In Part 1 – South Africa Trip – May 2022 (Part 1) – I covered the first week of my trip to South Africa to see my parents, friends and family.
Weekend in De Kelders
For my second weekend in South Africa, Willet booked her friend’s house in De Kelders. This is a smaller coastal village located between Gans Bay and Hermanus on the West coast of South Africa. When translated, the name means “the cellars” and refers to the caves in the sandstone cliffs there. As with a lot of the towns in this area, De Kelders is also an excellent spot for whale watching. And if watching the whales from the cliffs is too tame for you, then you are just a 5-minute drive away from excellent shark cage diving opportunities. That will get your blood flowing! By the way, my kids did such a dive on their extended trip in 2019 and loved every minute of it.
We left Paarl Friday morning and after driving about an hour and a half, stopped for lunch at the Caledon Hotel and Spa in Caledon. From there, it was another hour and a half to De Kelders, especially since we took the wrong turnoff and travelled through Hermanus – the exact traffic we wanted to avoid. Well, traffic wasn’t too bad and an extra 30 minutes isn’t too bad when you have plenty to see.
Our house for the weekend was just perfect. More than enough bedrooms and an enclosed inside braai room. Have you heard of these before? Well, South Africans love to braai (I guess you can say barbeque, if you absolutely must). So it is very common to have a built-in outside braai area. The next step up is an inside braai room where you can cook meat over an open flame, regardless of what is happening with the weather. Having such a room in a rental property at the beach is just priceless.
We were within walking distance of the beach and could easily walk down to the water’s edge. Which of course we did right away. Besides, the boys were eager to start their weekend fishing. Dinner was a braai – of course – and we spent the evening chatting and enjoying family time.
Gary braved the cold water to get some periwinkle the next morning, and the kids helped Willet cook it for breakfast. Afterwards, we went shopping for the rest of the weekend’s food needs. Our dinners included lamb chops with garlic bread and a chicken curry pot. And we got plenty of drinks and snacks for the rest of our meals.
On Sunday we took a drive to Gansbaai so that the boys could fish and we girls could collect shells while enjoying the view. It was very relaxing to sit on the sand and watch the action. Little Nienke played with her Barbies and collected shells around us. Of course, no trip to the beach is complete without some ice cream cones! You can usually find the best type of ice cream right by the beach.
Monday came too quickly and it was time to pack and head back to Paarl. Hopefully, we will be able to do this again soon! My parents and I took the coastal route via Hermanus, Kleinmond, Betty’s Bay, Rooi Els and Gordons Bay back, stopping for amazing pictures along the way.
Visiting Pieter’s Parents
I’ve been in touch with Pieter’s family as well and we planned a stop at Pieter’s folks in Somerset West on the way back to Paarl. It’s always great to see Pieter’s parents and catch up on all the news on that side. I dropped off some small gifts for the rest of the family and more recent photos of the kids as well.
We had coffee and some snacks and chatted for a bit. Little did I know that this would be my last visit with Pieter’s mom… She had a stroke the next week and sadly passed away two months later.
Back in Paarl
Once back at home, the week passed quickly and included a doctor’s visit with my mom, and on the way back from Stellenbosch, lovely breakfast with my sister-in-law and brother-in-law. We met at the Potbelly Coffee Shop and Bakery in Klapmuts and enjoyed the sunny day at an outside table. Nina and Hugo adore the kids and love hearing the latest updates. We traded stories and had a great time catching up. I just knew the kids will have to see them in person again soon, but at least Nina and Hugo would see Pieter when he visited in June.
I also tried to get a new Passport while there. The Paarl office was just too busy, so we drove to Worcester and I got the second to last appointment spot of the day, after waiting in line outside for about two hours. Once inside the building, it went very fast and I was able to get it all done. Only negative – my passport would not be ready in time and has to be picked up in person at a later date. Guess I need to book another trip soon!
My brother was planning a surprise birthday party for Willet on Saturday and she and I had a couple of shopping trips lined up to look for new outfits. She was under the impression that she had a fancy dinner in Cape Town to look forward to and wanted something new to wear. We always end up at Panarotti’s for pizza on these shopping trips, and this trip was no different.
