Today they celebrated Remembrance day in Grahamstown. Aptly at the 11th hour of the 11th day ( in fact the 10th as it is a Sunday) and the 11th month (when the First World War ended in 1918), they had a ceremony at the Town Square, commemorating those who died in the World Wars in defence of peace…..
An appropriate day to think back over my few weeks in South Africa – coming to an end later this week. From Capetown, through George, Knysna, Sedgefield, Plettenberg Bay, Port Elizabeth (PE) and now Grahamstown, I have enjoyed huge hospitality from the people looking after me.
I have not written about PE in my travels yet. This is for several reasons. PE is quite a large city and I was not able to travel around it as much as I would have perhaps liked. My surroundings at the Beach Hotel were – as one might expect – the Beachfront area. I could walk in one direction and the opposite direction, but it was mostly a matter of more of the same – with the City centre far too far even for me to walk. Not to say that I was bored!! Far from it. I thoroughly enjoyed my time in PE and emerged feeling relatively rested despite a fearsome timetable in my last week there. Mostly I walked up to the local supermarket to find dinners which I could make without cooking, but which would be healthier than eating constant hotel or takeaway/restaurant food.
The Beach Hotel is located next to the boardwalk, which has a small Casino and several restaurants and shops ( including an – as per usual – totally overpriced Billabong shop!).
Also it is surprisingly enough situated right on the beach front. I enjoyed many long walks along the beach, though I must say that the constant companion of the wind meant that I was not inspired to swim in the Ocean. I used the hotel pool instead, as it was much more sheltered and there was no gym for exercise. The larger picture in the album below is my hotel from the pier
After a short drive of 90 minutes to Grahamstown, I settled in to an afternoon – and then a Saturday morning of examining, before being able to renew my acquaintance with this picturesque town.
This morning, I went along to the end of the memorial service to listen to the bands parade past – before exploring the town rather more
The bagpipes started about 9.00 this morning at St Andrews College, the school, upon the edge of which I am staying, surrounded mostly by parents of this and its sister school Diocesan School for Girls. they come here to watch the cricket, which has been going on outside my room each day so far – very serious stuff! – and generally drink and eat. The upper photo is an exciting Saturday afternoon in Grahamstown, the lower photos is the view from my room
Not entirely peaceful but not noisy either. The bar was closed about 10.15 last night and I even had to leave before the end of the All Blacks/France test match, because they were closing down. This after watching the South Africa/Wales test match as a lone supporter of the Welsh team(Was I a welsh Rarebit??) wearing an All Black teeshirt! Amazing noise whenever the Springboks did well and the Lone Ranger applause from me when the Welsh did well…..
After the service I wandered up to the other end of the High Street – this did not take long – and then up through the Botanic Garden and the Rhodes University. I have separated these photos off into two albums, as there were so many photos. I could have taken many more.
Rhodes university is such a wonderful environment in which to study – wide streets with the boarding houses on them and beautiful old ( and new!) buildings with each department seemingly situated in an old house. I photographed the Anthropology department house, as it was so unique with its fortress outline. One of these photos is of a plant that looks like a mini Frangipani and smells like a Frangipani – doesn’t that make it a Frangipani? Maybe it is a plant I could grow in Auckland I(if I can find it there) as it is certainly cool here in the evenings – about 9 degrees last night……interesting to see the Bougainvillea trees and also the Bougainvillea grown successfully in pots.
So a few more days here. It has been a very enjoyable time here in South Africa. So many people told me to be careful with the violence here – and I have to say it is never far away beneath the surface, but I have not felt threatened in any way since being here. I find it a country of paradoxes, with old and new rubbing shoulders – a mixture of mood and people, only beginning to learn to live with each other in relative peace.
The only sadness is that I doubt I will see again, after this week, the beautiful back garden and the flowers in the house of Judy, the local rep and her husband Les in PE, who have received very sad news this week. Judy in particular and South Africa in general…. we WILL remember you!