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January 8th 2006
Published: January 8th 2006
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Sunset behind Table MountainSunset behind Table MountainSunset behind Table Mountain

Taken form the coach on the way to East London
Hope you are all well….A very belated Happy Christmas and Happy 2006!!!

Christmas and New Year were spent further up the coast in the Eastern Cape. It was just getting to the point when I was craving a swim in the sea, the sea around Cape Town is the Atlantic Ocean and is FREEZING. Now we were heading up towards the Indian Ocean, at last some warm water.

The journey up there was, to say the least adventurous. Luke and I had decided to take the coach there. A simple 12-14 hour journey. Or so we thought. In the end it took us 20 hours, we should have known really. The bus station was a complete give away…I have never seen 10 coaches (with trailers) compete for 5 spaces, maneuvering about in a space a VW Golf would struggle in. Then having to negotiate all the Africans trying to get on coaches, often queuing in the middle of the road Still, I have to commend the drivers, with a lot of honking and nudging, they made it look easy. It was really quite something to watch, and we had plenty of time to do that!

The journey itself
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Luke and i pretending to be surfers
was also trying, we sat right under the biggest blast of air con, keeping us nicely icely for the entire journey. At one point we had to stop for 2 hours while the police escorted a women off the coach who had been accused of stealing form the conductor. Needless to say they conducted their investigation, while we waited…and waited…and waited. Eventually we left, without the woman. Why we couldn’t have gone earlier I really couldn’t understand.

Anyway we arrived at East London, where the backpackers we were staying at, Buccaneers, had arranged transport for us to bring us to them in Cintsa. Robyn met us from the coach, as she had come down from Jo’burg.

The place was beautiful, they had built all the accommodation spread out amongst a hill, overlooking this lagoon, or so the called it, it was actually a river, with the sea right behind that, only 5 mins away. We stayed there for a week. There really wasn’t much to do except lie by the pool, lie in my hammock, lie on the beach…you get the impression. I even ventured so far as to try and surf. If Keanu Reeves could learn in a day, there was no reason I couldn’t. Oh how wrong I was, it is much harder than it looks still at least I have now managed to stand up for about 6 seconds. Christmas itself was a bit of a weird one, there were no decorations as such, no carols, in fact it didn’t feel Christmasy in the slightest, especially since it was baking hot as well. But it was really nice to have Luke and Robyn there, otherwise I think it would have been even stranger. We had a huge 3 course meal for Xmas eve, followed by a small amount of drinking in the bar. Christmas morning there was a champagne breakfast by the pool, well in actual fact it was bucks fizz, with a roll, some tomatoes and a boiled egg…very exciting, but the rest of the day was spent lazing around.
A week at this place was enough, and so we heading up into the Hogsback mountains for New Year to a place called Away With The Faeries. It was noticeable cooler in the mountains, and completely the opposite to what we had just been at. The rumor is that JRR Tolkein was inspired to
Roadside assistanceRoadside assistanceRoadside assistance

Changing the tyre on the way to East London Airport
write The Hobbit after seeing the Hogsback. Well this isn’t entirely true as he never visited here. I believe what did happen was his aunt, or some relative, used to live here and write him long letters about the place. There was definitely some sort of magical feeling about the place, it was completely enchanting. .It was a great place to chill and unwind. Again nothing to do here, except go for long walks into the mountains, which we did once, accompanied by a couple of the hostels dogs.

