Thursday, March 29, 2007
We just chilled out for the day, had a couple of beers and read a bit. Went for a walk to the “wreck” site on the other side of the river. The wreck is supposed to be that of another ship that went down a couple of hundred years ago, but from which pieces of pottery and artefacts are still being washed up on the beach along here. I believe it was called Espirito, but that’s as much as I was told by the locals. All along that stretch of the beach you can see holes at the grass edge where locals have dug into the sand looking for bits and pieces from the wreck. Needless to say, we didn’t find anything…I reckon after 300-odd years, there’s not much left, though reports of locals trying to sell pieces of china are still commonplace.
In the afternoon, we packed up most of the stuff we didn’t need overnight to prepare meals or otherwise, as we were leaving early Friday morning for the trip home. Can’t believe it’s almost two weeks that we’ve been here. Tempus Fugit…
Up at 06h00 to finish off the packing, a quick cup of coffee, check the tyres on the caravan, and we’re on the road. We had left later than expected as we were expecting to give one of the Parks Board “wekkas” a lift into
It took us almost an hour to get back to the main tarred road, as the short (14km) dirt road was in such bad condition that we were down to a crawl at some places. Once there though, we had a smooth drive back to the N2 highway and via
The drive was very pleasant except for the headwind we had to drive into, which slowed us up a bit and chewed even more diesel than on the way down.
Once back in Gariep, we set up the caravan for the night, sat down with a drink and eavesdropped on the guys in the caravan in front of us. The old geezer looked like he was having a good old perv at Steph in her summer dress. When I commented on it, she said she’d noticed it as well and when I raised my voice to indicate that we’d seen him, it stopped…old fucker.
At around , a rowdy bunch of blokes from Vodacom (I assume they were from there, cos one of them was driving a Vodacom truck) pulled up in the large empty grassy area next to our site and promptly started to inflate a hot air balloon. It was going really well until a storm started picking up and the balloon, now almost fully inflated, started blowing in the opposite direction from what it was being held down in, almost dragging a couple of the guys holding the tethers with it. Needless to say, they sat down and waited for a while to see if the wind would die down, but it didn’t and they packed it away as fast as they had unpacked it earlier. They then disappeared to their chalet, 100m or so from the campsite, where they ended up having a piss-up and playing songs like Max’s favourite “Generaal de la Rey”.
The rest of the evening went off nice and quiet and we ended up going to bed early as we had another early rise and 650km to do the following day.
Up at 05h50, not of our own volition, I must add. Those bastards from Vodacom were back with their balloon, and we were rudely woken by their fans blowing air into the balloon so that they could get it airborne in the still morning air.
They woke the entire camp up with the racket they were making and there were a few un-happy campers, I can tell you. I felt like going over and slicing the side of the fuckin’ thing open with my bait knife just to show my irritation with the whole episode. It must have taken them a good 25 minutes to get it blown up, heated and airborne, then the support crew jumped back on the Vodacom truck and went hairing off after the balloon which seemed to be drifting off in the opposite direction as what they’d expected it to. I hope the fuckin’ thing hit a mountain…
Anyway, we needed an early rise, so perhaps it was all for the bigger good that we were woken by the hot air-fuckwits. After a quick cup of coffee and a biscuit, we headed out on the highway, anticipation at getting home evident in both of us, but especially in Steph who wanted to get home to see her (our) doggies.
We stopped off at a roadhouse just outside Bloemfontein for brunch and, it being the weekend of the Super 14 rugby clash between locals Free State Cheetahs (from Bloem) and The Sharks, my team from Durban, I felt it necessary to have on my Sharks t-shirt for the occasion. It was like sitting in a Dutch restaurant on Queen’s Day in
We got home around 15h30, unpacked most of the stuff out of the truck and the caravan, in time to chill out with a cold beer and watch the aforementioned rugby match.
In conclusion: As good as it is to get away for a while, you get to a stage where you want to get home to familiar surroundings, people, animals, your own bed, boys toys, and so on, and we’d been away for just under two weeks (myself for just under three, if you take Kosi Bay into consideration). Caravanning is fun, but I was getting tired of cramped sleeping space and not being able to dive into our 250l fridge at home instead of the two 40l fridges we had with us. Also, I was missing my usual TV programming and the sport that is broadcast on the weekends. Sad, huh?
It was a great holiday, and I still had a fourth week at home to do some stuff around the house and chill out in comfortable surroundings (all that was missing was the ocean).
Thursday 29th March, I've been back at work for just under two weeks and it was amazing how, last week, just 6hrs back in the office and 704 emails can fuck up all the good that four weeks holiday had done for me…it really is time to get out of this fuckin’ rat race…
Monday, March 26, 2007
We drove through to East London for me to buy a new rod as I would go stir crazy if I had to sit on the beach for the rest of the week. In the end, it cost just over R1,000 for the rod and some sinkers and we did some shopping for basic groceries. When we arrived back at camp, we found it had half-filled with locals breaking away for the weekend, mostly from East London.
Directly in front of us were six Kiwi’s and an Irish lass from Omagh, as we found out later. A helluva storm broke out just after 16h00 and the group were sitting on the grass with nothing more than umbrellas as protection. I was quite happy to bring my camping chair into the caravan tent and watch them with some amusement while drinking beer and listening ot the Sharks playing rugby on the radio, but Steph told me to go and call them into our tent. Just in time, cos then the heavens opened up and it pissed down for five solid hours, lightning and thunder kept coming around and fading away again. The same storm must have passed over a half dozen times. Turns out that the group are all volunteers from the NZ Govt International Aid organisation, in various roles from accountant, to engineer, tourism specialist and nurse (in charge of 90 HIV+ kids) and all have travelled extensively. From the names I can remember, there was Dave (Kiwi, bookkeeper) and Sharon (Irish, tourism specialist) are married to each other, Jan (nurse, in charge of HIV+ kids – SA Govt only licences her care centre for 50 kids and she currently has 90 under her care, as the Govt keeps sending her more kids with no more resources), grizzly Ian (not sure what he does), Lindsay (engineer who apparently almost single-handedly built a community centre, only for the locals to trash it for the construction materials to be used on their little shacks, and apparently he would give you the shirt off his back), Polly (teacher, also spent a lot of time in Vietnam), and Bess (not sure what she does, only been in SA for a week).
All told, a wonderful bunch of people. We shared a few beers and a few bottles of wine and some snacks, had some great laughs and ended up being invited to stay with each of them in turn when they get back to NZ in 2yrs time. The funniest part of the evening (sorry it has to be at Bess’ expense) was when the rain had abated a little and the Kiwi’s decided they wanted to go and braai some steaks. I walked down to their fire and turned around just in time to see Bess sliding down the embankment on her arse. When I asked if she was okay, she got up and made the slide look almost intentional, walked on to her pup tent and undid the front zip looking for her headlamp. I was shining mine in the doorway to assist with some light and Bess, one hand on the umbrella and the other groping around on the floor in the near dark, ended up falling head over heels into the tent almost causing it to collapse completely. That one, she couldn’t make look like it was intentional and again I had to ask her if she was okay. Whether it was an accident, or the wine had started taking its grip, I’ll never know but I had to stop myself from laughing, though I think Bess would have found it funny too if I’d burst out.
We retired at around 22h30, Steph and I to the comfortable caravan bed, and the Kiwi’s to their pup tents.
Thursday, March 22, 2007
Up before the sparrow fart, at 05h00. On the road at 06h15 missing the Monday morning traffic into the office (waves and laughter as we pass the lemmings). The 650km drive to Gariep Dam for our overnight stop went off uneventfully, having arrived about 13h30, due to a tailwind the entire way. We set up camp, chilled out for a while with a drink, then went for a sundowner drive around the area. The dam wall is an amazing sight form the bottom, as all dam walls are. On the way back to the camp I heard a rattle under the car and, upon investigation, found a stripped sump cover bolt but couldn’t fix cos I didn’t have a spare. The rest of the evening was nice and quiet with only the sound of the frogs in the dam making any significant noise.
Up “early” and out of camp by 09h00. Most of the other overnighters left before we even got up, poor buggers probably couldn’t sleep. Travelling via Venterstad, we stopped off for breakfast at a little place called Steynsburg. A strange little place, as the cemetery appears to be as big as the entire town. Stopped off in Queenstown for the sump cover bolt but was disappointed by the Ford agent (don’t keep stock of those…go figure). Back on the road, it took almost as long to do the rest of the nearly 500km from Gariep to Morgan’s Bay as it did to do the first leg due to the layout of the terrain, with hills and mountains to be contended with. We arrived in Morgan’s Bay at around 16h00, took one look at the “idyllic” image portrayed by the photo, saw how crowded it was with a school trip that was “arranged annually, but we never know when they’re actually going to be here” and decided fuck that. I want peace and quiet and there’ll definitely be none of that in that camp. I also got pissed off that I’d been lied to about the road “being tarred all the way” due to last 10km on grooved dirt road, so we got our deposit back and headed to Double Mouth Nature Reserve, the camp site of our first trip to the area just outside Morgan’s Bay.
Believe it or not, we are the only ones in the camp. By the time we’d finished setting up camp, it was nearly dark and we sat down with a drink and had a braai. It’s so peaceful here it’s hard to imagine what the other campsite must be like with all those rugrats running amok through it. Apparently there’s also a bit of petty theft going on in that camp, but whether it’s from the locals or the campers, no-one is sure.
Up early-ish, not sure of the time but with a cup of coffee in hand, stand admiring the sea view we have from the tent. Another visitor from Joburg and fisherman, John, walks past and introduces himself and tells me of some of the spots to fish. He comes down here regularly, as he and his wife are retired and they spend sometimes up to eight weeks in the farmhouse just outside the caravan park…lucky bastard. We spend some tine reading and in the early afternoon, I decide to go and wet some fishing line, but don’t have any luck catching anything. Just plenty of rocks, on which I lose a lot of tackle. By late afternoon, I give it up and head back to the comfort of my camp chair and a cold beer…ah, the life.
Up at 04h50 to go fishing with John but he didn’t arrive by 05h30 as he said he would. At 06h00, I left for the rocks he said he was going to, waded through the river, and found him already there – said he’d left at 05h10 instead. The bastard had ignored our caravan lights that I’d put on to let him know I was up. He left the fishing spot early, I hung around a bit, got a couple of small bites but nothing promising. In the afternoon, we drove through to Kei Mouth (mouth of the Kei River) to buy some groceries (bread, fire lighters, ice) and ended up taking the friendly park warden along, Lorraine, who also wanted some stuff and draw some money from the ATM (why she needed money out here, I have no idea – there’s literally fuckall to spend it on). We came back to camp through Morgan’s Bay and stopped at the hotel for some lunch (munchies basket – wedges, samoosas, spring rolls, chicken cheese nuggets, sauces, all for R40, bargain). Back to camp to finish “Life on Planet Rock” but more about that later, and start “The
There’s even a memorial to the survivors in Kei Mouth town centre and a cache of diamonds (believed to belong to one of the civilians on the Grosvenor, William Hosea, a dubious character who was trying to get out of India due to some disreputable dealings) was found just on the other side of the Kei river in 1927 by a hermit-type German fellow who, realising what they were, registered a claim but the SA Police came in and arrested him for supposedly planting raw stones to claim them as harvested, chiefly because there was 1,038 stones. At the court case he explained how he’d found them about a foot underground on a cattle path but they didn’t believe him and he spent 3yrs in hard labour. When he eventually got out, he died shortly after before forensic evidence could prove that the diamonds could not have originated there as they were alluvials and the closest alluvial field was in
Anyway, it appears that three of the white ladies survived the splintering of the groups (the Captain, Coxon, actually abandoned them with their menfolk) and after a while were absorbed into the local Pondo tribes, where they were taken by princes as wives and bore children to them. Some of the locals, apparently, still have European features but I can’t say I’ve looked close enough to say “ok, your great, great granny was on the Grosvenor, did you know that?” One of the ladies was apparently so respected by the tribes that they tried to emulate her behaviour and looks.