South Africa – my second home
Painter, former model, and TV presenter. Roland Peeters is an extraordinary character. He comes from Belgium and lives with his family in Hamburg. He has been spending two months a year in South Africa for over 30 years. Roland was my neighbor and the funniest guide around Cape Town. He is almost like a local. Thanks to him, I discovered many fantastic places, the existence of which I had no idea. You can read below why he calls this place his second home.
When did you first time visit South Africa and what were your first impressions?
RP : The first time I came to S.A. was in 1978. It was my honeymoon and the first time I left Europe. My sister-in-law was living in Cape Town and that was a great advantage: she was the perfect guide for me. She showed me not only the classic tourist must-see spots but also many places and things only locals know about. My first impressions were beyond everything I had expected. It was mind-blowing! Never before I have experienced such a variety of nature and culture so concentrated. Almost everything was/is here: beautiful beaches, mountains, desert, 2 oceans, woods, lakes, valleys, you name it…The fauna and flora were/is spectacular, even for somebody whose expectations are high.
On top of that, I was impressed by the people: extremely friendly and with a coolness that makes you happy. It´s not hard to make friends here and as I experienced, this friendship is real. But there was also a very dark side of this paradise: in 1978 there was still apartheid and it broke my heart to see how black and coloured people were treated. It was a crying shame what the government did to the original inhabitants of this beautiful country. And now, many years later, apartheid doesn´t exist anymore, but you still see that some issues are hard nuts to crack.
Why do you come to Cape Town every year?
RP: Because I fell in love with this country and also to escape from the long winters in Germany. And just because I love the life style here, to get in the „African Modus“ like I call it. Mostly it takes a week or two and then I notice that I walk slower, I am more patient and start seeing things wich you don´t see if you are in a hurry. This is the perfect place to load up the inner batteries. And last but not least : over the years I made a lot of friends here and they are all waiting for me with open arms.
Could you live here permanently?
RP: That is a difficult question. I would love to live here but there are also many things that I would miss here. In Europe, we are spoiled with an extreme variety of cultures that is hard to find here. Just think about all the great cities like Rome, Paris, London, Barcelona, etc. all very close (2 hours flight) And not to forget all the operas, musicals, museums, architecture and so much more. I think the perfect combination would be to live here from October till April and then enjoy the summer in Europe.
What are your favourite places? What would you recommend to see or experience?
RP: My favourite places depending on the mood I´m in. Sometimes it´s just a lazy day at the beach, sometimes it´s driving around or taking a bike and enjoying nature. Or just a day in the centre of Cape Town and walk around to watch people. It´s amazing how creative they are when it comes to making some money. I would recommend everybody who comes to Cape Town to start slowly. First, enjoy a few days at the beach (don´t forget sun lotion 50) at trying to get in the „African Modus“. That means: get rid of the hectic! And then start seeing the classic tourist highlights like Table Mountain, Stellenbosch & Franschhoek, Waterfront, Noordhoek, Safari, Robben Island, etc. Just look in your travel guide. And suddenly you will notice that you will start seeing beautiful things everywhere you go. I also would recommend people not to come for just one week but as long as possible.
What is your best South African memory or adventure?
RP : My best memory is difficult to say because there are so many but the craziest is definitely that I made a bet with a friend to see who would get scared first or who would freeze first when we swam at night, in complete darkness, as far as possible in the ocean. And it was breeding season for the sharks! By the way: I won 🙂
You are a painter, what colours would you use to describe this city?
RP: I like this question 🙂 Green because of nature. White from the beaches. Red is the colour of the great wines of SA, Yellow, stands for the Sun and last but not least: Black because of the dark history and the original inhabitants of this beautiful country. It is no coincidence that all these colours are combined in the South African flag.
Finish this sentence: Cape Town is my second home because ….
RP: …it comes close to paradise for me.