Good start

Just before boarding the 15 hour flight to Jo’burg I questioned my sanity for a moment – why not fly via Amsterdam and cut up the journey with a ‘broodje kaas’ or a ‘broodje haring’ accompanied by the proper libations. But looking back I am glad I decided on this route. With the help of ayurvedic sleep medicine I passed most of the trip in blissful oblivion which was a good thing as the flight is mostly over water and far away from shores.

Right in front of me were the B-class pods – once you have tasted that it is a little more painful to travel in the back but the Economy Comfort made my travel relatively comfortable – those 4 extra inches make a big difference – compared to the people packed like sardines in the back of the plane.

South Africa looks so together when you arrive – everything works as it supposed to work, the airport is clean, the people working and waiting are disciplined and relatively quiet (compared to places like Haiti and Afghanistan). The four lane road to Pretoria is immaculate, the signage is clear and abundant.

My driver, Aaron, greated me with the news that Whitney Houston had died. She is hugely popular here and so there is much grief. Aaron is a man of many talent: speaking all the official South African languages (11 of them), in the weekend a priest in his Pentecostal church and during the week a driver with a travel agency.

He delivered me at the Bohemian Inn – a lovely B&B built into the hill side consisting of various structures that could be Spanish Mediterranean, bricked courtyards, wrought iron furniture and balconies with all sorts of small nooks and crannies, places to sit and have breakfast, tea or cocktails. Other than the sound of birds the place is completely quiet – now that it is evening and the birds are quiet, there are no sounds at all.

My room is on the top floor of the highest building – a lot of stair walking for staff – with windows on three sides offering views of the valley and more hill top. The room and some of the open spaces are hung with oriental carpets – the innkeepers clearly like to travel in the Middle East. They had not made it to the more chaotic places but hope to do so one day when they quiet down. From what I saw on Al Jazeera nothing like that is going to happen anytime soon.

My room is dotted with tiny arrangements of fragrant flowers wrapped in ivy – on the tea tray, on the welcome fruit platter, in the bathroom, on the bed, on the pillows. What to do with them all?

Since this is not a hotel with a restaurant the innkeeper offered to drive me to a restaurant or make me a grilled cheese sandwich. I opted for the latter and received an elaborate plate with something that was much more elegant than the offer had implied.

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February 2012
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