We were meant to be leaving on the 2nd of Jan but Robyn’s parents very kindly offered to buy us flights up to Jo’burg, and then on to Cape Town the next day, so we decided at the very last minute on News Years Day, slightly the worse for ware, to try and get to the airport. We managed to find the only taxi in the mountains, woke the guy up and persuaded him to drive us 2 hours to the airport. The driver must have been in his 60’s and was called Hogsback Samson Fuckadoll, I kid you not, someone must have been taking the piss when they gave
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The beach on Nw Years Day..thousands upon thousands decend onto the beach
him his English name, still he seemed very proud of it. The truck he arrived in looked fine. I sat in the back with all the luggage, Luke and Robyn sat in the cabin in the front. And so we left…picking up a couple of people along the way, who joined me in the back. It wasn’t long however before we had stopped and had to change the tyre, being in a bit of a hurry I decided to take things I my own hand, so started to change the tyre myself, we could not afford to work to African time, as we were pushing it to get our flights on time anyway. After about 15 mins we were on the road again. About another 30 mins later Hogsback stopped again, this time to check his oil. Needless to say we couldn’t get the car started again, and for about 20mins we tried to push start it. It was now that I noticed he had made a bit of a botch job of the car, and had made his own key to start the car, a screwdriver, somehow I didn’t think we were going to make it in time. Still…we eventually got going again, but not for long. Poor Luke was in the middle of the cabin, right by the gear box, and every time old Hogsback changed gear Luke got a resounding thwack in the crotch. After several hours of this, and Hogsback struggling to find the right gear because Luke’s groin was in the way, he blow his gear box. In the middle of a so called short cut, right next to a township. Great…it was now starting to get dark, we had missed our plane, had nowhere to stay, and the car wasn’t moving one inch. Luckily Luke called Mandela, who happened to be up visiting his family for New Year, so after about a 30min wait, he arrived and took us into town to our hostel, Sugar Shack. We had to persuade them to open as they close for NY because all the blacks congregate for a huge week-long bender on the beach, and so it is too risky for backpackers. But they let us in, and after long walk through the streets, with our backpacks, the only white people around, again, surrounded by pissed and partying people, we made it to the hostel at about 10pm. The papers are at the moment awash with missing children. Now i can see why, they come to the beach for a week long bender, get completely wasted and forget about their kids untill they come out of the drunken haze at the end of teh week, it is very common aparently...Anyway, why hadn’t we stayed in Hosback, it would have been so much easier. Especially as the next day 4 people from Away With The Faeries turned up, and much to their amusement saw us.

Somehow we managed to avoid the coach back. Mandela was driving home through the night and offered us a lift, which we took gratefully, as we were not looking forward to an uncomfortable bus journey. With all of us sharing the driving stints we arrived back in Cape Town on the 3rd, where I have been until now, and will be for a couple more days until I had up to Jo’burg to see Steve for a couple of days, then I am off to Mozambique for 2 weeks. I can’t wait. I have heard it is stunning over there, and the diving some of the best in the world…manta rays, whale sharks…you name it (eat your heart out Parrott!!!) So my next entry won’t be until I get back form there I guess (besides I think you have probably had enough of me rambling on now!)

One last thing…I have just done one of the most exhilarating things of my life, a Great White Shark dive. I have never experienced anything like it. There were 3 of them circling around our boat, each at least 8 foot in length. In the cage I could have reached out and stroked them, although this is not advisable. They are the most amazing creatures I have ever seen, so beautiful and graceful, yet at the same time so strike the fear of death into you. It is something I think everyone must try and do in their lives. I thought I would be against it but far from it. There is no connection to cage diving and more attacks of humans, in fact by chumming the water, they are attracting the sharks further away form the shore…but I won’t go into it now. To be in the ocean 2 foot away form one of the most feared predators in the world was incredible, let me do that rather than bungee jump. What amazed me the most about these magnificent creatures was their complete lack of aggression, not once did they attack the cage, and not once did they behave aggressively in the slightest, they were far more curious than aggressive. Films like Jaws and the Deep Blue Sea have done nothing to help the Great White in the slightest, in fact they have probably done more harm than good for these magnificent fish. It was a day I will never forget. The day I came face to face, eyeball to eyeball, with Jaws.

Now truely the last thing...I would just like to thank Luke and Robyn for putting me up for so long, and for being such amazingly kind and generous hosts. I love you both dearly and am forever in both of your debts. I will repay you someday!!


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