Thursday, July 26, 2012


Mystic Mountain -  I am absolutely fascinated by this mountain.

In the last week it has been almost impossible to look at a clock without seeing double digits. Seriously, 11:11, 14:14, 20:20, you name a double and I have seen it this week. I do have witnesses for this, Hella, Sam, Evelyn and Aumji, all had to witness at various occasions.

It eventually stopped tonight, just looked at the clock and it is 18H00, thank goodness for that, things were getting just a bit too weird and warp zone.

Samantha and Shine started a LETS (Local economic trading system) here in the Dargle area. There is a market at the Dargle Trading Store once a month, Sam normally sells some Muesli and other stuff there. People sell all kinds of produce and products, from Duck eggs to Organic seeds.This is where they started introducing the LETS system. At least this is a serious attempt to get away from a complete monitory system and it is surprising to see how many people and businesses are interested. Obviously there are no taxes paid, because no money is exchanged, this makes me happy, but sooner or later our greedy government is not going to like this, because they are not getting their share, but for the moment this whole movement is not much of a threat, let us watch it grow. There is also the CES (Community Exchange system), which is more of a national exchange system. It work on much the same, no monies is exchanged.

At the Dargle market

There is a town in Germany, I forget the name now, but in this town both systems co-exist quite nicely, you can pay or barter.

This is very much uncharted waters in South Africa. It basically works like this; you have a meal at a local Restaurant and instead of paying for the meal, I “pay” in goods, we have lots of fresh herbs and veggies and this is something any Restaurant always need. So, instead of paying in money, we pay in goods or services. This whole process also encourages local trade and it goes a bit further and deeper than just bartering; I will explain more later on.

Why am I so happy about not paying taxes? Do you know what really happens to the tax money you pay?  If you are still under the impression that your taxes pays for schools and roads and feeding the poor, think again, that is not what happens to your tax money. Tax money is more regularly spend on paying back huge loans (and interest on those loans) from mostly places like the World Bank (another seriously corrupt bunch) and the corruption politicians lines their own pockets with this “load” money, but the sucker sheep keep on paying. Because there is actually a law that says they can lock you up (punish you by taking away your freedom) if you do not give them your hard earned money; how is that for law protecting people?

I also have a friend in Cape Town, his name is Aidin and he is doing a whole experiment with living without money and he has come to the same conclusion that I made a while ago, as long as there is such a thing as a monitory system, this is basically impossible. The same as being totally self sustainable, it is very hard, but this does however not mean we have to stop trying. If you can achieve a degree on self sustainability you are making a difference.

The fact remain that not everybody is open to this exchange idea and for a lot of people it simply boggles the mind, because they cannot even imagine a word without money, but then you can’t really blame them, it is all we have know for at least 2 00 years, that is what I use to think, but that is not true. 

I thought about this last night and came to the realization that what we are doing here is basically what our great Grandparents where doing a mere 150 or so years ago, we do not actually have to retrace out step too far. People produced a lot of their own food and exchanged good between them. Then suddenly everybody moved to cities and were not able to supply their own food anymore and the Supermarket became the “garden” and gardens became lawns…… and we gave control of our basic needs away. You go work at some stupid meaningless job to keep our pyramidal system going nicely and we will give you money and you will give it back to us when you have to pay for your (even) basic needs like food and shelter and off goes the shopping sheep. This is insane, yet we fall for it because it is all we know.

Enough ranting and raving about taxes and other atrocities. Let me explain a bit more about how exactly an exchange system works. When you provide a service or product to a person in the exchange program that person does not always return a service or goods immediately, they might also not have what you want at the time, then you simply receive what we call Lets (credit in the system, which you can then exchange for whatever you need). As I said this is very much trial and error and the last thing you want to do is create another system that is open for abuse and hostile take-over, but criticize all you like, at least we are not just bitching and moaning, we are trying something. 

Friday, July 20, 2012


Kate and Elior fooling around, they are both Volunteering here at the moment

Would you work for R 800.00 per month? Now although this is very very low pay, it is actually below the legal wage limit in South Africa, way below, but let us ignore that for now. My point is, jobs are very scarce in this country and a lot of job in the alternative and green fields are taken by volunteers. Volunteers are well meaning travelers on fairly low budget, but they will actually pay money to work and stay as volunteers at alternative communities, eco villages, organic farms etc.

