Day 1 – Scooting the Breeze
written by Roan Mackintosh, pictures edited by Rory Alexander
A somewhat restless night preceded my arrival at the Goodhope studios early this morning. “Why?” you might ask… well as I’m sure we all know, true excitement has a way of creeping into one’s dreams and making your time between the covers somewhat more tumultuous than tranquil. Despite this lack of a perfect night’s sleep, I arrived bright and chipper (matching our wonderful new orange team shirts) eager to get the day’s adventures underway. Greeting us at the studio were some familiar faces (such as Jean Scheltema & the breakfast show team) as well as some new faces (such as Rolf I’m-so-sorry-I-was-too-distracted-to-get-your-surname & Tim Harris from Wesgro). Tim is the fairly recently appointed commander-in-chief of Wesgro & he mentioned that the only thing keeping him from joining us was the impending birth of his child (there’s always next year Tim!) – now if that kind of a send-off party didn’t amplify the excitement tenfold then I might as well have checked myself into a hospital right there and then…
As is nature’s want at this time of year, she chose a particularly dreary, slightly cool & somewhat damp morning to get our adventure underway. Not that I was complaining mind you, as I recalled the truly stormy conditions of last year’s departure, I knew things could be much worse! I also had extra company on the scooters this year as Rory Alexander joined Guy & I under-helmet with Siv Ngesi due to do the same later in the week. Added to this the fact that the scooters had undergone a ‘mild’ upgrade & I now found myself caressing 200cc’s of raw Vespa power between my legs (must be that I’ve been hanging around Guy too long now that this sentence sounds dirtier than it is… J)
As we took off down Seapoint main road from the Goodhope studios to the N1 & on to the R27, I felt buoyed with an impish delight in having just departed in such grandeur, with a strong team at my side and even sturdier equipment to carry us forth. Nothing could dampen this joyous feeling! Nothing that is, except a little yellow box… Not 500 metres from the start of our journey, I had done the unthinkable and let the more powerful engines in our scooters get to my head. I revved up a little over the allowed 60Kms/h to make it through a traffic light, only to have the pleasant little yellow box next to the traffic light wink his hello to me in the form of a bright white flash! Thinking about whether we had allowed for something like this in the budget, I was left with no illusions as Guy sidled up to me at the next light and said “You know you just got caught in that camera… I’m not paying for any silly fines YOU get on your bike. This one’s on you, my friend!”
I was a little annoyed with myself but it didn’t take long for the wind on the coast road out of Cape Town to wash all that away and I began to look forward to our first stop – !Khwa ttu. Here we met Michael and Andre who were all set to show us around their amazing reserve. Andre was a font of San knowledge and he imparted it to us with passion and a rather cheeky humour. Joining him at the makeshift San village, Donika spoke in the native San dialect (which Andre gladly translated) as she explained all manner of customs from jewelry fashioned from Ostrich egg shells, to the method of making various animal hide garments, to a rather cute tradition of using a tiny bow & arrow for courtship amongst couples. Michael lead us on the mountain bikes between lessons from Andre & Donika and took us on a route around the reserve that showcased a number of Eland and Springbok that are resident there along with their rather encouraging practice of alien vegetation removal. With a wealth of San history and a view to preserving local fauna and flora, the !Khwa ttu reserve is one of those hidden gems that you really need to visit & spend more time enjoying than our schedule allowed.
After some time on the bikes, I could think of nothing beyond lunch and the Breeze restaurant at the Windtown hotel in Langebaan was the perfect place to satiate this hunger. With some unbelievable Thai-infused fish cakes, prawn wontons with a chili-mayo dip and a carpaccio & wild rocket salad, I was one happy, well-fed man. Traveler’s tip: For a truly unbelievable cocktail, try the Strawberry Sapphire – DELICIOUS!!
Unfortunately our planned stand up paddle boarding for the afternoon was postponed due to poor weather (as anyone who has SUPed before, the wind is not your friend and we all know how windy Langebaan afternoons can get) Hopefully we will be able to squeeze this in tomorrow morning before we head off to Shelly Point.
Right now I am comfortably tucked away in our Club Mykonos room and I can feel another hunger welling up. Thank you to the Beach Bar who hosting us tonight and we’ll be heading there fairly shortly to have that sorted out and then perhaps we’ll take our chances with lady luck at one of the games at the casino (I’ve got a speeding fine to pay for after all! J) Can’t stay out too late though as tomorrow promises to be another wondrous day up the ever-surprising West Coast & we’ve got an early start…
P.S. Don’t forget to follow our adventures on Twitter –#scootwestcoast