Posts Tagged With: Accomodation

Blue Crane Route: Chief’s Log, Day 7

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At seven the phone rings in our room.

It is one of the Rangers.

During the night the rain had subsided & we’ll be able to go out and view some game.

Kuzuko Lodge, where we are staying, is a ‘big-5’ game reserve.

The children’s excitement soon invade our room, from next-door.

They’re dressed & ready.

They want to brave the cold & see the game.

We bite a quick breakfast.

A cup of coffee.

Then we’re off.

Zuko & Maddi stays behind in the comfort of Kuzuko Lodge’s Lounge & the care of their attentive staff.

We’re in the care of Freddie the Ranger.

The Tribe, the only South Africans on the Game Viewing Vehicle.

A German couple and a family from the UK accompanying us.

People travel great distances at a huge expense to experience what we take for granted.

We’re all impressed by Freddie, our Ranger’s knowledge of the animals & plants & environment.

I’m impressed by his manner.

His understanding of people.

His communication skill.

I ask where he studied.

And so we meet another student who found a living through Umziwethu & the Wilderness Foundation.

We see Bufallo & Cheetah.

Rhino & Lion.

Kudu.

Rooi Hartebeest.

Swart Wildebeest.

Freddie explains the value of ‘spekboom’ a succulent plant which is loved by elephant.

Somewhere he serves coffee, along the way.

He talks of his wife.

The home they bought in Somerset East.

The dream they have of sharing life.

Raising children.

To be.

Become.

Finally we’re back at the Lodge.

A proper breakfast awaits.

Then we pack our stuff while the children from Oppi Koppi play a final game with the children from the United Kingdom.

We settle bills.

Say goodbye.

Then find our way in the comfort of the Chrysler Grand Voyager to Somerset East.

We choose the scenic R335 slowly stumbling between farmland towards Boschberg, after consulting about the condition of the road with a fellow traveler coming from that direction.

It is beautiful.

We rush too much.

We see two jackals playing.

A herd of sheep grazing.

Some laborers loading lucern bales waving friendly as we drive by.

A deserted homestead.

What looks like a building which could have been a Church or a School building a long time ago.

Its white walls stained by the passing of time & wind & rain.

It is late afternoon when we arrive in Somerset East.

Beautiful Boschberg still watching.

Maddi needs attention.

The kind you cannot give while driving.

We make our way to the Mountain View Inn to find a room & a bed.

We meet Dafre Troskie.

And Jerry van Wyk.

We drink coffee & talk.

Jerry is an exceptional musician.

He’s been on the scene for the best part of four decades.

If not longer.

Playing live.

All over the country.

But even musicians grow old.

And somewhere we all need to find some warmth.

Before supper Jerry takes out his guitar & harmonica.

He plays Niel Diamond.

Some popular cover stuff.

Then he sings one of his own songs.

About the light.

Trying to find us.

Blind us.

About a life.

Trying to be lived.

Slipping away.

Unawakened.

We’ve met through a mutual friend, in Nelson Mandela Bay.

It is a pleasant surprise to discover that Jerry is our host of sorts at the Mountain View Inn.

He makes the coffee.

Lights the fire.

Dafre embraces us.

We laugh about finally finding someone with more children than our Tribe.

She & Natie have six.

If we ever ‘have’ children.

Perhaps they’re merely entrusted to us.

To guide.

To share life with.

To become in relationship with, as we become alongside them.

We talk of the wonder of new life.

The devastation of loss.

We talk of making sense.

Of starting again.

Of resilience in the stead of giving up.

Dafre is a pharmacist.

Business woman.

Natie a farmer.

That is how they earn enough to care for their family.

What they do is much more.

They raise a family.

Love a people.

Find their way.

To themselves.

And each other.

Then Dafre is off to fetch ox-tail and her family.

Zuko & Maddi take a nap.

Theunsie & I play some pool.

The house erupts with children laughing, running up and down the wide hallways of this grand old house.

Mountain View Inn is more than a house.

There are apartments & a garden.

It is right at the heart of town.

You can feel Somerset East in this place.

We eat.

Laugh.

Tell of where we come from & what we hope & what we struggle with.

Talk of freedom.

Hope.

Dafre’s father is visiting from Mosselbay.

He talks of children faraway in the Americas.

Natie talks of their eldest’s growing up & going to University.

Zuko & I listen.

Discover.

Dafre shows us her book.

Jerry does a last song.

Then goodbyes are said.

Natie has to be on the farm in the morning.

Dafre has a pharmacy to open.

Her father leaving early to drive back home to Mosselbay.

We have a day exploring the Walter Battiss Art Musuem, the historic town & perhaps even birding.

I remain astounded.

At the beauty of people.

And our ability to rise again.

Once more.

And live.

As we see, beyond the obvious.

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Blue Crane Route, Chief’s Log, Day 6

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Visiting places that carry your name.

I’ve not done that before.

In fact, I don’t think there are many places out there that carry our names.

Theunis & Zuko.

Today we visited two places, each carrying one of our names.

‘Theuns se Winkel’ (Theuns’ Shop) was the first.

We’ve driven past it many times.

Most recently, in December, on our way to the farm in the mountains between Cradock & Tarkastad.

We saw it come to life, after many years of standing empty.

Our curiosity triggered, we decided to visit it on our way to Kuzuko Lodge.

Incidently it is where you turn off from the N10, to make your way to Kuzuko.

Celeste & Alonzo welcomed us.

She took custody of ‘Theuns se Winkel’ in November.

She is married to a local farmer.

Drought had forced her to seek new ways of creating income.

At first she went to work in Somerset East, but being away from the farm & her family was hard.

Friends came alongside her.

They helped her raise the capital.

And new life came to this little stop along the N10.

There is a shop selling local produce.

A restaurant serving breakfast & lunch & supper, if required.

The place speaks of Celeste’s creativity & eclectic soul.

Baroque, Rock-‘n-Roll, old & new, as well as a dash of India & Africa mixed into a rich new personality.

As we breakfast, Quintin comes in, seats himself at the counter & orders breakfast.

He works for a truck-towing company.

A truck carrying sheep has fallen over.

He came to scout & is waiting for the tow-truck to make its way from Nelson Mandela Bay.

He says the shop used to be a shearing shed, where farmers from all over brought their sheep.

Then it was a shop.

And a liquor store.

It stood empty many times.

But it has always been a landmark.

The food is amazing.

Stuff you’d expect at an expensive restaurant in a big city.

The decor is stunning.

Something you’d not have seen before.

Celeste speaks of new beginnings.

Of taking risks.

Of never being able to make it on your own.

Rain is pouring down outside.

A friend sends a picture of a pure white Johannesburg.

Snow covering large parts of the country.

We say our goodbyes.

Certain that we’ll stop at’ Theuns se Winkel’, whenever we travel in this direction.

Hopeful that others would do the same.

Then we make our way to Kuzuko Lodge.

Zuko wasn’t born with this name.

Are any of us born with our name?

Perhaps we are, and our destiny is to discover its fulness.

One morning, a short while after we promised each other to spend our lives together, I woke up with this name in my heart.

And I started calling her it.

There was no ceremony.

No big fanfare.

It suited her.

Often our names are filled with something.

