Tag Archives: road trip

Lesotho

12 Dec

We drove up from Durban to the Amphitheater Backpackers because they have a nice day trip they run into the Drakensberg. The day we were there, however, they weren’t doing that trip. Of course. So, we signed up for the one trip they were running, a journey into Lesotho.

Eric:  The two things I will remember most about Lesotho were the cute kids and the most expensive post card ever.

Alan:  I will remember Eric finally learning how to properly pronounce Lesotho.

Eric:  That’s not on me, man. They need to learn how to spell things.

Dane:  I will remember our crazy tour guide. Maybe insane is a better word.

Alan:  He used pretty crass language for a tour guide.

Eric:  And talked about his drug use on more than one occasion.

Dane:  He said he was kicked out of the army for being a schizophrenic.

Alan:  Or just claimed he was.

Eric:  That was weird.

Alan:  Dane, you weren’t there, but later that night at the bar we overheard a conversation between him and some girl where he said he delivered his own baby. The midwife just left or something.

Eric:  He claimed the most messed up thing about the whole thing was having to bury the placenta in the yard.

Dane:  You’d think that would be the least messed up thing. At that point, the job is done.

Eric:  What about the conversation we had with the people who were serious about the world ending with the end of the Mayan calendar?

Dane:  That was hilarious. And they came to Africa because that’s the one place where people survive. They came to that realization based on the movie 2012. Incredible. Then, we took shots with 17 year olds.

Eric:  I was stunned when I found out they were 17.

Dane:  I don’t think I could have handled traveling Africa at that age.

Alan:  They were all perfecting their English at some place in Cape Town.

Dane:  They were a group of two boys and two girls, and they got a little embarrassed when Eric asked them if they were dating.

Eric:  I’m looking forward to going to bars in America where everyone is over 21.

Dane:  Let’s get back to the rural villages we saw in Lesotho.

Eric:  Did I mention the expensive post card?

Dane:  Yeah.

Eric:  That’s all I care about.

Dane:  We met a medicine woman.

Eric:  She was awesome. I loved her enthusiasm.

Alan:  I would have loved to see her dance with the chicken on her head.

Eric:  It’s amazing she’s so revered. All she does is get into a psychedelic trance and ask dead people for advice.

Dane:  It’s quite a skill.

Lesotho was quite mountainous with small huts doting the landscape. It was a beautiful country, but a rough area to live. The soil was rocky, and the farmable land was minimal. It was also much colder in Lesotho since it was up in the mountains. It was an interesting final activity for our trip, even if it wasn’t our first choice.

Noel’s 75th & Durban

11 Dec

We arrived at Alan’s uncle’s house in Belitto, a town just north of Durban, just in time to help him celebrate his 75th birthday. Alan’s cousins and their kids joined the celebration as well.

Alan:  Pool party number 2.

Eric:  Things escalated, especially for a 75th birthday.

Dane:  You didn’t fall asleep at 10:30 pm this time.

Eric:  I wish I had.

Alan:  We were lucky it worked out for us arrive in time for the celebration. There was a nice spread of food and drinks. There was a braai by the pool and drinks were flowing liberally. I got to see the whole clan down in South Africa, and you two got to meet them all.

Dane:  Lovely people they were. Much nicer than you.

Alan:  Fair enough.

Eric:  More than fair.

Dane:  But only because they were so very, incredibly nice and welcoming and giving. You are just at the “very” level.

Eric:  They’re also looking forward to a future engagement.

Dane:  Thanks to you.

Eric:  I may have given them a wedding date for Alan and In-Young, and told them I started preparing my best man speech.

Alan:  Best man?

Eric:  Best man or not, I’m giving a speech.

Dane:  My favorite part of the night was when Alan’s entire family was in the kitchen chatting except for Alan’s uncle, Noel, and me and Eric.

Eric:  Noel said, “I never expected to be spending my 75th chatting with two Americans instead of my family.”

Alan:  Most of the party turned in around midnight.

Eric:  When did we go to bed?

Alan:  Around 1:30 am.

Dane:  We weren’t the only ones still out. Both of Alan’s cousins, Rory and Kate, and Kate’s daughter Siobhan also burned the midnight oil with us.

Eric:  From both ends.

Alan:  The next day, none of us wanted to do anything. Really it’s been a common theme throughout South Africa. We have a big night out, and the next day we accomplish nothing.

