How time flies. It has been nine years now since Jabulani Guest House opened its doors to the very first guests, in September 1995. I must say, with all the homework I did before starting out, still there were a number of things that was difficult to anticipate; one being the quality of guests that I have had the pleasure to receive here at Jabulani. In the light of nine years at it, I must admit it still is a joy to get "anniversary" e-mails like I received about two weeks ago to thank me for the lovely time the guests had here a year ago - thank you, Paul-Erik. Sometimes I sit down and start remembering, and it is always heart-warming, often funny, sometimes sad, mostly just fun memories. Like the guests who surprised me with a present - a bold multi-coloured hippopotamus to join my motley collection of mostly very boring (but much-loved) ones, with the note to thank me because I had surprised them every day. Which makes me think about the guests who inquired about my collection of hippos - why do you collect hippos? he asked. Well, the fact is I did not set out collecting hippos, I asked a friend on a visit to Victoria Falls to bring me a big wooden one in 1985. And that was my sole contribution to my collection - the rest were all gifts since then! In that case, asked my guest, if people want to give you gifts, why do you not say that you collect something valuable, like diamond rings!
So while we are reminiscing, let me give you an update into the past year here at Jabulani Guest House. After a most wonderful holiday where I was really spoilt and enjoyed the gracious hospitality of friends in the U.K. last year during our winter, we came back to a full house and the start of another hectic season. While I was in England, we had the most snow here in Cape Town in many a year, with snow on Table Mountain that lasted for four days - okay, by then it was just bits on the shady sides of rocks, but that is severe snow for Cape Town! Incidentally, in the UK we had three days of rain for the whole twenty-eight days I was there - also a record! However, even with all that late rain and cold, the dams that supply Cape Town were not full after the winter, and we had to wait for the late rains in October to avert water restrictions for last summer. By late November Eunice had become a grandmother twice within a short space of time, and both Anga and Oguthle are doing fine, starting to walk and talk now. And this sprightly grandmother, like always, is wooing the guests here at Jabulani with her friendly and considerate service - Eunice calls herself, me and Lady "the Team". We had a slight hiccup in March this year - my sturdy, dependable 22-year old Ford Cortina was stolen one morning while I attended a class right here in the centre of the village. My friends all thought it extremely funny and would not believe that anybody would want to steal my old car when there were so many new ones around. Maybe the thieves knew something that my friends overlooked? Anyway, later this winter I acquired a Nissan Almeira 1.6L and now at least it looks better - okay, I admit, it is lovely driving a "modern" white car, but it still has five wheels, just like the previous one (Four wheels I have to keep on the road, and the other one I get to aim with - pretty much my definition of a car!). Secondly, in May Eunice heard that she now qualified for a subsidised house in Kayelitsha, and we had to start the process of building. In October she and her family moved into their new house of sixty square meters, and while there are still some things to be done, it now makes Eunice a proud homeowner. Just as a bit of background; the government subsidises all first time homeowners to the amount of R 16 420. Upon completion the total cost of the house will be close to R 45 000, so thanks to all the guests who contributed with tips for Eunice's good service and also to my bank manager who was gracious about my bank overdraft. With a little thought and a few changes we have built Eunice a home able to withstand the rain in winter and the heat of summer - and friends rallied around so that three rooms are now fully carpeted, the kitchen has ample cupboards and the bathroom floor tiled. For security sake we are still looking at security doors at both back and front doors, and burglar guards at the windows, while we hope to install a new hot water cylinder before winter comes. After a busy winter I took a week out during the middle of September to go whale watching in Hermanus. Lady and I walked the beaches every day, and the whales breeched, blowed and tail wagged for us so many times. Yet the thrill of seeing those enormous animals heave themselves out of the water so close that one can see the water running off their backs, never ceased to make my heart jump with amazement and joy. It really is a sight to behold and I encourage everyone that has not seen it, to fit it into your program at some point. While we were away Mr. Namba, my dependable painter, came and gave the whole house a facelift. The house changed colour, and we all like it! We hope that you will approve of the change too. After a busy winter we are still doing the last of the annual maintenance to get everything ship-shape for the coming season. I am also happy to report that the male tortoise, which was ill last summer and had to have a series of antibiotic injections to treat an upper respiratory tract infection, is now back in good health, eating huge amounts and has regained most of the weight and condition it lost last year. The two females in the garden also welcome his return to good health. The frog pond added during the winter months are starting to look like it belongs, with the surrounding growth getting established. Lady is doing well after two operations to repair torn crucial ligaments in her hind legs last year. At one time I was rather desperate as she was having a lot of pain and was losing a lot of leg muscle because she was reluctant to exercise. As a last resort I took her to a physiotherapist who humoured us, examined her range of movement and recommended swimming as an exercise which could help. Lady very reluctantly took to the water and a few months of swimming therapy has made a remarkable difference - she is back to her friendly, tail wriggling, loudly vocal self and welcomes frequent guests with as if they are visiting her! Unfortunatly, even with good late rain, the dams supplying Cape Town did not reach the desired capacity this year, and so we have severe water restrictions with the cost of our water also almost doubling in price. At present the garden is still a treat, and I have done all in my control to minimise water loss, with compost as well as bark chips as mulch. However, from the garden's point of view it is going to a long summer. However, I am happy to report that we have maintained our three-star graded status by the Tourism Grading Council of South Africa, and the assessor who arrived early one Monday morning and watched us cope with breakfast, remarked that we score very high on service. We continually aim to provide an exceptional service, and would appreciate any recommendations to maintain or better our service. So yet again we invite you to visit South Africa, and to make Jabulani Guest house your base while here in Cape Town. We still have two rooms available over Christmas, so how about a Christmas in the sun this year? We look forward to receiving you here, again and again. Kind regards from Helena.