South Africa - Round The World Tour 2003 Day 26
Monday 7th April
Today was a fun day and we really got to enjoy ourselves. After getting up this morning and enjoying the free cereal and fruit breakfast provided, we drove down to the waterfront to catch the steam train ride to George. At just R55 ($7) per person, it was hard to pass up the opportunity to catch a ride on a genuine steam train. The two and a half hour trip would take us through some spectacular scenery in a leisurely manor and in style. As luck would have it, we had the whole front carriage to ourselves. I think the reason the other forty or so passengers took the carriages further back was because it is so close to the steam engine, which puts out a lot of small grains of debris in the form of spent coal fuel. When you are leaning out of the window on either side to gape at the scenery, you tend to get a head and mouthful of little gritty bits and pieces when the wind catches the steam exhaust just right. It didn’t spoil our enjoyment and we had a thoroughly good time – being a healthily married couple 😉
Once we reached the other end of the line in George (about sixty kilometres down the coast), we looked around the train museum there and grabbed a snack before getting on the minivan taxi back to Knysna. For an extra R10 ($1), we could have stayed on the train for the return trip but we had other plans and the taxi ride was just a thirty-minute jaunt. When we arrived back at the Knysna train station, we kind of ‘forgot’ to pay the R60 per person fee to the driver. It wasn’t intentional; it’s just that nobody bothered to ask us to pay anything and I certainly wasn’t going to volunteer. Didn’t think happen to us once before in the Cradle of Humankind?
We were originally going to take the ‘township tour’ this afternoon. This is a three hour tour through one of the local townships where you get to meet to locals, see their village, their witch doctors and chiefs and so on. At R180 ($22) per person, it’s not cheap but the money (or at least a good chunk of it) goes towards the building of a township school. A guide takes us through and the locals accept you (and your cameras) as they know that you represent money coming into the community – or so they tell us anyway. Since we couldn’t arrange the tour in time, we will now do this tomorrow.
With a gaping hole in our afternoon, we decided to take the catamaran trip through ‘the heads’ inlet and out into the ocean. The trip lasted about an hour and a half and we got to navigate through some impressive scenery but only just managed it to the open ocean before turning back to port. There was just a little bit of chop once we got past the inlet but not quite enough to bring on nausea.
After returning from the boat ride, I bought an ice cream to create change for the car guard and we headed back to our backpackers place via one of the local Internet cafés which doubles as a postal service. We wanted to check the cost of sending a crate full of curios back to Europe. The costs aren’t too bad but we’ll still probably pay more in postage than the cost of the curios themselves. Just like Christmas in Florida and sending Christmas presents back to the Nephews and Nieces in England and Holland.
So, tomorrow is the township tour in the morning and a visit to one of the larger Internet Cafés in the afternoon to upload some more pictures (as well as the family reunion photos at last!). I’ve sorted out and processed all the photos I’m going to be uploading so there shouldn’t be much to do other than wait for the upload to complete with iPhoto.
I sent an e-mail to Iris this evening telling her about our progress and the fact that we are slightly behind our originally expected schedule. At this point, it’s looking like we will get to Gaborone no earlier that the end of April.
I’ve been slowly starting to think about where to go after we reach Cape Town and ditch the rental car (and rental cell phone). We know that we want to go to Namibia and we already have the option of a luxury bus service to get there but the guy at the front desk seems to think that we should be able to get a flight into Windhoek from the Cape for under R500 ($62) per person. Since the 24-hour bus ride will cost us R430 ($54) per person, it doesn’t seem reasonable not to fly. He also looked into some organised overland tours for us today. He found a 12-day Cape Town to Windhoek option for around R4000 ($500) per person but he thought that this was expensive. I almost fell off the floor when he said this, as nothing I could find through US/European operators during my research was anywhere near as cheap. He’s going to do some more research for us tomorrow while we are doing the township tour so we’ll see what he’s come up with by mid-day.