I see God renaming Abram.

I see Daniel & his friends re-named to become Sadrach, Mesag & Abednecho.

I see Josef carrying a new name as he becomes the Pharaoh’s right hand man.

Zuko.

‘Glory’, Ningi explains to me.

‘In Xhosa it means glory.’

‘In Xhosa-tradition, when a man marries a woman, he endows her with a new name.’

‘A name talking of what she has done for him.’

‘What she will be for him.’

‘What she has unlocked in him.’

‘She must be your glory’, Ningi says.

And she is.

For without her I was empty.

I did not know my being.

I was half.

Afraid to explore the deepest crevasses of my being.

My Zuko, my glory.

If I was to be grammatically correct, in Xhosa, I should’ve called her noZuko.  The feminine in Xhosa always takes ‘no’, but even Xhosa people seem to forgive me & understand that who she is & what the name describes is more important that grammar.

Kuzuko Lodge is ‘the place of glory’.

We arrive at reception after quite a drive.

The Chrysler Grand Voyager really impressing us with its ability to make its way across unfamiliar ground.

We’re welcomed in 5-star style.

Little warm napkins after the journey.

Our luggage taken to our rooms.

Our rooms fitted with every conceivable comfort & luxury.

We do high tea.

And when we return to our room, it is turned down for the evening.

Zuko enjoys a full body back massage & manicure.

I spend time with Maddi.

Precious time.

Theunsie, Wilhelmina & Sophia play Wii with two new friends who traveled thousands of miles from the UK to come to Kuzuko to make new friends.

Supper is a grand affair.

The duty manager caters for Zuko’s vegetarian needs.

African music fills the cold evening atmosphere.

Conversation is easy from the entrée to the desert.

Rain still pouring down we find our beds.

We talk late into the night.

About places that carry our names.

‘Theuns se Winkel’ is eclectic.

It is a mix of influences.

Free.

Still blooming into a flower.

Possibly a beautiful flower.

Only time will tell.

Kuzuko Lodge is well established.

An oppulent place of rest & nature & comfort.

My Zuko is all of that.

To me.

To everyone she meets.

And more.

Rich.

Surprising.

Magnificent.

Glory.

Always lifting others high.

Always adoring the wonder of being.

Always radiant & resplendent as she sees the beauty in those fortunate enough to share life with her.

Expectant of what we’ll discover at Kuzuko the following day.

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Blue Crane Route: Chief’s Log, Day 5

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Today we took the time to meet Esther & Liza.

Esther is an entrepreneur who created a nursery, tea garden & guesthouse.

She came to Somerset East to work as a nurse at the local Andries Vosloo Hospital.

Her parents had recently located to this beautiful area, from Queenstown.

She was young and full of optimism.

She fell in love.

Raised a family.

Witnessed them growing up into adults.

Following their own optimism into the world.

Esther’s nursery is a wonderful surprise.

Lots of indigenous plants.

The hope of life which might grow & bear fruit, alive in everything.

Typically, in the world we inhabit, a tree does not enjoy its own fruit.

It is reaped.

To be enjoyed somewhere else.

By someone else.

It is the sadness we encounter in so many places as we explore the Blue Crane Route.

Children who grew up with Boschberg always watching.

Children becoming adults.

Venturing far away to exotic destinations.

Seeking opportunity.

Trying to make it.

In their own way.

In the world.

Liza’s children are teenagers.

They’re studying at Gill-College.

Gill is the heartbeat of Somerset East.

An exceptional school, built over decades, by dedicated teachers & principals.

Tradition.

Futures nurtured.

Esther’s children learnt there as well.

Liza’s husband contributes to the filling of our countries food-basket.

And on every farm there are labourers.

Who have wives & children too.

And the children go to school.

And the husbands off to work.

And the mothers are at home.

Empty homes.

With no opportunity.

And Liza created Kokskraal Crafts.

To create employment for these women.

On their farm.

They created designs for pens & serviette holders & spoons & candles.

She attended trade shows.

And the orders started coming in.

From all over the world.

We enjoyed breakfast at Esther’s Tea Garden: the Blue Lizzard.

She told us of her plans for growing it.

Of her guesthouse, next door.

Of her children far away.

Of her brother whose son died at nineteen.

Of a loss & sadness never easing.

Liza serves lunch.

Her husband talks of the farm.

Of their Church in Somerset East.

Of the world becoming a country.

Of drought & hope.

Of generations working the same land, filling a growing need in a hungry world.

As we drive home, I think of opportunities created.

I think of the Richard Bransons of this world, who made it big & gave Liza an opportunity, recognizing her effort to create employment.

I wonder if employment is the solution.

I wonder if employment should not grow into ownership.

Or if some are destined to be employees & others to be employers.

Salary & bills the new owner.

Most of us still slaves.

Glen Avon rids me of my morbid thoughts.

Allison is there to greet us.

Our cottage is beautifully tidied.  The beds made.  The dishes done.  Even our laundry taken care of.

She comes to talk about dinner.

And about life.

One of her grandchildren playing with Sophia & Wilhelmina.

Theunsie playing with Rusty, the young sheepdog.

We light a fire.

Inside, to warm our cottage.

Outside, to cook our supper.

We talk of creativity.

Zuko & I.

Of everyone doing their best with what they are given.

Early this morning, before we made our way to tea gardens & art projects, I walked with my eldest three to share in the milking of the cows.

They each milked a cow.

We spoke to the men who work this land alongside Allison’s family.

‘I was born here’, says the one.

‘This is my world’.

‘I want to be nowhere else.’

Generations.

In one place.

Continuity.

Lost.

In my world.

Where parents save for retirement.

And children are left to fend for themselves.

Perhaps, if they’re fortunate, with an education in hand.

Maybe we are the architects of our world.

Hunger, for more, for security our slave driver.

Supper is had at the beautiful old dining room table in our cottage.

Our family talking & laughing, enjoying this very moment.

This moment.

It is what we have.

From this moment may we live.

To new moments.

Perhaps our children will be trees.

Planted in the same orchard.

Bearing fruit alongside us.

I hope.

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Blue Crane Route: Chief’s Log, Day 4

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Pioneers.

I don’t think Robert Hart had 2012 in mind when he made his way from Scotland to unknown Africa as an eighteen  year old soldier, in 1795.

Perhaps he dreamt of children and grandchildren when he settled on Glen Avon in 1825, but prior to that what he did was fight the Queen’s war by, amongst other things, welcoming Settlers in Grahamstown and growing vegetables to supply wheat & fodder to the Military in the Eastern Cape Frontier.

We forget how recent the history of  colonial occupation of Africa is.

Still, where do you encounter eight generations who lived & worked and played on the same land for almost two hundred years.

My Zuko grew up in Walmer, Port Elizabeth.

It is something wonderful to think our children are swimming in the same pool she swam in when she was their age.

The third generation.

Only the second to experience it as children.

I grew up in Oudtshoorn.

Then in Salvia Crescent in Westering.

Then in Kyle Road in Framesby North.

Then in Violet Avenue in Sunridge Park.

Then in Christiaan Street in Rowallan Park,

Then in Ascot Road, Greenacres.

Those homes only photographs in albums.

