A Holiday By numbers, Or is that hours?

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After double thick shakes, it was off to the holiday apartment, the Hilton Heights, where we booked in promptly at eleven. The cases were then traipsed up the narrow stair well and unpacking was the order of the hour. Hubby and father disappeared for about the time that it took us to unpack, to book a room for her on top of some or other building because natives were not allowed to share living space with Whites. I was never permitted to visit Hubby where she stayed but years later she told me that it was a tiny room above a hotel that she shared with three other domestics. 

Then it was off to the corner cafe with Hubby to buy “slap chips and Durban bread”, bread in Durban tasted very different to the bread bought in Johannesburg. Karen, Hubby and I would sit at the bottom of the stairs to our apartment and consume the feast that we had all being waiting for. What my parents did during that hour that we were shoved outside, I can only today guess at, as he was always in a good mood when we were at last allowed to re-enter the apartment. The next order of business was off to the beach, with a stop to buy a bucket and spade for all the children, a new one every year. We never drove to the beach we walked as it was only two blocks away. 

Hubby would always accompany us, as the Apartheid regime in some twisted logic, had decided that it was permitted for natives to baby sit White children on the beach, even at the risk of them entering the ocean reserved for Whites at that particular junction of sand and surf as they played with the children, but were not allowed to attend these reserved beaches at any other time.

That first day was always the same, three hours on the beach and then back to the apartment so that Hubby could have the rest of the afternoon off so that she could visit the beach that was reserved for natives, which was a fair walk north and obviously out of sight of the easily tempted white population. 

I have since come to ponder the rational of the Apartheid regime, were they afraid that the natives would rape the White women, or would the White men be so tempted by the native women that they would forsake their own and chase after the native, I have never been able to get my mind around that conundrum. 

For the rest of our week’s holiday we would go to the beach from around nine in the morning until lunch at one. Those days on the beach were really a lot of fun, except that our father never joined in, he was either sunbathing  or swimming out on his own, Hubby and mother always kept us entertained and out of his hair. After lunch, my father would take a nap and mother would take us kids out to walk the promenade or to go window shopping. Hubby would be off until around seven when she would return to baby sit us until around midnight. 

Our parents would then go out on the town, presumably to restaurants, movies or night clubs always returning by midnight. After being bathed and fed we children were normally in dream land by eight thirty as the sea air and all the excitement of the beach was more effective than any sleeping potion. With a never wavering routine, the holiday would reach its inevitable conclusion, and the last day had its ritual as all things did in our family.

The normal holiday morning routine never changed, but after lunch the big pack would commence, naturally there was more to return home than had been brought. There were sea shells, souvenirs, things that we had made out of sea shells on the afternoons when the weather had not allowed the normal routine, and buckets and spades filled with whatever other things that we had found vomited up by the ocean. Then it was back to the beach to say so long see you next year, same time, same place and to collect sea water in at least five bottles for Hubby. 

What she did with them I am not sure, I asked her once and she said that she drank the water to cleanse her body, I have never been sure if she was being serious or whether she was just having me on. Then it was back to the car and the long trip home, with no stop except to refuel, as cars were not as efficient as today’s and to visit the toilet as fast as possible so as not to delay the return.

Lots of Hugs and more,

Peggy-Sven

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