Hindsight and the Kingdom of Pleasure

When I happily thanked the RCI man who offered me a weekend at Sun City, little did I imagine it would lead to a partial mental breakdown and the destruction of workplace harmony. 20/20 hindsight, what a view!

None of this was on my mind as I slipped home late Friday afternoon to pack the car and set off on an unplanned road trip. Then I was filled with joie de vivre and seeing the surprise on the faces of three small people. I packed with the speed and efficiency of a mother of three. On arrival I discovered that they had everything they needed, but I had forgotten to pack any underwear for myself. Typical.

The Sun City complex is the largest construction in the southern hemisphere and the largest theme park in the world. I am not convinced on the last, but I have it on good authority, so I’ll go with it. I hadn’t been there since a debaucherous Loeries Awards ceremony sometime in the mid-90s. I don’t remember a lot of that trip except that I had an utterly gorgeous dress.

RCI had managed to fit us in at the Vacation Club – Hippo 204. I think these might have been staff quarters at one point. Regardless of their ancestry they are pretty nice. Their antiquity means that they are spacious and you can lie down in the bath. Of course, if your width is proportionally greater than your height you may not fit in sideways. The heating system worked like a bomb and sounded like a Cessna.

Question: Is it unreasonable to expect toilet paper in a timeshare unit? We usually potter down to the coast for our vacation and there’s always been loo paper and soap as well as a little complementary basket with a tea bag and some instant coffee. Regardless, thank God the lord and master of the house had packed a roll or we would have been up the proverbial shit creek without a paddle.

As we stood on the porch admiring the cascade of the Milky Way in the middle of the night, the quiet serenity was broken by the sound of a television set exiting a window. Well of course we went to investigate, as did half the resort. We all hovered in the shadows ducking the various implements and pieces of furniture that came airbourne out of the unit on the corner. I never saw the arguing pair, but they managed to destroy everything not actually nailed down. It was spectacular.

Saturday dawned bright and sunny and off we went to the Valley of the Waves. I’ve always found the contrived nature of Sun City and the Lost City garish, but seeing it through the eyes of three small people, it was magical. However, it is a real pity you have to enter it through the cavernous pit of the casino.

Bright and sunny it was, but it was also 12 degrees in the water. We floated lazily down the river our bottoms turning a lurid shade of blue. By then we were inured to the cold and hurtled ourselves down water slides like crazed apes. The water may have been just above freezing, but the joy of this time of the year is that the place is fairly empty. Eventually, we retired to the beach where an ice-cold pina colada hit the spot and I defrosted happily in the sun. Small girl aged 5 and I agree totally that this is our kind of beach experience. It was very civilised. The prices for our drinks were not.

Sunday we set out into the wilds of the Pilanesberg Game Reserve. Small children do not enjoy driving aimlessly around and after they’ve seen one zebra they’ve seen them all. Nonetheless we enjoyed beautiful birds, elephants, wildebeest, impalas and gorgeous lazy turtles. I liked the turtles best of all. I’ve never seen them in the wild before their wizened little faces and bright eyes remind me of old men with tall tales of tell.

There is never peace for the wicked and so I ensconced myself by the complex pool with a cocktail and my laptop while my offspring – who have no temperature gauge – happily darted in and out of the freezing pool. By the time I had finished my job I was a fount of totally useless information. Here’s an example, did you know South Africa is the world’s largest exporter of Macadamia nuts? No, I bet you didn’t. Well, now you know and can drop that little gem of information to impress your friends.

My spouse’s business associates soon arrived to mark the end of the family portion of the weekend. With great reluctance he dragged himself off to pow-wow and sing kumbaya. It is a universal truth that there is nothing more annoying than a drunken oaf when you are sober. By the time my better half arrived home he was livid with rage at said drunken oaf who had disappeared leaving his bill unpaid and in the manner of drunken oafs everywhere, had managed to offend every person with whom he had come into contact. Needless to say the man in question did not attend the following day’s leadership conference. Apparently his uncle, three times removed, was ill and he was feeling sad. Really? Did anyone buy that?

Now, when the sun shines, Sun City is the Kingdom of Pleasure. When it doesn’t and you have three children under 10 to entertain, it is the Pit of Hell. Check out was at 10am. Perhaps, if I didn’t loathe underage gambling aka The Magic Company, I could have kept them entertained. What we ended up doing was going up and down the glass bullet lifts at the Cascades.

The much-lauded aviary was a supreme and smelly disappointment, so we ended up with the crocodiles. Crocodiles are not particularly riveting to watch for any length of time. In fact they don’t do anything. They just lie there. However, I was determined that my young brood would learn something so I persisted in reading out the facts posted alongside the pens. Upon later recollection they only recalled the number of kills each male had racked up.

Arnold, the biggest croc has killed 5 other males already, so has been removed from the general population and he and his harem lie happily in a secluded corner. Looking at his enormous bulk – my daughter could lie down in his tummy – I couldn’t imagine him being able to manoeuvre himself into any sort of fighting stance. His rival, Footloose, has 3 kills to his name, including the aptly named Three Speed. Apparently, looks can be deceiving.

By the time my husband extricated himself from his corporate get-together I was exhausted, cold and happy to go home. Then came the rain, a precursor of the nightmare to come. The slight throbbing in my temple became a full-blown migraine somewhere near Hartebeespoort. We pulled into Pick A Pancake and I threw my family out of the car while I dry swallowed half a pack of Myprodol and closed my eyes praying for relief.

In case you are ever up that way, avoid Pick a Pancake. Their pancakes don’t look anything like this picture. The food takes disgusting to a whole new level, even the dogs looked at me as though I was poisoning them when I foisted the leftovers on them later. So don’t pick a pancake, pick somewhere else entirely.

The best part of going away is coming home. Not this time. My feline friends were so unimpressed by our departure they had liberally decorated my duvet for our return. The geyser was off, the water was cold and I ran out of tea bags. My husband retreated to the Laundromat with the duvet and I endeavoured to make peace with my distraught and highly agitato boss.

Was it worth it? Having the first weekend this year not renovating our house, going to birthday parties or navigating city traffic? Damn right!

Was it worth having my boss yell at me, my co-workers snipe at me and my dedication to my job called into question? Unequivocally yes.

I’m not sorry. I did try to be. But I’m not. Not really. Not at all. Sue me.

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