Posted by: keepfishing | October 20, 2009

How to Find a Charger in the Dark and Other Stories

Recently, I’ve been feeling a bit tubby. It all started when I was teaching in the summer school, never walking more than a hundred yards from classroom to staffroom, or bedroom to dining room. The lack of exercise coupled with the consumption quantity of saturated fats one can only find in a Diego Maradona’s lunchbox, or a cafeteria feeding 300+ teenagers, I arrived in Africa feeling somewhat sluggish.

Yet, with Kenya being somewhat famous for their athletic prowess, I sensed an opportunity. Settling in, I wasn’t disappointed, and found the beach lying a mere 50 yards from my house regularly populated with joggers. Soaking up the inspiration, I began to form some kind of routine, taking the 4-5km route up and down the beach after work every couple of days, taking on the quicksand, mounds of seagrass and ghost crabs as they came, depending on the state of the tide and degree of darkness.

As my social reach in the small town extended, I found myself invited to join in a regular aerobics class. So complete with vest and headband, I submitted myself to the tutelage of ‘Tony Fit’ and have begun to learn all sorts of new and wonderful things. Something called ‘Step’, and something else, monumentally more vicious, called ‘Circuits’. I have also discovered something else important about myself: That whilst I can bounce on one leg and do all sorts of kicks and stretches with the other leg all day, my core is a weak as cheese. Indeed, my stomach muscles still hurt from the excess of the session 4 days ago. The ‘Childbirth Crunch’ was particularly vicious.

All this meandering to get somewhere near the actual story of this blog. To surmise, I’ve started doing some exercise and am approaching some semi-state of fitness again. In addition, this week I’m housesitting for my boss, at his house a couple of km down the beach. This thus presents an extra opportunity, as instead of taking a ride in the car, I can run home and have the extra weight of my back pack to increase the intensity of the short work out.

So last night, I packed up my bag, threw in my laptop and a pair of trousers (the mosquitoes are 10 times more vicious at the other house), turned on my iPod and set off. I was a little later than normal, and the light was getting pretty dim, meaning that the ghost crabs were out in force, and by out in force, I mean that every 5th step you had to check yourself to avoid stepping one. Ten minutes later, I had reached my destination and jumped straight in the shower. However, rather unnervingly, I discovered that my bag was open, presumably unzipping itself during the run. Tipping everything on the floor, it didn’t take long to discover that my laptop charger was missing.

Reminding myself that I have a rather absent minded nature and lose/forget/misplace things all the time, I resolved not to panic and figured that I’d just left it behind by mistake and asked those coming up in the car to bring it for me. Alas, although their arrival brought several letters and packages containing many delights from friends, the charger was not amongst them.

Realising that the plug must have dropped out somewhere along the way, and that the dulcet tones of All Saints singing ‘Pure Shores’ had drowned out the thud as it hit the ground, I picked up my torch and despondently headed back to the beach. Fortunately the tide was still on it’s way out and wouldn’t have washed it away, but it still meant i had 2km of 30m wide beach to cover, and it quickly became clear that finding my tracks was going to be tricky. One advantage I thought I had was that the charger was white (another plus point for macs) and would glint in the torch light, but it turned out that every single ghost crab also glinted in the torch light.

So it was with some half-hearted prayers and without much hope that I continued down the beach, trying to work out how on earth I could reliably get a replacement sent out to Kenya. The moon had not yet risen, and so despite the resultant splendour distant galaxies, i found myself cursing the darkness. It seemed ridiculous to hope that i would be able to stumble across the exact same place I had run and dropped something over an hour before.

I had probably got a quarter of the way down the beach, and had just worked out the most clever plan to manage to get a replacement charger by Sunday, when suddenly it appeared, right in front of me. Not uncovered by a torch sweep to the left or right, it sat there, exactly in the middle of my path. With my despondency transformed into jubilation, I literally skipped, singing, back up the beach to the house to inspect the charger’s condition.

Unsurprisingly, a fair amount of sand had found its way into the crevices, but that was easily sorted with a tissue or two. Slightly more surprising, was the apparent novelty the charger had been to the crabs. Right the way along the cord are tiny pincer marks, evidence of exploration by the inquisitive crustaceans, yet, fortunately, none had enough force to expose the wiring. So, as evidenced by the mere fact that I can upload this rather rambling account, everything works, and I’m back in business. It may be a while before I go running with a pack again, though.


It was somewhere out there….




  1. haha i love your stories, al. glad you found your charger. those ghost crabs sound creepy though!

  2. This story just reminds me of my long and mostly unpleasant association with crabs. I’m glad you found the charger.

  3. I *love* this story. It’s brill that you found it. Me and IX may have found our perfect house!! 2 years after the universe conspired to help us find each other.

  4. lol. I love these stories. I would have loved to have watched the crabs mystified by the charger…I bet it would make a great disney pixar film.

  5. good writing friend. a delightful yarn.

  6. […] Honest Sammy and the diving mask, or want to hear the story of how laptop charger can be found in half a mile of pitch-black beach, you can click here to view all the Kenyan stories and whimsical musings (including the sexy […]

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