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Reports

Monday, 22 October 2001
Gordon's Bay --> Betty's Bay (SA)

On my 175th day (!) I learned that penguins can sound like a donkey, that Betty's Bay is really as remote as I thought, that chocolate cake is addictive and that mouse Tom creates entertainment in a pub because of a scared barmaid...

Let me take you along from Gordon's Bay to Betty's Bay...

I woke up around 9am in the morning I decided to take a bath in the house of the Seeton’s. I filled up the bath with medium-hot water and dropped a bag of herbal flavouring in it that would comfort a wind-dried or sunburned skin. The herbal ‘tea’ bag was a personal little present to me from my hostess Denise Eysele in the Cape Town suburb Brackenfell.

I wasn’t really sunburned from yesterdays’ sunbathing, but why not enjoy the exotic and relentless bouquet of this bath in addition?

Patrick served me a cereal breakfast and I spent some time online on his computer in his library-alike garage, where my mood was bothered by so many emails from people that read between the lines of my writings. I wrote my reply to Joan’s posting on the messageboard in my report of October 19 and let it be read by Patrick. He was very surprised to see me writing things like that at my age and told me that it is a journalist-fact to always get comments from people, especially with a tremendous audience. “Some people just need to interpret everything they read, as it is a verse in the bible,” and I had to agree with him. “You just have to accept it.” Yep, it’s a natural thing.

Before driving me to my next destination, we drove around Gordon’s Bay for a while as he showed me around the different areas and from Bikini Beach we drove along the coastal mountain road towards Betty’s Bay, some 20 kilometres southbound. And we passed little towns with beautiful white beaches, some real surfers’ paradises.

And after driving through an endless-feeling green valley, we ended up in Betty’s Bay. Betty’s Bay is a small town that is stretched along the coast for over 10 kilometres. Most of Betty’s Bay exists out of holiday homes of people living in the cities, from simple habitats to luxurious villas.

I won’t be surprised if over ten year from now this entire area is developed into a voluminously packed seaside city with hotels, casinos and a few McDrives - and maybe even renamed into Las Betty’s Bayas. Maybe I won’t even mind it…

But present Betty’s Bay has its little things to hide. A few restaurants and even a small town centre containing the three restaurants and a little grocery store. The big tourist attraction right now is the botanical garden that expands all the way into a valley and Stony Point.

And Patrick wanted to show me Stony Point in Betty’s Bay as it is one of the remarkable places where the South African penguin can be found and there ain’t much of them left… Patrick parked the car and we resisted the heavy wind along the path to this rocky place.

I looked around here and said to Patrick: “Still, I don’t see any reason to come and live here,” and Patrick burst out in laughing. “What?” I asked to inform about my doubtless humor.
“That was precisely what I told my wife when she recommended to live here.”

Fenced off from the human world we glanced at this penguin colony, that shared its breeding place with cormorants, those peculiar long-necked birds with their wide wings.

Facts as read on the information sign: “Most African penguins breed on small offshore islands south of the African continent. There are also two small colonies on the mainland, of which Stony Point is one. The African penguin was once called the Jackass penguin because its donkey like hee-haw calls.”

So next time you think you hear a donkey, try to imagine it could be a penguin too...

“At sea, seals and sharks sometimes eat them. On land, gulls and mongooses eat the eggs and in 1986 the colony’s number were severely reduced by a leopard.” Hey! Betty’s Bay has wildlife!

My hosts in Betty’s Bay run a small and cosy coffee shop, called Espresso Leopard, so when Patrick dropped me off there, he was asked to stay for a while as we were both treated with cappuccino from the house.

Espresso Leopard is run by mother Hazel and daughter Nathalie Goldsmith, who had decided to change the busy life of running a family bakery in Cape Town’s suburb Claremont to a coffee shop in – why not? – Betty’s Bay. And their dog Goldi is their always-present company.

It was Nathalie who had invited me through this website as she heard about me on SAFM with show host Tony Lancaster (on my second day in South Africa). She was fully intrigued by the idea of my project, that it wasn’t about the free publicity of their small business, but really from personal interest.

The morning Nathalie told Hazel about what she heard on the radio, Hazel had already heard about my project through a customer at the coffee shop.

Patrick stayed for a little while, telling about his former job and life in Gordon’s Bay. We both were suddenly very interested in Betty’s Bay, because there just isn’t much of Betty’s Bay. It has some 300 real citizens and the rest of the town contains the homes of some 900 people who come over in their spare time.

I thanked Patrick Seeton for all of his hospitality he had offered me as he took off to return back to Gordon’s Bay and dropped my backpack in the guestroom in the second floor apartment of the Goldsmith’s.

The coffee shop their core business, but next to that it also offer self-made chutney and jams and souvenirs, from keyhangers to painted t-shirts. And all the jars of chutney and jam are all produced by Hazel, while Nathalie takes care of the painting of the shirts.

I asked them why they choosed to end up in Betty’s Bay after running their family bakery for over 10 years. “It’s is very remote and if we were so lived out by the rushed city life of Cape Town,” explained Nathalie, “that we just craved for something different. And Betty’s Bay offers that peace and quietness. That’s a positive change.”
“And you won’t see a traffic jam in Betty’s Bay,” Hazel confirmed with pride.

After being fed with one of their gigantic pieces of chocolate cake (I finally understood how people can get addicted to chocolate cakes), Nathalie took me along in their car to let the dog Goldi get some exercises during a walk on the beach.

And it became quite an unusual walk along the seaside. The hard blowing wind blew the sand from the dunes towards the sea, so we had to walk with our eyes almost closed. I felt how the sand brushed along my body and noticed how the waves almost couldn’t finish its fall as the water was blow backwards again. Very strange.

But wind also clears the mind, some say, and I even got a free sand-scrub on my legs!

From the beach, Nathalie drove to [bPringelbay[/b], a nearby village where we drunk a beer in the local (and probably the only) pub with the fascinating name Bar Beyond. And it was such a bar where the waitress knows what the locals drink when they come in and where the most important topics to talk about is cricket or rugby.

I was also introduced with the local phenomenon Tom, a little mouse behind the bar, which made the waitress sit on the bar as she had such a fright of mice. If you look at things this way, the most interesting things seem to happen in a pub.

I asked the locals in the pub what the biggest event was that had taken place in this area within the last five years.

Everybody stayed quiet. “What about the last ten years?” I asked around, hoping for some response.
“We got electricity!” one man said. And that was about it…

Back at the apartment above the coffee shop Nathalie prepared us some delicious fish with vegetables for dinner and I almost licked the plate clean, while we watched television.

My phone rang and on the other end it was Suzie, Carla Husselmann’s sister, who had told about my project to a man who dives for sharks in a cage. You are right: In a few days I’ll be loaded into a big cage and lowered into the sea to wave at some friendly-looking hazardous sharks.

(If you don’t see any more updates on this website, please try to collect my body parts at the seaside if you happen to find them…)

Later this evening I handed Nathalie her Letmestayforaday-gift, which was the present passed on by Patrick Seeton: it was a unique and utopian photograph of a boat, shot by Patrick himself. “Now that is going to get framed,” Nathalie said. Hazel loved the unexpected idea of the gifts-going-by and loved the photograph too.

When Nathalie and Hazel went off to bed, they let me use their Internet connection in the downstairs coffee shop, so I could spend some time writing my chronicle.

When I got to bed later the night - well, you don’t want to know how much sand fell out of my hair…

Good night Betty’s Bay!

Ramon.



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