Thought of the Day

I don't believe in morality, but I believe in ethical conduct as set out by His Holiness the Dalai Lama: "Ethical conduct = a way of behaving that respects others’ right to be happy".

Saturday, 25 July 2009

South Africa Chapter 1: the beginning

We got to the airport plenty in advance to get the camera we had reserved: an SRL canon, Eos 500d with 18-200 lens.
I felt unusually very calm. Drifting towards the unknown usually makes me anxious and excited, but yesterday I felt like all the emotions had been drained after my wedding day. I kept reminiscing it, and the memories were sweet but blurry.
We got upgraded to a seat with extra leg-room as Steve's neighbour, who works for the airline, was on charge. It was great to have all that empty space in front of us until Steve's eagerness to be sanctified in another life made us switch seats with two lofty rugby fans. Ah well, South African Airways is more spacious than other airlines such as Virgin Atlantic, so the downgrade was not too bad after all and made us feel magnanimous. The flight itself was very smooth up to Algeria, and got bumpier and bumpier as we approached the equator where opposite weather systems meet. I managed to watch an insipid film (Marley and Me) and get some sleep, but I got a bit restless at 4am. It was still pitch dark, turbulences were strong, a baby was crying hard, the captain hadn't updated us for a while and I was hungry. Then the dawn arrived and awed me - it was spectacular. I ate my breakfast and then collapsed asleep till landing. We swiftly got our car (a roomy Corolla) and drove to Dullstroom - well Steve did as I slept. At some point he was struggling as he was himself feeling soporific ,to say the least ,,and asked me to drive, but all I could reply was some mumbling words. Luckily there was no traffic, roads were wide and the journey was only an hour or so. Dullsroom is a colourful village set amongst an arid landscape, and equipped with fly-fishing shops, restaurants and decadent guest houses. 4km past the village, we entered the Walkersons Private Estate - our home for the next three days. We sat on the terrace sipping coffee and enjoying the winter sun while our room was prepared. The hotel, a five star affair, is made of 24 luxury lake-side cottages with fire place, outdoor stone shower and private patio overlooking a stunning view. It was fate we ended up here as the hotel we originally booked (a standard three star country house) closed for renovations and we got upgraded for free. The receptionist also upgraded us to the luxury suit, which was a nice surprise. After a well deserved nap, we lit the fire up as a thunderstorm struck and got ready to explore the estate and wine cellar, which boasts the best wine in the country. TO BE CONTINUED...

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