An absolute Paarl-er


I had such a grouse time in the mountains surrounding Stellenbosch yesterday that I decided to spend an extra day here rather than heading to South Africa’s south coast. Stella is the second-oldest settlement in the country and is famous for its French-style streets and buildings, so I cruised my crappy rental Hyundai into the centre of the city for a croissant, cheese platter and bottle of champagne to start the day. Alright, it was a KFC Bargain Box and a box of goon, but you get the idea.

It’s easy to see why this place is so well regarded by Saffas and normal people alike, because it’s absolutely delightful. The streets are full of extravagant wooden mansions and lined with lush trees. There’s heaps of restaurants, cafes and kooky shops, so it’s a beacon for golden oldies and bearded hipsters alike. It feels like a step back in time, and I was half expecting to see sheilas walking around with those big, floaty dresses that long-dead spunks once dolled up in. I’ve never been to New Orleans, but I’ve seen it on TV, and Stella really reminds me of it. Without all the horrible hurricanes and mass deaths, of course.

With a swagger around Stellenbosch’s old-fashioned streets crossed off the list, I jumped back in my Crapmobile and slogged over to the nearby town of Paarl. I didn’t actually head into the town centre, turning off and heading up to the Afrikaans Language Monument. Yeah, I know what you’re thinking; that sounds as interesting as listening to Kevin Rudd discuss pubic hair maintenance, but it proved to be an incredibly beautiful and peaceful place. I recommend it. If a monument was ever built to the Aussie language, it would just be some derro saying, “Get a dog up ya, cunt!”.

Just up the road from the monument is the Paarl Mountain Nature Reserve, and this place is awesome. It offers brilliant views out over the city and valley, and houses all sorts of interesting wildlife and rock formations. The beauty of this place is overwhelming, and there’s no way I can put into words the feeling of sitting at the top of the world, looking down on the world as the colours bleed away at the end of the day. I can see why Africa has entranced so many people, because it really is special.

A note on the opening photo for this story: I have a number of regular and passionate readers, and I really appreciate the love and support they all provide for me and my stories. None of my followers are more passionate than Mark, a fellow paraglider who lives his life vicariously through my stories of the road. Mark, an openly gay man, has a particular fondness for the stories where I get my gear off, and has recently been pestering me to de-frock while I’m in Africa.
“If I wanted to read a blog without any photos that I find sexually appetising, I’d log onto clementineford.com,” he whinged to me in a rambling email that had probably been typed with one hand.
Not wanting to upset Mark, who refreshes my website up to 20 times a day in the hope of seeing a new photo of me sans trousers, and thus keeps me rolling in Google Adsense profits, I took the opportunity to throw off my shorts and bask in the African sunshine. Anyone with shares in Kleenex should be very, very happy right now.

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