By the time you read this, I’ll have recovered from an 18-hour flight from Cape Town – and a 29-hour trip if you include the time spent driving to various airports and the layovers – and will be back on American time, even if my legs are still back in South Africa.
It was, as always, an amazing two weeks, filled with family and sun. Lots of sun, and not that Minnesota or New York sun. African sun, the type that drains you the second you step out the door and saps your strength while somehow being simultaneously rejuvenating. Here, then, a final look at Cape Town. You haven’t left the basement, right?
One day I hit a par-3 course with my father-in-law, affectionately known in the family as Uncle Mike. Back in his day Uncle Mike, who’s now 78 years old but still as active as anyone 40 years younger, was a hell of a golfer. And by back in the day I mean about five years ago, when he easily defeated me during a previous South African golf outing. He beat me, Louise’s brothers beat me, it was ugly. I felt like I let down America. On another outing I showed Louise’s brother I couldn’t keep up with him at the bar; now I couldn’t keep up at the golf course.
We hit the links again on this trip and this time I prevailed, owing to my bizarrely solid play and some uncharacteristic struggles from Uncle Mike. There’s also a very real possibility he let me win.
But the setting at the River Club was the true winner.
Players tee off on mats at River Club. For someone who’s used to hitting his ground ball tee shots off the grass, it took some time to get comfortable with the arrangement. But like all the greats, I adjusted my game for the conditions and had no problem hitting off the artificial surface. In fact, for the first time, well, ever, each of my tee shots was high and straight – the ground was actually safe.
Each time I’ve been in Cape Town there’s been a movie with South African themes playing in theaters. The first time was Blood Diamond, which we saw in Cape Town. The second time it was Invictus, which we also saw in Cape Town. This time, Safe House – which stars Denzel Washington doing cool Denzel Washington things and is set in Cape Town – was in theaters. Unfortunately I didn’t get a chance to see it. But I did walk past the theaters while at the mall and came across the South African movie-rating system poster, which takes time to read and comprehend.
You’ve got your adult movies, PG films and ones for people who are at least 10, 13, 16 or 18. If that’s not enough, the letters at the bottom of the posters explain the movies in more detail. Sex, language, nudity, prejudice and blasphemy are among the symbols guiding South African moviegoers. I believe Sound of Music was the first film to ever be labeled with each of those letters.
On one of our final days in South Africa we drove outside of Cape Town and into wine country, accompanied by Louise’s brother and his wife. The southern part of South Africa has perfect conditions for wine growing.
We went to Bilton Wines, in the Stellenbosch region. We had a chocolate-and-wine tasting although it was actually drinking instead of simply tasting. While we sat at our outdoor table for the tasting and a lunch, an older guy hit golf balls in the green area above, though not off of a mat. Maybe he runs the place; if I ran a winery in the middle of some of the most beautiful land in the world, I’d probably walk around with a big ego and hit golf balls simply because I could. While a lackey stands by with a glass and bottle of wine, waiting for me to finish practicing my 9-iron.
As we drove out of Cape Town and into the country for our wine-tasting, I spotted this worker taking a nap after a tough day on the job. Vehicle-safety experts would struggle with their nerves while driving around Cape Town, where it’s a common sight to see people standing up in the back of open vehicles or, in this case, sleeping in the back.
We spent a day on Muizenberg beach. The changing rooms above are popular on postcards from South Africa. Cape Town has beaches next to warm water and cold water, which is what happens when a city is surrounded by two oceans. Muizenberg has warmer water, though it still provides a cool jolt when you first step into the waves.
Louise will return to South Africa in a year or so but I’m not sure when I’ll be back. Could return for a wedding, might not come back for a few years. This scene will still be there whenever I’m back. This scene alone would be worth a trip.
I’ll miss these beaches and the sun and I’ll always remember the trips to wine country. But I’ll return for family. And family is what makes the 18-hour flights worthwhile, even if my legs disagree.