I realise I’m still hungover from the party the night before, and that I’m surviving on about two hours sleep. I’m leaving the comfort zone of my backpacker’s lodge where I have been staying for a week. I’m visiting two sets of strangers: Bronwyn (who I met once on a trip to Glastonbury and Stonehenge) and her mother Pat, who I have never met. They are both South African. The other couple, Andrea and Axel, are total strangers. Andrea is English and Axel is Scandinavian. Their house is totally white from roof to floor. I am told they have a six year old daughter who has a life-threatening allergy to eggs and sesames. I’ve been asked to eat neither. I look at my granola and it’s full of sesames. I look at the breakfast menu in the bar and it’s full of eggs. I forage for what is left of my groceries and I breakfast on a few cherry tomatoes, a couple of medjool dates, a single slice of parma ham and a cup of Rooibos tea. It’s not helping the hangover.
I struggle to get everything into my suitcase, which surely must have shrunk. The zip is straining like an Essex girl’s jeans after a big curry night out. My English friend Emma has lent me one or two essentials, and I’ve got more than I started with after only a few days. I haul it all to the decrepit hire car and it won’t fit into the small boot. In the struggle I lose a gold earring, given to me by my sister-in-law as I left England. Not very auspicious… but then thoughts and feelings are not a true reflection of reality, I remind myself. I find the earring before Dan the Man steps on it, but the back is gone forever. I search in vain for the tiny golden clip and keep on imagining I’ve found it. “Focus creates reality” I chant to myself in the hope that the butterfly clip will magically appear – glinting delicately in the strong morning sun. Surely if I focus hard enough on the minute earring back, I shall find it, I tell myself.
Eventually, Dan persuades me to let it go. I’m going to have to meet these strangers wearing only one earring. Oh my God. Fashion faux pas! Dan helps me with the stupidly heavy case. I was planning to stop in Hout Bay on the way and have a leisurely drive to Kommetjie but he says “Don’t stop – you have so much luggage, they’ll smash the window and take it.” Oh joy. Why does everyone keep reminding me to be careful?