Sometimes, a story or idea gets concocted on the spot for no obvious reason, even though everybody involves knows that it is a load of rubbish (Maaret: that part is obviously a lie. The puppies and Chris are still doing fine and will be appearing very soon, although we are now down to 53, and the poor Hamster has checked into rehab). This tale, or parts of it then become part of the whole experience and periodically pop up until such time as those involved part ways or a new tale takes it's place. They are normally so bizarre as to be obviously impossible or untrue, but that doesn't matter at all. It is not really something that can be explained to anybody not present at that time: In a very true sense, you had to be there.
This is not an occurrence unique to traveling, but in my small experiences, it seems to crop up with more regularity when you are away, meeting new people, and being put in more unusual situations and places. Hippos with beachballs (Zambia), Ants with Nukes (Malawi), Booking tickets One-way to Nuuk [no known relation to Nukes], Kangaroos in Africa and Idi Amin dancing blindfolded with the Bolshoi are examples of random concoctions by one or more people in the last few months which have subsequently lived for days or weeks to much mirth, and normally utter, utter bewilderment to anybody not involved that happens to later overhear one of these exchanges.
Maaret loves baby animals. Most people, to be fair, love baby animals, but she loves them more than most. Except Barbequed. Traveling with pretty much anybody has it's ups and downs: people have their quirks, their likes and dislikes, styles and wishes; Things they must do and things they can't or won't. People have ups and downs, moods and changing emotions. And, though a surprising idea to some people, just because you are away from home or traveling does not mean that you don't have these. It is not one long high. Indeed, you are often actually more prone to such things simply because there is so much that is new, and there is no set routine/background that has already solved or removed many of them.
With Maaret, I always know that however bad things are and however bad the day is being, a bar of chocolate, some good cheesecake* or ice-cream and seeing baby animals will always bring a smile and help things to get better. It will bring a smile to a bad day. It will turn a good day into a great one, and a great one into a totally unforgettable one. And as it is a reasonably quick, easy and cheap thing to often arrange, I happily take any opportunity to try and incorporate baby animals into a day. Which explains why we were in Stellenbosch, one of the wine growing and tasting capitals of the world, going into, of all places, a pet-store.
It also, in a very convoluted and roundabout way, explains the title of this entry, and the story made up on the spot. For after wandering around the pet store, Maaret asked, a little disappointedly, “but where are all the puppies?”. Details are unimportant here, except to state the obvious to anybody still reading that has no idea what on earth any of this twaddle means: The hamster had led a daring puppy escape the previous night. Chris Cornell became involved a day or two later for convoluted reasons, and the hamster became increasingly militant later still.
But if you were trying to lead that many puppies, you would probably become militant as well.
* The worlds best cheesecake is a deep and serious subject, and one which Maaret has happily spent some serious time researching. At the time of going to press, the current leading entry appears to be from a small restaurant/coffee shop in a park in Windhoek, Namibia, which will doubtless also be remembered by several other people from way back in this African tale and anybody else who has ever eaten Cheesecake there. If you have a suggestion as to even better cheesecake, please send me a message with details. Anybody** offering one which becomes the new number 1 will win a prize.
Possibly, a slice of cheesecake.
**Except Maaret and people who know her, and think they can play the system to get free cheesecake
There really should be a picture of cheesecakes, or them being eaten here, but I would probably be castrated if i did. So I haven't. And yes, I am an under-the-thumb wimp