Heritage Day 24/9

Mzolis

The most famous ‘braai’ restaurant in the Cape. This is not just a restaurant, it’s an experience.

 

This country’s come a long way from the days of slavery, colonialism, 50 years of legalised racism, then a few skirmishes in the years between Nelson Mandela’s release from prison and his inauguration as President in 1994 when the country was finally a real democracy. Now we’re all united and happy, we no longer see colour, we treat everyone as equals and we love our government.

Not really, actually.

20 years is just a moment in history so we’ve a long way to go and we’ll never be a perfect nation because there’s no such thing.

In the meantime, we have Heritage Day – 24 September. This is the day on which we should reflect on our heritage, what it means to each of us, who we are, who we want to be, and how we relate to each other. This isn’t easy for 50 million people as diverse as this rainbow nation. There are people in this country who have never left their village, there are whites who have never had a black friend and don’t even know any black people except their staff, there are people who speak 6 of the 11  official languages, there are some who speak only one, there are people who know nothing about others’ cultures, there are people who are scared of other cultures. We are many, we are diverse, and the country is huge.

So what do we have in common? Is there any ONE thing that we all have in common?

Yes! A deep abiding love of cooking meat on an open fire. Everyone does it, absolutely everyone. And often, very often. Not just in summer when we want to entertain friends. In all seasons, in any weather, with anyone. We call it a ‘braai‘ which is the Afrikaans word for .. well.. cooking meat on an open fire. Everyone uses the same word, everyone does it pretty much the same way and there are very very few who don’t like it. And we do it damn well, too – none of those little sausages and patties, no siree .. steak and chops and our very own unique sausage called a ‘boerewors‘ – Afrikaans word for ‘farmer’s sausage’ – it’s thick, it’s slightly spicy and it’s always included.

So that’s why tomorrow’s holiday was unofficially, and with some controversy, declared National Braai Day.  There is still controversy and many detractors because too many people are forgetting the original reason for this public holiday, but that’s the South African way. We tend to not take too much notice of the symbolism and reason for a day off work. We just head for the beach, or light a fire.

Here’s another take on South Africa’s Favourite Pastime with photos of actual food!

welcome

This is also part of our heritage – people who live in shacks, have satellites for television, and who welcome visitors.

heritage

Unfortunately, poverty is still part of our heritage. This photo was taken a year ago and these shacks have now been replaced with decent housing.

 

No show flowers

Bontebok

Good grief! I haven’t blogged in almost 2 months – very remiss of me. Winter depresses me, I am not inspired, I sit behind my computer planning for summer and occasionally staring out of the window at the miserable weather, wondering if it will ever be warm again. In typical Cape Town manner it does warm up for a few days, lulls me into thinking summer is back and then it freezes up again. Like today.

But it is officially Spring so a trip to ‘the flowers’ was in order this week, despite reports that this year they are not putting on a good show.

Speak to anyone in Cape Town about ‘the flowers’ and they know you’re referring to the fabulous spring flower display of the West Coast. This is when the arid desert of Namaqualand bursts into endless displays of little flowers that have been hibernating – some of them even save their seeds for several years to ensure there is always life. From all parts of the country, and the world, flower-lovers make the annual pilgrimage to see this miracle. It’s a long drive from the nearest city but it’s worth it to see carpets of flowers as far as the eye can see. The tricky part is to time it well because as beautiful as Spring is in this region, it seldom arrives on schedule. Autumn and Spring don’t really follow man’s expectations in South Africa so one can easily plan and book accommodation, only to find the flowers were better last week or will be next week.

Closer to Cape Town is the West Coast National Park. It’s only an hour away and I love this reserve for its diversity. The flowers are a mixed bunch as opposed to the same type for miles, and there is also game and lots of water. A perfect mix, in my opinion.

My new friend Sheila and I spent a day this week meandering through the reserve. We even did the touristy thing of ticking off every animal species we saw. We didn’t have lunch at Geelbek (as one normally does) but we stopped and ate rolls and other goodies whenever we were hungry. We had an Incident with a Falling Tripod, we rescued a puff adder that was in danger of being run over on the road, we were thrilled to have kudus running across the road in front of us, and we lost count of the many tortoises we saw ‘dashing’ across the road. We also contributed heavily to the Bovril Project. Bovril is a bit like the gnome in Amelie in that he gets to travel to interesting places and have his photo taken for a dedicated Facebook page. All in all we had a fabulous day, despite the fact that the flowers are, as reported, extremely poor this year. Perhaps they’re late but one thing is certain, they’ll be better next year!

Read about the park here and look at photos showing what the flowers are supposed to look like.

Puffadder

The little puff adder that we rescued – by asking someone else to flick it into the bushes.

weaver

I’m a rotten bird photographer so am rather chuffed with this shot of a weaver.

Seeberg

My favourite place in the park is Seeberg with this house built on a rock and with the best views of the lagoon.

zebra2

This is the best I could do with these zebras as they were very far away. The one in front is not dead, his tail was flicking.

Postberg beach

The beach at Postberg.

Gazanias

 

Bov goes West

The Bovril Project

DSCF2141

No rushing through this park

Bov in the flowers

Bov in the flowers

20140915_172753

In the nearby town of Langebaan, surrounded by monstrous displays of bad taste, is this old house – one of only a few that has been preserved.

 

Disclaimer

A note to all accidental visitors:

I am not a photographer and do not claim to have any particular skills whatsoever in that department. I have enormous respect for those who can see the potential in a scene and can create a great photo. Good photography is an art, in my opinion.

I am just a happy snapper, I have no special lenses or accessories, my camera is very simple and it's usually best to leave the setting on auto.

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