Posts Tagged With: The Willows

Nelson Mandela Bay – weekend 2

CONGRATULATIONS to Navadia Marnay & Lungile Mnukwa.  They each won a set of five x day passes (valued at R1000), complements of Kingfisher FM & Nelson Mandela Bay Tourism.

The day pass gives you access to a whole range of activities & discounts.  It is a fun & affordable way to travel Nelson Mandela Bay.

The next winners will be announced on Friday 21/09/2012 on Kingfisher FM’s Big Breakfast.


LOCATION: Nelson Mandela Bay is located in the Eastern Cape of South Africa.  It is 763 km east of Cape Town.

DATE VISITED: 7 & 8 September 2012 (Spring)

WHAT WE DROVE: A Jeep Grand Cherokee complements of Maritime Motors

WHAT WE DID: We went on a Township Tour on Friday afternoon & evening exploring the Red Location Precinct, Njoli Sqaure & Township life in general, meeting beautiful people along the way.  On Saturday we did the South End Museum Tour & then relaxed at The Willows Resort, enjoying their fabulous amenities for the rest of the weekend.

WHERE WE STAYED: The Willows Beach Resort

WHO GUIDED US: Craig Duffield from Mosaic Tourism

RECOMENDATION: Nelson Mandela Bay is the ultimate family destination.  This weekend was immensely interesting & with out a doubt I would recommend anyone to try and fit both activities into their itinerary.  For the township tour I would suggest utilizing an experienced guide who know the people & area.

WEBSITE: Nelson Mandela Bay Tourism

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This weekend was a weekend of contrasts.

It challenged us.

Made us think about who we are & where we are & what we do.

We were driving the very comfortable & very opulent Jeep Grand Cherokee.

Probably the most luxurious vehicle we’ve driven in a long-long time.

It’s powerful 3.6 Pentastar V6 engine smoothly accelerating everywhere.

The leather seats, climate control & cruise control with its ‘beyond imagination’-awareness, really being awe-inspiring.

We were staying at The Willows Beach Resort.

Right on the ocean.

The waves lulling you to sleep.

Becoming the rhythm as you wake up & drink coffee, surrounded by green lawns & well kept amenities.

More than comfortable family accommodation.


Inside the heart-beat of nature.


Staff always ready to answer your needs.

Fellow-guests friendly & happy.


Children enjoying the super-tube water-slide.

The putt-putt mini-golf.

The game center.

Relaxed lounging breakfasts at the warm restaurant.

Vervet Monkeys curiously watching from large green trees.

We were exploring history.

The drive to the tourism office, from where we took a bus to Port Elizabeth’s Main Train Station, was quick & comfortable.

The Willows is truly only a few minutes from the city.

An ideal spot, no matter what part of Nelson Mandela Bay you want to explore.

Then we took the train to New Brighton station.

New Brighton is our city’s oldest existing township.

Townships are part of our countries spacial history.

Predominantly inhabited by black people.

Supported by failing old infrastructure.

Set aside.

From the rest.

A reserve of sorts.

Where people have come to live & make a living & be.

Become, even.

Saturday we saw a glimpse of our country’s ‘relocation’-history.

Through the South End Museum.

Families ripped to pieces.

Away from friends.

Some times even away from relatives.

From community.


All the way.

Not only them.


As we lose community.


Coming to believe that we are different.

Which we aren’t.

For we all value the same things.






As we crossed the pedestrian bridge from the New Brighton Station to the Red Location precinct, our guide shoved white people to one side.

Blacks to another.

You must be separate.

And we walk on the one side of a barrier.

The white side.

As it was.

Before 1994.

Apartheid is a sad part of our history.

Even sadder than the concentration camps of the English War (1899 – 1902).

For the ones who were set aside.

Set aside.

Like a son who saw his father beating his mother.

To grow up.

To beat his wife.

So that his son & grandson could do it again.

That is probably the greatest grace & gift of Tata Nelson Mandela & the African National Congress.


To be more.

To be different.

To embrace.


To a new future.

A new future is, however, not created in a moment.

18 years.

Since 1994.

A moment.

