Meandering around the Midlands, I made a couple of stops: Marrakesh cheese where I picked up a couple of delicious options, and left them at someone’s house a day later. Some arty things: windchime, candle, and a stop for food in Nottingham Road where I had my first ginger beer float in years. The owner told me she couldn’t remember the last time they had a request for one. Perhaps it was the last time I was there….
On my way, a stop at Pete’s Herbs, and then to Lions River and the Mandela Arrest site. The construction on the new museum is impressive – massive – and the temporary site was an interesting walk-through of his life. It then leads to the “Long walk to freedom”, down through a garden, and one sees the odd spikes in the distance. As one gets closer, the form starts to hint at a face, but it’s only when one stands on the provided slab that one sees the full effect of this extraordinary sculpture. But with a bunch of Scandinavian tourists around, it was hard to simply breathe it in and appreciate, so I wandered back, chatting to their tour guide.
From Lions River to Kloof and the Ammazulu African Palace – and hopefully, to see Sarah. I hadn’t heard from her, and had no idea whether whoever was receiving the emails had passed them along, or had simply ignored them, despite clearly being addressed to her.
My car’s GPS, once again, lived up to its reputation, and got me completely lost in Kloof – sending me into a closed-but-for-residents road, and coming out discovering it was a one-way. And not the way I was going. Finally, found the right way and followed the roads to the top. At the gate to Ammazulu, I pushed the buzzer. No response. Several times. Nothing. I hooted. I yelled (that got a reaction from the neighbor: Where are you? At the gate! I yelled, not knowing who was speaking to me. What gate? She called back. Ammazulu! Oh, she said, then I can’t help you.
To that neighbor of Ammazulu’s: actually, helping was one thing you could have done. You could very easily have called Ammazulu, and told them there was someone at the gate. It would have cost you a few cents for a phone call, and a minute of your time. But no, you’re a stupid human who can’t think, but hey, you live in a nice house, so who cares.
I’m not bitter. I was simply exhausted, and standing outside a hotel that is expecting me, yelling and hooting, is not something I want to do after a long day driving. .
Finally, someone left Ammazulu, and they called back to tell the office I was there, and the gate opened.
At reception, I was given the excuse that the lightning had knocked out the power (the electric gates worked perfectly). I don’t know what excuse they had for not having my reservation, but that got fixed promptly and I was shown to my room.
I still have no idea what to make of the place. Gaudy? Ostentatious? Overdone? Zulu-on-Acid? An extreme example of “white money” gone mad? Amazing? Artistic? A reflection on the exceptional talent of the Zulu artisans?
Pick one. I can’t. I walked around for a while in this large cavernous building, filled with stuff, and eventually it just got too much and I hightailed it back to my room. The place is not warm, inviting, hospitable. Quite the opposite. Unfriendly, albeit polite. I stayed in my room, ordered Nandos delivery, feeling deep sympathy for the driver who had to run the gauntlet from Hillcrest to Kloof and then accessing the gate (he had no problem). I had over-ordered and over-tipped out of guilt, so I ate as much as I could, watched TV, and went to bed.
I couldn’t wait to get out of there.
At breakfast, the mood was quiet, and not welcoming. Four other guests at the table, two colleagues who chatted to each other, a man on some business trip, and a woman whose brief words indicated English tourist, but she didn’t talk to anyone. What a change from Wild Horses, where conversation flowed amongst strangers, and the atmosphere was homely and relaxing.
As I made my way towards Pinetown, it occurred to me that I hadn’t called Les to tell him I was nearby and whether it was convenient to stop at my old home. I wasn’t going to pull over and look for the number, so found my way to Moseley (muscle memory), and pulled up at the front gate. Thankfully, he was there, and insisted I drive in and park inside. Little did I know my car was going to be there for longer than I anticipated.