Fun times

I am never leaving the Eastern Cape… EVER!! Those were my sentiments on Saturday morning 2 weekends ago, mostly because I woke up to this view…

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That is what you see from the back of one of the beach houses at Island Vibe backpackers in Jeffrey’s Bay. Having been there once before a couple of years ago this is one of Meryl’s favourite places. She was over for the weekend and we had made the ninety minute drive out there the previous afternoon. Looking around from the moment we arrived it wasn’t difficult to see why she is so enchanted with the place.

Island Vibe beach house

Island Vibe beach house

When you think of a backpackers you think: very basic four-walls-and-a-bed-to-sleep-in, and dirty traveller-type people around (as a friend of mine recently added πŸ™‚ ) This place is very far removed from that, think of something in between a cosy bed and breakfast and a fun island resort and you’re a lot closer to the Island Vibe experience. Now it sounds as I if I’m being paid to write this πŸ˜› No, that is most definitely not the case! We just both thoroughly enjoyed the place. It is situated on top of a small hill in Jeffery’s Bay, and when you’re standing in the reception area you can look down the other side of said hill and see waves crashing down on a beach barely a five minute’s walk away.

Girl and the beach...

Girl and the beach…

 

Perhaps it was just that particular weekend, or the crowd of young traveller-types that happened to populate the place on the night we were there, but the place had an energy about it, a party-like atmosphere. Meryl swears that is it’s permanent state. We (and what seemed like everyone else that was there) spent that Friday evening in the bar-restaurant area.

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We had pizza for dinner (as one does :-P), and met some interesting characters. At one point late in the evening I found myself on one side of the room playing pool with a Namibian guy I had just met and on other side of the room Meryl was playing beer pong with some other people.

 

We had a really good time and I recommend this place to anyone road tripping through the Eastern Cape or just passing through Jeffrey’s Bay for a night or two. We were not in fact on another roadtrip, we drove back to Port Elizabeth the next day but we have a definite plan to go back and hang a little longer, sometime soon.

 

Back in Port Elizabeth we met up with my friends Gareth and Nadisha. They had spent the previous 2 weeks in Cape Town with family and were spending a night in PE on their way back to Zithulele where they are currently living and working.

I don’t really like board games. Yes I know, who doesn’t like board games right? It’s just something about having a plan to sit around a table for an hour (or a few) focussing on the table bothers me. Just one of those things. It is alleged that I always enjoy myself when I’m dragged/forced to play. Of course I deny this, but apparently there is proof. I was up in Centurion with my family over the Christmas weekend, and there was one particular day when Meryl came over and we spent an entire afternoon playing 30seconds with my two sisters and my sister’s husband. I may or may not have enjoyed that, I dunno it’s difficult to say πŸ˜›

 

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Gareth and I settled down to battle Nadisha and Meryl over a game of Cranium. We let the entire male race down and got our backsides handed to us, by an embarrassing margin at that! It may have been my fault, I’ve never played Cranium before and it took me a couple of rounds to get into it. It was Meryl’s first time too but she seemed to catch on quite quickly. There is a theory that says that people couple up with partners of roughly equal intelligence. Based on how things went that night Meryl the law student is sharper than yours truly the medic. Looking at things a little closer though, Gareth’s wife and my girlfriend were two happy winners that evening, so perhaps it is us who were the smart ones… πŸ™‚

 

From left to right Gareth's arm :-P Nadisha, and Meryl

From left to right Gareth’s arm πŸ˜› Nadisha, and Meryl

We had to say goodbye late that evening, Gareth and Nadisha would be driving off again early the next day. I had seen them two weeks previously (again, briefly) when they had passed through on their way down to Cape Town. Our time together is always so short lately.

Gareth,  Nadisha and their two year old twins Jonah and Caleb.

Gareth, Nadisha and their two year old twins Jonah and Caleb.

Meryl and I with Jonah and Caleb.

Meryl and I with Jonah and Caleb.

Gareth mentioned that when they were down in Cape Town he kept asking himself why they don’t live there. It seems to be a serious option for them. This while I wrestle with my own little dilema. I have and am really enjoying my time in Port Elizabeth. My year is almost up. I am all but sold on the slower life, and relaxed atmosphere down here. Why go back up to Jozi? Meryl is in Johannesburg, oh and also Meryl is in Johannesburg. I have an apartment in Jozi. My family and best friend are all back there. Life will be faster. Work will be in a tougher, higher pressure environment. But that is what I always wanted isn’t it? Decision time. Fun times…

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Spanish hippies, running and the heat!

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I don’t understand the weather in this town. I don’t understand how it can be hot and humid, and be windy all at the same time!! The heat during the day has been downright oppressive since about the end of last December. The other day at work I suggested jokingly to one of the senior doctors in my department that myself and some the other doctors were seriously considering coming to work in shorts, T-shirt and slops (my favourite attire), “I’ll let you answer that question for yourself doc!” he said wrily! That really would be much more appropriate work wear for the kind of weather we’ve been having. The humidity is the most surprising bit. It hits you just as you step outside. It is quite something to get hot and sticky from just from standing around!

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Asides from the sauna type environment, other goings-on at work include the fact that at the start of the new year we received a fresh new batch of doctors in the department of internal medicine at Dora Nginza hospital and we are now flush in terms of numbers. We now have eight medical officers, having previously functioned with five. Coincidentally two of the three new doctors are from Wits Medical School, my alma mater πŸ™‚ Dale and I are from the same year, while Alexandra is from a year below us. She and the third new doctor are both starting their community service year, having just finished their two years of internship. That was me in the month of May last year.

