Liz's Journal - My trip to Cape Town.

Page 27

My trip to South Africa: I woke up with a start on Tuesday 25th February, I fumbled around in the darkness until my hand grasped my flashlight, I went under the covers of my bed and turned on the light. My alarm clock showed a bewildering 3:45am. I tried to get back to sleep but the rush of adrenaline would not let me, that together with the fact that my grandmother was sound asleep snoring contently.

I got up and dressed slowly not really sure of what I was putting on, the flashlight stuck in my mouth. It was too early to wake mom and dad, even Jack complained somewhat when I decided to take him for a walk. The winter air bit into our flesh as we stepped outside and I thought of the rest of my family and probably the rest of the marina sound asleep in their nice warm beds. Jack must have been thinking the same thing as he reluctantly got shoved off the boat.

Not wanting to disturb my mother and father on my return, I piggybacked Jack down the stairs so that he would not make a noise. Still too early to wake the others. I crawled into Jacks bed and tried to get to sleep. I watched the minutes go by. At six I got up and made mom and dad some tea and woke them, they were amazed to find me awake, I am usually the last one up and full of excuses.

Leaving the boat, I gave the mast a farewell hug and departed bag in hand. The car ride to Malaga Airport took three hours, I tried, but could not sleep for excitement and the sound of a worn wheel bearing under the back seat.

After a tearful (but quiet) farewell I left Malaga on a two-hour flight to England, which was slightly bumpy, but nothing compared to sailing in bad seas or even good ones at that. After a wait in Heathrow Airport, I boarded a British Airways plane that would take me back to my country of birth.

For those of you who have not flown in a long time like me, upon boarding the plane you will be amazed as I was at all the changes they have made. Now, instead of watching a group movie, there is a TV on the back of every seat, radio and map channel showing you where you are in relation to the rest of the world, your ETA , wind speed, plane speed, time at origin, time at destination etc. I arrived the next morning after a very bumpy flight.

Arriving in Cape Town was magical, the sun slowly cresting the well known and loved Table Mountain. This was a sight I had longed to see and even though the cabin is pressurised in the plane I could smell the Fynbos (native Cape flora). I almost wept when I was greeted by a cheerful, "Goeie more". I made my way through the airport my luggage finally came through on the conveyer belt and I breezed through Customs control.

My aunt and grandmother were waiting for me, they did not recognize me and I sneaked up behind them, there were tears of joy as we embraced. The car ride was one to remember, taxis filled and overflowing with people shoved in front of us in the smallest of spaces. We rounded a corner, I gazed across the wide ocean that I left so long ago. I felt a pain in my stomach and I suddenly wanted to go back to the deep blue yonder, but that feeling vanished when the car stopped at Bowenvale, Granny Billy's apartment, this is where I would live for nine whole weeks.

Milly, (Miriam) my Nanny was waiting at the door for me, I nearly knocked her off her feet, she hadn't changed, but it took me a long time to get used to her voice again. I walked down the passage, talking to granny who said " Do you remember that painting you made for me from 'splash art' with marbles" " Yes, of course I do" I said " it had blue paint smudged where I licked it because it tasted like salt". We rounded the corner and there it was, stuck up in the kitchen with some blue paint missing. Now for those of you who don't know, I painted that painting when I was five years of age. I was astounded by the size of the room that I was to sleep in, so much bigger than my cabin on the boat, yet nice and cozy. I unpacked my clothes before making my first connection with my lost world, this phone call was to Nadine a friend since we were both 18 months old and proud of it. Claudia answered the phone and we started our conversation and how we were going to surprise Nadine.

The next day we got cracking with shopping at the new Canal Walk Shopping Centre, talk about shop till you drop, this was my first time shopping in a mall since 1999 and to say the very least I was doing well. After a hard day shopping, granny and I stumbled and fumbled up the stairs, so laden with clothes, you will not believe.

The next day I went to the Camps Bay Pre Primary School, which I last laid, eyes upon at age seven. So many things had changed and little kids surrounded me asking me who I was, why I was taking photos and if I was going to be in their class. One on the most amazing things was walking down the wooden laid corridor, so much shorter and smaller that I remember. The children painted pictures in their classrooms, chatting away without a concern in the world. At the end of the corridor I saw Mrs. Burns, my old school teacher, I recognized her and she hadn't changed I bit. Amazingly she thought the same about me as she exclaimed 'Liz is that you, I don't believe it' quite frankly I didn't believe it either after something like seven years she recognized me. I left the school happy with what I had accomplished and yet slightly sad that I had made the trip, opening up my memory again, a new wound piercing my heart. Ok, so that is a bit dramatic, but come on would you really read this if it wasn't.

On Saturday, the first of March I went to the house that I had lived in and loved, 9 Forest Hill Road, Hout Bay. The forest road winding up to my old house twisted and turned, then breaking off into different directions until it came to a stop at the very familiar driveway of number 9. Walking through my old bedroom, kitchen and garden was an experience of great magnitude, sailing across seas fighting storms etc. seemed to just fall away as my childhood drew me around the structure that was my life. Only three of the many neighbors still remained in the old neighborhood, seeing all of them again was wonderful yet slightly scary, they had changed so much and so had I.

The difference between 40 and 44 is nothing compared to the difference you find when you leave a young child age six behind and come back to an eleven year old doing proper school and actually making sense when they try and convey their opinion. A little further down the road I met up with some other friends before going to the 'World of Birds'. The last time I went to the World of Birds I rushed through it as fast as possible, this time granny went on ahead and sat down on some benches while I did the rest of the park.

