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ReportsSunday, 21 October 2001
Somerset West --> Gordon’s Bay (SA) After a both exciting and relaxing day at a paradise place in the mountains, I met my next hosts later today. I stayed the night in the bunkhouse of Patrick and Karin Seeton in Gordon's Bay.
It was around 9 o’clock in the morning when Carla woke me up, again as it was my second day with the Husselmann family. Carla gave me some sliced guavas with pineapple with breakfast. Well, the pineapple was a delicious treat, but the guavas weren’t really appealing to me. There are just too many seeds in it and it was a bit to jelly for my morning stomach. But with toasts, jams and a newspaper we managed to get a good filled stomach for today’s expedition.
Carla arranged me a sleeveless shirt from Suzie, as I have only T-shirts, which was a little bit too tight and according to Carla’s mother I looked like a gay friend travelling in time from the 80’s. It was all fine with me; I was ready and sunblocked for a day in a hot sun. Let’s go!
On the road towards the Steenbras River mouth, just in one of the many valleys of the Hottentot Holland mountains, Carla got us some bottles of water and chips as our survival package at a gas station.
Armed with biltong as something to chew on and a sunblocked skin (overdoing it won’t hurt, I guessed) we walked through the mountain valley towards this magic place.
We walked through green bushes and low trees, stepped over creeks of streaming water, and climbed over little and big rocks as yellow-painted footprints on stones showed us the right direction.
And it was pretty exhausting, as climbing up can be - I haven’t been training or anything lately. And the sun shines directly on my head. Once in a while Carla or I had to catch a breath again and drunk some water. But paradise was ahead of us, that was the goal that kept us going.
It took us about an hour to reach our destination and that was stunning! The dam up in the mountains was full and the water that is too much for it streams down the valley and creates the Steenbras River. But it falls from rocks in great waterfalls into a pool and from that pool the stream continues in another waterfall. The water has a gold-yellow color, as it has all the minerals from rocks and plants it has passed on its way, really fascinating.
Carla and I settled down near a pool where on one site is the water surrounded by green trees and bare rocks, but when I look down the other side a waterfall drops down some 20 meters. Wooha!
Of course I had to get in that water, even though it wasn’t really that warm. Some youngsters were jumping off rocks and of course I had to do that too, against Carla’s advice. Because if something happens, the ambulance won’t really get here. But I managed it all right and Carla shot a great picture of me playing Tarzan (even the yell worked good) and making that huge splash.
Tip: always jump feet first, I really hurt by butt!
It was a pleasant time of swimming around, sitting under waterfalls and diving off the rocks. If we had taken a tent with us, I would definitely stayed much longer. It just had this distinguished atmosphere that I wouldn’t really expect out here and I tried to remember this place by all its details. Maybe I’ll ever need this memory when I am walking through wasteland and I am out of water…
Around 3pm we walked the way back, blinking with another layer of sunblock and I managed to get sunburned for a bit anyhow.
Gasping for air, we arrived at the car again and Carla then took me for a short stop at Strand’s beach. This was a great relief, just to feel the Indian Ocean splash its waves against me, cooling off the red spots on my body with the salty water.
Back at the home of the Husselmann’s I packed my back again. It was after a necessary little nap of mine, when Carla’s mother dropped me off at the gasstation where my next host would collect me. I hugged Carla goodbye and thanked the family for my two nights stay in Somerset West.
My next host Patrick Seeton and his wife Karin took me along in their pickup towards their home in Gordon’s Bay – actually just down the hill where most of Somerset West is built on.
Patrick is a retired journalist and photographer from the local District Mail newspaper and is still active in photography, on a free-lance base. When he heard about my project on CapeTalk radio he decided to invite me over as he had all the space for it.
He has travelled the globe a few times, he told me, and once when he ended his Canada tour with a stay in Alaska, he noticed the advantage of bunkhouses, where you can stay overnight and just pay for the bed your sleep in or the hot water you use. Once back in South Africa he decided to have a small two person bunkhouse built in his own back garden. So, guess where I stayed the night.
Karin had prepared the beds and I had a complete bunkhouse for my own. It had a little gas stove and even a refrigerator. I am being spoiled here!
While Patrick started to prepare dinner, Karin told me bits and pieces of her life. She has lived on a farm in Namibia for a long time and Karin told me about how remote that was. There was no constant electricity, you live with the sun going up and down and a telephone connection was a few kilometres down the dusty roads. She is a Namibian-German, as Namibia once was a German colony. “I am more German than a German in Germany,” she said.
On their round wooden table we ate dinner as I told my stories of my travelling and Patrick told me about his interests in travel stories. At the moment he was very into a diary of a seaman who wrote letters to his mates at home, dating back to the 17th century.
After dinner Patrick told me that I could take all my time tomorrow as he had no hurries. Karen would be working at the distribution centre of the local newspaper, so I wouldn’t see her again when I’d wake up. When the table was being cleared after dinner, she said: “But you’ll have to do the dishes!”
“No,” insisted Patrick, “he is our guest.”
“But he gets everything for nothing, sweetie-pie?!”
“That’s just the great part of his project,” and he laughed at me. In conclusion: my final offer to do the dishes was rejected by both of them.
As I got to my bed in the bunkhouse later this night, I noticed the heavy south-eastern wind blowing through town. Patrick warned me about it and told me I would not have to fear, as the bunkhouse was strong. But still it was the remarkable wind again, that introduces the periods of summer in South Africa. And suddenly it can be over and you’d notice it promptly.
If you ever travel from Cape Town towards the east coast and you pass Gordon’s Bay, go to the pools in the Steenbras River and end up in the bunkhouse of the Seeton’s. The bed is great and you won’t hear the wind as you will just get used to it...
Good night Gordon’s Bay!
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