Living with My Family in a Tree


Absolutely Correct! I have been living in a tree, together with my incredible family, for just over a year now. Perhaps some of the reasons and motivation that led to our family making a unanimous decision to embark on this Adventure, despite being shipwrecked in a remote part of Madagascar as a result of my last harebrained scheme may become apparent as I share our journey and experiences with you. Please join us on our Journey; Second Time Lucky!

Where do I start, shall I tell you about the first gun to my head that triggered my last harebrained (or is it hair brained?) scheme, since I had more hair twenty years ago and it was not grey. Or, should I tell you about the gun to all of our heads that caused the family to agree upon this hare and hair brained plan? Tell you what, if you want to know about the first gun click here and I shall give you a peek inside my first book, Pisces the Sailfish and share that gun to my head with you and if you want to know about the family’s gun to their heads click here and the link will work once I write that chapter as it actually took place.

Ok. Where was I? Oh yes, where to start? What about how we travelled the length and breadth of South Africa and the web looking for a boat and a place to live whilst we fix it and get ready to make like Noah and his doubled creatures? Or what about how we found an abandoned boat parked like a duckling in a kennel at the Zululand bus company yard? I know, maybe you would like to know about how we came to eat, sleep, defacate and work in a tree for more than a year? Ah, that is the point of this rant. In that case let me talk about that part of the story first and come back to the fun stuff later.

Pretend I have already told you how we bought the ugly duckling boat, (I did say duck – ling did I not? This is after all a family story!) and how we dragged it to the Zululand Yacht Club boatyard so that it could be amongst its own kind, remember who she is and begin to quack instead of barking. Pretend I have already told you about the rogue who sold us the boat and barely avoided the sheriff and the bailiffs and the irate husband and the lovely young girl he put in the family way.

Right. So we buy these two water filled hulls connected by a set of rotting planks to each other and drag it to the boatyard where we set it down under a whispering Casuarina tree. The hulls are placed upon some squirming, threadbare forklift tyres and the tractor moves away. We are home. The family swings into to action. Most important of all is the kitchen. Since its set up on the bare ground below the boat-to-be. May I call it a galley? Thank you I think I shall. After all its the intention that counts. Morgan and Luna assisted by Dianne roll into action as Girl Air Scouts. (Now I suppose I shall have to tell you how they started one of the first Girl Scout troops in South Africa? Ok remind me later.) Anyway the girls put up the galley tent in no time and moved the food and cooking instruments into it. We opened the box containing the caravan gas stove that we bought to use on another boat we thought we were buying. (Oh dear, there is another story I suppose I shall have to tell you.) Dianne has Bill and I fetch the steel folding table from the garage cum storeroom we have rented, set the table up and place the stove on top of it. Pete and Tina arrive in the middle of all of this and donate to us their trusty old Coleman electric cooler box to use as a fridge. Pete and Tina? Ah yes. We got shipwrecked together. Well actually in different places, but as part of the same voyage and on different boats. Oh, I did not tell you that story either did I? I suppose now I shall have to introduce them both to you and explain this shipwrecked together but apart business? Tell you what. Read Pisces the Sailfish and then you can consider yourself introduced. Meantime Bill unrolls the extension cord and finds a power socket for us on the pole next to C walk on. The walk on is a floating walkway and yacht mooring dock anchored in the mud of the uMhlatuze river estuary where it enters the sea. Remind me to tell you why we call the walk-on Denzyl’s orchestra. Morgan and Luna have scrounged up some decrepit pieces of discarded plywood, a few sheets of cardboard and a piece of rusty sheet metal. They lay these over the worst of the puddles in the sand and mud below the boat. Bill finds some flat planks of teak, probably from a worn out yacht deck connecting the islands like the duck boards in a WW1 foxhole. Dianne, has already performed miracles and made tea to go with the box of Ouma rusks, just in time, as the first of our new neighbours arrive to welcome us to the neighbourhood and to hard times. A tall and incredibly thin man lopes up ducks his head and flicks his listless black hair from his face.

“Hi, I am Charlie and this is Wendy.” he says in a Johannesburg accent. Short and wide Wendy smiles sheepishly and waddles over to where Dianne has laid out the traditional buttermilk flavour rusks and eyes them speculatively.

“Please help yourself” says Dianne and Wendy scuttles over like a seal and chews on a handful noisily without waiting to be offered a mug of Nescafe Gold to dunk it.

“This is our boat, Bubbling, on your port side says Charles a little embarrassed.

“Yes, we are getting it ready to run scuba diving charters in Madagascar.” chimes Wendy showering us with rusk crumbs as she masticates her dry rusk.

“Hey hey! Welcome to hard times” Leon and Rowena arrive laden with house warming gifts and wearing huge smiles, matching blue tee shirts, identical yellow crocs and duplicated black shorts. Small wonder we refer to them as the twins. We exchange hugs and introduce them to Charlie and Wendy. Dianne hands out mugs of coffee and Bill Luna and Morgan set up the folding camp chairs. We don’t have to wait long before Monica and Chas arrive also laden with house warming gifts. They know everybody so they wave a greeting before Monica gives Bill a big hug and hands him a glass jar filled with amber liquid and some brown floating things.

“This is Dzama rum from Madagascar, I have added some vanilla pods and cinnamon. This is just for you.” she winks. We did not get much more done that day as the other yachties drifted in an out welcoming us to hard Times.


About seashoes

I am Lawrence Huntingdon-Rusch, writing as Don Darkes. This choice of pseudonym is due to the fact that I am also writing a Biographical memoir provisionally titled, Darkest Africa My Life of Crime, the life story of an incredible man, Don Darkes, who was given this identity, at birth, in order to keep a secret and the fact that like him, my given name is also an accident of birth concealing my true heritage. I am fifty-something and have been ecstatically married for over three decades to my incredible wife Anne who bore me three miracle children. After repudiating my Psychology degree in the mid-seventies I served my mandatory National Military Service in a clandestine, top-secret unit stationed in (then) Rhodesia -for which I received a medal. (The subject of a novel in progress) During the eighties, at the height of apartheid, together with (then illegal) “black” partners I built a successful manufacturing company which I sold to buy the yacht upon which I was shipwrecked together with my wife Dianne, our five year old son Bill and four year old daughter Morgan. After returning destitute to South Africa I rode a ripple in the wave and cashed in my Internet start-up in order to distribute rare organic chocolate and to research a challenging historical novel, The Madagascar Plan, which explores an intriguing link between the Jewish Holocaust and Madagascar. Currently, together with my wife, son and two daughters we reside high off the ground amongst the branches of a Casuarina tree as the family works together to build another yacht whilst I also work on several books that have as a common denominator, my love of history and my belief that fact is stranger and far more interesting than fiction.
This entry was posted in Travel Adventure and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Living with My Family in a Tree

  1. Clotildes says:

    excellent article. very interesting to read. i really love to read such a nice article. thanks! keep rocking.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s