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Sunday, November 3, 2013

An Extra Inch

Here are a series of events that have occurred over the past five years. Not for the faint-hearted.

Beauty e-mails from Botswana - I need a nice room. I want to have sex. Can you arrange this? He must be a white man.

Now, as I don't need any more nonsense, I don't reply. But, maybe I should have.

Beauty arrives and sees Steven sitting innocently on the sofa.

"Thank you. Thank you," gushes Beauty, hugging me.

Smiling at Steven, Beauty trills: "Don't go anywhere. I won't be long. I just need to freshen up."

"Now, what is this all about?" asks Steven. After this is all sorted, he seriously insists that I warn him of all such situations in advance, while Beauty and I fall about laughing.

A 'phone call: "Do you have a room for lovers? Do you have mirrors? And, do you supply towels and lotion? Must be Nivea for Men."

Byron, I knew it was you putting on an accent, and so I replied:

"Towels and mirrors yes, Nivea no, but I do have an over-supply of Clover Dairy Whipped and KY Gel."

Trudy: "I have been really upset since I left the airport in France. They made me leave my guava behind. I am missing it so. Do you perhaps have an extra one for me? Also, for breakfast do you have any eggs? I'll pay extra.

Not at my age, my dear.

*Anton and *Crystal, who is covering her face with a scarf, reluctantly sign the register.

Crystal: "This is Anton, MY HUSBAND, and I am Crystal, HIS WIFE.

Like hell you are, but why should I care?

Rob, aka G I Joe, a boot camp instructor, strutted about shirtless, and flexed his muscles whenever anyone passed him by.

Lucy, from London, who like Rob, booked a dorm bed, arrived later.

"I am so super-excited, and so nervous. I am flying to Cape Town tomorrow to see my boyfriend. I haven't seen him in six months. And, I'm going to meet his folks to see if I am suitable. Very wealthy they are. From Constantia. He asked me to marry him. I said yes." (Squeal)

Moments later: "There appears to be a half naked man sleeping in one of the beds. (What. What.) Not that I mind though. Honest to God. Just thought I'd let you know."

If Lucy appeared flushed on her arrival, she resembled an overripe tomato the following morning.

G I Joe emerged later and insisted on a blow and blow account of their antics.

".... And, then I lifted her up with one arm."

Steven: "Who just left?"

"Lucy and Charles Atlas," I replied.

Trevor 'phones: "I tried to book a suite at the InterContinental, but they are full. I am with two ladies. Twins. Tomorrow is their birthday. I need a huge favour. Can you arrange a breakfast, with all the bells and whistles? Cards, cloths, roses in vases on silver trays. Don't want you to go to too much trouble, though. I will carry the tray through, so as not to cause you extra work.

"Well, um..." I say.

"They'd do that at the InterContinental, and um, you see, they are a lot younger than me and I really want to satisfy them."

Steven: "Who was that?"

"Hugh Hefner, or maybe Byron," I reply.

Steven, ever the comedian, and who has a solution to every problem:

"Why don't you call back and tell him to just give them an extra inch?"

Saturday, October 12, 2013

For A Laugh

It says on your website, that you have baths and showers. Do you have toilets?

I will be back in a month. Can I take the bedroom key with me?

I left my 'phone in the taxi. Can I use yours to plan my trip around Europe?

Why won't your callbox take 10 cents? I've been trying all morning.

Why are there so many black people in Africa?

Can you change the plug on your electric blanket to my American one?

So, this is the Joh'burg thunderstorm. Can I hang my washing outside to dry?

Is the airport still in the same place this morning as it was last night.

I have ordered a taxi. Could you give me a detailed description of the driver, so I can recognise him when he arrives?

Can I book tonight on condition that there are no other guests.

I am from Ireland. I flew in on KLM. Do you know why this is?

I am off to Morocco next week. Do you know if it will rain there?

Fifa World Cup - If England is not in the Final, can I have my money back?

I opened your yoghurt, and it flew asunder, over my face.

Help me. I book a tour today, for tomorrow, to go yesterday.

I left the shower panel under the bed for safe-keeping.

You really should have a plug point in your garden.

Am I in Australia?

"Please make my juice colder, says Sven.

"I will fetch some ice," I say.

"Aas, not nice," replies Sven. "Oh, ice. Aah, that is better. Good."

A Knife in Johannesburgo

Some overseas travellers are concerned about crime. But, sometimes I wonder if I should be afraid of them?


Ho arrived with the thickest Croxley file I have ever seen, with more documents than Interpol.

"Is it safe to walk to the supermarket alone? I cannot find this on my Google map, so I assume it's not safe. You will have to come with, so I can use you as a shield."


