Some images from my recent West Coast road trip adventure. Paternoster’s ‘Santorini in Africa’ style town stole a piece of my heart.
Some images from my recent West Coast road trip adventure. Paternoster’s ‘Santorini in Africa’ style town stole a piece of my heart.
It’s amazing how a spontaneous weekend getaway can rejuvenate the soul, especially when you end up in a paradise you did not expect. And then another one, and then another one. The expanse of beauty and uniqueness found on the West Coast of South Africa is enough to impress anyone – well travelled or not.
This past weekend was a West Coast road trip experience. We based ourselves for this adventure in Hopefield, an unassuming small town inland on the West Coast. It’s conveniently located about 30 minutes from Langebaan, Paternoster, Jacobsbaai etc. and is windlessly welcoming. Driving through the town, you think there is nothing going on there, but stay a while and see what magic pops out…
This is The Merry Widow Country Retreat , our B&B in Hopefield. As I write “B&B” I feel like I’m lying to you. Yes, we had a (fantastic) bed and we had (fantastic) breakfast, but we were taken in as more than guests. We left feeling like we were leaving friends and family behind. Ulrich and the Hopefield community are really something special and it was an honour to have been a part of it. It’s not a stuffy old town with grumpy old men, it’s an up and coming destination for those looking to “Slow Up” – slow down the pace and up-size the living.
Sitting on the deck at sunset, or around the braai at night, or around the coffee bar in the morning – it all just feels right.
On Saturday mornings, The Merry Widow is host to the community market “The Mill Country Fair“, which serves breakfasts and coffees and sells produce/goods from the locals only. It’s fantastic.
“Just because we live in a small town, doesn’t mean we don’t like good food and nice things.”
Just next door to The Merry Widow is Simply Bee, the pretty little home of natural beeswax products. Their stuff is divine and if you can’t carry it all out with you, you can order online for R55 delivery charge to your door. Love.
Hopefield, you have my attention. Thank you for providing us with such a wonderful home for the weekend and we’re watching you!
More posts to come of the rest of our West Coast Weekend Adventure…
It seems like I’ve recently been on a reading spree of “abused and degraded women” books. I’m not sure where this came from, but I sit here with mixed feelings on the hardships that a lot of women have to endure. I am grateful for my freedom: the ability to make my own choices, follow through on my own dreams, have love and support in my life and the opportunity to let my mind wander into the future and know that it is an adventure of endless possibilities. At the same time, my heart aches for those who do not have this, particularly women and children, and I feel a pang of guilt for enjoying all of my life blessings while others are not even aware that it is even a possibility to live the way that I do.
All of these feelings… Damn you, library, damn you!
Here are my short book reviews on the books I’ve read lately that are along these lines.
The first book on my ‘grateful guilt’ spree is Trafficked, by Sophie Hayes.
This is a true story about a young woman, living a normal life in England, who was trafficked into the sex trade by her “best friend”. She shares her heart-breaking story of abuse, degradation, sex slavery and complete fear as she takes us to Italy, France, near-death and eventually back home to a life she had thought was impossible to have again.
I was enthralled and enraged and captivated. What struck me as how this story doesn’t fit the “usual mould” of human tracking cases that we hear about. Sophie was not from a poor family on the outskirts of an Eastern European town. She did not have a lack of education nor was she raised in an orphanage or abusive household. She was just a ‘normal’ woman, who trusted a friend, and found herself being trafficked. It’s horrifying.
Sophie Hayes has since set up The Sophie Hayes Foundation which aims to bring hope to survivors of human trafficking and slavery.
The second book in my spree is Escape. Carolyn Jessop. Another true story of abuse and degradation, but this time from within a polygamous community of religious FLDS (Fundamentalist Latter Day Saints) cult.
