Sometimes I like to think that there are hundreds of girls following me around. If I had songs to sing they would sing them back to me, carry the chorus line and drop that harmony like it was hottt.
Yet the journey between the west coast and the east is lonely. The cars drive too fast and the rest stops are casually indifferent. The petrol attendants at the Mossel Bay Total Service Station must see a hundred people just like me come through there every day. Me and my journey are unique - just like everybody else and theirs.
So much country is blazed through with mild concern and quirky remarks about anything and everything that is unfamiliar to my eye - the eye that grew up in the suburbs. This beloved country of ours. But today we revel in the glory that is Knysna and Jeffrey's Bay. Two gems that are no secret to the indigenous traveller.
In Knysna I shared the experience of what I can only imagine to be the intention of the marketing team of our government. On saturday I was indeed proudly South African, well I suppose I am most days anyways. But oh my, the Bokke played a real cracker on the weekend and it was indeed a warm fuzzy experience to be shared by many a beer-loving-knysna-forest-dwelling-humanoid. We timed the drive to arrive in Knysna just in time for kick-off and approached what appeared to be a licenced pub, licenced of course in the curation of a good time. Nick leaned out the passenger side and asked a man with a gold name tag whether their pub was going to screen the rugby. He looked back, almost in disgust and replied, "I Have two eyes and a heart don't I?" Yes sir, he did indeed have two eyes and a heart of gold. Green and Gold. Okay well the conversation didn't exactly go like that, but we did have a conversation with a man with a gold name tag and I suppose thats all that matters when you think about it. Safe to say, we won them pommies but just when you think it couldn't get any better, it very well did.
It was the dying minutes of the second half and John Smit just got pulled from the field to be replaced by Ralepelle, which in turn transformed our entire front row to be All Black, and I don't mean they all hailed from New Zealand. What a beautiful sight, and you knew that everyone in the pub was thinking more or less the same thing. What a wonderful image of transformation in this country - and I don't mean transformation at the hand of the quota system in national sport - i mean the three best men for the job were on the field at the right place and most certainly at the right time. It is good to be South African indeed, which for all of yous who know me on any level is a welcome place to have arrived up in my mind-box.
It gets even better, and I don't mean to rattle on about racial relativism for the sake of being fashionable, it is merely the state of affairs in which we find ourselves in. Just after the first half Matt and I appeared to have lost our third member of our party, Nick was nowhere to be found. About five minutes in, a Black Gentleman asked if the seat was taken. I told him that it was - thinking Nick would come back any second. He didn't. Fifteen minutes in we told the bloke he could take the seat. He was grateful and enjoyed the game from the comfort of being in a seated position. Let us take quickly stock of the environment in which we found ourselves in. In the 100 or so patrons in the pub, maybe fifteen (and that is generous) were not white. About 90% of the white people there were Afrikaans speaking and of the Afrikaner culture, which we all know in the past weren't all that tolerable to our African counter-parts. So the game ends and this gentleman says thank you very much for the seat (by this time Nick had just joined us again) and asked if he could buy us a round of beers. I don't think I've ever been offered a round of beers, much less from a complete stranger. I was caught off guard to say the least. Granted I don't frequent pubs that often - but the thought of neither race nor age nor cultural heritage playing any debilitating part in this magical clockwork piece of South Africa is enough to give me goose-bumps. We are all cogs, together we work, whether we are brass or silver or black or white - we work together because we were designed that way. We cannot function apart from each other. I think what I am trying to say is that I would be less of who I am if it wasn't for that man offering me a beer. He added to my humanity and i think God saw it, and i think God saw that it was good.
And I cannot account for our journey cross-country without making a slight reflection on the life and times of the microcosm that is the backpacker industry. There must be dozens of these backpackers around the world, dozens i tell you. Eighteen hours will afford you the opportunity to eat fake mexican food with a Hollander, have a corridor conversation with two other Hollanders, eat breakfast with a Uruguayan and share a laugh with a Welshman on the state of the Travel Channel's choice of presenters. And the funny thing is that they have always been there. These people with their experiences and their thoughts and perspective. It takes some pushing of one's personality, if said personality is anything like mine, to get involved and learn. Flip its hard, but it is there. Waiting. Waiting for the cogs to fit together and move.
This week i find myself in Durban and it is both refreshing and relaxing to be back home. The Pronutro is just as delicious, my bed is just as firm and the humidity is just as arresting. What a wonderful world.