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Sunday, March 31, 2013

The Angermeyers of the Galapagos

Sailing into Academy Bay we skirted a treacherous ledge, and anchored bow and stern off Angermeyer Point, parallel with the barranca. Facing shorewards to our right an unpainted house of pine sat on a low knoll fifty yards up from the ten-foot cliff. To our left was the skeleton of a house in construction set on the barranca overlooking the sea. Behind it squatted a tiny shack topped by a wind generator on a white scaffold, while directly shorewards of Mandalay a mangrove thicket flowered in a thirty-foot fault. A small sloop and skiff were tied among the trees.

A man, apparently in his late thirties, appeared with a bevy of children. He wore only denim shorts. His feet were bare, but on his head perched a curious creation. It was made of red felt and ran fore and aft across his head. The brim, curled up at the sides, made a slight visor both front and back. A feather was stuck in the brim at a rakish angle. The hat's Robin Hood air complemented the grandiose wave its owner gave us as he untied his dinghy, loading children aboard, and rowed out.

The children swarmed aboard the instant the boat touched our side. With warm smiles they politely shook our hands, and duty done they scampered along the deck with squeals of delight to explore the ship. The man wrung our hands, sweeping off his hat and giving us a theatrical bow.

'I'm Carl Angermeyer,' he said, 'and those villains who have boarded you are my rapscallion nieces and nephews. Welcome to Angermeyer Point.'


The Angermeyer family in the Galapagos

This is how James S. Rockefeller, Jr. in his book "Man on his Island". first encountered the Angermeyers in the Galapagos Islands in the late 1950s and heard their story. And what a story it is!

The Angermeyers arrived in the Galapagos in 1937 to escape the turbulence in Europe. Their parents were keen for their five sons Fritz, Gus, Hans, Heinrich and Karl, all between 17 and 24 years old, to flee Nazi-Germany, and sold their home in order to purchase them the yacht which they named after their mother, ‘Marie’. The parents, and two daughters, stayed behind until the five sons had successfully settled overseas. Eight years later they were all killed during the carpet-bombing of Hamburg.

The Angermeyers found an old two-masted ketch in Stralsund which needed extensive repairs. Once at sea, the 'Marie' was wrecked off the coast of England and sold for 4000 pounds. Months went by and they started to run out of money. In 1936 they found another yacht in Denmark, the "Marie 2", and started out again but bad weather forced them to return. In early 1937 the four brothers Fritz, Gus, Hans and Karl - Heinrich had already gone back to Hamburg - bought tickets for the steamer "Orbita" to cross the Atlantic . On board, Hans met the Dutch ballet dancer Lizzie and the two got married in the port city of Guayaquil in Ecuador. After weeks of waiting, they boarded the supply ship "Manuel Cobus" for their final destination Academy Bay in the Galapagos Islands.

Finally, on 27 June 1937, two years after their departure from Hamburg, they arrived on the island of Santa Cruz. And while Germany prepared for war, the thirteen large and six small islands of the Galapagos remained in a peaceful slumber. Just two dozen people, Norwegians, Brits, Spaniards, Ecuadorians and also a few Germans, shared Santa Cruz with an abundance of wild pigs, goats and iguanas and papayas, mangoes and oranges everywhere.


The Cave - Gus Angermeyer's first home

The four brothers worked hard to build a 'farm', a wooden hut, and later a small house. After all, they needed to prepare for the arrival of their parents and two sisters and Heinrich. There was no electricity on the island, no radio and no newspapers, and mail took months to reach them.

They built a small boat and started fishing, both for their own consumption and commercially. Then came the shocking news: war in Europe and the death of their family in Germany. For a while they worked on the mainland but got 'homesick' for Santa Cruz. Even though Lizzie returned to Holland, all had started a family and helped each other building houses in close proximity to each other. The government granted them ownership to the land and they all had their own ship in which to go fishing.


Gus outside his hut

And they had visitors: Irenäus Eibl-Eibesfeld, Hans Hass, Jacques Cousteau and Heinz Sielmann; even Prinz Philip arrived on his yacht "Britannia". The Norwegian Thor Heyerdahl of KON-TIKI fame became good friend with Karl Angermeyer.

Karl died in 1988, Gus in 2004 and Fritz in 2007 but their story, which began more than 77 years ago in Hamburg, is being kept alive in the Galapagos not just by their children and grandchildren but also in the names of hotels, travel organisations, and places around the island named after them.

Hans Angermeyer's daughter Johanna returned to the Galapagos many years later in order to write a book about her parents' incredible lives. I couldn't resist ordering it.

