I arranged to meet Brin and Sherida downstairs at 7 am so we could drive out to the Boulders and then out to Muizenberg, to swim. Sherida’s mom, Olive, who helps with her in her clothing shop, came along too. We are all cryptic crossword puzzle nuts!
The Boulders is a reserve for the Cape Penguin, who used to be known as Jackass Penguins for the sounds they make. There is a huge colony there. I will let the pictures speak for themselves. The beach at Boulders was as beautiful as I remembered it but I couldn’t help thinking that penguins probably pee in the water just like humans, although probably less surreptitiously. Hmmm…..
Just to comment that the water at Muizenberg, which I fondly remember as relatively warm, was freezing cold. Well according to Brin it was around 17 degrees. Cold by my standards. Still I swam at both the Boulders and Muizenberg. At Muizenberg I was horrified to hear they have to have shark spotters stationed on the mountainside overlooking the bay as there have been shark attacks. Getting to be like Australia! Anyway, although I did not venture out any where near where sharks would venture, I did not stay in the water very long!
Have you ever heard the term “load shedding?” I had not. It refers to the electrical utility, Eskom, switching off electricity to conserve energy. South Africa has a major energy crisis due to a combination of inadequate infrastructure and a growing population and economy. According to the newspapers and television reports the country spent billions on arms purchases and virtually nothing on expanding and modernizing the energy infrastructure, although well warned of a looming crisis. Actually while I was commenting scathingly to Michael about the problem he reminded me that California had a term for the same thing – rolling brownouts! I guess that would be politically incorrect usage here.
Well, by any other name… I had not personally fallen victim to a “load shed” until today – the one day Barry and I had planned to go to the main Cape Town Library to do some historical research. He fetched me from Upper Orange Street after dance class and we drove downtown. It was hot and slightly windy. The pavements wee dusty from the construction that is happening all over. In all the time I lived in Cape Town I don’t remember ever going to the Central Library – branch libraries were adequate for my needs at that time.
So I signed in, paid my 5 rand to get a locker to deposit my bag, and wandered around till a friendly librarian showed me the computer system. I had literally just completed my first search and was pulling up the first result when – lights out, computer off. Eskom had load-shed the downtown core. It was just around lunch time and cafes and restaurants were left unable to service their customers, card machines did not work etc. etc. Unbelievable. So that was the end of my research afternoon.
Today’s day time highlight other than a great chacha and samba dance class was lunch with two aunts, Essie and Rosaline, who were my mother’s first cousins, at the courtyard restaurant at Winchester Mansions on Beach Road, Sea Point . I caught up on the details of offspring and marriages for my family tree. My genealogy work sort of got put on hold for the pastg few years but I am slowly getting back to it.
My one “big” theatre experience plan was to see The Merchant of Venice at Maynardville open air theatre. Barry had picked up tickets for himself and me, and after an early super with Carole we drove off to Wynberg where Maynardville is located. Parking was quite an experience in itself. There is little parking around the gardens and cars were jammed into tiny spots lining the streets all around. As we were slowly driving by, one of the self-appointed paring attendants with a bright fluorescent vest, waved Barry up a side street to a spot on the pavement just under a no-parking sign. Since no-one seemed to care about the no parking signs, we left the car to his tender care and made out way to the theatre. Barry was quite convinced he would get a ticket so we took a bet for a toblerone chocolate. At least if he got a ticket there would be some sweet compensation!
Things looked promising as we entered the gardens. People were milling around, many having picnicked on the grass. They were selling a coffee table-like book called “Shakespeare at Maynardville.” I took a shot of the stage from the back and then we found our seats. The grass slopes up fairly rapidly so the sight
This morning I had brunch at the Waterfront with an old friend, Majiec, and his wife, Sandra. I met Maciej about 40 years ago when he and Bob joined IBM. Shortly after we were married, I was still in med school and
Bob was working as a chemical engineer when IBM SA advertised for new recruits. Bob ended up joining IBM in sales and Maciej became a systems engineer. When we moved to Canada Bob kept in touch with Maciej and we always connected when we came back to SA on a visit.
Since our last visit, the Waterfront which is a sprawling complex of hotels, restaurants and shopping mall in the dock area, has expanded hugely. And in fact, that evening I was back there for supper with Brin, Sherida, Barry and Carole at Primi Piatti, a noisy jam packed restaurant where I had grilled lamb chops and Greek salad, After supper they introduced me to a delicious ice-cream place called Sinful – and the honeycomb flavour was indeed that.
As I have may have mentioned, I have been doing genealogy research and documentation for many years and one record type is gravestones. My brother asked me to photograph the stone of our father who had died 24 years ago, a decade after I had moved to Vancouver. So Barry, Carole and I stopped at the Pinelands Cemetery on our way to Muizenberg and I searched for the grave. We had been given the wrong location – it turned out the plot they gave us was the grave of one of his brothers – so we ended up spending a long time there.
Then we drove through to Muizenberg where Carole went to see her mom and Barry took me to a small beach front café where he wanted to show me a huge painting of Muizenberg that hung on one of the large interior walls. To his surprise it was no longer there. When he asked the new owner about it she said that she had had complaints and comments from customers and had felt obliged to remove it. It pictured Muizenberg beach as it was in in the apartheid years. And amid the brightly coloured bathing boxes and beach umbrellas all the people pictured on the beach- were white! In post-apartheid SA although it depicted history- the place as it actually was- this was politically incorrect. And realistically, the owner could not upset her customers. So good bye painting.
We then drove through to a restaurant , La Cuccina in Hout Bay, where we met Dirk Archer, partner of Joe, another old friend that I have known for as long as I knew Bob. I met Joe that night at Rosecourt when I was fifteen and met Bob. He and Bob had come to Rosecourt to the dance. I remember with absolute clarity these two tall gorgeous guys standing together. Joe was blonde and wearing a yellow sweater. Bob had black hair, brown eyes, was wearing a blue sweater and danced like a dream. Forty-eight years ago – my kids are now more than twice the age I was when I met him.
On Monday morning I took a Rikki down to the Waterfront from 10-12 to pick up some gifts and then off to dance class at Camps Bay from 3-5. The weather has been almost unbearably hot. Reading about commuter chaos in Vancouver because of snow seems quite surreal. I think I prefer cold to heat because it is so much easier to warm up than to cool down.
Carole called to tell me that Nathan and Edina’s baby, Maya, was born and all was well.
Later that evening I had dinner with Brin and Sherida, Olive, and Sandra, Sherida’s sister in their flat upstairs. Sherida cooked tuna, and we had salad with it, followed by Sinful ice cream for dessert. Sandra gave me a copy of a stunning coffee table book on the Wild Horses of Namibia. She wrote the text to accompany the most amazing pictures.
On Tuesday I had my last Rikki rides to and from dance class 9 – 11 at the Scout Hall. Back to the flat for a quick shower and change before Socky, my aunt, fetched me for lunch at the Mount Nelson with her and her sister, Annette. Annette and I were at school together at Good Hope. She is a librarian at the Hiddingh Hall branch of UCT library – that services the performing arts and film programs.
After lunch Socky dropped me at Cape Town Medi-Clinic where I saw Edina and the baby.
Had a quiet supper with Barry and Carole and then took a walk with Brin and Sherida to buy some blank CDs to record some of the dance music I particularly liked- the Latin music especially.
The sunset was magnificent- just a tinge of red along the horizon, the sea so blue it was almost black – the sounds of surf crashing against the rocks and the sharp tang of sea salt in the air. Even living on the False Creek water front, I don’t get that wonderful sea scent that evokes those endless summer days on the beach that were such a major part of growing up in Cape Town.
A pattern of travel seems to be developing for me. Fortunately most of my journeys away from home are uneventful, but something generally complicates the trip home. The problem on my trip to France was the nasty ankle, knee and shoulder sprains I sustained the day before I was due to travel home. There as I wrote in my blog, miraculously total strangers materialized seemingly out of nowhere to hoist my suitcase onto trains, and up stairs for me.
This return journey had another potential crisis that turned into an unexpected bonus. But first…
Thursday morning in Cape Town was HOT. I spent the morning trying to figure out how despite my best intentions, my suitcase was more full and heavier than when I arrived. And me- the non-shopper type. Actually the major increase in weight was from the couple of pairs of dance shoes that I acquired. Ok it was more than a couple. Three. But they are so comfortable and relatively so cheap. I also caught up with my travelblogue, having fallen quite behind. Weren’t the penguin pictures cool?
As I planned this trip I really did not know what to expect in terms of my emotional reactions. The thought of returning alone to Cape Town, ten years after my last visit there with Bob, engendered a real concern that I would find the experience very painful. And perhaps because of that, uncharacteristically I did not do my usual meticulous preparations, bring my family research files, make lists of people to see, and things to do.
And yet this turned out to be a wonderfully satisfying journey, a re-connection with my “roots” and a time of quiet pleasure in being with Barry, Brin, Carole and Sherida. The other dimension that added a special enjoyment was finding a dance teacher whose teaching style was just perfect for me at this stage of my development and who juggled his timetable so that I could get alesson every week day during the three weeks I was in Cape Town. Thanks, Edwin, for reminding me that for me dance should be foremost for enjoyment, and striving for perfection can be self-defeating in the long run. So I had a blast, kept my endorphins going with daily exercise, and survived the wine, chips and ice-cream without gaining too much weight.
South Africa- what a strange mixed up country. Things to love and admire: the accomplishment of officially abolishing apartheid with out the violence and revolution that was predicted and feared. The evidence of a rising affluent middle class among the populations that had minimal opportunity before. But… the problems of violence, incompetence, corruption, the energy crisis, the vast squatter camps, the inability to deal with the refugee problems. Wow- so immense!. Such a huge segment of the population living in awful conditions. Some things have not changed at all.
This will be the index of postings to the Travelblogue that documents my visit to London and Cape Town. The nature of blogging results in the latest posting appearing first on screen, so that later events appear first. This Travelblogue index will list the postings in chronological order from leaving Vancouver to the termination of the trip, as a guide to your reading. Until the index is complete note that the story commences with this post.
London & Cape Town: This time I'm starting early.
You can also read the blogue in the correct sequence by clicking the London & Cape Town button, scrolling down to the bottom of the screen and clicking on the link that says last. That will bring up the first 8 postings. Scroll down to the bottom of the screen to commence reading at the beginning.