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Crossing over to the other side

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For years, I heard my parents going on about people who went on holiday to the “other side”. As a child prone to wild imaginings, I would wonder if the “other side” had something to do with devil worship or the occult.

It sounded dangerous and edgy, and something that I would need to try one day. The real meaning, sadly, was significantly duller, simply that they were in Sea Point for December, whereas we were staying on the Muizenberg side of the mountain.

What always followed the “other side” comment was a well-practiced list of unpleasantness that would befall anyone who chose to stay in Sea Point in December, what with all that heat (even at night), the cold ocean water, and how nothing, nothing at all, could rival a good day on Muizenberg beach. My father would always neglect to mention that those days of perfection occurred only once every seven years. And were likely to fall on a Shabbat.

The scorn for “Sea Pointers” was nothing compared to the disdain heaped on those who vacationed in Plett. Little brought more joy than reports of poor weather on the Garden Route. In which case, my parents would shake their heads sympathetically and wonder aloud why anyone would choose to put themselves at the mercy of the elements. All this while making sure that the car that they had parked outside the Muizenberg flat hadn’t been blown away in the night.

I’m uncertain that times have changed. Where we choose to go on holiday apparently says something about us. It’s not only about geography, it’s also about company. There are those who don’t want to be near anyone in the community and who will deliberately go to Langebaan or Margate because others in the community don’t. There are those who will go only where all their friends are going, and where they know that they have a shul and kosher food. And then there are those who need something in the middle.

There are even some who won’t go anywhere without a Woolworths food store. But that’s another column completely.

Holiday insecurity is a real thing. Over December, we chose to drive from Plett, where we were staying for a few weeks, to Cape Town for a few days. The difference is significant. Whereas Plett was quieter and more laid back, Cape Town was energetic and intense. Whereas both were great, depending on what one might be looking for, I found myself justifying our Plett decision to people in Cape Town. I defended the weather, and then reassured those in Plett (when we got back), that we hadn’t been turned by the new “other side”.

We were, I explained, the same people who drove to Cape Town two days prior, and had returned to finish our holiday as planned in Plett.

Sharks and all.

South Africans have holiday issues. We plan the holiday from around March, make sure to have booked by August, and then defend December with our lives from early November. We invest in our choices, double down on the decision, and year after year, we look in disdain at anyone who might choose to venture to the other side.

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