Onto Port Elizabeth

Published: June 3rd 2019
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We had both had a good night’s sleep even though the bed was almost as firm as each of the preceding nights we have had since arriving in South Africa just over a week ago.

At around 6am all of a sudden the mobile started ringing and at that hour you think the worse from home.

Well it didn’t turn out to be anything bad, well at least for us. Rather it was a woman phoning to say she had found our dog wandering past her property and were we aware the dog was missing.

After Gretchen took a moment or two to take in what the caller had said she realised that her mobile number is still on the collar of the dog that belongs to our daughter.

Gretchen explained we were in South Africa but we would contact our daughter and get her to head up the road to fetch the dog

Gretchen got hold of our daughter, Leigh and within a few minutes she was off up the road to fetch Penny the dog and take her home.

It transpired that Penny had gone wandering when the automatic gate was left open in readiness for a delivery Leigh was waiting for and although Penny is usually behind another secure gate when they do this someone had left the gate unsecured and away Penny had gone.

The magic of communications today, dog goes missing, dog is found ,’owners’ mobile is rung and because an old number is on the collar the call is answered by us on holiday in South Africa, owner(our daughter)is phoned and dog is located and taken home. It felt as though we were operating a call centre for missing dogs from an overseas location, this time in South Africa !

Just another one of those odd things that can happen on holiday !

As with every breakfast we have had since arriving in South Africa today’s was fullsome,tasty and very filling setting us up right for a walk in the forest this morning and then a 200km drive to Port Elizabeth.

We headed off for the Tsitsikamma National Park about 15km away and close to the sea.

There was a charge of Rand 235 each to enter the National Park for the day but it was worth it as we wanted to take a forest walk to a suspension bridge which is a feature of the park. There was a lower charge for South African residents to enter the park and perhaps it is time NZ did the same thing to maintain our parks, roadway and facilities as well as this one was.

It did seem like a lot to pay for a stroll through the temperate forest to a suspension bridge and if we had had more time we could have made a whole day of it at the park with other walks we could have done.

We were satisfied with the stroll along the boardwalk and the walk over the bridge gave great views up the narrow canyon out of which the Storms River flowed into the sea. We have been so lucky with the weather and today was no different with the sun shining and virtually no wind making it very pleasant. The bush is similar to what we would encounter in NZ but not as dense and the small ferns although being all green did not have the silver on the reverse as in NZ.

Along the boardwalk we came across 4 or 5 dassies down the bank perched on a fallen log and quite happy to be photographed.

It had taken us a week but we finally came across a group of tourists from Asia (Chinese) and we were beginning to wonder if South Africa was on a must visit list for the Chinese.

On the way out to the park entry gate we noticed a sign that seemed to only face traffic coming out of the park and considering what it stated ‘Beware of the snakes’ we think it should have been facing the traffic coming in considering its message !

Back on the N2 we continued east towards tonight’s accommodation at Port Elizabeth. The traffic was light in both directions and the road surface continued to be smooth as it has been for the last day or so making driving a breeze.

Every so often there were locals on both sides of the road waiting for a lift to who knows where. And sometimes we really had to wonder where these people had come from. Occasionally there might be a small group of houses away across fields in the distance and we assume that is where the people have come from. There has been the odd intercity bus, usually one out of Port Elizabeth heading for Cape Town, but the cost of going on these would probably be too great for the people sitting on the roadside awaiting a minivan or even hoping someone like us might stop and take them to their destination.

All along the highway since we left Storms River had been signs announcing the Humansdorp was so many kilometres away and as these numbers counted down we debated as to whether we should go and have a look at what this unusually named town looked like.

We decided against a detour instead going on a few more kilometres to where we took a slip road off to divert to Jeffrey’s Bay.

The town looked a seaside village that recently had started to grow rapidly as there was a shopping mall on the edge of the town but the roads leading down to the beach where the very established homes were located were in need of some maintenance.

We thought it was time for a coffee at least at least and we have seen a café chain called Mugg and Bean but it has never been quite the right time to stop. We should have parked around the corner from the main entrance to avoid the man in the glow vest who comes across and makes eye contact and says he is going to look after your car while you are away going other things and then you have to pay him Rand 5 for the privilege when you come back to your car.

We have struggled to keep Rand 5 pieces in our change and what with the parking guys and the guy that fills your petrol tank at the service station and cleans your windscreen you seem to always have your hand in your pocket.

However we did park out front and we did make eye contact with the glow vested man and so we will have to dig around and scrape up Rand 5 (NZ$0.50) while we are inside filling ourselves with a toasted sandwich, giant muffin and coffee.

The beach is purported to have one of the best surf breaks in the world and a large number of great white sharks in the coastal waters and there have been incidents of world famous surfers being attacked by the great white.

Rather than returning to the N2 we took the N102 or old main road just for a bit of a different scene even though it roughly followed the main highway.

Gradually the road took us away from the sweeping curve of the white sandy bay and we rejoined the N2 which by now some 30kms out of Port Elizabeth had become a two laned highway in each direction split by a grassy median.

We have found the lack of heavy traffic to be a surprise. If this was Auckland we would be crawling along 30kms out of the city at 30 to 50kph starting and stopping frequently. Here you could do 120kph consistently although we were happy at just over 100kph.

The GPS was put to use just in case our accommodation wasn’t easy to find, after all this is a city of well over a million people and from the highway looks very spread out.

The route the GPS took us gave us a ride along the sea coast and although we missed the avenue it gave us to turn inland it wasn’t far on to the next turn and in short order we were there.

The properties in the street where we are staying all have high walls and electrified wires on top so it gave the look of being very security conscious.

I gave the buzzer on the gate a push and a voice came over the intercom and then the gate opened and as we parked Karin was there to greet us.

Our room has a French flair to it and will suit us very well before we head tomorrow morning to PE airport, hand the car back and take our SA Airways flight to Jo’burg for the night and then the real adventure for our time in Africa will start.

We had dinner, a light one of salad, avo, mango and chicken at a local place called Something Good plus another taste of South African wine.

We thought we might beat the man in the glow vest with a torch (after all it was dark by 6.30pm) and save ourselves Rand5 for looking after the car while we were dining but no such luck.

He was a cheery chap, like they all have been, when we handed over our last Rand5 piece and now we had the dilemma of how we were going to pay the guy who will fill our petrol tank at the garage.

There was nothing for it but to make a quick visit to Pick n Pay for supplies of chocolate for our time on safari. With some careful choices on price we had ourselves half a dozen blocks of chocolate and enough change in Rand5 pieces to get us by for the petrol filling man and a few more that will require tipping over the next day or so as we get to and from our lodge in Jo’burg.

We are ready for the adventure to really start !

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