road trip south africa – snippets from the first 8 days

day 1.  jo’burg airport.  it’s cold.  people are wearing winter coats and hats and bushy scarves.  my nose is red and my fingers numb.  we camp in front of the british airways info desk wearing every article of (not winter) clothing we’ve brought, snuggled deep into (thank god for) warm sleeping bags.  a security guard walks by, sees us, says ít’s no wonder we have ghosts in this airport.’

day 2.  jo’burg airport.  i’m behind the steering wheel of a vw golf rental car, aptly named chica.  we are on our fourth loop around the airport compound (whaddya say – departures again? or arrivals this time?), trying to ‘get used to’ driving a stick-shift, on the wrong side of the road, on the wrong side of the car (passenger on the left, driver on the right, clutch thankfully still left foot).  i have yet to discover that what i think is first is actually third, and – more seriously – what i think is reverse is actually first.

the highway.  they have highway rest-stops here.  with aisles and glass freezers and cash registers.  62 varieties of candy bar and plastic two-liter bottles of flavored water.  beef jerky at the counter.  and there are white people everywhere – driving pickup trucks, working at the gas station, walking dogs, jogging on the road.  what country am i in anyway?

bergville.  camping at the foot of the drakensberg mountains, with the ‘mountain kingdom’ of lesotho in the distance.  it’s cold.  i’m wearing a sweater, a sweatshirt, a long-sleeved shirt, a t-shirt, two pairs of pants, and two pairs of socks.  i have ziplocked myself into the sleeping bag, and i’m still too cold to sleep.  sara gets up to pee.  í’m gonna make a run for it.’  she bolts for the toilets, runs blindly over rough terrain, trips, falls on her face, gets up and limps the rest of the way.  bloody knee.  first casualty.  it’s 32 degrees.

day 3.  royal natal national park.  hiking.  sunning ourselves on big rocks.  a back-drop of towering cliffs.  gorgeous.  and afterwards, sara learns to drive stick (on the worng side of the road on the wrong side of the car).  and we buy a blanket.

view of the drakensberg from our campsite the drakensberg amphitheatre chica

day 4.  durban.  we park chica in a parking garage (!) and go into a shopping mall (!) to see a travel agent who will tell us it’s too expensive for sara to fly back to rwanda.  we stop for lunch – a hamburger with feta cheese (!) and olives (!).  well toto, we’re not in rwanda anymore.

the highway.  i found the black people.  they keep them in run-down metal shacks in shanty towns outside the cities, or in tiny mud-hut villages with limited water and electricity.  i’m not sure i like this place.

port st. john.  night has fallen when we pull into a campground full of half-baked multi-colored hippies, jamming in a drum circle around an organic bonfire.

day 5.  port st. john.  beach.  ocean.  waves.  it’s still cold but we’re acclimatizing.  we walk on rocks doused in sea spray and Contemplate.  we take the dogs for a walk in the hills (not our dogs, not our hills).  we relax.

day 6.  sara sets my hair on fire.

day 7.  cintsa.  we go swimming in the waves (!).  we dive through them, jump over them, ride them, get tumbled, lose our bikini tops in the surf, get water up our noses and out our ears, relive our childhoods.  it’s thrilling.  then we have a bag lunch of bread and bread sandwiches and sandy apples.  then we have a sit-down dinner of tomato soup, homemade bread, red wine, roasted red peppers, egglant parmesan, spinach quiche, grilled calamari, jumbo shrimp, mussles, roasted chicken in gravy, baby arugula salad, bleu cheese, goat cheese, chocolate brownies, strawberries, and lemon meringue pie (!!!:)!!!)

day 8.  to date we have driven 1479km (on the wrong side of the road on the wrong side of the car).  we have had no flat tires, breakdowns, or speeding tickets.  we have hit no people, no cars, no fences, no cows, no goats, no dogs, no trees and no (big) rocks.  we have fallen off no cliffs and into no ditches.  it’s cape town or bust.

the beach at port st. john waves! benches (with a view)

~ by aliciawolcott on July 20, 2008.

One Response to “road trip south africa – snippets from the first 8 days”

  1. that’s a nice bench. you know what they say about benches? best part of hiking, my friend, best part.

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