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Africa

Does it matter?

It’s official we are stateside. 29 hours in a plane, 19 of which had no movies, and the other 10 had lots of crying children, yet we managed with no delays all the way to snowy Jackson Hole, WY. Our departure day crept upon us so quickly. Todd talked about our amazing motorcycle trip. What a fantastic way to end our stay in Africa. South Africa is a huge country. We didn’t want to leave without exploring a little bit of its greatness, so as you read (hopefully, unless you are a blog slacker and then I would recommend playing catch up before we return and it will be your own secret and non of us will ever know) we took a motorbike trip. I will sum it up in one word, WOW!

What an amazing way to travel. I felt like the postal service at points as we drove through scorching heat, fog, and rain. Nothing would stop us, even wet shoes and socks, which I must add after two days are very nasty. For some reason, if you can figure out what that reason is please let me know, I had a fickle love affair with our bike. Some days I wanted to ride away into the sunset with no trepidation. Other days, I was so nervous I could barely motivate myself to ride to the grocery store. Yet, after the first day and over 200km on the back of the bike, any trepidation I had was thrown to the wind by the intense aching in my rump. Being a permanent passenger on a bike not built for long distance two person travel is a masochistic adventure. So I quickly got over myself and drove Tito with gusto. What great fun it was!

Africa held a lot of firsts for me and this moto trip added a couple more. I finally had the opportunity to rock climb outside. It seems so crazy to me that I never actually climbed on rock just indoor plastic grips. What a different and wonderful feeling! I am not so good at the looking down part, it kinda freaks me out. But I will definitely be doing more outdoor climbing.

We were able to experience small town SA. The cute little towns with gas station cafes to the bustling market hubs of black African dominated towns. The diversity of it all left my mind racing for hours. And hours on a motor bike is what you have, with no one to talk to and nothing to do except get lost in your mind. One thing that is very interesting and yet taboo in the states is the openness of the people to discuss race and race issues. So after 5 months in Africa, I feel it is time we break our own taboo and address the real race issues that face our country. And electing a black president (YEAH!) was a great place to start. Speaking with Africans, black, white, and colored (yes, this word is very common), you begin to realize that without these conversations you just continue in a cyclical motion of inactivity. Apartheid left South Africa very racially conscious. People were and are still identified by color. You have the whites. They generally associate themselves as British or Afrikaans. Afrikaans were the ones who installed the apartheid regime in the 40’s. And you still find those that were raised as Afrikaans have very strong views of blacks and coloreds. NOTE: Before I continue, realize that there are exceptions to everything yet as I have traveled I have begone to realize that stereotypes are generally formed for a reason. Not to say that they are always 100% accurate or politically correct yet they are what they are so it is time to stop sugar coating everything. For example, we were in the Drakensburg Mountains and were talking with a tour guide. She did not identify herself as Afrikaans but the conversation we had immediately told me she was. She was telling me the difference between rural blacks and city blacks. According to her, city blacks had forgotten their place and lacked the appropriate respect. While rural blacks were kinder and understood their place a lot more. She found rural blacks more to her liking. And this is not an unusual conversation. It is so hard not to let your jaw drop when you her such blatant racism, yet they don’t see themselves as racist per se. And the British whites do NOT want to be confused for Afrikaans because of the above reason. It is obviously more complicated but I don’t think you want me to write the whole history. For more background, I recommend a good read.

