A Travellerspoint blog

Time to say goodbye

This morning we awoke to a sound that has been with us for almost two
weeks. The waves crashing against the rocks. We've grown to be lulled asleep by the sound after an initial irritation with it.
Monkeys were climbing on the balcony at Bob and Lesley's house. We sat on a veranda and watched them irritate the dogs this morning.

Last night we had a Braii with Jeordie and Sophia from our previous
visit. They had left the same morning as us and went hiking off Hogsback - the location that inspired the Hobbit. Unfortunately, Sophia grabbed a rock to haul herself up a hillside and it loosened and rolled onto her. It cracked her pelvis. They were about 2 hours into the hike and Jeordie had to run back all the way to seek help. She just got out of the hospital and Bob and Lesley are graciously letting her recover in their home. Quite an ordeal and a clear reminder of the safety that we have enjoyed while on our vacation.

Today we board a plane in East London (our Sunday noon) then travel to Johannesburg, tonight we board and travel on an 11 hour flight to London, UK, then make a quick 2 hour turnaround to Jump on a plane in a different terminal to Toronto - this 7 hour flight will get us into Toronto Monday morning. After a few hours we will connect to Thunder Bay and HOME to our own bed and showers and all that we love.
Being in the weather may take some acclimatizing. We've enjoyed beautiful sun and heat and only last night got to experience amazing thunder showers over the ocean.

In so many ways, we feel like this has been the best vacation we have ever been on. Yet in other ways, we know it has opened the door to a new way to travel and there will be new different experiences that we are looking forward to having.
More than anything, we truly appreciate the country we live in and the lives we enjoy. This experience has opened our eyes to the blessings that we are showered with. We've met interesting people and heard wide ranges of stories. It may take some time to reflect and get 'the scrapbook' together. There is no doubt that the Transkei region of South Africa is one of the most beautiful regions in the world and we came to appreciate the beauty of the people who wear their dignity after so many decades of oppression. Sadly, we fear for the peace of the region. As electricity brings media and the fantasy of hollywood, the unrest will grow and it is not likely that the experience that travellers have these years will last too many.

So if you were ever thinking of doing this trip....DO IT NOW. We'd love to share our tips with you.

Posted by travelDIAS 22:46 Comments (0)

wrapping up CoffeeBay

Today we are taking our last visit to the Beach at CoffeeBay. Fernando willbe happy to say goodbye tothe bull who wants to nudge himinto thefence on our walk there.
We had discovered a lovely rock outcrop that has the most amzaing salt water aquarium pools during low tide. Mussels abound and the locals fish off the rocks. There are caves with great rock formations and goats look down from vertical cliffs above. There are also, get this, gladiolas in full bloom snuggled into the sheer cliffs. I am in awe.

Coffee Bay is a very laid back place full of international hikers and travellers. We met people from Austria, Hungary, UK, Germany, and many young Africaans who are being encouraged to explore their entire country and know the people that they would normally be so locked in from in the larger cities. Their attitude is refreshing from the old school prejudice found in the richer white established crowds.

We will be taking a shuttle to Mthyata then we get to wait and see when the Greyhound passes through to catch a ride to East London and our final real stop in Africa.

Certainly a trip full of awesome memories and one we will NEVER forget. I know we wouldLOVE to return here because there is so much we have yet to see and do. Sadly, reality reminds us that this is probably our only trip here. Our next step will be to sort through 3,000 photos once we get home.

Fernando is definitely ready to return and it making mental lists of all the routine things that he will do once he returns. He misses his truck and has some new CDs to accompany his drive into town. We are talking about the kids and even the dog. This must be our time limit to be away.

Posted by travelDIAS 22:01 Comments (0)

