Now, I live in a tourist country, as many of you know. More so, I live in what is regarded as a tourist town, although out-of-season, the streets are rolled up at 5 PM. My favourite local destinations are Cape Town and closer to home, Wilderness and the Tsitsikamma. I’ve been to Durban and I spent the first nine years of my life in The City of Gold, and while it holds a nostalgic place in my heart, I’m not sure I would ever want to live there again. I’m a lover of small towns, with history or places that have trees. Cape Town has both characteristics, so that’s why it qualifies for me, despite being a city.
Carmen once told me “you either have a heart for Africa, or you don’t”. I thought it was a joke. Seriously! Yet, ever since I was 12, having learned about Cecil John Rhodes, David Livingstone, and Henry Morton Stanley in history, I’ve had a yearning to visit Victoria Falls. I finally realized, after a stint in hospital earlier this year following a major depressive episode, that it’s time to realize long-term dreams, and then dream some more, turning those dreams into goals, with a definable deadline.
I’m going to blog about the best experience of my life in parts, because a single post will not do it justice.
I had a lovely flight from George to Johannseburg on Mango, enjoying a Zulu Blonde, a beer brewed in Eshowe in Natal.
I spent Thursday night with Kayla, at her home close to OR Tambo International Airport and met another amazing soul, Caroline. For the first time since my hospital stint, I had a drink, and then another and then another and well, at the end of the evening, it was 4 ½ bottles of wine and a truckload of laughter later.
Kayla made me swallow two paracetamols before bed, which thankfully warded off the worst part of an insane hangover. Caroline kindly dropped me at the airport, which was somewhat chaotic as the national airline, SAA is once again striking about wage increases. It irks me every time to hear about strikes, but even more so after my visit to Victoria Falls.
I went through passport control quite quickly because I was keen to browse around the duty-free area. So many shops, with so many wares, but nothing was bought because I didn’t want to have to lug anything all the way there, and then back again. Soon I was at the boarding area, where I sat reading my book, drinking coffee to properly wake up, and copious amounts of water to flush out the Wrath of the Grapes.
The BA flight to Livingstone left on time, and while I unfortunately had an aisle seat, the flight was pleasant. As we approached for landing, the Mighty Zambezi was clearly visible through the opposite window and I began to cry. I was so overwhelmed. My dream was slowly becoming truer by the second. Exiting the plane on the tarmac (which I’m used to, because we do it at George as well) at Harry Mwanga Nkumbula International Airport, I was hit squarely in the face by stifling heat. I hate getting hot, but there is something magical about the rays of the real African sun kissing your skin.
Declaration to enter in hand, Customs formalities were dealt with. Quickly and efficiently. Soon I was on the transfer bus, with another declaration form to complete to cross the border into Zimbabwe, which would be my home for three nights. The bus driver’s name was Stanley, a Livingstone local.
He drove me and some other BA travellers to their respective hotels (if within Livingstone), and the rest of us to the Victoria Falls border post. Once again, Customs entry was painless. Stanley handed us over to another driver, Lungile, and we entered Zimbabwe. I was the last person to be dropped off, as my accommodation was in the Zambezi National Park itself – an incredible place called The Old Drift Lodge.
My next post will be about The Old Drift Lodge, in the form of a review, which I will post to other-travel related sites, such as Tripadvisor.
…since I last blogged. Shocking! I should be court-marshalled, or burnt at the stake, or something…
So, let’s see, where shall I start?
Ah, I know, my hospital two weeks ago. I came to work feeling very chipper because I was only due to work half day and then a mini-holiday awaited me as we were only due to restart work on this following Tuesday. Well, as I sat down in my chair, a searing pain (that I’m sure is worse than childbirth) took hold of my back, and that was me. I couldn’t move, and worse, I couldn’t feel my legs. I yelled up the passage for help, which arrived and I was loaded into the car and taken to casualty, because the stupid doctor’s receptionist couldn’t comprehend the term emergency, and failed even more to understand that I couldn’t wait until after lunch for an appointment. I was in pain and needed help. Immediately!
I ended up having to wait for the casualty doctor for about a half hour, but I got to lie flat which relieved a great deal of the pain, but I still couldn’t feel my legs. I have only ever felt so helpless once before. He poked and prodded, and I yelled like I was being murdered. Eventually I was put on a drip with serious pain meds and for a while I think I saw little birdies and stars. I was sent home with strict instructions to lie flat on my back for the entire Easter weekend. So not cool! Needless to say, I didn’t listen.
I went to physio the following day. My legs nearly gave way underneath me again, but not because I couldn’t feel them anymore – the therapist was one of the most handsome (young) men I’ve ever laid eyes on. And that is no exaggeration! He also attempted to assess my pain, but all I could do was squeal like a pig off to slaughter. He told me to come back the Saturday, but that I’d be seeing his colleague as he already had prior work commitments. So I lost the gorgeous-blue-eyed-boy’s hands on my body…alas!
Went back a few days with significantly less pain, thank goodness. Turns out the gorgeous-blue-eyed-boy’s colleague is equally handsome. Not as drop dead gorgeous, but a looker nevertheless. I’m not sure if it is a pre-requisite to have beautiful eyes to work at this specific practice, but therapist two has equally beautiful eyes, and a soft manner which made him immediately likeable. He pulled and propped and yanked and prodded and while it wasn’t exactly a heavenly massage, I walked out of there unassisted! I even drove myself home without having to drink pain meds when I got there! I was so happy, I could quite easily have kissed him, because it meant that I could go to a concert that evening.
Now, those of you who aren’t South African may not yet have heard of this amazing foursome, Romanz. Do yourselves a favour and check some of their YouTube videos. Go on…I won’t let you read further until you have!
Right, now that you’ve done that, all I am going to say about the concert is, “Wow! Amazing! Super! Bravo, bravo, bravo!” So, that’s pretty much my Easter weekend in a nutshell…
Two weeks before that I went with Carmen, Ewan, Nicolas and his wife, Eleanor to a little holiday village called Jongensfontein. While there, my car was broken into (it was parked at Nic and Eleanor’s place as I drove with them), but fortunately not much was stolen, but the schlep involved to get everything sorted out was not amusing, believe me. The police came to take fingerprints, but there wasn’t a single usable print, so I don’t hold out much hope. The most valuable thing the stupid tits stole was my reading glasses, which the insurance is not replacing and I don’t have a medical savings account, so I will struggle on without them. Besides that, a pair of my favourite sandals broke that weekend too. So, if bad things happen in threes, mine are over! *Happy dance*
On the subject of that weekend, here are some of the photos I took.
It is a small piece of heaven, that is less than an hour’s drive away from where we live. The break was just what I needed and while I thanked them, I don’t think they comprehend the extent of my gratitude. We had quite a few laughs and I got a tan that should last me through the winter – physiotherapist number two even commented on it *blush*
Oh yes! I’m moving round about the middle of July – to a place that is a mere 10 minutes away from my folks’ home. I started thinking about moving out when Dad started talking about retiring – he’s not getting any younger and the hard, active work on the rig is taking it’s toll on him. He wants to scale down a bit after retirement, and if I’m honest, I should have moved out ages ago, but living at home is convenient, and mom needs the company because she doesn’t drive. If dad still decides to work for a while after I move, I will spend some nights a week with her and some at my own place.
I looked at a few places online in our area and what fell in my budget was mostly bachelor pads, or single-bedroom places. I’ve always had champagne taste and beer money, so this was obviously not really working for me. I found one place that I would have deemed habitable, but I was put off by the bathroom being off the kitchen (I am not a germophobe per sé, but I seriously don’t want to be flushing the loo an arm’s length from where I’m going to be prepping food) and then someone else at work showed me that there is a cupboard affixed above a door-frame. How the heck is anyone supposed to reach there? Seriously, even I could have drawn up a better plan… another place I looked at online was well within my budget, and semi-furnished, but almost everything furnishing wise was zebra stripes. And the walls were a violent shade of orange. So not the restful zen-retreat I had in mind.
What I really desired in my heart was a place with two bedrooms and a full bathroom. Make no mistake, I love my shower in the morning, but there are just some days when only a bubble bath can make a bad day better. So, with that said, God knows the desires of my heart, and He blessed me beyond that. It is a blessing that came across my path, through Carmen. She and Ewan are currently living in the flat. It is underneath her parents’ house, but with a separate, private entrance. She was telling me that she and Ewan want to move out later this year and I asked her if she’d ask her parents if they’d be willing to rent the place to me. I thought even if they would be willing to, I may very possibly not be able to afford it, but turns out that it is R200 more than I had in mind BUT it includes utilities, satellite TV and will be furnished with whatever I don’t have (which is almost everything!). It has THREE bedrooms (although I will use the one as a dressing room, as they currently do), and two bathrooms (the one bedroom is en-suite), and the other has the bath!
I bought myself a little second-hand lounge suite from a friend of Aunty Carol’s and the lady threw in a round table too. Mom has given me a food steamer, a fridge and while there is a bit of a fight about it, I’m sure my orthopaedic bed will be moving with me (after all, I don’t want to have to go to hospital again, now do i?) Dad bought me a little two plate stove oven and Aunty Carol and Uncle Barry gave me a George Foreman Lean Mean Fat Grilling machine. In the meantime, I have been buying a few things (dry groceries mostly) which I’ve been boxing and storing. One thing I can tell you is that if I have friends over for dinner, there is a good chance that they will be eating Mince/Tuna/Rice Mate because I have about 8 boxes of those meal kits already and most likely canned fruit of some sort for dessert (or jelly and custard)! I have everything to make the flat shiny and clean from Toilet Duck to Mr. Muscle. I have been trying my best to settle all my small niggling accounts (but the back episode has set me back quite a bit this past month, but I’ll survive – I have faith!).
I’ve finally reached goal weight, having lost 20 Kg (although with all the meds for my back and subsequent need to have a pity party (I’ve eaten two boxes of Lindor balls in as many days), I’m quite sure I’ve put some of it back, but I’ll be back in the gym tomorrow (with permission from physiotherapist two) and I’ll start shedding it again. Apparently I have to do more pilates-type exercises, so I’m not only going to be thin, I’m going to be bendy too!
Then, a shocking revelation came my way two weeks ago. A very close friend, Jesse James, of mine for whom I carried a candle for almost a decade (read the linked post, you’ll understand) came to visit his folks and we got together for drinks. I had the most incredible cherry vodka and mint tea cocktail – served in a teapot! He had two beers. From there we popped around to another old haunt and while we were waiting for our drinks, he asked me if I had regrets. I said I think everyone does and he told me that he…he… and then he tried to change the subject, but I pressed. He told me he regretted that we never ever ended up together. I wasn’t sure I’d heard right, so I made him repeat himself. “I regret that we never ended up together, that we never gave a relationship between us a chance.” Now, if you’ve read the linked post, you’ll know he knew how I felt about him, but I honestly had no idea he felt the same. I’d made peace with the fact that it just wasn’t meant to be, and I believe in my heart that I’ve met the man I’m going to marry anyway. Jesse James knows how I feel about this man, and he says he’s happy for me, and I believe him, because I know him better than he knows himself and I’ve never seen him so sincere. I told Elizabeth what happened and the cynic in her says it was the booze talking, but how much truth serum is hidden in two beers? Even if I didn’t feel about this other man the way I do, Jesse James himself has told me that he knows it would never work, because in our case, we really love each other, but it’s not enough. We’re from different worlds, and he can’t give me the life I deserve…part of me is glad he told me, because I’ve always wondered, but part of me wishes he’d never said anything because the dynamic of our friendship has changed a bit. I don’t know how to describe it other than “it’s complicated”.
So, that’s a glimpse of what’s happened in the last few weeks… I’ll try to blog more often, but more often than not, I look around and think “where the hell did the day go?!”
We hit the road after eight, thanks to the GPS on my phone telling us that Durban was a mere 486 Km from Bloemfontein. Needless to say, it wasn’t.
It was pouring when we left and the rain didn’t let up at all by the time we got to Bethlehem for the mandatory Wimpy coffee stop. As none of the women in the car was able to pinch their bladders until we arrived there, we stopped off in some obscure little town called Senekal, where we went to the loo (not that we used them because they were beyond filthy!). With great difficulty we clamped our bladders shut until we got to Bethlehem.
Once again, leaving in the pouring rain we continued our journey East. Just past another obscure little town called Kestell, we aquaplaned, while Dad was behind the wheel and had an accident – landing meters away from a large, gushing storm water culvert. We spun around three times before actually leaving the road and skidding down a steep embankment where we finally came to a stop, centimetres from a barbed-wire farm fence. Had I been driving we would more than likely have rolled, and been badly injured, or worse, dead. He controlled the spin like a pro.
Fortunately nobody was hurt – but Mom was in such shock, that I had to slap her – just like they do in the movies. I must admit that I did get some satisfaction out of it. Poor Uncle Barry got absolutely drenched trying to flag down some help, but as can only be expected in this day and age, people are not keen to stop, let alone help.
Being stuck in the sinking mud, cellphone signal was nil, so I clambered my way up and contacted MTN emergency who cut me off not once, but twice. I then opted for Geri and Dan who told us to sit tight and that they would get us all sorted out. Minutes later I was on the phone with a police officer from Kestell who dispatched an ambulance, just to make sure we were all unhurt and who gave me the number of a towing company. Upon contacting them, I was told that they would come and pull us out of the culvert as soon as we put R1100 in the hand of the driver. Between five of us we had quite a bit of money…in US DOLLARS! Again, on the phone to Geri and Dan who got hold of the towing company, transferred the money and got us sorted. What we would have done without them the Lord alone knows.
About a half hour after that, we were being pulled out back onto the road, and were taken to Harrismith where the car was put on the lift and checked. No serious harm done, except (as we only found out on our trip home) that the rear shocks were shot.
By the time we eventually arrived at Geri and Dan’s place in Amanzimtoti, we were too exhausted to do anything – a braai had been planned, but it was still raining, so we ordered pizza instead and just chilled at home. I was stunned to see just how big their children have become.
is five already and
little Lulu is not so little anymore,
turning three this March.
They are gorgeous children, who managed to creep into my heart in a matter of minutes.
After dinner, my folks, Aunty Carol and Uncle Barry headed off to their guest house just up the road and I helped Geri with the washing up. They went to bath James and Lulu and put them to bed. While they were busy I took some photos of the view from their verandah
and phoned Jay – I just needed to hear his voice. I told him quite honestly that not a day had passed since his visit that I hadn’t thought of him. He was relieved to hear that we were all safe and told me to really enjoy my holiday. I rang off feeling better.
I spent some time catching up with Geri and Dan, but by 22:30 I just couldn’t keep my eyes open anymore. The day’s events had really taken my oomph out of me. I went to bed, again not even remembering putting the light off.
…to Bloemfontein for the first leg of our two day trek to Durban to board the MSC Sinfonia started with us locked and loaded into the car a touch after six in the morning. The air was filled with palpable excitement.
Our first stop en-route was just outside Willowmore, where we had breakfast under the trees (in very cold, windy conditions). After that it was a mandatory refuelling stop in Graaff-Reinet for not only the car, but us – we run on Wimpy coffee. I wasn’t really hungry so I opted for a cream cheese and carrot muffin which was very yummy. Mom and Aunty Carol weren’t so lucky with their bran ones, which tasted like what I imagine dog biscuits to taste like.
From there we hit the road to Bloem where we stayed at a delightful place called Blueberry Hill. The host, Alta makes your stay a home-away-from-home. The entire house is at the disposal of the guests and can sleep up to 9 people. It is comfortable, clean, fully equipped and above all, reasonably priced. We will definitely stay there again when we go up North.
After a quick unpacking session, and a welcome cup of tea on the verandah…
we headed off to the Windmill Casino – needless to say, it was a waste of our time and money. We weren’t even there for two hours when we headed back. I had a shower and got into bed. I was so exhausted, I don’t even remember putting the light off…