Carolyn was born into the FLDS and a polygamist family. She did not realise the abuse and oppression that it harboured until it became too much. Her eyes were opened to the possibility of freedom and she did whatever she could to get her and her 8 children out of the cult which abused them. What struck me with this book was that it touched on a concept that I’ve explored in my own thinking – “Does one know that he/she is oppressed, if he/she has never seen oppression?”. The answer is yes. When someone is not allowed to be happy and prevented from protecting her children, she knows oppression.
Carolyn Jessop is as strong as they come. And not only because she gave birth to 8 children from a husband she’d never loved (naturally birthed and without being allowed to scream), but also because she found a way to escape and provide a future for herself and them all, from nothing.
I’m horrified, and inspired by these stories. I’m also incredibly, gratefully guilty about my life and my freedom.
Onto some light fiction for the next batch, I reckon…
I recently got a bee in my bonnet (so to speak) and needed to shake it off (so to speak), so I signed my man and I up for Beginner’s Salsa Dancing lessons with Just Dancing Salsa Cape Town.
To give you an idea of what you will not look like, here’s the guys that teach you, performing at the Cape Town Salsa Festival last year:
You will, however, learn some of the basic steps used in salsa dancing and get a feel for the dance in the 8 weeks of learning. You’ll meet some other two-left-footed humans and some left-and-right-footed humans and dance with them all. It’s really not difficult and it’s pitched at a pace that is comfortable and easy to follow, even if you’ve never danced before in your life. (You also don’t need a partner to do the course with, everyone dances with everyone and it’s really chilled).
You’ll be learning moves more along these lines:
It was a lot of fun, and even though the man grumbled his way into the studio sometimes when he would rather be dipping into the sea after work, he laughed and smiled the whole way through, actually 🙂
Capsicum Culinary Studio is the largest chef school in South Africa, with 6 campuses across the country and 4000 students having graduated and work all over the world. They’re celebrating their 12th birthday this year and are hosting a celebratory cook-off on 29 October in Cape Town.
You could win a spot at this event and get to put your culinary skills to the test, exclusive to PopcornCandi.com readers!
To enter, use the giveaway widget below. The winner will be chosen at random on Friday 23 October.
Good luck! Can’t wait to see what culinary delights you come up with 🙂
The thing about going on an epic adventure holiday is that when you get back, it takes a little while to settle into things and to blog about it 😉 I took somewhat of a digital detox over my two week stint in Indonesia and only uploaded a few photos to Instagram and Facebook from time to time when I felt the need and had some decent wifi.
It is now time to tell you all about it and I hope that this guides you if you’ve been thinking about an adventurous Indonesian holiday (which you should be doing).
The first spot I’d like to tell you about is Medewi – a little surfing spot along the coast of Bali. It’s about a 3/3,5 hour drive from the airport in Denpasar and it’s easy to organise a taxi for this. Chat to your hotel/guest house about it and they’re more than likely able to organise something quickly, easily and relatively cheaply for you. If you’re backpacking and winging it with accommodation, send me a mail and I’ll send put you in contact directly with the guy that drove us all around Bali whenever we needed to – he was great!
It is a slow and basic surfer’s “village” with one main surf spot called “The Point”, with “epic waves” as I’m told by those who are ‘real’ surfers (I am not one of them). This spot is also the best place to get the best cheap as chips Bali coffee and watch the surfers do their thing.
I did, however, learn to surf there in some of the smaller and less scary whitewash a little further down the bay, with the biggest surfboard you’ve ever seen in your life. I also learnt to trek what felt like a million kilometres with a surfboard (more like a boat) on my head. These are real skills, yo.
There are some great spots to chill and eat and watch the day go by through the waves. Bamboo Terrace is great for this (especially because the service is s-l-o-w) on their beanbags with surf movies on a big screen in the evenings.
Low Tide Yoga has made Medewi their home and offer Surf/Yoga retreats. Their yoga pondok is right on the beach and you can meditate with the sound of the waves in front of you. Sigh. If you’re not part of the retreat you can arrange drop-in classes.