I received a booking with this message - Do not debit card. It is stolen. I am a lawer. travel agent not have credit card facilyties - Tell me cost in doolars and punds, and for flite and tour. Send me your bank numbers now. So I pay u. U receive a large commission for ur trubles.

My name is Suntobe A Jailburd.


Two ladies, not sure though, arrived attired in army fatigues. "We are not afraid, mind you, we have a knife for Johannesburgo, if anyone tries to steal our things." Future Exhibit A is exposed. Even Crocodile Dundee would have been impressed. "If we travel through Africa by bus, will we be safe? "We've already paid."

"If we are in Algeria, say, and we are not safe, can we call you? There is a war going on there, you know. Also, in the Congo. Here is our itinerary."


"I hate using my Visa Card here. I am always double debited. If you do the same, I will use the full force of the law, and throw you in jail. In Israel, I spent two effing years in jail because of my effing Visa Card. Mind you, I love Africa. Come here every three years. Please escort me to the ATM. Not safe to walk."

After three attempts, and much effing, the ATM swallows the card.

"I told you, didn't I! South Africans steal your money."

"Do you have the number for lost/stolen cards?" I ask.

"I did, but someone must have stolen it."


"South Africa is a criminal haven. I need you to protect me." Lil followed me. Everywhere. Even to the bathroom. "I need a room with a key that works. I don't want to mingle with the other guests, just to be safe."


An e-mail. I want to book into your hostile for a week. I won't leave my room. Johannesburgo is not safe. My friend will cum during that time. I have a parcel for him. Don't ask what it is! Will it be safe, if I post it to you? Thank you, Sweaty.


Boetie, was shooting tin cans with an unlicensed pellet gun, a regular occurrence.

"Call the cops! Call the cops!!" Maeve, nearly knocking me off my feet.

I swear that if a backpacker let rip under the bedcovers, someone would shout:

"Call the cops! I heard a gunshot."

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

I Have a Question?

You may have read/heard some of the questions from Travellers to South Africa, such as: "This plane is very stuffy. Please open the windows," or "Are the lions allowed to use your zebra crossings, or will the zebras get upset?" And, I thought all South African's were black until Charlize won the Oscar."

As a backpackers' hostel owner, I would like to share the following:

It took me 7 minutes to get here from the airport. How long will it take me to get back?

If I use the Go-train (Gautrain) will I get discount because I am French?

What do the lions eat in the Kruger Park? And, why do they lie down?

Please will you buy my Lonely Planet Guide and give it to someone else?

Is it better to change dollars at O R Tambo or in Guam?

If Steven is from Zimbabwe why isn't he Black?

I already paid for the other place. They were closed. Can I stay here for free?

So, your father met the Queen. Was that Victoria?

Why is the taxi on time? I need to eat and shower first.

Why do I have to pay for 'phone calls here in South Africa? In Canada they are free.

Your taxi drivers sure shout a lot. Are they American?

How can you mix Chinese and Jap's in your dorm? They have stolen our land.

I would like to book for a month on condition that I can use your car free of charge.

Although I help myself to other people's food, is it fair that they help themselves to mine?

Have you ever tasted biltong or braaied meat?

Do you have a live-in doctor on call for 24 hours?

Is the time different here than in Ohio?

I am very small and will only sleep in half the bed? Can I have discount? I only have R50 for three days and still need to eat.

Why didn't you fetch me from the airport? I didn't know which day I would be arriving, but I thought you'd be there anyway.

A 'phone call: "Have you debited my account?"

Me: "Who am I speaking to?"

"Thank you."

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

The Go-Train

The Gautrain is a bonus for travellers wanting to explore Johannesburgo and Pretoria, easily, quickly and cheaply. But, there are those who have roamed around the world, on every type of transport, 'Daddy was an Ambassador', yet find it difficult to hop onto the bus to take them there.

This is the conversation with R and A, who interpreted and argued for nearly an hour, during which time six busses had arrived and departed.

R: "We go out. What is the name of the train?"

Me: "The Gautrain." I hand over the brochure.

A: "Oh, the Go-train."

R: "How do we get to the station?"

Me: "A bus arrives every 10 minutes. Stops on the corner. There is one now."

A: "What is the name of the bus? And the number?"

Me: "The Go-train bus. Look, there she goes."

A: "Is the bus stop on the right or left of the road?"

R: "Tell the driver to stop in front of your gate."

A: "How much will it cost? They take the dollars or the euro's, no?"

Me: "No, only cards. 40 rands each, to catch the bus to the Rhodesfield train station, and then to Sandton."

R: (Eyes bulge) "80 rands!! Why we pay you and again on the bus? You have cards? You earn commission? We share a card. We are French couple."

A: "Where is road and field? We go to Sandton."

A: "How long to Sandton? How long to walk to corner?"

A: "Tell us one more time."

And, then there was O.

