Our first stop on our way up the coast was Nature’s valley. It absolutely poured it down and we spent most of our time cowering under a duvet reading books. It’s good to get rid of some of them as they don’t half weigh a bit. All of the rain caused a huge landslide which cut the road and our electricity off. John was happy happy happy. It meant he got to play with his brand new head torch all of the time. We also had a nice log fire and lovely home cooked food. We were the lucky ones, 10 people were killed in the flooding when bridges collapsed and lorries spun off the road in the worst rains that South Africa has had in decades.
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When the rain finally stopped the walking trail we wanted to go on was totally destroyed. The kind family we were staying with drove us around the area to see all of the best bits. It was stunningly beautiful.
Our next destination was quite a way away so we broke the journey up with a day in Port Elizabeth (known as PE locally), it turned out to be rather odd to say the least. We arrived at ‘Backpackers base camp’ to find it was actually just a house full of renting tenants. We were to stay in the landlord’s (Monique’s) bedroom. In there we discovered plastic bats and thigh length platform boots amongst other odds and ends.
Monique appeared to greet us on the first morning by trawling John out of bed to grill him. She talked at him for a good five minutes while he stood freezing in his boxer shorts on the landing. Then it was my turn, she invited herself into the bedroom where I lay naked under the duvet with just my eyes poking out. Monique asks: ‘Do you like motorbikes, I like motorbikes.’ I say ‘..err…not really.’ We are then talked at about motorbikes.
As soon as we were dressed we ended up in the back of her truck being driven around the flood damage with her father. The back is sound proof so her father told us all about Monique’s marital problems. Getting more and more surreal. We were eventually deposited at the snake park in town.
PE itself is surreal too, it has the air of a dilapidated English beach resort in winter except even more dead. The only life was the cheesy eighties music blasting out of the loud speakers of a deserted bar. We looked at snakes and listened to tainted love. Hmm. It was too weird, if John wasn’t there too I’d be convinced I’d dreamt it.
The next day we travelled inland to the magical village of Hogsback, so called because the mountains look just like a wild boar’s back! Cool eh? The weather was good enough for us to hike around with four random dogs following us. We saw enough waterfalls to last anyone an entire lifetime. I’m sure you’ll guess that John took enough waterfall photographs to last several lifetimes, that’s where he’s a hero you see, he’s deleted enough of them to save you all from a waterfall photograph medley so long that it would be likely to slow your pulse to hibernation pace. The dogs certainly raised our pulses though when they all decided to bark a bull into a raging stampede. We climbed a nearby tree.
At Hogsback we had a free upgrade to a little cottage with a real log fire we could make. John likes making fires, he feels very manly. Luckily the electricity was off again so he had to make the fire wearing his new head torch. Such a happy John!!!!
Hogsback was perfect until a couple of members of the staff started making homophobic comments about the owners of our next destination. They tried to recommend somewhere else but we stubbornly refused to change our plans. What made us even more livid was that when we arrived in Port Edward and met the man they were referring to (Micheal) he was one of the nicest people we’ve met on our travels. Micheal’s guest house was very busy and the town was also lovely with whales and dolphins in the bay and vervet monkeys running tight rope style on the telephone wires.
We’re almost up to date! Between Port Edward and Durban John did a couple of dives and I’ve been horse riding. I now understand why John Wayne walks funny, I’ve used muscles I didn’t know existed.
Our backpacker at Durban came with last minute warnings from our bus driver. It was too late in the evening to change our plans so we crossed our fingers instead. When we arrived it was situated in an inner city tower block and had the feel of a cross between an old junior school and a prison. The room didn’t look too bad compared to some of the places in Asia. It was only when we turned out the lights we discovered the problem. You could hear them scuttling around in our bags, our food, our dirty clothes and all over the spare bed. Urgh, ginormous cockroaches, lots of them and they didn’t run away when we turned the lights on either.
I must admit that I usually take pride in not being a pathetic girlie with insects, indeed we’ve slept in rooms with the odd one, but they weren’t interested in us or our stuff and just scuttled away. This time I absolutely froze, said nothing and did nothing. John made a fantastic effort and managed to de-roach everything and get us moved into a more sealed room after hunting the buggers down in the new room too. It goes without saying that we hardly slept a wink and moved to a nicer place in the suburbs in the morning.
This weekend we’ve got loads of internet work to do. John and Andy W are preparing some unique photographic pieces to sell in aid of Azafady. The Sheffield Star and Matlock Mercury (no less!) want to speak to us about our aid work tomorrow. We’ll be famous!!!