South Africa, Day Three: Vacation Within a Vacation

Oct 18 2010

This is the fourth in a series of blog posts about my recent trip to South Africa. I’m posting them a week after they happen. For all 825 photos from my trip, see my Flickr photo set.

As planned, I never left my hotel today.

The 15 on Orange Hotel in Cape Town, South AfricaSome may cry “Madness!” at this. But I was exhausted, and one of the goals of any vacation is to relax. So I relaxed.

Fortunately, it was a rainy day in Cape Town, so there wasn’t much for me to do anyway.

Thanks to my iPad, I finished Faulkner’s Of Mice and Men and started A.J. Jacobs’s The Year of Living Biblically. Thanks to my hotel room’s TV, I watched Transformers 2 and random TV shows.

I’m trying to avoid sarcasm, so I must avoid a snarky comment about television. I will point out that I literally can’t remember anything I watched.

I also slept sporadically. I could only manage a few hours at a time, but I felt better after every nap.

Sounds like an unexciting day, eh? Well, let me relate the Laundry Incident.

I only brought five shirts and two pairs of jeans on my trip, as is my standard procedure. I could stretch those out if I needed to, but I wouldn’t need to: I’d have the hotel launder the first few days’ clothes halfway through the trip.

Or I thought so.

At about 11:00, I put my laundry in the appropriate bag, set it out for housekeeping, and merrily skipped downstairs for lunch. When I returned, sure enough, the bag was gone.

After my relaxing day, I ordered dinner through room service at about 8:00, and realized that I hadn’t seen my laundry yet. So I ate my dinner (they got my order wrong, incidentally), then strolled downstairs, and politely explained the situation, and could they just check on it?

The 15 on Orange Hotel foyerThe guy manning the front desk gladly did so, agreeing that the laundry should be done by now. He got on the phone, and his face turned glum.

He told me that my laundry was now on the truck going to their laundry service, but it would be back by mid-day tomorrow.

I explained that this was a problem, since I’d be leaving at 7:30am the following morning for the next leg of my trip.

So he called his manager, who made her own phone calls, and sadly informed me that she’d contacted the laundry service, but they hadn’t answered, so she left a message and would call me at my room once she heard.

Back I went to my room. A few minutes later, my phone rang. The manager said that they found my laundry…in the hotel laundry room. It hadn’t been touched. Not only had it not been put on the truck, it hadn’t been cleaned at all.

Minutes later, an apologetic member of the housekeeping staff appeared at my door with my bag of laundry, exactly as I had placed it on my bed 9 hours previously.

So. After the door closed, I ran some hot water in the bathtub, poured in a full bottle of the hotel’s body wash–noting that housekeeping had given me two bottles of body wash and no shampoo–and washed two shirts and a pair of jeans.

So. An unusual day, and an important bridge, as the next day I would get on a plane for Kruger National Park, and explore my accommodations in the bush. I was now quite intrigued to find out how it would compare to 15 on Orange.

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