"Lend me your 'phone to call my mate in Pretoria. He said I must catch the Go-train. Calls on my mobile are very expensive. I will be quick."

"Hi M," and off O goes - flight turbulence, airport conditions, the hostel, and his cash flow problems. "M, where is the station in Rhodesfield? And, the one in Pretoria? How will I get there? What is the price? How long will it take? Is it clean? Is it safe?"

Finally, "Call M when I leave and tell him I am safe. And, tell him it will take me fifteen minutes to get there, like you said. The bugger had better be waiting. I cannot pay for the card. I am skint."

Later, K and B arrive: "We caught the train from Park Station. And, the bus here. Easy-peasy. So convenient. And, we heard that they are extending the line to Durban. Absolutely bluddy marvellous."

And, so were they.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

My Holiday

Aimee invited me on an all expenses paid four day holiday to Mt. Edgecombe, Umhlanga.

As I have not been on holiday in thirteen years, unlike y'all, this was big!


Steven told me to go, I deserve the break, he said, but to show him "what I actually do around here besides sitting at the computer all day."

"Don't worry about the cleaning. Anybody can make a bed and vacuum. Just show me how to 'block-off' a new booking."

Steven pulls up a chair and we begin with the inbox. There are enquiries from SafariNow and TravelGround. I tell him to click on the link. Off he goes clicking left and right. I ask him to have some patience. He tells me he doesn't have any.

Ok, he doesn't move the mouse over the screen, but dramatically decides he is going to throw it in the bin.

"Guests don't have mouses when they come here. Why do you put up with this shit?"

And, so we begin...

"Why can I only see half the page?" He asks. "And, didn't Byron tell you to use the same username and password for all of them?"

"All the passwords are stored with the sites. Here, you only need to click once."

"No, I will save these on my 'phone, just in case."

Steven loads Booking.Com and Agoda. Then while loading HostelWorld deletes Booking.Com.

"Ok, that's enough now. I'm tired. What are you doing now?"

"Sending new photo's. Could I show you how to upload, drop and drag, copy and paste?"

Four long days later the 'plane lands and I switch on my mobile. Four missed calls from Steven.

"Do we have any bookings for the next four days? The 'phone never stops ringing and there are people at the gate."

"The bookings for the next two months are pinned on the notice board. The rest are in the file that I showed you."

Day One. "There are messages here from SafariNow and TravelGround. You never showed me this."

Day Two. "Someone wants an invoice. You never showed me this either."

Day Three. "I waited up all last night. The guests didn't show. How do I debit their account? And, I asked Beatrice to come in and make the beds and clean."

Day Four. "You have messages here. You have won millions of dollars. And, a lady from Russia would like to meet you. And, someone from Nigeria has had all his money stolen, and he would like you to help him. And, inland revenue owes you money, but they need your banking details and password?"

"Where do I click to reply? Is it left or right? And, how many times?"

Other than that, my holiday with Aimee was awesome.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Today, I am Ralph

Blake bounds into reception.

"Hello, Blake," say I.

"My name is Ralph. Tell her, mommy. And, you are not my Guppy anymore."


"You are now my Dolphin."

Blake's name varies from Ralph to Andy to Spiderman to Superman to Tarzan - dramatic displays included.

Or, "Hello, what is your name today?"


Teacher Edith, roster in hand:

"Alan Armstrong?"

"Here, ma'am."

"Chris Buitendag?"

"Here, ma'am."

"Blake Campbell?"

"Not here, ma'am. But Batman, is."

At reception, I have two chairs, with animal print cushion covers. I sit down.

"Uppy Guppy Dolphin! You're sitting on the lion's tail, and he will jump up and bite you."

Misty bought a fish tank with two goldies, the colour of Blake's hair. They died that night. Misty was concerned about breaking the awful news.

Misty: "I am so sorry."

Blake: "Never mind, mommy. It's okay, really. But, they must have been in a hurry to go to heaven. They weren't here for very long."

A sleepover at Aimee.

Aimee: "Bedtime, Blake and sleep tight."

Blake: "Aimee, please stay here, I can't sleep."

Aimee: "Why not, Blake?"

Blake: "I forgot to tell you how much I love you."

In the pool at Guppy's, Blake bursts into song:

Twinkle, twinkle, little star,
I wish I had a chocolate bar.
My mommy drives
An old, white car...

Pause for thought -

"You know, mommy, you don't need armbands. You've got boobies!"

Whatever keeps one afloat.

The other evening Blake said to Misty: "Now, tell me Mommy, how was your day today?"

After a long toing and froing of Blake asking: "And, then what did he say?" And, "So what did you do?" he says: "Mommy, are you not going to ask me how my day went?"

"So, how did your day go?" says Misty giggling.

"Ok," is Blake's only reply.