Camping in the Eastern Cape
The drive down to Port Alfred on Boxing Day took 16 hours - due to the man of the house programming his GPRS to a different town (Port Edward ... duh, which is in Natal and not the Eastern Cape!), so we went to the Eastern Cape via Pietermaritzburg.
We were travelling in two cars. I organised a rental because my Proton has some issues with the front panels and it is way too small to take on a long trip with a child. EuropeCar gave me a Toyota Corolla, with 6 gears. It would have been nice if it also had an engine.
The car is perfect on straight bits of road but once it sees a hill (god forbid a mountain), it freezes up inside and wants to go backwards.
Because of the mix up with directions, we ended up going through the Transkei for a good deal of the trip. Holy God. The road is non-existent in places, pot-holes as large as your bath, dead animals lying all over the place. In one spot, a huge ginger horse lay sprawled across the road - nobody had bothered to move it off the tarmac. Cows, goats, chickens and sheep wander aimlessly across the road at any time and anywhere. The road is not fenced and has no 'roadside' or kerb, it just disappears into sand in places and winds its way up motherfucking great mountains and down again into valleys littered with makeshift rondavels and lean-tos. Everywhere there are children walking alongside the road, or men standing idly about watching you drive past the hovels. Mount Frere is the most depressing place i've ever seen. I was shattered by the time i'd finished driving through this stretch of the trip - but at least we could share driving (myself and my daughter, and the kids were in the hired car), the man of the house was driving his bakkie with all the camping equipment.
We arrived at Port Alfred round about 8pm (we'd left the house at 4am that morning), it was dark and raining. Of course, we got lost, couldn't find the camp site (because nobody listens to my directions). Lady of house is in tears, kids are tired and crying, everyone's had it up to here. Eventually pull into a garage and get given the directions (which i had all the time but nobody would listen to me) and voila, there is the campsite. We put up one half of the main tent (because it's a motherfucking huge great canvas job that needs a team of ten people to erect under normal circumstances). We managed to get to bed and crashed out, completely exhausted.
Morning came and we were able to explore our surroundings and see that we had basically been given the best site in the park! We erected my tent, the rest of the huge canvas tent, gazebo, sorted out kitchen etc. etc and started the holiday.
Completely grand time was had by all of us - i don't have a camera so can't upload my own photos but will pinch some of my daughters when i get a chance and post up here on the blog.
Our camp site backed onto the lagoon and in front of us was the river and marina. Gorgeous place, although the ablutions were a bit old fashioned and there was no bath, which is a bit of a problem when you have small children in tow. Port Alfred is a cute little place.
The night before New Years Eve, the town had a Rave and it oonced oonced on until about 2am - needless to say I was ready to shoot people by then.
New Years Eve came and it was like a ghost town, deathly quiet- so odd! We were in a great place however, to watch the fireworks display which was set off from the beach and went on for about half an hour.
New Years Day was a killer - it seemed like every Black person and his brother within 100 kilometres of Port Alfred descended on the lagoon, camping in the small parks on the side of the road, even trying to get into the camp site through the fences. I've never seen so many people crammed into such a small space! The noise level was so bad, we went away from the campsite that day and to the beaches up the road, which were relatively quiet. Had a lot of fun playing about in the surf and rock pools.
We got home for supper and the noise level had increased - the cops started herding people back from the beaches and out of the lagoon area round about 11pm and by about 2am in the morning it had quietened down enough to fall asleep. I've never experienced a level of noise like that in my life - it was like two football stadiums full of people all screaming, ululating, shrieking, singing and chanting in unison. 2012 got a very noisy welcome in Port Alfred!
The rest of our holiday went by way too quickly and in no time at all we were packing up to come home. This time, we drove back via Bloemfontein but it still took 14 hours.
Next time, i have the crazy notion to go camping in the Eastern Cape, we will stop over!
I hope everyone who flicks through this blog from time to time, had a really spectacular 2012.