Dane:  We went to the beach.

Eric:  The swim freshened us up a bit. It had me feeling better.

Alan:  Then, we just returned back to Noel’s for dinner.

Dane:  The next day, Rory offered to take us out on the boat for some fishing.

Alan:  The boat could only carry two people at once, so me and Dane went out to fish first, and Eric had his manhood threatened when a 14 year-old boy offered to hold him up while Eric tried to surf.

Eric:  All I have to say is I didn’t wipeout.

Dane:  That’s all?

Eric:  I refused the offer too! He didn’t prop me up.

Alan:  Then, we went to Rory’s for another braai, and to watch the Man United game.

Dane:  We certainly didn’t go hungry during our last weekend in South Africa.

Eric:  Another terrific braai in South Africa.

Alan:  That was our last night with the O’Connor clan.

Dane:  They were terrific hosts.

Eric:  When we left this morning and hit the road, Noel gave us beers for the road for some reason.

Alan:  Moira gave us chips and peanuts.

Dane:  Perfect bar food.

Eric:  Unbelievably Irish.

Coffee Bay & Margate & Southbroom

10 Dec

We entered Coffee Bay under cover of darkness. The Wild Coast highway delivering us to our destination was in disrepair. Potholes, one lane for two cars, and packed-dirt roads were features of the drive there. It also occurred under heavy fog and light rain. It took us several hours longer than anticipated for us to arrive, but we eventually made it. The sound of tribal drums created an eerie backdrop as we searched for our hostel in the darkness. Trees and vegetation surrounded the road into Coffee Bay, forming a dense curtain of darkness. At any moment, Captain Kurtz could have appeared to greet us. We were in the jungle, lost in place and time. So were many of the other residents (for various reasons).

Alan:  We left from Jeffereys at 11:30 am and didn’t arrive at Coffee Bay till 10 pm.

Eric:  We also bungee jumped that morning, so it made the day even longer.

Dane:  I remember we were all tired when we first arrived because when we finally got someone to help us get the car into the secure lot, they told us they had to cut off the lock, making the lot where we would be leaving our car no longer secure. None of us cared.

Eric:  In the morning, someone offered to sell me ‘shrooms.

Dane:  Coffee Bay is an old hippie hang out. It’s kind of tucked away off the main roads and maintains much of the same mentalities of the old hippies. In fact, a few of them are still there.

Alan:  We decided we had to check it out when we were deciding where to go on our road trip.

Dane:  Why not?

Alan:  Coffee Bay also gave us one of our nice days on the road trip. It was sunny, so the beach was terrific.

Eric:  I just think hippies are nice people.

Dane:  Is that why you were constantly giggling in their presence?

Alan:  Laughing at them?

Eric:  (giggling)

Dane:  The hippies probably never realized you were laughing at them. They probably just assumed you were stoned.

Eric:  Because they clearly were.

Dane:  It’s all they know.

Alan:  They did know how to create wonderful lounge areas, though.

Eric:  That’s for sure. The lounge chairs and swings and things were wonderful.

Dane:  Our next stop was Margate and Southbroom.

Alan:  We drove up from Coffee Bay on another non-coastal coast road.

Eric:  We were going to stay in Margate, but the hotels were absurdly overpriced, because like at Plettenberg Bay, there were a number of recent high school grads raging on the beach.

Dane:  Our hostel down the road in Southbroom was quite interesting.

Alan:  I’m pretty sure the hostel was run by a hippie who had escaped Coffee Bay.

Dane:  Or wandered away one day and got lost.

Eric:  It was weird because we were basically just staying at his house. It was nice and cheap, though, and he had a pool that allowed us to throw a cool pool party!

Dane:  A pool party for three!

Eric:  The best kind.

Alan:  Eric fell asleep in a chair at 5 pm.

Eric:  Hey, hey, hey. It was at least 10:30.

Alan:  Maybe.

Eric:  After spending the day at the beach in Margate with all those young high schoolers, I was feeling old. You two made me feel young again when you drew something on my face, which is not mentionable here because it’s not blog appropriate, though any man would laugh at what it was. Waking up in the morning, and seeing that on my face, took the years away.

Dane:  You’re welcome.

Alan:  Then, we jumped in the car and headed up the coast to Durban to see my family.

Dane:  Yeah, we arrived just in time for your uncle’s 75th birthday.

