Petach Tikvah, Cape Town, was our summer residence and over time our roles there evolved. For some years now, Anton and I had been responsible for a troupe of teenage girls who were shipped off from the farm to spend the entirety of their school holidays at Petach Tikvah. They were all provided with holiday…
There’s a town on the East coast of South Africa called Jeffreys Bay, about an eight hour drive from Cape Town. This “dorpie” is famous for hosting what used to be the Billabong Pro. But anyhow, it’s on the international surfing map because of the perfect elongated, sleek waves that cut slim lines along the shore, especially in the colder months. Supertubes, they call it, the name speaks for itself. And that’s about as much as I’m going to say about this because I’m not a surfer or a meteorologist.
Well, the point is that JBay is a vibe. The waters are warm in the summer months and a lot more inviting than the frigid currents that hug the beaches of Cape Town. The only thing you need to contend with is relentless wind. On a summer’s morning all will be still, clear and idyllic but if you’ve delayed your trek to the beach by a couple of hours you’ll be confronted with a very different scenario.
Much like the rest of the coastline, the winds pick up any time from 10am and when I say pick up, I really mean it. Umbrellas fly, little kids cry, waves crumble and all hell breaks loose. The rest of the day is good for snoozing, snacking and cruising around town.
Many years ago, long before JBay was on the surfing map, a family was allotted a prime piece of land on the estuary of the Kabeljous River, pretty much in the nature reserve. There are special little gems like this property dotted all over the country. They’re legitimate properties that somehow sprung up outside of the actual housing zones. I know of people who have land in the Kruger National Park and another family that holidays slap bang in the middle of the Cape Point Nature Reserve. It’s all about having the right connections.
So when Davit discovered that one of the families on the farm was set to inherit this riverside property all hell broke loose. Legal battles ensued. Tears were shed. Siblings were estranged. But in the end after much prayer and spiritual warfare (that means shouting at Satan to stop his evil meddling in the lives of God’s saints) the land was ours.
It was christened Camp Noah. I do remember chuckling to myself when I first heard the name and envisioning the Ben-Avis arriving by helicopter or limousine like the president of the United States arriving at Camp David.
But this wasn’t going to be some exclusive retreat for the high flyers of the world. Oh no, no. That’s how we won the argument in court, this was going to be a place for the orphans.
The orphans spent one holiday there. We had the place for over a decade.
When the JBay property came into possession of Alon it was in a dire state. Bad tenants over the years had resulted in the various houses falling into rack and ruin. But, we were not deterred, if there was one thing we had, it was man power and experience with property development and renovations. Not to mention Davit’s flair for design.
Camp Noah became the annual holiday residence for most Alonites and we’d be shuttled there by bus and car on a perfectly synchronised roster over December and January every year. As time passed more and more homes were added to the extensive property and it became a rather spectacular place. Private access to the gently flowing river/estuary meant kids could go out and paddle and fish from morning till night. The beach was about a five minute walk from the property and between the houses and the river was a huge expanse of lawn, perfect for impromptu volleyball, soccer and cricket games. Idyllic, really.
Of course, there were still the usual prayer meetings and the general air of communal living. Meals were a collaborative effort and we spent every waking moment in each other’s business. Lying on your own in the sun for a couple of hours quietly reading a book would appear anarchistic. Playing cards with ten other people was more the done thing.
So, we holidayed in style on misappropriated land strewn with the memories of a family that now had no say over their rightful inheritance…”The meek shall inherit the earth.” Davit would bellow from the pulpit, in hindsight, I think he was right… But that’s a story for another time.