Tourist season down south

I’m sure I’ve mentioned before (although I can’t easily find out where, as you’ll read below) about the difficulties faced by many small businesses in Cape Agulhas during holiday season. Put simply, because of the region being just too far out of Cape Town to easily attract day or weekend visitors, there are about 50 weeks of relative calm and quiet (which is why I love it down here), followed by 2 weeks of annual chaos.

Compare and contrast with Hermanus which is 75 minutes out of Cape Town (if you ignore the nonsense of Somerset West) and is busy most weekends with tourists from the Mother City. They can run businesses with plenty of staff all year round. They’re experienced in dealing with large numbers of people, and even when December is busier, they’re ready to go.

But Hermanus used to be lovely. Now it’s just like another busy city. So actually, vive le difference.

Reasonably though, you can’t set up a small business in Agulhas to effectively deal with that sort of wild seasonal dichotomy.

And so there are issues with too few tables at restaurants, not enough goods in supermarkets, slow service in both, and general frustrations for everyone concerned: the tourists are hungry and could be on the beach, the businesses could be getting more people in and out through their doors and making more money. And that’s so annoying, because this is their one fortnight chance to make proper moolah to last them through the harder times ahead.

There’s no easy answer.

And then there’s the water and the internet. Struisbaai relies on boreholes to get water for its +/- 4,000 residents. There’s no rain here in summer. Boreholes need electricity though, and there isn’t a lot of that about at the moment. There’s quite literally not enough water to go around at the best of times.

But there are over 20,000 tourists visiting throughout Christmas and New Year. They don’t care about the water restrictions, because their GP-registered Chelsea Randburg tractor is near the sea, and will rust overnight if they don’t hose it down each evening. And so we literally run out of water some days.

But remember that if you are a tourist, the place you’re visiting is completely yours for the duration of your stay. Never mind the other people visiting, and certainly don’t worry about the local residents – they’re just there for you to use and abuse as you wish.

But that’s another story.

Anyway, we’re a bit tight on resources, so it’s a good job they’re not planning on building 650 new housing units down here.

Oh. Wait.

And the internet at our cottage in our little village is via one mobile operator. There’s a single small mast here, and it doesn’t like loadshedding. It also doesn’t like it when the village is full of people. It can’t cope. And so this post, while being typed on my laptop, will then have to be transferred to my phone via Whatsapp, formatted on the WordPress app, moved into one of the larger villages nearby and uploaded from there.

Needs must.

I don’t like it when it’s so busy here, but I get it: without these two weeks each year, there wouldn’t be anything here for the other 50.

But I am looking forward to some February sunshine and a beach to myself (and the beagle) again.