The first time I heard someone say the word colored was not in SA but in Paris. Where we met our first Afrikaans friend. A wonderful person who had been brought up with an obvious level of fear. She left me petrified to go to SA for fear of rape, murder, and/or violent mugging for something as simple as my cell phone. Colored, this antiquated word left our American vocabulary a long time ago. Yet, people are still vehement about their racial identity. During apartheid coloreds held a much superior position then blacks. Todd and I were out Saturday night in Cape Town and I sat down at the bar next to this man. The politics of S. Africa are so fascinating. In my intoxicated state I took it upon myself to befriend and discuss SA politics with anyone who would listen or more importantly talk. So I asked this man how he felt about the new break away party C.O.P.E vs. ANC (the post Apartheid and majority party). He does not respond with a preference but a quick and strong comment that he is colored. And that his family works hard for what they have not like a lot of the blacks. So again, my jaw was forced to remain in place while my ears were perked. And then there are blacks and don’t forget the browns (no Africa is not all black). Those that I spoke with were primarily ANC supporters. SA is complicated even more by all the tribal cultures i.e. Zulu, Bantu, Xhosa. The openness of race is refreshing. It makes me wonder if the open racial talk creates and perpetuates racism or if it helps break down racial barriers. I would like to believe that it creates an open conversation between races that will eventually lead to greater understanding and a more conducive atmosphere for change. Todd and I have discussed speaking about race in the states. Do we adjust to the taboo of racial speak or do we bring this openness with us. It is a weird point for me to contemplate. Growing up in KC, I feel that speaking of race was very taboo. It is still a fairly segregated city yet nobody wants to talk about these issues.

I have found it very interesting to speak openly with Dale and Jeannie about such topics. It seems natural and untaboo. Yet, you forget that those who may be listening to your conversation start to curl their nose in misunderstanding. Because speaking openly about race, the associated stereotypes and experiences you have encountered obviously mean you are racist. Versus the complete opposite for those that actual eavesdrop properly to what is being said. Todd and I have been debating adding this type of discussion to the blog. Will people understand, do they want to understand, do we even understand, will these observations make a difference, does it even matter, etc. Yet, now that I sit in Victor, ID looking back on my wonderful time in Africa I have decided, yes it does matter, yes it is important. If not for anyone else but for me to work through these experiences and better understand what it all means.

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Africa

A Bull Enters the Ring

It’s been awhile. I know. I apologize. It’s just that we were away from the internet and all for a bit and we’re just now catching up. It’s Friday, December 19th and we leave on Monday, December 22nd. So this very well might be our last African blog. Quite a sad thought for us. We arrived in Zanzibar on Monday, August 4th and are leaving having spent 140 days here. It’s gone by so quickly, but before I get misty-eyed, let’s cover what we’ve just come through. We’ve put up some pictures from the trip.

Dec 7th: We left Stellenbosch around 10:30 because we had arranged a master class tasting at Graham Beck. We had tasted with the folks before and loved it. Seeing that they had a “master class tasting,” we decided to go for it. It was quite a hassle to get the whole thing setup, and an even bigger disappointment, unfortunately. We even wrote a complaint. Just wasn’t as billed.

So we left Franschhoek and drove to Montague, about 3 hours of beautiful mountain passes and into the Karoo, which is a semi-arid area nestled into the mountains that run the southern coast. We stayed at a caravan park outside town and were wondering if the rock climbing guide we had arranged would follow through.Rock Climbing At about 8pm, he rang us and we setup the meeting for the next day.

Dec 8th: 8am sharp, Justin arrived. He’s a work-from-home web designed with his wife, Ricky, who happens to love to climb and was filling in for the normal person. It was quite lucky, because he was great. We hopped in his truck, drove less than 10 minutes and hiked up to the crag we were supposed to ascend. It had been quite awhile for the both of us since we’d climbed, so the rust was thick, but we managed to have a great time.Rock Climbing It was both our first experience actually climbing outside and we realized the enormous difference between indoor and outdoor. When you’re not confined by walls and insulation, the reality of what you’re doing sits quite close to what you think you’re doing. Inside, you can pretty much pretend that you’re doing whatever you want. For instance, when I’m inside, I sometimes imagine I’m a little 5″ man climbing CD racks. Don’t know why. But in the end, the climbing was absolutely fantastic and Erin and I have decided this is definitly an activity to do again.Rock Climbing

That night, Justin invited us over for a “Bring ‘n Braai” (BYO BBQ) and we spent the evening chatting with him and Ricky about travels and whatnot, going from rock climbing to motorcycling to their housing decorations or how both their parents moved to Montague after them and now live 2 doors down from each other. All in all it was an great evening getting to know some very fun people. (Justin and Ricky, if you reading this, thanks for everything.)

