6th June: Made it through the night at a very cold and very strange campsite in Springbok. Up and
on the road , still pitch black and antarctic cold.
Our initial aim was to get to Bloemfontein for the nigh, and then do the final stretch to Pietermaritzburg
tomorro. We arrived at Bloem at around 2pm, Ben and Pat both realise that if we push it we could make it to
Pmb today!!! And so begins the Sprinbok-Pmb rally .
We stopped at a "fastfood" restaurant for dinner, it really would have been quicker to cook ourselves! But then as they have a habit of saying around here "that's Africa" for you.
Finally arrived in Pmb around midnight. Patrick and James' Mum very kindly gave Ben and Alex a room in her B&B. James had his old room and suddenly all the rooms were taken! Our first night at home and we were in our rooftent on the front lawn-Welcome Home!
A quick summary of the last 3 months in SA:
Alex stayed at the B&B for a while whilst Ben prepped for and ran the Comrades Marathon, which he completed, quite an achievment with the little training he managed to do on the trip down.
We took Alex through the Midlands Meander ( in the Natal Midlands ) and up Sani Pass into Lesotho. Wow
that was cold - I never thought I would see snow in SA, but there it was. What else were we supposed to do other than have a messy snowball fight, and then sit and drink gluvine in the Sani Top Pub.
Said farewell to Alex and Ben as they headed off down the coast to Cape Town, and I started running the B&B
while Patrick's mm was recovering from her operation. Patrick offered his services as a locum vet to the local practices and was lucky enough to be offered work.
Met Ben and Alex again in Dundee at Patricks aunt and uncles B&B. Anthony Coleman (Pats Uncle) took the four of us out on a tour of Isandlwana and Rourkes Drift battle grounds. It was a very emotional day but was extremely enjoyable.
Well days have turned into weeks and weeks into 3 months. Pats mum is full of beans again, so we are looking at heading off soon(before my SA visa expires on the 5th Sept) to finish our trip.
Now starts the fun of planning,packing and panicing, not always in that order, but it all needs to be done at some point.
The task of diary writing has now fallen onto my shoulders( Sarah that is), as Pat cannot write to save his arse.
I know I am no where near as good a writer as James, but will give it a shot : Enjoy .
Feelings of the trip so far:
Well here I am in one piece having completed the first half of Patrick and my dream trip. I am not going to lie, there have been times on the way down when I have wanted to kill either Patrick or James, and on really bad days both of them. I didn't and we have all made it through .
I have had some interesting things happen to me on the way :
-Stalked by a cobra in Senegal
-Giardia (TWICE!!) that has made me lose 14kg, it is cheaper than weight watchers though I would not recommend it.
-strange rashes and spots on my legs in Ghana
-charged by a Colobus monkey in Ghana
-got very grumpy and homesick in the Congo
-got engaged in Etosha National Park in Namibia ( was not expectedand thought it would never happen) if you know patrick at all you'll understand.
What has been an immesurable help the whole trip are the amazing and friendly people we met on the road. There were two very sweet Dutchmen, both with poorly maintained vehicles, a mad Englishman who makes people climb mountains, a well travelled Canadian family, a Chinese-englishman who would be lost without his chopsticks, and an Aussie lass who is as mad as a hatter.
As we look at heading off again to continue our travels I hope we have as good a tim and meet as many super people in the following stage as we have met traveling down the amazing West Coast of Africa.
Well not much more I can add to what Sarah has said bt here goes:
The first half of the trip is over, the West coast has been a challenge. The roads were a variation of "brilliant" muddy, swampy tracks ( I have learned to love mud driving), difficult heavy soft sandy sections, to the most horrendous potholed tar (the worst type of road surface ever ), interspursed by sections of immaculate pristine tar.
The locals throughout the trip were exceptionally friendly, and I was only ever nervous once, and that was unfortunately our run in with the drunk Nigerian policeman. He certainly soured my impressions of Nigeria for a day.
Having a third person along certainly helped in spreading the work load, as well as diffusing situations when either Sarh or I had had a disagreement. James did however cause situations to arise on his own account. He could be extremely frustrating at time, especially when you tried to shake him out of his lethary and work on the diary ( this did become a bit of an issue at times ). He has a gift for writing (as I am sure most would agree after reading the diary thus far ) which I do not. I hope the experience of traveling the west coast will get him moving and using his gift.
James now stays behind to work and earn his own way now.
Sarah and I continue the trip heading up to Kenya, possibly Ethiopia, and then back to Cape Town. Sarah takes on the diary so hopefull we will keep it updated more regularly than we have been until now.
James: So, here we are hey. The end of the journey...bummer... Since my return I've been bombarded with questions
about the trip, and each time I am hard pressed for a worthy reply. It can't be summed up simply, it can't be summed up...
It really has to be experienced, and I hope that this site has started a spark of desire to experience the same.
Having fun in the snow up Sanni Pass
Dec 20 - 24th ; Did not do too much over the last few days - visited family and friends.
Worst of all, we had to suffer 42 degrees of het in PMG monday, this was not fun!! The only option was to sit and watch DVD's, drinking lots of cold coke and beer!!!
Patrick serviced the car - it was much needed!! She is running a lot better now shem has got clean oil and filters!!
Dec 25th ; Left PMB to start the last leg of the trip to Cape Town.
We wanted to get as far as Coffee Bay today so had a fair distance to travel.
Whilst I drove Patrick rang people, and found out that a friend, Jono, from Pretoira was in Cintsa. It being Jono's birthday today and all, we decided to push on a bit further and spent the night with him and his family.
Dec 26th ; Left Jono and carried on the road to Cape Town.
We took a slow drive through East London and on to PE, with the hope of getting some camping in Jeffreys Bay.
As we pulled into J'bay, it was heaving!! There was people, kids, dog, cars and boats everywhere!!
Last time I had been here Patrick and I were 2 of the few people in the town - this was huge shock to the system to see this much going on!!
After visiting 2 very full and 1 very very dodgey looking, caravan sites, we were atarting to lose hope pf finding somewhere to stay for the night!!
As a last ditch attampt we went to Island Vibe Backpacker and begged them to let us camp in the car park. They seemed fine with us doing this so we parked the car in the only spot left in the whole carpark and put the tent up to try and stop people parking us in.
Tent up, we went for a walk alone the beach into town and had a look in the surf shops. I longed for most of the clothes in the shops but will NEVER pay that sort of money for a pair of shorts - short shorts at that!!!!
After having heart failure several times, I stopped looking at the price tags and just admired the clothes!
Window shopping soon lost its apeal and we walked back to Island Vibe to suss out the bar.
Well I must say it was a very nice bar - good setting great views and ice cold beer - what more can you want?!
After dinner anda few more drinks we went back to the tent only to find someone had parked so close to the car we could not use the bottom step of the ladder to get into the tent!!!!!!!
During the night I was awoken by a loud smashing sound and an even louder curse - the person who had parked at the end of the ladder and reversed over an empty ber bottle - he had left it under the tyre!!. Ha justice!!
Dec 27th ; Left early to go into town and find a coffee shop for some good filter coffee. Since we have left Kenya neither of us can drink and hold down instant coffee!!!!
Our search was rewarded and we indulged in some good strong filter coffee, before leaving the madness of J'bay behind us.
Todays drive was beautiful rugged coast line, open grass lands and thousands of ostrich!!! We had entered Ostrich farming country and my word there we everywhere!!!
Patrick was keen to stop in Mossels Bay so we pulled in and was again, greated by a horrid heaving mass of people!!!
A short drive around town took over an hour so it was time to make a hastey retreat!!!!!!
After driving around for another 3 hours looking at every campsite we saw, Patrick ready to kill someone and take thier pitch!!
I though a safer option would be to carry on drivinf towards Cape Town ans stop and any campsite we see a lons the way. As Patrick drove I tore apart all of the leaflets and guide books we had trying to find some accomodation in the area that might allow us to camp.
I found a B&B in Riverdale which sadi they allowed camping. So off we went to the very very sleepy little hamlet of Riversdale.
The B&B was perfect, apart form the over hanging trees which did not allow for roof-top tents!!!
That wa sthe last straw, Patrick blew his top and with froth coming from his mouth reported that we would have to carry on a drive all the way to Cape Town tonight because they was not a hope in hells cahnce of us finding anywhere else!!!
With me trying to morph into my seat cover, we left the lovely hamlet of Riversdale and went back to the main road.
Not 300m down the road was a sign with an picture of a caravan on it. I darnt not mention it, but fear for my head if I did, luckaly Patrick had laready seen it was follwed the sign.
It lead us past a KFC (guess what we had for dinner?!!?) and around to a municipal caravan park.
We pulled in, but it looked like an abandodned ship - there was noone in sight! I saw a sign for a caretaker, just as a lady walked out of one of the building, she looked at us and then walked back in. Oh well, lets try the caretaker.
Patrick gets out and walks to the caretakers office, talks to some one then returns t the car with a face like a slapped arse!
The lady who had just come out of the other building was the owner, and she would have to deal with us.
Patrick boiling blood went nuclear!!!! - "thats it, we are going to carry on driving. She came out, saw us and did not even try to help. Im not giving her any money........" and so it went on whilst he turned the car around and started to drive out of the caravan park.
I shouted at him, above his ranting, that I was not prepaired to leave and empty clean campsite just because he did not like the owners attitude.
Well this did not go down too well, but the car stopped and the campsite was booked.
It turned out to be on of the cheapest pitches we have payed for and we got our own private toilet / shower block too!!
Dec 28th ; After a nice hot shower, we were off on the final streach of our year long trip - the last few hundred KM's to Cape Town.
With a heavy heart we joined the main road and carried on south to the southern most tip of Africa - Cape L'Agulhas.
Out came the tripod, and we took pictures of the 3 of us at the southern most point of Africa - this was it, trip over!!!!
With even heavier heart we got back in the car and, in silence, with a tear in my eye, we left Cape L'Agulhas and headed north to Cape Town.
After all of the problems we had been having finding camping, Patrick had phoned ahead and book us into Salty Craz Backpacker in Tableview.
We arrived without major event, booked and in and went for a walk to the beach - Patrick went ot check the wind, I went to get the best view of Table Mountain in the world!!
Dec 29th - 31st ; We spent the last few days based at Salty Crax. From here we visited friends an family in the area, but spant most of the time on the beach waiting for the wind to blow so that Patrick could go kiting!!!
The New Years eve party at Salty Crax, was a "Bin bag party - no bin bag, no entry". So wrapped in bin pags Patrick and I joined tha party until 11.30pm. We snuck out, took off our bin bags and headed to the beach.
From here we sat stood looking over at an eluminated Table Mountain as the New Year was counted in.
At the stroke of midnight millions of Rands worth of fireworks were let off across the bay the celebrate the New Year.
With tears in my eyes I stood in Patrick arms and watched the fireworks, know in my heart that this was it. Trip over, money gone, now we had to start making a new life for ourselves here in South Africa.
Jan 1st ; We drove out to Darling, to visit a Jen. From here we start the job search!!