My sincere apologies...
No, I have not been swallowed by a boa constrictor, or quartered by some obscure tribe of African Pygmies. However, I have been woefully enchanted by this place in the Eastern Cape of South Africa called "Oceana."
I hope my readers will forgive me for allowing my self to be utterly swept away in luxury.
Where should I start? First, I will say I felt the racial tension as soon as I boarded the South African Airline to Jo-Burg. Nothing startling, but you could sense the difference. It felt as if there was definitely a division that at first felt a bit uncomfortable. The flight wasn't exactly full, so I as soon as the plane began to taxi, I moved from my seat to a row of 4 seats only occupied by one black African man. He looked at me in what felt like disgust... but, that might have had more to do with the fact he wanted the whole row to himself to stretch out and sleep during the 16hr flight. Still, I could tell that the Black African passengers seemed to run the mostly white flight attendents ragged... while the the white passengers appeared to look merely "tolerant".
I knew nothing of South Africa before I left... and know only a bit more now. But what I wasn't aware of when I began this journey.. was how short the time-frame is since South Africa was out of complete white control. Only around 15 yrs, so it's not surpising it'd feel much different from the U.S.
For the most part... the flight was pretty uneventful. Mostly pleasant with good service. Though, I couldn't understand why I have to get my luggage in Jo-Burg, go through customs, passport control, etc. Then carry my luggage outside the main terminal.. down the sidewalk a few blocks.. then up 5-6 flights of zig-zagging ramps going uphill... only to stand in line for 45mins to recheck my bags. Why couldn't they just keep my bags until we arrived in East London if they weren't going to bother checking them for bombs, drugs, and who knows what else?
But, no worries to speak of.. just a minor inconvenience.
The South African wine was served in abundance and I'm affraid to say I partook every chance I could. ;-) When I arrived in the tiny airport of East London.. I was already pretty toasted and didn't even care if there was anyone standing by with my name on a card. Luckily, there was a charming gal from Oceana awaiting me at the luggage claim. I thought someone named Karen was supposed to pick me up, but it was another delightful young lady named Christine. It took me a good while to "sort out" (as they say here) her S. African accent.. but as soon as I figured out they drive on the opposite side of the road here.. and that I was heading for the wrong car door ;-), we were off in a shiny white Oceana van for the resort near Port Alfred.
Honestly, the delightful Christine offered me a drink. I thought it was going to be Coke or water.. but she said that she'd been informed that I liked red wine.. so she had a very nice bottle of red awaiting me. Together with the jet-lag, already being 3-sheets when I got off the plane.. and then the hour or so drive to Oceana from the airport.. I only vaguely remember it. I do remember firing off question after question... in what must have sounded like an extreme game of 50 questions, but Christine was most pleasant and answered all of my questions with a politeness I've yet to experience.
I'm told I asked for cheese and bread.. and I think more wine as soon as I arrived to Oceana. That part is pretty fuzzy, but I do remember retiring to my room and collapsing onto the bed. My luggage had already been carried in, I'd met the owner, Rip, Karen, etc. All were very accomodating and welcoming. Almost as if I'd died on that plane and this were the welcoming crew to heaven. Unless of course they don't serve nice African wine in heaven. ;-)
I didn't really know what to expect, so my expectations were neither high nor low. All I can say is... it felf like I was "home". Or, perhaps as very luxurious womb. :-)
Here are some photos, but there's much more writing and photos to come, but now... I've truly been spoiled and must retire for the evening. ;-)