South Africa--Setting off at last, watching the city of Cape Town grow smaller and smaller behind us, I felt a tremendous sense of relief. The long-awaited road trip had officially begun. Travelling on the open road brought with it a feeling of freedom. As the car kept moving, so was I moved, further and further away from the stress of recent weeks.
We reached our first destination, Beaufort West, in the early evening. It looked every bit the quaint little town I’d pictured. Not seeing many other options for dinner, we went into the Spur. Once seated, we were approached by a young woman with reddish-brown hair and a cheery smile. That would be the first of at least ten times the waitress visited our table during the evening. It seemed that every time I turned around, she was behind me, asking if we needed anything, or if we wanted another drink. Better than any service I’d ever seen in Cape Town, that was certain, but I started to sincerely wish she’d go away. At the end of the night, she came back to check if we need any change from the 10% tip we’d given her. Even with the wholehearted effort she’d been making, she clearly wasn’t used to monetary recognition. On her recommendation, we drove to a nearby pub to check out the local nightlife. But the combination of the dodgy-looking area and vacant parking lot made for a quick departure. We returned to an icy room, the temperature had dropped drastically since the sun had gone down. Luckily, the huge, old-fashioned bathtub could provide a welcomed substitute for indoor heating.
The next morning, we embarked on the second leg of our journey, heading for Kimberly, the capital of South Africa’s Northern Cape Province. The scenery became more and more captivating along the way: Miles of yellow veld, little green bushes, and gorgeous blue skies. I breathed in deeply, glad to be back in what felt like the heart of South Africa again. The Simon and Garfunkel soundtrack completed the sensation, “I’m on my way; I don’t know where I’m going, but I’m on my way. Taking my time….”
Kimberly seemed rather desolate. In spite of the setting, it was amazing to discover the prices people were charging for accommodation. After investigating some claustrophobic and dingy-looking spaces, we finally came across “The Nook.” The name led me to imagine somewhere cozy and quaint, and indeed it was a lovely house that the owners had turned into a bed and breakfast after their daughters got married. Finally it felt like a place to relax in, rather than run from. The local Panarotti’s was also good, serving vegetarian pizza that was tasty and filling.
The next morning we continued towards Johannesburg. The closer we got, the more the bubbles of anticipation grew inside me. It emphasized to me how much I’d missed the people there that would always make the city home, no matter how long I was away, no matter the realities there that kept me from remaining.