EXPERIENCING A DIFFERENT WAY OF LIFE...SOUTH AFRICA
Well it has been non-stop since I arrived in South Africa last Saturday evening – thankfully no jetlag, what a novel experience - and luckily for me the sun came too.
My first morning and I managed a Yoga practice with Laura to stretch out my crumpled body from all the travelling before we ventured out from Blauberg, where we were staying. First stop Table Top mountain where we met GH and his friends for the obligatory hour or so of queuing – mind you the views were pretty cool in between the mist, and we stayed for a few hours to make the most of the whole experience. From there and late afternoon us girlies, Claire and Laura and our ten year old friend Alendri, took to Camps Bay, one of the most expensive parts of the city – typical – for a short spot of sunbathing but it was far too windy, so we headed to one of the many kerb side bars for a glass of bubbles instead.
Oh how lovely, bubbles in the sun until a car decided to park in front of us and spoil our sunset vista, but no need to worry we were entertained by a small group of local girls dancing to the drum. Post sunset and the boys finally joined us so we could eat together, lovely food, fresh salads and fish. All day I felt like I was in Australia, it just has that similar vibe somehow and the food simply enhanced this feeling.
Monday and we were still on the go. This time Claire took us on a road trip along a small stretch of the coast towards Cape Hope to see some of the beaches and get away from the city – very beautiful reminding me of all great road trips especially down the Pacific Highway in US and also South Island in New Zealand – no seals, or indeed whales to be seen (much to Laura’s disappointment the “whale” was actually a rock) but lots of beautiful vegetation and stunning sea vistas. Back to Camps Bay for more sunbathing on the beach until the mid-afternoon wind started to pick up.
That night we were joined by more of GH’s friends who organised a Braai (bbq) at the motel we were staying – they love their Braais and meat over here; just as well I am happy to eat a little fish because vegetarianism is not so huge, unless you love cheese, yuck. It was an interesting evening – a small insight into what was to come in terms of GH’s culture – their main language is Afrikans, which they tend to speak the majority of the time and the men and women all segregate at social events so that us girls were one side of the bbq area and the boys the other – plus they love to drink big glasses of whisky and water, the girls too.
Six of us in a motel room that night, thankfully Claire and I managed an early one as it was another early morning start the next day, a boat trip to Robben Island where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned all those years. That was my second Island Prison within a year, the other being Alcatraz back in May. Fascinating though they are, I am not a fan, strange dead energy, too much pain, too much wasted lives in vain. Amazingly one of the guides was a political prisoner for 6 years in the Prison and now lives on the Island with his family. There was an incredible number of birds and wildlife, and these cute little penguins too, but still that strange energy.
We hung around the Waterfront back on Cape Town for lunch, again I was reminded of Australia, boats and sunshine, people wandering, street entertainment, bars and cafes. More hanging around to meet more people, these weddings are an organisational nightmare trying to bring everyone together, everyone arriving at different times from different places. Finally us girls loaded our car – the Smurf mobile – with all the bags and paraphernalia and headed up the coast to Langebaan, our stop for the remainder of the trip.
What a house. Incredible. Complete decadence. Reminds me of Byron and my days spent walking past these amazingly large and spacious beachside apartments and here we are staying in one – this incredibly large kitchen and utility area and open plan lounge and dining area. Then upstairs there are a number of double ensuite rooms and another living area with an indoor bbq and a bar too. There is a loft above with more beds and the whole place surrounded by balconies and a suntrap of a patio and garden area out back. Laura and I are staying in the “maid’s quarter” out back, a much needed space from the maddening crowds, peaceful and gentle, perfect for a morning practice and a much needed early night, thank you angels.
So that first evening we enjoyed a party of sorts. Claire’s Mum and Dad and friend Stella from Guernsey arrived to meet us having spent that last two weeks touring South Africa and yet more from GH’s side. Us girls prepared salads in the massive kitchen while the boys sat around the bar and took turns at the bbq. A late feast, so many people already, the boys have not all seen each other for ages, bottles of spirits being emptied by the minute, alien to me, even by Guernsey standards, such an alien life to the one I live back home.
A nice peaceful Yoga practice the next morning and time to finally stop and read my book in the sunshine before spending 3.5 hours sitting in the hairdressers as Laura, Claire and I had our hair and make-up done as a preparation for the wedding, only to have to have the hair all taken our again before we left the salon. Another alien world and more alien worlds later that night, a party of 40 people at the house, most of GH’s family and friends are here now and his generous cousin catered for the evening – massive platters of crayfish, clams and snoek were added to the braii and eaten with salads and rice.
The main highlight for many was the alcohol, I have not seen anything quite like it since my University days, shots after shots and so much pressure to join in, I left at 11pm and could still hear the music and loud chatter at 4am. Apparently the boys ended up doing shots of vinegar, a few of them throwing up and carrying on. It was carnage in here this morning, literally. Being South Africa Claire went across the road to the Farmhouse that rent out this place and got a maid to come over and spend the best part of the day clearing up...such an alien world. No recycling either, strange how quickly we have now been conditioned to recycle at every opportunity and it feels strange when glass and bottles go in the general bin.
More pampering today, nails and toenails, so nice to have my feet massaged! Then a day of sun and even a swim in the pool at the Farmhouse with stunning views over the lagoon and then down to the beach and a swim in the sea too – it is so cold, Atlantic water so it never warms up that much and I certainly did not stay in too long, but oh so lovely to swim and ease the sunburn! The whole area reminds me of Western Australia, a similar sort of landscape and sense of space, plus the beaches are reminiscent, even the waves.
This is certainly a novel experience, life in South Africa with the locals, a very different way of living to the way I am used to living, but all good fun. Strange to know that Ross is in Nepal, the opposite side of the coin, needless to say I am homesick for the place, different lives and different times. Looking forward to the wedding on Saturday.