South Cape

Here I am in South Africa! As I flew over the country from Johannesburg to the airport at George, I looked out the window – plenty of spare seats in this plane! – to look down on a country that looked as if all the green had been sucked out of it. Even the trees that I could see from up high, looked black. The other thing that struck me was how vast this country is. Everything about it is large – even the power plugs!

George is a small town, tucked in under the Outeniqua mountains and a little inland from the coast. cars registered here have the number plate CAW….short for “cold and wet” I am told by the locals! I even saw a couple of car stickers saying that. A short drive (thankfully) from the airport found me at the Protea King George Hotel. A little way out of the town centre, with fences and gates, this leaves one without a car being rather isolated. My room was not in the main block below, I had to walk across about 100 metres of grass to get to my block. Things are so spread out!. I went to dinner to find that meal sizes here are enormous! tomatoes are so much more tasty than in NZ, as are many of the other vegetables and fruit that I have eaten this last week. It is to do with the amount of sun they tell me.

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Exif_JPEG_PICTURE                                              The next day, I was taken around the district by the local Trinity rep. This meant seeing lots of coastline, looking a lot like NZ beaches and having lunch at a restaurant right out at the heads of Knysna Harbour. (I am writing this from Knysna now) and feeding and “hanging with” elephants. It was a lovely day – warm but windy. Lunch was (as expected) far too large, but it was great to sit, smell the sea and watch the waves breaking on the rocks.

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Walking with the elephants was another experience. We were able to feed them and then touch and pat them and stand and talk idly while these great creatures wExif_JPEG_PICTURE                                              ander about us. Totally awe-inspiring!

    On Wednesday, we travelled over the immense Outeniqua Mountain range , by the Four Passes through the semi tundra desert to Oudtshoorn. Famous for its ostrich farms (the meat is quite common in this area), it is also very high – nearly 800 metres above sea level. I found the air rather thin – and Johannesburg is higher still!! It was also extremely dry and hot. On the trip I was able to see the colours up close. there are greens of course, but also many other colours with my overall impression being that I loved the blues that I saw. It is amazing to see how the plants and animals manage to survive in such a demanding environment.

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    Onwards the same day (after examining) to Knysna where I am now. This is a tourist beach place. Thesen Island is a place for those with money. The rest of us live on the mainland, surrounded by restaurants and tourist traps. My apartment here is gorgeous – huge and well set up. I would love to take it home with me! I have not had any opportunity to look round Knysna as I have been working fairly long hours here. I do not feel confident enough to walk around at night. Last night on the way home from one of the close restaurants, I was talked to be two beggars – one on the side of the road, so I crossed to the other side to find another one about 40 metres further along. I slunk past them both as quickly and safely as possible. Tonight I am going to eat even closer! The hotel restaurant is being re-furbished, so I have to go out to eat. I am able to cook here, but the supermarket is a long way to walk so I have not gone there.

I have finished my examining stint here. many of the students wanted a photo, so here is a photo of lots of happy (relieved?) people – this is of course BEFORE results are sent out!  😉 Thanks to all concerned. this has been a wonderful introduction to a fascinating country.

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Tomorrow I travel to Port Elizabeth – where I stay for about three weeks. Again it is a long trip. Everything about South Africa seems huge – meals, distances, mountains, people – it can be a little intimidating, but the people I have met so far have been extraordinarily kind and helpful. Still the impression remains that this is a huge country.

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About David Adlam

I am a conductor, composer, clarinettist and examiner for Trinity Guildhall working in Auckland, New Zealand and overseas
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