Rocks and non vegan meat juice
I wake and hope that the previous afternoon was just a bad dream. It’s not and there has been no enlightenment during the night to instigate a change of plans to something safer. I think about it, and if I were on holiday acting in this way my parents would have flipped. We go to breakfast and I’m ravenous. I sip coffee.
Grandpa looks great in his blue shirt and Barbour gillet. The boers check him out. The property is on a sprawling nature reserve and Cici and I take a walk. Birds chirp from the treetops, we can see buck in the distance. My father catches up with us, he’s been sent by my mother to dissipate my frustration. He’s equally as pigheaded. That’s where I get my intolerance from. He likens me to my uncle with a flip knife and tells me I’m stupid. I tell him he’s just as ignorant like his father. He tells me I have no appreciation for Afrikaaner hospitality and I tell him I don’t care. I tell him that he can’t call me dumb when he’s the dumb one who stays with an antigovernment prepper. Cici tries to change the subject to the weather. She can barely breathe, she has a cold which is flaring up. I lie that I have the same symptoms and get called out.
The buck stand and start running loops around us, we step near to the fencing as they pass meters from us.
Then we continue a tennis game of personal insults until we arrive back at the lodge. This is what we do, argue until the hostage cards are played. At least it puts me on the defensive ready for the next leg of the journey.
For the first time in a few weeks we have a few spare hours to relax. I spend my time working with limited wifi. Cici sits sniffing and coughing, alternating between a Tshirt and Arctic Rab. I’m so jealous of her and her sickness. Lucky Bitch. I am still in two minds about joining the rabble for dinner and dangerous driving. An earlier jab from my father was that I have the choice of a family meal or staying at the lodge with Anglo Mine workers working shifts. I told him that male contractors are a known quantity for me and reiterate that I have a successful business with a million pound turnover. After that I check myself, I have worked with therapists and life coaches to address these exact behaviours and turn them to my advantage. I don’t want to loose that small fortune to prove a point.
My mother asks if we should pop into town to a supermarket to pick up a few bits for lunch. Her, Cici and I drive the dirt track out of the reserve and into the northern town. It’s on a trunk route into Zimbabwe and the roads are heavy. We pick up cold and flu remedies, a selection of fruit and a packet of organic salad leaves. Then we nip to the bottle store next door where we buy an armful of craft beer, cider, white wine and castle lager. The latter is a nod to our ancestors who landed in Cape Town in the seventeenth century and were the first licensed brewers.
Then on the road back to the reserve we see a huge shop that boasts gifts and curios. We pull in, it’s in a compound with locked gates. We enter the store. It includes everything from chintzy curios to curated artwork. We recognise ceramic artwork from a friends shop in Graaf Reniet. At the back of the store is a geological section. Like a homing beacon the rocks lure me. I see an a5 sized chunk of Blue Lace Agate, it weighs around 4kg and the minute I touch it I feel a connection. It’s from a local area. When my late Paternal Grandfather lived in the region with the British Government, he collected rocks, one of which is a beautiful Blue Lace Agate geode which I hold dear.
My mother buys me some rocks and I return to the reserve happy and hug my father and instigate an apology. I then crack open a beer but have to pour it in a mug because the sign at the entrance to the lodge clearly states no privately purchased alcohol. I pretend it’s a cup of tea as the staff pass us, shouting “What lovely tea you have” probably a bit much and kinda weird. We chomp through an alfresco lunch in the sunshine. I eat leaves out of a plastic bag and play with my rock.
We leave at around three to head over to the families house. They have a tremendous estate where their business sits adjacent. We hug our family a hello and I meet my mothers cousin. The dogs who I’ve met thus far have all been tiny sausage dogs which are sweet and all, my not my kinda pup. A tall black great dane crosses the lawn majestically to greet us, my heart melts.
They lead us out to the poolhouse, a Gojo as we would have called it in Ethiopia. It’s a grass roofed hut with a wall of windows which open up to face the pool and braai area. It’s lovely. I crack open a beer. Our cousins partner shows us around the property, she is utterly lovely and it’s fascinating finding out about her life. Over the past few days I think about the uplifting and inspiring women we’ve met so far on this trip.
We head back to where one of her sons is managing the braai and chatting to gramps. The chap introduces himself and advises that his English isn’t great, I tell him that I can understand but not converse in Afrikaans. Then his brother arrives shortly after and for the next three hours the four of us chat incessantly. They ask questions about living in the uk and opportunities, they are clever and affable and lovely chaps. More of our family arrive, we are all of a similar age, actually I’m probably the oldest but since lunchtime I’ve had the most to drink and when they advise that the EFF party leader is a neighbour I get rowdy and ask if we can pop by. How fascinating would it be to have a conversation. My thoughts on land reform are quite conflicted. I harbour so much guilt for the actions of my ancestors and through upbringing really fail to see colour in people. I see you for you, not exterior.
Dinner is fantastic, I’ve managed the whole “vegan thing” by chatting with the guys around the grilled meat with beer then plating up a lot of salad and hiding in a corner to eat. I don’t mention that I don’t eat animals but instead load up on absolutely delicious salads prepared by our hosts. I’m so full and so happy.
Unsurprisingly we don’t visit the leader of a party who’s chant is “Kill the Boers” or “Kiss the Boers” as it’s been low keyed into.
Mum drives us through the dark along dirt tracks back to the lodge. I have a stack of leftovers on my lap for the road the next day and proclaim “The meat juice is leaking in my lap” to deaf ears. My father opens my car door and retaliates in disgust asking me if I’ve vommited down myself, I tell him it’s the leaking food and he is horrified.
I wash the clothes in the sink and hang them in front of a radiator. I drink a litre of water and valerian tea and fall asleep, so glad that mum bought me a rock and I joined the party.