Biltong, braii and PIE (South Africa...again)

Trip Start Feb 18, 2004
Trip End Dec 05, 2005

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Wednesday, February 2, 2005

We left Jo'burg just a little after midnight for the drive to Cape Town. It took over 20 hours. Claire sat up front with Bernie and chatted with him to help keep him awake during the night. Johan slept stretched out on the back seat while Euna and I tried to get some sleep in the middle of the truck (I didn't sleep much). We stopped occassionally for food and the restroom, and Johan took over driving now and then so Bernie could rest. We made it to our hostel in Cape Town a bit after 10pm and pretty much just crashed.

The next day (Jan 14) was Claire's birthday so of course we had to go out and celebrate. During the day, the girls went to Robben Island while I went around the Green Point / Sea Point area. I got a cake and some wine for Claire that we enjoyed that evening while getting ready. The night started with dinner at a Caribbean restaurant. The food was good but we ended up stuffed. On to a couple bars at one of which the girls spotted Will Young!!! Ya, I didn't have a clue who he was. Apparently he won UK Pop Idol and they were very excited to see him. Club options were limited along Long St, and we went to Club 169 that played mostly hip-hop...wouldn't have been my first pick but it wasn't my birthday. A bit crowded and kind of a meat-market, but really wasn't so bad. We danced away 'til around 3am before returning to the hostel. The bar at the hostel was still open so we had another drink there...though we were really tired and had a hard time finishing.
Unfortunately, I didn't get to sleep in the next morning as a freakin' car alarm was continuously going off. Ugh. We went for a buffet lunch at a Mexican restaurant (I was near falling asleep on the table) then down to the waterfront. That evening we caught a taxi out to Bloubergstrand for a picnic dinner and to watch the sunset (good view of Table Mt from here). Had an early night to bed.

Sunday we were up early to go on a township tour. They took us to several of the townships in the northern suburbs of Cape Town. The day prior there was a fire in which thousands of people lost their homes. We saw a bit of that plus visited a school, apartments, shebeen (tavern) and ended at a church service. The church service was very lively with lots of singing. Most the places we went to seemed too much like they were expecting us [on the tourist trail]. I would've preferred to actually be out wandering around [instead of driving] and see how the people really live. That afternoon we took the cablecar up to the top of Table Mountain. Hiked around up there for quite a while getting in some good views. Back to the hostel to cook dinner and enjoy another mellow evening.

Euna was foolish/crazy/unwise enough to come along with me for the next couple days while Claire stayed in Cape Town to try and meet up with a friend. We caught the BazBus then a shuttle out to Stellenbosch in the wine region. I went for a quick haircut then we went on a wine tour. There was a talktative South African guy and six Irish on the tour with us. The first stop was the Delaire winery where we got a very brief tour and synopsis of how to make wine before sitting down to sample some. The white wines were alright, but I really don't care for red wines too much. Next stop was Boschendal for more wine tasting then lunch. After lunch we went to Fairview winery, home of many goats. We got to sample wine and cheese there. They have a funny story of the French winemakers trying to ban their "Goats Do Roam" brand because it sounds too much like "Cotes du Rhone". The last winery we visited was Simonsig. By this time, George (one of the Irish) was quite loopy. I think the rest of us had been going kind of slow on the wine consumption. Back to the hostel for a nap then Euna and I went out to dinner with the Irish that evening.

Another early morning to catch the shuttle and BazBus. Quite a long ride up the coast to Wilderness...didn't get there 'til like 4pm. We got a nice room overlooking the ocean. Went for a walk on the beach then into the tiny town for some groceries to cook dinner. Had a nice evening just chatting with Euna in the room. The weather wasn't so great in the morning (cloudy/misty) so we just wandered a bit and packed up stuff to ship home.

Caught the BazBus again in the afternoon and met back up with Claire. We exchanged stories of the last couple days on our ride north to Plettenberg Bay. Had a wander through town a bit after we arrived, cooked dinner and had an early evening to bed.
Another cloudy day on the beach. :( Mostly just did stuff around town. There's a really good pie shop (mostly meat pies) next to the hostel so I had a few of those during the day. In the evening, we had dinner and sat around chatting over a few drinks.
A little bit of sun today (Jan 21). We played some beach ball in front of the post office (got a free beach ball with sunscreen). The girls went in for a spa treatment afternoon so I went to a beach viewpoint and hung out. Met back up with them for some pie and ice cream.

