Hermanus, South Africa

Last night, with the Dutch team playing Slovakia, I drove out to Hermanus to catch the match on TV with friends of mine, Yvonne and Paul Jansen, owners of the guest house, Mulligan’s. Yvonne was born in Holland to Dutch parents but then moved out to South Africa with them and her siblings when she was 2 years old.

The drive out to Hermanus is but about an hour and a half but the coastal road hugs the shoreline for the last half of the trip offering views not to be missed – Gordon’s Bay, Rooi Els, Betty’s Bay and then on into Hermanus.

I had a bit of an interesting side story in picking up a hitchhiker in Betty’s Bay. Perhaps my tendency to pick up an occasional person trying to hitch a ride is considered too high a risk and those that make the claim could well be right. I do try to take a hard look at the hitch hiker before accepting the traveler and on this occasion all looked to be OK while I slowed down to pick up a neatly dressed man. Anthony Tattelar poured into the back seat behind me because the passenger seat and other rear seat were full with clothes, bags and extras. The conversation started off rather benign in inquiring about personal history and the like. Anthony told me he was helping take care of his father who had been confined to his bed for the last two years due to a back ailment and arrived 7 months ago to offer his assistance. When I asked where he had come from he told me that he had been let out of prison after serving half of a 15 year prison sentence. Needless to say my attention peaked at this comment. Given Anthony’s size and the fact he was sitting directly behind me, I was more than a little concerned about the situation in which I found myself. I suppose I could have simply stopped the car and asked Anthony to get out but I felt immediately as though, perhaps, he was embellishing his past. Why did I feel this way? The reasons were probably multiple and hard to put onto paper but I believe my initial considerations became worthy when Anthony went on to tell me he had won the lottery at age 18 and asked his father to put all the funds in an account not to be drawn upon until he was 40 years old. What 18 year old is smart enough to make that decision? I gave Anthony a ride down to Kleimond and the Spar grocery store there. He stepped out of the backseat, shook my hand and walked off as if two strangers had me at a bus stop and exchanged pleasantries about the weather.

Paul and Yvonne, as well as their sons (when in the country versus at work in Europe and elsewhere) always prove to be good company and this trip was not an exception. Yvonne in full orange wig and shirt was in full support of the Dutch team. Other friends, Ken and Isabelle, recent transplants from the UK, were also in attendance as the revelry began. Paul, Jr. had recently arrived home from teaching English in Abu Dhabi in the UAE. The match itself ended up being more relaxing for we Dutch fans once the Netherlands jumped out to an early 1 – 0 lead, eventually coasting to a 2 – 1 victory after the Slovakians scored their only goal on the last play of the game on a penalty kick.

Hermanus, South Africa, BeachAs is the norm with Yvonne and Paul, their easy going, extroverted and hospitable personalities lead to a few more beers and a few more discussions about a myriad of subjects up until bedtime.

Monday’s weather matched what was enjoyed on the days before. Sunday probably best showcased the favorable weather of South Africa given the temperature of close to 80 degrees and a crowd on the Camp’s Bay beach. To be able to put such a day in proper perspective we in the US have to stand the calendar on its head and realize that Sunday, June 28 is the equivalent of December 28 for us. There are far and few places in the US where one can sit on the beach in 80 degree temperatures in late December. Camp’s Bay beach continues to be one of my favorites here with its flat stretch cornered by rocky outcrops all laying in front of 3-4 blocks of bars, restaurants and retail set below the base of 3,500 square foot Table Mountain.

My last visit today was to Sia Thomatos, a friend of 10 years, whom I met the first week I came to Cape Town in January of 2000. She and her friends introduced themselves to me at a bar in Cape Town and since we have stayed in touch. I must admit that our most recent hiatus in seeing one another was long given Sia has since gotten married and had 2 children, the most recent 5 weeks ago. I drove by her house in Welgemoed and we visited for a few hours before I headed back to Hout Bay.