Pat’s Take One of South Africa

For those who don’t know me I am Pat Wegener, mother of all the African explorers and wife to Curtis Sr. The following entry is my first and consist of my personal account of our family trip to visit my oldest son, Glenn, in Cape Town and beyond.

You can tell by the title it is my first time to the African continent and I can already tell you it will not be my last. Our journey began with an extended travel duration to Cape Town of twenty-seven hours real time. It consisted of three flights, two being over ten hours in a plane. This was not the ideal setting for the same woman who has panic attacks and is convinced every airborne vehicle is destined to crash. However, after being consoled by my new pal Millie and eating all the in-flight food and virgin mary’s I could muster, I managed to survive. Who says packaged food can’t be enjoyed by all? We arrived inCape Town, and yes out of all the candidates to lose their luggage, it was the grand diva to land bag less. I went two days without the bag … Nothing a “No Worries” attitude and Woolworths shopping trip couldn’t fix.

Nothing was like I expected. I had had visions … actually more like nightmares of roughing it and idling about during our long stay in the desolate Africa plains. For someone like me, where was all of my extra energy and love for fun going to go? How will I survive eating nothing beans and rice?! However, this Weight Watchers alum has managed to gained not only weight but such an appreciation of this special place. Our first day was a thorough tour ofCape   Townand its’ surrounding municipalities. We hit pleasant, quaint towns like Muizenberg andKalk Bay. The scenery here is astounding. The mountains are breathtaking, but this amplified by its close neighbor, the ocean. I have never been to a place with this kind of beauty and unique landscape. At the beach, we found adorable and cute little shacks that had their own bright color scheme that seemed to dance in the reflection of the equally stunning blue sea. For lunch I had my first speed bump. Glenn had been telling us of this small seafood die that had “absolutely the best fish and chips.” Dear reader, I do not like or even recognize fish or any of its pathetic cousins as a source of food. I do not Sam Am I.  But as a survival mechanism, I thought, “I will at least have my chips.” Well, lesson learned. Chips here are limpy, greasy, sad little excuses for  the french fries I’m used to back Stateside. Hey, at least I can have some ketchup to spruce the fries up, right? Nope. Heinz nor any of his friends made it to Africa. There will always be supper… Later that day, we met Glenn’s best friends, the love of his life– The African Penguin. They are the most precious and cutest little tuxedo around! I loved how they nestled and played around with each other. The day concluded even more lovely than it began. We drove long a cliff and captured a glimpse of heaven. It was a spectacular view I will find nowhere else.

Finally, dinner! Italian in Africa? Bold and risky but oh so worth it. Food and service are so much different here. Every dish I have had has so much time and labor put into it. Presentation has been highly elevated here, and all the servers are extra polite and helpful. For the same price as an American meal for five, we had five main dishes plus wine, multiple appetizers, and sides. Not too shabby for my degree in weight loss from WW.  Day one in Africa could not have been a merrier surprise.

Our next day was 4th of the July, and it is honestly strange not celebrating at the lake with fun and patriotism. None of the people really even knew it was a big day in the States; it is strange for me. We began the morning with a trip to Kirstchbosch Gardens. It is the botanical garden of South Africa and one of the most renowned gardens in the world. The lush of exotic herbs, flowers, and shrubs stimulated both my eyes and my nose. The entire garden is enclosed in mountains, and I felt like Julie Andrews in The Sound of Music running through clean air, spacious skies, and pervasive pulchritude. My family and I left this wonderful place to pursue the Eastern Food Bizarre. Glenn’s poor communication left us weary of what lied ahead. We arrived and I was simply thrown off. The restaurant was a long hallway of stalls each representing a different Asian cuisine. There were Indian, Chinese, Arabic, and other foods I wasn’t very sure from where they originated. The place was a mix of sketch but also potential. We all separated then met again each wielding our plates to sample and share. Everyone got somewhat good meals, but this was not exactly my fancy. But I did enjoy the experience. Curtis Jr. did garner our first running inside joke here though. Curtis ordered the curry. It looked disgusting. It was brown goop with chicken bones bobbing in and out. Needless to say his meal went untouched. It did start the trip-long joke that anytime someone ordered or got food that was not good or just too weird to handle, they “ordered the curry.” We rode a cable car to the top ofTableMountainand gained a great evening view of the Cape Town city scape to end the evening. The city truly is a sight to behold. From this high point we could see Glenn’s apartment and Lion’s Head, a near but tall foothill. Glenn told us we would be hiking this rather lofty goal and ensured there would be light trails for novice hikers like myself… An ironic foreshadowing. To end the night, Glenn ended our nation’s birthday with a solid attempt at the American milkshake at a very quirky and entertain hotel bar. Our meal was good but the Fire and Ice bar had very interesting and titled one room toilets. They included Outhouse, Stage Fright, Long Drop, and Temptation. I’ll tell the gang about those later.