In comparison to almost a century.

Preceded by centuries.

On Friday evening we stop at Lafa & Mifa’s.

Its a butchery.

With a dining area & open fires.

You buy your meat at the butchery.

Then come to the dining area & cook it on the open fire.

A ‘braai’ (almost like ‘buy’, just with an ‘r’ in there) we call it.

All of us.

A large sign declares: ‘anytime is braai time’.

We are the same.

South Africans.

We love cooking outside on an open fire.

We love being together.

And so we talk.

To locals who come there regularly.

To families who love the community.

To people walking the streets.

Hoping the effort of fathers & grandfathers weren’t in vain.

And as we drive back in the luxury of the Jeep Grand Cherokee, to the comfort of The Willows Beach Resort, I wonder how this spacial heritage could be overcome.

For amidst the hardship of relocation a vibrant, energetic culture has come to life.

Perhaps it has always been there.

Perhaps it just did not die.

Despite everything.

Wasn’t quenched.

A beautiful resilience.

Hairdressers on the side of the street.

Mamma’s baking roosterkoek (bread baked on the open fire) for those who pass by on the way to work or home.

Children playing.

Herbs & chicken for sale.

Little bags of sweets.

Mini-bus taxi’s flying up and down the street.

Large municipal buses making their way in the late afternoon to homes, where people live.

Still set aside.

Its been decades.

The poverty of loss, more visible than ever.

As we savor that first morning coffee on Sunday morning, at The Willows, our weekend-neighbor walks over.


He lives in Motherwell.

With his family.

His father’s family relocated there.

Decades ago.

We talk of life.

His children.


We talk of a new future.

A hope.

Our children play.

Run off together to the water-slide.

Unaware that once we were separated.

We hope.

And as we say our goodbyes we agree that we need to intentionally move beyond the invisible boundaries created by a dark meaningless past.

On our behalf.

Without our consent.

And we agree that we are the same.

We desire freedom.



For our children.


And I admit that I will need to intentionally redress the works of a previous generations hands.

For nothing changes by itself.

This is what travel does.

It challenges us.

And we become.


Categories: Weekend Destinations | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

The Willows Resort

Location: 18 kilometres from Port Elizabeth in Nelson Mandela Bay on the ‘wild side’ of the city’s coast, in the Eastern Cape. It isn’t even 15 minutes drive.

Date Visited: 4 – 6 May 2012 (Fall)

Accommodation: We stayed in a beautifully fitted 2-bedroom chalet with a kitchen, dining room, lounge & bathroom. The resort offers chalets & cottages of varying sizes, as well as camping sites for caravans & campers.

What we Drove: Our 1998, 2.8i Landrover Defender 90-series

What we did: we loved the ocean a few steps from our chalet’s front door. It is mesmerizing. We listened to the ocean, which at times washed over every thought we might have had and at other times created the rhythm of our conversation. We went for a beautiful walk. We did a treasure hunt for our lunch, enjoyed breakfast at the resort’s breakfast room, cooked supper together on an open fire. We played miniature golf, air-hockey, pool & table tennis. The children devoured the super tube water slide, while Zuko & I took the opportunity to read & think & talk. We also explored the area close to the resort.

Recommendation: The Willows is really the ideal family destination. If you live in or close to Nelson Mandela Bay, The Willows is perfect as a weekend destination, avoiding long distance travel, but still affording you the feel of being far away from home. If you’re visiting the city, The Willows is a perfect base from which to explore this area. It is 15 minutes drive from the airport and 10 minutes from almost everything else you’d want to visit.

Website:The Willows Resort & Conference Centre


Zuko & I have many memories of Nelson Mandela Bay.

We both grew up in this city.

We went to school here.

Studied here.

Fell in love, here.

We left together in 1995 and returned together in 2002.

We came back with some children and had some more here.

We learnt of defeat & resilience & hope & the ability to begin again, right here in this little bit of world.

Memories aren’t words.

Memories are filled with color & texture.

With emotion.

And smells.


This Friday afternoon we tasted and felt the memories of our own childhood as we drove through the resort to our chalet.