Dec 9th: We had decided after driving to Montague in 37°C weather that it would be a good idea to get up early to finish our driving before the desert heat set it. So we set out around 6am or so for Stormsrivier on the Indian Ocean. We made the unknowningly large decision to take Prince Alfred’s pass on the way there. I was pretty sure that it was gravel, which would make it the first real gravel road that we took with Tito. The first part uphill was quite easy and we finished in about 20 minutes or so. We took pictures next to the signs and celebrated a bit, then took off to just “head down the pass.”Driving As I now know, but didn’t know then, the downhill portion is much more slow and difficult than the uphill, particularly with two on a bike lacking offroad or dual-purpose tires. A slick front tire is a very frightening thing. 2 hours and at least 50 km later, we were celebrating again as we hit tarmac. Who knew a paved road could be so beautiful. So after the difficult ride, we went to the hostel we had gone out of our way to visit and didn’t visit a thing. No hikes or anything, just hanging out with the other people, asking “how was the hike?” as we sat back and drank a couple beers before we passed out from exhaustion.

Dec 10th: Leaving Stormsrivier, we were planning on heading up to Hogsback on our way to the Drackensburg Mountains. Quite soon after starting, we heard that there was a police roadblock on the road ahead, propelling us toward a circuitous gravel route which passed through rows and rows of beautiful crops, which proceeded to transform into a rolling plain with elephants, zebras and wildebeast playing in Addo National Park. A surprise sidetrip that turned out to be quite enjoyable, until we saw dark clouds on the horizon. Hoping for the best, we continued on but were soon fighting fog and thick mist, riding the shoulder at 40km/hr (common in Africa on a slow moving vehicle).

We stopped at the first town possible, which was Grahamstown. The first thing we did was get some coffee to warm up and dry out. Then we found a backpackers, which happened to be the town’s old jail. The rooms were the cells, complete with low-height solid wood door harbouring a tiny barred window protecting a tiny room. Erin was not excited about staying in jail (bad memories, dear?)Grahamstown but I convinced her that looking around for other options would be too difficult, so we stayed there. The bar provided a couple complementary drinks which convinced us that it was apropro to stay in the bar and watch the wonderful film where Steve Zizzou waltzs around in a wetsuit. The movie ended up not happenning, but we were happy anyway, hitting the sack around 9pm knowing a long day was ahead of us.

Dec 11-12th: Leaving Grahamstown under still cloudy skys, we proceeded nearly 470km through overcast skys, partial rain, and some sun here and there just to remind us what life could have been like if we had better karma. We did make it to Port St. John’s to chill on the beach for a couple days.Port St. Johns Watching the waves roll in was the perfect relaxer that we needed in order to recharge our batteries before heading off to the Drakensburgs.

Dec 13th: Left Port St. Johns around 5:30am or so, we took off to reach Underburg. Erin was driving under blue skies, managed mountain passes with ease, while I sat on the back and contemplated the world passing by us. It was a long drive, but a beautiful one that really made us both realize how different travelling by bike was. Though slower, there is a more intimate relation with the world you’re passing through. Arriving around 3pm at the lodge, we setup tent and then planned out the next day of hiking. We were talking about checking out the Sani Pass that day, but decided the clouds were menacing Sani Passand we should wait to the morning. Excellent decision, as quickly a mountain thunderstorm entered the area like a bull enters a ring. The rain came quickly and heavy, quickly proving that our tent was in no way whatsoever waterproof. Coming from both the top and the bottom, the water poured through in all directions it seems, soaking our helmets, jackets, sleeping bags, aka everything. So we moved into the dorm and slept in a warm bed.