I didn’t really know either of these other 2 Witsies when we were still studying. I knew Dale by name and face. He must have gone all gym rat after qualifying as he is a lot bulkier than I remember him. Alex is (in her own words :-P) somewhat ‘baked’, in the head that is! She is a hippie, in the old truer sense of the word. She talks at length about having grown her hair to the current almost waist length for the sole purpose of selling some of it off to some transvestites she met at some or other time. She spent some time in South America when she was still at school and is fluent in Spanish. Not infrequently she and one of our Cuban doctors will go off at a tangent in Spanish about some arb thing that seems all the more interesting simply because it is being said in that language.

The most mundane things just sound more interesting, more exotic, in Spanish!

The most mundane things just sound more interesting, more exotic, in Spanish!

Dale and Alex both seem keen and ready to go and are obviously very interested in internal medicine. There is a lot of talk about writing the Part 1 registrar exams. While I do like to (or can’t help but) work at my own pace(ie painfully slowly) I am hoping that having a couple of people around to compare notes with might act as a motivating factor, increasing the frequency at which I plomp my backside down to study from on and off to more often on than off.

One of the advantages of having more of us around is that everyone will be on call less often, with roughly three or four times per month being the average if everyone is around (last year it happened a couple of times that I was on seven times in a month!) and with the 5 interns that we have the ward work will be more favourably shared. There ought to be less days when one finds themselves having to see and manage all the patients in a ward…

Outside of work there is always running, although with weather being as it has been one has to be quite strategic about what time of day you set out onto the road.

Not smart!

Not smart!

Sometime last week I waited until just before 6pm before having a go and believe it or not even at the time it was still hot! I ran up into Milpark suburb, around Grey High school all the way up to 1st avenue, crossed Cape Road into Newton Park then back down through Greenacres where I was running against the wind, which is irritating as it seems to hold you back but also relieving for it’s cooling effects. Back into PE Central, around the soccer stadium, around St Georges Park and up the Hallack road back to my block of flats. 16.3km all at a relaxed pace.

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Robyn is one of the dieticians at my hospital. She asked me if I was running the Herald 42km, a marathon here in PE coming up sometime soon. “When is that again?” I asked. “Seventh Feb” She replied. I told her that I would. At the time the race was about one month away. Robyn recently got into running and has very quickly gone from an ocassional runner to somewhat of a freak (in the best sense of the word). She puts in more miles per week than I do as far as I can tell. So she’s pretty excited about it. As far as I’m concerned it’s just another opportunity to put in some quality mileage and become a little better at the long races before I do some pretty big ones that I have signed myself up for later this year.

A day after that conversation with Robyn someone at my running club reminded me that the Bay Ultra, a 50km road race is due to take place just two weeks after the Herald Marathon. Yeah, why not? I thought…

 

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The year of the tourist

 

I was driving home from mass at Mater Dei church this evening when it hit me quite suddenly. I don’t have much longer in this town, and I really should start acting a little more like a tourist! πŸ˜› So instead of heading straight back to the flat I did a little detour…

 

It would have been too easy to drive out of town to Maitland’s or Seaview, find a spot on the beach and have a pensive little sit-down by myself and reminisce on how good I’ve had it, and how I lucked out on landing this little city, Β Port Elizabeth (PE) for my one year of community service, a government requirement in my chosen profession. There are countless much less desirable places where I could have ended up. No I’ve gone out there plenty of times, I thought. Β So I went out to the waterfront instead, and parked my car somewhere just off the road in Summerstrand. Took a few pics, as tourists will do…

 

The Pier

The Pier

The obligatory selfie :)

The obligatory selfie πŸ™‚

I moved on from there. Beach pics are obvious and unoriginal, I retorted to myself. I drove back towards town, past St George’s cricket ground not far from where I stay, and decided to explore a couple of streets that I hadn’t been down in my eight-odd months here. My thinking was that I could carve out a new running route while I was at it. Going down Bird street in a direction away from town, at the bottom of the road to the far right is a bench facing away from the street. Why would there just randomly be a bench there, I wondered and went over for a closer look. I found an old war fort which I promised myself I must go and visit properly sometime during the week. Between 8am and 3.30pm as the sign said.

Right there at the corner of Fort street and Belmont Terrace is the 'entrance' to the old fort.

Right there at the corner of Fort street (aptly named) and Belmont Terrace is an ‘entrance’ to the old fort.

Belmont Terrace

Belmont Terrace

I peeped through the gap in between the closed gates and saw… nothing! A wide empty, grassy expanse and a few old cannons… I suppose that kind of minimalism would have been apt in whatever war time this little out-post ever saw. A spot at a high point, with some high walls built around it, a fort is perhaps not really supposed to be an exciting place to visit, after it has fulfilled it’s initial purpose that is. But I digress… If one was to take a seat on the afore-mentioned bench not far from said fort one gets a really good view of PE Harbour.

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And if you tur

n and look in the opposite direction you have Lower Valley!

Awesome sunset glow in the corner!

Awesome sunset glow in the corner!

Still exploring, a little further down the road is The Little Theatre, around the corner from the Aetheneum Theatre where Meryl and I saw a show on our one year anniversary. The next street is an alleyway called Prospect Hill, at the end of which one can still see PE Harbour.

 

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I’m not really one for new year’s resolutions but perhaps I’m going to be a little more touristy in the next little while, as I finish out my time here.

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