 

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Wi-not?

We are at the end of Sproxton Lane which is a very quite cul-de-sac. Apart from the Friday-morning rubbish truck, we'd be unlucky - or lucky, depending on your point of view - to see more than a handful of cars in a whole week.

The Easter holidays have brought out the tourists though and there have been some parked at the gate. Are they prospective buyers admiring "Riverbend" or are they just using my broadband?

 

Friday, March 29, 2013

Not quite finished but getting there

The "Nelligen Yacht Clubhouse" is getting close to completion but already it's a great place to sit on a hot summer's day. And the ducks think so, too!

 

A Cyprussed state of the world

I was wondering how a small island-state of just over a million people can get itself in such a parlous financial state - and then it dawned on me: about 80% of its inhabitants are Greeks!

Enough said?

Anyway, as of today, the entire population of Cyprus is fully employed for the foreseeable future. Their jobs?

QUEUEING AT THE BANK FOR THEIR DAILY CASH ALLOCATION!!

Just don't feel too smug about your own bank deposit - read this. Confiscating bank deposits is now on the table in any future crisis. That’s toothpaste that’s not going back in the tube. Commerzbank chief economist Jörg Krämer has already suggested “a one-time property tax levy” for Italy and “a tax rate of 15 percent on financial assets.” And adding fuel to the fire, the Leader of the UK Independence Party has urged expats in the periphery countries, in particular the 750,000 British in Spain to “Get your money out of there while you’ve still got a chance.”

The willingness of the Cypriot authorities to seize money from anybody in any bank in Cyprus – even healthy banks – was an act of state madness. The EMU has gone off the rails, is a danger to stability, and should be dismantled before it destroys Europe’s post-War order.

If you can't trust the banks any longer, what do you do with your money now? Suddenly, stuffing it under the mattress seems a lot less ridiculous. There are all sorts of other answers floating around. To be honest, I'm not sure whose ideas are best. But what is clear is that you need to sit up and take notice of your options.

Financial guru Marc Faber often points out that quality shares preserve wealth during tough times. After Germany's world wars, occupations and hyperinflation, shareholders in companies like Siemens came out with something of value. Sure, the shares may not have been worth as much after the economy was decimated, but at least some wealth survived. Most other assets were trashed. Cash devalued, property bombed, valuables confiscated.

Governments are much better at confiscating financial wealth than physical wealth. Also, financial wealth is reliant on a stable currency. Thus, tangible assets have an inherent, or intrinsic, value. A house is a house, whether its valued at $100,000 or $1,000,000. But it's tough to hide your house from the government. In Europe, many countries are looking to bring in property taxes to fill up government coffers.

Even so-called safe haven countries aren't safe anymore. Switzerland, Norway, the Caribbean and many tax havens will struggle financially themselves eventually. At some point, their locals will want in on all the wealth parked in their back yard by foreigners. And the government will be happy to claim it for them.

We live in interesting times!

 

Thursday, March 28, 2013

I'm not religious but ...

For once, the Pope seems to make some sense to me. Well, it won't be long before the people have their say! Trouble is, as unelected ex-prime minister she will enjoy so many lifelong perks that we will have to pay for all those dreadful policy failures all over again - again and again and again!

In the meantime, the Dorothy Dixes continue:

Dear Dorothy Dix,

My partner has a long record of money problems. She runs up huge credit-card bills and at the end of the month, if I try to pay them off, she shouts at me, saying I am stealing her money. She says pay the minimum and let the next lot worry about the rest, but already we can hardly keep up with the interest. Also, she has been so arrogant and abusive toward our neighbours that most of them no longer speak to us. The few that do are an odd bunch, to whom she has been giving a lot of expensive gifts, running up our bills even more. Also, she has gotten religious, even though she denies it. One week she hangs out with Catholics and the next with people who say the Pope is the Anti-Christ, and the next she's with Muslims.

Finally, the last straw: She's demanding that before anyone can be in the same room with her, they must sign a loyalty oath. It's just so horribly creepy! Can you help?

Signed, Lost.

Dear Lost,

Stop whining Tim, You're getting to live in The Lodge for free, travel the world, and have others pay for everything for you. You can leave her any time you want. The rest of us are stuck with her until September 14, 2013!

Signed, Dorothy Dix.

 

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Of isosceles triangles and other things

The roof trusses are up and painted and the roofing metal arrives tomorrow. At $15 a square metre it comes at a hefty price - and that's without the cutting!