As we make our way up the mountain to Avon Heights, to meet Reg & Vivian, to go and see the Glen Avon Falls which drop 80 meters from mountains up high to valleys below, I think of ‘continuity’ and wonder if we’ve lost it along the way.

Reg & Vivian have been living high up in the mountains for more than five decades.

Reg’s aunt left the land to him when he was only 29.

He settled there & was soon joined by Vivian.

And their three children.

Whom they raised without electricity or internet or mobile phone reception.

Today Reg is 74.

Tougher than I am.

Working the land in extreme heat & extreme cold, through drought & snow.

It is a cold day.
We get on the back of the bakkie.  Zuko & Maddi get an honorary seat inside the vehicle.

Had the weather been better, we would’ve walked the distance to the falls.

The drive is beautiful.

We see mountain reed buck.

An eagle flying high above.

We hear the baboons fighting even higher than we are.

Reg finds a tree to park.

Then we walk.

He knows this land.

He speaks lovingly of each tree & plant and animal we encounter.

It is evident that he spent a life-time here.

Vivian explains that when they get older, they would probably have to consider moving to town.

I think it is here wishful talk, rather than Reg’s intention.

The falls is beautiful.

Magnificent even.

At the heartbeat of Glen Avon.

‘Avon’ is a Scottish word.

It describes a valley meandering high into the mountains.

Perhaps it describes a life meandering through centuries.

Reg’s Aunt was married to a descendant of Robert Hart.

He also went to war.

In Europe.

For the Queen.

During which he was ‘gassed’, I’m told and was told that he would not live long.

So he went on a world tour.

Eventually brought back Pecan-seed, which are now the old trees standing in front of our cottages.

And married.

But never had children.

So he died.

And his wife’s nephew inherited the privilege to raise his family in this world.
And share it, with visitors, through their  mountain cabin.

A moment to experience.

To walk to the falls.

To hear the wind.

To listen for baboons.

As we drive back from the waterfall it starts to snow, white flakes swirling in the wind.

We find Reg & Bev’s own mountain home.

Warm tea.

Lunch of homemade sausage & bread & Quiche.

Coffee & Boston Bread for desert.

They show us pictures of their children who live in exotic distant places.

By the time we get home we’re still soaked.

We light the fire in our comfortable Glen Avon Cottage.

Take a warm shower.

Hang our clothes to dry by the heat of orange flames.

Then Greg Brown comes to greet.

He is the seventh generation on Glen Avon.

His children the eighth.

We see him work the Angora Goats.  Carefully registering every new kid.  Tagging it.  Putting away the ewes with kids in sheds, anticipating a cold night.

Along the way he shows us the old mill, built in 1823 by Robert Hart.

Upgraded in 1861.

Repaired in 1984.

He shows us their shearing shed as well.

Brought to Glen Avon by Robert Hart’s great-grandson in 1906.

Bought in the north, where it was a mess-hall for British Officers fighting the 1899-English war.

Dismantled.

Re-assembled.

Maintained & utilized for more than a hundred years.

How do we make sense of history?

Unless we find some sense in families living from generation to generation.

Perhaps if we all had the luxury of continuity, our world would be a little more peaceful?

But that is not what I think of as I sip my last bit of tea before drifting off to sleep.

I think of resilient men.

And women.

Who settled in untamed lands.

Who shipped mills, piece-by-piece from England, to trek with them over Zuurberg-Mountains, to assemble them on remote land.

I think of men and women who lived without.

To live with.

Without electricity or convenience.

Without nearby doctors & schools.

To live with nature.

Raising food.

Cattle.

Sheep.

Goats.

Vegetables, wheat, apples & nuts.

How desperate we need a new generation of pioneers.

Who will boldly move into the future.

Building our country, now owned by many as shared inheritance.

Pioneers who will think of tomorrow & spare no effort to build something which will stand for centuries to benefit generations.

Greg lives in the house his grandfather grew up in.

His father lives in the house his grandfather grew up in.

I have no idea if the little one-roomed house I see on pictures still exist on a Oudtshoorn farm.

I do hope my children will be brave enough to be bold enough to take on this life and create something.

Meaningful.

For generations to come.

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Blue Crane Route: Chief’s Log, Day 3

Congratulations to Mike Hanley who won a  Karoo Wild Fly Fishing experience with Alan Hobson & The Angler & Antelope valued at more than R5500. (30/08/2012)

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Today we did not stumble onto another super chef or another manufacturer, hidden away in this amazing world, creating & exporting components across the globe.

Day one & two showed us that.

We were however reminded of two important things.

Inadvertently.

Alan Hobson of the Angler & Antelope took us fly fishing.

He & his wife Annabelle relocated to Somerset East around 2004.

They bought an old, dilapidated Roman Catholic Church & Manse.

Restored it.

And created Hobson’s Choice Deli.

The Angler & Antelope 4-star guesthouse, as well as Nigel’s – a whiskey bar & conferencing centre inside the old Church building.

Nigel’s sport fifty varieties of malt whiskey, sourced from everywhere in the world where quality whiskey is distilled.

At Hobson’s Choice Annabelle created freshly baked bread, wonderful salami, venison & meals.

All organic & fresh & locally sourced.

The Angler & Antelope provides extremely comfortable accommodation for travellers, visitors & fly fishermen.

That is Alan’s love.

He started fly fishing as a boy at boarding school.

Its been his haven & now he is sharing it with people from all over the world & the continent.

Next week a group of ardent fly fishermen will arrive by train in search of a ninety pounder.

After breakfast at Hobson’s Choice Deli, Alan takes us to Nigel’s, next door, where he also has a fly fishing shop.

He starts explaining to us that there are easier ways of catching fish.

If that’s what you want to do.

Fly fishing is about the sport.

The experience.

It is about making it as difficult & competitive as possible.

It is about immersing yourself in nature.

I realize, if you’re a fly fisherman, a real one, then you become an expert at water life.

Insects.

Nature.

You study your prey.

Learn whatever you can about fish.

About their behaviour.

Their senses.

Alan explains their ability to see.

And feel.

And hear.

A new respect comes alive in us for this creature, so often not understood.  Or not even noticed.

A fish is a fish is a fish dissipates as Alan shares his knowledge & interest & love.

It is about ‘being’ out in nature.

It is about watching.

Listening.

Seeing beyond the obvious.

Outside we learn to cast.

The long elegant strokes we’ve often seen in films or on TV as Danny Crane & Alan Shore take a moment out from Boston’s Legal world.

We don’t quite master it.

This is not something to be mastered in a moment.

We do however learn the technique, grateful for Alan’s patience & decades of experience.

Slowly he teaches each one of us what to do.

Even handling the rod, in fly fishing, is about getting in tune with yourself.

About feeling it.

The rhythm.

The flow & energy of the line.

Then we head to the pools.

The scenery as we drive is overwhelming.

Amazing mountains.

Antelope, birds, a troop of Baboons.

At the pool we set up ‘camp’.

Some comfortable chairs for Zuko & Maddi & anyone not at the water.

Patiently Alan takes us to the pools, two by two.

We’re encouraged to be quiet.

For fish are aware.

Of their surroundings.

They notice.

Perhaps that is something else I’m reminded of today.

To be even more aware.

To notice.

Movement.

