That was a great break! We're back on the road feeling refreshed, and by refreshed, I'm referring to our newly-laundered week's worth of clothes and our freshly dried tent... yay!
These are our first steps in Africa so we're still fine-tuning our set-up. We've found that Neda's dry bag is too small, so we're riding into downtown Hermanus to find a bike shop.
We're in luck! This store had exactly what we needed in stock! Neda admires her new 40L drybag. It's even bigger than mine!
We love these roll-up dry bags, they're completely waterproof, but the one Neda bought had a neat feature: a release valve so you could squeeze out all excess air as you rolled up the bag! Very useful.
So, you might be wondering why does she needs more space? To store camping equipment? Motorcycle spares? Small puppies?
Cooking good food while we are on the road is very important to Neda. Over the last couple of months in Cape Town, she's built up quite the collection of teas and spices: curries, peppers, etc. She just found a new local item called karoo spice, specifically used for braaing meats. It's delicious, but all this culinary goodness requires more carrying capacity!
We leave Hermanus and ride the coastal road to destinations east and south, this is actually Klein River Lagoon on the right
Less than 45 minutes out of Hermanus, we hit the seaside town of Gansbaai. We haven't had breakfast yet, so we head to the beach to find a nice cafe or diner. There's always something by the beach!
We were right. Lekker chocolate cake at the Fynbos Coffee Shoppe! Neda is lekkering the fork clean.
Fiddling around with my setup outside the cafe, not happy with where I'm storing things. Frequently used items need to be more accessible.
After breakfast, we continue south. We ride through a very cool-looking town called Elim
All the buildings here are white-washed with straw-thatched roofs. We rode around taking pictures of all the houses. So pretty!
We're heading to Cape Agulhas, which is the most southern point on continental Africa.
The way to the monument and viewpoint is over a gravel road. They're building a new brick road, but it's still under construction
Cape Agulhas parking lot
It's a short walk to the monument, but Neda always takes the longer, harder route.
We're at the southern-most point in Africa!
All the marketing for Cape Agulhas boasts that this is the spot where the warm waters of the Indian Ocean and the cold currents of the Atlantic Ocean meet. Theoretically.
In reality, the currents shift and change with the seasons, sometimes the oceans meet around here. At other times of the year, they meet closer to the Cape of Good Hope, where we were riding last week.
The only way to determine where the oceans actually collide is to observe where the native marine life from each ocean stops. For example, right now, kelp that thrives in the cold Atlantic Ocean can be seen as far east as Agulhas and stops here because that's where it encounters the warm Indian Ocean currents.
We're RideDOT.com and we approve this marine biology message.
There's this huge relief map of Africa at Cape Agulhas
I penciled in the route that we've covered in the last two months. :) We go slow...
As we've now discovered, South Africa is pretty hilly, which is great for finding curvy, motorcycle-friendly roads. However, the rest of Africa seems kinda flat.
Neda and I stare greedily at this one very mountainous region in the south-east. I think we've just figured out our next destination!
It's getting a bit late and we still have a lot of ground to cover this afternoon,
so we hop back on the bikes and head out of Cape Agulhas
Well okay, one last picture before we leave
We head further east, staying off the main road. At the town of Bredesdorp
we turn off and head into De Hoop Nature Reserve. The tarmac turns to gravel.
Seems pretty hard packed. We make the decision not to stop and air down.
As we get further in, the gravel road becomes more gnarlier. Our over-inflated tires are skipping over the rocks beneath us.
We make the decision to stop and air down.
While I'm working on the tires, Neda takes the opportunity to get off the bike and greet the natives
Haha, we stopped right next to an ostrich farm. When we got off the bikes, all of these birds immediately came running over
You can tell these are domesticated ostriches, they've associated people with food. That's okay, we associate ostriches with food as well... :)
After spending waay too much time hanging out with Neda's new friends, we get back on our motos and ride off. Behind the fencing, the ostriches chase after us like they're trying to race us! Hilarious!
Gravel road turns back to tar at the town of Malgas. It's tiny, just a few houses.
I just looked it up. Malgas, population 44. It's not a town. It's a settlement.
