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August 8, 2021: A life and travel update from your host at GypsyCafe.org

South Africa: Cape Winelands and Cape Town

In January of 2020, two months before the first Covid-lockdowns were implemented world-wide, I arrived back in Cape Town, my city of birth. I had been away from the city for 8 years in total and had since lived in Ireland, Argentina and Uruguay and had visited several other countries including Chile, Easter Island, Peru, Guatemala, Honduras, Belize and Brazil.

I was going to spend about 6 months here in South Africa before heading back to South America again, this time to Ecuador, but as was the case with many long-term travelers, I had to delay my plans. By the end of last year I concluded that international travel is unlikely to return to normal – for a long time to come. I also concluded that when there eventually is a general resumption in international travel, it would be with so many additonal restrictions and extra travel measures that it simply wouldn’t be the same. 

I have always traveled because used to enjoy the whole process, including time spent at airports (except for delays), the flights (mostly), and the arrival on the other side (usually went smoothly), because generally it used to be relatively easy and convenient to travel, all in all considered, so it was definitely worth the effort. But, that has now changed it would seem. I’m fortunate that I’ve traveled a lot over the years – relocating every 2, 3 or 4 years has been my lifestyle for more than 25 years by now, but I’m not so sure I view international travel as such an appealing prospect anymore.

I currently find myself in one of the most beautiful countries in the world that’s incredibly rich in diversity in terms of travel opportunities. Best of all, I’m actually a citizen, so I can stay here for as long as I want to, and due to all my years spent abroad, there are loads of places I haven’t visited here yet, even though it’s my country of birth. That said, it must be said that South Africa has been stumbling through what seems to be endless political crises (mostly off the international news radar) – except for recent events, as some readers may be aware of – but that comes with the territory; never a dull moment in South Africa, and if politics is your thing … 

Politics aside, it’s good to be back on home soil – it’s been a while already, exactly eighteen months by now, so this is a very belated update, but with all that’s been going on in the world and the demands of my writing projects, I’m finally getting around to it. Besides, it’s rare that I post personal updates, but it seemed appropriate to do so now as I’m starting to slowly settle into the idea of being based here for some time.

Since arrving last year I’ve stayed in four different locations so far, two of them being the oldest and most beautiful towns in the stunning wine district of the Western Cape. I’ve also spent some time in Cape Town city. Table Mountain was calling me over, so I returned to my old neighborhood for a while where I touched base with the mountain’s energy, breathed its air and walked many of the paths that I missed so much while I was away.

Besides the sense of nostalgia, these hikes have provided me with much needed extra motivation and new inspiration for my current writing project, the Darkness Before Dawn series. Readers who have enjoyed this series will be happy to know that the next chapter is almost ready, but will be published as the beginning of a new series. These chapters are also being published at the excellent Maya astrology website MyMayanSign.com (on their Blog) Their in-depth Mayan Sign Reports are highly recommended. On their blog they also feature several regular writers who have a serious interest in everything to do with Mayan and Mesoamerican spirituality, history and mythology. 

August 2021: Writer’s Retreat

I’ve just changed locations again and I’m now in a quiet location quite a distance from Cape Town, which is perfect for writing, with a slower pace of life and also close to mountains. I have to admit that in recent years big-city life has appealed much less to me than before. Also, I believe that we are entering a time period that will make country-living a much more sensible way of life in general (for various reasons which I’ll get into in my future writings). My future travel-posts are likely to feature photo essays of hiking trails in my region as that’s my new travel objective while I’m here – to enjoy the gift of nature as much as I can, in-between my writing which has become a way of life for me and takes up most of me free time.

Below I’m including a few pictures I took in the Table Mountain pathways while I was there. There were severe fires in the mountain in April and some neighbourhoods had to be evacuated. Some of the pictures below were taken a couple of weeks later and show the aftermath, but fortunately large green patches remained between the burned parts, so the mountain should recover fully in time, except for some of the old trees that burned down. 

