New Instagramming Material

imageI was glancing through my Instagram this morning and holy monkeys on tree swings there are way too many selfies with cats on there at the moment. So… I’m definitely looking forward to a bit of A Short Road Trip with the husband tomorrow because at least I’ll have some new things to take pictures of. Knowing that I tend to enter all the accommodation competitions that I find, a friend pointed out that The Royal St Andrews Hotel in Port Alfred is having just such a competition so I entered it. Then I thought, oh buggerit I don’t have time to win competitions I need to go somewhere NOW so now we’re going there now. If we win then double yay because we’re going on our Anniversary Road Trip in August so we could use it then.

Anyway: the point is that I’m eager to get a little exploring done between here and Port Alfred over the next two days. I’ve been through Port Alfred on the odd occasion but I’ve never really meandered through it much at all. And to be perfectly honest: we need it. Gosh this real life this is an ass boil sometimes and this last week needs to be lanced!

Now if I can just get this slight little flu tickle to GO AWAY! (read that in Moaning Myrtle’s voice please) then I can move on and get packing and be ready to leave here as early as possible in the morning…

Travel Plans and Crazy Schemes

Anniversary Road Trip

I’m not even kidding a little if I tell you that over the weekend, in an attempt to get a little better at this whole travel thing,  I spent about 15 hours fiddling on flight and hotel apps. I’m 97% sure that I did nothing else over the weekend actually. I watched….something. What was it? Oh yes… The whole of the IT Crowd series. It’s funny. When you pay attention between apps.

You see….

I made the decision this year that my salary (and it is not a big one) is now exclusively travel money. I am paying for absolutely nothing in this house. Nought. Nada. No.

That sounds terrible.

But…

We love to travel.

So. We decided that if we can make Ty’s salary work hard enough to cover “life” then my income can be used exclusively for fun. It’s hard. But we’re making it work.

Anyway,, my new “rule” is that whenever I pay off my credit card I’m allowed to buy flights to somewhere. We are trying to keep flight costs under 10k per person (not so easy when you have to add PE- JHB flights to any international flight) but we are determined to live the life that we want to live instead of constantly making excuses for why we can’t have what we want.

I had big plans to take us to Zanzibar for our Seven Year Anniversary this year (gotta combat that seven year itch!) and I had even found us super cheap flights on Fast Jet which I was more than excited about. But I didn’t want to get the tickets before I’d managed to properly pay off my credit card. Well, it’s almost done, but when I checked for tickets on my very specific dates, I discovered that the flights I was planning to use were full.

DEVASTATION!

This has been on my mind for a month. All the scheming. All the figuring out how to make it work. All the eating of lentils and chickpeas and turning down invitations for drinks because “I’m saving for a trip”. GAH!

Ok fine. Try other dates. Nope. Nothing around our anniversary works. At least not in the kind of time-efficient way that you need to employ in order to make the best of the husband’s leave.

So…

I decided to give my credit card a tiny little break and we are going to celebrate our first 7 years together with a long as hell road trip from POrt Elizabeth to Mozambique and back.

Why?

Because the bug has bitten, babies. And it’s not leaving any time soon.

 

Wanderlusting

DSCN8551I’m currently on a bit of a road trip through the Western Cape with my husband. We like to do this for ourselves from time to time. At the moment we’re a bit broke, but it was our anniversary on the third and I guess sometimes love needs to trump questionable bank accounts. As much as I adore being in my home (anyone who knows me well knows that I tend towards being a bit of a hermit sometimes) I do admit that combatting cabin fever becomes a delicate balancing act, which is best performed by leaving our fair city behind. These little road trips have healing powers. They have restorative powers. And to be a little too honest: they have marriage saving powers!

So my husband and I are road tripping, and we’ve been to an array of strange places over the last week. Letting my husband take control of the planning has lead to far stranger experiences than if I had been in charge. His relaxed approach to life is certainly more conducive to adventure than my uptight and systematic need for control is. Again, you see: balance. Last week we stayed in a tepee. This is a decidedly un-South African way to spend the night, of course, but it was a new experience nonetheless, and new experiences are the point. We even got to have the strange experience of stumbling upon a (possibly) biker bar in the middle of Prince Alfred’s Pass where the owner had a stuffed springbuck’s hind quarters set up on the wall (instead of a traditional hunting trophy head) and if that wasn’t bizarre enough, he had, for reason’s known only to the infinite cosmos, rigged it up so that whisky could be tapped from the poor creature’s lady bits. I learned of myself that evening that I am quite the prude and that there are some authentic experiences that I am happy to skip out on. The indignity of it all still haunts me, days later.