Unknowingly this kind of tourism actually takes jobs away from locals. Why would you pay somebody (even below minimum wage) if somebody else is willing to pay you to “have the experience”. This whole thing is a bit out of control. In this “experience’ the volunteer, mostly students, come and work in your garden in exchange for knowledge and skill. This is a great idea and obviously the volunteers has to stay somewhere and this is normally where the “donation” comes in and then you still have to work a certain amount of hours per day and you do basic things like digging in the garden or weeding or depending on your skills, build or break, mostly quite physical, but also low paid jobs. This is where the problem comes in, these low paid, low skilled jobs are now done by the volunteers and somebody is losing out on a job because, as I said, why would you pay somebody to do a job that somebody else is will to pay you to do?

I think volunteering is a great idea but volunteers should be made aware of what is happening. All the volunteers I have met so far are wonderful people, they have good intent and wonderful plans and they do bring money into the county, but unfortunately, there is this one little problem, the one explained above.

The same reason so many alternatives have so many kids in such dire times, they are breeding their own workforce, why pay somebody if you can “make” them. I know I am going to be in big trouble for this one, but that is just the way I see it.

Winter garden

An absolute winter essential around here, mini Greenhouse

The internet or rather lack of internet is still driving me insane, that combined with the lack of power, but on the brighter side, we planted about 400 seedlings yesterday. Nice little team effort with the kids getting involved. I must say I have never replanted carrots; you normally put them straight into the ground. They are tiny, they are not even orange at the bottom and at first I thought they were little parsley plants. That was embarrassing! We panted yesterday and today it is raining. I am not so sure if that is a good or a bad thing, they need the water, but this is icy cold rain, might even snow.

Saturday, July 7, 2012


Fly away and take me with..

You stay with somebody through the toughest of times and then they drop you like a hot potato. That is how I felt after hearing Riaan is now in Bloemfontein, staying with family and looking for work there. He assures me that is not the truth, that he is not “dropping” me or running away, but we will just have to wait and see how things develop, there is no way I am moving to Bloemfontein and living with my partners whole family. I have nothing against his family (sister, brother in law, 2 teenage daughters and “Mother in law”); out of all of them I have only met his mother. The fact is I do not know his family and that is part of the problem.

Let me start at the beginning, Riaan went up to Hoespruit to do Anti poaching, this mission lasted 2 weeks, then he was on his way back to Howick, but somewhere along the line he decided to go to Bloemfontein. I do understand why he is doing what he is doing, it is called survival, but it was a big shocker to receive an email saying I must pack up and come to Bloemfontein, excuse me; just for one thing I need 2 new tires and a new battery before I can go anywhere! 

I cannot help but wonder, Riaan knows how I feel about living in a city and we have spoken about living with his family (or mine for that matter) and we both agreed no, so I do feel a bit betrayed, but Riaan is just not cut out for the sustainable living and that is his absolute right and choice. I accept that and as I said, we will have to wait and see how things develop between us. Only time will tell at this point, but I am not packing up and going to Bloem.

I will miss Riaan, I will also miss the camera. Unfortunately it is Riaan’s camera, (birthday present from his mother) so right now I am a photographer without a camera. Well, I can use the Rainbow camera anytime, but it is just not the same. I also hinted for my own camera for a birthday present, but under the current circumstances I am not sure I will get anything. I am feeling a bit sorry for myself. Riaan also said he will courier the camera to me, I will be real grateful (and it will also be a very positive sign), let us see if this actually happens.

Now that I have got all that out of my system let me tell you about the Impendle community, (our neighbors), we are in Dargle, and this is all near and around Howick, just for reference. Impendle is a very poor rural community and currently we have various programs running to help improve things. There are the Eco schools programs, then there is Eco tourism and Voluntourism programs and they interconnect. We are trying to give people a fishing rod and teach them how to fish, so to speak, instead of just giving them fish all the time.

Very bright and colorful, on the way to a wedding

But Impendle itself it very dry and dusty at the moment, we are in the middle of winter

“We facilitate a grassroots ecotourism programme in Impendle (KwaZulu Natal), South Africa where people can stay in the rural community and be a part of community activities and projects.  We’ve been hosting international volunteers and students in Impendle for the last three years. 
The main volunteer project is with Eco-Schools (environmental education) in Impendle.  The programme is run through the local non-profit organisation, Sihlangene Kokwethu. 
We would like to invite volunteers to participate in this intercultural, community building programme.  We’re offering a one week (6 nights) package with option to stay on for more weeks.  This includes home stay, all meals, donation to the project, a local team leader, local transport. Cultural activities, Guided tours and Airport pick-ups are not included in the price.  The per person cost is R 2 300 .00 if there is a minimum of 6 people in the group. We do cater for individuals or smaller groups but the cost will be a bit higher; please contact us in this regard.
For more information on the programme, please visit 
E-mail    Sam -                      
Rika -   “

The above was copied from the Impendle website.

