A bit of an extended stay
Trip Start Jan 03, 2010
84Trip End Ongoing
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I was picked up early in the morning from Umkomaas to begin my long bus ride to Port St. Johns. I left that morning reluctantly as I wished to have one more day to spend in town; but the feeling to continue onwards usually takes over...usually. I threw my bags on the bus, took a seat in the back and slept...and slept until 5 some hours of driving were behind us and we arrived at a fuel station for a toilet break. With my brain working 30% I wasn't in the chatty mode but the German gal next to me was. Oh but was she sweet...Annette. We discussed recommendations of places to stay along the coast and with that I was back to dreaming..
Some hours later we arrived at another fuel station. This time in Umtata, my stop. It looked like a chaotic party happening in the streets of Umtata. Yes, I gripped my bag a bit with the scene before me. Was I back in Asia? The driving turned horrendous. Surely we would run someone over with the free-for-all happening in the streets. We didn't but visions flashed before me. I was dropped at the station where I was met by a young guy, Ashley...AKA Bob Marley. He was Bob Marley x3 in size.
"Jungle Monkey?" he said to me.
"I guess so..." I replied with a smirk.
Jungles Monkey was the name of the hostel I booked with. And it was a jungle let me tell you.
He walked me to the jeep where I was met by Mike, the hostel owner. I was a bit confused as to who was who, why Bob Marley was escorting me to the truck and then who was this baby? Little Molly showed up...a darling little baby with her mom...I thought I was getting picked up by another bus to take me into the town of Pt. St. Johns, but instead a random bunch of people and a baby?
I found myself with Molly on my lap within minutes of taking off in the stuffy, non AC jeep...of course right? I figured out the situation with a few initial questions
We made a few stops before actually getting out of town...at McDonalds of course (I resisted the urge), the grocery store with lines making anyone break a sweat and a toilet break. And then I was back to my preferred state of sleeping for the remainder of the drive. Yes, despite curvy roads, around the mountains, up and down...I slept.
Within hours we had arrived. I was shown around the hostel, taken to my dorm and encouraged to join the others for drinks. With a smile I nodded my head but everything in me said no. I wanted a quiet evening. An evening to myself...no talking, just me...alone.
There was a room nearby my dorm with couches, a fireplace and dining area. I plopped myself down with my random assortments of papers stuffed in my backpack and organized for a bit before laying my head down. I had come a long ways...I would not so much have leaned back on some of the hostel couches I've been around and now...well now my head face down, and I was drooling on it.
I woke up apparently a bit later than everyone else the following morning. There's nothing like wiping the crusties from your eyes as you walk outside for a free cup of hostel coffee and see everyone looking awake, alert, ready for the day
Well, my being alone changed quickly. I wasn't able to seperate myself from the others too long. Let's just say my original plan of staying one and a half days in Pt. St. Johns turned into almost a week. I fell in love...
Oh this is fun. I know what you're all thinking but no...I fell in love with this part of Africa, Pt. St. Johns. The scenery was stunning...some of the best. The sea was just breathtaking...the views from the tops of the mountains...unbelievable. What more could I ask for? The small town several minutes walking from the hostel was authentic, full of life, energy, people, culture. I loved it. The small, one and only coffee shop was just perfect set in the background of the towns chaos. I envisioned much as I sat there and sipped...
Two young guys, 20 and 21...Luyanda and Pitzo quickly became my favorite people at the hostel
"Are we in the jungle...really, are we in the jungle?" Of course it was me asking this obvious quiestion.
Unreal. The jungle of Africa. And to think the boys told us girls we could wear flip flops for the hike..flip flops! They went barefeet...I was in my hiking gear and still had issues. But these were the real African jungle boys! Such sweet guys who I thouroughly enjoyed spending time with for nearly a week. I asked them questions...and questions, we talked and talked... Luyanda quiet, Pitzo a chatter-box. They took me to the markets, we had dinners, hikes, the beach...I felt like the mother of these boys...in a fun 'mother' way though.
Music. Every evening there was live music at the hostel. Several very, very talented musicians, singer-songwriters live at the hostel and play music...they have been for quite some time and let me tell you this young woman Tabbs (if I'm spelling that right) is American Idol star all the way (but of course it would be African Idol) Stunning. She will make everything in your soul stir... I'm not kidding. Her music will be world-wide once she decides to move forward with it
In the evenings Hanni and Mike (the owners) would often take everyone up to the top of the mountain for sunset in the jeep. The ride a bit bumpy and crazy of course but much fun. To see that kind of beauty at the end of the day, day after day was something...I was overwhelmed with the 'why me?' thoughts...
One of the greatest 2 hours in Pt. St. Johns was spent whale and dolphin watching. A group of girls and I got on the boat and went out in search of something moving, jumping, twirling...anything, in the water. And wow, we sure saw it. Not one, three or five whales...whales here, there and everywhere. They came so close to the boat if I had Inspector Gadget arms I could've made it happen for myself. I couldn't stop smiling. And couldn't stop mumbling not so nice things to my camera as it was OUT OF BATTERY and MEMORY. Who does that...the worst timing ever!
A day to not forget. And the dolphins...we must have seen one hundred in total out at sea. Wow. No other words. I loved being back on the water...becoming a favorite place of mine
One afternoon while relaxing in the hammock, I saw a man from a distance approaching the hostel with his backpack on...who was the new guest at the hostel... Ah. It was a Latino man. I had to laugh. And then I told myself to stay away Shana...
That evening I had dinner with Luyanda and Pitzo, salmon as a matter a fact...and Mr Latino man, Gibran, was interested in travel chat. I was polite with my responses but short with extensive answers. The following day I found myself in town at the market, picking out food to make that evening with Mr Gibran. A funny guy...he had a way of making grocery shopping interesting, and somehow embarassing for me as well.
That day he and I took a hike with vague directions, a destination in mind and somehow a random dog to join us. Not sure where this dog came from but he hiked with us for hours. A sweet dog with a seeming need for adventure. So we adopted him for the day.
Talk about a bush hike through the jungle...if that wasn't it I don't know what is. Gibran lead the way as there was no path to be had...they always say make your own path in life right? With blood, cuts and an itchy body I made it through. And of course a little complaining to emphasize it all. Even the poor dog was reluctant as we made our way through the bush...
We came across a village at the top of the mountain where we met these beautiful children who initially were skeptical of 'the three of us,' but within minutes they were following us down the dirt road. Great kids. And that's what I love. That's what it's all about. Meeting random people in random places...finding a new place to explore, not having full knowing of what's to come...have to love it.
What was to be a short stay in Pt. St. Johns became an extended stay...a wonderful stay with many memories. I am left with a desire to go back...to return...one day.
Quote of the day: If you spend your energy trying to control your life, you'll never use your energy to create a life.