|Monday slips away before we Baz to Coffee Bay, deep in the former Homeland of Transkei. The homelands were set up by South Africas apartheid government, and operated as a separate state in a thinly veiled attempt to prove to the outside world that the Blacks & Coloureds were being looked after. The landscape is extremely hilly, and we pass Nelson Mandelas home town and one of his houses (the one that got the Ground Force treatment -ha ha!!). Arrive at Umtata for a 100km shuttle journey deep into the countryside for the peace of Coffee Bay.
The two hostels here are very different - Coffee Shack comes highly recommended as a party venue, whereas Bomvu is far more chilled. First night is spent at Coffee Shack, with free beers on arrival, free shots etc through the night keeping us fired up. The party spirit feels a bit forced, but we get into the swing eventually. Food is excellent though, get gorgeous seafood pasta. Early night again - must be losing my touch!!
Have breakfast on Tuesday with Mandi & Kate at Bomvu, and talk myself out of the surf lessons at Coffee Shack. Instead we take a very windy 9km walk along the coast with a local guide to the Hole in the Wall. Nearly get blown off the cliffs, and seriously sand-blasted on one beach, but the wind abates and we start to enjoy ourselves more. Stop at the little Hole in the Wall, and spend 15 minutes resting and watching a whale a few hundred metres out to sea. One last blast of walking takes us to HitW, which is far less interesting than the walk itself. Still, we're all glad (to varying degrees) of the exercise, and have lunch before heading back to the hostel. We have a Hawaiian themed night (not Halloween as I'd heard at first "WHERE are we going to get pumkins from?" I thought!!). Tom, Becca, Usha, Carla & Jeff all join in, making shell garlands and palm leaf skirts. Too bloody cold to stay in costume for long, and I disappear over to Bomvu for dinner of fish braai with the girls. 6 or 7 local girls turn up to dance and nearly get blown off the makeshift stage by strong winds as we huddle in our fleeces around the fire. Wouldn't catch me dressing up like that!!
Change hostel on Wednesday morning, seeking a good nights kip at Bomvu. Try body-boarding at the beach with Jeff & Becs; must get some lessons!! Have a bit of a flap trying to change airline tickets, and chill out with a fantastic Indian head massage by bomvu's resident practitioner. Never had a massage from a fella before, but it does the trick and I finish the day watching the sun set behind the hills with a mug of Mint & Lemon Grass tea picked from the hostel garden. Get all deep and meaningful around the fire with local guy Silas & a couple of very smart chicas, feel totally outgunned! Night on a Rizla-thin matress isn't great, but at least I don't have anyone wrigling around on the bunk above me.
Get a rude awakening at 9:30 Thursday, told we're leaving for Umtata in half an hour (2 hours early) so the hostel staff can go shopping. Not f@cking happy. We spend the next 3 hours twiddling thumbs at the Umtata Shell Ulta City (read 'scabby Service station') before the Baz to Durban arrives. We've got an 11hour journey ahead, so stock up with a few beeers to ease the pain. Cue long gaps between comfort stops, much crossing of legs and watering of eyes! Finally get to Durban just before midnight, and the expected double room turns out to be a garden shed with a double bed in it! Not a great intro to the bright city lights again. Move inside & twitch around for hours due to too many Vodka Red Bulls on the Baz.