A Travellerspoint blog

September 2011

Return to Zanzibar

Stone Town, Unguja, Jozani Forest, Michamvi, Jambiani, Bwejuu

Habari za Jioni!
Friday night in Stone Town. Not the quietest night of the week around here. It’s the Muslim Holy Day and prayers have been blaring out of all the Mosques around town for hours. Zanzibar has so far been looooovely – I don’t know if I will be able to make myself leave in a week! I am on the Zanzibar Archipelago island Unguja, trying to make up for what I did not get to see when I was here with my tour. Where do I start?.....
I was happy to make it safely from Johannesburg. As much as I hate to admit it, I was on the plane thinking “oh gosh I am on an African airline”…actually, when we landed a South African guy next to me said the same thing. Arriving in Dar es Salaam airport I was hit with the same instant humidity as when I arrived by road last time. The air con in the airport was not working so I lay on the metal seats to keep cool and tried to get some sleep to the ‘soothing’ humming of the broken air con. Then the shortest flight I have ever been on – 20 minutes – to Zanzibar. I wish it was longer as the reef is an incredible sight from above! I felt right back at home in East Africa straight away with the layer of sweat, lack of toilet paper, squat toilets, mysteriously dirty feet (HOW do they get into this state?!), perfume of mozi spray, dodging cars and bikes and puddles in narrow alleyways, regular power failures, back on the bottled water, and roosters crowing outside my bedroom window. The cold showers have actually been a pleasure, I think even if I had access to hot water it would go untouched.

I obviously looked like crap when I arrived at the hostel after no sleep. When I asked about a dorm room the young guy working here looked really worried and said they had none. But he said “I think you need sleep” so gave me a room to myself for the same price, and said for me to find him when I wake and he would make me a coffee. I lay down and couldn’t stop smiling, not only because I was so happy to be back, but because I was stretching my arms out on a DOUBLE BED!!!!!!!

I have enjoyed taking my time around Stone Town this time, really exploring the alley ways and getting lost – a map is useless as you may think you are on a pathway and on the right track, then turns out it is actually a road and somehow you are on the other side of town. I love it though, what look like run-down buildings and dirty streets really give the place so much charm and atmosphere, I am sure I mentioned this last time.

Many men walk around Zanzibar in their kanzu and kofia white robes and caps (need some tips from them on keeping clothes white in Africa) and most women are veiled in their flowing black bui-bui cover alls and gorgeous coloured scarves – that is dedication! Some have only one eye showing, and here I am looking as if I have been hosed down, in only one light layer, wishing I could strip off to shorts and a singlet! I have been excited about getting to try out my growing African wardrobe, with the bright colours and shoulder scarves.

I spent 5 nights in Stone Town when I arrived, and each night was spent at the Forodhani Gardens night seafood markets. And I will be back there tomorrow night guaranteed! Most days rain either in the morning or at night, which is nice to cool things down for a minute or 2 but makes it hard to walk around without being splashed by passing vehicles. Last Thursday I spent the day getting my bearings and shopping along Gizenga Street, then had dinner and was serenaded with a popular Tanzanian song ‘Malaeka (My Angel)’ by a local boy called Peter. He bought me a sugar cane juice but things were moving too fast when he started talking about how he wants “mixed babies”…I think he was using me for my skin colour haha.
Friday I spent 2 hours looking for this place that is meant to make nice coffee’s – a change from the powdered milk – but finally had to admit defeat. I didn’t even want a coffee in the end I just wanted to find the dam place! This happens a bit. I ended up meeting a Zanzibarian guy who has become a good friend and is my Swahili teacher while I am here. It was a really good day spent walking around the back streets that I probably wouldn’t feel comfortable walking by myself, only because of the stigma of alley ways, but I suppose here every street is one. So with this I got to shop at non tourist shops (and prices to match) and had a typical Zanzibarian lunch of green ndizi (banana) in some really nice sauces. Huge meal for about $2.That night I went to a nice hotel known for Taarab Music night. It is a mixture of Arabic, African and a little bit Indian. Was nice to listen to for a bit and sit in a posh hotel with the waves crashing in the background.

