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Reports

Thursday, 11 October 2001
Rondebosch --> Brackenfell, Cape Town (SA)

I spent the afternoon with my host Brian enjoying the hot sun and the cold water at Camps Bay beach, before heading to my new hosting family in Brackenfell - where going out is a far-away thing and going to McDonald’s for a take-away is seen as a enormous once-a-year luxury.
As Brian had taken a day off from his graphic designing job, we both had time to have a generous sleep in. I woke up around 11am, had a shower and joined Brian again who was just awake on his couch in the living room.

He made oats with hot milk for breakfast, which fitted exactly as it is also highly stuffing. We watched the new daily soap of the world “The US strikes again” on a news-channel while drinking coffee and becoming fully awake.

Brian decided to have a very relaxed day and wanted to take me to Camps Bay (if you remember, on October 7 I almost lost my toes in that freezing water).

It sounded a good idea as it was sunny and hot outside. We climbed on his motorcycle again and drove off. It seemed to me a very long trip, along motorways, valley roads and passing many other suburbs of Cape Town. Brian gave me the deluxe tour around town and we drove along the chilly coastline towards Camps Bay.

We sat quite a while on the white sand beach of Camps Bay and I even challenged my life a few times by jumping in the water completely. I noticed how I could not feel my feet anymore when I walked out of the sea again, even though the sun created a temperature of over 25 degrees Celsius.

We both caught a little bit of a sun tan and decided to go for a drink on one of the many terraces on the beach road. A black street musician sung funky Bob Marley songs for us on his guitar as I nipped from my lemon ice tea and we enjoyed the good looking people walking and driving by.

Around 3pm it was time to get going again. Brian quickly bought some doughnuts at the Pick’n Pay supermarket and we scootered all the way back to Rondebosch again. Wet hair got dry by the sometimes chilly and sometimes warm breezes.

At his apartment we had the doughnuts for lunch, together with pieces of a pizza that was still hanging around in his fridge. At 4pm Brian drove me to the place where I would meet my next host for tonight, who worked at the Sea Point.

Brian doesn’t only have his Vespa motorcycle, but also owns an original old-fashioned light blue Volkswagen Beetle. I love those cars! They shake you around like you are in a tumble dryer, but still always succeed in transporting a person to its location. It’s just fascinating!

I thanked Brian for the fun time I had with him, the going out yesterday and the rides on his motorcycle.

I met up with Denise Eysele at the office of the law firm she works with, on the vicinity of the high-class President Hotel in Cape Town. She had to wait until her time as the Personal Assistant of the director had ended and drove me to the home of her little family in Brackenfell.

Brackenfell is located as a suburb in the northern area of Cape Town. Denise told me how the southern suburbs mainly consists out of English speaking citizens, while the northern suburbs have most of the Afrikaans speaking people.

Afrikaans has been a negative language for a long time, ever since English became the first official language of South Africa. Afrikaans will always be associated with the first settlers in this country and those who messed the whole thing up in history, as we know it.

But Afrikaans is still highly preserved in those areas where it will always be the first language. Even newspapers and magazines are in Zuidafrikaans there. I expect to meet more Afrikaans speaking people as I will be heading into the country again soon.

Denise is married to Kobus and have one 3-year-old son called Ryan. Denise has a very stressful live as I heard it by her unrelieved talks. She and Kobus both have to work hard to be able to pay the house and its cost and can barely survive together with their son.

Going out is a far-away thing and going to McDonald’s for a take-away is seen as a enormous once-a-year luxury.

Kobus has never studied after high school. Like many youngster, a lot find a job at a banking firm and start earning money. But he has educated himself and became certified by Microsoft and now works as a computer engineer.

Denise hopes that he will earn good in the future, so she can work half-days and be home when Ryan comes home from school.

Now her everyday life encloses the stress of waking up at 5.30am to do some house work, prepare breakfasts, bring Ryan to school and get stuck in the common traffic jam towards the city centre.

Around 5pm, when work is done, she drives through the same traffic jam again, picks up Ryan from the playschool and heads home to prepare dinner.

Kobus leaves early in the morning too, catch the train towards the centre and takes the late train back home, arriving home again around 8pm.

Denise would love to have more time and money to spend more time in the kitchen, because she just ‘loves’ to cook. She told me about this lady in Cape Town, who started preparing cheap home-cook meals for people with no time and no interest in Marks & Spencer-food or those instant meals from Woolworth. After a few weeks she spent all day cooking because her little business got booming!

Denise would love to do something like that and be at home the same time.

At their home in Brackenfell I soon met Kobus and experience a family where the Zuidafrikaans language is suddenly very difficult from how I heard it before. Normally I could understand most of what is said, because of my Dutch background. Zuidafrikaans is the same as Dutch, but only developed more towards the South African culture.

But the Zuidafrikaans that is spoken in this house goes fast. Really fast, I didn’t understand any verb anymore and couldn't to keep up with what they were saying. Fortunately they helped me out in English; otherwise I would have a hard time.

Denise heated up some stew with rice that she had prepared earlier and Kobus and I ate it in front of the television.

I also met their pets. A snowy white cat and a golden retriever puppy, called Simba – after [i]The Lion King[/]i. Simba was found by a family member a few weeks ago and nobody claimed ownership of it. Now Denise and Kobus take care of this one-year-old big dog that still thinks it’s a lap dog.

The evening passed with ease as they both had a long working day. Denise let me use her computer as I had to catch up with a lot of backlog.

The internet connections in South Africa have this friendly thing of ‘connecting’ me with the web, but then falls asleep along the information highway.

It seems that on certain times too many users online blocks the whole country’s system, which makes it hard for me to read emails, upload pictures and write the stories. Just bear with me if you don't see any updates for a while.

But I managed to do a lot and slept late this night, as a generous sleep in was promised me by Denise and Kobus.

Good night Brackenfell!

Ramon.



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