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Au coeur du monde

The wild coast

Afrique du Sud, Afrique, English Article4 min read

Thank you to our dear Damien for this translation. French version here

5 days on the Wild Coast: From Coffee Bay to Dwesa

To go to Coffee Bay, we took the bus to Mthatha. Then the Lonely Planet guide said that taxi minibus are going to Coffee Bay in one hour for 25 rands (2,5 €). In fact, we needed 3h to arrive there and we had to pay 40 rands. The bus was overcrowded but we were amazed by the hilly landscapes where is living the Xhosa people.

The day after, let's go for the adventure! We decided to walk along the coast towards the South in order to go as far as possible. Maybe till East London, who knows! (Don't dream too much: It would be 200 km!) We got fresh supplies in water and food, a map and the hike could begin.

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After one hour on the pist, we met a SUV who stoped to inform us that there was a way along the sea a lot nearer than the one we were on. Along the track we felt a lot better than in the city. The fear to meet people went away. Rapidly we met 2 children playing. They started to follow us. We discussed a bit, but far away from big cities the local speeches are a lot more common than English. Using "Molo" (hello) and "Enzuki" (merci) exchanges are limited. However, we were delighted by this encounter. Very rapidly, other children came and soon it was a real troop following us! Some started to sing. We also sang (We promise to try to find something better than "Frère Jacques"). But this delighting moment gave birth to doubt... Do they want money? They were following us for a while ! We started to say that we were not giving any money, we repeated it, and finally we understood that they were just waiting for such things through our exchanges. As they understood that we would not give anything, they let us continue to walk and left. It happened several times as we were passing near houses, children were following us. Some wanted to be our guide for a few rands.

Once we found the track just along the sea, we were more isolated but the beauty of the landscapes managed to make us forgot everything! The coast was uninhabited but so nice! We went up and down over the hills impatient and waiting for the next landscape. It's always hard to describe but the landscapes from this first day will stay indelibly printed on our minds. About 3 pm we decided not to get surprised by the sunset. (At 5 pm, it's already night)

In the far distance we saw houses and we wanted to ask for pitching the tent in the "garden". But there 3 dogs were preventing us to go further. We are not afraid of the dogs but we did not dare to make one step furthermore. Perfect! It's a good excuse to stop and discuss a bit with the wives making some washing there. One of them spoke well English. Rapidly, we asked to pitch they tent here. They accepted. We also asked to eat with them. The also accepted ! Awesome ! Some children came. They helped us to pitch the tent. We looked like an attraction. Everyone is looking at us. We tried to speak a bit and then we started to play ball with children. In fact, the ball was nothing else as a mass of plastic bags.

We also ate with the women and children some sweet potatoes. Delicious, but seeing their aspect, we asked ourselves if we would take a smecta at once! We continued to enjoy the last sun shines playing with the children. We lived a great moment! We were delighted to live this relationship not linked to money and we felt safe there, (Nevertheless, Olivier heard the children asking their mother "Mum, do you think that I can ask for some money and when they did so we said no, they were okay, and all started again as before.) Soon the father came back with the cow and donkey cattle. The sunset on valley with the sea in the far distance would have deserved a picture but we did not dare take out the camera in front of them to show our wealth. Their happiness with almost nothing (some animals and fields a roof) was amazing.

We went on our hike during 3 and a half days, every evening was the occasion for a new encounter.

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We are not describing them all, because each of them would deserve an article. Walking in these landscapes was tiring. We stopped at the entrance of the Dwesa reserve. We thought that we could take a taxi minibus to continue our trip but in fact it was totally uninhabited! Only a hotel quite luxurious was standing there. We were trapped! But while discussing at the hotel we found a solution: some employees were going to the city the next day and will drop us there. The proposal was really interesting and we got a hot shower, a good meal as well as the possibility to drop off our bags for the day.

Port Elizabeth, last stop before Cape Town.

Back to Mthatha, we had to take the local transports to go to Port Elizabeth. There, Steven-John's aunt was waiting for us. At 13h30, we were in the taxi minibus going to Port Elizabeth: we expected to be there at 20h, which was okay for us. Actually, the taxi minibus was leaving only full. At 4pm we were still waiting. Eventually, we arrived after midnight at PE. Margareth, the so kind Steven John's aunt, was waiting for us at our arrival.

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This stop at PE allowed us to rest before going to Cape Town. At last we enjoyed a city where we felt safe. In fact, we were just better informed: safe places are not in the center as in Paris but in the suburbs. We enjoyed having a good rest for the first time in our trip.

The next day Margareth brought us to see the great attraction in South Africa. We went to a natural reserve!

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Next Sunday evening we are leaving for Cape town, a city whose everyone is speaking well, for our first experience in couchsurfing!

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