Dec 14th: Wet morning,Sani Pass most of our things still wet, so we decided to move along to the “Central Burgs” (we were in the Southern Burgs) but we needed to test Tito prior. Luckily, we were on one of the world’s most spectacular mountain passes, connecting South Africa to Eastern Lesotho.Sani Pass (If you read up the history, it’s a marvel they were even able to construct it.) We were planning on heading up to the SA border post. The bike was put to the test, and it succeeded. We had a great time on the pass and saw some amazing mountains.

Returning to the Sani Pass Lodge, we packed up and headed up to Inkosana Lodge, via gravel roads hugging the skirt of the mountains. Erin took up the gravel challenge and roared off to a slow, but steady start. Proving her muddle,Driving Erin navigated around a gorgeous area spliting ranches, farms and wild mountains. Fantastic.

We arrived too late on a sunday to replenish our supplies, so we were stuck buying dinner form the hostel. Quite a fortuitous decision (did our karma return?) because dinner was the closest thing to Thanksgiving we were able to get in SA. Roast chicken, bean soup, pumpkin/squash, rice, topped off with a decadent chocolate cake.Central Burgs Heaven on a plate.

Dec 15th: Did nothing. Absolutely nothing but play scrabble and monopoly. Tough day. We thought about hiking, but then it started raining and that idea was quickly vetoed. Erin was worried about the rain and the tent, so she slept on the cold, hard concrete of the communal kitchen. I chose the tent and stayed completely dry. Luckily, since I was not envying the poured floor.

Dec 16th: Early morning again, planning to head to the Ampitheatre in the Northern Burgs, but the cloudy day meant we would not be able to see the world’s second highest waterfall (so they claim at 967m). So we pushed on to Bloemfontein, which ended up being about 490km. There was a rally for COPE (recently created splinter party) and a counter-rally for ANC (majority party), so we decided to watch a movie at the movie theatre (The Women, with Meg Ryan and Annette Benning and a whole slew of other ladies) before heading to sleep.

Dec 17th: The drive took us from Bloemfontein to Graff-Reneit in the Karoo, leading back into the desert, since we were so tired of rain and cold. We were taking a slight detour on our return to Stellenbosch for the Valley of Desolation. The area was a fun drive up to the mountains overlooking the town and the hidden pillars of erosion-scarred rock.Valley of Desolation Recalling climbing the mountains in Montague, we looked on with hopeless dreams of climbing the pillars. Understand, see, that we had planned on taking picnic up to the top and watching the sun set over the giant lego sandstone towers. However, the desert makes things very dry and humans very thirsty, so we ran out of water and couldn’t very well have cheese, sausage and crackers on a parched throat. Impossible. So we returned to the lonely caravan park to find our tent had busted a pole, which we immidiately MacGyvered with two zip-ties, and worked quickly onto dinner and sleep.Valley of Desolation

Dec 18th: That’s yesterday, so I’m almost to the present. Whew. Graff-Reneit to Swellendam was a 600km driving highlighting a police stop (which was nerve-racking given our dubious legal status), an incredibly slow lunch, Ronnie’s Sex Shop (not a sex shop but a bar with an eyebrow-raising name), and very sore bums. The final leg included the beautiful but harrowing Tradouws Pass to keep us on our toes, thowing sheer cliffs and precipitous ledges as obstacles. We had pushed hard through perfect riding weather in order to have an easy drive to Stellenbosch. One of these pushes was about 150km with 4 turns. I counted. There was a 60km stretch without a turn. That becomes quite monotonous with no other cars, save the occasional exception, to even avoid. All before breakfast.

Safe arrival revealed a beautiful town nuzzled in the mountains with a band preparing to play. We setup tent (under a bigger party tent that looked more waterproof), bought dinner at the grocery store, played a game of chess and listened to a live band play by the firelight. A very nice, quiet, final day on the trip.

