The Over-Served Cure. Cape Town, South Africa

8 Jan

Had only two glasses of wine last night. Woke today with make up still on the face and brain cells swimming in a purple haze. Looked for IB Profin, and saw they’re all crushed.  Crushed? Smart me carried the pills in my pockets while horse riding. Day after day of bouncing pulverized the pills.   Yea, I’m prepared to surf today…

Avis man dropped off the rent-a-car at 10 am.

Me: “Thanks…Where is the GPS mechanical-thingy?”

Avis: “Oh, we ran out. No more. GPS.”

Me: “Are you kidding me? You expect me, an American, to navigate this country not only while driving on the wrong side of the road, but without a GPS? Are you mad?”

Avis guy laughed. I’m not finding it funny at all. I’m feeling hazy. Feeling confused. And, feeling tears weld up in the back of my head out of frustration. I mean, really?

Me: “You must have a GPS. I mean, World Cup was here a few months ago. Thousands needed GPS maps, right?”

Avis: “For World Cup we outsourced our GPS map service. Last month, Avis decided to move it all in house.”

Me: “Well, how’s that working out for you?”

Avis guy laughed again. Again, where is the humor?  I calmed myself down. I mean, prior to GPS in cars, people used maps. I will be fine. Fine. Fine. Fine. It is out of my hands. Need to give up control. And, asked the travel angels to get me to Muzeinburg in time for my surf lesson. I have 45 minutes and have no idea where I’m going or what I’m driving.

Avis guy walked me to the car. Very cute, small Hyundai. I peered in the window. It’s stick shift. My heart stopped. Not only am I clueless about where I’m going, but now, I need to be ambidextrous to drive. OMG.

He handed me the keys. And, a map of all of South Africa and walked off. The map was a marketing brochure with pictures and captions…. This was NOT a road map.  Where’s AAA when you need them?

I walked back to the Lady Hamilton Hotel and called Gary’s Surf Shop for directions. Gary got on the phone– loud South African man.

He said, “Don’t you have a GPS, Dammit?”

Yea, surf lessons with him will be pure joy.

I replied, “No. Avis ran out… And, you are talking to a clueless American who has never driven on the wrong side of the road. So, please make your directions very, very, very clear.”

He said, “I drove in New York City without a problem. So, that should inspire you.”

Gary gave me directions.  I started the car.  Prayed like a mad woman.  And put little red car into first gear.  Booom… I was off. Pulled onto the highway and almost took off my rear-view mirror on a road sign.

OK.  No distractions.  I turned off the radio. Even turned off the air condition.  I talked to myself the entire time. I mean, I talked outloud…”Great job Amanda!  Now, a stop light is coming.  This means to downshift. Use your left hand…”    So, I made it to Muzienburg. Even parked the car with the help of a homeless man. Gave him a $1.  Should have given him a $100!

Next was surf lessons. Gary did not have my name on the list. They did have the name “Amand-o” but not Amanda. Who is Amand-o? Never figured that one out.

Some little surfer girl gave me a wetsuit. I pulled the thing on and felt like a super-cool chick for all of 10 minutes, until I tried to carry the long surf board to the ocean in gale force winds. I almost took out a car and a bench when trying to cross the street. Yea, coolness and coordination are officially gone.

There were 10 of us in the “surfing for dummies” group. Our instructors were teens, and clearly had better things to do. They quickly walked through the safety rules. They included:

  • Paddle when we say paddle.
  • Stand when we say stand.
  • Don’t run people over.
  • If you hit your head or bleed, go tot the store. But, wait outside. No blood allowed inside.

A boy named Carl showed us how to stand up. He’s all of 5’7 and can jump up fairly fast. What about a 6-foot girl with little balance and coordination. We all practiced on the sand. The other tall girl from Belgium and I got special directions for we could not pop up so fast.

Carl told us to use our knees first. Then stand up. Right.

And, what about the gale force winds? These mamas are clocking around 30 to 40 mph. I mean people can’t walk on the sidewalk without going backwards. Birds are flapping and not moving… And, your’e telling me all I need to do is pop up from my knees?

In case you’re wondering, gale force winds, coupled with high tide and 50 to 60 degree water, cured being over-served the night before.  No IB-profin was needed after all… The purple haze lifted. And, cold salt water entered. I was alive.

The first couple of rides, I was able to get up on my knees. Quite frankly, I was fine with just that. But, Carl was adamant that tallgirl stood up. We went out farther and farther so I would have more time to stand up. Right now, the waves were breaking so fast, you were riding on sand in a matter of seconds.

After ten or more tries, I stood up for a second or maybe two. Or, maybe it was a nano-second. Whatever it was, my body went slightly erect and then I wiped out. So, now I was hooked. I was going to stand longer. I mean, I can do this!

Not really. By that point, my bod was exhausted from being bashed by the waves and my toes were going numb. My feet were red and bruised. I think the nano-second stand was it for me.

Carl was ticked off at the office for booking a surfing lesson surfing high-tide and in gale force winds. He said, “no one surfs in the conditions like this… And, did you know 5 people drowned yesterday?” All reassuring. I guess since I did not drown, it was a feather in my cap.

So, I can all check the box that I learned to surf in Cape Town. In gale force winds. During high tide. And, wearing a wetsuit two sizes too large. If I had any sense, I would have learned how to surf 45 minutes from home in Florida. But, what fun is that?

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