Here’s the thing: my trip to South Africa does not fit neatly into the categories I usually use on this blog: Plate of Food, The Best, and Story That Needs to be Told. I suppose it COULD fit, but I would have to be cruelly selective about what I share with you. And that just wouldn’t do.
So we’ll abandon the structure just for a moment and in its place we will have –
An SA Snapshot! (it’s the best I could do, people)
Along Route 44 outside of Cape Town, where the rows of vines make mesmerizing stripes up the hillsides and the sun glows against the mountains, you will find the loveliest of weekend markets: Root 44 Market.
You must go there, if only to admire how very, very right the market organizers have got it.
They have 2 huge tents: one with unique clothes and arty things made by people who are able to see the potential in a piece of wood or a length of yarn, and one with food, glorious food. You can imagine where I spent most of my time.
We had just eaten (when has that ever stopped me?), so we merely snacked on big soft pretzels and kudu biltong (that’s dried meat made from a type of large antelope). There is a huge selection of food, though, from Indian curries to tiny berry tarts, from tapas to fresh lemon curd. Each vendor offers something different, but it is all offered up with warmth and passion.
The tents open up onto rolling grassy areas dotted with tables and chairs where people sit munching their purchases, while down in a small glen a band plays folksy music.
Tall trees shade a large playground which is flanked by – get this – a cocktail bar! Genius. I saw so many people with a baby in one arm and a bottle of wine/bubbly/craft beer cradled in the other. Say what you want, but is that not a picture of true life balance?
Everywhere we looked there were families reveling in the sun, sharing tasty food of all sorts, and raising a glass to a beautiful Stellenbosch weekend.
And if you start to feel light-headed from all of the
wine happy, wholesome feelings coursing through you, just watching a few people try their hand at Sock Poi will bring you right back to reality.
Sock Poi are long socks or stockings with a ball stuffed in the toe of the sock. The idea is that you swing and spin the socks with your hands in a fluid motion, sort of like baton twirling. Well, that is the idea anyway, but the execution is sometimes far from it.
Take, for example, the gentleman who grabbed a pair of poi from the demonstration area and clearly liked how they felt in his hands. After a few gentle swings from left to right he confidently asked his beloved to capture the poi magic on their camera. She started recording and he swung with gusto – right into his groin.
As he doubled over and dropped the poi, she kept filming for which I will forever admire her.
Exhibit B was a young guy at the market with 3 of his friends. They loped down to the poi area, full of camaraderie and youthful cheer. The girls giggled as the guys picked up the sock poi and had a go. The first few spins felt so natural that our super keen guy with the collar popped up on his polo shirt decided to really go for it.
As he turned to see the appreciation on his friends’ faces he whacked himself squarely on the cheekbone.
I would bet all of my kudu biltong that he explained away the resulting black eye with a “rugby tackle”.
Whether it is the food, the drinks, the lovely views, the music, or the sock poi, this market will be the best part of your weekend for so many reasons. GO!