Home Is Where The Pit Of Vipers Isn’t

Private Property South Africa
Shaun Wewege

The past few weeks have afforded me the opportunity to travel a great deal more than I can ever remember. I spent some time in Port Elizabeth, visited the Drakensberg for a wedding and wrapped up my jet-setting with a short stay in a five-star lodge in the Cradle of Humankind just west of Johannesburg. Four hotels in four weeks. I felt like a celebrity, but a real one, not one of those who had to miss their shift at Spur to attend the SAMAs.

The downside of travel is the return to reality. Leaving the tranquil bushveld for the hustle and bustle of the city. Skipping the buffet with dozens of breakfast options for a slice of dry toast. Opening the curtain and seeing your pantless neighbour taking out the trash instead of a glass-like dam with otters breaking the surface every few minutes. Hearing the crash of road-rage fuelled drivers as opposed to the crash of waves. Returning home leaves you depressed and, ironically, in need of a getaway.

I recently discovered that your holiday destination makes your own home seem pretty bland by comparison. You see, as much as I enjoy my home I don’t have heated tiled floors or a heated towel rack. If I want a snack I have to prepare it myself. There is no concierge who is willing to bring me cold beverages. I’ve tried to train our puppies to fetch beers from the fridge to no avail. I have no ocean views or wooden deck that gazes out onto a lake. Sure, if it rains heavily our garden floods, but it’s not quite the same. You can’t replace frolicking dolphins with a panicking cat stuck in a water feature.

Realistically, I can’t spend the rest of my life in hotels or lodges. I would love to but I highly doubt I would continue to receive paycheques from the office if I did. And without a real job, I can’t afford to go on holiday at all. So the only way to ensure that I don’t feel depressed upon returning home is to book getaways at places that make me grateful to be back in Johannesburg.

I’ve done some research and reckon that Brazil’s Ilha de Queimada Grande is a good bet. The weather is great, it’s secluded, the beaches are pristine and there is approximately one snake per square metre. The lancehead viper lives here and is feared to such an extent that the Brazillian Navy has banned people landing on the island. If a venomous viper-filled trip isn’t enough to make you appreciate home, then little else will.

Another good bet is Bikini Atoll. Despite a sexy name that conjures up images of sun-laden beaches, nuclear testing decades ago has rendered the island uninhabitable. You could possibly stay on the island for quite some time and not fall prey to any radiation related illnesses, provided you didn’t eat or drink anything. The island’s produce may still be tainted with radiation though I’m not too concerned about that, if I can survive the meals dished up at our canteen I’m fairly certain I can stomach Strontium-90.

If all else fails there is one local holiday option that is guaranteed to leave you feeling good about the trip home, and that would be staying in any hotel that allows guests to book matric holidays. Call me old if you will, but I can’t think of any worse fate than staying in the same venue as noisy, pimple-faced, hormone-driven teens who want to party like rappers but can only afford boxed wine. As a rule of thumb, if they’re not old enough to remember cassette tapes and think that vampires all sparkle, they are the worst guests you will ever share lodging with.

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