South Africa - Round The World Tour 2003 Day 23

Tsitsikamer

Saturday 5th April

With nothing compelling enough to keep us in Colesberg, we were checked out of Mimosa and were on our way this morning by nine o’clock. We weren’t sure how far we would get but we headed in the general direction of Port Elizabeth on the South coast. Sandy’s hatred for sitting in a car for hours on end really showed during the drive down. We finally arrived in PE at around two in the afternoon after the usual couple of stops for fuel and sustenance. With no particular plan of attack having arrived, we headed for the tourist information office with a vague intention of finding somewhere to sleep for the night as well as an Internet café. Just as the guidebook tells, the staff there was uninspiring and generally unhelpful. We left with a few brochures that we’d picked out ourselves but we did get directions to a near-by Internet café. One out of two was not bad. It is Africa after all. Sandy checked her e-mail but Apple’s web based e-mail was once again not working so I have no idea if anyone has responded to the WorldTravel Update that I sent out yesterday. I am curious to see what, if any, feedback there was to the photos I put online. Not to worry, we’ll come across another Internet Café soon, I’m sure.

Much like the tourist information office, PE itself was rather dull and uninspiring so we didn’t stay long. There was some discussion in the car about just where the Garden Route actually begins and we never really resolved it so we just kept driving in a westerly direction down the main coast road. At the far eastern end of the Garden Route lies the Tsitsikamer mountain range and national park. After reaching it, we followed the ‘i’ sign to a local convenience store that doubled as a tourist information office and met a very nice old woman sitting outside who turned out to be the tourist guide. She was a wealth of information and helped us sort out the next couple of nights accommodation. Sandy had phoned around a bit on the cell phone in the car but everywhere she called, the prices seemed to be very high and just a little outside of the price range that we are trying to stay within. For tonight, she organised a self-catering cottage that was within sight, and practically walking distance, of the conveniences store and was run by one of the nice old woman’s neighbours. In fact, it was next door to where the woman lived and we even gave her a ride over there.

The cottage is nice but very basic and has no refrigerator. Hot water comes out of the cold tap for a few minutes and the water itself has a light brown tint to it. We may or may not have done much better for the R200 ($25) rent for the night but at least the people are friendly and the place did come highly recommended. The bread, eggs and ham that I picked up at the convenience store before we drove over should see us through breakfast and lunch tomorrow. Tonight, we are joining the owners for a braai (BBQ) for our supper. We have no idea what the charge for this will be but at least we are being fed.

Well, the braai was quite nice with plenty of meat. Most of it, however, was an indecipherable type of sausage meat. It was apparently made from their cattle and prepared by a local butcher. If you didn’t look at it, it was tolerable. Plenty of potato salad and all sorts of other stuff that I wouldn’t touch were there for the taking. It was a nice evening and we chatted for some time about the local area and various other topics. It will be interesting tomorrow morning when we find out how much the meal cost.

Tomorrow, then we are off to a nature reserve called Storm River. Thanks to Jean, the nice old woman from the tourist office, we are booked there for at least the next night. Scenery seems to be the biggest draw of this area so we’ll see just how wonderful it is tomorrow.

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