“Keep the Baboons out of your room.”
This is what Ruth, the manager at the Grail Centre, in Kleinmond, said to us as we were checking in. She said, “they’ve figured out how to open the doors, but not to use keys.” She explained that the baboons come out of the mountains across the road (the ocean is on the other side of us from the mountains).
The morning began rather early with breakfast at St. Paul’s. At breakfast Val talked with us about the general strike happening today. The service workers of South Africa have asked for a 12 percent raise and the Parliament has offered 5.5 percent. This standoff has been going on for nearly two weeks – during which time the service workers haven’t been paid. Today there is to be a strike and she recommended that we get out of town (which we are scheduled to do anyway) early rather than later, when it might be difficult to leave. She told us that her sympathies lie with the service workers who, right now, are bringing home about $1,000 a year. She pointed out that the members of Parliament are paid over a 100 times that.
Conor and I took a taxi out to the airport where we got the tickets printed for our flight a week from Sunday and picked up our rental car (it’s a VW Chico, that looks like the old VW Rabbit).
I feel like I’m learning how to drive all over again. A lifetime of driving on the right hand side of the road is extremely difficult for me to overcome. That’s why Conor came with me. I need his reminders of which way to turn and which way to go (“it’s the easy left here, dad” or “you’re getting to close to the edge of the road” – I think he’s enjoying playing the role of driving instructor – role reversal you know).
We loaded up at St. Paul’s (it’s a very tight squeeze with all our luggage) and began the drive to the Grail Centre in Kleinmond, South Africa. It was about an hour and a half drive from Cape Town. And it was a spectacularly beautiful drive. About 45 minutes in to the trip we turned off and all of a sudden there were mountains on our left and the ocean on our right. We took a corkscrew road along the coast and just found our mouths dropping open as every turn brought us stunning vistas. When we got to Kleinmond we stopped for lunch and then drove out to the Grail Centre. You can see and read a bit about this place at [url]http://home.mweb.co.za/gr/grailoff/[/url]
It’s a very simple conference center. We have one of the cottages. We were given several instructions to be wary of baboons. Along with instructions of what to do in case one ends up in a room with a baboon (don’t look them in the eye, move so that they have easy access to leave, and make a loud noise – but not with your voice). We started our laundry (finally!) and went walking and found a hiking trail that takes one up into the mountains. As you climb it gives a spectacular view of the bay. We came back and played some cards (we are now onto the longer game of Skip-bo) and headed off to dinner. This is a summer resort area. And since it is winter it is pretty empty. Dinner was at a restaurant at the edge of the ocean – waves crashing on the rocks outside our window. But we were the only people in the restaurant – or at any of the restaurants around here. We asked the waitress what there is to do around here in the winter and she replied “nothing.”
After dinner (it gets dark here around 6 pm – so there weren’t many places to walk at that time) we headed back to the Grail Centre and Kathy and I pulled out our surprise after we got the fire going. We had brought the pieces to make s’mores! We got a fire going, in the very cold cottage (no central heating) and we roasted marshmallows and ate s’mores. Jordan in particular seemed to enjoy this!