Away with the fairies

Trip Start Jul 19, 2009
Trip End Oct 25, 2010

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Where I stayed
away with the fairies

Flag of South Africa  , Eastern Cape,
Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Hogsback. Without doubt a beautiful part of the country and many have spurred me on to visit it. And here I am, and to my surprise the moment I arrived I knew it was not the place for me. I can't fault its loveliness, the mountains and hills, the forests and streams, it is, as everyone assured me, nature at its best, tranquil and pure. But it doesn't charm me as I know it should and before even giving it a chance I decide to leave as soon as possible.
I arrived yesterday after a funny journey, the bus driver failed to alert me we were at Alice, from where you must take a taxi to Hogsback, and I wasn't paying attention until I noticed a sign saying Alice 20 kilometers back. The driver had no idea how to handle the situation and just stood there by the side of the road, shaking his head. Eventually he flagged a car down that took me back and so I could continue on.
 The backpackers is a pretty place, with rather an English feeling, you expect tea and scones to be served any minute, but there is actually nothing going on, nobody around at daytime, people come to hike, nobody around at night time, the bar is empty, early nights, early starts.
 Serious hiking stuff.
The village is pretty too, but every coffee shop, restaurant or arts & crafts shop promotes the fairy business as it is believed that Tolkien found inspiration for his tales here. The place I am staying at it called Away with the Fairies, but I'm afraid it doesn't live up to any expectations that name might carry. Unless it's the liveliness that took off.
I walked around the woods this morning, 2 probably perfectly innocent men followed me, but I picked up a stone just to be on the safe side - what good was that going to do me though? As if I could bash someones head in, but that's what my sister Patsy taught me. 
I had put my name down for a mountain biking trip this afternoon, starting at 3 pm, lasting 4 hours. Good, I needed some exercise and love cycling and surely I would get a more favorable impression of the place.I was really looking forward to the tour but the guide came and told me my bike was broken, and unfortunately I couldn't join. Damn, there goes my afternoon.
What to do? I asked about guided hikes, as I tend to get lost by myself, no, I get lost per definition, but there were none. Used to be, but...... 
 Suddenly I remember the bath. On arrival the manageress walked me to the view point and a little further on, wedged between some rocks, as if about to topple over the cliff, was a bath tub. It was bizarre.
  She smiled at my reaction. 
'If you like you can take a bath here, really, though not many do.' 
I loved the extraordinary mind of whoever had placed the thing here, fancy that, having a bath on the very edge of the mountain, overlooking the valley and the hogsback peaks.
So that was what I was going to do. 
 First I had to scoop out the spiders and ants, the leaves and dirt that covered the bottom.
 It was exciting to step in, wobbly, you fear your weight might just tip the scales, but oh, it was an absolutely marvelous experience. I had come prepared, book, cigarettes and whiskey and it was as if I was on top of the world, free as can be, naked, the sun on my back, the water cool - what more can you wish for, tell me, for I don't know.
We search for the most beautiful places in the world, and on to the next, better than the last, but happiness you can not plan, it can be anywhere that you suddenly realise you are happy - even in a mucky bath tub hanging off a cliff, in a place that didn't really seem that promising.
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jonmcconn on

So are you staying on to enjoy it a little longer? Whatever you do, don't fall prey to the guys who sell the clay horses. They're expensive and it'll break before you look again. Problem is they'll probably pester the life out of you until you succumb as a million have before you. Just say an emphatic no and avoid eye contact cos once you get into a discussion you're lost. I have some friends there who I think you'll really like. Could put you in touch if you want me to. The musician is unfortunately elsewhere touring and only gets back in July.

Patsy on

nice to hear you listen to my advice now and then.
now about bathing outdoors on the edge on a mountainside...

mieke on

it reminds me of Ireland when Patsy and me did exactly the same thing, bathing in an old bath used for the horses to drink out of. It was in a very green meadow surounded by ferns and it was cold and misty. Indeed an exhilarating experience!

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