So much has happened since my last post which makes it really difficult to know where to start this one. Alex graduated, got a job and moved from Stellies to Cape Town. Over Christmas and New Year we spent a wonderful two weeks holidaying in South Africa with Kiera and James and James’ family. And then of course there was the wedding reception for Kiera and James at the farm. There has, without doubt, been a whole lotta love going around!
I was a very proud mamma again when Alex graduated from Maties with his honours in accounting. I spent a few extra days with him in his new apartment in Woodstock, exploring the neighbourhood and helping him to settle into his new home. On my last evening in Cape Town he took me to the 12 Apostles Hotel in Camps Bay for cocktails and to watch the sun set over the sea which, as an east coast girl, never fails to thrill me. I’m so pleased Alex chose to work in Cape Town; I now have a very good excuse to visit this beautiful city more often.
Kiera and James and the rest of the American contingent arrived in Durban on the weekend before Christmas. Peter, Alex and I met up with everyone at the airport and then we all spent the weekend together in Durban. When we lived in Durban we celebrated many an occasion at our favourite restaurant, Spice. So I was delighted to be able to celebrate Kiera’s 28th birthday there with my family together once more and joined by our absolutely lovely American family – James’ mum, Jody, and his father, Jim, sister Maggie, aunt Susannah, uncle Mike, and cousin Bill. A highlight of the weekend turned out to be a tour of Durban that Kiera had arranged for all of us. We all went traipsing off through the Madressa Arcade in Grey Street to the Victoria Street Market, and then on to the Herb Market in the Warwick Triangle. After that we were taken to Govenders, just off Umbilo Road, for bunny chows, which were oh so very good. I used to buy all my “hippie” Indian cotton shirts and colourful bangles in Grey Street when I was a teenager, so I was surprised to find very little in the way of Indian clothing and jewellery there now. Most of the shops seem to cater to a more African market, selling mostly traditional Zulu clothing and accessories, which looked like they were all made in China.
We were all fascinated by the Muthi (Medicine) Market. The people selling muthi were not terribly friendly and our guide advised us not to take photos of them (I guess that some of them may be selling illegal stuff) but it was interesting to see all the different herbs and plant materials for sale (as well as a few dead animals, although that apparently is illegal). I haven’t been to downtown Durban for many years and it was a real eye-opener.
In stark contrast to our Durban tour, we paid a visit to the plush Lighthouse Bar at the Oyster Box in Umhlanga Rocks, overlooking the beach and of course the lighthouse, where we enjoyed divine cocktails and biltong snacks.
I find it much easier to appreciate Durban’s positive aspects now that I no longer have a vested interest in the place. I quite like the fact that it has no pretensions; it is what it is, an African city with a laid-back attitude. Even a larnie hotel like the Oyster Box is Durbanised by the casual, easy-going atmosphere that is so typically Durban. I can’t imagine people feeling comfortable strolling through the 12 Apostles in baggies and slops and I like that.
After a busy weekend in Durban we all moved to the Midlands, with our visitors staying on a neighbouring farm. The incessant rain caused a few inconveniences but it didn’t put a damper on our Christmas festivities. I think that some of Durban’s “just chill” attitude had rubbed off on us because the week passed in a very relaxed kind of way; there was a spot of fishing, a bit of meandering, some after-dinner word games, and a lot of wine drinking and savouring of the local beer (the pie-eyed possum pilsner seemed to be a firm favourite). Christmas day was made special by my mum, who met our American family for the first time and proceeded to regale us all with stories of her past. She was certainly on fine form.
By Friday we were ready for Kiera and James’ wedding celebrations to begin. We kicked off that evening with a fantastic braai (barbeque) at Linga Lapa restaurant courtesy of James’ parents, who explained to us the American tradition of the groom’s parents hosting a rehearsal dinner the night before a wedding. The reception was held the next afternoon in our front garden. I’m going to leave the wedding reception for my next post because I don’t have any photos yet. Suffice to say that it was a truly wonderful occasion, made very precious by having so many of our family and dear friends to share it with us.
After the wedding weekend we headed up to Ndaka Lodge at Nambiti Game Reserve near Ladysmith. There is nothing quite as restorative as a few days spent in the African bush and I think it gave all of us a chance to recharge our batteries, despite the 6 am game drives! On our last day game ranger Mike asked us what animals we still wanted to see. Peter jokingly answered that we were looking for the elusive cheetah (there is only one left in the reserve, the rest having all been killed by lion). Well, luck was on our side because we had a fantastic sighting of the cheetah sitting replete in the grass after it had taken down and feasted on an impala.
I left the bush with a wonderful sense of feeling connected to something greater and having a place in this beautiful cosmos of ours. And I needed this in order to deal with all the inevitable goodbyes. So Alex is back in Cape Town and Kiera and James are on their way back to Washington DC. The house feels terribly empty and I’m trying very hard not to fall to pieces. But keep calm and carry on we must.