Travels with Delores : Camping in the rain

SPCA Grahamstown rescue special, Jedi, 15, peers into the tented man cave he shares for the last time with his old tjom and family at Buccanneers, Chintsa West. The steroud cortisone has eased his itchy skin but reduced his lifespan.
INTO BLUE: SPCA Grahamstown rescue special, Jedi, 15, peers into the tented man cave he shares for the last time with his old tjom and family at Buccanneers, Chintsa West. The steroud cortisone has eased his itchy skin but reduced his lifespan.
Image: DELORES KOAN

The sun finds a way through the mist to light an ethereal ember on the ancient dune forest. I twig! The dawn rays are catching the new leaf which is stretching out — a little celebration of the rain which has started to arrive again.

I am perched on the communal boma at Bucs, not the “communal boner” as my tongue-twisted Rosa gaily informed a new camper. It rained the whole night upon the remnants of our family holiday. “One by one” the campers left. They had a mighty jol, but for a screaming, drunken old year’s eve row between some “couple” which set campfire lips alight with juicy gossip next morning.

But yeah, Rosa’s bae Tarryn was on the money when she intoned that we’d all be stepping off the ark two by two etc. Mostly the campers are headed back to djops but one or two will just keep on travelling. I am sort of one of these but the ex is not.

Last night it was just the two of us — and two roving security guards — in the camp. How awesome! But rain was predicted, and all the forecasts got it right. By 7pm it was on.

The ex had been socialising and there were a few tears in the watery mix. Our girls were gone; we, too, would soon be away after three weeks of tent living for her and over a month for me. In the mist and mizzle she tjanked about the decrepit hound, his back legs caving, his sweet eyes receding into darkness. But his spirit, too, shines like an ember.

Well you can imagine, I guided the ex under her brollie to her tent and the moment she was on her sheeted mattress, all zipped in with a rainproof outer fly sheet, and gauze netted inner doors letting through cool exhalations of the thirsty ground, she was cooing: “It is so cozy!", and soon after that the sounds of purring.

The old hound dogs squelched to the little man tent where I eased Jedi, the 15-year-old Grahamstown SPCA ginger ninja onto his dog bed. There he lay in his dreams of cats, bouncing for joy, and real, non-vegan chop bones. I finally hit my bed.

The skies unleashed. Rain drummed on the flysheets all night. Occasionally my tarp would heave a bucketload of fresh rain onto the ground, splooshing heavily not far from the corner of the ex's tent, but she will not be noticing as she is dreaming of Nick Cave and Abraham Hicks, and her children catching buses from the Windmill and planes from the airport and the whole question of Jedi.

It is a fine art to open zips just enough to keep out the drops and keep it fresh in the First Accent Lunar but we get there and I drift into a light sleep; one hand resting on Jedi's rib cage, the other close to my tazer. The mermaids have come to my rescue.

Yesterday I strolled from Buccaneers to Chintsa East to the Cove estate, and was astounded to find myself in the Eastern Cape’s best beach house. A masterful  wooden home towering carefully out of dune forest ending in constructor Shane Roach’s ultimate statement, decks which peer out over the East Coast.

The views and concepts are peerless. The mermaids arrive and we join locals and swim out to sea. Here, where I have walked and fished and played since 1964, I find a new dimension. Water so blue and clear I can see my fingertips and bubbles in hyper-real focus. I am in the backline, a place I could only dream of, and stroking my way to an attempt to do the Robben Island swim in May. But there are responsibilities.

I fix a toasted starter fuse in Delores, I do business with Kei, my daughter, I make the ex morning tea. “Everything is done! Now I can relax. I want a week's holiday.”

But she only has two days and then she, too, will be gone. With or without Jedi. Finally, I will be moving on.


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