Thirteen Years: Laughter And Thankfulness

AIDS was… an illness in stages, a very long flight of steps that led assuredly to death, but whose every step represented a unique apprenticeship. It was a disease that gave death time to live and its victims time to die, time to discover time, and in the end to discover life.

~ Hervé Guibert

Laughter And Thankfulness

Continued from… A Visit To Cape Point

The pace to the top was slow. Kathy was soon walking up ahead. Annie and Jacques frequently stopped to make pictures of the breathtaking nature around them.

The higher they came, the further they could see. The ocean seemed to grow bigger and bigger. They could see the mountains on the other side of False Bay – the mountains where they had driven over the Sir Lowry’s Pass only a couple of days earlier. Looking down at the rocks below them, they saw the foaming of the water as the waves smashed against the coast. Even though there was a strong wind, it was sunny. The sea seemed to be so much more beautiful when the sun was shining.

Up on the top, at the viewpoint, they stayed for a while, taking in the surrounding beauty. Jacques made photos of the two ex-colleagues and Kathy made a picture of the married couple. It was an hour and a half later when they returned to the bottom of the walkway that led upstairs. Annie squatted behind the sign of Cape Point, on which the latitude and longitude were shown, and Jacques snapped a photo.

Isaac and Jeanne had their own amazing experience while waiting for the other three to return.

“I wanted to get my sunglasses from the car,” Jeanne told them, “and just before I could close the door of the car again, a baboon rushed past me and jumped into the car.”

“Are you serious?” Annie giggled.

“Yep. The quick movement scared me and I only realized it was a baboon when it was already inside the car. I knew I shouldn’t try to get it out of the car, because they could be dangerous,” Jeanne continued her story.

“Are they dangerous?” Jacques asked, rubbing his forehead. “I thought they were tame.”

“Oh no, there are warnings everywhere. You should never try to get a baboon out of your car, because it might bite you. They can be very mean,” Annie explained to her husband.

“So what did you do?” Kathy asked.

“Jeanne didn’t want to leave the door open without supervision,” Isaac continued the story, “so I walked over to the security and asked them to help us. I don’t know what they did, but it almost seemed as if the baboon was afraid of them. It took them less than a minute to get it out of the car.”

Everyone laughed and teased Jeanne that all animals wanted to be her pet. First, the bird of the previous day had followed her around and now the baboon wanted to drive home with her.

After they all had a cup of coffee at one of the two restaurants at Cape Point, they went to the souvenir shop. Jacques and Annie bought Myra, Joe and Sylvana each a souvenir. Then they got back into the car to drive back to Isaac’s home.

On the road to the exit of the Cape Peninsula National Park, they encountered an entire troop of baboons. On one of the higher rocks, they saw a male who was angrily looking around. He was keeping watch, ready to alert the entire troop if any danger approached. At Annie’s request, Jeanne stopped the car on the side of the road. Jacques, who was sitting next to Jeanne, started to roll his window down.

“Jacques, stop!” Isaac exclaimed. “Don’t roll your window down too far. You never know when a baboon might decide to take a leap into the car. And if one of them succeeds, we will soon have the entire troop in the car,” Isaac warned.

Jacques immediately closed his window. He didn’t even want to make photos anymore. Annie opened her window just enough to get the lens of her camera through. She made a couple of pictures with her digital camera.

“Give me your camera, Jacques,” she said, “then I will make a couple of pictures with it from here.”

Fifteen minutes later, they were on their way again.


Back at Isaac’s house, each with a cup of coffee, the conversation turned to the differences between Afrikaans and Dutch. The two languages resembled each other, where Afrikaans can be described as a strongly simplified version of Dutch. However, there were some essential differences in the meanings of some words that were used in both languages.

One example was the word used for cat. Where in Dutch the word was perfectly innocent, it was a swear word in Afrikaans. The same went for a word that Kathy used quite a lot. In Afrikaans, the word could either mean ‘hassle’ or ‘to hit’, but in Dutch it had a vulgar sexual meaning.

Explaining this difference to Kathy had the five of them roaring with laughter. Kathy was so used to using the word in Afrikaans that within seconds of explaining it to her, she used it again. Before anyone could react, she slammed her hand over her mouth and her face turned bright red.

Isaac was literally crawling on the couch with laughter, not able to control himself. He knew how prim and proper Kathy always was. It caused an even more hilarious scene, now that Kathy felt embarrassed for using a word, which was perfectly normal in their native language.

“Oh, ouch, no,” Isaac groaned, and he grabbed his stomach.

Annie instantly stopped laughing, remembering the pain Isaac had back in the Netherlands. Seeing the shock on Annie’s face reduced some of Isaac’s laughter.

“No, I’m okay. Or actually I’m not,” Isaac said, and he started laughing heartily again, “my stomach hurts from all this laughter. It’s been a long time since I laughed like this.”

“And all at my expense,” Kathy said with mocked anger on her face, “watch out or I’ll… uh… oops.”

Realizing that she almost used the same word again, had the other four roaring with laughter again, so much so that Kathy could do nothing else but to join them.

“I want to take all of you out for dinner,” Isaac said once the laughter had quieted down a bit, “and I don’t want to hear any objections,” he added with a warning look at each of the other four.

None of them said anything. Isaac continued.

“Thank you all for being the friends you are,” he smiled and held his hand up when each of the other took a breath of air to object. They kept quiet, each sitting with his or her own thoughts.

“You should all know I feel privileged to have you as my friends, and that I am thankful for having you in my life.”

Isaac stood up.

“Come on, I want to take you to the Ocean Basket, the best fish restaurant I know,” he said.

To be continued… Fish, Friendship And Wine

Note: This series is a rework of a self-published book (2009), rewritten for this blog, and in loving memory of a dear friend who suffered from and passed because of AIDS. Keep in mind this story happens in the late eighties and throughout the nineties. Names of characters have been changed to protect their privacy.

© Rebel’s Notes
Image from Pixabay

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