Thursday, July 13, 2006

Where is she? Moe in South Africa Part 1

This is my long overdue first “what’s going on inSouth Africa” post. I’ve been here a full month, and while a few of you have emailed me, I thought I’d sum things up. My flight to South Africa was on-time and easy.

The flight stopped over in Dakar, Senegal, and it felt strange to be touching down in an unknown country and staying on the plane. Maybe someday I’ll visit Senegal. I spent two days on my own in Melville, a quiet neighbourhood in Johannesburg. Usually, I fly in and out of Jo’Burg, never really staying. I’m glad I tooka few days to decompress on my own after a hectic end of the school year. I used hot water bottles at night as the temperature began to drop…

After two days, I went to Cape Town to visit Doug, a friend I met in South Africa back in 1998. Cape Town is such a beautiful city, and the weather cooperated. I spent a few days out in Tulbagh with Doug and some of his friends. Tulbagh is situated in the beautiful South African wine country. We did some wine tasting, ate good food, and watched the World Cup matches… I tell you, I haven’t watched this much soccer since Mike and Matt were in high school! Then it was back to Cape Town where I spent my last day atop Table Mountain enjoying the view and writing. Not a bad place for inspiration!

After Cape Town, I boarded a backpacker bus that lets you hop on-hop off as you go through the southern coast. So hop on-hop off I did. I stopped in three places as I made my way from Cape Town to Port Elizabeth. As I visited many of the towns on previous visits, I opted for quiet, natural places. First stop: Wilderness. Wilderness is situated at the foot of a vast forest, and I hoped to meet someone at thebackpacker’s hostel to join me on a hike. Unfortunately, no such luck. No people and rain. So, no hiking and no horseback riding. Instead, I enjoyed cups of tea, books, and writing.

After two days, I hopped on to the Southern Comfort Horse Ranch outside Knysna. The Knysna forest factored into some of the books for my thesis, so I hoped to pay homage to my thesis with a horse ride into the forest. Again, Mother Nature had other plans. The two days I spent there were full of interesting people and animals, but the ground proved too wet for either hiking or riding. I sent thoughts out to the forest and left for Nature’s Valley, another forest stop.

The disappointment of the previous stops washed away with the drive into Nature’s Valley. A gorgeous stretch of beach with nothing but forest on all sides. There are many holiday homes here, but they hide behind trees, leaving you entirely isolated on the beach. The weather was gorgeous, but I was on my own with a sore heel. Alas, no hiking but plenty of inspiration.

Finally, after two weeks in South Africa, I made it to Grahamstown, one of my official “homes.” My friend Rowan and his father picked me up in Port Elizabeth and took me home, along the road that I often remember in my poetry.

I’ve been in Grahamstown for two weeks now. The National Arts Festival came and went, and I made it to a few shows. I saw Athol Fugard’s new play, Booitjie and the Oubaas, which left me inspired and in tears. I saw a jazz performance, a lecture by the World Wildlife Fund (which stressed the same important points as Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth), and a few other fabulous shows. I also spent a good amount of time volunteering for Wordfest, the literary arm of the festival. I even found myself being published! Iwrote a book review, and while it may not be thepublishing I expected, it’s a fun first step! See the review online:

Now I am enjoying quiet Grahamstown. How wonderful to see friends multiple times a week that I haven’t seen in four years! I am sitting in my favourite haunts, drinking Rooibos tea and writing. The lure of SouthAfrica still stirs, and I will have to accept it or move on soon. For now, I am enjoying my friends and the freedom to be here and happy.

As for the rest of my time here, I am going to go on a jaunt into the Karoo next week, one of my favourite areas of South Africa. Then, it’s back to Grahamstown for pre-birthday festivities with friends before I head back to Cape Town for a week. I am gearing up for my safari Aug. 7 through Kenya and Tanzania. Just last night I saw a program on tv about the Great Migration. Oh, I can’t wait.

My little travel narratives are never little, so forgive me! I miss you all very much, but I am so thrilled to be back here in South Africa. I hope you are all well and healthy. Send me an email and let me know how you are.


Margaret said...

Hi Moe!

I really enjoyed reading about your travels and the photos are terrific. I envy you this opportunity.

Mike and I had a great time in Wisconsin. It was good to spend time with Becky and Moira. I think you would like camp, too. There is something for everyone and lots of creative people. And you would get to see your dad do Tai Chi. I'll post photos as soon as I can. He actually did better than me!

Please keep up the messages. And they are not too long. I would like to know more about the people and life in SA.

Love ya,


Mike Ewing said...

Dear Moe,

What a pain to go through just to leave you a comment.

And the comment is that we miss you and I'm heartened by the sense that you will eventually manage to leave SA and come home to us.

Kiss Dad