Eric:  It was great!

Dane:  We’ll push that story to the next blog.

Eric:  To be continued…

Knysna, Jeffereys Bay, and Bungee

6 Dec

Our journey up the garden route brought us to Knysna and Jeffereys Bay, allowed for a short detour into Plettenberg Bay, and a chance to bungee off a 216 m high bridge at Bloukrans.

Alan:  Knysna is meant to be nice, but it turned into a bit of a dud for us.

Eric:  We got unlucky with the weather. It rained all day.

Alan:  We met some nice people and went out for drinks, but that’s basically the extent of our Knysna stop.

Dane:  Yeah, we were pretty unlucky with that. The day we left the weather cleared up a bit. On our drive, we stopped in a town on the coast called Plettenberg Bay.

Eric:  Hahahaha.

Dane:  We had been told by JP that Plettenberg would be full of young kids matricking, some sort of slang for matriculating, we think, and is a party for recent high school graduates.

Eric:  We were way too old to be there.

Alan:  Is there anything more to say?

Dane:  Yes!

Eric:  It’s basically a high school spring break.

Alan:  Or students we might have been teaching 4 months ago.

Dane:  Plettenberg had a red bull sponsored stage with a DJ setup. It had lots of high school rugby players. It had girls trying to outdo each other with their beach attire. It had kids trying to act older than they actually were by smoking cigarettes. It was hilarious. But yes, we were too old to be there. We left almost immediately.

Alan:  We tried to find a less youth dominated beach, but we couldn’t find a turn off for one. We got all the way to Jeffereys Bay before we got to the beach again.

Dane:  The beach in Jeffereys is really nice.

Alan:  It’s a real surfers town, though.

Eric:  Since the water was still really cold and we don’t surf, there wasn’t much for us there.

Dane:  The dolphins were nice at sunset.

Eric:  Oh yeah, that was really cool.

Alan:  I think Jeffereys is known for its dolphins.

Dane:  There were certainly a lot of them.

Alan:  We should also mention the bit where a kid went missing.

Dane:  And is still missing.

Eric:  It’s really sad.

Dane:  The search and rescue guides searched for hours.

Alan:  They were searching again this morning, too.

Dane:  At this point, they’re only looking for a body. There’s no happy ending there. Tragic.

Eric:  Yeah, it’s awful.

Dane:  So, let’s hear about your bungee experience off the bridge.

Alan:  Another thing you abandoned us on.

Dane:  The jump wasn’t too early like the meerkats nor was it too expensive. I just have no desire to do something like that.

Alan:  The bungee is great because of the way it’s advertised.

Eric:  Yeah, they don’t care that they’re no longer the world’s tallest bungee because they still claim that it is … or not claim but still call it the world’s tallest bungee. There was even a sign that said it hasn’t been the world’s tallest bungee since 2007, but it’s still known as the world’s tallest bungee. Ridiculous.

Alan:  It’s kind of like when American sports teams call themselves the world champions of something when they are only the champions of America. Ridiculous.

Dane:  That’s uncalled for.

Eric:  Yeah, Alan, it’s not like that at all.

The rest of the conversation (argument?) has been omitted due to inappropriate language and for brevity. Next stop on drive, Coffee Bay. Goodbye garden route, hello wild coast.

The Garden Route, Part Oudtshoorn

5 Dec

Oudtshoorn is an old town which was built up around the Ostrich feather boom prior to World War I. Back then, Ostrich feathers were like gold, but the market for feathers dried up. The town, though not as rich as it once was, is still there, and is still in the Ostrich business, only now the leather, not the feathers, is the most valuable product they export. Just outside of town there are also a few waterfalls, a meerkat ranch, and the Kango Caves. We did our best to see some of what the town had to offer one day by biking a 54 km route past many of the sites.

Dane:  We arrived the night before but only had dinner and signed up for the bike ride. The waterfalls and the meerkats didn’t fit into the bike trip, so they were saved for the following day.

Eric:  The bike ride was cool.

Alan:  It was long. Too long for a cobblestone rode.

Dane:  The seats were also too small.

Eric:  I liked the first part. The top of the mountain where we were actually mountain biking.

Dane:  That’s the part you wiped out on.

Eric:  I was going to leave that bit out.

Alan:  Your favorite part was the part where you messed up the most.

Eric:  I also had a flat tire.

Dane:  That wasn’t your fault, though.

