Meet the Taverners

Trip Start Jun 03, 2009
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Where I stayed
The Taverner Household

Flag of South Africa  , Eastern Cape,
Sunday, August 23, 2009

So, over two months ago we were on Naxos (Refer to the entry titled: Irene, Zorba, and Irene) hiking Mount Zeus. At the base of the mountain we ran into a very nice South African couple that gave us advice on traveling in South Africa and told us to contact them when we were there. We sent them an email when we arrived in Cape Town and they graciously invited us to come stay at their house. When they extended the invitation to us, we were so excited at the thought of spending time in a welcoming home that wasn't a dirty hostel dorm. On the drive to East London to meet The Taverners, we started to realize that it was a little strange that we were going to stay at a couples house that we met for less than five minutes on the base of a mountain in Greece over two months before. Looking back, it was one of the best experiences on the trip thus far.

As we pulled into East London, Rod told us to pull over to a "well lit area" and wait for him for 10 minutes. AnnMarie (Blue Crush girl from Jeffreysbaai) told us that East London was not the safest area in South Africa. We waited in Chico with our doors locked on high alert. We all decided we needed a weapon. Brittany had suggested earlier in the trip that we buy a baseball bat for protection, everyone laughed at the time, and we were now regretting it. We had to settle for a large stick we spotted on the side of the road. Lindsey had the car in gear ready to go. Lindsey clutched the large stick in her arms while Brittany was armed with a water bottle and Sarah had a pointy pen in the back seat. After 10 minutes, a man came running towards the car waving his arms. Although not remembering exactly what he looked like, we figured it was Rod.

There are not enough words to describe Rod and Ady Taverner. They are from South Africa, have two children our age, and have traveled a lot in their lives. Rod told us that when he was younger and traveling through America, many families opened their homes to him, and he was happy to return the favor in hopes that other people will continue to do the same thing. Because they have traveled so much, they know exactly what backpackers miss most about home - home cooked food, comfy beds, clean laundry, hot showers and good company.

We pulled through the gate into the driveway and were quickly greeted by two very large German Shepard attack dogs. At the time we were scared, but felt completely safe for our stay there. Rod insisted on carrying our bags inside to our rooms and we were introduced to the housekeeper Edith. We settled into our rooms and Rod came to test the waters. Unsure of our status on drinking and if we were from the "Bible Belt" of America, he asked tentatively "Do you want a drink? Water? Tea? Juice? Coffee? Beer? Wine?" We all quickly responded "Beer." We took showers and got ready for the dinner party.

Ady was out of town for the night so Rod was left to entertain us. We are pretty sure he called up his German friend Franz and said one of two things. "I have three American girls that I don't know at my house and I need you to help me entertain them" or "I have three American girls at my house and we are going to have a party." On our drive to East London, Rod called and asked if we wanted chicken, pork or beef. We told him beef, but it didn't matter because he planned a big South African Braai (BBQ) with all three. We brought a bottle of wine from tasting in Stellenbosch and made the dinner salad. Edith cooked up some amazing crispy potatoes and sweet corn. Rod and Franz cooked all the meat on the Braai. Rod told us some hilarious stories about his best friend from childhood that turned into a hippie hostel owner in Coffee Bay. We were very excited to meet the infamous Carl, but decided to stick around East London for another day to see the sights and sounds and meet Ady. That night we shared amazing stories, a few bottles of wine, and a headache the next morning.

The next morning we woke up to an array of breakfast foods on the dining room table and filter coffee (a rare treat when traveling). We relaxed around the pool reading, petting the dogs, and drinking coffee waiting for Ady to come home. Ady came home and we enjoyed tea and biscuits outside. She dropped us off at the mall to walk around while she had a hair appointment. We stopped at an outdoors store and Brittany bought a sleeping mat for the safari. We were afraid that someone would try to steal our really cool sunglasses from Wilderness, so we bought some even better animal print ones. Then, we saw a music store and decided to buy Chico a treat. We dug through the bargain bin before deciding on two amazing CDs - Best Hip Hop of the 90s Volume 2 (sung not by the original artists but the phenomenal vocal stylings of Nick G instead - please note we did not know this at the time of purchase) and Big Brother Africa. Assume for the remainder of the trip we are listening to one of these two CDs at all times in Chico.

