Wine Country. Cape Town, South Africa.

12 Jan

January 4, 2010

Made it to wine country. Let me tell you, it was short of amazing for I had to drive on the wrong side of the road, in a stick-shift car for lefties, without a GPS system, via the interstate highway system, all in the name of consuming large quantities of happy juice. I’m still amazed I made it. I was thinking I need a glass of wine to celebrate. And what do you know, the wine-lodge celebrates my arrival with a FREE bottle of wine. Welcome to South African wine country. And, Happy New Year to me!

Step back for a mili-second. I would have never made it here, if it weren’t for Jessy Lipperts with Extraordinary Travel. Let me tell you she is a top travel angel. She’s up there with Ha from Vietnam.

Bill Jones, National Geographic tour guide who led me through Bhutan and has traveled 140+ of the 190+ countries in the world, recommended to reach out to Jessy to help me plan my Cape Town travels. Thank you BILL! Another travel angel…

I emailed Jessy a few weeks ago, telling her I’m coming to Cape Town. I have little dinero. And, this is my story. “I want to learn to surf. Learn about South African history/politics.  Get my hair highlighted and cut. See the beauty of Cape Town. And, drink wine.” Other than that, I’m good. She hooked me up not only with a biking tour and a licensed hair stylist but also with NGOs working in South Africa.

I knew she rocked in her first email for it had a cute masthead and signature block. Got to love marketing! Then, she wanted to Skype to fully understand my needs.

I saw that she was blond, so I knew I was in good hands in the hair department. Plus, she wanted to meet me for wine. She was going to be in Zimbabwe over Christmas meeting her boyfriend’s family, but she would make a trip to wine country just for ME. Love that! My trip was in her hands. And, if you haven’t figured it out, she exceeded all expectations.

Kline Zalze

So, Jessy hooked me up in Stellenbosh, wine village outside of Cape Town, at a winery called Kleine Zalze. They are the ones that greeted me with a bottle of wine.

My room was called Pinot Noir #5. Like Chanel #5, right? Outside my door they’re growing the Chardonnay grape, one of my favorite wines. My room overlooked the mountains and more grapes. It truly does not get better than this. The fact I did NOT total my car, makes life even better.

Not much to report, except did the wine tasting gig. They have a wine called Pinotge. It’s a light red wine. I liked it. I’m not a wine person, so I call tell you is, it was yummy. Nice review, huh?

After Stellenbosh, I drove to the another wine village called Franschhoek. By far, my favorite. I could live there. Not kidding. And, not sure what I would do for a living, except walk the streets, hike the mountains, ride the horses and sip vino. The fact I found the place, was a major miracle. Signage on back wine roads, not the best. Let’s just say, I had to go to the bathroom when I started, and after 2 hours of driving 30 miles, I no longer had to go. It’s called the sweat option…

Got a ‘little’ lost. Stopped at a grocery store to ask directions, and got the “left, right, left, left” response. I repeated I was a clueless American tourist driving on the wrong side of the road, and needed much more than that. The manager of SPAR grocery store came out, and drew me a picture. Thank you travel angel!

His picture included four round-abouts, hills and stop lights. Again, sweat…

When I pulled up to Akademie Guesthouses in Franschhoek, I knew I arrived. Cutest B&B. Old Dutch house. Hard wood floors. And, all the rooms have art work either drawn by the family or purchased locally. My room was the size of my kitchen, TV room and bedroom back home. Yes, moving in was an option.

After arrival, I walked three streets to the main street, with all the cafes, restaurants, wine bars, shops and police station. It was here, where I started to feel melancholy. I’m surprised it was the first time I had the feeling of wanting a “fun, male travel dude” with me. Drinking wine alone is only so much f-u-n.

I looked around, and all I saw was couples or families. Old, young, ugly, hot, fat, skinny, drunk, sober – all kinds from all over the world were meandering down the street holding hands, pushing strollers….You get the picture. In my mind, they all looked like they were “in love” and having the time of their life. They all could be on the “most wanted” list for domestic offenders for all I knew.

It boiled down I was feeling lonely. I looked for other single travelers or randoms at cafes, for I would have joined them. Yes, becoming that person who talks to strangers in cafes. Frightening…

I could not spy any solo sitters. “They” say retail therapy and wine helps in these matters of the heart. So, I tried retail therapy and bought some key chains and baseball cap. Yea…didn’t work. I sat down at an outdoor cafe, ordered a glass of wine, and watched people walk by. My heart felt heavy. This is the perfect place to have a part-time-lover (PTL), boyfriend, husband or, even, friend. It reeks with romance, laughter, and togetherness.