Eating Well in SA

Food in the villages consists of a variety of vegetables and fish.
Potatoes and onions are common. Garlic is totally lacking and people
offer a Caesar salad but have no clue how to make- sometimes offering
a sweet creamy sauce. ick
We have eaten lots of crayfish (lobster), codfish for breakfast, and
chicken done in a curried fashion.
I am amazed at how tasty pumpkin leaves boiled can be.
Beer is the most plentiful and safest drink to consume.
Fernando is regularly trying to balance his beer intake and risking
the water that is offered. I am quite okay with taking in the beer as
a conservative and public health wary alternative. I am not one to
risk my health in this manner.
At the back packers, we ate squash soup and , get this, hamburgers, last nght. It was a bit of a surprise. Not bad. Certainly not A&W.
In the cities, KFC is found as often as Tims in Thunder Bay. Nandos is
also a popular chicken spot. We once saw the golden arches but itis
not as common as expected.
Filtered coffee is rare and expensive. Mostdrink instant and it is
considered acceptabe even in the five star areas to offer.
Vegetarianism is very common and very catered to. Salt is not used in
the same fashion as we in NA and we have found ourselved liberally
applying. We realize that we probably need to be more aware ofour
intake. As a person who needs t wath salt intake, this has been a
real eye opener.
Fernando trried to buy a watermelon he say being loaded from a truck.
But they sell nly by the slice. He is disappointed by the lack of
fruit. We purchased 5 small withered appled for 2 rand a piece at the
local market. They have nothing else t offer.
We are typing on an old keyboard whose keys stick and I refuse to go
back and correct the typos. Icost 40 Rand an hour and is very slow
thus , wyou will have to figure out the words.
tonight, we have decided to go to a local cafe to find out what their
version of a pizza is like

Posted by travelDIAS 05:46 Comments (0)

Driving on the Wild Coast

We have arranged with a local man to transport us in his backie (covered back small truck) to the tar road.
From there we take a mini taxi up inland to Mthathya. Then catch a shuttle back down to the coast at Coffee Bay.
The road is full of HUGE erosion craters. A four wheel drive would hae a hard time. Cows, goats and donkeys take precedence.
Others who are walking point their finger down to see if they can catch a ride.
Fernando and I share the front seat with our driver - we all jostle each other while this guy drives like he is in a car rally.

Driving in this area is quite unique.
Take two lanes - one in each direction. In our lane is one car driving on the shoulder. Next vehicle nestled snuggling thin this vehcles blind spot. Straddling both lanes is the third vehicle who thinks he is passing, but generally doesn't do much more than inch up.
Add some cows, goats and the occaisional donkey who wont move. The scene looks like a herd of cattle moving forward.
Kick in some pot holes the size of sink holes and watch the movement back and forth down the road.
When one direction herd meets another herd of vehicles coming from the other direction, they all slow down. But the cars weave
between each other instead of keeping to their side of the road.
I have no pictures. I spent most of the ride with my head buried in the 'ready to crash' position.

Posted by travelDIAS 23:21 Comments (0)

Day Two Mpala Village

Started early with the heat coming up fast.
More hills, more valleys. "If you want to go down you must go up" - Aug!
The views are stunning, the terrain is so unspoiled. Long beaches of perfect sand, mussels and surf llike I have never seen in my life.
We're are disappointed in the promised water supply...villages have community taps of purified water, but the taps are dry.
local spaza only have beer and cocacola. Our supply of water runs low and we turn to coke. ick!
I'm having trouble getting my heart rate to come down. potsi has be grabbing my pack for the uphills and Fernando is looking at me with great concern.
My muscles are fine. Those hours of lunges and squats in boot camp all fall have served me well. But you can't fight genetics.
At one hill I sit and realize that I have broken into a cold sweat, feel lightheaded and am beginning to feel tingling in my hands.
On the last hill I realize that we need to seriously discuss my ability to continue under these condituion,

After the next hill, blessed shade and breezes. At the bottom, a river waits to cool us. I sit under a tree in the shade and don't even mind sharing the spot with a cow pie. It is simply the way that it is here.

Our host Christina greets us with a hot cup of tea and home made bread baked in an iron kettle over a fire. A donkey shower consists of a bucket with an on off shower head tap and a rope to hoist it up.. The toilet looks real other than the bucket that you use to open a trap for a direct hole into a outhouse pit. Practiclally five star!

I dropped my camera earlier today and now it looks like all our shots are over exposed. Great Disappointment.

Fresh crayfish and pumpkin greets with a cornmeal hash for supper. Delicious! Christina brings a gift of almost ripe tomato from her garden. Awesome. Her garden is immaculate, corn, pumpkins, chili peppers, marijuana, tomatoes. All happy and healthy. Many of the villiagers grow and fully consume such gardens.

Christina's rondeval is special in that the floor is coated in cow dung. This is a nicer smell than the dirt/dust of the previous one. The floor is sealed by a regular water wash. Now I know why hikers wear kerchief around their neck. A vital part of the wardrobe.

Internet data upload is vey slow, so I'll add a few pics in a separate post.

Posted by travelDIAS 22:56 Comments (0)

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