Dec 19th: Today! We’ve arrived in Stellenbosch finally. We immediately went to the hair dresser to get our hair moisturized and trimmed. Those head massages are really worth $2. (South Africa has consistently proved to be very inexpensive with fun services.) We are packing up and heading out for Cape Town tomorrow morning, passing by Tito’s original home in Constancia, where they want him back. So sad.

Also, I will be leaving my guitar here. It is a sad day to part with the guitar I learned on, but then again, the truck driver on the overlander stepped on it’s back and broke it down the spine. Goodbye. It’s been a fun 13 years since we met in 7th or 8th grade. *tear*

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Africa

The Last Holdout of some Formerly Imposing Mountain

We seem to have very little time left. As of today, we have 22 days left. But before I complain about how quickly a few weeks can fly by, I’d like to show what a little imagination and ingenuity can do.Scrabble We created a scrabble board out of a pizza box lid and used wine corks. That’s right. It’s actually quite a good scrabble board that is contained in a Casa Fiesta Tortilla Chips box. It just happens to do the trick quite well.

Last week we did a couple of wine tastings in Devon Valley near Stellenbosch. J.C. Le Roux makes only bubbles, which is a very dangerous thing for someone like Erin and myself. We had packed a lunch consisting of some bread and cheese, as well as some salad.Wine Tasting So we pulled off into the vineyards to sit and enjoy our lunch in the baking sun before heading down to Clos Malverne, which is a small production winery that makes great wine. We had our tasting with the owner’s daughter’s fiancee, which I guess is something. But the highlight was talking with him and getting an in-depth cellar tour, where he talked about the old techiniques that they were keeping alive, including basket pressing. Very cool.

That weekend (Nov 23rd and 24th) we went down to the cape peninsula to see what was there. We had an excellent ride down in beautiful weather, passing alongside the ocean with waves breaking into a multitude of fisherman plying their trade. Experiencing this ride on a bike was amazing, with the waterfront drives, the mountain twisties and small towns nestled into the hills wherever possible.Cape Point Trip We stopped in at Groot Constancia for a wine tasting, but the beautiful grounds were marred by swarming busloads of tourists. Not exactly our scene, so we headed over to Steenberg, where we relaxed under a veranda, looking across the landscape to view the backside of Table Mountain while quietly enjoying our tasting. We had purchased a loaf of bread earlier, so we picked up a cheese tray from the restaurant and ate at the picnic tables setup there.

We then proceded to Simon’s Town, where the South African Navy is based. We found a fun hostel to stay at, so we dropped our belongings off and walked around town for a bit. We managed to make it down to Boulder Beach, where the African Penguins are located.Cape Point Trip Definitly was a strange site to see penguins in Africa. That night we met two Indians who were travelling around, and since we were sharing the dorm room with them, we decided to immediately become best friends and hang out as much as possible for the next 18 hours. We succeeded in enjoying a long raucous night, as we often seem to in those situations.

The next day we headed straight down to Cape Point and Cape of Good Hope. The park was absolutely beautiful. The sight was incredible: narrow strips of cliff rising from the sea, jutting out into the ocean like a last holdout of some formerly imposing mountain range sinking slowing into the ocean.Cape Point Trip The only downside were the baboons, which are known to attack people for their food. Unfortunately, we were carrying a feast on our backs, replete with mozzarella, camembert, bread, pate and coppa di parma ham which made us feel like we were a jackpot waiting to be hit. We sneaked down over Diaz’s beach and scoped out for baboons before opening everything up and diving right in. We may have been slightly paranoid in our scouting for the lunch thieves, but we exited without being attacked by primates, which is something I’m quite happy about.