The suppliers only cut each sheets at right angle to the height of the triangle. I have to make the twenty-or-so diagonal cuts along the side of the sheets to fit them into the triangular roof sections. It's done with a "nibbler" and it's tedious work. The "nibbled-off" off-cuts are then reversed to become the next triangle.

In this way I only have to cut the sheeting for two triangles. Their off-cuts become the ready-made sheeting for the other two triangles. That's the theory! ☺

Taking exact measurements is important! I could do it standing on the roof and risk falling off. Or I could do it on terra firma and risk no more than falling back on some basic trigonometry. Rather than being a Nibbler on the Roof, I chose the latter.

With each of the four sides of the roof being an isosceles triangle, it's easy to rig up a "cookie cutter" with two equal sides and two equal angles, each of which has to be 45° since the angle of the apex is 90°. Lay it over the assembled metal sheets and nibble away.

Let's see how the "cookie cutter" crumbles!

 

I've just solved all my problems

 

We used to take life with a grain of salt. Now it is with 5 milligrams of Valium. Here's something that's even better. It works for me! ☺

 

Monday, March 25, 2013

The King is dead, long live the King!

If every American, and indeed everyone in the Western world, knows where they were at the moment they heard the news of President Kennedy's killing, the same is true of Sa'udis and their King Faisal.

On 25 March 1975 an announcer, his voice choked with emotion, gave out the news on Riyadh Radio that King Faisal was dead, then broke off sobbing. His wounded cry was broadcast all over the Middle East, and in Sa'udi cities the streets were silent. People could not believe what had happened and, numbed, they withdrew into their own homes.

I reminded Thamer Mofarrij, the son of one of my former bosses in Saudi Arabia, of this momentous event and he posed the question, "Why you think he was killed?" Why indeed?

Robert Lacey in his excellent book The Kingdom - which, incidentally, is banned inside the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia - devotes a whole chapter to it:

The King's twenty-six-year-old nephew, Faisal ibn Musa'id, was the younger brother of Khalid ibn Musa'id, the prince who had been killed ten years earlier after the attack upon the Riyadh television station, and Faisal ibn Musa'id shared his brother's erratic moods. He had hopped from college to college in America, smoked pot at Berkeley, was picked up with LSD in Colorado, and got into at least one bar-room brawl with a girlfriend; the State Department had had to work hard to keep the prince out of the courts. When Faisal ibn Musa'id returned home, his uncle the king decreed he be detained inside the Kingdom for a while. He had disgraced the family with his escapades abroad, and some said that this travel ban was the reason for the young prince's anger. Others said the boy was moved to avenge the death of his brother Khalid.

On the night of 24 March 1975 Prince Faisal ibn Musa'id sat drinking whisky with another of his brothers, Bandar, and some friends. It was the typical bored evening with a bottle which passes for nightlife among more inhabitants of the Kingdom than they care to acknowledge, and it was to go on for Bandar ibn Musa'id and his friends till 6 a.m. next day - television, whisky, cards, whisky, a bit of food, some more whisky, until soon after dawn everyone was stretched out asleep on sofas round the room. It was not so much a party, more a way of whiling away the night for people to whom the day had still less to offer.

But Faisal ib Musa'id did have plans for the coming day, and he drank little. He went to his room before midnight, and next morning around 10 a.m. he was at the palace of his uncle the king, waiting in the anteroom outside the royal office. A delegation from Kuwait was there, come to discuss oil, and Ahmad Zaki Yamani went in ahead of them to brief the king before the meeting.

Ahmad Abdul Wahhab, King Faisal's chief of protocol, was puzzled by the arrival of the young prince, whom he did not recognize. Family meetings were usually held at Faisal's home, not in office hours, and Abdul Wahhab went in with Yamani to find out what the king wanted to do about his nephew.

Faisal ibn Musa'id, meanwhile, had discovered that he knew one of the Kuwaiti delegation, Abdul Mutalib al Qasimi, the young Oil Minister, whom he had met during his brief time in Colorado, and, when the door was thrown open to welcome in the Kuwaitis, the young prince went in with them.

Ahmad Zaki Yamani, Ahmad Abdul Wahhab and a television crew filming the king's reception of the oil delegation were horrified spectators of what happened next. As King Faisal reached forward to embrace and kiss his nephew, the young prince pulled a small pistol from the pocket of his thobe and shot three times at point-blank range. The first bullet went under the chin, the second through the ear, the third grazed the forehead. King Faisal was rushed to hospital still alive and was given massive blood transfusions while doctors massaged his heart. But the artery in his neck had been torn apart and within the hour the king was dead.

