Published: November 25th 2009November 9th 2009
Today is Leslie's birthday! The reason for the trip. Or at least the impetus for the trip. Leslie wore a tiara all day and was a little unsettled that noone commented (other than the three of us.)
We were allowed a rare late start to the day -- Brian was meeting us at 11:00. Last night after Elephant and Barrel, we went to Burgandy's for dessert. It was a nice place to go for dessert and coffee . . . other than "smooth operator" playing on auto-replay on the radio (we asked the waiter, who said it was an actual radio station, not a CD playing . . . perhaps the DJ fell asleep?) We had attempted to have dessert at the "famous" Ruben's. We were told at 8:30pm that all those empty tables were being held for "people with reservations". Translation: "people who weren't us." Perhaps they don't serve Americans . . .
Whenever I go on a meaningful trip I like to bring home a piece of artwork. Last night, at a store next to Elephant and Barrel, I found several batik pieces that I loved, but they were all too expensive. I went back this morning
This was my favorite but I couldn't afford it -- I was able to talk him down on the price of a different one.
to see if I could do some negotiating. I succeeded, more than I expected. I also got permission to take some photos. I needed to pay cash and the manager's daughter walked with me to the cash machine. She was young -- in her twenties, I would guess. Her English was not fluent, but we were still able to have a nice conversation. She said that she is also an artist but laughed and said "very different" when I asked if it was the same style as what was in the store. She also said that she liked living in Franschhoek, that they had lived many places and she was finally feeling happy and safe.
I also bought a few things at a place called Due South, which sells only items from South African craftspersons, mostly women in townships. I had a great conversation with the store manager, I think her name was Alena (or something a bit more Afrikaans that sound like Alena...) She has a degree in social work from Stellenbosch University, grew up in this area, spent some time in America as well. We talked about how easy it is to feel overwhelmed if you look
at society's challenging situations as a whole. But that if you can focus on one slice at a time, one day at a time, you can feel a bit more able to help . . . and therefore a bit less likely to throw up your hands and turn away. In addition to creating a market for these goods, she teaches the artisans about packaging, inventory tracking, taking deposits, keeping accounts and collecting payments . . . business tools that they need in order to make their work profitable.
We spent the afternoon at two wine tastings, with lunch in between. The first winery was called Grand Provence. The wine was OK -- but nothing I really liked. The garden was pretty, although the statuary was rather odd: giant angry hares. Not sure why . . .
We had a nice lunch in Stellenbosch and more shopping time. One store we went into had the exact same artwork as this morning, so I talked to the woman behind the desk, and her husband is the artist! They have stores in Franschhoek, Stellenbosch, and Hermanus.
Then we went to another winery, called Tokara. We all liked the wine
here. The design of the building was also very cool, walls of glass with nice views, a modern bar but a giant old-fashioned fireplace -- an eclectic combination of styles, both rustic and modern. They set out olives which Carrie and I loved, and both of us bought olive oil . . . Carrie even brought home a jar of olives!
Back to the B&B for a short break, relaxed by the pool (not warm enough to swim, but nice to sit there and relax . . . well, for Leslie and I it was more obsessive iPhone-ing.)
We didn't know what to expect for dinner -- Jessy had made the arrangements. It is called "Moyo". Fire, lanterns, tents, treehouses, waterfalls . . . dinner within a heated pavillion with a full buffet of familiar and unfamiliar foods . . . African drums, singing, and dancing on several stages. Our favorite performance was the dancing.
Here's some excerpts from their website, perhaps to give a better description: "Moyo is about creating a modern sophisticated Africa, creating a vision of a vibrant culture, of design, of food and entertainment so strong and enticing that it appeals to all
the senses. You will be welcomed to the age old tradition of the African hand-washing and face painting ceremony. Be transformed and align your body’s rhythm to the calling of the drum; release your spirit, invigorate your senses, revitalize your soul - make moyo your destination. Become part of our culture, celebrate good fortune, hospitality and abundance."
We were taken by surprise and did not fully "release our spirit" . . . we turned down the face painting. Later on when we saw very proper 60-something British men in cardigans with their faces painted, we realized perhaps we were a bit too staid.
As we were leaving, Brian told us that the premier of the Western Cape, Helen Zille
, was also there, with full entourage.
Back at the B&B after dinner we enjoyed some time in the common room of "our" house. (The inn has two houses; the main house and a completely separate building that has three bedrooms, a kitchen, a library, and a dining room.) We gave Leslie gifts and cards and we drank South African Amarulla -- a Bailey's-like liqueur made from the fruit of the Marulla tree.
I gave Leslie a book
LDTG wine tasting
This is at Grand Provence.
of poetry by South African poet James Matthews. He was born in District Six, and I found his poetry in the gift shop at the District Six Museum. On his 79th birthday he published a book of poetry, "Age is a Beautiful Phase" that celebrates life. I also bought a collection of his work from the 70s through the 90s. The range of his poetry is astounding, from powerful expressions of dissident rage in the 70s to equally effective reflection on the luxury of growing old in his 70s.
Happy Birthday Leslie!
There are more photos below