From there we hopped on the bike and Erin started her first major trip on Tito. She did beautiful navigating the coastal curves and mountain passes, as well as keeping us safe and secure. Being on the back is completely different from driving in both good and bad ways. The pillion (the person on the back) is able to actually pay attention to the scenery and see what is going on, what the scenery is, etc. But it terrifying to not be in control. Being on a bike leaves you so open to everything. This is both the good and the bad, but relegating control of such a situation requires quite a bit of trust in the driver as well as relinquishing that control in general. It’s quite a strange concept. Both Erin and I decided quickly that for the South America portion of the trip will definitely be on two bikes. Two up will just not work for us.

This weekend we’ve decided that we aren’t going out on a trip, we’ll just cross a few items off the todo list. Yesterday was our last market, this week is our last week working on the farm, everything seems to be starting to be a last something. The last last will be on December 22nd, when we leave Africa. It will be a bittersweet day, certainly. We’re very excited to get home and see all the family and friends that we miss while we’re here. But Africa has thrown it’s shawl around our shoulders and invited us in, hiding neither the beautiful nor the ugly. It grows on you in unexpected ways and changes the way you view home. It will be interesting to see what we notice upon return. I’m in anxious suspense, which will be held with white knuckles until we return.

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Africa

Anticipation

I was talking with my dad the other night reminicing about the first blogs we wrote from Paris.  Seems like worlds ago. The anticipation of unknowing what Africa would actually hold for us.  The sweet bitterness of leaving the modern and beautiful surroundings of Paris.  A city of wonder and excitement but also months of frustration and lonliness.  With mixed emotions we left Paris and now those same emotions come rushing back as it sets in that our African adventure remains with us for a mere 22 days and counting.  So as most of us do when a part of life comes to pass we try and cram everything in at the last minute.  No regrets, right?

None!  I love Africa, I love this continent and all that I have seen, even the not so picturesque places.  It has a way of wiggling under your skin and before you know it…bam!  You have to leave. 

We had a fabulous weekend.  A trip to Cape Point seemed like a trip to the end.  The mountains drop into the sea with a dancer’s grace.  The ocean crashes against the western coast with powerful fury while the eastern coast rolls along with daydreaming melancholy.
Fynbos dots the horizon with beautiful protea bushes. Cape Point Trip The tranquility was almost surreal given the fact that we were just two of 1000’s taking in the view.  We enjoyed a wonderful French lunch of nice bread, cheese, and coppa while overlooking the waves rolling onto the beach.  The setting was perfect, the food simply yummy, yet behind it all there lied a simple paranoia…baboons.  We were warned by the guy at the hostel, by the guy we bought the cheese from, by the lady at the entrance gate and they all had the same message, “Be Careful! Be careful.  The baboons will open car doors if they even catch a whiff of food or try to snatch it directly from your hand.  Picnic? Be careful!!!” Great, we were on a motorcycle packing an awesome but very odiferous lunch.  So as we enjoyed a nice lunch, sounds of waves crashing as the soundtrack, Cape Point Trip we were up every 5 if not fewer minutes scanning the horizon for these violent theiving animals.  Luckily, the smell of stinky cheese and coppa did not appeal to these animals, and so we were left in peace.  Thankfully.

I drove back from Cape Point.  My first long distance drive with a passenger.  I was very nervous more for the city driving then highway but it all snowballs in my head to be the biggest most dangerous event of the year.  Yet, in the end.  I kicked ass, if I do say so myself.  I believe Todd had a fairly smooth ride and we both made it home in one piece.  For me, that is a good trip.  It is funny because now that we are comfortable on the bike (and this does not mean all nerves are gone, especially for me) we have a different outlook.  In the past, we may have ordered a beer with lunch.  But now, it is excursions for tea or coffee.  Who knew biking would kick up my caffeine intake. Cape Point Trip It is a peaceful way to spend a day, biking stopping for coffee and cake, and continuing on until coffee or bathroom calls us again.  And let’s be realistic, my butt gets sore from hours of riding and your hands start to lose feeling so stopping often is survival and yes, I usually do have to go to the bathroom anyway.

