South Africa Eastern Cape Day 2

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July 21st 2013
Published: July 21st 2013
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A good night’s sleep was achieved last night following only a couple of hours on the flight the previous night. Last night’s meal was really good: a restaurant with a French name ‘Le Petit Restaurant’, a Swiss theme (Swiss flags, a log cabin feel, windows with Alpine views, etc), run by a chef with a Welsh name and serving South African food with a European twist. We each had one of the restaurant’s speciality game flambé dishes washed down with a glass of Merlot/peach iced tea (you can probably guess which was which). The meal and the service were excellent.

Most of today has been spent on the road travelling from East London up to Mthatha. On the way we diverted off the main road to visit Mvezo, which is where in 1918 Nelson Mandela was born. Mvezo is not a place such as a village or a town as we would think of it but a large area of housing most of which are small holdings. The road of the main route was all nicely block paved for the first few kilometres until we got to the nice new lodge. After that it disintegrated into one of the worst roads I have come across in Africa: a boulder-strewn track, some of which worryingly disappeared over steep cliff edges. It didn’t stop some of the few local drivers going at break-neck speed though.

The local people are really friendly and quite a lot waved to us as we went through. As most people don’t own cars the norm is to hitchhike and I did want to put all the bags in the hold so that we could pick some up. Obviously as tourists you are advised not to do this, but many of them were perfectly safe looking older ladies and I couldn’t bear to see their disappointed faces when we failed to stop. The other favoured mode of transport is the awful minibus taxis which seem to disobey every rule of the road and drive through the towns beeping their horns.

We also visited Qunu, where Mandela was brought up. There is a Mandela Centre there, which claims to be a museum but in reality is not yet fully open. It was a nice spot though and seems to be a centre for the community. When we arrived it was really busy with a series of children’s boxing matches going on and loads of school minibuses in the car park.

Disappointingly, the Mandela Museum in Mthatha was also closed for renovation. Hopefully we will get to visit it next time...

Tonight we plan to find a local restaurant, although our attempts to book one have failed so we may end up in Nando’s.

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