Change.

To respond.

On instinct.

On his third cast, Theunsie brings a fish to shore.

Alan by his side,

The girls try.

Then me & Zuko.

Alan shows us the little mayfly drifting on the surface.

We change flies.

They must be spawning right now.

The fish would be hunting them.

Let’s be cunning.

Let’s use our own mayfly.

To share what you love, is the most amazing of experiences.

If you can spend your days doing that, you will be happy.

That is the first I’m reminded of on this 3rd day of our 10-day explore of the Blue Crane Route.

And as I punch & cast & slowly bring in the line, I think of our life & how we so often aim, driven by fear of the future, to ‘get’ or ‘accumulate’, instead of aiming at doing what we love & sharing it with others.

A lunch is prepared.

Right there.
Then Alan take me & Theunsie to a pool somewhat higher up.

We stalk the fish.

We walk in silence.

Softly treading so that they would not hear us approaching water’s edge.

We hunker down, so that they would not see us.

We cast.

We cast again.

And the we strike.

The exhilaration is intoxicating.

I lose her.

Alan is encouraging.

He explains that I should be constantly aware of the indicator.

A little piece of colored wool between the ‘leader’ & the line.

To understand, you’ll have to come & spend time with Alan.

I’m too much of a novice to really explain.

We cast again.

I strike & strike with success.

I bring her to share.

Guide her into the net.

A photograph must be taken, for this is about conserving.

We catch & release.

It is not about reaping.

It is about experience.

I smile broadly.

I bring two fish to shore on my first day fly fishing,.

Alan & I both deny that without him, by my side I would probably not have tasted this excitement.

He gives me the illusion as a gift of the day.

It’s not about the credit.

Who takes it.

Who boasts with it.

It is about the sharing.

Of a love.

An experience.

Another reminder, so often forgotten in an overly hostile & competitive world.

Late afternoon we pack up camp.

Load everything in the Angler & Antelope Bakkie & head home.

As we drive in the comfort of the Chrysler Grand Voyager we’re surprised at how tired we are after a day at the water.

And we talk of the bravery to make a new beginning.

Alan & Annabelle’s.

And we say to each other, my Zuko & I, that it should never be too late to begin again with what you love.

And we say to each other, that we should really be more serious about pursuing only what we love.

And be serious about sharing it.

And so we get to Glen Avon.

Our resting place for the evening.

First settled in the early 1800’s by a Hart who knew about growing things.

But that is tomorrow’s story.

For now, as we settle our tired bodies in warm comfortable beds we chew on the things we were reminded of.

To be aware.

To share what we love.

To pursue what we love.

To do it sooner, rather than later.

And maybe to forget about all the fears of tomorrow.

For if we’re captured by them, tomorrow will come with even more fear & yesterday would never have been lived.

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Blue Crane Route: Chief’s Log, Day 2

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Somerset East is as diverse as you could possibly imagine.

Our second day exploring the Blue Crane Route was filled with people from different worlds, who share a world & build it for different reasons.

Breakfast was had at Hobson’s Choice Deli.

Alan & Anabele Hobson has created a wonderful meeting place filled with exceptional coffee, which would make the most capable Barista blush, organic produce & home-made foods.

The owners of Avon Heights were there too.

Anticipating our visit a little later in the week & as breakfast unfolded we spoke across tables about the beauty of the region & its history.

They speak fondly of this place.

Of its history as well.

Everyone we meet.

Even Lincoln.

He grew up in Pearston, the little town on the other side of Bruinjies Heights which was named after the Scottish Preacher, Reverend Pearce, first known as Pearce Town, but soon reduced to the much more comfortable Pearston.

He speaks of growing up without a father.

Without much prosperity.

Not with anger or disappointment.

With honesty.

He is taking us into Boschberg, the magnificent mountain at the foot of which Somerset East is nestled.

After breakfast we were met by Chris Wilken.  He is part of the Blue Crane Development Agency.

Chris tells us of the immense work being done to bring development to Somerset East & surrounding areas.

A tourism hub with Golf Course & the longest Mountain Bike Trail in the area.

Also the first Club House specifically for mountain bikers.

He shows us the workshops where artists create up-cycled lampshades & tiles & ceramic art.

The restaurant & where the lake will be.

Lincoln talks of Queen Njoli.

The Xhosa ruler who lived in the mountain.

The rocks placed in a big pile.

One by one as men and women seek permission to enter the valleys & forest now known as Boschberg.

You had to bring a rock, legend goes.  Then spit on it & place it on the pile of rocks.  If it remained on the pile, you could enter the mountain.  If your rock stumbled down the side of the pile, you should rather not go up the mountain.

And some did.

And they did not return.

Even recently a young student did.

And was lost.

Modern technology & serious rescue efforts his only defence against the continued rule of Queen Njoli.

Lincoln talks of the lightning tree.

Important to Xhosa & Afrikaner alike.

He explains the thorn tree’s way of communicating with other trees.

He talks of the training he received & now gives with Umziwethu, the Wilderness Foundation’s dynamic intervention programme for vulnerable youth.

I am impressed by him.

His knowledge.

His character.

His willingness & intention to build & give back & create.

We lunch together at Somerset on Main.

Then we drive into the mountains.

Enjoy the scenery.

Relax a bit.

Before meeting Stephen & Vega van Niekerk.

And Janet.

Beautiful Janet.

Stephan & Vega own Somerset House, a 4-star establishment offering stylish opulence & 5-star cuisine.

Vega’s father was a medical doctor settling in Somerset East.

She grew up here.

She is growing old in this world.

It is that good.

Lincoln also grew up here.

He had the opportunity to leave.

He decided to return.

To bring to children like himself the opportunity which was given to him.

He trains field guides.

And runs the Boschberg Pride Program, bringing school children into the mountain reserve.

Teaching them conservation.

The passion which nestled in his being, is undeniable.  A lively passion for our world’s richness, its history, beauty & diversity.

The lounge has a warm fire.

Janet joins us.

She is a renowned chef.

She created ‘The Savoy Cabbage‘ in Cape Town & later published a recipe book by the same name.

The food she serves is filled with traces of her American Armenian heritage.

She came to South Africa when she was fifteen.

Her father an engineer.

They later left the continent.

She remained.

Came to Somerset East after the success of restaurants & recipe books, searching meaning, hope & healing.

As we say goodnight, she says it was a pleasure to serve us.

The lounge & dining room used to be the school hall of a school created by Reverend Hofmeyer for a group of children from an orphanage.

Later the building was a workshop.

Later even still it was a Church.

Then run-down.

Now lovingly restored, its character & charm retained.

Reminiscent of a wealth and opulence known by the renowned who frequently traveled abroad in the seventies & eighties of the previous century.

As Janet serves supper under high ceilings the contrast of the worlds we live in is painful.

A stunning vegetable sweet corn soup with freshly baked rolls.

Hand reared chicken on a bed of chick-peas & peas with grilled butternut & lemon.

Rich brown pudding with nut shavings & cream & custard.

We enjoy coffee & mints in front of the fire.

Stephen talks of the plastic moulding company he now runs.

Manufacturing components for alarm-systems.

Two days.

Two recipe books.

Two brilliant internationally acclaimed chefs.