After the night of strange taxidermy and authentic American tenting, we spent the night on a lovely farm that is completely off the grid. This of course excited Ty no end because he just wants to live off the grid. Having a proper off-the-grid experience was a nice reminder of the possibility of it all.

We’ve actually been having a lovely time. We’ve driven through farm after farm. We’ve admired exquisite protea bushes and gasped at the beauty of the wine lands and marvelled at the brownness of the Cederburg area. I’ve taken a thousand photographs of clouds. And all the while I have been reminding myself: we are nothing without our farmers. These folks who make this all happen are our unsung heroes. We should thank them more often. I can barely grow tomatoes in my veggie garden, never mind feed a whole country.

And yet…there is something that is missing…

Please don’t get me wrong. I love our country. Our country is beautiful and magnificent and we probably have the best weather in the whole world. We have this beautiful diversity, which makes me smile. We have great food. We have our odd colloquialisms and our specific brand of humour. I love all of those things. And I miss them when I go away.

But when you’re road tripping in your own country you never really properly feel like you have left home. You never experience that exquisite spark of fear that is brought about by being faced with the unknown. You never get to stand still for a moment, look around you and tell yourself, “I have absolutely no idea where I am”. I must admit, I am addicted to that feeling.

I tried to tell myself the other day that I need to stop having lofty and impossible dreams about trips overseas that I cannot afford. I should just be quietly content to explore my own country. Exploring my own country is doable. But my other self only started to laugh at me. Because as much as I do love exploring the wonders of right here, my other self knows that there is something far more empowering about that feeling of not knowing where you are. Of feeling un-findable. Of being no one in the midst of everyone.

If you’ve ever read The Alchemist you might have noticed that there is a quote by Madonna on the back. It says “The Alchemist is a book about magic, dreams and the treasures we seek elsewhere and then find on our own doorstep.” To me this is a gross misinterpretation of the book. To me, The Alchemist is about how you should seek out adventure despite the fact that everything you need might be on your doorstep.

My own interpretation of the story sticks with me and causes my mind to scheme constantly. It is why, even though I am not wealthy, I have begun to stick small amounts of money away in a “flight fund”. And it is why I am constantly on websites like webjet checking out what it costs to fly where. Because it is important to know these things. It is important to know that if you don’t get yourself the latest iPhone, you could actually afford to purchase a ticket to Vietnam. It is important to know that if you save x amount of money for y amount of months that you could give yourself a trip to Prague.

Because you know what? As healing and restorative and marriage-saving as a road trip through the country might be, a plane ticket to anywhere holds within it a thousand times more power. And yes, everything I need might be on my doorstep, but the world outside of my doorstep is calling me. And I will keep checking on those ticket prices. I will keep working out how much to save. And soon I’ll be on a plane again.

Train Trippin’

Once upon a time I watched a Bruce Springsteen DVD and thought to myself “I hope that one day I can see ol’ Bruce live”. A weird thought perhaps for someone barely familiar with the man’s music, but then again, it is quite hard to deny the man’s charismatic presence. With only the idea that I would like to see him live one day, I was very quick to decide on a trip to Joburg to see the man perform when it was announced that he would be gracing our primitive shores. And so it was that on Friday I found myself on a train headed for a mere 24-hour stay in Johannesburg. Of course trains are not really part of my every day life. But then again, neither are planes or busses. No…. We drive everywhere. Usually. Usually when petrol doesn’t cost three arms and several legs. Driving is fast becoming a luxury to be set aside in favour of essentials like food and sanity.

DSCN0093Anyway, I’m quite pleased to be able to announce from experience that train rides in South Africa do not suck too much. Hubby and I found ourselves quite comfortable in our small compartment made for two (though I must admit – two average sized people would be comfortable – two large people maybe not so much) and it was quite nice to just veg out a bit and read without being distracted by life. The train was clean. The staff on board were all pleasant. The bathroom didn’t make me want to refrain from liquids.

Unfortunately though…. both our trains were hopelessly late in getting to our destinations. This I find particularly sad because it seems that it is a typical issue and not one that we were unfortunate to encounter due to shoddy timing. It is something that seems to happen  a lot and I must admit that not being able to rely on this kind of thing bugs me. The signalling systems at the stations pack up and once that happens, you’ve got an issue where several trains need to be guided to their destinations by a single “pilot”. This takes forever. Our train was so late in getting to Park Station in Johannesburg that we eventually had our friend pick us up in Germiston. Then on the way home we got stuck in Germiston again. We ended up getting home four hours later than expected.

Was it worth it? Yeah I guess it was. A little quality down time with the hubby was nice. The train food was a bit “meh” but it could have been worse. Travelling for 48 hours in order to watch a concert is possibly a little silly though. Perhaps the trip might feel more worth it if a little more than 24 hours passes in between…