Longing for a place where everybody knows your name

“‘Thank you, Mama,’ Grace said. Xhosa people are like Afrikaners. Everyone is family: Auntie, Mother, Sister…”

Recipes for Love and Murder: A Tannie Maria Mystery by Sally Andrew

Road to Morgan BayA long dirt road led to a small village on the Wild Coast.

We drove this road countless times when I was a child.

We knew every corner, every valley, every cliff, every sign. At a certain spot along the road my father would pull the car over. Out would come a beer and some biltong to share. This is the point when the holiday officially began.Next we stopped at ‘echo cliffs’ to shout “HELLLLOOOOOOO” and to wait for our own voices to answer us back. Then, over the causeway we drove, craning our heads out the window to see the small trickle of water flowing beneath. “It must have rained recently!” my mother would say. At other times: “When will this drought end?”.

Towards the end of the journey, it was all about who would be the first to spot the sea.  The winner would sing-shout: “I SEE THE SEA, the sea sees me! God bless the sea, and God bless me!”

Now I’m all grown up and live in a huge city, on another continent, in another hemisphere, but that journey to Morgan Bay, so full of promise and excitement (now the dirt road is tarred), is still one of my favourite childhood memories.

Morgan BayToday a hot berg wind is blowing. The air is dry and dusty. I’m sitting at my laptop in my mother’s kitchen enjoying the smells of baking and the sound of Wimbledon tennis on the TV in the next room. This is my happy place.

This doesn’t happen a lot, but occasionally I find myself longing for a small town existence – where, in the words of TV sitcom Cheers, “Everybody knows your name.” I’m reading a book about a recipe-writing, vetkoek-making, crime-solving, agony-aunty in a small town near Ladismith in the Klein Karoo. Apart from making me hungry for curried mince vetkoek, it’s making me hungry for a slower pace of life.

How on earth do we get ourselves so so so so so sooooo busy? So busy that we don’t have time to sit in the sun with a cup of something and just our thoughts?

A South African response to such turmoil is simply “Eish!”

The response is easy – Eish! The solution is not so easy.

Before I arrived in Morgan Bay a few days ago, I’d been in London, Norway, Johannesburg, East London and somewhere outside Klerksdorp in the space of a little over 72 hours. It’s been non-stop.

I know this feeling will pass and I’ll soon be longing for museums, theatre, restaurants, language and culture. But for now, I’ll take a deep breath of sea air and take a walk through the small village that’s known me for 42 years.

Morgan Bay villageSMALL PRINTP.s. Eish, in any South African language, is universally used to express exasperation, disbelief or wonder. It’s a wonderful catch-all.

P.p.s. Read the blog about my Norway trip.

P.p.p.s. In other news, my birthday passed by smoothly. I got an early birthday present from Hubby last month – a wardrobe detox and shopping spree with a stylist. As you know from previous blogs, I’m not a natural shopper. Shopping exasperates me! And nothing ever fits. This time, with the help of a personal shopper, and Hubby in tow with his wallet open – carrying all my bags like the ultimate gentleman – it was rather a successful experience. Some time I’ll report on the experience of my wardrobe detox and receiving some home truths about what-to-wear and what-not-to-wear.

4 thoughts on “Longing for a place where everybody knows your name

  1. Always great to just sit down in the garden or on the beach or in the park and just chill out with a cuppa.A lovely way to put everything into perspective and reassess what we do.’Stop the World I want to get off’. ……..but only for a short time ……then back to our interests in life with family and friends.


  2. Nyama – beautifully real evocation of your childhood memories through places, sights and smells. There is a wonderful poem by D.H Lawrence called ‘The Piano’ which begins…’softly in the dusk a woman is singing to me, taking me back down the vista of years til I see’…this is what you have done with this blog…taken yourself and your readers ..’back down through the vista of years’…..JC


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