Two manufacturers, manufacturing components exported to the world.

Two worlds.

Slowly merging, but forever kept apart by accumulated wealth & tradition.

Vega completed school at The Belview Girls School.

Stephen at Kingswood College in Grahamstown.

Lincoln at the nameless high school in Pearston.

In a sense, all of them grew up without fathers.

As I did.

And many others do.

Lincoln just never knew who his father was.

Stephen was at boarding school from the age of 7 or 8.

Vega’s father was around.  As much as a medical general practitioner who establishes a brand new hospital can be around.

And I wonder about family.

And relationship.

And wealth.

And poverty.

My Sophia is sleeping on my lap.

The warmth of her body comforting.

Theunsie & Wilhelmina silently engrossed in our conversation.

Zuko with Maddi on her lap.

This is not just another evening.

This morning Alan, at Hobson’s Choice Deli, spoke of not falling into the trap of underestimating the people of the Blue Crane.

This evening I consider what underestimation would be.

And I ask myself for what purpose it would be meaningful to live?

And if our estimation and our meaning should correlate?

From a neighbour’s house the scratchy sounds of a 1960’s record filter through the Hockley Cottage window.

I think of my great-grandfather.

A farm laborer who was there.

For his son.

Who had the opportunity to do an apprenticeship at Murray & Roberts.

Who sent his own sons to University.

To become Psychologists & right Reverends.

Who wasn’t there.

For theirs.

Consumed by a desire to progress.

And accumulate.

And it is with ambivalence that I drift off to sleep.

How should we then live?

Can we really choose?

Or do we merely accept with resignation or gratitude was has been measured?

Categories: Blue Crane Tourism, Weekend Destinations | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Blue Crane Route: Chief’s Log, Day 1

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The day you depart is often a funny day.

Especially if you’re going to be away from home for more than a weekend.

The Tribe had been looking forward to our journey to explore the Blue Crane Tourism Route.

By Thursday evening everyone’s bags were packed, feed was stashed for all the animals who would remain home. A kind house-sitter had been briefed on every little quirk of the little wooden house on the not so little hill. Neighbours had been asked to be kind and helpful. Appointments were cancelled. Last minute e-mails sent.

Yet, Friday morning still had too few hours.

Too few to allow us to get out of Nelson Mandela Bay before lunch.

There was a Reach for a Dream radio drive to be done.

Two urgent meetings.

A payment or three to make.

It was already twelve o’clock when we collected the Chrysler Grand Voyager from Maritime Motors.

This time we’re trying the new diesel version.

Powerful.

Much more fuel efficient.

And the DVD-screens made the kids day.

Zuko & I thought back to days when you drove to a big parking lot, wound down your window to attach a crackling speaker to the side of your car & watched a movie through a fogged up windscreen.

It was a movie.

In a car.

The sound was exceptional though.

The image clarity amazing.

The drive to Somerset East gave Zuko & I an opportunity to catch up on the weeks past.

It’s a year since we found out she was pregnant with our Maddi.

It’s a year since we stood at the grave of our dear friend Sarel, shielded from the harsh Kalahari sun by the dark green leaves of an ancient Motoppi-tree.

We spoke about Beate leaving for the US to finish her studies at Yale.

About Robyn.

Her loss.

Her kindness.

Then we checked in at Somerset East.

Usually, on first days of trips, we just drive to our destination, get a bed & sleep.

Today we wanted to get to Cranemere before coffee time.

Cranemere is on the other side of Somerset East.

Past Pearston.

A humble name on the side of the road.

Gold on brown.

We meet Alex & Mariane Palmer.

They’d been on Cranemere for generations.

Alex’s great-grandfather settling there in 1880.

Marriane was ‘imported’ from the Freestate.

They met in Stellenbosch.

Children were born.

Sheep & goats raised.

Hope.

That perhaps Elizabeth will return.

Marianne & Bernadette published a recipe book.

It was internationally recognised.

Dream.

Of people coming to stay at Cranemere.

Cooking together.

Tasting.

Everything shared in the beautiful recipe book.

We walk along the edge of Cranemere’s lake.

To the house built in 1940 for Alex’s parents, when they began a new life.

To be interrupted by war.

Alex remembers the stories his father told of prisoner camps, indescribable hunger & longing.

To a maiden just married.

To a Camdeboo plain deeply ingrained on his being.

It is here that Eve Palmer cried her first tear & laughed her deepest joy.

It is this she describes with reminiscence.

We drink coffee.

We savour dark rich chocolate cake with deep red berries.

They talk of children.

Of guest rooms & guests.

The sun sets.

We find our way to Somerset East.

In Pearston we stop at the home of Frans Burger.

With some chocolate cake & marmalade.

The kitchen at Cranemere never quiet.

He is from the Boland.

He’s come to guide & be guided.

Friendly.

To restore & be restored.

We do not linger, the sun long gone, a bed to be found & supper, our Maddi tired after the day’s journey.

The drive from Pearston via Bruinjies Hoogte to Somerset East is easy.

Comfortable.

‘This way I could travel all day long’, Zuko comments on the space & comfort of the Voyager afforded us.

We find Hockley Cottages.

A warm welcome.

A fire.

PJ & Lynette hungry for conversation.

Kind.

Not hoteliers.

People.

With heart.

Lynette was born here.

She knows the streets.

She’s seen them blossom.

And dry out.

And become again.

The seasons always coming and going.

We eat.

We laugh.

We discover a man who engineers tools for far off factories.

A woman who knows the joy of welcoming new life.

We see faith.

Hope often answered.

Humility.

Gratitude.

And then we find our way to the comfort of our Hockley Cottage.

One of three, originally built by a sister & two brothers.

Beautifully restored.

New old.

And we rest.

And we know the beauty of the mountain of this town will fade in the face of the beauty of the people who have chosen to make this home.

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Koffylaagte Game Lodge

WIN! Congratulations to Melissa Quanson on winning the weekend at Koffylaagte 4-star Game Lodge.  She and her family will enjoy becoming part of this story. 😀
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Location:  130 kilometers from Port Elizabeth, Nelson Mandela Bay on the R75 towards Graaff Reinett, in the Eastern Cape, South Africa.

Date Visited: 27 -29 July 2012 (Winter)

Where we Stayed: The Bush Cabin, set somewhat aside from the main lodge area.  Koffylaagte offers a diverse range of accommodation, including 4-star luxury safari tents & 3-star self-catering units in the old farmhouse.

What we Drove: The Dodge Journey, complements of Maritime Motors .

What we did: We spent time enjoying beautiful sunsets.  We had a great bush-walk, a game drive, went horse-riding & met amazingly interesting people who filled the hours with interesting conversation.  We also took a drive to Darlington Lake Dam & had lunch in nearby Jansenville.  Koffylaagte offers a wide range of activities, including quad-biking & archery, a steam-room, pool-table, swimming pool & birding.

Recommendation: Koffylaagte is perfectly situated between Nelson Mandela Bay & Graaff Reinett.  It is ideal as a weekend destination or as a resting place on your way to discovering other places like Graaff Reinett, Nieu Bethesda or Baviaanskloof.  It is very family friendly.  I wouldn’t stay for less than two days, but could imagine that you could even stay a week at Koffylaagte, becoming part of this story.