The road stops abruptly at the shore of Breede River. We can see some workers on the ramp on the other side of the river, but there's no ferry in sight.
How the heck do we get across?
I guess the two guys on the ramp spotted us, because they start pulling on a rope that stretches across the river. The ramp begins to move.
It's not a ramp, it's a "pontoon cable ferry"! Haha, that's great!
These hand-operated ferries, called a "pont" used to be very popular all over the country, but now this is the last one still operating in South Africa.
Getting ready to board the pont. This should be fun!
When the pont arrives, we start our bikes and position ourselves to ride on.
One of the operators shakes his head. He starts talking and I don't understand what he's saying. Then he points to a sign on the ferry, it lists the operating hours: 8AM-6PM. I check my clock on the bike. It's a few minutes past 6PM.
DAMMIT! What are we going to do?
The operators see that we are in a bind so they mercifully open the gates and wave us onto the ferry. OMG, WE'RE SO GRATEFUL!
I was mistaken, they don't use their hands to pull the ferry.
They attach harnesses to their shoulders and walk the ferry across the river
What a cool experience! And fast too. Took less than 10 minutes to get to the other side. You can see the operation of the pont at the end of the video I posted in the last blog entry.
When we reach the other side, we thank them profusely and pay the guys double the fare out of sheer gratitude. After all, they do have to pull themselves back to the Malgas side again.
A quick half-hour later and we arrive at the sea-side town of Witsand. On the Internet, we found a campsite that was listed here. It seemed to be the only accommodation in this area.
Neda walks across the street to the reception booth to check into the campsite
She radios me, "I think we got here too late, there's no one here. The booth is empty."
I radio back, "This place doesn't look very inviting to people like us"
"Why do you say that?" she asks. "I dunno, just a feeling...", I reply
There's a phone number on the sign at reception. Neda calls, but nobody answers. What to do? Look for another place? We didn't really see anything else in the area as we rode in and it's getting kind of late in the day.
Also, we're starving! All we had to eat today was cake this morning at Gansbaai. So the plan is to find a place where we can sit down and eat, and also check for accommodations online. And then make some phone calls to ensure that they're actually open!
There doesn't appear to be any supermarkets in Witsand. Closest one is over 30 kms away. So unfortunately, Neda's not going to get a chance to use some of that lifetime supply of karoo spice she's stashed in her brand new 40L pantry. However, my GPS does show a restaurant a couple of kms away.
Just our luck! The restaurant, like the campsite, is also closed. Are we here during low season? Isn't it summer vacations right now?
Well, one nice thing about being here this late in the day is that Golden Hour has made everything pretty!
I take lots of pictures of the waves crashing ashore while Neda gets on the phone to find alternate accommodations.
She waves to me and I see her talking to someone. She gives me the thumbs up. I think she found a place for us! So relieved!
When she hangs up, she tells me that she did ultimately get a hold of the campsite manager and he's going to meet us at the gate in fifteen minutes.
The manager lets us into the campsite. Despite the "No Motorcycles" sign that we ride past, he doesn't say anything. Seems that the Rand is mightier than the Rules. Also, we're the only ones in the campsite...
There is no keyfob to come in and out, and he tells us that once we buzz out to leave, we can't get back in again. So we're penned in for the evening. We ask if there's supermarket in town. He says no.
We hastily set up the tent before the last rays of sunlight disappear.
Then we soothe our starving bellies with peri-peri biltong and peri-peri peanuts from Montagu
Cooking and eating a nice hot meal every evening is very important to Neda and she's very unhappy that we're scarfing down snacks for dinner. And then all of a sudden, we're not scarfing down snacks for dinner anymore, because we've run out of nuts and biltong. :(
*sigh* I'm not even half-full. We'll need to replenish our snack stash once again.
Stomachs complaining loudly, we tuck in for the night. The fabric of the tent flaps wildly in the high Western Cape coastal winds.
A few hours later, I wake up in the middle of the night to the steady pitter-patter of rain hitting the tent outside.
ARE YOU SERIOUS?!?!!
1) Aren't we supposed to be living through the worst drought in over one hundred years right now?
And 2) We *JUST* dried this gorammed tent!!!!