After a little shopping, we met Ady at Ocean Basket for lunch and a few drinks. We ate seafood and sushi and discovered our new favorite drink, the Don Pedro (a blend of vanilla ice cream and Kahlua). Afterwards, we went to the Lion Park for some fun with the animals. We bought a bag of feed, and immediately regretted the decision when we were attacked by two billy goats, three peacocks, and a million rabbits. We thought we left the food mongrels behind when a giant Kudu came out of nowhere. At first we were afraid, but we were reassured that the Kudu is a nice animal. Then it smelled our food and got greedy. It followed us around, bucked Brittany, and went full force for Ady's bum. We were scared of the animal the rest of the time and hid behind Ady for protection. We saw two fierce pacing cheetahs attack a small calf for a meal. Then we looked at the albino lions in horror. These lions were huge, and not even full grown yet. Not to mention they were only a few feet away from us. Albino lions do not survive well in the wild, so are kept and bred in captivity. We were then allowed to play with the "baby" lion. We soon found out this lion was no baby at and was in fact 5 months old with very large teeth and paws. We thought it was really cool to see the "baby" lion but we scared as it playfully bit us and showed us its sharp claws. After a lot of petting, the lion cub rolled over on its belly and went to sleep. We also saw wild dogs, a tiger, and a crocodile. 

We went to watch the sunset over the river and had a few sundowners before returning back to the house for dinner. Rod came home just after us and the first words out of his mouth were "Last night was fun, huh?" Ady made an amazing Malay curry and chocolate pudding. They showed us their photo album from their safari in Botswana and we got very excited for our very same adventure in a few weeks. We shared a few more bottles of wine and hung out until we were too tired and retired to bed. 

The next morning we had yet another great breakfast. Edith had put all our pressed, clean clothes in our room and Ady packed us a bag of snacks for the road. They said they wanted to come to Coffee Bay with us, but unfortunately it was their daughters birthday so they spent the weekend in Cape Town instead. We followed Rod's hand drawn map to Coffee Bay that day.

We had such a good time with Rod and Ady and we could not have imagined a better two days with people we hardly knew before. They opened their home to us and were the some of the most genuinely kind and generous people we have ever met. Thank you so much for everything.

GEOFF HALL FROM EDINBURGH HIGH CLASS OF 1973, IF YOU ARE READING THIS, PLEASE CONTACT US. WE KNOW WHERE YOUR CLASS RING IS.

Glums and Glows

Brittany
Glum: The Kudu and Rod's crush on my boyfriend
Glow: Rod and Ady's stories

Sarah
Glum: The scary stop on the side of the road while waiting for Rod
Glow: Edith pressed her jeans

Lindsey
Glum: The stories are too good for the blog
Glow: Best possible outcome of staying with people we just met
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Comments

mimwal
mimwal on

Kahlua ice cream drink, Gram's favorite!!
Hi All - WOW WOW - What fun and what a marvelous experience staying with your new friends - the Traveners - such great Hosts - Hospitality!!!!! Think of you all so often - hard to believe your so very far away - and having Gram's favorite drink - of course if only have it for 'medicinal' purposes hahaha - You all look great - I pray every night for your safety - What unforgetable experiences your having - bonding your friendships forever!!!! Mom and I had breakfast together and I showed her an obit of your 4gr grandmother from Ireland!!!! What a hoot - we ate at the 'Wildberry' in Libertyville, Il excellent!!! That's our 'new' meeting place for breakfast!! See you there in 2010!!!! Can't wait!!
Keep in touch - love your cards - received one from Jon today!!!!
Love and Hugs,
Grammy and Wally

Teresa Schultz on

I'm glad you enjoyed your stay in my hometown East London, SA. And how lucky you were that Rod and Ady took care of you three and welcomed you into their home. I've hardly travelled at all, and not out of South Africa, because I'm happy right here in East London, a wonderful place, and I'm glad you got to see some of it and visit the lion park too. Enjoy your travels!

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