Website: Koffylaagte Game Lodge

Koffylaagte is not a place.

Its location can be marked on a map.

Its environment could be described in all the words so many places are so often described.

Its accommodation could be rated.

Activities listed.

Game numbered.

That would still, however, not put into words what is already evident just from the name Koffylaagte carries.

‘Koffylaagte’ – Coffee Hollow, some would translate.  Or coffee lowlands, others would say.

In Dutch it should be ‘Koffie’.

But its not.

Its ‘Koffy’.

The story goes, a long time ago, travelers stopped here to rest.  Brew some coffee.  Perhaps gather wood, feed horses & cattle, precisely halfway between Graaff Reinett & Port Elizabeth.

The landscape scattered with ‘Perboon’ Trees of which the seeds might have been used as a coffee substitute in times of lack.

On the walls of the old, beautifully restored farmhouse, pictures of the Hurter family, who lived here in the early 1900’s bear witness to new generations resting in bedrooms.

Perhaps Koffylaagte is a story.

Of that resting place for travelers & merchants & ‘karweiers’.

Of a pantry for others, long before the ships dropped anchor at new harbors to carry away an unknown bounty.

A story of a tollgate erected by English, who wanted to show rebellious Dutch the consequence of their Protestantism.

Of soldiers shoeing horses & new farmers claiming land & goats being shaved & little Dorothea dying of a unkown illness at the age of two.

A story of parents standing at a grave.

Of land abandoned in drought, as traveler-farmers find their way to cities & new generations put their hope in industrialization.

A story which began centuries ago in Africa.

A story which began in Turkey in the 1950’s and in England a little while later.

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They met in York.

They lived in England & Turkey.

In East Africa & West Africa.

In Russia & Nigeria.

When the time came to turn a page in their own story, the new chapter opened onto Koffylaagte.

A place where they could sink the roots of their souls deep into Karoo soil.

And as they settled, they were drawn into the Koffylaagte story.

First the old Farmhouse was restored.

Right down to the original iron-gate keeping animals off the ‘stoep’.

Then the hunter’s lodge evolved into a dining room to become a restaurant.

A lounge and swimming pool appeared.

Luxury safari tents.

Giraffe.

Buffalo & wildebeest.

All the time more travelers drawn into a story written with the ink of time on the pages of hope.

To belong.

To experience.

To become.

And so we are drawn near as well.

We travel past little invitations posted along the R75 as we make our way to Graaff Reinett & Nieu Bethesda & Bloemfontein.

Curiosity whispering.

As if carried on the wind, a silent desire infesting our wanderlust.

Eventually finding our way to Cem & Jane and little Lilly.

Rebecca & Alistair.

To a little bush cottage with a massive rock fire-place overwhelming its kitchen.

To meals created from organic venison & vegetables, bread slowly kneaded & covered in honey harvested from wild mountain hives.

To people who’ve been drawn into the Koffylaagte story.

One by one.

Each a word.

A paragraph.

A chapter.

Rebecca was a brand manager in England.

Disillusioned with sails filled with uncapturable wind she is drawn to the Kalahari.

A little closer.

She falls in love with a boy from Upington.

They come to visit friends at Koffylaagte.

Drawn closer.

Even.

Now.

Living here.

Dreaming of a place of wellness.

Where city-dwellers could come to experience more than game.

To re-discover beauty.

Peace.

Themselves.

To re-connect.

In ways never before imagined.

We ride on horses right up to a family of Giraffe.

We walk in Karoo veldt.

The smell of soil fresh from rain.

We talk to travelers from as far as Switzerland & as close as Nelson Mandela Bay.

We touch our own dreams.

Painting them.

Folding them.

Shaping.

Fashioning.

We eat.

Scrumptious Food.

Warm friendship.

New friendship.

As Friday flows into Sunday Koffylaagte does what she seemed to have always done.

Kneading.

Perhaps answering her own need.

To weave.

Together.

Lives.

For a moment.

Into a lifetime.

Eternity.

We say reluctant goodbyes.

The Dodge Journey finds its own way to nearby Darlington Lake.

To Jansenville for lunch.

The pull of Koffylaagte not wanting to let go.

A story.

Told.

Waiting.

For you.

To become a part of her.

Woven.

Into the rich texture which is Koffylaagte.

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Somerset East – Biltong Festival

Location: 181 kilometers from Nelson Mandela Bay, on the N10 towards Cradock, in the Eastern Cape you’ll find Somerset East.

Date Visited: 13 – 15 July 2012 (winter)

Where we Stayed: On this trip we stayed in a beautifully renovated cottage in Paulet Street in the old part of the town.  It featured everything we needed, three bedrooms, kitchen, lounge, dining room, bathroom & fire-place.

What we did: The Biltong Festival is an annual winter festival.  We browsed the creative food & craft stalls, enjoyed great music by South African Artists, spent time talking & laughing in front of the fire-place & went snow hunting.

What we Drove: The Dodge Journey, complements of Maritime Motors

Recommendation: Somerset East is a beautiful little town with amazing architecture, nature, activities & people, often missed on the tourist-itinerary.  It is the heart of what is known as the Blue Crane Route.  On our weekend we spent time on very seasonal activities, but left with the resolve & conviction that this is a part of the Eastern Cape that we would love to explore.

Winter is biltong time in South Africa.

If you don’t know what ‘Biltong‘ is, it is a South African delicacy.  You could describe it as narrow strips of dried meat, but that wouldn’t do it justice.

It is part of our culture.

It is a rich experience.

So when we heard the ‘Biltong Festival’ was coming up, we made plans to spend time with friends celebrating it.

The weather forecast wasn’t very favorable.

The worst winter rains of the season was expected.

Floods reminiscent of those experienced in 1968.

But we are the Traveling Tribe & if we had to cancel or postpone our plans every time the weather did not play along, we would never do any traveling.

Waiting for perfect weather is like waiting to save enough money so you can get married, or have children.  One of those things people often do, which I could never understand.

How can you save enough money to get married?

Or have children?

As if it is something to be purchased?

On Friday we collected the perfect vehicle for this trip from Vaughan Robertson at Maritime Motors.

The Dodge Journey with its powerful 3.6 litre engine & luxurious interior.

Seven seats (heated for driver & front passenger).

Climate control.

Power steering.

Cruise control.

Automatic gearbox.

Precisely what we needed to make this journey.

It was raining hard and on this Friday I was stuck with meetings & work which kept me busy till late afternoon.

Rather than braving the storms & floods as darkness fell, we decided to wait till early Saturday morning, then make the easy two-hour drive on well maintained black top.

It was still breakfast time when we arrived at Somerset East.

We booked in at our accommodation.  Had a quick cup of coffee.  Stretched our legs & then made our way to the festival.

The sounds of music beckoned us as we parked.

And the smell of roasting lamb.

We were hungry from the journey & found a spot to sit & eat & talk.

We devoured roosterkoek with jam & succulent lamb.

Alan, who joined us with his family, went biltong hunting & came back with sliced biltong & an arm full of coffee.

We pecked at the biltong while listening to the music & taking in the crowds.

A photographer came past, asking me who the people are I’m sharing a table with?

