Life in a Mud Hut!

Today was a bit mellower compared to yesterday as it unfortunately didn’t involve much thrill seeking adventure. I opted out of the only adventure activity for the day which was zip lining above the Kruis River and across the waterfalls in the Tsitsikamma region. After the bungee jump yesterday, I just didn’t think I’d get quite the adrenaline rush so Machiel (the guide) and I decided to go on a hike rather pay for the zip lining. We were able to walk down to the river and hike through the forest that surrounded it as we made our way towards the waterfalls—an absolutely fabulous sight! Fortunately the weather cooperated and the rain held-off for most of the day. We had a little bit of time to kill when we were done with hike and Machiel has this obsession with fairies—he doesn’t believe in them but rather is just very fascinated with the fantasy aspect of them… so I got to learn all about fairies and he even showed me his fairy book. Ha, I promise that Machiel is an awesome guide and like I said before a total stereotypical surfer but he definitely has his quirks… I guess it keeps the trip interesting though… I mean who thought I’d be learning about fairies on my tour of the Garden Route!

Next we made our way to Port Elizabeth, leaving the Garden Route and entering the Eastern Cape region which is primarily more countryside rather than the forestation of the Garden Route. Port Elizabeth is a large industrial city that is commonly referred to as the “friendly city.” Port Elizabeth (abbreviated PE) is home to the assembly plants for GM, Volkswagen, and Ford for the entire country. It is also the most significant Iron Ore loading facility in the Southern Hemisphere. The city surrounds Algoa Bay that was recently renamed to the Nelson Mandela Bay that stretches for more than 16 km so after lunch we headed down to the ocean front where we spent some time walking along the beach and exploring. It doesn’t seem to matter where you are in South Africa as the scenery here in just hands down gorgeous! We also passed by one of the five or six stadiums that they built here in South Africa last year for the World Cup and the design and architecture of the stadium was ridiculously cool!

After some time exploring PE, we headed towards the Addo area which is known for its citrus fruits. We passed countless of lemon and orange trees and citrus farms along the way. Machiel also told us some random stuff about life here in South Africa… for instance, many of the motorcyclists don’t register their bikes. The reason is that they have cameras that automatically detect your speed and if you are caught speeding by the camera you are automatically ticketed. To avoid this they simply don’t register their motorcycle and thus are able to go whatever speed they want—the top speed limit here is 120 km/hr but many of them go as fast as 200 km/hr so by not registering their motorcycle they skip out on all of the speeding tickets. Of course they face a R500 fine (about $70) if they get caught without a license but let’s be honest… this is Africa and the cops here don’t seem to be so worried about the registration of a vehicle so many of them are able to simply get by without a registration fine (which would be significantly less than a speeding fine anyways)… a pretty clever way to get around the law I’d say! We stayed at the Avoca River Cabins for the night and pulled in right as the sun was going down so we were able to catch the sunset over the river that was right outside our mud huts… yes, our mud huts! Our accommodation for the night consists of a very traditional mud hut with a thatch roof and all… pretty cool! There is very little lighting and obviously no heating within the huts but surprisingly its not too cold! I took a quick walk up to the reception area to ask for some cooking supplies for our dinner tonight and I ended up talking to the owner and her entire extended family for more than a half hour in their home which was very enjoyable! The people here are seriously some of the nicest I have ever met and very friendly and welcoming. Upon telling them why I was here in South Africa and what all I was doing, their niece (it was seriously a family reunion-like atmosphere as everyone was there) who actually lives in America immediately gave me the name and number of her cousin who lives in Cape Town in case I’d ever have a problem or need anything… this courteousness and friendliness is pretty common here in South Africa and the people here are just wonderful—they seem to always be willing to go out of their way for one another, helping each other out when they can, even if they don’t know the other person. It’s good to know that this still exists somewhere in the world!

Machiel made a very traditional dinner for us tonight called Potjie—a chicken and vegetable mixture with a coconut, curry sauce… let’s just say it may have been the best thing I have ever eaten… no joke, it was delicious! Yummy! Alright, random fact of the day for you: Namibia was a part of South Africa until 1990 when it gained its independence… its crazy recent history huh!

Miss you all!

~Susan

Port Elizabeth

My cute, little Mud Hut (on the left)

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