south africa, part 7

March 18th 2012
Published: March 18th 2012
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Saying goodbyes (with a foul rotten smell: one of the guys throws away the chicken which is way over the expiring date in the bin !) in particular Jeff & Alison ; Jeff is peevish about the 2 Germans, who shared an upperbunk: they had discovered the dispenser with free condoms apparently (HIV/AIDS is a problem in SA as well) & were practising some pelvic movements while Jeff lay in the lower bunk.

We leave for Umtata, the birth region of Nelson Mandela; after 4 hrs we discover the museum is in renovation and the city is totally black with black people. We stick out like a sore thumb, so after a fast food snack we leave for Coffeebay, a coastal village. 80 k’s took us more than… 1 ½ hrs because of the potholes: we have to zigzag round the big & deep holes in the asphalt, sometimes there is not even asphalt.

Finally at 17.00 hrs we reach a backpackershostel at a rough sea: the weather has changed, a cyclone (named Irene) has been forecasted. Lengthy conversation with Vanessa, a German engineer who works at WDR (German TV channel) , for the first time noisy children running around of which I’m not too fond actually.

Next day backwards on the same road to Grahamstown, at 07.00hrs the children are walking in their schooluniforms to school. Walking besides freeways is a normal thing in SA by the way, as is hitchhiking.

Grahamstown is typical British with –supprisingly- Dutch streetnames, like Retiefstraat (also an street in Rotterdam). Entrance in a backpackhostel filled with the noise of 3 Dutch students Journalism, who apparently introduced their morals: lazy lying on the couches, playing with their cellphones and shouting although the distance of the 3 couches is a mere 90 cm’s. I wearily manage to plug in my notebook in a wallsocket, which is hard to find because every room seems to have just 1 and yes , finally free wifi. So I publish my first 2 entries on the internet on the travelweblog.

Grahamstown has a black population with white students, since it is a university city

On the street I meet Lizbeth: a woman who is the epitomy of the universal granny

She is quite ebony black , smiles wonderfully when I say she has a lovely face and poses for a picture. I give her some money since apparently she fills her day with begging.

A visit to the observatory museum on recommendation of 2 afrikaner students (named van Heerden and Marais). Galpin was the first in the 18th century to build an observatory consisting of mirrors, it needs just 2 cords to adjust them. With these you can literally spy on neighbours and the city: even the traffic lights were visible, quite amazing , furthermore because I am standing on the same spot as he did some where in the 1780’s !

End of the month means payday, so literally everybody is queuing athe ATM’s for withdrawing money; no chipcard or pincard is used in supermarkets! This will last for 3 days (!) so we are quite happy to have cash on us.

A bottle of excellent Merlot wine finishes my day; only disrupted by the almost 8 year and quite witty son of Sean, the proprietor of the hostel. The ‘Chimp’ as he calls himself awakes

with a nightmare; his beautiful blue to-old-for his-good eyes look at me as I try to discover what makes him go over the top. We settle the discussion that a sword above his bed is definitely NO option and a big Elephant IN his bed will do.

Next morning were off to Addo: a renowned wildgame park mostly Elephants.

Just a drive under 1 ½ hrs since it s 110 k’s. The scenery is beautiful: but –for those who are familiar with The Lord of the Rings- this was what Tolkien had in mind when he wrote it, since he lived back then in South Africa. As we arrive I notice we have driven over 3500 K’s and the car is covered with dust, dirt and splashed flies.


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