, although I got my license - as my wife says with such contempt - in Christiana - that small town or village where I grew up. However, fortunately, that unfortunate town has now changed its name and the things it stands for. I think there are quite a few new drivers who are getting their licenses without the undignified method of doing a road test - a thing I had to do with an extra heavy duty truck, about a hundred times my size, which I started to drive when I was twelve years old.
I took a photo of the main street of a quaint little town called Port Hope. After the photo, I steered my rental car down the now empty main street on the left side of the road until  I noticed a woman in a big American car swerving voilently to the left when she saw me coming down the street on her side. She did not hoot or shout at me - wow - thank you lady.
In South Africa I - like so many others  - would have hooted, shouted, cursed and sent the offending party to a very hot place showing him or her all kinds of unsavoury signs - not the type of official ones you find along roads.
I was very upset when Beki Cele said that he cannot blame a policeman for killing a white woman who was trying - maybe unsuccessfully, poor soul - to park her car in Kempton Park to report a criminal case to the police. He replied that his policemen come out of a violent society and therefore act violently.
What am I better than that policeman ? I have also gotten violent in my violent society.
And this is the point I wish to make.
Shall I continue to live in that violent society - shall I again continue to close my heart and my conscience when I get back to South Africa or shall I find a new abode where people are at peace with themselves, their country and the rest of the world like Canada - shall I then become recivilised again, because I have lost my civilised or western culture and have become used to the African culture of bribery, corruption and violence and other such lucrative third world pastimes.
Should I leave South Africa for the second chicken run, they can drop me off anywhere in Michigan - and I would be more than happy to stay there.

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