Friday, July 20, 2018

Travels: Fresh winds, a warmer sea, some snow and a battered novel

I've done some travelling. It's been good for my head. As a result, I've had my most energised and productive week, since getting back to campus on Monday, in years.

In my first week of vacation, I work up on the first Wednesday morning, went online, hired a car. I collected it at 12h00 the same day, then left Cape Town by three without a plan in place nor with an accommodation booking made. Liberating.

Ten days later after driving 2,500 km, I returned the car. I'd spent one night in Hermanus, two nights in Nature's Valley on the Western Cape's border with the Eastern Cape, before driving on to Grahamstown.

For three days I was at the 44th National Arts Festival and, just, in time to hear that the small frontier (at least still so in my mind) city's name had been changed. Then, just after a snowfall, I drove to Hogsback where I spent a few days before winding back home via Port Elizabeth, the Karoo, and a night in Roberston.

Winter cold; blazing hearths; lots of braaing of meals, almost every evening, and even quite a few mornings.

Despite the winter cold, interrupted weirdly by some balmy days, I relished my time in Grahamstown, the seat of my alma mater Rhodes University. Everywhere I walked I could tick off emotion-rich events that had taken place all over the city; it was also where I was intellectually emancipated, a process heightened by the fact that I'd just been vomited out of an involuntary two-year stint in the apartheid state's army.

I took the above photo one night, late, on my way back to my basic accommodation. It's the Anglican Cathedral of St. Michael and St. George at the intersection of High Street and Hill Street, Grahamstown.

Throughout the road trip, I was reading Travels: Collected Writings, 1950-93, by one of my favourite writers, Paul Bowles. I also picked up a battered 1973 Penguin edition of Joseph Conrad's The Secret Agent for a mere R10 at the Red Cafe in Grahamstown's High Street.

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