Monday, 23 March 2015

All Is Not As It May Seem - Our First Day In Paternoster

After our adventurous trip and arrival in Paternoster we were tired but elated to have arrived safely and we were ready to relax and make the most of the very short holiday. The Villa Manager did come round to check that everything was OK. I am guessing our irritation and annoyance at being halfheartedly pointed to our Villa in the dark only to discover the key did not unlock the door prompted the Hotel Receptionist to get the Villa Manager out of her cosy home to come and introduce herself and check that everything was OK. Just having a light on to welcome guests would have been nice and inviting, especially knowing that they are arriving late and have travelled a long way - oh and also make sure that the right key is available. The Villa was beautiful and clean, there is no doubt about that.

The Villa Manager (VM) and the Hotel Receptionist (HR) were both lovely ladies, but there is always a hindsight and sometimes first impressions are not lasting and their helpfulness ended there. Obviously Chad and Mark had their bikes with and the VM was a bit  really concerned about where we were going to keep them, because there was no garage.  It would not be 2014 without the dreaded word Tik Addict.  Tik is the South African name for Crystal Methamphetamine - yes it is EVERYWHERE in South Africa, but who would have thought that you would find it is a sleepy fishing village on the West Coast of the Cape. Poverty and boredom of the youth plays a huge role and there are Cat addicts everywhere. The VM was really worried that these "toys" would be too much of a temptation and the way she spoke, I imagined these Tik Addicts hiding behind the Fynbos (natural shrubland found in the Cape) waiting to grab the bikes and ride off into their drug induced sunset never to be seen again. She did say that the Mothers of Paternoster formed a neighbourhood watch and took no nonsense from these kids - that was comforting, because "it takes a village to raise a child" really applies in the poorer communities of South Africa.

There was an outside braai area (barbeque) and a gate from the outside and the bikes were parked there. VM did not know that there was a gate there and had visions of us dragging dirty bikes through her beautiful Villa - she did not imply or say that, I imagined it along with the Tik Addicts hiding around the corner.

As soon as the VM left, Chad told me that someone had used the toilet that would be his and it really stank. Mark had also smelt it, but neither had said anything. Seriously why they did not say anything when the VM was there was anyone's guess, and why I never smelt anything, considering I usually have a sensitive nose was also strange, but yes when they told me TMI. Now remember when we arrived, the Villa was actually unlocked, keys were wrong and Tik Addicts. You can just imagine how this drama queen's imagination ran wild. It turned out to be a blocked drain and the stench was so bad outside and the drain was outside the toilet that was next to the kitchen - what is is with developers and building toilets next to kitchens. We decided to close the toilet door and deal with it in the morning. Chad's shower and basin was in his room and the toilet by the kitchen, so it was just the toilet out of bounds.

With my mind cleared of visions of Tik Addicts using our toilets and possibly hiding themselves and their CAT in the cistern, we finished unpacking the bakkie (pickup truck) explored, chatted, bathed/showered and went to bed. You know when you are so tired, but you can't sleep, well that was me. I heard a scratching sound on the window, thought it was my imagination, but it got louder, woke Mark up he couldn't hear it, I heard it again - like the sound of wiper blades on a windshield or scratching putty out to get the window out - omg the Tik Addicts - I don't know why that woman had to go on like that - I mean seriously no burglar bars on windows, no security gates, no alarms or normal fences, let alone electric fences, imagine her living in Joburg. Well I shouted out, Mark and Chad thought it was very funny, when Mark told Chad the next day. Chad's room was right on the other side of the lounge and kitchen - more panic, they going to get Chad. It turned out that the irrigation system came on at 3am (although it was not 3am) and it sprayed onto the window - it actually looked like water spraying out the wall when I got up to look.

Chad's Shower & Basin

I eventually fell asleep. The next morning, Chad and Mark went to explore on their bikes and look for a carwash, whilst I unpacked, showered and dressed and phoned about the blocked drain. Oh my goodness, no one knew about the blocked drain - it must have just happened, but they managed to go to the exact place where it was blocked without me even knowing that they had come to fix it.

