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Sat Feb 03 2018: Time Stand Still

It's a nice lazy morning in this campsite right on Prince Alfred's Pass.

One of our guard dogs receives his reward for keeping us safe last night - pats and belly scratches

Of course, they also want to be paid in food...

We wave goodbye to Angie, Harald and the dogs as we pack up our bikes and complete the northern section of the pass.

The scenery is so imposing and impressive around us! So hard to keep your eyes on the dusty, gravel road in front of us.

More winding roads through the Outeniqua Mountains

Rounding the corner on Prince Alfred's Pass

Doesn't take long for us to reach the main road R62 where we have to make some tough decisions.

Yo. 'Sup?

We're heading back to the Eastern Cape.

If it felt like we were dawdling the last couple of days, shuffling our feet while heading eastwards, it's because we totally were.

One of the motorcycle roads that Jacques told us that we *had* to ride was in an area called the Baviaanskloof, which promises amazing dual-sport riding. Everyone touts it as the "number one adventure motorcycle route in South Africa". Unfortunately, the entire time we've been here, the area has been closed due to flooding. We've been constantly checking the Facebook page, waiting for notice that it's re-opened, but no joy.

It's literally only an hour away from where we are right now. But we can't wait any longer. So we're moving on.

Kinda disappointed, but oh well. You can't see and do everything. Even though we are trying...

We take Route 62 all the way back to Port Elizabeth. To drive home the point, it rains on us.

Pit stop at a padstal to get dry and to pick up some snacks for the road

We drop by Port Elizabeth for the evening to say our last goodbyes to Jacques and also to take him out for another prawn dinner as a thank you for sending us back to the Western Cape. That turned out to be such a good call to backtrack and hit up more adventurous routes up in the mountains.

The next day, we head back out on the road for another short jaunt to East London to see my cousin. It's only a couple of hours away from PE. She and her husband are still at work when we arrive, but their daughter Amy lets us in.

Caroline and Martin have three kids, Amy, Tyler (who we saw a couple of weeks ago), and this is Pepsi

We made ourselves at home, waiting for my cousin to get back from work

Most of our family moved from South Africa to Toronto between 1970-1990. Caroline also came over for a few years, and we used to hang out as teenagers in Toronto. And then she moved back to South Africa to marry her childhood sweetheart, Martin.

We spent the day catching up on each other's lives and we entertained her with stories about our grand journey across South Africa.

Caroline: "Now what are you going to do, eh? Now what?"

To thank Caroline and Martin for putting us up while we're in town, we offered to buy the meat for the braai.

We've been in South Africa long enough that I know exactly how to win over the heart of a South African. Because the minute I said that, Martin and I became best friends.

South Africans love meat.

We had ourselves quite the feast! Also, we got ourselves a new addiction (r)

During the evening, we Skyped with my other cousin Warren, Caroline's brother, who was back in Toronto. We chatted for a little bit about how we were getting on here, but really we were calling him to ask permission to drink his bottle of Inverroche gin that he left behind the last time he was here in East London. "Sure, you can have some!"

That bottle was almost full at the beginning of the night...

Also, we may have Skyped him *after* we almost finished the bottle...

Asking permission, begging forgiveness... almost the same thing, really.

Neda and I are not gin drinkers, but OMG this gin that's flavoured with botanicals (Cape Fynbos - the plants we saw at the Cape of Good Hope) was so delicious!

We have to buy our own bottle! Is there room on the bike?

We'll make room!

The next day we go shopping to replenish our supplies (ie. pick up a couple of bottles of Inverroche gin). But also, I need to replace my smartphone that I drowned in my topcase on the ride to Die Hel...

Martin suggested I put my phone in a bag of rice to try to dry it out. Wow, so Asian of him! :)

Didn't work.

Picked up some Shamrock Pies at the mall!

Shamrock Pies are a South African mince pie that's famous all over the country, but the company actually started right here in East London.

Caroline, Martin and Amy rolled their eyes when they saw the Shamrock Pies. "OMG. Such tourists...!"

You know who *didn't* roll their eyes at Shamrock Pies?

Pepsi didn't roll her eyes at Shamrock Pies... :D

So, we just happen to be in town when Amy is competing at a regatta this weekend! We've been invited to cheer her on.

Martin (far right) laying down the lanes. This is the life of a Rowing Dad. Respect.

There are Sports Dads and then there are Rowing Dads.

What does a Hockey Dad do? Drive the kids to practice? Maybe help out with the coaching? Drag the goal nets out from storage out to the ice?

For the last couple of days, Martin has been co-ordinating laying down the lanes in the Buffalo River in preparation for the regatta. It is labour-intensive, and puts you out in the waters for hours per day going up and down the river on a float.

Kids from the school ready their boats for the competition

I don't really know anything about rowing, so Caroline was busy answering all our questions while also performing Rowing Mom duties.

There were various races with different size boats, single scull (one person), double scull, quad scull.

We're here to cheer on Amy (in front)

I thought the little heads sticking out in the back of the boat was quite funny

I found out that they're called the coxswain. From what I gather, because everyone's facing backwards, they help to steer the boat. They're also the safety officer and cheerleader of the team.

I thought they'd be beating out the rhythm of the rowing strokes on a big drum, but that's a different kind of boat race.

Parallel parking the quad scull. It's the coxswain's job to make beeping noises...

Slicing through the waters of the Buffalo River in East London

Between Amy's races, Caroline took us down to Nahoon Beach, just a few kms north of where the regatta was being run.

Beach bikes for hire. I think they call these Fat Bikes in North America

Chatting on the beach

We last saw Caroline, Martin and their kids when they all came to Canada to attend our wedding, a decade and a half ago. Amy was just a newborn and Tyler was a pre-schooler. Now Amy's all grown-up rowing boats and everything, and we just saw Tyler off to his first year of university.

That's crazy.

We perceive time so much differently when we're not rooted in one place.

I remember we were snowboarding once in a complete white-out. The air in front of me was as white as the snow beneath my snowboard. The only thing I could make out was Neda and another friend a few feet in front of me as I followed them down the hill. It felt like we were all floating out in a photographic negative of outer space, everything blindingly bright around us. And it also seemed like we were tethered together because we were all moving at the same speed. Because I had absolutely no other reference points but the two snowboarders ahead of me, I had no sense of how fast we were all hurtling down the slope.

Until I caught an edge and tumbled. At a very high rate of speed. Ouch.

Long-term, full-time travel is remarkably similar.

Surfing and walking dogs on Nahoon Beach

The only point of reference we have is each other, and we're tethered together every single day. We don't get to see how friends and family back home gradually age over time, until we drop in for a visit after years or decades of not seeing them. Where did these kids come from? And how did they grow up so fast? And then you catch the edge of the proverbial snowboard: How did *WE* get so old? OUCH.

No sense of how fast time is moving as we're hurtling across the planet on our motorcycles.

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