Travel has always been one of the greatest joys in my life. The town I grew up in was tiny, about 5000 people on a good day, and there was very little to do there. My family took full advantage of this brilliant excuse to travel and loading up the car to head off to South Africa was pretty much a given if we had more than a couple of days off. It helped that all my grandparents lived there too.
It's fair to say that this highly mobile upbringing, combined with moving a few times (eventually to New Zealand), probably disrupted my sense of 'home' and gave me the wonderful gift of adventure. I don't remember a time in my life where I haven't wanted to see the pyramids up close, or wander under the Eiffel Tower.
Now, as a 24 year old, I have had the enormous privilege of being able to travel far further than my younger self ever imagined, through 28 countries at last count. But no matter how far I go, or how many more places I add to the list, South Africa will always hold a very special place in my heart. It's my second home... or maybe third... It's definitely in the top three, and I will always make time to go home.
This year my incredible grandmother, or Ouma as we call her, turned 90 years old. Of course, there was no way I'd miss it. Being me, I decided to set myself a challenge in the process. I decided to go for almost a month... with only one backpack. Carry-on sized.
Not only did I want to prove to myself that I don't need all that much, but it was also practice for my next trip - 3 months, through 10 countries, across 3 continents, with no checked bag.
Why on earth would I set that challenge, you ask? Well, mostly because I am stubborn, and perpetually almost broke, and I object to paying extra for a checked bag when I fly with budget airlines. I figure that I could either spend $30 on a checked bag, or on delicious food and amazing experiences. It seems an easy choice.
Having fewer things also means I'm more mobile, have less risk, and have a lower carbon footprint... ok, not by much, but less weight is slightly less fuel... just let me have this one. I can throw on my backpack and march around quite happily with all my things, not having to worry about finding somewhere to leave it, or being worried that thousands of dollars of possessions might wander off in the hand of a stranger. (Lets be realistic, I don't own thousands of dollars of things anyway, but you know what I mean.
So here is the entirety of my luggage when I left New Zealand, or what I like to call "An Exercise in Necessity, Volume 1" -
As per usual, while travelling I try to live package-free and reduce the amount of rubbish I generate that ends up in landfill. One of the easiest ways I have found to do this is by getting anything and everything wrapped in my napkin. Mmmmm vegetarian pies -
Johannesburg greeted me with this divine sunrise the morning after I arrived -
And we set off for George, a little town in the Western Cape and the closest airport to Kleinbrak River, where my grandparents' beach house is.
Kleinbrak River is a lovely little collection of holiday homes and retired people, with loads of character. In winter that character is a snoozing, lethargic seal with extra blubber. We appreciated our extra jumpers and the fire.
It was above freezing and not raining for the majority of our stay, so naturally us kiwis went swimming in the ocean. The non-kiwis stayed on the beach tittering.
My aunt is a huge fan of lighthouses. She is also fantastic in many other ways. We went to two lighthouses.
Eventually we had to move on towards Swellendam, where Ouma's party was set to be had. It's an old town in the Western Cape, were many of the houses are older than New Zealand's Treaty of Waitangi... (so pre-1840). It sits at the foot of a ridge of mountains and is surrounded my gorgeous wherever you look.
We went on a wee adventure one day to see the 'pont', which is short for pontoon - or a river ferry on a cable, pulled by people!
Of course, I insisted we collect everything organic from our picnic lunch to compost when we got home. :)
On the way back we made the spontaneous decision to drive an extra hour or two. I think it was worth it.
And we ate 'slap chips' on the beach while we drank our coffee, before I wandered off to explore the rock pools. I was not disappointed.
Light house number 2 was right there as well, so we were obligated to check it out.
Back in Swellendam over the next few days party preparation and further walks occupied our time. When party day arrived we all had a ball, and I even spoke bad Afrikaans to a few too many people.
My father and aunt had to leave a bit before me, but after they left Ouma and I popped around to the Bontebok National Park for a day of game watching and chatting. We didn't see many animals, but the scenery was superb.
My last few days with Ouma were filled with pottering around, helping with chores and reading in the sun.
By the time I left my one bag had become three, though mostly because Ouma wanted me to take half a liquor cabinet to my cousins in Cape Town - my next stop.
Cape Town is such a joy to travel, and the people I have there are magnificent. There were tears as I left.
My route home took me through Joburg for a night, and then on to Sydney, where I only had time for a package-less falafel wrap (featuring Napkin) before I bundled myself onto the plane to Wellington.
If you have any questions or suggestions for my next adventure leave me a comment or flick me a message, I'd love to hear from you!
Until next time!
Labels: holiday, south africa, travel, travel photography, ZA, zero waste, zerowaste