Every year, about a third of the way through December, we leave our lovely home in one of the world’s top tourist towns to rough it in a tent for three or four weeks. And not just any tent. A tent in East London. Windy, humid, eight-hour-car-trip-away East London. And we don’t just lock up and leave. We rent our house out, so we have to pack all of our personal things up and stash them in an already-overflowing garage so that our guests can imagine that they’re the first and only people ever to have stayed here.
Well, every time we come back, we think about it a little harder. But, we always come up with all the same great reasons to do it again next year.
There’s something about taking a long drive (longer than two hours is LONG, as parents will know).
But, there’s also something really cool about it. You see new things, play new games, eat junk food and sing along to music that you chose to bring along…It’s a fantastic opportunity to bond. It’s what memories are made of.
2. Families that camp together stay together (not really, I made that up, please don’t cancel your luxury holiday in a glitzy city).
But, there’s definitely a camaraderie that happens when you all have to pitch in to set up tents, roll out groundsheet, blow up mattresses… And then, when you’re all sandy and salty from the beach, sitting around a fire and listening to Kurt Darren tunes blaring from your iPad (No? Just me?), you get the chance to chat. Really chat and connect.
3. There’s more and less to do all at once.
Every day that we’re in Yellow Sands, we have to make some serious choices. Should we go fishing on the river, SUP, surf, suntan, or do crosswords around the pool? What about the trampoline? The walk through the lush greenery of the Eastern Cape to the rock where the boys jump into the water? We may even spend a rainy day in one of East London’s malls. There are so many options, but none of them involve serious grocery shops, trips to the traffic department, paying bills, picking friends up for playdates, or homework.
4. Safety and peace of mind.
I love Cape Town. Every time I arrive there and see my mountain for the first time, I get a feeling that can only be described as a glow in my heart. But, relaxing in CT with a little one wouldn’t be easy for me. I’d need to hold her hand all the time, follow her around every corner, call her every time she ventures just an inch too far away from me. Yellow Sands is a private camp ground. Everyone there has to sign in and out, and the only people using the beach and river are our neighbours. So, if Katie spends an hour at the trampolines or swimming in the river, I can snooze. If she showers at the ablutions, my only concern is that she’ll single-handedly deplete the hot water supply for all 400 campers. I’m not kidding, the drought has hit her hard.
5. We make the best memories.
Some of my happiest moments are at Yellows. They go beyond the frizz in my hair that just won’t quit (thanks, Eastern Cape) and the wind (which is actually wonderful for my husband, the kite surfer and hydrofoiler). It’s about lazy afternoons, drinking G&T’s on the beach, going fishing on our SUPs on the river before our daughter wakes up, standing on electric skates (my record remains 0, but I’m just waiting for my turn), nursing a bit of sunburn, watching the hornbills toss berries into the air, listening to the cicadas, eating ridiculous amounts of braai, and chatting with other moms in the bathroom as we all pretend that GHD-ing our hair is going to make the slightest bit of difference.
We come back browner, blonder and with broader grins as our friends back home tell us about all the traffic jams and queues that we missed. Then, when things are calmer and the tourists have all settled back in to their big-city lives, we get to enjoy the Garden Route for the magical place it is.