Tuesday, July 26, 2011

May 2011

Beginning of May found me still working at The Rose and Honky Dory. But the end of the Month found me in South Africa traveling with Alanna doing the Garden Route. Alanna had gotten the job with African Impact and was starting on the 28th of May. I arrived a day early and tried checking into the Ashanti lodge where I had stayed last time I was in Capetown. But they were fully booked. They had an Overland leaving from there on monday so I had to find another Backpackers. I found Capetown Backpackers online and checked in there. It wasn't as nice as the Ashanti Lodge but it was comfortable. So they first checked me into a dorm with 5 other people. After spending the last few months with only one other person in the room the thought of having 5 just wasn't a comforting thought. So I was grateful when the receptionist moved me into another Dorm that had no one in it. I talked with Alanna that night. She was at the airport leaving Toronto. I am meeting her at the airport. So I found out the cheapest way to go to the airport is taking the bus so the receptionist gave me directions. I met Alanna at the airport and caught a taxi back to the backpackers. I had changed rooms in the morning so we are staying in an en-suite. We made plans to hike Table Mountain in the morning. We took the Platteklip Gorge route up to the top. It was so much harder than we thought. Met a couple Americans while hiking up from Florida. To show how small the world though is on our way down from Table mountain randomly struck up a conversation with 2 ladies coming up(Mother and Daughter). They happen to be from Toronto. The daughter actually attends the same Uni that Alanna had just been working for. Later that day when looking on Facebook Alanna found out she has mutual friends with the girl. We spent two more days in Capetown one recovering from our hike and the other organizing a car and trying to go to Robin Island. We unfortunately weren't able to get out to the island. That just leaves something to see next time. We over stayed in Capetown so we had a very busy week and a half to get to Durban. We tried going to Cape horn but I got us lost trying to use the maps from the rental agency. I don't feel comfortable driving a manual car. I have done so a few times but nothing more then a 10 minute drive. So for me to drive in a foreign country would have been very interesting. So I did the navigating and Alanna did the driving. I never realized how draining it is to be in the car all day. We were exhausted when we got to Mossel bay. We stayed at Mossel bay Backpackers. We were able to catch the sunset down at the beach and grabbed dinner down at a beach front restaurant. Time was definitely our enemy because we definitely would have liked to stay longer in Mossel bay. It's such a cute beach side town. The next day we decided to go to Oudshoorn for the day and see the Cango wildlife Ranch and the Cango Caves. Unfortunately we only had time to go to the Wildlife park. It was awesome we got to see many of the wildcats of Africa up close. The organization is trying to protect and reintroduce cheetahs back into the wild. So one of their atractions is a cheetah encounter. It wasn't that expensive it was 160R($28). We were able to pet a couple of cheetahs. So the most quotable thing that happened was when Alanna was petting the cheetah she was a little uneasy and said “The cheetah is making noises”. Lol. Yes hun its called purring. We spent the night at wilderness. Yes that is a name of a place. It is exactly what its name suggests. A beautiful destination where the Wilderness park is and the Tsitsikamma mountains. We went on a short hike to a waterfall but we took a detour and ended up not having enough time to get to the waterfall in daylight so we went the next morning. It was a very nice waterfall with a few levels. I went waist deep in the cold water to go take pics of the waterfall close-up. Got some good photos. We left that afternoon and we were going to spend the night in Knysna but we decided to go to Port Elizabeth instead. This way it would shorten our drive to Coffee bay the following day. We knew time was running out. So we had to sacrifice certain things. Which meant the hiking that we were planning on doing we now couldn't. We stayed in the nicest room in the 99 mile Travel Lodge. It was the master bedroom in the house. It had a jacuzzi bath tub and a very spacious room. Amazing wish we could have stayed longer. We had no time to do anything in Port Elizabeth so thats another place I'll have to go back to. The next morning was the most eventfull driving experience(glad I wasn't driving. Haha. Sorry Alanna) Alanna had to avoid cars, people, animals, and potholes. On every stretch we had to avoid something. Alanna did a good job... minus a minor emotional moment. All the places that we visited were recommended by someone. Out of all the places though Coffee bay was hyped up the most which made it the most disappointing. Had a nice time though hanging out with the staff. Very nice couple. One was from the US I believe the other from UK. They manage the Sugar Loaf backpackers. A very comfy place and relaxing beach front area. It's coming down to the end. We only have a few days left. So we decided that since we don't like Coffee bay we will spend an extra day up at the Sani pass. We wanted to visit Lesotho. But from the info that we could gather there aren't any pass' you could take a two wheel drive car. So we decided just to go spend some time in the Drakensburg since that is where we had our first kiss. This time though in the Southern Drakensburg. But first we went to Hogsback. This place is a jewel had an amazing time there. Sad we could only spend a night at the hostel Away with the Fairy's. We stayed in a cute Double called Bilbo. Went and saw some of the waterfalls that are around Hogsback. Only got to see three of them but it was still a good time. Next morning set out for Sani pass on the way we stopped at Qunu the birth place of Nelson Mandela. Very small town with a cute museum celebrating Mandela. I honestly knew nothing about him except for his name when I first visited South Africa last year. Now though I have a great appreciation for the man after reading his biography and hearing about his legacy through the people I have met in Africa. Alanna also schooled me in some of the history of Africa since this is her area of expertize. We arrived at the Sani lodge backpackers in the afternoon and found that they have trips into Lesotho.