I make up a story of Alan being a celebrity psychologist & Tania a well-known designer.

It’s not too much of a story.

Tania’s designs have been featured in many design magazine’s & the design company she & her partner run do set the tone for innovation in creativity.

And Alan does have a daily radio show, has been on 702 & has some celebrities as coaching clients.

The photographer profusely takes pictures of our friends, greeting, talking & doing everything except ask for signatures.

Maddi & I watch from a safe distance.

Maddi, our 3-month old, youngest member of the Tribe, is a real people magnet.

Teenage girls come to greet her.

Hardened farmers & more refined business-men types all walk past, just a bit closer.  So they can share a smile with her or touch a hand.

Amazing how babies attract people.

Probably not everyone.

I’m sure there is the grumpier of our kind who do not like babies, or children or ice-cream with chocolate sauce.

Magriet with beautiful big hair & a vivacious loud voice hugs me & Maddi all at the same time with a warm heart & big personality.  Her bright red lips droop with wildly loving words.  She stands close to me & Maddi.  Right up against us, actually.  Touching me & Maddi, both, with equal earnestness while telling us how she came to live in this little bit of world.  How she goes to the ‘old people’ to do their hair & just loves children.  Her warmth, her voracity for life is contagious.

We start browsing the stalls.

Tania with her keen eye for design discover three young ladies who create exquisite work from magazine pages & recycled plastic bottles & clay.

We resolve to see if we can’t help them bring their creations to Nelson Mandela Bay for the Homemaker’s Expo at the end of the month.

At Guru Girl‘s stall we each buy a happy hat.

She explains that it is a bit ridiculous & just wearing something like it lifts your spirits.

I feel it as I slip it on, the copper bell jingling on my shoulder.

The the kids want to do some exciting rides.

And we oblige.

And before we know the morning has dwindled into afternoon with early evening looming.

As well as a bit of drizzle.

We decide to head back to our cottage.

Do some supper, then come back to the festival for the headline show.

Zahara would be performing & we’ve not seen her live.

Alan gets the fire going.

I pour some wine.

Zuko & Tania adore the furniture & garden.

We play backgammon.

The kids play hide-and-seek.

And checkers & dominoes.

Then they go drawing on the road outside with colored chalk they found in a cupboard.

Zuko reads.

Alan & I page the newspaper.

The drizzle transition into rain, into thunderstorm.

We put more wood on the fire.

Transition from the lounge to the kitchen.

Alan fries the perfect steak.

Zuko & Tania do vegetables to match.

We eat.

Talk.

Share our dreams.

A bit of our disappointment.

A lot of our hope.

For ourselves.

And for each other.

It is precious to have friends who dream great dreams on your behalf.

Expressing their desire for you to prosper in stories of a beautiful future.

It is precious when laughter shuns the loss of unmet expectations & a life consumed by unrealistic demands.

When burdens are shared.

Not through plaintive words, but rather through companionship.

The savouring of food.

The sharing of a fire’s warmth.

It is essential.

Without it life would be unbearable.

As we finish supper and seek out the fire & coffee, the children find their way to a game filled with exuberant laughter in one of the bedrooms.

Our phones buzz with reports from home about persistent rain, flooded roads & displaced people.

The rain did not give-up in Somerset East either.

Zahara had to do without us.

On facebook we see pictures of snow in Nieu Bethesda.

Our world is gripped by exquisite winter.  Opportunity calls.

‘Let’s go snow hunting’, Tania suggests and we all agree without hesitation.

A new adventure suddenly waiting for us on the other side of dawn.

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A quick breakfast is had at Hobson’s Choice Deli.

Then we head across Bruinjies Hoogte, through Pearston towards Karroo landscapes painted with crisp white.

In Graaff Reinet we fill-up the Dodge Journey & grab coffee.  The children’s excitement is almost more than mine.  There was the time, back in ’96 when Zuko & I traveled from Pietersburg to Bloemfontein, via Johannesburg, by train.  Then we saw a world white with snow as the train slowly found its way to central South Africa, but being in the snow.  Touching it.  Feeling it.  That is something I’ve not done.

There is a difference between being a spectator & being a participator.

An immense difference.

I prefer the latter.

At the petrol-station we meet another family who is snow hunting.

They’d driven from Nelson Mandela Bay, early that morning.

They want to be participators too.

On the other side of Graaff Reinet a que of cars greet us.

The road is closed.

Too much snow.

Half a metre deep.

Trucks already stuck & emergency services denying us entry to what we’d hoped to touch & feel & taste.

It seems nothing good comes easily.

We are resilient.

There is another road to Nieu Bethesda.

A less known one.

A gravel road which approaches the little village from another side.

We decide to go and see if it is accessable.

It isn’t.

And just as we are about to give up a pick-up approaches from the Murraysburg side of town with a huge snowman on its bonnet.

Excitement explodes in the Dodge Journey.

We follow the road & on the border between the Eastern Cape & the Western Cape we find magnificent snow.

40 centimetres deep.

The snow hunters found it.

The children run.

They fall.

Roll.

A snowball fight ensues.

Pippa goes off to the side & starts making a snowman.

The others eventually join her.

Until I interrupt them with a snowball fight of my own.

Which was a mistake.

One adult is no match for a tribe of children when it comes to snowball fights.

Laughter glides over the open white plains.

We take turns with Maddi in the Journey.

The cold is too much for her.

But first she feels it.

Touches it.

Tastes.

Better to be a participator.

In snow hunting.

And in life.

It is dark when we get back to our homes.

The power is off.

The roads are flooded.

The radio is filled with reports of thousands of people displaced.

The calendar full with appointments & responsibilities.

Our hearts filled with hope & happiness.

Which cannot be found when we are alone.

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Jeffreys Bay – Funky Town

Congratulations to Hilda Beukes from Bloemfontein in the Freestate on winning the Funky Town Flashpackers (in Jeffreys Bay) Competition.

Keep looking, we try to give away what we enjoy & experience – who knows, soon you might win your own family weekend experience.

Competition details are always here

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Location: 77 kilometres from Port Elizabeth, Nelson Mandela Bay in the Eastern Cape, on the N2 in the direction of Cape Town.

Date Visited: 29 June – 1 July 2012 (Winter)

Where we Stayed: Funky Town Flashpackers

Where we ate:  The Mexican, Bay Pasta Co, Sunflower, Cafe Kima, Vue de Cafe & InFood

What we drove: The Dodge Caliber, complements of Maritime Motors.

What we did: Wow!  Where to start?  We met amazing people over tables filled with delicious food.  We re-discovered relationship, went sand-boarding with Wacky Wipe-outs, visited the shell-museum, went surfing with Wavecrest Surf School , got ourselves donuts at infamous Donut World & enjoyed warm winter sun & hospitality.

Recommendation: Jeffreys Bay is an awesome coastal town not even 45 minutes drive from Port Elizabeth, Nelson Mandela Bay.  We’ve been there before & couldn’t resist going back.  If you cannot spend a weekend here, it is at least worth a day-trip.  It is known as Surf Capitol of the world and not without reason.  It has perfect waves in so many different spots.  The beaches are clean & white.  The environment is friendly, happy and safe.  Surfing isn’t the only offering of this fantastic destination.  There are awesome restaurants, breath-taking game viewing, horse riding, diving, fishing and sandboarding.  A visit to South Africa is not complete without a visit to Jeffreys Bay.  If you live in Nelson Mandela Bay, it is unthinkable that you would not spend a day or weekend recharging here.

