You can love your home(s) only so much, move between familiar places only so many times, before you need to get away. Pack in a hurry, turn off the lights and geyser, climb in the car and drive until you are satisfactorily in unfamiliar territory.
That was my plan. Completely out of character, I know, but after what was probably my most taxing five months ever, I needed some time to clear my head. I have a lot of cobwebs to sweep out and stuff to consider, analyse and deal with. I had no plans or any preparation, all I knew was ‘soon’.
Then I met SparroHawk for a beer and some beer a while back. He had the same idea and soon we had a vague idea of what, when and where. And so, on Sunday before last, we set out on our roadtrip. My little Jetta (who celebrated her 222 222nd kilometre on the trip) was loaded to the brim (neither of us travel light) and we sped off into the grey clouded day.
We started out headed north and passed through Worchester, Robertson, Montagu and finally reached our first stop-over, Oudshoorn. We were booked at the backpacker’s lodge there and I was for the first time introduced into this fascinating sub-culture of cultures, nationalities, trust and friendship. The following day we went spelunking before setting off to Jeffrey’s Bay where we stayed for a few days. JBay is a quiet coastal town that has vastly grown over the years, mostly because of the lure it holds to surfers. At that time is was particularly quiet, but we soon enough continued on to Port Elizabeth where we stayed with friends’ for the night. We were only there for a few hours, but I was reasonably impressed with what I experienced in PE. Being overly patriotic about the Cape, that is high praise from me indeed. Finally we set off to Grahamstown, the apex of our journey. Grahamstown, like Stellenbosch, is a student town which encloses the University of Rhodes. Despite it being in the middle of the winter break, the town is buzzing and packed to capacity because of the yearly National Arts Festival that was being hosted there. Our interest was the fringe fest and booked a few shows.
The Festival exposes the casual visitor to strange and interesting people, new music, humour, alcohol, drugs, sex and more. Then there are the shows which hold up a mirror and reflect this back to the audience as themes, sometimes adding less pleasant issues such as rape, statutory rape, mental illness and art. Overall, the shows were brilliant and I thank each actor, director and technician who helped to create a marvellous experience. Also, a big thanks to the friendly and welcoming people we met at the festival.
We again stayed in a backpacker’s lodge. This one is housed in the Old Gaol and stays true to the theme. It wasn’t the first time I’ve stayed in an old gaol, but it was the first time I camped out in the courtyard where the gallows use to stand.
We left Grahamstown tired, yet sorry to leave. We quickly progressed back through JBay, Reebok (near Mosselbay) and yesterday finally glimpsed that much loved mesa that guards the Cape. Thus ended our brief 2000 km (~1250 mi) tour of the general southern Cape area. Before returning home, both Sparrows and I decided to end the procrastination: we headed to the Gouritz bridge and allowed complete strangers to tie long elastic ropes to our feet before cheering us off the bridge. My first bungee experience, just like everyone else’s, was awesome and excellent. It’s definitely something to one day return to. Currently, however, skydiving at the end of the year is in my sight… Overall the entire trip was wonderful and I enjoyed every day.
Did I achieve what I set out to do? Did I find my solitude and clean the mess in my head? No. But then this wasn’t the time to do it. This was a time for new experiences and breaking down barriers. The insight I’ve gained may be worth more than a mental spring cleaning. The year is still but a foetus: much remains to be done and the time is now.