I took my wine and walked across the street to a Dutch church to pray. Sat there for a real long time talking to God. Or, what the Buddhist call meditating.

Yes, I did take my glass of wine into the church. Protestants do support wine consumption. Mediating, praying, talking, drinking wine all seem to gel nicely. I walked out feeling 1000% better.

Needed that time of reflection, thankfulness… humbleness.

But, I did asked myself. Why am I feeling this way? Why now? I’m a girl. Very good at over analyzing the situation. Now, this blog is NOT the place to share my personal boy travel stories. That is personal. Plus, my father’s clients, mother’s friends and sister’s parole officer are reading this. Boy talk is sacred, while bowel moments are not…Have to dry the line somewhere.

The cliff notes version is I’ve hit the 6 month mark of traveling. I’m not tired, to say the least. If anything, taming my curiosity energizes me. I just wanted to share wine tasting with someone I care about.

And, there seemed to be little prospects in Franschhoek, South Africa. Plus, my B&B was filled with couples, and here I am some single traveler. When I checked it, they assumed I’m traveling with a man. I had to correct them. Nope, I’m traveling alone. I guess, I feel like an outcast. Like a reject. Rationally, I know none of this is true. But, emotionally, it was a different story.

Instead of pushing these emotions or thoughts down, I sat in them all day. Hence, I went to the church to talk. Later, I wrote. And, told myself to feel the rejection today for tomorrow, we’re moving on… Tomorrow, I’m horseback riding to wineries. Drinking and riding… Now, that is a new one. Today, I feel sorry for myself. And, trust me, I milked that emotion…For I found a kitchen shop and bought some wooden salad spoons, and I don’t even eat salad.

I did have a great laugh in the kitchen shop. Next to the knives, was a burlesque section of garter belts, bustiers, thigh-high stockings and sparkling underwear….

I just stared at it, trying to understand their market mindset. Is it common to purchase a carving knife and a leopard bra together? Does the mind make that link? “Oh, need to pick up something sexy and a garlic press, know the perfect place…”

I asked the clerk if lingerie was a “hot” item. She did not understand the question. I changed it to, “big seller…” She smiled and said, “yes.” I still don’t think she understood. I needed more than a yes. I wanted to know why. I don’t think she knew the “why.” I took a picture, and left with my salad spoons, and declined the crotchless underwear.

Next day was 100% better. I was in my element once again, on top of a mighty, powerful horse named Cindy in search of wine. Bad name for an incredible horse.

We cantered through vineyards in search of a winery. Found one, two..or three. I was riding with a cute couple from London. He’s from New Zealand, and she is from England. He’s a reporter. And, she’s in communications. Sounds familiar…

They just got back from Namibia and wanted to end their month long vacation with wine too. The day is what you imagined. Drinking. Riding. Smelling. Drinking. Riding. Smelling. Perfect-o.

As we untacked our horses, I bonded with our trail rider. She told me the tragic story of her horse being killed by a car. Her horse was tied up. The wind came. The rope came loose. She trotted off towards the road. She went running after her horse. Her horse looked back one last time before the car smashed her. Her horse died before her eyes. She was 17. And, her horse was her soul mate. I get it. There is something powerful and knowing about horses. I get it.

I let her talk. And, told her how much I understood. She talked about her horse being her only friend and it has taken years to get over the pain. Again, I get it. I listened. We talked. She cried. I cried. I told her how blessed she was to have known her soul mate, even if it was short lived. Many walk this earth and will never meet, or let alone be open to, that kind of bonding, connection and trust.

She cried more. I cried more. I believe in my heart that God wanted me there. To listen. To share. And, listen some more. It made all my “don’t have a man” talk the day before seem trite.

I felt privilege to be in this girl’s presence. Privileged she is sharing. And, privileged I could be a blessing, even if it meant just listening. When I left her, I saw a different light in her eyes. A light of gratitude. And a light of relief.

I climbed back into my car made for lefties, and forgot where I was. Almost took out the gate while making a left hand turn. Having a problem judging distance, you think?

Headed back to B&B to pack and pack and pack for my flight to Dubai. Oh, sooo don’t want to leave Cape Town. Or, South Africa. My heart tells me, I will back.

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