Indian Ocean, Hermanus, South Africa

After another high calorie breakfast, we set out for Hermanus, whale watching capital of South Africa. My friends, Paul and Yvonne Jansen, run a B&B there called Mulligan’s Guest House, located on the local golf course. The path we took placed us back on the same road to Knysna. We took in the same breathtaking views, driving through Knysna, Wilderness and George, all along the coastal highway. Wilderness, but another 20 miles beyond Knysna, offers yet another contrast in surrounds as its coast looks more akin to the vast, wide, flat beaches of North Carolina, South Carolina and Florida. So, there within 30 miles, the coastal towns of Plettenberg Bay, Nature’s Valley, Knysna and Wilderness offer such an array of visual diversity that South Africa earns again its reputation of being a world in one country.

Once clearing the coast, the N2 took us a few mile inland where the rolling hills met the farm land and the base of the Outeniqua Mountains. The last seaside town to greet us was Mossel Bay. This piece of seashore was originally found by the Portuguese explorer, Bartolomeu Dias. He ventured here in 1488, becoming the first European to round the Cape of Good Hope. At that time, a remedial post office was set up to pass messages back and forth to coming and going mariners to bring to family back home and to pass on information to one another. Albeit the unmanned post office was but a large tree where messages could be stored but nonetheless, a post office. Mossel Bay now serves as a port city and we took advantage of our surroundings by driving to the end of point and eating lunch at the restaurant overlooking the beach where surfers set upon rolling waves and children played on the white sand beach.

We completed the last portion of our trip enjoying the sunset over the Outeniqua Mountains set against the fields of canola plants budding in their brilliant yellow hue. These are the same canola plants that yield us canola oil.

We pulled into Hermanus at about 7PM. Introductions were made between my mother and the owners, and my friends, Paul & Yvonne Jansen and their son, Paul, Jr. Thie other son, Emile, is working aboard a privately owned yacht on the west coast of the United States. The boat is based in San Diego and he has spent the last 3 months traveling to Los Angeles, San Francisco, Oregon, Washington, Vancouver Island and up to Alaska. Emile has now been working on a boat for 3 years, having started in the Mediterranean. Emile and I became friends after my first stay in South Africa with my sister, Rebecca in January of 2000. She found Mulligan’s Guest Lodge and we have all been friends since.

Paul & Yvonne summarize all that is right about Afrikaners. They are an extroverted, generous, hospitable couple and their children are much the same. Emile came to stay with me in Atlanta a few years back after he worked at a ski resort in the northeast.

As we were a bit tired from the long drive, I opted to buy some good ole Kentucky Fried Chicken and take it back to our room. We ate the chicken and then went back to speak the Jansens. In their typical fashion, the Jansens invited us to have dinner with them. As we had already had a bit of chicken, we elected to try a small portion of their Afrikaans specialty dish of boboetie. Boboetie is a mix of sliced meat, curry spices and rice. The dish is easy to make but difficult to make well. Paul, Jr. stirred up the specialty and I must say it turned out quite tasty for his first effort at creating the food.

Mama and Yvonne got along well speaking about their common ancestry as Yvonne father came to South Africa from Holland in the early 50’s seeking better employment in his profession as an engineer. Much of western Europe was busy repairing itself after WWII so many a Dutchman ventured south to peddle his or her wares in the southern hemisphere. Yvonne’s father passed away suddenly a few years ago and her mother still lives in Johannesburg. She speaks Afrikaans and Dutch fluently but prefers not to speak English. Yvonne speaks to her mother in Dutch. The Jansens house was decorated with an array of Dutch and Afrikaans adornment. They, too, had a picture of their children dressed as 18th century Dutchmen, complete with wooden shoes, just as Mama had such a picture taken of me and Rebecca in Holland at a similar age in our youth. And yes, Yvonne’s sons looked about as exited in the picture as I did.

We retired to our room overlooking the golf course and went to sleep quickly.