Saturday, August 28, 2010

Coffee Bay the closest I got to paradise yet!

On arriving at the Wild Coast it was immediately apparent that this was different to all the places I had been so far. The main road passing through this region is inland and it was in this area that a young Nelson Mandela was born and spent his childhood. The land was dry as we drove through (most of the rain comes in summer here) and most of the buildings were now round thatched huts made with clay bricks. The bus dropped us off at Mthatha where we got the shuttle bus down to Coffee Bay. It was about another two hours before we got to the coast and were dropped off near the backpackers.

There are two hostels on either side of the track down to the river and this was where I met the most people. Bomvu (where I stayed) was a nice quiet place so I got to know all the people working there during my stay as well as a few regulars who were around. The Coffee Shack was more the party place it seemed with a fair few young backpackers there and a couple of the local tour guides who kept the party going. The pool table there was free and a fair few evenings were spent trying to empty their well stocked beer supply!

The next morning I found the local shop and got my onion, tomatoes and a kilo of rice. There didnt seem to be much else of interest so happy with my harvest I went off to explore my surroundings. On the way down to the river I spotted Amber - one of the Bomvu dogs - she wouldnt come back but kept looking at me and then towards the rocky beach. I followed her past it, down a path and then over a small hill to see the proper bay, a deserted sandy beach protected on each side by outcrops of black rock. . Good dog!

Over the next few days I met quite a few locals who spoke very good English. Sipo was a 19 year old lad who guided me around some of the local area (I cant really call it a village as there are round houses every hundred metres or so for as far as the eye can see) and took me down to some sacred rock pools hidden away in a small forested area between two hills. Apparently the Sangoma (witch doctor/shaman) do their rituals there sometimes and you could imagine it easily with the utter silence there only broken by the odd bird.

Another guy I met explained a lot about how life worked for people there was Tokosa, a night watchman for Bomvu who had previously been a tour guide hiking up and down the coast to Port St Johns. He was from Mpande which is just up the coast. On the third day there I went with him to the Shebeen where locals get their booze. I tried some Ijuba, fermented god knows what, that they get in what looks like a milk carton. Not to my taste but I would say it is probably about as strong as wine.

That day I also had one of my high points when I stumbled across a small shop which had a freezer and in it. . .some mincemeat! No idea what animal it was and I guess I didnt care - It was time to put the curry powder to good use! That night we ate well and I got to know some of the guys staying there a little better. John had been a lawyer who jacked it in 14 years ago to travel Africa and never stopped. Amanda was an ex horse showjumper with some vet experience, who cycled the length and breadth of South Africa and did odd jobs for the animals of people she met around. Anneka had been at Bomvu a few weeks and was helping paint some parts that were being renovated.
There were two guys working the bar and doing surf lessons locally, slightly mad Afrikaaners enjoying life to the full while they could!

That evening it poured with rain which was good of course as it replenished the water storage of each house but the power in the bar kept shorting out so we closed up early and I popped over to Coffee Shack for a few games with my now regular pool partner John, one of the local guys who had formed a decent team with me. The table was old and the pool cues a mess which led to some very funny games. Easy straight shots would go horribly wrong yet bouncing a ball off two cushions seemed to work fine remarkably often! Strange moment of the night went to the two guys from Capetown who came in with some very nice pool cues and challenged a couple of the local guys to a game. They seemed to take it way more seriously than was necessary and promptly lost after some seriously bad play. They then packed away the nice cues and left without having a drink leaving a few of us scratching our heads.

Eventually I did get itchy feet as I wanted to get used to the local transport more before hitting Zimbabwe after having the luxury of the bazbus. I got a local minivan taxi to Mthatha Shell Ultra City (its just a petrol station, awww. . ) and that was awesome fun. What side of the road did he drive on? The one with less holes of course! As he drove past buildings the drive would whistle and honk stopping every now and then to drop people off or pick up some more and at one point it felt like we were racing another Minivan! This trip was faster than the incoming one and soon I was at the Shell waiting for my bus to Durban (120 Rand by the way - that's about eleven Pounds). On to the cities - bleeurgh ;P

1 comment:

  1. Excellent read dude and loved the part about the dog :)