South Africa Summary – South Africa, South Africa

Animals and sea life (cheeky monkeys and sleek dolphins), school uniforms (black white or colored – they wear the same clothes), savannah and amarula (two of carmellas favorite local drinks), Howz it? Lekker man. (Standard greeting) Rooibos (Herbal tea found everywhere here), Biltong (dried meat like beef jerky), Townships (strong reminder of the not so far off past and all the work that still needs to be done)

Parking Guards (people who hang around parking lots asking for money to protect your car while you are gone), Baz Bus Condoms (The bus company plants these free condoms EVERYWHERE along the backpacker route…great for games like condom jenga but not so cool when drunk guys think that they mean a free for all), Idols (the reality popstar type show that I had to listen to everyday at Buccaneers while I worked at the front desk – harrowing examples of people trying to sing), Braai (BBQ of wors and other meats), Beaches (some of the most beautiful in the world), Mandela (a much admired and respected world leader who has made a huge difference in the state of this nation)

It all started with the flight from hell to JoBerg where I only got a brief glimpse of this industrial city before being whisked away to Cape Town. A definite tourist destination with a well laid out cosmopolitan city and as many mountains and beaches as you could as for. Quite a lot of postcard moments with in very small space which contributed to the energy of this bustling trendy town.

Stellenbosch was quaint and relaxed with a young student vibe. The historical architecture of the second oldest city in South Africa made staring out of my window from my sickbed more bearable. The wine tasting in the area was classic, sipping wines and champagne over looking some of the most beautiful scenery.

Hermanus was a quirky hippy town with plenty of places to perch on a rock to watch the whales. Small personal size beaches dotted along cliff paths where you could take a break from the hectic but very endearing locals. Oudtshoorn was ostrich country so along with tasting this big bird, I could have bought one of hundreds feather dusters. I didn`t do much here except sit by the fire on those chilly nights and taking the odd bike ride through the little town.

Wilderness was bursting with the soothing peace and quiet of nature. Good place to watch the stars listening to the many night sounds lulling you into a state of deep relaxation. Knysna was fun times with a very touristy edge to it. A bit too busy for me so I was more than pleased to have found the close by unspoiled Buffalo Bay where I sipped tea (among other things). I lazed in the soft light sand watching the waves crash against the rocky shore where the fishermen waited for their record catches. Because it was a bit more isolated we had practically the whole beach to ourselves but there was always something to do from beach soccer to forest walks to pool tourneys by the fire.

Plettenberg Bay was another slightly less busy town that I was glad to visit but am really happy I stayed in the closeby Keurboomstrand. Dolphins greeted me as I opened by well rested eyes to look out to the empty beach and bioluminessence in the waves made for stunning nights of star gazing in the hammock. Stormsriver was so still you could hear an acorn drop so this was a great place to sit around a huge fire after my first braai. A drastic change from the action of the sea to the gentle breathing of the forest.

Cape St Francis has the most tasty calamari to touch my palette. In Jeffreys Bay you can buy anything Billabong and watch the tanned surfers weave in and out of the legendary waves as you collect shells along the beach. Port Elizabeth was full of great people who went out of their way to make sure that I was taken care of. Visited the nearby elephant and lion parks and got a taste of the townships just outside this port city.

Johannesburg is not as scary as they made it out to be but the hard and cold nature of the people made a short visit long enough. There are definitely good examples of the extremes between the wealth and poverty in this very fast growing metropolis. Hard to believe in the nearby Pretoria things could be so different where its very much a trendy town where many of the embassies are based. Someone said people live in Pretoria and work in Joberg…it`s no wonder they are so grumpy after a commute like that.

The transkei was a magical stretch of land where time slows almost to a halt. Rolling green hills, soothing waterfalls, mud huts and the thrash of the ocean against the Wild Coast makes this a great place to return to the simple pleasures in life.

Last but certainly not least we have Cintsa where I parked my pack for a month. It`s no secret why this paradise captures so many lost travelers with its awe inspiring sunrises over the calm lagoon and vast blue ocean. Cintsa has reserved a special place in my heart along with the family and friends who filled my days and nights with some of my best memories of South Africa. The dynamic between the charming people and the jewel of a location create a unique energy I will be hard pressed to forget anytime soon. Now as I can`t go anymore south, I must go north – So onwards and upwards to see more of this amazing continent.

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