Expect the unexpected
Trip Start Jul 19, 2009
160Trip End Oct 25, 2010
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Well, hi, I am back in South Africa, East London's Sugarshack and sometimes it's like I have never been away and sometimes I don't know where the hell I am.
Been here three days now, I'll skip the first two as they passed in a daze, something between a dream and a nightmare, but last night I met Brian, a South African who lives in Canada and we got talking over a whiskey and ended up having dinner at the Buccaneers, the restaurant next door.
That was the first sign of normality and also the first decent meal in days. He's in the wine business so after sharing a good bottle I toppled into bed only to wake up a few hours later and unable to fall back asleep again I spent most of the night standing in the rain watching the waves roll back and forth.
This morning we talked of a visit to Gonubie, he is a biker, here for the Margate Festival or something and I quite liked the idea of a ride on the back of his Kawasaki. However, a second helmet was nowhere to be found so we took off for a stroll on the beach. We were heading in the direction I have been warned of, each and every time I come here: 'Very dangerous, don't go there, women get raped, people are murdered.' But Brian wasn't too put out when I told him. 'There are the two of us and we wont wander that far.'
Great, I too wanted to see what it was like.
It was wonderful. I wished I had brought my camera along and we kept on going, scrambling on the rocks now, just one more corner, one more hill. Before we knew it hours had passed and both of us thirsty we walked away from the beach in search of civilization. Eventually we found a path leading up to a building, a whole complex it turned out to be. Terrible smell. It was a sewage plant.
There went my hopes for a nice cold cider. I approached a couple of guys working there and asked where we could get a drink and where were we anyway, and how best to get back.
'Whatever you do, don't go that way,' the man said, pointing to the direction we'd just came from.
'Why not?' I asked.
'Because people get killed there.'
'Wow,' I said, 'we just walked all the way up there.'
He shook his head in disbelief, the man standing behind him was sniggering. "Then you were lucky.'
'See,' I hissed at Brian, 'I told you so.'
'I wasn't holding this for nothing,' he answered as he let go of a rock in his hand.
Hmm. Fat lot of good that would have done us, I thought.
Anyway, we were directed to the Nahoon golf club. 1 kilometer down the road so said but it must have been at least four and then they only sold soft drinks in a shop. That wouldn't do. Where was a proper bar? Two kilometer further on, and don't go near the beach, people get killed there.
That piece of information was volunteered so the situation must be serious.
Damn, I had really wanted to go back there and take some pictures.
We found a bar, I didn't even want to go in first, it was such a dump. Two large concrete rooms painted dark brown to match the rest of the interior. A big screen showing sports, we were the only customers but the cider was heavenly and the barmaid a friendly, chatty girl - it turned out she and Brian were both born in the same little village near Margate.
Funny how that made everybody feel happy.
I have never been to Margate and it sounded pleasant enough. Brian thinks he can put me in touch with a project there. School children. Well, you never know and I have got to start somewhere.
As I am doing here, now, starting somewhere, trying to get back into the blogging mood. Didn't intend to but there you go....expect the unexpected - a black boy begging at the beach where yesterday I sat on the wall in deep thought said that to me. His eyes glazed over from alcohol or drugs, he handed me a little cross crafted from palm tree leaves and explained its symbolism. 'Easter,' he said, 'Jesus awoke from the dead.'
'A miracle,' I smiled. His shifty eyes focused on mine.
'You have beautiful eyes,' he said, ' the colour of the sea. I can tell you are sad but it can happen to you too. A miracle. Expect the unexpected.'
As he walked away i realized I hadn't given him money nor had he asked for it.
Maybe that was a small miracle in itself. We had had an honest conversation and because of that, as a token of respect, he didn't ask me for money. The cross was a gift.
It's things like that that restore your faith again. Totally unexpected and, yes, I was feeling sad.