I was born near the Neanderthal Valley in Germany, a fact my wife loves to use when introducing me. “Look at his forehead” she says and smiles, “don’t you see his ancestry?” Years have gone by since my forefathers have left an important historical footprint on earth, in particular in the lower Rhine area. Although my appearance somehow differs a bit from the classic Neanderthal I still feel a strong connection to these cave dwellers. This has mainly to do with my life style. As a teenager I roamed the forests bordering the Netherlands, and – believe it or not – I built caves in them where my friends and I had our first cigarette puffs… the resulting cough attacks cured us for the rest of our lives. When finally grown up during and after my studies in Geology I left the German forests and exchanged them for the boreal forest of the Yukon in northern Canada where I dwelled in a self-built log home for 2 decades. I was known as the German hermit. Even after more than a decade hardly anybody knew me in the small town ten miles away. The only person who recognized me was the manager of the local liquor store. Being German, I love my beer. I am sure you understand. When I wasn’t home I was somewhere in deserts, rain forests, on glaciers or on oceans taking pictures for a living. In some years I covered all continents. During my visits home in Germany my parents kept asking me when I would finally start looking for a real job. They said a real job should cause pain and discomfort, money making should make you suffer. Btw: I hate suffering! Even during my last visit in Walbeck (during the first 5 years of my life the center of the universe – now only a small town famous for its asparagus growing) I heard my mother saying in an accusing tone: “You always only did what you wanted”. This statement is actually quite correct. What seems to be really embarrassing though is the fact that I not only did not suffer because of my work, I actually even made a very decent living with taking fun pictures. Sorry guys – I am getting distracted. My wife told me I just should write this blog. The other THREE of us have been waiting already since yesterday…..So back to the Neanderthal part, the story line of this blog. While the world around me used cell phones (first I mistook the hand at the side of the head as a world-wide headache epidemic) I had a seventh sense in locating a public phone booth – no matter where I was in the world. And my calls home were very cheap as I was equally apt in finding cheap phone cards. This went on and on until a dramatic life changing event 3 years ago. It happened in Namibia. In the very remote northwestern part of the country where the very traditional Himba people live. For a reference please see the photo on the right above this long blaba. A very traditionally dressed Himba girl (which means very limited clothes) is talking on a cell phone. This would have knocked my socks off if I had been wearing any. Already during our dating period my Californian wife had forbidden me to wear socks in sandals. She said it was a typical German thing. Well, I countered I was a typical German. But she ignored my protest. Anyway – I see this beautiful half dressed Himba girl chatting into a cell phone. This was the critical and life-changing moment when I left the path of my Neanderthal ancestors. My wife Jami gave me her iphone flow down. She regretted it soon because she lost her patience explaining to me how that thing worked. I can make phone calls now if I don’t forget to take it with me. In order to avoid feeling chained down I only switch the phone on when I feel relaxed and when I am in the good mood for a potential chat. Well, it gets even better. I started to feel civilized after all until I was visiting a Maasai village near Kilimanjaro where I took my powered paraglider for a ride up into the sky to photograph the Maasai village with Kilimanjaro in the background. (Please hold on, I am almost finished!) When I landed the Maasai surrounded me all being in awe! I enjoyed that moment. Then the chief’s son James (the guy furthest right in the picture above) approached me with his cell phone and asked me for my Facebook name. He wanted to be friends with me. I swallowed. It gets better. He told me he also liked “Whatsapp” but wasn’t a big fan of “Instagram”. I had heard these names before recently. But hearing them from a Maasai in his traditional outfit next to his mud hut showed me clearly that I still wasn’t too far off the Neanderthal path yet. And to be honest – I love that path and never want to stray too far away from it. I love the old way of communicating from person to person even though it doesn’t seem to be after writing this long blog. But mind you, I somehow had no choice. It’s always important to keep your wife happy!

Theo Allofs

2 replies
  1. Focus Expeditions
    Focus Expeditions says:

    Oh my. Tay – you definitely have quickly mastered blogging!!!! You see? I told everyone out there – they aren’t shy! Hahahahahaha!

    By the way, you don’t turn your phone on when you go to the grocery store? Is that why I can’t ever reach you?? Nice. I had to discover this here – in public. Nice Theo! :-O

  2. Focus Expeditions
    Focus Expeditions says:

    A cell phone is like an invisible chain that some might also call remote control. And, as you know, Neanderthals like to roam freely.

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply