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Published: April 12th 2010
It's one hell of a journey but boy was it all worth it when through the dark I spotted the lonely light of Bulungula Lodge shining like a beacon guiding us across the rolling hills of the Transkei. Having taken most forms of transport known to man, and endured 4hr delays at possibly the worst airport ever, then flown in a tempestuous thunderstorm, the final 100km from Umtata to the coast were a delight. As the road disintegrated further the smile on my face grew bigger as I knew we were getting ever closer to paradise. With each gravity defying roll of the ancient 4x4, with every bounce in and out of the craterous potholes, the rest of the passengers winced and wondered if it was really all worth it, thankfully I knew it was, and thankfully I had trust in Mr Rufus' legendary driving skills!
I'm tempted to keep quiet about this place and keep it all to myself - as it was Easter the lodge was completely full and is obviously growing in popularity so maybe I'm too late anyway - the fact that they also have links with the community and do amazing work there makes me
The road to the Wild Coast
For all you Brits complaining about the state of the roads after the cold winter...you know nothing of potholes! Whole road covered in craters for about 20km, spent half the time on th ewrong wide of the road with vehilces passing either side of us and someone tooting to come past behind us....crazy African driving!
think perhaps I shouldn't be too selfish. The community part own the lodge, it employs about 40 local villagers from Mamas that cook the most delicious food to drivers, cleaners, mechanics etc. Enterprising members of the community are also encouraged to develop tours and services for guests, creating an income stream for families that would otherwise have no other means of earning money than to send the men off to work in the mines up north.
We tried a few activities during our stay, intermingled with a lot of chilling out either on the beach or just around the lodge. Time really doesn't matter here and the atmosphere just encourages you to relax and do whatever you like, no pressure, it's brilliant! A particularly memorable experience was the Women's Power Day me and Han signed up for. A local woman took us to her home and introduced us to her family who were so friendly and welcoming. She painted our faces and dressed us up as traditional married women for the day, much to ours and everyone elses amusement...and yours when you see the photos! We went to the spring and collected water and learnt how to carry it
From Umtata to the Wild Coast
This is how bumpy the road was...for 4 hours!
on our heads - so difficult, it was a 20 minute walk back to her hut and by the time I got there I had about 5 double chins my neck had been squashed so much! We also collected firewood and veges from the garden and cooked a traditional lunch that was suprisingly tasty. Possibly the hardest task of the day was learning to grind maize with a stone, phew that was tough work. I have enormous respect for the women that live here and all over the world that work tirelessly and without complaint all their lives just to feed their families. We did 5 hours and were exhausted half way through! Thankfully another lady in the village has done a massage course and eased the aching shoulder muscles with a full body massage for less than 10 pounds - amazing value although I did come out of it smelling of chips as they just use vegetable oil!
While we were here we also checked out the fantastic work the Bulungula Incubator is doing in the community. It is an NGO that was set up to create income opportunities and improve facilities for the villages near the Bulungula
river. Look it up online to find out more, they really are the genuine thing and we've met villagers here that are really benefitting from the work being done by the NGO. I had brought out a few books and games for the library thay have built and the excellent Pre-school that is alongside it. We had a guided tour through the village and got to see the brightly decorated classrooms and the garden where they grow veges to feed the children a hot meal everyday. Unfortunately the Junior School is less impressive because it is state managed, but the BI has helped with the building work and it is looking a lot better than it did a few years back. Another big part of the BI's work is an Essential Oils project - villagers are given seeds and training in growing lemongrass, rose geranium etc and help in selling the plants for use in flavoured teas and essential oil products etc. While we were there a guy was in the process of certifying the farms as organic so that they can get a better price for the plants and they are hoping to get an press/extracter for the village
The view from the lodge
complete with village children playing in the river
soon so they can extract the oils themselves. Hopefully they'll sell some to the massage lady!
Anyway, I've written too much and what I really want to show you is pictures of this place...as soon as I get a decent connection I'll upload as many as I can.
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