For more on Jeffreys Bay, click HERE

Beautiful.

Beaches.

Food.

People.

I know we’ve visited Jeffreys Bay, before.

But when Michelle Campbell contacted us & enticed us to go back to Jeffreys Bay, with the invitation of  a stay at the newly opened Funky Town Flashpackers & the promise of seeing what we’ve not seen, we just could not resist.

What is a ‘Flashpackers‘ anyway?

It is something extraordinary, we would discover.

A stay like The Traveling Tribe has not had to date.

The Dodge Caliber, probably the best value, with the most ‘car’, for the least amount of money, available in South Africa, was an easy drive to Jeffreys Bay.

As we hit the N2, I engaged the cruise-control, only slowing down as we took the turn-off into town.

The Caliber loaded our luggage & the entire tribe with ease.

There wasn’t space for a pram, but even with Maddi’s other baby-gear nothing had to be pushed or shoved or squashed to get a spot in the boot.

At Funky Town Flashpackers we were welcomed by James & Tayrene.

And amazing art.

By Buffy Braveart, amongst others.

And covers from Tintin books & pictures of  a ’67 VW Fleetline Combi & Vespa Scooters & comic book characters on the walls, mixed with exquisitely beautiful furniture, tastefully combined with little surprises hidden everywhere.

We take our luggage upstairs.

We are drawn to the lounge-area for drinks & conversation.

James’ passion for Funky Town is very evident.

As is his very beautiful soul as he comfortably mingles with my bizarre children who have no concept of age or appropriate as children-of-the-system might have or as adults might very often expect.

For which I cannot blame them.

As it is Zuko & I who took the bold step of raising them in the spirit of non-conformity & authenticity, to the detriment of most lovers of all things appropriate.

James talks of the art.

The decor.

The opportunity of bringing something new & fresh to a world filled to the brim with the same-old, same-old, same-old stuff.

A ‘flashpackers’ combines the opulence & comfort of up-market accommodation with the social-opportunity of meeting & discovering new people.

Cooking together in the state-of-the-art kitchen.

Sharing the fire or drinks at the bar.

Enough privacy & comfort in your own en-suite room.

With just the right amount of ‘social’ to remind you why you loved traveling in the first place.

If anything should be mentioned about this weekend in Jeffreys Bay, it is the amount of wonderfully interesting people we met & spent time with.

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Michelle Dean at The Mexican, where we had supper on Friday night.

A wife & mother, who alongside her husband wanted more of a family life & translated their entertaining at home into a business which brings people together & creates relationship.

Jane who was so into Food that she started InFood & became loved for her food, beyond Jeffreys Bay.

She served us breakfast on Saturday morning & spoke of finding ourselves & being true to our own being & walking away from that which is not us, always finding more in honesty & success in enjoyment.

Bruce at The Sunflower who took disappointment & translated it into new opportunity, alongside his father.

Andonis at The Bay Pasta Co, who alongside his brother, wanted to be close to Jeffreys Bay’s infamous waves & ventured into the world they grew up in, to create something of their own which is exceptional & accessable & delicious all at the same time.

Marlene who created Vue de Cafe, a quaint Beachfront Cafe serving breakfasts & luncheons to droves of hungry beachgoers & tourists & locals, while she would fulfill a dream & build a new life.

On Saturday afternoon, after we surfed & explored & enjoyed scrumptious food we were met by a crowd of locals at Funky Town.  They say they came to meet us & they are very kind.  I think they came because they were curious about Funky Town Flashpackers & wanted to see for themselves the beautiful art & exquisite decor everyone is talking about.

Liz is a dancer, model & performer.

That is how she made her living.

She ‘is’ a kind heart.

An embracing soul.

A refined spirit.

Sonja is there with her daughter.  They talk of tomorrow & yesterday all at the same time.

Of hope & disappointment.

Of doing everything different & doing it as expected.

The three of them join us later at The Bay Pasta Co for Andonis’ deeply rich food.

But first we also meet Maureen who made a living writing contracts, before coming to Jeffreys Bay, by chance & starting a (now hugely succesful) blog on everything Kindle related.

Saturday morning saw us spending time with Andre Moon from Wavecrest Surf School.

A man who love the ocean & his family & found a way of bringing it all together in one place.

Sunday we spend time on the dunes with Reg or Regardt, depending on who you are & what language you speak.  He gets even me sandboarding like a professional.

While the children’s impossible energy remains undrained we talk high up on a dune with the warm winter’s sun on our faces.  He grew-up in this world.  Came here as a young boy when both his parents died.

Grew up with grandparents.

Found his way through life.

Into surfing.

And sandboarding.

Not only creating a tourism business, but also manufacturing sand-boards & assisting with the creation of a lodge.

Beautiful.

Beautiful people.

All around us.

All weekend long.

Tayrene of Funky Town talks of her excitement to be building such an exciting new venture.

James, who came up with the idea & brought it to reality, speaks of reminiscence.

Of remembering where we came from, despite where we were or what we tasted.

Of hope, always alive.

Even if the flame burns low at times.

And he loves.

And embraces.

Us.

And our children.

And it is visible in the Funky Town of his imagination.

Somewhere along the weekend we also get the chance to enjoy the jacuzzi.

A warm pit-fire.

The best donut in the world from ‘Donut World’.

On Sunday at lunch we catch up with Margreet from Healthy Mom& Baby Clinic.

We sit outside at Cafe Kima.

The food is tasty.

The rhythm slow.

We talk of her recent trip to The Netherlands.

Of our mutual love for Africa.

Of hope found in relationship.

Of  relationship across boundaries.

Affecting us.

James drives up.  His car is loaded.  He is heading back to Cape Town.  He just wanted to say goodbye.

We exchange kind words.

Pippa leans into the car, intruding personal space without hesitation to give a farewell hug. Theunsie offers a firm handshake.

I wonder if we’ll see each other again?

It was almost to brief.

Too fleeting.

And yet so very intimate.

Then we eat.  And talk to Ilse, the manager of Cafe Kima.  Another beautiful being.  Living close to family & friends in the slow dance that is Jeffreys Bay.  Food in her soul.  Hope in her heart.

Margreet says goodbye.

And as the late afternoon gives way to evening we load our bags & say our own goodbye at Funky Town.

The Dodge Caliber accepts the relaxed speed I choose with as much ease as it would a more urgent acceleration.

We savour the last moments of our weekend together.

Pippa talks of different lives seen.

Which is good.

For if we think that everyone is as us, then we make the mistake of expecting everyone to give themselves up.

Zuko & I talk of the people we met & the ones we connected with.

We talk of our desire to love & be loved.

Unconditionally.

For who we are.

And not what we have or can offer.

We talk of time.

The greatest gift we can give to each other.

The most precious gift we can receive.

And we resolve to never let it be about the stuff.

To always let it be about the relationship.

Ours with each other.

And with others.

Beautiful.

Becoming.

More.

Categories: Weekend Destinations | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 26 Comments

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