Alan:  It might have been the baboons.

Eric:  I also like the beginning in the mountains because there were baboons.

Dane:  The worst part of the flat tire was that none of us knew how to fix it.

Alan:  And none of us had the app on our phone.

Eric:  Luckily we were near the caves at that point, maybe only two kilometers away, so I was able to walk it there and get help.

Dane:  The staff at the caves were so good at changing that bike tire.

Eric:  They put us to shame.

Alan:  The caves were pretty cool.

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Eric:  They were massive.

Dane:  At least for the tour we were on.

Alan:  Yeah, it would have been interesting to do the long tour and go crawling and climbing through the deeper parts of the cave.

Eric:  Where people get stuck.

Dane:  I thought it was cool that they used to have concerts down in the largest part of the cave and that the acoustics in there were naturally suited for such a thing.

Eric:  Until people started wandering away from the concert to vandalize the cave.

Dane:  People are such idiots.

Alan:  The ostrich farm was also fun. The best part was Dane got to ride one. Or maybe the best part was when the guy pointed to me and Eric and said we were too heavy to ride one.

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Eric:  No, that wasn’t the best part.

Dane:  We all know your favorite part, Eric, when the ostriches gave you a neck massage.

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Eric:  It was relaxing. What can I say? My least favorite part was when an ostrich bit my finger. My favorite part was how much water we got to drink.

Dane:  The bike ride was certainly exhausting. It was nice to stop at the ostrich farm and the Kango Caves as a break.

Alan:  It was a good bike ride, but most of it was on the road. It wasn’t really mountain biking, which is what I had initially pictured it would be.

Dane:  Yeah, the last 20 km of the ride were not that great.

Eric:  Let’s talk about the meerkats.

Dane:  I didn’t go on this little adventure with Alan and Eric because it was too early in the morning and too expensive.

Alan:  They were really cool to see, but we got unlucky with the weather.

Eric:  It was cold and windy, so the meerkats stayed hidden mostly, but it was nice to see them when they finally emerged. I also think it’s cool the way they stand straight up.

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Dane:  Anything else?

Eric:  Nope.

Dane:  Do we need to talk about the waterfall?

Eric:  I don’t think so. It was a waste.

Alan:  It was a long drive out of our way for not that much. I mean the waterfall was nice. It just wasn’t worth it.

Dane:  The bike ride, ostrich farm, and Kango Caves were definitely the highlights. Of course, I would recommend for people to stop there for the day if they get the chance.

Eric:  I agree.

Dane:  After the long detour to the waterfall, we headed down to the coast to a little beach town called Knysna, our next stop on the graden route.

Stellenbosch

3 Dec

Ever since we told our buddy, Mark, we were going to South Africa, he’s been telling us we should stop by his parents’ place. We declined at first, but his insistence broke us and we acquiesced. The visit was well worth it.

His parents live in Stellenbosch, a town built up around the success of wine vineyards about a 40 minute drive inland from Cape Town. It was a quaint little town surrounded by vineyards.

Finding their place was a bit challenging. It was at the edge of town, and there were very few road signs. We ended up driving in the opposite direction twice before we finally got on the right path. We drove through windy roads wrapped around the bottom of mountains and past trees that rose up along the side of the road, shading us from the sun as we peered out at verdant rows of grape vines. The scenery made the extra time it took to find their place no worry. We were happy enough taking in the views.

We arrived at their house with warm greetings and the smell of chicken on the braai. We walked around the property a bit and took in a tremendous sunset with a view of the Cape of Good Hope and Table Mountain in the far distance.

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Over dinner we chatted about Mark, Korea, and Michelle, Mark’s new fiancé whom they’ve only communicated with over Skype. They had lots of questions, and we did our best to provide answers.

We finished the night in front of the TV watching the Aston Villa game with Mark’s dad, and getting advice from Mark’s mom about different places to stop on the garden route. The one recommendation that made us do a double take was her telling us to stop at Ronnie’s Sex Shop for a beer or a bite to eat. Like everywhere she’s recommended so far, it turned out not to be a sex shop (well, in name only) and to be worth the stop.

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In the morning we said our goodbyes and thanked them as best we could. They fed us two wonderful meals, poured us Stellenbosch wines, and gave us wonderful advice. We were really glad Mark talked us into staying with them, and we set off for Outdshoorn to begin our road trip up the garden route.