As a child one of the highlights of my existence was visiting a place called Mermaid’s Pool where a dam had been built across a small river that spilled down a massive granite rock whose surface was very smooth and slippery.
Sun lovers would picnic on either side of the water flow and when the mood took them they’d slide down the rock face on inflated inner tubes (of various sizes) to the pool below, taking care not to hit the ridge at the water line.
Here is an ancient movie of Mermaid’s Pool – I don’t know who took it.
Chalala lagoon, when the lake was full, provided a large playground for those who had the inclination – particularly in the early days. Once a month Dad would ferry the month’s catch across the lake to Kariba and return the following day with salt and goods for the store.
Mike and I had everything planned and the moment Lady Meeden (the name of the transport boat) went hull-down on the horizon we were out there. We gave no heed to the havoc our bow waves caused among the moored boats nor did we stop to think about the massive lurking crocodiles.
A mate from school came to visit in Chalala and one night we went spear fishing. We took turns alternating between being in the water with the dinghy’s bow rope fastened to our waist, and standing on the dinghy on crocodile-watch. The swimmer would hold a loaded spear gun in one hand and a spotlight powered from a battery in the boat in the other.
It almost went wrong when I mistook a shoal of bottlenose for a crocodile and shrieked CROOOOOOOOC! Mac reacted in fright and pulled the trigger, releasing the spear, which missed my face by millimetres.
The archipelago water was so clear that it was possible to float face down on the surface and make out every magnified detail of the myriad of life far below. One day, aged ten, I had an upset stomach and hadn’t wanted to snorkel so stayed on the boat. Later, thinking I was alone, I’d stripped and, hanging off the transom at the stern, lowered myself into the water to vent my bowels. Seconds later Dad surfaced, gasping for breath and laughing his head off. The mirth induced by the image of my discomfort had almost caused him to drown.
The first three fun things I can remember doing all involve water. The first memory is of snorkelling in the crystal clear waters of the Indian Ocean in the Basaruto archipelago, the second is spear fishing at night in Chalala towing a boat behind me and the third, also in Chalala with Michael. Dad had gone into town and the two of us were left in charge so we took advantage of our freedom and wasted a whole tank of petrol roaring up and down the lagoon towing each other on a tube behind Dad’s vagabond in crocodile infested water.
Fun things to do
Hardly a strange subject to write about given the fact that, when Friday arrives, my mind wanders towards fun things as opposed to work related things but I didn’t think things through. Sitting here contemplating my challenge I’ve realised that unless I’m careful or clever (or both) there is a danger of me simply writing a list. I could simply alter the subject of course (but where is the challenge in that?). Then again, perhaps producing a list may be more of a challenge than it would at first seem to be.
Note to self: “Think this through!”