No one could make sense of the killing: a mixed-up assassin thrown off balance by the temptations of the West, an ancient impulse for blood revenge, the memory of the television station riots, the majlis tradition of open access to the ruler: the circumstances of Faisal's slaying were queerly strung with the same elements of old and new that the king had tried to weave together in his eleven-year reign.

Today the inhabitants of the Kingdom look back to the reign of Faisal as to a golden age. Things were simpler then, it seemed. The kingdom had a leader who made the whole world tremble, and who made his people tremble too; for no single member of the Al Sa'ud will ever again to able to rule Arabia in such absolute fashion.

 

Good Morning from "Riverbend"

 

Here's something to get the blood (and perhaps a few tears) flowing!

If you listen really closely, you can also hear my little HOHNER button accordion in the background ☺

 

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Van Gogh would've given his right ear to paint like this!

I'm busily painting before the corrugated iron roof goes on. Remembering the old saying that a good painter is a carpenter's best friend, I'm smothering all those crooked trusses in good ol' Mission Brown and Venetian Red all over the fascia boards.

It may not be Impressionism but it'll look pretty impressive!

 

Another day in Paradise


from left to right: Siegfried, Heike, Padma (holding Malty),
Andrew, Alison, Maggie, Clayton

Perfect day, perfect company! This picture was wisely taken before lunch as after all that food, followed by home-made traditional German cheese cake and baked plum cake, no-one was able to get up, let alone stand up.

I felt a bit left out so we had a quick change of photographer for another happy snap:

Em tasol, wantoks!

 

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Bleak open house

The property across the lane had an Open House. The agent came but nobody else did! At the previous two Open Houses conducted by another agent, at least a couple of nosey neighbours showed up!

I hope they get themselves a better agent soon as I rely on them to advertise my own property - see here.

Perhaps they should try a different sign?

 

Friday, March 22, 2013

Riverbend's Topping-out Party

Australia's most expensive duck house is all but completed: just the roofing iron and a touch of paint and it's done!

Come back in a week's time for the final pictures.

 

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Climb Every Mountain

This morning, our Cottage guests Maggie, Alison and Andrew set off with Padma to join two girls from Batemans Bay's Bodyworks to climb Pigeon House Mountain.

The climb to the summit of Pigeon House Mountain, named by Captain Cook in 1770 Pigeon House Hill, is becoming an increasingly popular activity with over 8,000 people making the effort each year. From the top of the mountain there are magnificent panoramic views of the rugged cliffs and gorges carved by the Clyde River and its tributaries. Dominating the view to the north-west are two elongated plateaux of Byangee Walls and The Castle. On a good day, coastline stretching from Point Perpendicular in the north to Mount Dromedary in the south can be seen, making the walk a most rewarding experience.

There are two roads that lead off the Princes Highway to the Pigeon House Mountain walking track.

1. At Milton, turn into Croobyar Road
2. Approximately 3kms south of Burrill Lake into the Wheelbarrow Road.
3. Travel another 27kms or so to the car park and picnic area at the start of the track.


The Carpark


Padma climbing the stairs to the top


At the top; from left to right Maggie, Padma, Andrew; in the foreground the two girls from Bodyworks (Alison took the photo)


Alison missed out on the group photo so here's one of her by herself

The walk to the top of Pigeon House Mountain and return takes about 4 hours. This walk can be divided into four stages:

Stage 1: A steep climb of 800m from the car park to the first cliff line and the National Park boundary. The track follows a steep spur through a forest of Black Ash with an open understorey. The rock types of this first section are metamorphosed Ordovician sediments that are about 490 million years old (give or take a year). The first sandstone cliff line is early Permian, which is about 250 million years old.

Stage 2: A flat walk of 1km from the top of the first cliff line to where the sandy track starts to climb again. Many wildflowers can be seen in spring and summer. Common plants are the Wattle and the Hairpin Banksia and many heaths.

Stage 3: A steep climb of 500m takes us to the famous ladders. Initially, the sandstone soils support heath and sedge but as the track climbs, the soil gets deeper and clayier allowing taller, denser vegetation to grow. Towards the top of this stage a wet forest grows where the Pigeon House cliff line provides shelter from the sun. Lyrebirds may be seen or heard here.


The views from the top are magic!

Stage 4: The summit of Pigeon House Mountain is reached by climbing a series of steel ladders attached to the cliff face. This peak is the southern most remnant of a once extensive sandstone plateau stretching north towards the Shoalhaven River.

P.S. ... and as they say in the commercial, "But wait, there's more!'