Saturday we passed through Darajani Market, avoiding being splattered with fish guts, and bought some fresh passionfruits, pineapple and red & yellow ndizi’s to take for the day out. Then jumped in a dalladalla to Jozani Forest to see the red Colobus monkeys. Very cute, they remind me of little old men (no offence to any little old men). My receipt was made out to ‘Ms Bahati’, my new Swahili name. It means Luck, though when he explained why I was to be named this I didn’t quite understand. We then continued to the East coast to Michamvi. The water there was crystal clear and SO warm! I must have forgotten that I am a mzungu for the day and got so burnt my nose blistered. Later on we went to a Reggae beach party, not sure of the quality of my reggae dance moves. Sunday morning all I wanted was a greasy burger so my brunch of goat stew, although tasty, wasn’t ideal – nor was the date juice. I actually felt like the odd one out eating with my knife and fork at this place and it was insisted that I use my hands…..so in they went. After porridge, chapatti and octopus for dinner at ‘Jaws Corner’, went to Forodhani Gardens for more food, then to the Old Fort for more Reggae Music and with “Tight Security but Polite” haha. Appreciate the honesty on the invite slips.

I went to my new friend’s Aunties house for lunch, which his cousins and Aunt had been busy preparing. So we sat on a woven mat on the floor of the lounge room and hoed into the delicious green ndizi and fish dishes with hands. His cousin’s wife gave me a lovely kanga as a gift and wrapped it around my head like a good Muslim girl. Then to be polite I walked around for the afternoon wearing it, and it seems here you get more male attention the more you cover up! Went for a late afternoon swim at Bububu’s Fuji beach, and sat on the sand drinking out of a coconut.

On Tuesday I went back to the East Coast to Bwejuu. It is similar to Matemwe, the fishing village I stayed at last time. My bungalow on the beach was nice and once again the walks along the beach are so interesting, as ‘Maasai’ pass by on bikes (or chatting up girls), women carry huge loads of seaweed on their heads and kids sit in dhow’s banked on the sand waiting for their Dad’s to return from the days fishing. I had a walk through Bwejuu village, and stopped to say hi to a group of kids. When I was bent down to show them their photos 2 of the little girls lunged at my hair and started plaiting it, one little boy kept patting my boob while another was lifting my dress. My hair was very attractive for the afternoon you can imagine. I had 2 nights in Bwejuu and then a night in Michamvi, this time staying in a different area to the day trip, just as beautiful. The sand is so soft that you sink to your knees at some parts of the beach….quite an effort to walk anywhere. Since Wednesday I have been a bit sick with Tanzania Tummy, which is hard to be discreet about when trying to explain why you want bread and not seafood to someone who doesn’t speak much English. I then watched whoever I had quietly, on the side, spoken to go tell everyone else around (the hand gesture of rubbing the belly is the giveaway) trying to help me. Everyone has been very helpful, insisting I try some local herbal remedy or other, boiled ginger, lime and soda water, some sort of papaya alcohol which is illegal…..meanwhile I have just been thinking I JUST WANT MY WESTERN CHEMICALLY PUMPED DRUGS! Octopus probably wasn’t the best idea for dinner last night, nor was my calamari coconut curry today, but I am in Zanzibar and refuse to miss out on this seafood!

Arrived back in Stone Town late this afternoon after they have apparently had torrential rain last night and this morning. It was as if dams and rivers have appeared overnight. Drove past a timber furniture stall with floating beds. In the next week I hope to visit Jambiani, where I had a short stop at and it is just beeeeeautiful – the turquoise water is STUNNING and the sand blindingly white.

I am enjoying catching the dalladalla’s, and at as little as 20 or 30cents for some trips, it is within my budget. I still haven’t mastered gracefully clambering in though, or managed to make my way to a bench without bumping my head several times. African women can manage it with a baby on their back somehow, and I can’t even look after myself. I can decipher enough Swahili to know when I am being laughed at. The language lessons are actually starting to sink in, and when people are in conversation I can pick up words that I understand and somewhat figure out the topic. Especially if it is food related! It’s nice to be able to respond to people with something other than Jambo, and they usually get pretty excited that you know any Swahili.

Today I saw a rooster with champagne coloured feathers. I am sure I was not hallucinating. I caught myself just in time to stop drooling. Tomorrow will be 4 months since leaving Australia, and champagne. (and family and friends of course)

Poa Kachizi Kama Ndizi – cool crazy like a banana
Makini Kama Mr Beanie – Wonderful like Mr Bean
Shuwari Kama Bahari – Cool like the ocean

Ms Bahati

Posted by neerg_08 13:41 Archived in Tanzania Tagged gardens market town zanzibar stone tanzania forest jozani jambiani unguja bwejuu michamvi forodhani darijani Comments (0)


Johannesburg, Soweto

Sanibonani! (you say Yebo!)
I’m just making the most of reliable internet connection while I can. I have a flight tonight to Zanzibar, back up in Tanzania as it seemed it was going to be too much of a hassle to get a visa for Mozambique….also will be a good chance to practice some Swahili before going to Ilongero.

I had a couple of days doing not too much in Johannesburg, just being lullabied to sleep at night by the sound of sirens in the distance. There are some serious looking fences here! I stayed in a suburb on the outskirts of the city, called Bramley, and came back to stay yesterday to take advantage of the free airport shuttle. There was some big soccer match on Saturday so all day I could hear vuvuzela’s going off….I was tempted to pull mine out and join in. My shuttle to the shops was a BMW with smashed up windows from a recent hijacking attempt – what a cliché!

Sunday I moved from the hostel here to stay in Orlando West in Soweto for 2 nights (sorry Mum & Dad, but I survived). The hostel was done up really nice and I was the only guest the first night so had plenty of attention. It was started by Lebo (now a bit of a celebrity) about 10 years ago when he worked selling crafts in the area and had a lot of tourists wanting to experience more of Soweto. He would take them to his parents’ home and let them stay there and so eventually he opened the hostel. The park opposite the hostel used to be a dumping ground until Lebo but the hostel now runs a youth program there.

On Monday I did a 4 hour bicycle tour around Soweto, which if anyone is ever here I could not recommend more highly. The guys who took us around were so informative and grew up and live in the area so it was interesting to hear how they have seen things change. We were warned if someone yells out “SHOOT” there is no need to duck from a bullet or anything, it simply means someone wants you to take a photo of them haha. Most of the area we saw was pretty nice, of course lot of identical tiny match box houses but no sign of the wired fences in the other Johannesburg suburbs, as we were to learn there is more of a community feel to the area. Thieves are still often dealt by community law – a beating. Homes still have paint over the numbers on houses which was done to confuse the police during apartheid.
We crossed one road though and it was quite a different world. It was the area that was created as a men’s hostel area during the mining days and the sheds still remain which were built for them. There are some apartments starting to go up and a recycling project but it is definitely the poorer area. Went into another shebeen and tried more homemade beer which seems to be a staple of every tour in Africa. I am still not sold.

Orlando West has been the home of Nelson Mandela, Walter Sisulu and Archbishop Desmond Tutu. We saw the former home of Nelson Mandela on Vilankuze Street – the only street in the world to have had 2 Nobel Peace prize winners as its residence (also Desmond Tutu). People were so friendly as we rode around “Welcome to Soweto good people” and the kids ran over to high five us – me with my uncoordinated bike riding skills was having some issues high fiving, and most times I ended up wobbling off my bike, to the kids delight. It was so funny as we rode past a pre-school all the kids were out playing and they ran to the fence screaming “abelungu” (white person) and followed us all the way around the corner and all pressed up against the fence absolutely screaming! We were taught some ‘gangsta slang’ – olaola and the response shapshap, which I don’t think I am gangsta enough to pull off. Same with the handshake meaning ‘peace, love and happiness’ with a click at the end…definitely not cool enough to make that look at all natural to me. We had a mid-morning snack of fat cake with chicken liver sausage (the fat cake was yum….the chicken liver sausage just had to be swallowed quickly without thinking about it) and for lunch had a local favourite of Kota. This would be the perfect meal for a hangover or on the way home from the club– ¼ loaf of bread with the middle scooped out and stuffed with hot chips, curry powder (I think), tomato sauce, salami, egg, cheese and some other type of meat, and topped with the scooped out bread.

Also had a ride around Meadowlands, which is the area where thousands of people were moved to after the forced removals of Sophiatown. The area is now known for its music influence and the African beats all night were a welcome change from the sirens.

The last stop of the day was the Hector Peterson memorial at the sight of the 1976 Soweto student uprising. 15,000 students peacefully marched to the police station with a memorandum protesting the Bantu education system when the police opened fire. Hector Peterson, at 13 years old, was one of the youngest students to die on the day. Olive trees line the street from the memorial down the road to the corner he was shot. 19 y/o Mbuyisa Makhubu was famously photographed carrying him to safety – Makhubu was forced to flee the country after harassment by the security services and to this day his mother does not know where he is or even if he is alive. There is a quote from her on a plaque at the memorial, which I think is really beautiful: “Mbuyisa is or was my son. But he is not a hero. In my culture, picking up Hector is not an act of heroism. It was his job as a brother. If he left him on the ground and somebody saw him jumping over Hector, he would never be able to live here.” It is a really nice memorial.

Yesterday I went to the Apartheid Museum. It is a fantastic museum! I spent 5 hours there and that was rushing towards the end. I could easily have spent another couple of hours there. When you buy your ticket it is automatically selected for you and printed whether you are ‘White’ (Blankes) or ‘Non-White’ (Nie Blankes). I was Nie Blankes and so had to use the delegated entrance. In certain areas they have done a great job of setting the atmosphere of the time.
Today I did a day tour of Johannesburg, we went to Constitution Hill which used to be a prison and was used a lot for political prisoners and when they knocked it down they used to bricks to build the new Constitutional Court as a way to show they are building the future from the past. Also went to ‘The Roof of Africa’ – The Carlton Centre - The highest building in all of Africa (only 50 floors but a good view of the city) then as it was getting dark drove through Hillbrow, the most dangerous area of Johannesburg…that was clear when the windows went up haha. Then at one set of lights saw a guy being beaten up on the street. Very interesting place. Was a really good day and good to actually see some of ‘Jozi’. Also drove by Mandela’s Johannesburg house in Haughton. Yes, I am a Mandela stalker.

Ok gotta pack quickly.

Posted by neerg_08 13:36 Archived in South Africa Tagged carlton memorial of museum hill africa top centre peterson backpackers johannesburg soweto apartheid constitution gauteng hector newtown hillbrow lebo’s Comments (0)

Kingdom in the Sky

Durban, Pietermaritzburg, Underberg, Sani Pass, Lesotho, Drakensberg, Johannesburg,

Cooooooweee! Coooweeeee! Coooweeeee!
Hope everyone is well. Just arrived in Johannesburg last night after spending some time in the Drakensberg Mountains area. From Durban last week I was dropped in Pietermaritzburg , Kwazulu-Natal’s ‘Heritage City’ and actually really enjoyed it. I forgot to mention that it’s been warming up more and more, even in the mountains here where I expected freezing temps. The day drive to Durban was actually HOT and arriving 9ish at night was like a mild summers’ night, the first since Dar es Salaam I think. I felt really old and boring at the hostel in Durban, complaining the next morning about the noisy drunks keeping me up that night. A bit of payback.

But anyway, Pietermaritzburg was interesting, a mix of historic buildings and run down alley way shops. And, as with Mthatha, lots of “Cheap, Pain Free Abortion” posters plastered on walls and poles. Not something you see everywhere. I sat at the park to read for a bit and then heard all this hooting and singing and chanting and looked up and there were 20 or so work utes and trucks slowing driving and honking down the main street, then the council workers all stopped, blocking both sides of the road and everyone got out and started singing and clapping out the front of I am assuming the council office. (My African drumming lessons from ‘Bongs’ at Port St Johns would have topped the beat off) Apparently they had been striking…that is all I found out as I don’t speak Zulu. This went on for nearly an hour, perfect to fill in the middle part of my day. People in the city were soooo nice to me which was lovely! Went to the Natal Museum but didn’t get long there as my shuttle arrived. Not to say that we left any time soon, as the van wouldn’t start so after a couple of runs to the petrol station, the driver – wearing a novelty multi-coloured top hat – had me and 2 schoolgirls (another school run/tourist shuttle) pushing the van to flat ground. Nearly an hour later we were on our way.

I stayed at Sani Lodge in the Southern Drakensberg near the Lesotho border. The hostel was nice and quiet and set amongst the mountains in Underberg. On Saturday I did a 4x4 Sani Pass day tour to Sani Top in Lesotho which was really really really great. Our guide knew EVERYTHING, though sometimes I felt like we did at Good News Week when he would tell a joke, not get the reaction he wanted, so he would explain it, then tell it again twice or until someone laughed louder. The drive up to the top was amazing, the mountains are so dramatic and the tops scattered with patches of snow. The road was not so amazing, and driving so close to the edge wasn’t all that relaxing. At one view point we all got out and started walking up it and the guide suddenly yelled SNAKE and we had all walked past it, oblivious as it slithered right between the group. Turned out to be a puff adder….I didn’t eat this one. You wouldn’t think simply crossing the border into another country there would be such a dramatic change in culture and landscape. The Lesotho border crossing is at Sani top, at 2873m. Lesotho is known as the Kingdom in the Sky, as it is the ‘highest country in the world’ having the highest low point (1452m). We crossed the Sani Flats to have lunch at Black Mountain, I sat next to a pile of snow and watched as a shepherd boy herded his Angora Goats past us. Then went and visited a Basotho village, tried some homemade beer and fresh bread, kept warm by cow dung. Rondavels with a white flag out the front mean they sell beer, and was interesting to hear that the culture is quite opposite to most of the others I have learnt of being here, in that the girls usually get the better education as the boys are more likely to spend time as shepherds. Also, the men build the homes and must knock and ask for permission from his partner before entering. No man is allowed to enter the house a baby is born and kept in until 3 months of age, as they can bring in bad spirits. We then headed back towards the border to stop in at Sani Top Chalet for a beer at the highest pub in Africa. REEEEAALLLLYYY enjoyed the day.

Next day I did a 6 hour hike around the mountains with a German girl. The first hour was all recently burnt grass, which I thought looked really pretty in contrast to the yellows and greens in the distance. She didn’t think so and was keen to turn back if it didn’t change over the next ridge – I was HOPING it didn’t change as well so we could turn back as I was dying already! I am going to blame the altitude…and not my lack of fitness. But it turned out to be even more beautiful on the other side of the mountain so we pressed on and I am glad we did. Really amazing scenery, saw some baboons and the leg of an Eland.

I forgot to mention that I met the Rolling Stones at the hostel bar at Port St Johns. Haha these 3 men, probably in their 60’s but the party hard years have aged them, still partying, smoking weed, living the bachelor life. And they still say “let’s bounce man” when time to leave. They were hilarious, and the one I was talking to - in his multi coloured patchwork pants – he spoke like a mix of Ozzy Osborne or Keith Richards.

Sunday night I tried to have an early night as I had to be up at 3:30am for my shuttle to the transfer back to Pietermaritzburg (PMB). At 4:30 the shuttle hadn’t come and when I called they knew nothing of it, and there wasn’t any taxis running at that time. So they said if I could get there by 8 they would arrange another way for me to get there. So I booked a taxi for just after to be safe, in case I was late. It was early so I thought great I’m on my way! Not so – the taxi broke down 10mins down the road, so he had to call another car which by 7:50 wasn’t there yet, then the driver wandered off down the road and I didn’t see him for a while. The transfer people gave in and came to pick me up and drive me to PMB themselves, which was awkward after how rude I had been on the phone (but at 4:30 who wouldn’t be). Then they realised they wouldn’t be able to get me there for the Bazbus at 9:30, which they knew was the whole point of the shuttle….so had to call the Bazbus driver and luckily he only had a few people so they waited for me. What a morning!
This took me up to the Northern Drakensberg area near Bergsville for 3 nights. I stayed at Amphitheatre Lodge, sort of set on a farm. Unfortunately I was a couple of days late for the ‘Women’s only’ party Saturday night, but the remnants of rainbow flags and banners and decorations remained. No question as to which person at the hostel organised it either.
On Tuesday I did another day trip into Lesotho which again absolutely loved. We drove through some of the old homelands areas of the Free State, which during apartheid were not considered South Africa, like the Transkei, and crossed the border, which was literally 2 white posts in the ground, unmanned. Driving past the roadworks the ladies working have their faces painted in a sort of clay as a natural sunscreen. In Lesotho we visited a village called Mafikalision, which is sort of on the way to Mokhotlong. This tour the hostel runs is the only tour to go here so it was all very ‘real’. People were so friendly. Our first stop was at a school where we got to see what the kids were learning, and distract their lessons :S Everyone just comes up to you and asks you to take their picture so they can look at it, so got lots of portrait photos. It’s funny, they’ll ask for a photo, then when you put the camera up put on a very serious face, then when they look at it they just laugh hysterically. We then did a walk through the village and up one of the mountains to look at some San rock art, which to be honest I could have just been looking at some discolouration on the rock but I did a lot of “oh yes I see it”. The view up there was really nice. Then went on a mission for a white flag. Success! At 30c for a litre, you know the taste is no good if even I only manage a sip. Lots of donkeys around, shepherds and more goats. We then went to the village pub, the ‘Two Sisters’ with the sign at the door requesting ‘Be Disarmed’.I would love to go there on a busy day and see the row of spears, knives etc at the door. Another really awesome day. That night I was woken by the biggest storm I have ever been in. The room was lighting up constantly for over an hour, and was told the next day that the area has one of the highest lightning strike rates in the world. We didn’t feel all that safe in our rondavel style room with thatched roof, and as it was double story, easily the highest object in a long way. Me and someone else in the room put our thongs on in bed.
Wednesday I had put my name down for a shuttle to take me to the Royal Natal National Park. It didn’t show up, but a French tour group offered to take me as they were going that way. They were all in their 60’s – early 70’s, didn’t speak a word of English besides the tour leader who luckily could translate, and I thought I had an easy day of hiking ahead of me. They tried to pay for all of my entrance fee’s and a guided walk to view some more San rock art, this time I could clearly see the paintings, some 800 years old. Eland and gazelle and buffalo and dancing people. Pretty cool.
Well I was wrong about the easy walk, I was struggling at the back of the group with one other man while they all powered ahead! I’m very easy going with my ‘hikes’, which sometimes would be better called a stroll, and I give myself a lot of breaks, so this was a tough day but had to try suck it up, how embarrassing if they had to wait for me! We tried to walk to a grotto, but after an hour uphill walk, that is where they decide to put the sign saying that that path is closed. So ended up walking to a waterfall which was nice. Then went to a picnic area and out came the French wine(much better than the usual box wine) and French liqueur, biltong (which I finally got to try) and we had a braai with the most delicious food I have had in a long time! Lamb and sausages and corn and fresh bread………I was so spoilt! I think as we drank more we all started to speak the same language and could communicate without the translator. Met up with them all at the hostel bar and they were buying shots all night, 4 or 5 in and I finally had them shooting them rather than sipping. Then was up dancing with them … but they had left by the time the Jacuzzi was on. They said I must visit them at their village in France. Yesterday was a painful day on the bus to Johannesburg, was happy to get into bed!

Posted by neerg_08 13:07 Archived in South Africa Tagged park national royal pass natal lesotho johannesburg durban sani pietermaritzburg underberg drakensberg kwazulu Comments (0)

Eastern Cape - Wild Coast

Port Elizabeth, Hogsback, Mthatha, Coffee Bay, Port St Johns, Durban

I arrived in Durban tonight after a really relaxing week on the Wild Coast. First night I think since Dar es Salaam that hasn�t been cold. It was like a warm summer night at 9 tonight when I arrived. From Port Elizabeth we left early on the Bazbus last Wednesday and drove 3-4 hours up to East London on the Eastern Cape Coast. From here I got a coach to a town called Alice, where Fort Hare University is located. Nelson Mandela, Oliver Tambo, Robert Sobukwe and Robert Mugabe all attended this Uni when it was known as the �South African Native College�. I had to get off here and walk through town looking for the place my lift was picking me up from. The lady picking me up said she could spot me from a mile away, there was no way I looked anything but a tourist. Then drove up to the Eastern Cape Inland to Hogsback, a small town 1300m up the Amathole Mountains, which rise from dry grassy valleys and farmlands around. I stayed at �Away with the Fairies� where my room overlooked the peaks of the Hogsback Mountains and from my bed (which wasn�t a bunk bed!!!) I could watch the rare Samango monkeys playing in the trees outside. Apparently this area was the inspiration behind the Lord of the Rings movies.