Mark and Chad went into town, 20 km's away to Vredenburg, driving 20 km's is just up the road and not like driving 20 Km's up here in Johannesburg. They found a carwash and besides being shocked (Mark) they found it hilarious (Chad) that the carwash had never washed bikes before and would not even know how to charge, but charged R100.00 anyway and the filthy bakkie R60.00. They came to fetch me and we went off back to town, to get the bakkie washed and have breakfast. We went to the Wimpy in the middle of the CBD and probably not many holiday makers or tourists go there, but we had such a lovely waitress, they all were, but she was exceptionally friendly and so lovely. She was in her mid thirties I would say and she was in awe of the fact that we came from Johannesburg and insisted on speaking to us in English, which was great, because her English was great. Mark can speak Afrikaans, mine is limited to understanding not speaking and Chad's is non existent. We joked about leaving him there for a month and his Afrikaans teacher would think he had a new student in the class. Mark gave her R100.00 tip and she was so grateful. He was feeling all flush, first day of holiday feeling and she was just so sweet, but we did not expect that reaction. She was so emotional and said she was going to buy something nice just for herself. What can you get for R100.00, not much but for her, it was such a lot.

One thing the local folk, the fishing folk are so animated and jovial. Tik Addicts and stern mammas aside, they are simple folk, but good folk. Even when they are fighting they are comical and animated and jovial. We went shopping at the local checkers in the CBD and even there, the cashiers are so friendly compared to here. I would love to move down there, except the pace would drive Mark insane, South Coast Natal has nothing on the pace in Paternoster and Vredenburg - oh and of course the Afrikaans would be a problem.

We arrived back home - as in the Villa, thinking the drain would be fixed and we could sit outside have a braai (barbeque) that night and relax. That was not to be, they could not fix the drain, it was a municipal problem, they were waiting for the municipal truck to come (still coming). They had now left the drain overflowing with the cover off right where we had to drive to park. The drain outside the bathroom was not even the problem.

They handled everything SO badly. The hotel manager, who was some overgrown kid, either German or Dutch, who was either very underpaid and did not care or was on a gap year and did not care, told me he is doing as much as he can by coming to look at the problem!!!! We could not cook because of the stench right by the kitchen and we could not braai, because there was a lovely wind tunnel from the overflowing drain to the braai.

We had paid just a couple of rands shy of R3K a night and we could not eat in our Villa. After many calls and eventually threats, they covered the overflowing manhole and moved us two Villas down. Correction, we had to pack up and move ourselves, they did not even offer to send someone to help and the Villa we moved to was not as nice as the first one and we were not even offered compensation for our first day wasted or for being downgraded. Paternoster is beautiful and I would recommend it to everyone, but not the Strandloper Villas. Besides the drain saga, the second Villa had sheer white curtains without blinds like the first Villa had. The showers and bath was not as private as the Villa we had paid for, so day and night you had to crouch around so the whole of the village could not see you bathing or getting dressed. The bathrooms and bedrooms were all in one, with no doors, which are lovely, except not when you have sheer curtains. The tiny toilet had a door, so you had to crouch down to get into the toilet and get dressed there. Sometimes we forgot and that must have been quite a sight across the village.

Eating out was not an option and I will tell you why in the next post and the Villa had not even the basics in it. OK it had basic cutlery, a pot, a pan, cups, glasses, plates, cereal bowls and a kettle. No toaster, no salad bowl, no bowl to rinse veggies in. When we camped in a tent before we bought our caravan we had a full kitchen - it was our home from home. We had an electric frying pan, plastic bowls, salad bowls; toaster, snackwich maker - we went on holiday for 3 weeks and we did not only have braaied meat and salad, we made stir fry, roast, spaghetti  bolognaise etc, whatever we usually ate, we ate when we camped. Not in this R3K a day Villa - we went and bought salad bowls and a roasting pan from Game after first battling to make salads in a pot. So yes all was not as it seemed.

Obviously all the photos in this post are of when we arrived at the first Villa and explored and photographed and thought it was worth the almost R3K a night. The other Villa was nice, but not as nice and neither were worth R3K a night - thats what happens when you visit last minute bookings to find last minute accommodation - they take advantage of the desperate suckers wanting to share their beautiful village.

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