Taken back to land of robots

Christmas in 2005 at Camp Shyber outside Basrah, Iraq.

Christmas at Camp Shaibah outside Basrah, Iraq, 2005.

In the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary school shooting in the U.S. the Oscar Pistorius shooting in South Africa has, not surprisingly, garnered much attention in America as it wrestles with the gun control debate.

South Africa, too, has found itself under the spotlight. For me, the country, despite its many ongoing problems and vitriolic history, holds fond memories.

I found myself there–where the locals call traffic lights “robots”–early in 2006.

On a previous windsurfing holiday I’d met Tom, who heralded from Johannesburg, and when we went our separate ways at the holiday’s end he suggested me visiting him at some point in the future.

That’s not the sort of invite you turn down even though I told myself he was probably just being polite at the time.

But when I found myself at the end of 2005 contemplating a pretty dreary Christmas outside Basrah during my second tour in Iraq, I put aside my British cynicism  and emailed him to ask him if he’d really meant the invite as I had my two-week rest and recreation coming up early on in the new year.

“I think a visit to South Africa is exactly what you will need,” was his reply…(to be continued.)

Meeting Tom, aka Frank the Tank, on a windsurfing holiday in Greece. I don’t think we were drinking soft drinks.