Last Thursday I did a hike, guided by 2 dogs from the hostel who genuinely did help me with my directions, through the indigenous rainforests to several waterfalls. Was nice to be on my feet after long days sitting on the bus. I had 2 nights in Hogsback then headed back down to be picked up from East London and head to the Wild Coast. The drive day was really pretty and interesting too as our driver gave us a bit of a �guided tour� as we drove through the Transkei (I�m not sure you are meant to refer to the area as this post-apartheid, I think it is all technically the Wild Coast now, but our driver was using this term and it is more well known soo�.). It was back to the Africa of the �other Big 5� � donkeys, goats, sheep, pigs and cows controlling traffic movements, thatched clay huts all painted greens and yellows and pinks, women carrying loads on their heads, and shores of rivers scattered with bright clothes and blankets drying as the women wash. We passed Qunu, where Nelson Mandela and Walter Sisulu grew up around. Also stopped outside the house the ANC built for Nelson Mandela and where he has been staying for the past few months. The flags were up so he was in there as we drove by! Little bit nerdy but exciting. From Mthatha I got a shuttle to Coffee Bay, a rural village at the mouth of the Umzimvubu River. There is not much to the town, but it was a really nice place to relax and catch some sun for a couple of days. The Xhosa people in the area are really nice and refer to the ladies as �Mama� and me as �Sissy�.Many of the women wear their faces painted with clay. I stayed in a tent on the edge of the river for the 3 nights (not because I miss being in a tent) and enjoyed the cocktail sampling throughout the days. One of the guys at the hostel took a few of us fishing at the Mthatha river one afternoon, but there was no fish on the menu that night. The driver I had to Coffee Bay and also back to Mthatha (after a few stops to do his grocery shopping) was the sweetest old man. It was all �Yes Sissy�, �Thank you Sissy�, �Sorry Sissy�. From Mthatha I got another shuttle to Port St Johns. Much the same drive as on the way to Coffee bay, along the winding road around the hills of the rural areas.

Port St Johns is another coastal town, and another one of those places full of people who had been travelling and just never left. I felt I could have been anywhere else in Africa driving through town, with fruit and veg stalls set up, African music playing loudly from falling apart vans, and lots of dreadlocks. My hostel was near 2nd Beach, on the side of a mountain and again near the river as it meets the ocean. The sign at the beach clearly states no swimming allowed, as the area is infamous for shark attacks and there have been several in the past year or so. But the sign also says no dogs, no drinking alcohol, no littering and many other �no-no�s�. I sat amongst the litter on the beach, patting a couple of dogs, watching surfers in the water, and guys on the beach drinking. So much for the sign. The area is pretty tropical, I did a walk around some of the hills around the coast and they are all palm trees and tropical plants which makes a really pretty view. Also did a hike to a few waterfalls, this time with a person as a guide though. And a dog as well. Spent a day relaxing on the beach, and was a bit annoyed when I heard a load of noise and was woken from my nap. I thought a beach party must be starting, but all was forgiven when I looked up to see 20-30 topless SA army guys splashing about in the water. And that was my afternoon sorted! The hostel was very laid back�.VERY laid back. Dreadlocks were all the fashion and funny cigarettes. Sometimes, I just want a simple answer to a question though (one of those �just asking to be polite and make conversation� questions). �Where are you from?� � �Everywhere/All over man��.just answer the damn question hippie! Or �Is that your dog?� � �I am it�s guardian� to which I laughed thinking he meant he means he is dog sitting, but then had to sit and listen to how �one can�t �own� another being��.bla bla bla, meanwhile I was just planning my escape. A few of us went up to the airstrip Wednesday afternoon for sundowner drinks. The airstrip is about 400m up and has 360 degree views of the whole area which was beautiful. This morning was back to Mthatha again and the Bazbus to Durban, just for the night though. Nice to be around people who brush their hair and move faster than snails pace again. Missing home, actually dreamt about eating vegemite on toast the other night. How depressing to wake up to my very nutritious mayonnaise on toast.

Posted by neerg_08 13:03 Archived in South Africa Tagged coast eastern wild port bay st coffee cape durban alice elizabeth transkei hogsback mthatha johns qunu Comments (0)

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