Our weekend began at 2:45am on Christmas Eve. That’s when I knocked on my parents’ door, ready to load whatever didn’t fit in Bro’s car. The idea was to get on the road by 3am, arriving at our destination at 10am. Having no air conditioner in the car, I wanted to reach my sister’s before the sun burned too hot. I forgot that, come journey times, my family walks away with the non-existent prize for “the worst time managers ever”. You guessed it! We did not start our trip at the very optimistically planned 3am.
After a few thundering rumbles, flashing lightning bolts and heavy sighs – all contained within the walls of my parents’ home – we got the last-minute stuff sorted, the luggage and presents loaded. As soon as we got settled in the cars, assured ourselves that we didn’t forget anything, we sighed all the frustrations, from a few minutes ago, into the night, and let feelings of excitement wash over us. Road trip!
We headed west – Mom with me, and Dad with Bro. Uhm . . . did you know it is possible to do back-seat driving by means of a cell phone? Or, as was the case with us, with a cell phone and an interpreter (a.k.a. Mom). Talking on my cell phone while driving is one multi-task thingy I’ve never been able to get a hang of. At some point there were flashing lights and some honking involved too. Why is it that men can complain about women drivers, but women are expected to accept the sometimes terrible (and often risky) driving done by men? Tsk!
Seeing the day awaken as you drive along the country roads is a wonderful experience. I didn’t have my camera at the ready that first day and I still regret it. The way the early morning sun kissed the mountain tops, and later spot-lighted its sides, was something I would have loved to capture in pixel. In the end I tried to memorize where I saw anything that caught my eye, with a mental note to try and catch it on our return trip. A partly cloudy sky influenced the way the sun beamed down on the area that day. It was unlikely that I would be able to capture that special moment on our return trip. But I hoped.
For the most part the road was very quiet, with very little traffic on it, which made it impossible not to admire some driving techniques demonstrated by fellow travellers. It was early morning when we got stuck behind one particular driver. The road we were on at the time had a few turns, a few shallow dips and one long incline. On the even stretch of road the driver seemed confused about the speed limit, constantly accelerating and slowing down at intervals. When he slowed down, I’d pick up a little speed, preparing to overtake him. As luck would have it, the road would make a small dip and he’d pick up enough speed to prevent me from passing. He kept driving that way, long enough for me to start thinking that there must be something wrong with his car. Then we came to the steep incline and, lo and behold, the little vehicle that couldn’t suddenly charged up the hill with a stunning show of speed!
Our journey ended in Ceres, a small town in the Western Cape. It is surrounded by mountains, which makes it very hot in the summer. We counted ourselves lucky when cloudy skies shielded us from the sun’s heat the first couple of days. We are used to much milder weather in J’Bay. The days there also seem so much longer with the sun only going down at around 9pm. It made for lazy days, long enough to take a midday nap and still spent quality time with the family.
The night of Christmas Eve the children got very excited about opening their gifts, especially the ones they got for each other. What amazed me was the true Christmas spirit they showed. They did their shopping together, then wrapped the items neatly to go beneath the tree. They knew exactly what each bought the other, but it in no way diminished the joy they expressed when they got to unwrap it with the rest of their presents. It was fun to watch. The unwrapping of our gifts were interrupted when a group of children, related to the farm employees, showed up to perform Christmas carols for us. They ranged in ages from three to early teens. They started off with a song they obviously liked (not a carol) and could put a few moves to. Their performance was done in almost complete darkness, which lent a poignant quality to it. It was very touching and a great way to greet Christmas Day.
I took a few photos while we were there and on the way back. Well, okay, it would be more accurate to say that I experimented with my camera – I botched up some potentially great photos. I had better practice before I take another trip!