I don’t know if we mentioned this but we now have a roommate, Alex.  His family owns the farm, so we are all living together in the humble little cottage.  He just finished university and is doing his best to live it up before the constraints of work and life creep back into his happy bubble.  So, there are a lot of parties hosted at our cottage.  All young graduates ready to feel the summer vibe as they say.  It has been fun.  He through a pizza party the other night.  We stoked the homemade pizza oven, everyone brought toppings, and randomly flavored pizzas were shared by all.  It was such a fun concept.  Apparently, bananas on pizza are big here.  I was reluctant but tried a bite and the verdict is that I will leave this topping to the South African palate.  Mine didn’t totally reject the taste, but it wasn’t love at first bite either.  Great party.  All of his friends made us feel very welcome yet I felt quet old. When guessing our age, the ripe old age of 24 was mentioned, when we said 27, wow!  We were old.  Kind of funny, I don’t feel old.  Overall, it was a lot of fun and the old buggers stayed up much later then the young whipper snappers.  I knew we still had it in us!

As the time skips away, we have also made it a point to do a lot of wine tasting.  I know I said we drive and drink coffee but we do some wine tasting.  Where usually one of us will spit and the other tastes to their hearts desire.  A good, safe plan.  There are so many S. African wines and unfortunately you cannot find them in the states.  Too much red tape.  Todd mentioned some of the recent tastings.  I love to be surprised by a vineyard.  Sometimes the big corporate brands turn out to produce excellent wine, i.e. Graham Beck, one of the best wineries around.  In contrast, my heart always wants to believe that the small family vineyard will rise above the corporate giant with superior wine yet in reality some of it would better be left as grape juice.  Clos Malverne hit my palate and made my heart happy to find a great small time producer.  For a wino like myself, its been fun living in wine country.  It makes me wonder what Napa and other California wine areas have to hold.

With 22 days to go we are trying to fit it all in, take in every moment, and anticipate what the states will be like after being gone for almost a year.  I predict it will be a great 22 days and for now, I will just embrace what is left of Africa and let anticipation lay fallow for a couple more weeks.

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Africa

The charge must be lead and we are the willing.

Wine!

Today rounds out the week and tomorrow is another day of work at the farm. But luckily our batteries are recharged and ready to go. We have just returned from our first weekend motorcycle trip. We had decided to name the bike Tito (thanks to Lutz). It also has another name, Tonto. We haven’t settled for a final decision yet. But first things first, which was the visit from the folks.

Dale and Jeanne came in Thursday night and we went up to their B&B to meet them Friday morning. We, of course, rode up on our sparkling new BMW and had a hearty breakfast before heading out for some wine tasting. It was a mixed success. Beyerskloof and Meerlust were real winners while Luisenhof and Waterford were not. The lunch at the Pomograte at Vergenoegd was absolutly spectacular.

Wine!

The next day we worked the Real Slow Food Market, sold some strawberry vinegar and tasted some delicious microbrew called Jack Black, no relation to the actor. Then it was off for some more tastings at Uitkyk (pronounced ‘eight-cake’) and Muratie. The Muratie cellar was the perfect tasting you could possibly dream of. The walls were coated in cobwebs and dust, the wine was absolutely delicious and the final kicker was that we were able to talk with the owner of the estate for about a half hour and see what he was thinking. Fantastic. Then the icing on the cake was they were selling magnums of 2001 Cabernet Sauvignon for less than $15. That is a steal. We finished off the day with a modern fusion restaurant named Umami with service, style and taste that were impeccable. Wine!Erin had a hayday with all the small plates, dishes and spoons. Apparently, it was just ‘so cute’.

