Coffee Bay

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August 12th 2012
Published: November 14th 2012
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After leaving Addo, Mum and Dad dropped me in Port Elizabeth, where we said goodbye before they began to drive back towards Cape Town to fly back to Ireland. We had spent one night in Port Elizabeth before going to Shamwari, but it wasn't a place that we particularly warmed to. The first issue was that there was no running water in the city, but, with some difficulty, we found one B+B that had the water working.

Other than that, it rained the whole time we were there. There is not a whole lot to do or see in P.E. anyway. If it was summer time, the beach would be an option. We visited the Location Apartheid museum, which was very difficult to find and seems to be in the middle of a township. It is of limited interest also, with a lot of the exhibits looking like they were half finished then abandoned. This is a shame, because Port Elizabeth played a huge role in the anti-apartheid struggle.

The day after Addo, when Mum and Dad dropped me back, I went into the city centre to try get a bus ticket to Mthatha. The only Shoprite in town selling tickets had closed for the afternoon, so I had to go out to the Greenacres Shopping Centre. There was a power cut here, but despite this some shops were open. However, the bus ticketing system was offline, which meant I couldn't buy a ticket here either. To buy one online or over the phone, you have to collect a ticket from a Shoprite, so I wasn't left with many options. I eventually got through to the agent who gave me my reference for a ticket I booked online, which in the end was never checked on the bus.

I got my bus in P.E. city centre to Mthatha at 6.30 a.m. I arrived at the Shell Union Centre just outside town and waited for the shuttle bus from Coffee Shack in Coffee Bay, to arrive and bring me along with some other travellers, the three hours down to Coffee Bay.

Coffee Bay is a tiny coastal town of about 900 people, with some spectacular coastline nearby. Arriving here was like getting back to 'real Africa' after the 3 weeks spent in Cape Town and the Garden Route area. What I mean by this is that the population are all predominantly black and the area is quite undeveloped. This area is very close to where Nelson Mandela lives and the Transkei region is unique, in that during the Apartheid era it was independent of South Africa and was internationally not recognised.

Coffee Shack is quite a lively spot and there were quite a few late nights there at their bar. It is set up perfectly for travellers, with strict rules enforced in the bar, which mean anyone caught drinking with their left hand or wiht their drink on the pool table, has to down their drink. One night a few of us went to the local shebeen with Silas, one of the guides that brings tours out of coffee shack. Everyone was extremely friendly and we played a few games of pool with some of the locals.

I went on a couple of the guided treks around the area. One was out to a place calle Hole In The Wall, so called because of a unique rock formation in the sea, with a massive hole in it. Sometimes you can swim out to it, but the sea was far too rough for us to do it when we were there. Another day we went out to Mapuzi cliffs and caves, where we walked along some cliffs, then into some caves. One was a 'natural jacuzzi', which meant you could sit in it and when the tide came in the cave would fill up partly with water, forming a sort of jacuzzi. We also got to jump off some cliffs into a river nearby. The sea was again too rough to jump off the cliffs into.

I ended up spending 5 nights in Coffee Bay and it was tough to leave. The beach a few hundred metres away was beautiful. It was perfect for surfing and Coffee Shack offered some really cheap lessons, which I tried one day. I knew I would be a terrible surfer, but I was even worse than I thought I would be, spending most of the time falling off the surfboard into the water.

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