I am busy marketing the Eco- and Voluntourism projects, so although I am rather sad and lonely, with a birthday on Sunday, I have enough to keep me busy and I will survive. It is just getting more and more frustrating to try and work while there is never enough power and I am getting way behind with the "to do" list.

There is also this other little problem - I am suppose to get paid for this job, I have the original email correspondence and I was definitely offered a salary. Not a huge one but never the less it works out to about R 400.00 per week. Shine now suddenly have big problems with this, I think the problems is than Sam never told him that she agreed to pay me and now she is trying to deny this. As I said I still have the original Email correspondence. What Shine does not seem to get is the fact that I am not here as a Volunteer, this is an Internship. It is seriously bad for my self worth that somebody can think I am not worth R 400.00 a week! 


Shiva looking hungry and Grasshopper looking scared
(sadly I did not take this photo, Carina did)

Mostly writers complain about writers block, I think that means you need to go stick your toes into some cow manure, you are just bored. My current problem is that I do not have enough time to write.

We, that is now Shine and Sam and the kids and our volunteers and me and David, we all went on a cow manure maneuver, a whole team effort.  We went into a big piece of field where the cows where recently grazing. We made big piles of dung and chatter and played and loaded it onto the truck and took the dung home. Thanks to the cows we now have a huge amount of compost happening for our garden. The soil here is very much clay, so the cow dung is a life saver for the plants.

I have never ever been as cold as this morning, apparently it was -6, my fingers where so frozen and I dropped everything I tried to pick up, very frustrating and then I slipped on ice. Not a good start to the day! We got up earlier than normal because we had to go to town early, normally I wait until the sun has had a bit of a chance to warm things up, about 7H30ish. The problem is that there is no heating in the caravan and it becomes like a walk-in fridge. 

We have two visitors here at the moment, there is Shiva and then there is Carina, Shiva studies at Durban University and she is only here for a short visit and then Carina is from Sweden and she is also a student. Volunteering, learning and teaching.

Pink! Very pink! Shiva and Carina at a Traditional Wedding in Impendle

David and I fixed the circle for the horses (David did most of the hard work, I did most of the talking), the circle is now closed, but this morning the horses are gone, all 11 of them. They came back later, somebody left a gate open somewhere and they went wondering into a neighbor’s garden and obviously got chased away from there and came galloping back all happy and not so hungry. I really know very little about horse training but I have been visiting them just about every morning, they seem to have a routine, they disappear over the mountain at night and in the morning they come back this side (where the sun is rising) and a little later on they stroll or gallop down to drink some water and then move on to where the grass is greener and where the circle (we fixed) is. They normally run the distance between the water and the green grass. I have no idea why they do that but it is amazing to watch and you can hear them, so you know when to look.

I am kind of up to my eyeball in proposal writing and unanswered emails, so I am going to have to play some catch up this weekend and I have to seriously start doing some marketing for the Eco tourism side of things, that is my total aim for this coming week, I honestly haven’t even touched on that and it is on the high priority list, but so is the proposal.  I kind of find it difficult to focus and concentrate with a lot of movement and noise around me, I am just not use to it. The fact remains we are all more productive if we are in a less busy space, or maybe that is just mad me again?

I also manage to put together a basic website for Rainbow homestead,

Carina and Shiva have been doing a bit of a gardening blitz and the beds look fresh and ready with a brand new blanket of mulch and I am trying to grow micro greens in the middle of winter, let us see how that develops. That reminds me, I must still make two trays for Wheat grass….

 Carina getting a nice winter tan.

We kind of live in a bubble of our own, we do not have TV and no radio, so we see something on face book or somewhere else on the internet and you never quite know how much of it is true and you cannot believe what the media tells you either, so we are not missing anything and we are no worse off. 

I guess some people would call this living under a rock, but I see it as living on top of a rock, which it is, it is on a mountain. I am quite sure if the half of America is destroyed by an earth quake or something that drastic happens we will somehow hear about it, but even if I do know, there is nothing I can do about it and I do not want to feed the fear either, so I am trying not to focus on it (feeding it). We are suppose to go into town at least once a week, but that does not seem to be happening.