“We’re all going… It’s like all the NATO countries are going. We’re going to annex Lesotho.”
Ok, so where to begin… Port Elizabeth to Johannesburg was a nicer stretch than the Garden Route with regards to landscape, but I stopped fewer places because I was keen to get to Johannesburg and keen to hang out with newly made friends I’d met on the BazBus (and they had stricter time constraints than me).
In Port Elizabeth I met up again with Danielle, Chris, Connie and Ben and was introduced to Brad. It was mostly Danielle and I who painted the town red by going for beach side lunch, dinner and a city tour (thank you, Brad, for suggesting the Route 67).
Port Elizabeth is not an exciting place, but it’s charming enough. If you go there the thing to do is the Route 67 city tour that highlights the 67 Public Art Works symbolising Nelson Mandela’s 67 years of work dedicated to the Freedom of South Africa.
(Just as a memory-reminder to myself here: Remember Chris at the hostel at night laying in bed yelling “Mon SIIIIINGE! MON SIIIIINGE!” (“my monkey, my monkey” in French). I think Connie and he met some French girls staying at our hostel and he either learned that sentence or he knows French already and they made it an injoke. It was funny as hell to the rest of us too, to be honest…) 😉
Danielle and I headed over to Chintsa after PE and spent a few days at a lovely little backpackers where our friend Florian got robbed in his tent at knifepoint and I barricaded myself in my dorm room by tying wires around the door handles to lock them I place. Danielle and I went to the township to volunteer at a local soup kitchen for the kids and had a great time (I basically sat there for two hours while the kids braided and unbraided my hair and took photos and videos with my phone), they were adorable… Then we had to hurry-hurry-hurry because the Australian woman who came with us didn’t want to miss her massage that she managed to book for exactly two hours after the soup kitchen started. Clever… She went all military efficiency on us at the end and made me wish she missed the whole massage to be honest.
Anyway, Buccaneers at Chintsa was a another beautiful and sleepy place along the wild coast. Except for the militant Australian woman and the fact that Florian got his tentside slashed open and nearly got his throat cut nothing much happened…
I said goodbye to Danielle and got back on the bus to get to Coffee Bay. Slightly more remote area and more dramatic landscape I really enjoyed the drive there. Mountains going on forever in the back and our driver speeding along a rickety road full speed and then some, because who the hell cares about potholes, life and general vehicular safety anyway? Coffee Bay was the spot where we played pool, Helen and I went for a really shitty “Xhosa Village Tour” that showed us nothing (with a guide who spent way too much time on his cellphone rather than talking to us) and the guys tried to learn how to surf while the dog Charlie dug up the entire beach in search of his precious rock… I had fun, it was a beautiful place. Don’t do the Xhosa Village Tour, go see the Hole in the Wall instead, I hear it’s magnificent 😦
One of the absolute highlights of my trip to the Wild Coast. It’s a tiny, tiny village on the edge of a cliff and the landscape is just breathtaking. Both driving there and arriving I was taking so many photos my phone was complaining… Adam and I went there to meet up with Ben so we could drive on with him the next day and Mdumbi turned out to be a fantastic little bonus. We enjoyed the sunset and chitchat on the top of the cliff and then, after it went pitch black we decided we needed food and asked around at the backpackers. They were hosting a wedding the next few days so they didn’t actually have too much to offer us, but he got us one of the two tables at a little, local hut where they made dinner just for the three of us. The other table was full of kids hanging over something very interesting to them (who knows what) and an adult guy sitting next to them rolling a jont. The resident cat was named Ginger. He was an asshole.
After a long drive along potholed roads (and some decent tarmac!) we arrived in Umzumbe and checked in to the Mantis and Moon. It looks like a lush rainforest with a cute swimming pool in the middle. They even had a waterslide into it… Mint. The most exciting thing I did here was venture out to the local, abandoned nunnery with my new friend Sam. We explored the derelict old buildings and tried not to fall horribly to our deaths or get eaten by local squatters. This older guy showed up and let us into the old, abandoned church too (we had no way of getting in short f climbing in trough broken windows, which Sam was all for doing, but I was slightly more skeptical… I don’t know what it is about old buildings, they just get me every time. The older, the better. But yeah, once again, not the most exciting place, but beautiful and friendly. They even have a Checkers 5 km away, such luxury 😉
I did nothing in Durban except buying a pair of trousers, an ice cream and spending a whole day walking along the beaches. The city was more packed than usual because of the Comrades Race (which Ben was running, by the way… I knew there was something wrong with him…) taking place here that weekend. The two hotels I wanted to stay in where completely full so I ended up at Tekweni, which was also full of people wasted an partying until 7am (some of them actually running the race the next day, good luck to you, you insane assholes)… Other than that I was starting to feel the time constraints so I headed straight for Drakensberg after only two nights.
What a hangout. Like Nathanael said “it’s got a tab system… I have to watch out whenever there’s a tab system…” And I agree, too easy to just buy stuff and put it on your tab 😉 I spent the first night alone in my dorm here before two guys bundled in the next day with all their luggage and stuff and I thought “uh… sigh… I was happy alone” and THEN I realized the guy coming through the door was Florian! Happy days 😀 I expected to meet people on the BazBus, but I didn’t expect to have this little group of friends who interweaved during the course of the trip to make a little “BazBus-family”. I was super happy to see Florian again, and with him was Matt who was froooom: WOLVERHAMPTON! I was so chuffed. I just sat and listened to Matt talk, just to hear the accent (“He called my shakalaka grim…”). We met two new members of the travel family too, Alix and Aymeric from France, they deserve worthy mention for being fun and awesome people to hang out with.
So after a day trip to Lesotho (where we quickly realized there were enough NATO-country representatives present to annex all of Lesotho and rename it NATOTO!!) and three days basking in the glory of Drakensberg, Nathanael, Florian and I got on the BazBus up to Johannesburg, (to, incidently, meet up again with Helen).