Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Boulders, Drag Comedians, and Cheese

A pretty strange, great weekend. Friday I woke up late and Will and I hopped in my friend Nox's car to drive down the coast to the beach. The weather was bizarre.. in Mowbray it was perfectly sunny, but as soon as we reached the valley where the beaches are, we noticed that everything from the sand out to sea was blanketed in thick fog. Our destination was llandudno, a quieter beach with famously enormous boulders.

Llandudno is probably the most beautiful beach I've been to in Cape Town, and the misty fog really didn't make a difference. In fact, it reminded me of those cool, moist days along the Maine coast. It sports a mini-Lion's Head and Table Mountain and has these incredible boulder formations. They reminded me of how I have envisioned the Badlands, and I loved exploring their little caves and crevices.

On the way back we were talking about the elections, which is unavoidable, obviously. Nox made an interesting point, that while criticizing Jacob Zuma for greed and corruption is understandable, chastizing him for his lack of formal education is unfair. His generation grew up during incredible oppression and formal education, even when available, was minimal and generally ineffective. At the same time, many think that it will take a new generation of educated, inspired young people to really bring change to the government and the country. That may be so.

On Sunday Will, Jack, Aaron, James and I rented a car and started out on a journey up the mostly unexplored (by tourist standards at least) West Coast. Despite positive weather reports the drive started out foggy and cold, visibility impossible. This was beginning to seem like another Hermanus trip when the sky finally began to clear and we were able to enjoy the rolling, endless pastures of the landscape. On a whim we stopped in Darling for lunch and snuck our way into a stand up comedy performance by Evita Bezuidenhout, one of the most famous whites in South Africa. The entire town celebrated her (she was born there) which was bizarre considering the fact that she does all of her/his performances in drag. Evita is famous for her use of satire and comedy to criticize the apartheid regime, and the performance was truly amazing.

The only seats available were five bar stools directly across from the stage, and this, along with the fact that we were the only Americans there, made us stand out in the crowd. Even though much of the humor was in Afrikaans, it was hilarious to hear Evita mock the current political situation and reminisce about the past.

After Darling we drove further up the coast and entered West Coast National Park where we saw a ton of ostriches darting around the bushes. Our destination was the Langabaan Lagoon, which was a memorizing tint of crystal blue-green. After relaxing there for an hour or so we drove to another beach (a good place for whale spotting, though I had no luck) which was beautiful as the mist began to creep back over the water.

After a stop in Paternoster for dinner and some delicious sea food, we drove for another two hours through pitch black nothingness to Lambert's Bay. We stayed at a friend of Aaron's (whom he had met two days before) house, which had been owned by his grandparents and eerily reminded me of American suburbia.

After an early wake up we drove another 3 hours through the mountainous farmlands of central Western Cape, reaching our destination, the wine town of Franschoek, at about noon. We had tickets to the annual Cheese Festival, which was just as ridiculous as it sounds.

There was streams and streams of people and hundreds of booths where you could sample all sorts of local cheeses, wines, and jams, all with the beautiful backdrop of the wine district's jagged mountains. The sampling was unlimited, and I really took advantage of it, devouring every single block I could stick my toothpick into. I bought some Shiraz jam and garlic and herb cheese, both delicious, and we headed back around midafternoon.

A bizarre but amazing weekend. Everything always seemed like it wasn't going to work out, but did.

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