The Second Hotel

There’s a phenomenon called Paris syndrome and as we exit the car my sister and I make reference to it. We check in and first check out Grandpas room, it’s lovely, in a detached little thatched hut, the heating is excellent and linens fantastic. Our parents is beautiful - tones of white and pink, practically a Burleigh plate. They all pop the kettle on and congregate on the porch in the afternoon sun. Cici and I enter ours. It’s like a boudoir, black walls, gold furniture, a black and fuchsia Rococo inspired love seat. It’s a dream for many I’m sure, but quite literally the opposites my taste.

We walk the grounds, there’s a lot of cherub statues and someone clearly partook in a concrete statue course. It’s fascinating.

My father tells me that the WiFi is best in the bar. So we search for WiFi but it’s mainly beer and cider. The barman is perfect Boer breeding stock and reluctantly speaks to us in English rather than Afrikaans. He is blonde, and we interrupted him devouring a bag of biltong. I’m fascinated, and keep saying “this is all so fascinating.” Mainly out of the fact that I don’t have a clue what other words to muster. I order a local 2.2% beer from the tap and as per the Bottle store incident the day before, I do so in a strange cockney hybrid accent and throw in an Aussie “mate.” I’m hungry and taking it by antagonising the Boers who typically dislike the British as much as they do the government.

The restaurant is formal, the opposite of what we wanted after a long day. But the food and staff are excellent. We are the first in, I choose to sit with my back to the restaurant but it soon gets busy. The waiter initially speaks to me in Afrikaans which I can understand but I keep that card close to the chest. I make self deprecating jokes and we all chuckle, my grandfather briefly converses in a local dialect with another waiter and before we know it the atmosphere lifts. The restaurant fills with well dressed couples and families, most speak in Afrikaans to each other, all are white. I feel uncomfortable and want to run. We engage in laughter and jokes together at the table which clearly mark us out with non local accents. Perhaps it’s paranoia but the stares and looks of distain are there.

I order the only vegan options on the 6 page menu - a side of vegetables, a side of onion rings and a side of Greek salad.

The staff wish grandpa all the best for his birthday. And we retire to our huts. I am so grateful of our collective general attitude to people - there’s no ranking system or snobbery towards service staff, we are all the same people.

I read messages from my husband from the boudoir room. He sends photographs of the partially demolished kitchen and there’s a toilet ready to be Plummed into our bedroom.

Then I bath and drop about 20 lavender drops into the water, I take two sleep aid Valarian tablets, follow a yin yoga sequence, and pass out.