We organized a trip for the following morning. This will be my 33rd country visited. We had an amazing dinner of steak, Boerwors, and steamed veggies. So good. Love a good braai. Alanna is a big fan of the Boerwors(I am too of course). The next morning we left early and ascended to the Sani pass with our guide. The Drakensburg is such a beautiful place. We visited a farm where they produce wool from both sheep and goats. Alanna even tried her hand at shearing. It was a cultural tour so we got the history of this area and got to visit a house. Sampled some local bread and beer.

So the people that live at the top, live there seasonaly. The livestock graze up here and they do trading with South African business men. It's a tough life. One that I don't think I could live. The woman we visited was in her thirties and she had several children none of them were with her at the moment. She is living there to sell beer and bread to the locals and local crafts to the tourist. Our last stop before leaving was at the “highest pub in Africa”. It was a cute pub with a million dollar view looking down the valley that the pass is on. Lesotho I definitely want to explore better. It reminded me of the highlands of Argentina and Chile.

We left Sani pass and headed to our final destination of Durban. Called Emil, the photographer I interned with last year, and let him know we were on our way. He told me we might have an interesting/chaotic day in store. His wife Jackie was having contraptions and might be going into labor. Yes this could be an interesting day. When we arrived at the house we were relieved to find out that it was a false alarm. The contraptions had subsided. Though Emil was still amped. Haha. It was a very nice two days catching up with Emil and the family. Getting to see their daughter Michaela who still amazingly remembers me. Alanna and I spent the next day at uShaka aquarium and walking the boardwalk. Durban has a totally different feel then when I was here last. The whole World Cup feel hasn't exactly left. You can still see remnants of things that weren't used up during the event. It just doesn't seem as chaotic as the last time I was here. There are not people on every corner selling flags and last time every thing felt so temporary this time though things felt like life was normal. This was a great way to end our time together. It was a great two weeks and its amazing how fast they went. This was a first for me traveling with a

girlfriend. Can't really do the low budget traveling I had been doing before but it was good. I flew from Durban to Johannesburg. Then got my connection to Sydney. Alanna went to St Lucia to start her job with African Impact. I went back to work at Hunky Dory and The Rose Hotel.


Alanna and I looking out over Capetown.

Evening shot of Capetown from parking lot of Table Mountain.

Alanna getting her feet wet at Mossel Bay.

Alanna and I petting a cheetah at the Cango Wildlife Ranch.

Waterfall in Wilderness (upper)

Waterfall in Wilderness

Alanna sitting on edge of Waterfall at Hogsback.

Morning light at Coffee bay.

Sani pass Drakensberg, Lesotho.

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