I can’t believe it’s taken me so long to write about my trip home in December but 2013 seemed to explode on me like a bottle of Canadian soda water (that shit is seriously fizzy – I’ve sprayed myself in the face an embarrassing amount of times opening a new bottle. You’d think I’d have learned by now). We flew back on New Year’s Day (tip: flights are MUCH cheaper then – we saved a total of $1400!) and I started teaching again a day after that, and then January disappeared and my brother and his wife came to visit and now suddenly it’s APRIL! How the *%^? did that happen?
L’Agulhas and the Southern Most Home:
It’s weird how home changes so much. Home is Vancouver. Home is Cape Town. But since my parents moved to L’Agulhas and built what my dad purports is the Southern Most House (I think everyone claims this), that is now also home. It is so incredibly relaxing – full of birds, the constant roar of the sea, fascinating wildlife (both of the animal and human variety), absolutely mind-blowing sunsets, and while we were there – a frikkin’ meteor shower.
It was so good just to go for swims, read on the stoep, explore, and completely relax. Falling asleep to the sound of the sea is one of my favourite things. Possibly the best part was that my dog went absolutely mental for me (she’s now about 12 or 13 and roared around the garden like a puppy). We also managed to go to Elim, one of my favourite places; De Hoop Nature Reserve; De Mond (another favourite); and the requisite trips to the exciting new “mall” in Bredasdorp…
My dad (foolishly? kindly?) handed over the keys to his brand new Nissan Navarro monster double cab bakkie (truck in Canadian) and off we went to Cape Town…
Cape Town: So Beautiful, So Late for Everything
We were absolutely spoiled by friends and got to stay in Clifton, overlooking First Beach. Sigh… More gorgeous sunsets over the water, picnics, sundowners, visits to favourite places (Rhodes Memorial, The Waterfront, Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens, Boulders Beach, Kalk Bay, etc etc)… good food, better friends, meeting of babies and 2.0’s… So wonderful.
Cape Town is looking SOOO good! It’s clean, there are taxis everywhere, everything works, and there’s even some public transport! I felt safe and relaxed, once I was over how hectically VIVID everything is. Vancouver is all pastel and tranquil; Cape Town is WILD primary acrylics, maybe even spray paint, and just vivid as all hell. The mountain is so… rugged. The sea is wild. The colours are intense. The people are vibrant. It’s hard not to feel ALIVE!
But man had I forgot how effing late Capetonians are. FOR EVERYTHING. It’s almost pathological But only in Cape Town can you show up 1/2 late for your supper reservation and they haven’t given your table away…
Overall, it’s not really surprising that friends of mine are moving back from places like the UK or Johannesburg. Some people say the bubble might burst and yes, it might, but man is the Mother City an evil temptress…
Karoo: Chasing Ghosts Roadtrip
From Cape Town, we went on a short but wonderful road trip into one of my favourite areas, the Karoo desert. On grey, cloudy days, I dream of its huge open skies, wide expanses of bugger all, and that almost tangible hot desert wind. Our first stop was Aquila Game Reserve. It’s not my ideal bush experience but with limited time and for something different, it’s well worth it. We spent one night there and it included all meals, accommodation, and two game drives. They have a smallish amount of animals but do have the Big Five plus, and it was super cool to see things in a habitat that they no longer occur in naturally. And they have a pool, which is key in 40 degrees. Celsius.
Our next stop was one of my favourite places in the whole world. When we were planning this trip, we did have to go through several options and changes, but I knew that whatever happened, for some reason, I just had to go there. It is a tiny, tiny – I hestitate to say town – village rather – that consists of one street and a train station. The place feels chock-full of ghosts and is stuck in the 1800s. All the better for it.
After that, we went to Ceres (of the juice fame). The town itself is looking shitty, but we stayed at a lovely B&B and did some exploring, some, uh, unintentional offroading, and then went to Tulbagh (a fascinating town that restored a bunch of its Victorian buildings to their original form after a huge earthquake in 1969) and had a lovely lunch under some leafy oaks, that had a family of four Eagle Owls in them. Genius me decided to take the monster bakkie on Bainskloof Pass. I nearly had a panic attack at the top. Sheer drops, twists and turns, tiny lanes… A driving nightmare.
Then it was back to L’Agulhas for Christmas, another few days in Cape Town, and then all too soon, it was back on the plane.
They seriously know how to get you right in the heart – the last thing I saw before entering Cape Town International Airport was Table Mountain in the sunset. Talk about snot en trane!
Several flights, a taxi ride, and one ecstatic Frenchie later, we were home… dreaming of Mzansi, ghosts, and big, blue African skies.