Catching Up in the Cape

We were so busy I didn't have time for this blog!

A classic house on one of the tree-lined streets of Villiersdorp

The Western Cape was a whirlwind of activity for Zoze and me. I really didn’t have much time to keep a blog, especially with the distilleries to be visited and written about. It seemed like everywhere I need to go was 1-1 ½ hours from our base. So it was a mission to get it done.

Instead of a blow-by-blow account of our time down there, I’ll touch on the highlights and my impressions of what it’s like to be back in this gorgeous country.

Leaving the sub-tropical, humid Durban weather, it was quite a shock to land in Cape Town to a dry heat like California. Like most metropolitan area, the airport area was congested with stop and go traffic until we go to the first of many passes we were to travel in the area.

The view from Franschhoek Pass

But oh, the views! Absolutely phenomenal. Vineyards and fruit orchards in the valleys that stretch for miles and climb up the jagged mountains, ending when they just get too steep for even mountain goats. The roads are mainly 2-lanes and inevitably, we would get stuck behind a heavily-laden truck carrying peaches, pears, apricots and yes, grapes as the truck crept up the pass. Of course, there is nowhere to pass and unfortunately, many of the truck drivers don’t give a damn about holding anyone up. So one learns patience!

The town of Villiersdorp, known as "The Pearl of the Overberg," where Biff and Julie moved, is tiny. Very provincial, for wont of a better word. Their house is in the village, lovely, with a small garden that is suffering in the horrendous drought. But no doubt it will come back when the rains come in a few months.

The town is basically one main street which is the highway that runs through it to other places!  One end is a bit marginal, with stores that cater to the Coloreds (no, I am not being racist, that is what the mixed-race people are called although I understand that might change) and black people. There are two small grocery store, the pharmacy, the bottle (liquor) store and a couple of other small outfits.  But if you blink when you drive through, you’ll miss it.

It’s an old town with a long history, and the big old trees lining the side streets probably have some wonderful tales to tell. The people that Biff and Jules have befriended there are charming and welcoming. We met most of them and it’s difficult to keep names and stories straight!

My Insights

I think what I have noticed most about the country since I was here 5 years ago, is the change in attitude towards each other – black, white, colored – all seem to be more accepting of the other. Last time, there was a very edgy feeling everywhere I went and I was very cautious going out into the world from behind the fences that encircle most houses, especially in KZN. This time, both in the Cape and KZN, there are greetings, smiles and waves, and even though I am always conscious and aware of what is going around me, there is no longer that niggling feeling in the back of my mind that something is going to happen.

The kids make do with what's available!

Obviously, I don’t go into known “bad” areas just as there are places in Seattle and Los Angeles that I stay away from. So despite the “unrest” and demonstrations around education, I think that if we can get rid of Pres. Zuma (Trump’s brother from another mother) the country is on the way coming right.