Flying a "Tornado"

During a career of 30+ years in International Development and Disaster Relief in 50+ countries on 5 continents, working for Red Cross, UNICEF and other humanitarian organizations, I survived civil wars, cyclones, droughts, floods, a tsunami and bureaucracies in nations as diverse as Bangladesh, Mozambique, Niger, Peru, Rwanda, Malawi, Maldives, Uruguay, Togo and Uganda.

Despite the difficult and dangerous conditions I was very lucky never to get malaria or catch any other tropical disease. Even if I did not escape hepatitis and pneumonia I never broke a bone or suffered of anything more serious than a seriously bad cold.

All it took to bring this life-long, relative freedom from real illness to an abrupt end was the short, skittish and bored stunt horse I was riding as an extra on our 6th take of a scene on a movie set in South Africa. For fun and the love of horses.

With a life-time of undying love for horses (my wife Debbie and I got married on horseback!) and experience of horse trails (Poland, Limpopo, Botswana, Wyoming) I even crossed an entire country on horseback in 4 weeks, leading UNICEF’s “1,000 km for Uruguay’s Children” event. Riding from rural school to rural school to donate mini libraries we raised funds for the reintegration of street children
Fast forward 10 years to South Africa:  managing to control a spooked horse called, go ahead and laugh, “Tornado” without being thrown off I avoid being impaled on sharp branches sticking out of trees like spikes on a porcupine.

Un/fortunately gravity terminated my attempt at flying a “Tornado” when my body hit the Western saddle pommel with such force that it broke my pelvis and split it open so wide that I seemed to “have given birth to a Rhino” (Debbie). Don’t worry. The horse is fine.

I will spare you the painful details between the moments of encounter with the saddle 10 days ago and now typing this story. There is a reason, so bear with me.

Suffice it to say that the newly minted “Bionic Man” (Debbie-speak) has hip bones literally screwed together in the back and double plated in the front. My brilliant surgeon did an unbelievably good job and marvels at the speed of my recovery at the young age of 64. Debbie, however, attributes this rapid healing to a life-time of correct, sensible and non-extremist nutrition, my university degree in human nutrition and the consumption of balanced diets whenever possible; which admittedly did not always happen given the difficult conditions I lived under often and for so many years.

Now I am the beneficiary of my wife’s Asian and International cooking skills many of you had a chance to taste the results of at LOCO Lounge. With time on my hands while recovering from the adventure of fly-riding a tornado, we will be doing what Debbie and I have wanted to do for so long. Write a funny cookbook? Yes, that, too, eventually.

But many of LOCO’s customers, fans and loyalty passport holders have been asking us to reopen the restaurant in Harfield Village, Claremont, Jo’burg or anywhere else for that matter. Sorry, folks, that’s not going to happen. We will not reopen the restaurant we closed half a year ago in protest of red tape and the Mother City allowing the ridiculous behaviour of a single fire-inspector. A fire inspector of such remarkable skills that he first approved our plans waiting for us to invest and transform a boring, non-descript structure into what Heritage became excited about and both locals and non-locals called one of the prettiest buildings in the village. We trained and hired staff and opened LOCO in 2013. Then, and only then, Mr. Fire Official suddenly moves the goal posts denying us a fire clearance. After a battle of four years we said: congratulations, bureaucrats, you win. Or have you? Ask LOCO’s ex-staff; ask our customers...

What Debbie and I will be doing next is to try out/invent new recipes and post results, comments and photos on LOCO’s Facebook page

each with a few interesting scientific facts and human interest stories about the ingredients, food, health, cooking, non-extremist dietary habits and nutrition.

At least until my doc is sure Bionic Man can safely get back in the saddle.

But then we might be posting recipes, nutrition titbits and photos from our future culinary travels on horseback in far-away lands. Stay tuned.