We swam in that tidal pool as a five-year old.

We walked on the soft sand, there, when we were seven.

We explored the rocky shore, hunting for crabs & sea stars & tiny fish when we were eight.

We did not know each other then, but somehow this shared history brings us closer together as we forge new memories with our own children in this wonderous place.

In some ways The Willows was able to retain a feeling of familiarity, despite upgrades & renovations & modernisation.

It is a welcome feeling.

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While we stock the fridge and settle Maddi into our new surroundings, the older three of our tribe goes off to explore the resort.

Their free passes in hand.

Now there’s a memory.

The excitement on their faces as they opened that envelope & discovered those little cards.

‘Do they really mean we can do anything for free?’ they repeatedly ask in disbelief.

And then they’re off to go and test them.

It is almost dark when they return with laughter & excitement.

They’ve played air-hockey & foose-ball, pool & darts & soccer.

Tomorrow they’re going to super tube & play miniature golf.

It is a children’s paradise.

Not once during the entire weekend did one of them say those three dreaded words: ‘I’m bored!’

In fact, on Sunday I had to bribe the tribe with the promise of lunch at The Boma, to lure them away from The Willows.

Friday night we cooked together on an open fire.

Saturday morning, as I lay in bed, listening to the sound of the ocean’s rolling waves & our children playing, I realized that I am content.

This is good.

It is very good.

We drank coffee, then strolled down to the games room & breakfast room.

We had a slow conversation filled breakfast.

We made new friends.

Then we set off on a walk along the ocean’s edge before letting the children loose on the super tube water slide.

They were tireless.

They’re fervor inspiring other children to join the fun until a whole band of young ones were splashing through the water with excitement.

‘It always seems like summer, at The Willows’, I think as I watch from the lawn, taking the opportunity to read and talk and dream.

As the sun climbs high up into the sky & our shadows shrink to almost nothing, a scroll is brought to us.

It holds a secret.

It sets us off on an eventful treasure hunt, for our packed picnic lunch.

We seek birds on walls & ladies who listen for bells, a place of many holes and a bear who does not move.

It is the bear who tells us where we can find our lunch and as we spread the colorful blanket on neatly kept lawn and unpack an exquisite lunch, Pippa and I discover that we both love a picnic.

We resolve that we’ll do it more often as we devour a perfectly made meal.

We take an afternoon nap while the children disappear on an adventure. Later they tell us they explored some puddles and pools, found a sea star and almost caught a crab.

We join them for miniature golf.

Sophia gets a hole-in-one.

I accumulate the highest score and the tribe agrees that it is the one with the highest score who wins.

As the sun starts to set and a full moon rises, we find our way to our chalet and preparing supper together and reliving the excitement of hunting for lunch.





Sunday morning is even more relaxed.

Coffee is followed by more fresh breakfast & more conversation in the breakfast room.

We play another game of pool.

Pippa challenges me to an air-hockey stand-off.

Sophia takes on the winner.

As Zuko and I pack our bags & load the Landy, the children take a last wild splash on the super tube water slide.

Sunday Lunch has come.

Too soon, as always.

Reluctantly we say our goodbyes.

We stop at The Boma restaurant & Reptile World for lunch.

We delay the end of this journey.

As long as possible.

We could’ve stayed longer.

There is so much to do & enjoy & explore.

We didn’t get to the Seaview Lion Park or Heavenly Stables’ Beach Horseback ride.

We didn’t even consider the paintball or golf course ten minutes away.

The time together was too precious.

The time there.

Hidden away.

On the ocean’s edge.

When we arrive home we’d travelled a mere 36 kilometres.

We created the memories of a journey.

Colorful memories.

Pippa careful places a yellow serviette holding a blue knife and fork, tied together with rough brown rope in her memory box.

Soffie takes some prestic & stick her free-pass to the inside of her cupboard’s door.

Theunsie writes on Facebook that the tribe is awesome.

Late that evening I lie in bed listening to them chew on their weekend’s experiences.

It is beautiful memories.

One’s they might just share with their children, as one day they too take them to this wondrous world.



Categories: Weekend Destinations | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

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