Sunday was spent in Cape Town, where we went to an Anglican service and listened to scriptures read in Xhosa, the local language with all the clicks. Cape Town Lunch and shopping at the waterfront, then off to dinner with Dale’s old friend Roger. Roger’s son Adam stopped in later in the evening and he’s promised we’ll head to a cricket match before we leave. Should be interesting. Monday was Franschhoek day, including breakfast at the Hillcrest Berry Farm and tastings at Boschendal and Graham Beck. The latter was a gem that surprised us all. Ultra-modern and clean, a real showcase of a winery that just makes fabulous wine. Erin and I will be heading back to take a master tasting with them, just to make sure we round out the experience with the full monty. A noteworthy lunch at the Petite Ferme, some shopping in town, dinner at the Haute Cabriere, and that’s all she wrote. The weekend was already over, but it was a great one.

The following week was fairly uneventful, we took the bike out a few times for a spin, but nothing more, really. That brings us to this weekend, finally. We were talking about where to head for our first weekend out on Tito and had decided on L’Agulhas, the southernmost tip of Africa. However, the week before brought in the worst floods in 100 year, so that nicked our plans and we decided to go west instead of east. We left Stellenbosch around 10am and headed north. Once we got a little bit outside of town, there was no traffic, leaving the entire road to us.Moto Trip Miles and miles of wheat fields laid an yellow foreground to black Table Mountain and crystal blue sky. Couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful ride.

We were planning on stopping halfway in Atlantis, but driving through the town made us realize that in South Africa, there are towns that are traditionally white and there those that are historically black. The black towns tend to be much more poor and lacking in coffee shops to rest at. It’s difficult to see such a separation of rich and poor in so close an area, stemming from the aparteid era whose effects are still very prominent in the country. The more we talk with the afrikaans and become familiar with their culture, the more complicated the situation here becomes. So we pushed through Atlantis and headed straight up to Langebaan, where we stopped at the Pancakes Galore for some coffee and a plate of chips. The beach was beautiful, with a whole host of kite-surfers plying the wind with grace or often without. Watching people connected to a giant kite faceplant into the water provides great entertainment, in case you were wondering. We drove up to Saldanha and found ourselves in a circuitous maze to find the hostel, which we successfully navigated after several calls to the establishment. Then, we walked around the small town, realized that nothing was open except one bar watching the SA/Scotland rugby match. That is an environment Erin and I are quite familiar with and we fit in like locals. Locals that don’t watch rugby or speak afrikaans and speak with a telling american accent, that is. They didn’t seem to hold it against us, though, and we spent the night chatting up a storm with anyone within earshot. Pizza for dinner, a few more rounds, and off to bed.

The next morning was a bit of a struggle, including a nap after breakfast, but we rallied and took off on the bike to return home. Less than an hour into the ride, we ran out of gas. We had passed a few gas stations on the way, but neither of us thought it would be an issue. It was, almost. We switched on the reserve tank and prayed hard. We made it to the West Coast National Park entrance, hoping they would be of assistance. They were not. So we hopped back on and made up our minds to simply go as far as possible, then walk or hitch the rest of the way to the gas station. We pulled into the gas station as the engine was dying. Perfect. It turns out, luckily, that Yzerfontein is pretty much like Naples, Florida.Moto Trip A cute beach town resort with a coffee shop overlooking the bay where the whales were playing. Ho hum. Just another whale in a beautiful blue sea off a perfect white sand beach. The turn off certainly turned out in our favor as we sat and watched the waves roll in.

From Yzerfontein we headed back toward Stellenbosch, planning on stopping in the tiny hamlet of Philadelphia which we had passed on the journey out. Not knowing what to expect, we turn into a town of less than 500 people, thinking we’ll just pop down on a bench and eat the german rye and camembert that we had stashed earlier. But wait, here’s a coffee shop called the Pepper Tree. With an art gallery. And a pottery shop. And a jewelery shop. And two classical guitarists spreading the air of calm beauty beneath a large tree providing shade to all. I must say, the chocolate cake and the carrot cake were superb. It is a rough life to lead, I know, but the charge must be lead and we are the willing.

We returned home to park the bike, kick off our shoes, toss our riding helmets, jackets, and gloves, and embrace the sublime peace of another South African sunset. And let me tell you, sunset number 105 was a good one.