Thursday, January 20, 2011

Christmas Vacation: In the Beginning

I know how many of you are just dying to read about how truly fantastic my "winter" vacation was while you shoveled snow off your car, so here you are!

I took the Intercape bus down to Cape Town. My mom was flying in that night. Upon arrival in the city, my mission was two-fold: check-in, arrange transport for my mother. Hiring a taxi to fetch my mom was easy enough, checking in was a beast.

The bus trip from Kuruman to Cape Town hovers around 18 hours. Counting the trip from my village to town, my travel time was over a 24-hour period. All I wanted when I arrived at the hotel was a shower and a bed. Initially, I got neither. My mother paid the deposit with her credit card. They could not verify my identity as her daughter and so would not allow me to check in. Fine. I groused. I grumbled. I plotted. I planned. Whining got me nowhere. Getting another room was impossible. But then, I stumbled across an e-mail from my mother mentioning the name of the hotel. I showed it to the receptionist, she handed me the room key. Grateful as I was to plop down on a big, comfy couch I couldn't help but laugh. I could have faked that e-mail in under 30 seconds. High security at that hotel.

I then set about waiting for my mom. I was too excited to rest, so I walked about the city center for a bit. Showered. Ate. Watched the National Geograhic channel. And fell asleep. I was awakened past 1 am by the room phone ringing. I picked up and heard "We have your mother."

Naturally, I thought she'd been kidnapped. Wiping sleep from my eyes, I began to consider my options. I didn't get very far when there was a knock at the door. Kidnappers? Or worse?

Of course it was neither. It was my mom! Yay!

We settled on the couch for an all-night gab fest, and when I say all night I mean ALL NIGHT. Around five am we decided to hit the hay, but when we saw how light it was outside and realized how soon breakfast would be served we got up, got dressed and went out. Who needs sleep anyway?

Our first stop was the Company Gardens, which is home to not only very beautiful plantings but highly social squirrels as well. We hit the crypt at St. George's cathedral for some sustenance in the form of Coke and cake, and then moved on the Iziko Slave Lodge museum. About halfway through exhaustion hit us like a tidal wave. I'm not even sure how we got back to the hotel.

The next thing I remember is waking up to a hotel staff member wandering through the door. He looked at me, I looked at him, he left. I was awake. I woke up Mom. It was a clear evening, so we decided a trip up Table Mountain was in order.

Exhaustion and a total lack of any level of fitness or time, prevented us from trekking up to the top with our own two feet. Instead we took the cable car. We stepped on in fair weather and stepped off to a bone-chilling wind. After walking about 10 feet, we stopped and huddled for warmth. The bush in front of us rustled. We inspected. Mere inches from where we were standing was a rock hyrax enjoying his dinner. I was too cold to take pictures, but Mom got a few.

After a while of alternating enjoying the view with trying desperately not to freeze to death, we caved and headed into the restaurant, which was packed with fellow tourists-turned-to-ice-cubes. We had just settled into a table with a sunset view with out hot chocolate when Mom remarked that, more than anything, the experience reminded her of being at an Alpine ski resort. Great, my mother traveled all the way to Africa and I took her to the one place that looked and felt nothing like it. Nevertheless, we had an enjoyable evening at the Table Mountain Alpine Ski Resort, sending off postcards and shopping for Christmas gifts.

I think you can tell a lot about a person by what they think when presented with a giant rectangle of cloth. At the Shop at the Top there was a rectangular cloth edged in elephants, I decided it was a scarf, Mom thought table cloth and the tag said sarong. It takes all kinds.

Back at the hotel, we finally collapsed for a real night of sleep. Lord knows we would need it. Vacations with me aren't for the faint-hearted.

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