Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Whirlwind Tour of Small Towns in the Western Cape in a Weekend

Right. After getting swiftly back into the swing of things at work today and finding no where near enough time for my post-long-weekend blog post and then getting home to a now-supposedly-working computer (wasn't working all of last week because Varen decided he just had to have the new Intrepid Ibex beta release installed) which decided it just simply couldn't connect to the Internet, I am now finally online, at home and ready to get posting :) Shoo.

So I flew down to Cape Town, via Lanseria again, what a pleasure! Daddio picked me up at the airport and we headed to his cousin's house for a visit with some extended family who was visiting from Aus (New Zealand? Never can quite remember which).

Then on Friday morn Mom, Dad & I headed out to collect the Peeb & Button and then drove to Matjiesfontein, taking the long way round via Worcester, Robertson (where we had a brief tea & scones stop) and Montagu. Marga was dropped off with us by the TJs who stuck around long enough for a brief run thru the Marie Rawdon Museum before they headed off to our final-destination hotel (they couldn't accomodate us all on Friday night hence our half-way stop-over).

We lazed about walking the town, reading up on it's history, having a drink and then enjoying dinner at the Lord Milner Hotel, where we were staying. I had a delish fillet with pepper sauce - was so tender! Oh and their sweet potatoes! On of the amusing highlights of dinner was definitely Marga getting hit on by old man Rawdon :) (both of them 84!)

Breakfast was not nearly as impressive as dinner, but overall the stay was good and I'd definitely like to go back, this time tho, I'd probably go on the train, as is tradition :) Before we headed out again, we visited their Transport Museum which was particularly interesting because we all knew Gum would've loved it! We even think we saw a photo of him in the museum - what are the chances, right? But as a little boy, his father worked at Shell and he had a cute little Shell car. And there was a photo of a child in the museum riding a car just like it. Pity the child had his head turned, but we left high believing it was him :) (Wish I'd thought to take a photo to compare to the family ones!)

We had a beautiful drive from Matjiesfontein to Calitzdorp via Seweweekspoort (don't worry, I'd never heard of it either!) on a dirt road thru rocky mountain valleys (Klein Swartberg). Dad also had a flat tire that he had to change en route (ours wasn't even the first flat of the weekend ... luckily it was the last, for our family).

In Calitzdorp we stopped for lunch at The Rose of the Karoo - a very yummy chicken mayo sandwich, just what I was in need of :) And then we started the dirt-road (more!) drive to our main accomodation, The Retreat at Groenfontein, and to meet up with the rest of the family.

The Retreat is beautiful and I'd highly recommend you stay there if you are looking for peaceful surroundings, far off the beaten track with no cellphone reception and good food. On our first afternoon there, we trekked to their rock-pools (20 mins walk) for a well deserved swim. It was cold but refreshing, unfortunately the good effects had all worn off by the time we'd walked back to the house and we spent the rest of the afternoon relaxing out of the sun.

On Sunday morning, we headed out after breakfast in all 3 cars to the Swartberg Pass. We enjoyed the joke that we would be leaving Gum's ashes on the road to Die Hel (The Hell) - nice and ironic for a non-religious family like ours :) We stopped briefly at "The Top" but after nearly being blown off the mountainside, continued on to the "Teeberg" view point. And the views were stunning all round. We sprinkled out his ashes (human ashes are nothing like ash as you know it, let me tell you ... this was gritty, bits of bone type stuff) and toasted him with Coke (Croak) and munched on Messaris Chili Chippi's while Marga told the story of how they lost a wheel while rallying thru the Swartberg Pass years before ... a fitting send off that I think he would've appreciated.

After that, half the family headed for home (school-going kids and whatnot) and the rest of us headed back to The Retreat for another lovely night. I spent some time wandering the nearby dams, watching Weavers and Red Bishop birds nest ... and would you believe I saw tortoises mating. Most peculiar.

On Monday we left after breakfast and took Route 62 home (well straight to the airport for me!). We stopped at Ronnies Sex Shop and I found the spot on the wall where my friend Nix & I had left our mark (as one must) almost 5 years to the day (24/10/2003). We'd always said we go back in 5 years time ... and oddly enough without any planning I ended up right there. Life can be strange. And then we stopped again for some lunch in Montagu, their chicken mayo sandwich was nothing compared to the one I'd had in Calitzdorp, but it hit the spot :)

And then it was home for me. The weekend was busy, I saw some beautiful sights and stayed in some lovely new places, but it wasn't all good.

I think it's a strange thing when one has been away from one's family for so long that you start to disconnect. I guess I just had a crisis of faith about what family, or extended family, at any rate, is. Our is not held together by love, nor is it by obligation. I'm not exactly sure what it is because we sure are a mixed up bunch of different personalities that really started to grate over the extended time. I guess it's also partly because of the purpose of our weekend and everyone handling things differently. But I really think one should feel comfortable and some kind of "safe" within the arms of your family ... and for me that's always included the extended family and not just Mom & Dad. But it's not so anymore, perhaps I've just outgrown them. I don't want you to think you can just say whatever you like to me simply "because I'm family". I'm jealous of my perception of how families should be, because ours really is not that, has it ever been or was I fooling myself. Yet I still long for the Christmas Days and every birthday spent together, which I constantly miss out on while up here in Joburg. I guess I was just feeling the distance, feeling left out and far away because I'm not really part of it anymore, well other than in spirit that is. Anyway, it was pretty emotional for me, and this has rather come out as a jumble but it's hard to explain how I was feeling, now that I'm back in Joburg and back to normal, mostly.

Anyway, in other exciting news, it's abotu 11 more days until I jet off on my holiday. I'm starting to get that excited nervous tingling :)


po said...

I love all those Western Cape towns too, specially Montagu, which I have lots of good memories of from my student-climbing days.

As to family, mine is so small, and I don't even know half of them, I guess to me family is more than just sharing genes, you have to know them to love them?

ExMi said...

such awesome pics - glad you had a chance to unwind....

boldly benny said...

Sounds like a wonderful long weekend. Sometimes I too get disillusioned with my family - even my immediate family. I am so close to my siblings, but sometimes I can feel how disconnected I am from them due to distance. It is very disheartening, and my great fault is that when I feel disconnected I end up isolating myself. I do my best to talk to my family but it is difficult.

phillygirl said...

@po - the area is so so beautiful, wish there were more places as nearby Joburg to do similar weekends away - everything up here seems to be +3hrs drive! Probably I'm just fussy ;)

@exmi - thanks :)

@benny - Sheesh, you really hit the nail on the head there about isolating oneself when feeling disconnected! I guess my thing is that I feel that my being far away shouldn't make a difference when it comes to my family ... they are after all, family. Oh well, such is life and we all have to grow in our own directions. Can't spend our entire lives still living at home :)

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