I could feel the tension build in the left-handed Toyota Camry. So thick you could slice it with a butter knife. Not even the air conditioning system on full blast could turn down the heat. I had just locked horns with my older sister at the start of the three-hour trip to Sun City Resort. Yes, I am aware that was a dumb move.
I hear the whirl of a distant plane thousands of miles away and think, they’re definitely much happier up there. At least I was, two days ago. When I first landed in Cape Town. My eyes lit up at the defined aerial view of an obviously well-organized city. The brilliant mix of the greens and greys of land patches, the mesmerizing kaleidoscope that is the road network, with its swirls of creative architecture as the setting sun haloed around it. I remember thinking; this is everything I wish my country would be.
From the airport, I was whisked away to an old uphill cottage in Fresnaye. The stairs pleasantly creaked and the white wooden doors had large rusty iron antique keys and vintage doorknobs. Oh, how I wanted to remain there forever. The temperature was low. Like nothing I had experienced before, the streets were well lit and the skies full of stars. I was home.
I got up the next morning and as if compelled, went straight to open the balcony door. I was hilariously smacked across the face by a chill breeze. The sun was out but it was still freezing. It was winter in June.
Breakfast was divine, this was the first time I had tasted an English breakfast. There was so much ‘all-you-can-eat’. The cheese combined with the yogurt, apples, and fruits whose names I didn’t know, form a collage straight out of an art class. As the red-blooded Nigerian I am, I had to fill up a bag and a plate, taking some back to my room for later.
The first activity was a tour of the city. The vivid bright multi-colour buildings built by slaves gleamed with the reflection of the sun. This among other things, led the tour guide to say according to Feng Shui, “Cape Town is a perfectly built city” — how could it not be? Then we visited the church square landmark. I remember this because, in spite of my many layers of thick wool coverings, I was almost suffocated by the cold.
At night our true tour began with roaming the streets and malls. I remember the blurry patches of orange-yellow light scattered around the street. The city was bustling with soft murmurs of crowds conversing over the quiet roads with no horns flailing. I guessed the people only came out at night. The visit to the dim-lit night market had us taking lots of memoirs, in our phones, minds, and eyes.
The next morning was for a tour of Robin Island, the prison island for peaceful and violent human rights activists who tried to ‘fight the power’. I made myself laugh. Snorting out loud.
Informed of the fast-approaching rain storm, the tour got cancelled. Instead, we took those optical illusion type pictures with the Rocky Mountains of Robin Island in the cloudy blue horizon and visited the day store to purchase memorabilia.
Nothing beat the ineffable allure of the sunrise on the flight from Cape Town to Johannesburg the next morning. An eclipse of red, orange, blue, pink, purple and dark, spread across the horizon. An indescribable sort of solar flare, rising slowly out of the dark sky made it feel like we were on parallel planes with the waking sun. As a gifted artist painting out emptiness with each ‘stroke of genius’, the sky was a blinding beauty with each fleeting second.
The scenery had put me in such a pleasant mood that I found myself skipping down the rainbow tiles of the O.R. Tambo international airport without care like a young Annie down the yellow brick road.
Losing myself in the joy of intensely reliving those memories, I smiled in the back seat of the left-handed Toyota Camry. Disregarding the looks of exasperation resulting from my sister catching my grin, I affirm to myself that the adventure would continue with the road trip.
Sun City exceeded my expectations. I would describe in more detail but words will only pale in comparison with the euphoria that would overwhelm me when I would be plunged into the sky later that day.
Our autonomous nervous systems were on overdrive with so many adrenaline-laced activities. From the 50-foot drop down the waterslide, to zip-lining, to the parasailing adventure. Cumulating in the ultimate thrill of my life. Nothing compares to the ecstasy of being propelled hundreds of feet into the air and seeing the magnificence of nature in an almost godlike aerial view. I witnessed it in slow motion.
I am often asked what event I would relive if in the final few moments of my life and given the chance.
This is it.
I don’t know if it’s just the parasailing adventure, paragliding from what seemed like a paper plane, or scuba diving in the Atlantic Ocean with seals; This trip made me realise, although I didn’t know it then, travel is my life’s desire.
It’s been three years since this experience. I still frequent the city. Albeit only in my mind.