On Driving and Diving

Now that I’ve worked out what the pillars of motivation are, I did what I normally do when presented with rules to follow; I completely ignored them and spent Sunday doing my own thing. I didn’t ‘practice’ or ‘study’ and tried to spend as much time on my own as I could.

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The road less travelled

So I put the foot down on the pedal of my little hire car and did a tour of the mountain and the coast. I think I’m in love.

It wasn’t a massive drive; I didn’t quite make it down to Cape Point, but I did take in a few viewpoints, beaches, bars, cafes and harbours and even wandered throughthe touristy Kalk Bay – where you can buy curios, antique books, hippy clothes, surf clothes and curios and silver jewelery. One refreshing ice-cream later, and I kept going.

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St James Bay

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Sunday chatting

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Good use for a handbag

I drove Southwards along the Eastern coast from Cape Town, towards Cape Point veering inland at one point to climb the mountain road at the unpronounceable Kommetjie (you try) to the more familiarly named Scarborough… in order to get some of the best views of the area.

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Off the wall in Kalk’s Bay

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It’s not easy to take a pic of yourself on tour

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Dinner is served

The views of both the mountain and the sea leave me as breathless as an ice-cold dip in the Atlantic. After a couple of hours on the road in 39 degree heat, you have almost no choice but to pull over and run head first into the first bit of sea you see. Sharks or no sharks. If you are on the East Coast that means a sharp chill from the Indian Ocean. On the West, with the Atlantic … you face a potential coronary. The coldest water I have ever swum in is in a waterfall in North wales. This beats it hands down and for a brief moment as I dove under the waves, I swear my heart actually stopped. My hands went numb.

And then, with in minutes of being back on the road, the aircon (and David Bowie) are back on again.

So today was a day of driving and diving and driving and eventually stopping for some oysters and a glass of Stellenbosch’s best rose, whilst sitting on cushioned window seats watching seals play in the waters and being lulled into complacency by some of Cape Town’s finest jazz. Today was a good day. If not a particularly motivated one.

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During my travels, I  experienced not just the panoramic side of South Africa but the friendliness and chattiness that makes the people who they are. I met a couple whose son lived in Oxford, an artist, a mother, a personal trainer, a network supply manager, and a group of astronomers working on this mega machine.

Apparently a big issue for South Africans when they travel is that no one talks to them! Having seen now how shopkeepers, petrol pumps attendants, neighbours all chat, I’m not surprised they find it tough, particularly in London. Even at the airport, the immigration official started bantering and writing down places of me to visit ,and on seeing the bottle of champagne poking out my bag and joked about cracking it open with me. No wonder the passport control queues stretch round the airport…

And yet, with all that driving, and beauty and indulgence, just one dirt track turn and you see some striking poverty. Shanty towns and barricaded schools remind you that all is not hunky dory in a seemingly picturesque town. Integration still has a long way to go and it will be some time before the a dip in the 25% unemployment rate leads to a significant drop in crime.

What is noticeable here though is that everyone seems to acknowledge the problems around and want to do something it about them. Unlike in the UK where the real problems (education, infrastructure, knowledge sharing) aren’t tackled but are stacked up and used as accusations against different political factions.

From what I can see South Africa is a country full of hope, optimism and warmth. I’m glad I’m here for a while.

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