Being able to be about 15 min from the closest beach would be one of the things that I miss most about not being at home. South Africa, specifically the little coastal towns and cities has some kind of magic that other places find very hard to replicate, no matter how hard they try. Before leaving South Africa, I was never much of a “sea lover” in fact, I would much rather choose a bush getaway, but not being able to be near the ocean has changed all that. I ache for the wild winds, and that salty air that accompanies the ocean and the beaches that I miss so much.
We have just come back from our winter wonderland Christmas getaway, in a small town on the border of Italy and France, called Bardonecchia. We were there for a total of 5 days and 4 nights, which means we were on the mountain skiing for a whole 4 days, from 9 am until 4:30 pm. The Air Bnb we stayed in was incredible, seriously, if you are ever in the area look it up. HERE
Now this is the complete opposite of a Christmas day spent at the beach, or in the sun, what I would be doing if I was back home. However, there is definitely some sort of similarities between the surf culture in South Africa, and the ski life in the mountains. In no way do I claim to be a surfer, but I have observed the culture from afar, and marveled at the adventurous, and crazy spirit that the majority of these people who partake in these two sports.
I may not know all the “ins and outs” of surfing, but I know the basics of skiing. A sport that has captured my heart despite the many bruises, injuries and the exhaustion over such a short period.
People who do these sports, both skiing and surfing seem to have such incredible respect for the environment and nature around them. It’s as if they know that without this incredible earth that we have been miraculously given they would not be able to do what they love. Their admiration and respect for nature is something that stretches long after they have partaken in the sport, it becomes a way of life.
Everyone and anyone is welcome. There is an overwhelming amount of tolerance and acceptance of beginners. From my experience on the slopes, people are only too eager to help you out of the heap of snow you managed to ski right into. There is a certain level of understanding that they were all beginners at one point in time. Besides, there are thousands of little kids, and I mean tiny kids, who are skiing and no one bats an eyelid. To be fair, most of them can ski better than I probably ever will, and they still have their dummies (pacifiers) in their mouths. There tends to be a sort of family vibe going on at the rest camps in the mountains, there are children, dogs, old people and everyone knows everyone.
Once you’ve tried it, you’re hooked. I think that when you try any sport that gets your blood flowing, there seems to be a hook in it that is difficult to unhook once you’ve started. You find any excuse you can to go to the sea, or to the mountains, to escape any sort of city life to truly test your limits, and explore a bit more of the world. It really does become a culture, some are born into it, and others are baptized by water or ice. Either way, you end up getting submerged into a culture that changes your outlook on life forever.
The surf culture in South Africa has extended well into the daily lives of people, much like the culture of skiing here in Europe, the only difference being that skiing is pretty seasonal.
Every trip that Angelo and I go on, I seem to fall more and more in love with Europe, as well as South Africa, travelling has a strange way of doing that to a person. It makes you fall in love with places you have visited and makes you truly appreciate where you come from. I can only hope to experience more and more through the next year, I promise to take you with me wherever we end up!