I had to go to the dentist the other day. Seems to be my favourite destination lately. But since I have depleted my self-payment gap and medical aid is paying for everything, I thought it an opportune time to have a few lifelong niggles fixed.
As I drove there (at speed, as I lost track of time and realised in the nick of time I should have left 10 minutes ago), I reflected a bit on our time here. When we arrived the orchards were still full of leaves. Very soon afterwards it started to turn the most beautiful autumny golden hues of red, orange and yellow. By the time we returned from Namibia in mid-winter, the branches were a stark black and looked dead, in contrast to the lush green grass growing between the rows. Some places there were even flowers in between. Amazing how nature balances itself out. Then about a month ago you could see a few small green leaves appearing on the stalks. And today the orchards are bright green and full of life, but the flowers have all disappeared. All the Karoo bushes has started to fade from the million colours of green to a washed-out khaki and brown colour.
There is probably no place in the world where you would find such a proliferation of road signage “warning” against turtles. No, it is not man-eating turtles. The signs are to warn you that the turtle has an in-borne desire to cross a road, and you best be driving carefully to avoid making turtle soup. Not sure what’s going on in their minds. I think that is all they do the whole day. Cross the road. Eat a shoot of grass. Cross the road to the other side. Eat a shoot of grass. Cross the road…You got the picture? Apparently they are called “Karoo padlopers” or something to that effect. A very appropriate name. But they always cross at a 90 degree angle, and you never catch any of them idly walking along the solid line of even on the shoulder.
Today is the most glorious day outside. It is about 21 degrees, which is hot compared to the average day time maximum of 15 or 16 degrees. The sun is beating down, but the heat is broken by a light, chilly breeze. I am sitting on the veranda looking out over the sea, which is a weird shade of blue and green, almost teal. The waves break in the crispest of white. I can see all the way up the coast to the mouth of the Olifants River. The beach is full of people, and the mouth-watering aroma of the braai fires on the beach wafts up to the house. In my hand I have a chilled glass of white wine, with beads of condensation running down on the outside of the glass. Can life get better than this?
This actually brings me to the topic of emigration. I think everyone in South Africa has asked themselves the question, will I stay or will I go? And the answer is not easy. People leave for different reasons. To a large extent it felt like we emigrated when we moved here. It is a different world to Gauteng. For one, the main reason people want to leave the country is crime, and down here crime is not that prevalent (yet?). I know I am not yet ready to leave. I love this country and this continent with all my heart and I don’t have kids to think about. Yes, I know there are elements in our government that could really rock this boat, and crime is a big concern. I found it difficult to explain to people how the love of this country can outweigh all the risks, until I came upon this in a book written by Joanne Fedler, a women’s rights advocate, “When hungry, eat”. (After moving to Australia with her partner and two children, she realised that she had picked up plenty of baggage along the way, and a spiritual spring-clean was well overdue. She couldn’t take a year off to meditate in an Ashram. Who was going to make the lunch boxes? So instead, Joanne opted for doing something about the fatty deposits on her rear end before they fossilised. While on a strict new eating plan in which she radically changed her relationship with food, Joanne began to see it wasn't only kilos she needed to lose, but the weight of the fear, guilt and anxiety she was lugging around in her heart).
“With the understanding that distance has given me, I could see that Australia is like the well-dressed, well-mannered kid who comes from a nice family, who won’t embarrass you in public. Ask how it’s feeling and you’ll hear, “It’s all good, mate”, though you won’t always get the truth.
South Africa is like that crazy kid from the wrong side of the tracks you’re always hoping is going to win the Nobel Prize of the Oscar. It’s troubled and self-destructive and you pray someday it’s just going to settle down with a nice girl. It wears its heart, poverty and lost generations on its sleeve.”It just depends which kid you like best…