BazBus from Plett Bay to Storms River that evening. We got a self-service cottage at the hostel there thinking it would include a kitchen, but it didn't. Wasn't too big a deal - we just cooked in the hostel kitchen. Ate and watched some tv. The Irish (from Stellenbosch) showed up so we chatted with them a while. Eventually E! channel on for a while and I feel like I'm going to go crazy (I swear that channel destroys brain cells) so go back to cottage and play card games with Claire and Euna. Claire wasn't a nice "president" - she kept making me and Euna drink a lot. I eventually didn't feel like I could have any more and Euna passed out so that was the end of the game (and the night).
Slept in a while then nibbled some breakfast. Euna was determined to do the world's highest bungy (216m) nearby so we caught a lift out there. Claire and I couldn't be talked into it. For me it was the combo of being cheap, chicken and a bit hungover. Claire and I went out to the bridge with Euna to support her jump (and get pictures). She was very brave and didn't show any signs of panic...'til she jumped, then it was just a couple little screams. Back to the hostel for naptime and later dinner. Just an evening chilling out as we're still not recovered from the night before.
The next morning I had to say goodbye to Euna and Claire since they were catching the BazBus back to Cape Town. Very sad to see them go...they were my favorites from the tour. After having been on the overland tour the last month and then along the coast with the girls, it's been a very long time since I've had to travel alone. It's definately much better having companions to share the experiences with. Soon after they left, I got a lift out to Tsitsikamma National Park and hiked around there for a while seeing some pretty coastline, forest and waterfalls. In the evening I caught the BazBus to Port Elizabeth and met up with the Irish again. All around in South Africa there are various things named after Nelson Mandela. I think every city must have a street named after him; he's also got buildings, parks, monuments, etc... He did a lot for the country, but it seems a bit overboard (e.g., when in one city there's a street, several buildings, monument and airport named after him).

Up early in P.E. to catch the BazBus to East London. I ended up stuck waiting there for a shuttle for 4 hours, though it wasn't so bad since it was nice and sunny and I had a view of the beach. The shuttle to Hogsback eventually got me and we didn't arrive at the hostel there 'til 5:30pm. I immediately went hiking around in the woods, along a creek and to some waterfalls. Very pretty area. The owners of the hostel cooked a really good dinner then some of the hippies staying there started playing drums and guitar and singing REALLY badly so I had to retreat back inside. I discovered a couple friends sharing the dorm room with me - a big freakin' spider and a scorpion. I got the scorpion outside but the spider hid from me. I was a bit paranoid all night.

Got a ride in the shuttle back to East London, waited a short bit then caught the BazBus to Umtata for the shuttle to Coffee Bay (about 8 hours of driving and waiting). Coffee Bay is in an area called The Transkei. It's much more similar to "real" Africa. The people running the hostel in Coffee Bay were cool and friendly. The evening started with sundowners on the cliff overlooking the beaches. Back to the hostel for dinner and hung out with some of the other travelers. Met a guy from Texas who doesn't like George Bush!
Next day just alright for weather. I hung out on the beach reading and listening to music. In the afternoon I went for a swim and met up with some of the people from the previous night. Back to hostel for dinner and hanging out again. Met an older guy from Portland. His girlfriend was almost insulting in her stupidity.

After hanging out by the beach for a bit, caught the shuttle to Umtata and then the BazBus to Durban. Very long drive there. Arrived at hostel around 10:30pm, dumped my bags and chilled out in front of the tv for a while.
Lovely day so I spent it hanging out in the sunshine - in the hammock by the hostel and down by the beach.

Late in the afternoon (Jan 28) I got a shuttle to Durban airport and a flight to Jo'burg. The people next to me were very talkative and friendly and made the flight go quick. Melanie and Adèl (see Scotland entry) picked me up at the airport. It's nice to see them again after almost a year. We went out to an area in Pretoria called Hatfield for a couple drinks and food.
Melanie drove us out to Sun City on Saturday. We wandered around and saw the cool landscaping (waterfalls, trails) and buildings before going to the Valley of Waves waterpark. We went on tube rides and I did the Temple of Courage (steep drop slide). There's a big wave pool there too that will make a big wave now and then. We hung out there all afternoon. Drive back to Pretoria, have some dinner and chillout for the evening.

Sunday we went on a bit of a tour of Pretoria. Melanie took us to the Union Buildings (gov't bldgs) and the Voortrekker Monument. That monument commemorates the early Dutch pioneers who left the Cape area to settle inland. After that was a picnic lunch in the park. At the local Spar supermarket I got to realize my dream of riding a giraffe - to all those that laughed at my dream, I say "HA! Who's laughing now!?!"

In the evening, I went to church with Melanie and Adèl. It's all in Afrikans so I had to have little translator earphones.
The next few days were spent chillin' out, updating this entry, saw a movie and went for a wander in a nature reserve. Ate lots of pies too! Oh, and Spanky got his nappie washed.

I've found the British influence may be getting to me - I've been saying "to-mah-to", "zeh-bra", reckon', and tend to eat with my fork in my left hand and knife in right. If I start eating Vegemite after being in Australia, then I'll know I'm in trouble.

As far as travel experiences go, Africa has had more affect on me than any place I've ever been before. The living conditions and way of life are just so different from home. I hope I don't forget how the people there live so I won't take all the advantages and things I have for granted. Everyday things for us like running water, electricity, washing machines, food, medicine, being able to go out at night, etc... I really think the western world should be doing a hell of a lot more to help out the countries in Africa instead of wasting money on wars and the like. But the African countries need to do a lot to straighten themselves out too (removing corruption, allowing aid to be distributed, educating their people). The people in every country I went to were so friendly - it just doesn't seem fair that they're stuck in a system that gives them no breaks.

Africa was definately cool and a major highlight of this trip, but I am looking forward to moving on to Sydney. I have several friends in Australia so it'll be nice to put the traveling thing on hold a bit and just hang out with them.
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