To me the contrasts of the aftermath of the fire in a way also reflect what’s happening in the world in general – there’s a lot of destruction and darkness, but also islands of light, patches of preserved growth, green shoots here and there, and if you look carefully a lot of blossoming colors in places. In my next chapter I’m taking a deep philosophical dive into these themes, so keep an eye out for it …

The journey continues. 

With my best wishes,

Mountain Path Views

Hello Cape Town! Looks like a good day for a hike.
After the fire : the mountain path created a natural fire break in some places
Some old trees were destroyed, unfortunately
After the fire: burned mountain bushes with green slopes in the background
Proteas – South Africa’s National Flower
Another Beaut
Easy Going: Downward Sloap Through the Trees
Trees, Shadows & Lion’s Head
Mountain, Moon and Cable Car
Meeting a Fellow Path-Explorer
Table Top Straight Ahead
Left or Right? (Left takes you full circle back to where you left off).

Explorer, Philosopher, Photographer


  1. carol baker
    carol baker Reply

    Love all of the pictures of your area, and your mountains.

  2. Debra Malmos

    Greetings Jacques – It makes me smile to read this. I feel peace between the lines, and such synchronicity. I’m unexpectedly heading to the country near land settled by ancestors… going home with a sense of peace.

    Your photos welled-up in my heart – so many beautiful things. I’ve never seen a protea like that, and the little critter is divine. Thank you so much for sharing – it makes me happy to know you are there. in lak’ech, Debra

    • Jean-Jacques

      Hello Debra, synchronicity indeed. It seems a lot of people are called to the country, to nature, and to their heritage in these times. Wishing all the best for your own retreat.

      Glad you enjoyed the images. Wild proteas can be stunning and they are abundant in some of the mountains of the Cape, but I don’t recall every seeing them outside of South Africa on my travels. So it was with a sense of ‘finally coming home’ that I stumbled on these ones on one of my first walks back in the mountain.

      You are are right about the peace between the lines. After years of wandering never really settling in properly anywhere, the prospect of not planning any major journeys for the foreseeable future feels deeply comforting.

      Thank you for your support and your presence, Debra.
      In lak’ech,

  3. Gloria

    Hello Jacques, Was really nice to read this and see your pictures! Greetings from Lima.

    • Jean-Jacques

      Hello Gloria! Always good to hear from you – I hope everything’s going well in Lima. I think about the city a lot sometimes (thank you for all the good advice you gave while I was there!).

      One day when all these travel restrictions are lifted I will have to visit again.

      All the best!

  4. Martina Ramsauer

    Thank you very much for this touching post, Jean-Jacques:) Me, too, can feel that the passion to travel is not present anymore and I much rather enjoy to be in a forest than in a big city! I very much enjoyed to travel in South Africa and thank you for making me live again some of the experiences. I wish you much pleasure with whatever you do!
    All the best

    • Jean-Jacques

      Good afternoon, Martina! Great point about rather being in a forest than a city! Yes, especially nowadays cities feel very claustrophobic to me. Cities are great when there’s lots of cultural and artistic events and festivals in the parks and all of the ‘buzz’ that goes with all of that, but much less happening, also less interesting.

      It’s really heartwarming that you enjoyed it so much here and that the pictures brought back good memories – very glad to hear!

      Wishing you a great rest of the summer, Martina! 🙂

      • Martina Ramsauer

        It seems Jean-Jacques, that travelling online has become a more convenient way!
        I would really like to read your answer of how to find out what is true and what not!
        I wish you a quiet winter:)
        Best regards Martina

  5. Brigido Anaya

    Well, it seems the ongoing pandemic has put a halt to our wanderlust, myself included since last year, I was planning on doing a trip on the winter, of course got cancelled, and it’s not clear if I will be traveling this year as well.

    Beautiful pictures by the way.

    • Jean-Jacques

      Yes, it seems so, Mr Anaya. I hope you are able to use those reservations and tickets for a later journey. Difficult to know when things will normalise, but let’s hold thumbs and in the meantime reflect on all the journeys done. I see a lot of people are starting to travel old travel photos from years ago, because they already miss it so! 🙂 I’m not there yet, but maybe in another year or two from now …

      Glad you liked the pics and hope you have good weather in Mexico!

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