On Thursday, for a quick evening out, Willet, Karen and I went to Stoep for a girls’ night dinner. Stoep (it translates to porch or deck) is on the Laborie Wine Estate property and is another one of Paarl’s many great dining options.
Friday morning my brother and I met for breakfast and to catch up a bit. I hate stealing him away from work, but it was so nice to be out by ourselves. We spent the time catching up and refining his plans for Willet on Saturday.
Catching up with Family
Once I got back to my parent’s house, we left to go visit my dad’s sister and her family in Durbanville. Not only did I get to spend time with Lyn and Kevin, but also my cousin Robyn and her baby son Axel. So cute! On the way in Kevin showed us his new hobby – model airplanes. A hobby that he took up when he received an airplane that belonged to Pieter before we immigrated. That one was fixed up and soon others joined him in his hobby room.
After coffee, we made our way to my cousin Zuria’s house for dinner. It was great to see each other again and see how grown-up the kids got over the last 3 years. Time does fly. I had so much fun hanging out with Zuria, Markus and Tania. They also loved seeing my parents and spoiled us with a great dinner and even better conversation. It didn’t take long before we relived our camping trips together as kids. Fun times.
Willet’s 40th Birthday Party
On Saturday, Willet and I had our hair done, before getting ready for our “dinner out”. Willet’s brothers and significant others were joining us in Paarl and we would drive to Cape Town together in a rented mini-bus. The kids were spending the night with my parents and everyone was excited about the evening ahead.
Our first stop was at a spot in town, but the bar area was just way too busy. We then stopped at the Copper Club for a quick drink. We were all dressed up and looked forward to an amazing evening. Our driver pretended to take a wrong turn and after some more very fun “wrong turns”, dropped us off at the venue.
Drosberg is a wedding and function venue on the Du Toitskloof Pass and offers an amazing view of Paarl, the Paarl Mountain and even Table Mountain. Being there when the sun was setting, made it even more special.
Of course, Willet was very surprised and excited to celebrate with all her friends and family. The DJ played great music and people were chatting, dancing and having a great time. Not many of these types of parties happened during the pandemic and to me, it was obvious that people were excited to have an evening out. I caught up with many friends and enjoyed many gin cocktails (again). And of course, I danced along with the other ladies! Why not?
Sunday – Mother’s Day
Sunday was Mother’s Day (and Willet’s birthday) and we had a fun breakfast together before her family headed home. I was flying back home the next day and wanted to get as much family time in as I could. We did some last-minute shopping, and while in the store, got a call from Gary that their daughter fell and needed to go to Urgent Care. So for our last evening, my parents and I stayed with the boys while their sister got some stitches on her chin.
On Monday, the first order of business was a Covid test so that I can fly out that afternoon. My dad joked that he is going to offer the lady a bribe for a positive test, which will force me to stay longer. This was my first ever Covid test and not too bad an experience. And the lady thought we were funny wanting a positive test.
I don’t know how, but my 18 days in South Africa flew by. Three full weekends and plenty of time with family will do that, I suppose. After more goodbyes, my parents took me back to the airport where we had a quick drink together before I caught the 5pm Turkish Airline flight back to Istanbul and on to Atlanta. Saying goodbye to my mom and dad was very emotional for me. They just get tougher to do every year.
I met up with David in Istanbul and just as we were about to board the Atlanta flight, we got word that Pieter’s mom had a stroke and was admitted to hospital. We had no choice but to continue on to Atlanta but understood that once back home, both Pieter and Ilse will most likely travel to South Africa to see their mom and help their sister Nina.
My trip to South Africa was another great one where I spent as much time as possible with my family. Besides my one “fancy” lunch, I did not visit any of the usual tourist spots, not even a wine farm like I usually do. I was more than content with just being together and in the moment. I will especially treasure the time I spent with my mom. Who knows what the future will hold, but I can feel more at peace after this visit.
Hope to see you again soon South Africa!