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Published: March 1st 2015
Heading out of Cape Town
to the town of George, a 400 km drive which should take 4 hours to cover, plus a lunch break somewhere.
Playing catch up…. The days in between
Time has slipped by, days have slipped by in fact and I've not blogged a word.
After the Township tour I felt there was so much to digest that I couldn't just happily jot words down. That process is unravelling now and I'm finding the way to describe those many experiences. Part 1 of the Langa experience is now posted, the others will follow.
This is catch up time. In another day’s time we head to Addo the elephant national park which I fully expect will be another whole new memorable series of experiences to be lived and recorded for the blog.
So now, catching up …. In the evening after the Kirstenbosch and the Township visits, we were at a “fish braai” at the crazy-nice home of Alan up the hillside with a lovely view overlooking the night lights of Cape Town. Alan kind of claimed Jamaican-hood having lived there for 17 years but he was an American. There was a magical view if you climbed the twisting narrow rocky stairway above the housetop. Organized by Alison, ‘Black South Easter’ the band of Daniel and
Nhoza, was there. They jammed sweet music under the stars as we sat around the braai. Nhoza brought along a friend, Tandy, also from her township, also a tour guide and singer, and she joined the jam session. Both women sang and had lovely voices. Some of the tunes were familiar to me like Summertime, others were strange and in the Xhosa language.. I think the band compose music as well as perform the work of others. All were beautiful, languid, suiting the mellow mood if the evening. The band is quite good. I found their music on YouTube and got their CD as well.
Next day the weather was good with clear skies but we had already decided on having a quiet day. Rest after the hectic schedule of activities so far. Table Mountain remained elusive but Wilderness lay ahead and that would be a long drive. Unfortunately for me the weather turned foul and for the following two days the skies opened up, rain poured, wind howled, temperatures sunk to the low teens. Not my idea of touring weather at all.
We said farewell to our generous hosts Jean and David, to
our cosy little bedrooms, their warm and welcoming kitchen and dining room where we had lively conversations, and headed east along the coast to the Eastern Cape. We exchanged leafy suburbia for Wildernesses.
Many hours of driving, along very good highways winding through rugged landscapes with jagged mountains forming blue backdrops. I'm surprised again at how much of the terrain comprises large rocks and stones so the vegetation is poor, consisting mostly of scrub and low bushes. Not the big treescapes of towering pine that I've seen in European country sides, yet it's very similar in the bigness of its mountain panoramas, lakes and rivers.
The journey covered 400km which took 4 hours driving, plus lunch break.
That meant seeing a lot of roads and landscapes whizzing by at 100km an hour. Not the best situation to do photography. I was learning my device on the trot, discovering that the iPad isn't tops, neither versatile nor brilliant for taking photos in a number of situations. But it worked most of the time.
So I decided to photograph the roads! The highways and byways passing through the various landscapes, capturing what
it felt or looked like to me. The scenery was changeable … in some places lots of farm animals … cows sheep goats and horses. There were even ostriches at one point.
There was also much agriculture, fruit cultivation .. red and green apples, grapes, olives and corn for that township staple Miele.
We drove along the M2 with distant mountain ranges, over Lowry’s Pass, stopping eventually for lunch at Swellendam. That's an old Dutch or Afrikaaner town with a Church dating over 200 years and many other old colonial buildings.. It's a pretty town in the European style, which gets a lot of tourists, and tour buses because of its location. It was busy.
Over time, I've come to understand that many of the South African restaurants are very quaint, in how they incorporate odd décor, mis matched furniture, odd memorabilia and such like to decorate their rooms and create their own distinctive ambience. Very successfully too. Our lunch break next to an organic vegetable shop was typical of this. It's four or five dining tables were widely scattered throughout the large room, among other larger tables displaying a variety of SAfrican art and
craft, fabrics, coverings etc. it was well done, the food was good and the service by an old gay guy was very friendly. They displayed a high TripAdvisor rating which I think was deserved.
Driving along we even spotted a smidgen of “wildlife” in the form of two elephants far off in the distance.
Score on the drive: elephants 2 baboons 0
Finally, late in the afternoon we arrived at our destination, our home for the next three weeks…. The skies were grey and the air was cold and damp as Alison hot-rodded her little Honda over the local road with its shallow sunken canal ways. We were in Wilderness. At the wooden gate the house name read The Reed Bed. Her three dogs came bounding down the driveway led by MissShiffy (correct … Mischief-y) followed by the elders, lumbering along some distance behind, Misty a golden lab and Boeuf a black lab..
Tomorrow and in the days ahead there would be time to explore, the rambling front garden profusely full of randomly placed trees, the luxuriant herb garden outside the kitchen door, the main house, the studio and our little Cottage.
It was all very charming and welcoming…. Soon there'd be a glass of wine in our hands as we relax and settle in.
Alison's home is comfortably old, wooden floors with Persian rugs, thick walls decorated with art works. A large country style wood table divides the kitchen from the living area – one end is covered with “stuff” but there's still ample space left for eating! The living area has that soft, old fashioned feeling of an old English home, complete with a quaint little free standing wood fireplace with a chimney. We needed the fire by the next day, to heat up the shivery cold temperature, so logs were loaded, the fire blazed and we managed to get the smoke to stay inside the unit and escape up the chimney not in the room. It kept the whole area nicely warm.
We made several short trips into nearby Wilderness and the big town of George, over the next several days. There is a very large beach with constantly rolling Indian Ocean waves, not many bathers. There are several lakes for which the region is well known. Driving about I sometimes saw hang
gliders off the craggy hills which seemed to be a perfect jump off for that sport. Wilderness is a quiet small town. George is bustling, with much construction in evidence in addition to a recently built very big mall. Changing times.
It seemed to me that there were more visible signs of an equal and multi racial community than was evident in Cape Town. Here, the non white community was visible doing everyday things like shopping and eating in the mall and at the Sedgfield Farmers Market. They were not just workers and employees, not just seen in the streets. These were residents and it was a relief to see them. Sedgfield market is on my list as the #2 Must Visit activity in The country.
Sedge field is a proclaimed “slow town” a leisurely place for visitors, slow pace of life. It's Saturday morning Wild Oats Farmers Market is rated the best in the whole if South Africa…. And there are several such markets.
I'm learning more bit by bit every day about the complexities of South Africa's races and their relations. So I will come back to this topic another time
As for the market it was truly impressive. Numerous stalls are selling every kind of garden produce and serving every manner of food…. Wild sea Oysters, biltong dried meats, garden herbs, flowers, fresh baked breads, olive tapenades, braai barbecued meats, organic fruits juiced, coffee with real cream… the list is never ending.
The farmers and vendors stalls are arranged around the perimeter of a large outdoor garden with shade trees, and tables with tree stumps for seats are provided. Lovely country community atmosphere, with regulars like our hostess and newcomers like myself.
See the photos to share the experiences.
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