Cape St. Francis: Musseling and Surfing included!

Trip Start Aug 28, 2012
Trip End Jun 06, 2013

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Where I stayed
Cameron's Holiday Home

Flag of South Africa  , Eastern Cape,
Monday, November 19, 2012

I had the most enjoyable few days with some friends in Cape St. Francis. Cape St. Francis is a holiday town about an hour and a half from Port Elizabeth. It's right past the city of St. Francis. This town just has one little grocery store, a small café, a surf shop and a gift shop. It reminds me of a little resort really, just with big multi-million dollar homes. Many South Africans and foreigners alike have holiday homes on the beachside city... it’s absolutely gorgeous. I was also surprised to see that around these houses there were no fences and we didn’t put on an alarm system when we went to the beach. Apparently the area is so safe and quiet that it isn’t really necessary. It was weird how nervous I was to not have those things anymore though.

Anyway, I must tell you the breaking news that happened here. The other week in St. Francis, four men were having a braai (a barbeque). The winds had gotten so strong that a spark had carried. Within about four hours 140 of these HUGE homes were burnt down completely (mostly the ones with thatched roofs)!!  We went to go visit one of the days and it was absolutely devastating (pictures below). It felt like a ghost town. What was also weird to see was how one house was completely toast and the one next store was fine. You could just see how the fire spread and jumped over the small canal there. There is a rumor that one of the men went to jail for using the wrong wood and being inconsiderate of the weather conditions, but I don’t know how reliable that is. I just can’t imagine how sick to their stomachs they must feel. Poor guys.

 This is also a good time for me to mention that there are not fire hydrants on each street in South Africa. Not to mention that the government does not upkeep the fire trucks. The closest fire station was a half hour away with only one truck. The rest were further away and one truck had a popped tire so it couldn’t get there in time. No upkeep whatsoever. All South Africans were fuming mad it wasn’t controlled faster, especially with  an ocean and canal right there, there has to be a way to pump water faster. Wow, poor families. Can you imagine being overseas and getting a call around holiday time that your house is completely gone? Woofta.

Back to my weekend though, it was wonderful. The first day we walked on the red gravel road to the rocky shore of Cape St. Francis. While there, my friends Steve and Cam fished, while Tess showed me around the tidal pools. It was SO COOL seeing some little fish, feeding them crushed snails, touching sea urchins, and… learning to MUSSLE! Haha. My friends told me all about how when they were little, their parents would take them here and they’d sit all day in the pools; I can definitely see why. The "sand" in Cape St. Francis was completely made of crushed shells. Although a bit rough to walk on, it was neat to sift through and see all the colorful pieces.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     After sitting around, Tess showed me the art of  Musseling. She bought a license in the morning for R80 (less than $10) which allows her to collect mussles for one year, up to 80 each time. And so our exploring began. We waited til low tide and then jumped from rock to rock looking for large mussels. I tried stepping on the algae growing on the rocks as some were so sharp. My feet definitely got tough this weekend after walking on gravel roads, rough sand, and sharp rocks. In the end, we didn’t have much luck finding mussles big in size, but we still took four so she could show me how to cook them. That night we each had one on a piece of toast, a bit of pepper and a slice of tomato. It was SO AMAZING. I hope to go musseling again! Unfortunately a local told us you have to snorkel for the big ones in Cape St. Francis, maybe next time then.

The other day was just relaxing… and much needed relaxing at that. I also went surfing with Leon and Cam. We all caught the same wave together at one point, but I didn’t last so long. Haha. It was so much fun and so peaceful to be out on the ocean. There were a lot of surfers out that first evening. It’s a really cool environment: everyone out on their boards just hanging out and watching for the next wave. I will tell you more about my surfing next, I promise!! 
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