Saturday, January 01, 2011

holiday, final part

Four: Napier to George (Wednesday, 29 December 2010), George to Gariep Dam (Thursday, 30 December 2010) and Gariep Dam to Pretoria (Friday, 31 December 2010)

We drove through rain and heavy fog on the morning of the 29th from Napier to George and arrived there around 12:30. The One's sister is a doctor and his brother-in-law a Dutch Reformed minister. They have two small children, and their Golden Retrievers just had puppies, which have already all been booked at R5000 a piece. They are so cute and cuddly!

It was cold and rainy the entire time we spent there. We couldn't even see the panoramic Outeniqua mountains right next to the town, it was so foggy. The One's brother-in-law treated us with a barbecued snoek for dinner  It is a local fish which is basted in sweet jam ans garlic butter as it braais. We had it with sultana jam and freshly baked bread. Delicious!

We left around 7:30 the following morning, taking the N12 over the Outeniqua Pass, then turned on the N9 to Uniondale. We refueled there. Some fat people in a huge double cab SUV used the toilets. They had a fake had sticking out of the back of their vehicle, to look like someone was trapped in there. The hand even had some blood drawn on it to make it look more realistic. I just think it looks stupid, and it makes them look like idiots.

After Uniondale came Willowmore, and then a long stretch of nothing until we reached Graaff Reinet once again. Mother bought a fridge magnet and I put a photograph of the beautiful town church on FaceBook. Bloody tourists.

The N9 north was quiet and we passed Middelburg, refueling in Colesberg where we had lunch at a Wimpy. It was sweet chili chicken wraps for The One and I, and Mother had a crispy chicken wrap. We got on the N1 again there.

We arrived at Gariep Dam, our final pit stop, around 16:00. We were staying in the De Stijl Gariep Hotel in a double room booked for me as part of my annual bonus by my employers. It is quite classy, but very basic. We didn't even have any crockery - the only things in the kitchenette were two knives, two forks, two spoons, some teaspoons, two tall glasses, three mugs and two highball glasses. We drank the coffee cream liqueur that The One's sister had given us for Christmas out of the mugs, watching the sun set over the dam. The view from our balcony over the dam was absolutely magnificent.

There was a short storm, after which the most beautiful and perfect rainbow I have ever seen materialised. It was awe-inspiring.

See Mother's serene smile, looking across the dam, reminiscing about good times she had spent with my father and close friends at the dam, ages ago. It is the most beautiful photograph of her I have ever seen. The detail is astonishing. Mother ages well.

I hope she knows this: The One and I had so much fun taking her along. We enjoyed her quirky stories and humour no end. She was in good spirits all the time, even when her health let her down. It was a pleasure having her there. As I have said before - there is nothing like the security a good mother brings to her children. I have a brilliant mother.

Sentimentality aside (but I do mean every word of the last paragraph), I didn't sleep very well that night, the last of our holiday, just as I had not slept the night before our holiday began. In my mind, it perfectly frames our holiday. It is a little bizarre, I know.

One of the reasons for my insomnia the night before last was some or other insect bites on my calf and ankle that are very swollen and itch without end. I feel like taking a rake and just scratching until there is nothing left to scratch. Yes, it is still itchy, but not as swollen, Mother. I have not yet had energy to go th the pharmacy, and we didn't have calamine lotion as I had thought. Don't worry so much.

I was still wide awake very early the next morning when it became light. The people in the room above above us had small children that stomped around like insane crackwhore elephants as soon as the first beam of light became visible. I was very irritated and got up, went outside, ignored someone who greeted me, fell over the steps because I couldn't see without my lenses. I call that instant karma.

Anyway, I got the cigarettes out of the car, which was the reason I was up there. I couldn't face one of Mother's Dunhills that early, and we hadn't any more in the room. I also retrieved the packet of cigarettes from the terrace below our balcony that the wind had taken the evening before.

I lost my footing on the way up from the terrace and slid halfway down. I was so glad that no cameras had been on me because I tore my pants all the way along the back seam with my big ass. I shamelessly struggled back to the room, washed my hands and changed clothes. I estimated the time at six o'clock, but I was amazed to find it was only 4:58 when I switched on my phone.

All thoughts of sleep had evaporated, so I went out onto the balcony with my camera. I thought the sun rising across the water might make a good photo. I was glad I had put on a thick jacket because it was very cold and windy outside. It was another 20 odd minutes before the sun rose. It was magnificent and worth the wait in the icy wind.

Anyway, not much later Mother got up and stumbled outside for her first cigarette of the day. She had put on her sunglasses because the sun was very bright. There she sat like a filmstar, working out which direction was north from the sunrise. She likes to know where she's going, does that woman.

So, at 7:30 we left for Pretoria. Nothing interesting happened on the 141km to Bloemfontein, where we first stopped. I don't like Bloemfontein. The people drive the way chickens fly. I used the J-word in Mother's presence when an a-hole didn't stop at a four way intersection. I felt terrible because I know how she hates it when I use that word.

Still, Bloemfontein people simply can't drive. Also, the evil little brat at the liquor store asked us why we weren't getting champagne for New Year as well. None of her goddamned business, I think. Those people make me think of the nasty-ass zombies in The Hills Have Eyes. As I've said before, they all seem on the verge of violently lunging at you.

Nevertheless, we made it through the Drab Free State unscathed. Just outside Kroonstad we drove through a very heavy shower and passed a very fresh accident scene. There were three or four badly damaged cars spread across an area of at least 100m. Fortunately, policemen had arrived at the scene and no one seemed to have been seriously injured.

We made it safely across the Vaal river into our home province. If Bloemfontein drivers are bad, you should see those Jo'burg ones. They are all certifiable. They drive like the devil is behind them. One old man wanted to pass me, but I was driving a little too fast to allow him to get in front of me. He shook his fist, shouting obscenities and cursing me and my ancestors in sign language before setting off in a huff.

We made it home alive, dropping Mother at her house first. I could see that she had really enjoyed the holiday.

That's about all of it. We got to our own house and all the pets were glad to see us. The rest you know.

Now let's see what we can make of this here new year.

Written by I
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