If you’re keen for something a little different (and a good giggle), you can take a buffalo cart from The Point to Pekutatan for sundowners at the beautiful Puri Dajuma Resort. I always advise against animal-related tourist activities, especially in South-East Asia and Indonesia, but this is a local guy with his own buffalos that he keeps in his garden and they are treated very kindly, not as a commodity for tourism. You can organise this through Low Tide Yoga.
This was a great way to start an adventure and slowed me down to a perfect holiday pace. The people are friendly and inviting and you won’t be bombarded with tourist “hassle”. I’d highly recommend Medewi Beach Inn for your accommodation – it is basic and friendly (some rooms even have hot water!).
Drop me any comments if you want any more info or would like to ask me any more detail about the place and the trip.
This concept is nothing new to me but it seems like it is quite a novel idea to others. I love to travel, explore, adventure and have been fortunate enough to travel to mammoth of beautiful and exciting destinations (be on standby for some posts about my recent trip to Bali and Lombok, Indonesia!). If I had all of the money in the world and no responsibilities, I’d just travel all the time and experience as much of the world as I can.
But that is not reality.
That being said, there is no reason that you can’t ‘travel’ and experience adventures right on your doorstep, for a fraction of the time, cost and admin involved with international travel. I just spent the past weekend in the middle of Cape Town city, making Strand Tower Hotel my base for city exploring. My boyfriend and I soaked up the city, much like you would as a tourist and loved every minute of it. I challenge you to do the same!
#LoveMyCity – do you?
Instagram has changed over the past year or so. It used be quite a niche and creative space, and it’s fantastic for that. Now, however, I have started to feel like it’s an extension of Facebook with babies and holiday scenery and “Look at my perfect (not so perfect on the other side of the camera) life”.
It was with this in mind that I went in search of some “real Instagram creativity”. I want to fill my timeline with creative inspiration and take a break from the mundane everyday life highlights that flood it at the moment.
Here are some of the top creative Instagram accounts that I have come across in the process:
Inspired? Me too.
Welcome to Hotel Kerobokan.
Written by Kathryn Bonella, the co-author of Schapelle Corby’s autobiography (Schapelle Corby was convicted of smuggling 4.2kg of marijuana into Bali in her boogie board bag in 2004, which she insists was planted), this book paints a very vivid, mad, sickening picture of real life behind one of Bali’s most notorious prisons.
I anticipated a story of filth, violence and dark stories attached to mad prisoners trying to pass the boredom of their days in jail, but nothing could actually prepare me for this book.
In a country where drug-related crimes are taken seriously enough to warrant the death penalty, I was beyond shocked at the drug-fuelled inside of Hotel K. Those that ‘checked in’ clean were soon walking around in a smack induced haze, due to the availability and necessity of drugs in this jail. The corruption, violence, and twisted existence that is painted of the inside from the true stories of its’ inmates is almost unreal. Money rules above all else, and even with it you can be screwed over time and time again. It’s an unjust and cruel existence. There is no order. Everyone is in the same hell, from rapists to junkies to holiday makers having been set up for a drug bust. It is unnerving to say the least.
As disturbing as it is, I couldn’t put it down. I had to read each and every story and continue to be shocked by the goings on inside Hotel K. It was incredibly well written and so honest, I felt like I was there (except I could escape by putting the book down for a break!).
I’m glad it’s over. And I’m glad I read it. I am so grateful for my life and freedom and also COMPLETELY TERRIFIED for my upcoming holiday to Bali. I reckon I’m going to pack only a few bikinis in my hand luggage and sleep on it, just in case. Parents, make your teenagers read this book – they will never touch a drug or commit a crime in their lives. Guaranteed!
10/10, what an excellent book. I’m so happy to put it away and go outside to smell the lavender bushes and spend an hour in the bath and breathe in all the fresh air in the world, while hugging all my friends and family at once. Sheesh.