28 October 2009

Travel, Food, [New] Friends, [Country] Life

In theory, one is supposed to arrive at the Intercape bus stand thirty minutes before the bus leaves Stellenbosch en route to Knysna (pronounced /naizn@/). I arrived just after 6 a.m. "Bus stand" is an exaggeration. David stand, yes. Bus stand, no. Near the university there is a foot bridge overhead that serves as the landmark on the Intercape reservation confirmation page. Other than that, it is just a place on a street in Stellenbosch that has no indication that the Intercape bus (or any other one for that matter) stops there except for 1) the off-street section of the road that looks like it's about the size of a bus and 2) the fact that the stoned guy at Stumble Inn told me that's where it stops.

About eight hours on a moderately comfortable bus and a few refreshment stops, I arrived at the Knysna Quays where I was greeted by Julia, an acquaintance of a friend of a friend who graciously agreed to host me, sight unseen but with a few e-mails exchanged, for a week (or as long as I wanted) in Knysna. I don't think I could have asked for a cooler host. Before I even left Seattle, Julia had gotten in touch with Dell & Sanchia, the mother-daughter proprietors of Firefly, a restaurant that is featured in the November issue of Country & Life magazine, about the possibility of my getting together with them for a culinary exchange of sorts. While they may have been open to the idea, it didn't materialize over the time I was in Knysna. Nevertheless, I did have a beautiful dinner there with Julia my second night in town, which started with a star anis caipirinha (foreshadowing the Brazilian leg of my travels in 2010) and ending with a do-it-yourself spiced hot chocolate (harkening back to my days of DIY chocolat chaud in Brussels at Fin du Siècle).

How I worked up an appetite that day was by calling Stefan, of Hippo Dive Campus, and embarking upon the beginning of my Open Water PADI certification all afternoon. The scuba course took place over the next couple of days in the bay/lagoon. I'm now certified and ready to do a bit more advanced diving when opportunity next arises. Sorry, there are no pictures of me in a wetsuit decked out in a snazzy BCD with big ol' yellow cylinder on my back.

Since we're on the subject of animals, I should mention Julia's three dachshunds. This one is Tanouk, engaged in a stand off with one of those vicious stripèd animals who was hiding behind a planter on the balcony.

Before stepping foot in Knysna, I realized or decided that it was going to be a place where I could consider consumables and generally relax -- on land or up to about 60 ft under water. Besides going to firefly, while visiting this town I had some tasty SA oysters, went to the farmers market, had incredibly inexpensive and delicious SA wine, cooked and ate with julia, and learned a few Xhosa words and a couple of dishes like umngqusho & umxube (each with different clicks: ‘q' & ‘x') with Thami. Beyond eating and drinking, spending a week here gave me a bit of time to enjoy the company of my host[ess], who I clearly hope will one day allow me to return the favor in my home...wherever and whenever I have one again...


  1. An ice cold Peroni goes with ANYTHING... ;)

  2. Non avevo notato che avevi aperto un blog per il viaggio :) Tutto questo post e' molto "davidrojas" hummus-hummus