This is a day to put the kilometers behind us as we drive the remote area called the "Wild Coast". Shelldon was a bit concerned yesterday that we were driving almost to New London and cautioned us to be sure to go the inland route so there would be some traffic, but we first check out the beach in front of the hotel and then have a nice, included breakfast in the Oyster Box’s open air dining room. That done, we pay the remaining bill, call for luggage assistance and the car and are on the road by 9AM. We pick up the N2 and head south through and around Durban. The highway is US Interstate quality but is a toll road for part of the way. The tolls are not bad and we spend something over $5US on our drive this morning.
At Port Shepstone we leave the toll road and turn inland almost due west to Kokstad where we get gas and take a necessary break. This is probably the most interesting pit stop we will make! It is a R&R stop for the bus vans and is crowded with people. Carolyn finds the restrooms...a free standing building between the gas station and the fast food place. There are people milling around everywhere...what are the chances of the toilets being half way decent???? Surprise...they are clean and stocked with two attendants watching over things. There is a dish for tips and when Carolyn put in a one rand coin both ladies say thank you.
The land here is high and rolling and reminds us of places in the American West. This is still the N2 but is now two lanes with decent shoulders and regular passing lanes so traffic moves right along. Only once does a big truck refuse to move over and let its backed up cars around. But this does not even delay us long.
Except for the built up area around Durban and its suburbs, the settlements along the road from Durban to the turn in the highway are still very small and very Zulu looking. The plots of land still appear to be the home of a multi-generational family unit and these are clustered together in small village like groups. Life is still lived outdoors and there are many stopping places for the van transportation system we have seen since leaving Johannesburg. People walk everywhere...across fields and along the road. One thing Shelldon did tell us is that the Zulu believe having the toilet inside is unhealthy and breeds bad spirits in the house, so everyone has an outhouse! Even the nicer looking houses...some modern ones that even have two car garages! They also believe that evil spirits live in corners so many of the older generation still live in the round house. Also, the tires on top of the house wards off the evil spirits. After we turn inland the style of the houses doesn’t change much. But we see more single homes on the plots, though there is still a modern out house on every plot even if there is no house! This is Xhosa land. An area to which many blacks escaped many years ago to avoid the worst of apartheid. It is still largely a black area and the poorest in the country.
At Mount Frere and again at Mthatha we experience a Saturday market day; the towns are crowded with people and vendors. We have to drive slowly through the people crossing the road/street but we enjoy the experience and are soon out of the towns and on our way each time.
Our stop for the night is Crawford’s Beach Guest House and thank heavens for a GPS that knows where it is located. It faces Cintsa Bay just north of East London. We find it but miss the entry gate button and have to call for the gate to open. The first time it opens and closes too quick for us to get in but the second try gives us access and we creep down a very narrow steep drive into the multi-building complex. We check in and have Room #1 which is on a level with the dining room. This is a half board establishment with breakfast and dinner included. Our room is nice but old with a patio that overlooks the ocean and the lawn below the pool. There seem to be a lot of families here. We are the oldest guests we see.
Dick scores some ice from the bar and we enjoy a cocktail or two and then go to dinner. Each room has its own table and dinner is buffet style. The spread is very nice with roast beef (a little tough), fried calamari, baked salmon, fried fish and multiple vegetables, salads and dessert choices. The chef is a young, oriental man who is from Wisconsin. His father moved the family to South Africa in 2003.
After a very good dinner, we are ready for a shower and bed but first Dick finds he must do a little plumbing as he discovers that the drain pipe to the bathroom sink is not connected. This explains the water running out of the cabinet into which the sink is set. The hose clamp has come loose and his trusty Leatherman Tool makes short work of a repair.
The AC is working well, the bed is comfortable and you know what comes next.........