While I was in the monkey enclosure all of the Marmosets and other small monkeys started climbing all around and on me, one even sat on my bag and started playing with my bell. Seeing how well I handled myself with monkeys the keeper asked me if I wanted to come over the weekends and help feed them. Unfortunately I could not it would be unfair to ask my Grandmother to travel all the way down to Hout Bay from Sea Point just so that I could feed the monkeys and plus that I had so much I still wanted to do in my nine week holiday.

On Sunday I met up with Katrin and Dave, such good friends that you could call them family, or such good family you could actually call them friends. We drove to the Rumbling Tum Restaurant and met up with Richard and Eve, (Dave's children). Unfortunately, because of the age difference we were never very good friends but friends all the same. Eve hadn't changed a bit and I could have picked her out of a crowd any day, Richard on the other hand had grown about two feet and the difference between the fifteen year old he was when I last saw him and the nineteen year old he was when he greeted me. You really know you are getting older when your playtime pals start driving cars, scary.

The family, Granny Billy, Auntie Carol and Uncle Norman and I went to Muizenberg Beach, this is one of the nicest and certainly the warmest beach where you can swim and not have to worry about the penguins, seriously the water is really cold compared with the tropical oceans I had become used to. Along with everything else, we also went for a short weekend holiday in Langebaan, a two-hour drive. The last time I went to Langebaan I was nine or ten and I could not stop asking "How far is it? how many percent to go?" etc. This time the trip ended before it began traveling at 120 kilometers per hour, not six knots, how could I complain? I got busy and started gardening as soon as we had finished lunch. After cutting and shaping the plants, I went for a swim and had the funniest of ideas. I ran back to the house and got a bucket then went back down to the beach filled the bucket with broken shells and started mulching around the plants, it not only held in moisture but looked good. I made about fifteen trips and did the whole garden. I was thinking about getting a bigger bucket but I would never manage carrying it.

14th March Friday I did not complain when I was woken from my uneventful sleep because the idea of spending the weekend with Nadine, her mother and friend on a camping trip knocked all drowsiness out of my system. I was fired up and ready to go. I never quite imagined how full of life a two person tent could get in a steady breeze and it was to my cost as I soon found out. Nadine and I spent the night with the tent roof an inch off our noses. The waves must have been pounding against the shore in an incredibly vicious game, I can only assume this for it was hard to hear anything above the roar the tent was making as it faced the wind attack after attack losing ground and then gaining it again. It so happens that whenever one is fully dressed they get a strong urge to go for a swim, well that's not ENTIRELY true we weren't intending to go for a swim but while crossing a current swept river Nadine lost her footing and as a result we both had a lovely dip.

We returned to the camp site only to change for some reason into our swimming things. One the drive back Nadine was kind enough to be caught in the act with a hand full of sweets, which made for a lovely photo.

As you can well imagine I can't write all of this in one day so you will be able to see a definite change in my writing, this changes with my mood, at the moment I am full of energy and vigor so my writing is fast and funny.

When one has nothing it is amazing how they can still give something, if and only if they truly wish to. This was displayed to me while waiting in my Aunts car when she popped into a store to purchase something. Across the road was a fish shop, one of those that have cracked blood stained tiled floors. A lady had just acquired a few cooked pieces of smoked fish. As she was exiting the building she saw a small boy probably aged six, with rags for clothes and bare feet that carried all the cities germs. Her heart went out to this boy and gave him a piece of fish before continuing her stroll home.

The boy smiled back at her, one of those really meaningful smiles, the ones that you know come right from the heart then he sat down on the cracked cement to cherish his small morsel of food. About to bite into the food he looked up and there was an old man, each of the many creases of his weathered face held some sort of story. His heart went out, as far out as it could, he stifled his huger, got up and handed the piece of fish to the man. No words were needed a mutual understanding had passed as they both held the piece of fish, the boy let go his side turned on his heel and left, although his stomach was empty his heart was full and that's what matters after all.

The weekend of the 21st I spent with a friend that, funny enough I met in Tobago three years previously. The two days were spent at the Waterpolo pool as my friend, Lee-Ann's father plays this game. It was great to see Lee-Ann again after we last saw her in Miami. Lee-Ann has changed so much, but then I suppose so have I. The teenage years are probably the most difficult, especially for those surrounding the teenager, parents, teachers and others, you were also one once remember.

The Thomas T Tucker, a boat wrecked off Cape point, was explored, prodded and poked by Katrin, Dave and I on our trip to the Cape point Nature Reserve. The trip to the wreck for me, I think was more emotional that you can imagine, the eerie figure was dashed up against the rocks in the dead of a a black velvet like night. The souls on board were unaware of the imminent danger ahead, until it was too late, shouts filled the air and then all was silent. To me it was surreal, because I live on a boat.

Nadine was kind enough to let me spend the weekend and go for a teeth shattering, knuckle whitening, Dakar rally type ride. Now you must be thinking to yourselves, what could two teenaged girls possibly get up to. Unfortunately I was too busy holding onto the contents of my stomach to take pictures so the only photos you will see are the ones where we were stationary (but still shaking). You see, Nadine has a "Quad" a four wheeled All Terrain Vehicle, we buzzed around everywhere in Hout Bay, with Nadine driving.

My thanks to all at Camps bay Primary and High school for helping me to get in touch with my long lost class mates. Maciek was kind enough to show me around the grounds and get me in touch with a few friends. Although I would have liked to see a few more it was not possible at the time and I am grateful that I got to see the ones I did.

One of the things that I accomplished while in South Africa, as well as renewing old friendships, I also studied for and got my Restricted Marine Radio License, which exercised my mind, while on holiday.

It was with a heavy heart and incredibly over weight suitcases that I left my Grandmother and Aunt at the airport. Although both my cabin and hold luggage were over weight I managed to get on the plane without hassle. I had an eight-hour wait in Heathrow airport before boarding the BA flight that would take me back, home.