Thirteen Years: Fish, Friendship And Wine

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

Fish, Friendship And Wine

Continued from… Laughter And Thankfulness

Half an hour later, the five friends joined the line outside the Ocean Basket.

“I think we will not get in soon,” Isaac said after they had been standing in the line for about fifteen minutes, “let’s try the restaurant over there.”

Isaac pointed to the other side of the street. Just then, a server came downstairs. They had a table free for a larger party. Three couples in front of them were not allowed in, since the management of the restaurant didn’t want to seat two people at a table where at least six people could sit. The first larger party in line was Isaac, Annie, Jacques, Jeanne and Kathy. They followed the server upstairs.

The ambience inside the restaurant equaled mood between the friends — relaxed and pleasant.

Jacques and Jeanne each ordered calamari, while the other three ordered fish – kingklip. They served the food in frying pans. Inside the frying pans, which were placed on a wooden coaster in front of each of them, were not only the calamari or fish they had ordered but also the rice they had ordered with it. Their salads were in separate bowls. Annie and Jacques watched the other three and saw they could eat their dinner from the frying pan, which was quite an experience. Annie noticed the food stayed warm longer than it would have on a normal plate.

During dinner, they had a couple of laughs again, when Kathy impulsively used her favorite word. They just couldn’t stop teasing her. Another part of dinner was the conversation about their plans for the following day.

“Tomorrow is the last full day that you will be here,” Jeanne said. “What do you want to do?”

Annie first looked at Isaac, and then at her husband, who pulled his shoulders up, leaving the decision to her. She looked back at Isaac.

“What do you want to do?” she asked.

“Annie, I really don’t mind. You can decide,” he replied.

“What about a wine route in Stellenbosch?” Jeanne asked.

Before Annie could even answer Jeanne, Isaac spontaneously spoke his mind.

“Oh, I would love that. It’s been ages since the last time that I did a wine route!”

Then Isaac turned red.

“Oh, sorry,” he said, “Annie, if you don’t want to go to a wine route, please don’t only because…”

Annie leant over and hugged Isaac.

“Shhhht,” she laughed, “I was just going to say that I would love to go on a wine route, but knowing now that you will enjoy it too, will make it even that more fun!”

“Are you sure?” Isaac asked with doubt in his eyes.

“Of course! And Jacques cannot tell anyone he’s been in the Cape if he hadn’t been on a wine route,” Annie laughed.

“Kathy, will you come too?” Jeanne asked.

“No, unfortunately not. My daughter is home this weekend and I want to spend time with her tomorrow,” Kathy answered and when she saw the disappointed faces of the two Dutch visitors, she laughed, “but don’t worry, I will go along to the airport on Sunday.”

The server came to collect their frying pans after all of them had finished eating. When she wanted to remove Isaac’s pan, he pulled her sleeve and whispered in her ear.

“Yes, of course,” the server smiled.

“Jacques, may I have your camera? The lady is going to make a picture of the five of us,” Isaac explained.

This was the only picture of the entire week that showed the five of them together.

Jeanne arrived at Isaac’s house early on Saturday morning to pick them up for their planned trip to one of the Stellenbosch wine routes.

Isaac was happy to get into the back of the car, next to Annie. He was tired — more tired than he had been in the last couple of days. The evening before, he had noticed his cold had returned. In the last couple of weeks, the cold had never fully disappeared.

Long before they had reached the highway to Stellenbosch, Isaac fell asleep. Annie noticed this. She also noticed he looked pale. Halfway to Stellenbosch, Isaac woke up again. Ten minutes later, he drifted off to sleep again, and he only opened his eyes when Jeanne parked her car in front of the main house of the wine estate, Eikendal.

Eikendal was owned by a Swiss family and between Stellenbosch and Somerset West. The main house of this wine estate nestled against the mountains in the background and it had a view of Table Mountain ahead. Even though it was still early, Jeanne, Annie and Jacques were ready to taste some wine. Isaac wouldn’t join them in this.

Inside, the three tasters first tasted some white wine. Jeanne and Jacques spit their wine out in the small bucket that was provided for it. Annie was too shy to do so and swallowed her taste of wine. Each of them took a sip of water and then carried on to some red wine. Yet again, Annie was the only one who swallowed her wine.

Isaac, who at first was inside with them, had gone outside to sit on the veranda. There was only one other car parked outside. Isaac’s legs were feeling heavy and tired. He was thankful he could sit a lot – either in the car or at the different restaurants of the wine estates.

Annie joined Isaac outside. Somehow, the wine didn’t go down well. She had a strange feeling on her stomach and she was feeling a bit nauseous. Jeanne and Jacques were okay, since they had swallowed none of the wine they had tasted.

“What’s wrong, Annie?” Jeanne asked when she and Jacques joined Isaac and Annie on the porch.

“I feel nauseous,” Annie said.

“I told you not to swallow the wine,” Jeanne preached.

“Did you swallow everything?” Isaac asked with big eyes.

“Yes,” Annie nodded, “two sips of white wine and one sip of red wine.”

“Do you want to get drunk?” Isaac laughed. “No wonder you feel nauseous.”

Annie could laugh with them, but her laugh was more like a painful grin, since the nausea didn’t was overwhelming. She decided not to taste any other wine the rest of the day.

Blaauwklippen was the next wine estate they visited. The lovely main house was built in the old Cape Dutch style. These beautiful whitewash painted houses with their symmetrical designs were found in and around Stellenbosch.

At Blaauwklippen Jeanne and Jacques went inside to taste wine, while Isaac and Annie stayed outside.

“How are you feeling, Isaac?” Annie asked her friend.

“I’m okay, Annie,” Isaac answered. “I feel better than this morning.”

“Were you only tired this morning or was there something else?” Annie wanted to know with concern on her face.

“Tired and the pain in my legs was fiercer than in the last couple of days,” Isaac said honestly, “and I think my cold is back, for as far as it was gone.”

“Do you still feel the pain, or is it gone now?”

“Not gone, but bearable,” Isaac smiled.

Jeanne and Jacques joined them again.

“We just saw a brochure inside,” Jeanne informed them, “they have a collection of antiques in the side building. Who wants to see it?”

To be continued… Visiting Wine Estates Around Stellenbosch

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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