Remember the cable car from the previous day? Me too. I remember because it required no energy and no effort on my part. Hiking Lion’s Head did not share these qualities. That morning Glenn drove us to the base of Lion’s Head where bathrooms and clearly marked trails had been promised, but Glenn’s weak communication was becoming more apparent. No bathrooms and barely a path leading to the top. Stormy waters lie ahead. We started the trek. I have never climbed anything let alone this massive incline, so I was experiencing some trouble, but I powered through. Well, the path lasted about an hour before there was nothing but narrow cliffs, high ladders, and rocks. Lots of rocks! I have a fear of heights so I already felt nervous, and the new circumstances were no help. As best I could I moved cautiously and slowly up the mountain. When hit my first patch of exhaustion and panic, Glenn swore to me that we had made it halfway. That little liar! The rest of the climb up was the scariest thing I have ever done. This was no place for a cute Holly Housewife like myself. As my asthma enhanced my hatred of this stupid mountain grew, Glenn promised me we were “almost there.” If I had a penny every time I heard him say that… After some of the most demanding exertions of my entire life, I saw the flattening of the ground and reached the top. Fear and tire disappeared, and I was so proud of myself! I had conquered something so foreign and challenging that I could not help but widely grin. I was never a feminist but I couldn’t help but let out a “I am woman! Hear me ROAR!” Watch out Hilary, there is another tough old bird out here. The trip down was actually more difficult than the ascent, but after more panic and heavy breathing I had reached the car, slapped Glenn, and went back to our hotel weary yet fulfilled.

The next day was a travel day. We went to the Cape of Good Hope. This place was a tiny hint at what I envision heaven to be like. I am glad I am doing this at this stage of my life considering it requires strenuous hiking and climbing. Note I currently feel like I was run over by a bulldozer from yesterday’s upward exploits. To get even out to Cape Point required a long journey down the cape peninsula. Once we arrived, there was a cable car taking people toward the top of Cape Point lookout. I did not care how much it cost; I was riding it there and back … just try to convince me otherwise. My favorite spot was getting to the far out stretch of land where the Atlantic and Indian oceans meet while being hugged by a full vista of mountainous beauty. It was such a great way to begin the day. Shocker! For lunch I found Mexican food! I hope you readers are catching the running theme of me avoiding African food at all cost. For someone who can eat Mexican every day of her life, this was icing on the cake to enjoy my favorite style inSouth Africa. The food was absolutely delicious, and the guacamole was a stand out. The owner was so nice to us. We ended dinner with a picturesque moment with sombreros and cacti. On the way home, it was a must to stop and buy some more units of electricity for Glenn’s apartment. Here, this is done at the grocery store. How bizarre. I loved my experience at Super Spar, and I have learned that I am a thoroughly grocery store snob. Let me tell y’all about other funny, African idiosyncrasies I have learned here. Pharmacist is called a chemist. Elevators are lifts. Good bye is cheers. Street lights are robots. They love roundabouts. Parking requires a parking marshall whom you must tip or else.

Saturday was a highlight. I had been worried about it due to Glenn’s continuing bad descriptions. We were off to the Old Biscuit Mill. I was expecting stale biscuits from an unclean man behind stall and an overall bad time. That and Glenn had been trying to get us an ostrich burger to eat … Good luck with that. However, the Old Biscuit Mill ended up being one of my favorite stops. The whole place was a giant tented and canvassed area with stalls each selling a diverse and delectable array of foods. It was a food carnival on steroids but retained such a refreshing local affair. There were baked pastries still steaming, international tastings I had never even thought about, and so many pleasures in which to indulge. The crowd was rather touristy (a rarity for our encounters) but alsoCape Town yuppies and dinks. We bought many exciting cheeses, breads, meats and spreads to be used for picnics and snacks later. A fantastic first half of the day that thankfully did not include any cooked ostrich. We returned back to Glenn’s to drop off our goods and then took a short walk to the ocean promenade to enjoy sea sprays and crashing waves. This night we ate a little out of the main town to meet with a business friend of Glenn and his family. We meet at The Toad where Grant, his lovely and gregarious wife Robyn, their two precious children, and our family had such a fun evening laughing and exchanging stories and perspectives.

On Sunday, it was unusual not going to church that morning. We plan on going to Glenn’s church, Common Ground, that night and would spend this quasi-rest day gently touring more parts ofCape Town. When we leftMemphis,TN it was harsh 105 degrees F, but here it is winter time which means cold, rainy weather. We had been blessed with pretty sunny days for awhile, though the cold was seriously shivering my youngest daughter Grace, it was about time for a full rainy day. This downpour did not dampen our spirits. We visited Hout Bay Market where there vibrant merchants selling assortments of goods and of course, more local yummies.

In my conclusion of this portion of our blog, I am so happy to close by describing our night at Glenn’s church. It was awesome for me for so many reasons. I had missed worshipping my Heavenly Father and looked forward to seeing what type of body my son had taken roots. I am proud to say it is a very Biblically based church. The church’s demographic is healthy young people who are energized and genuine in their love of Christ. They actively pursue to tackle the city’s injustice through God’s love. They walk the walk as they talk the talk. The church was doing a study on Samuel which is one of my favorites. The congregation is on fire, and I immensely enjoyed the fellowship.

I always had reservations about my journey toAfrica. I was scared and felt no yearn for the adventure I heard was available inAfrica. However, after being here and overcoming presumptions and fears, I have grown. Our fears are indeed worth conquering. All should climb their Lion’s Head…

One Comment on "Pat’s Take One of South Africa"

  1. Suzanne says:

    What a delightful travelogue, Pat! Can’t wait for Part Two. The only improvement will be hearing you recount your adventure in person!

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