Another sad departure from another beautiful place.
Yet again, our destination surpasses all expectations. As I sit on our porch at De Opstal Country Lodge typing this, I am listening to the frogs. Of course, the fact that I am even on the deck is a little amusing. At 9:35pm, Jess and Shaun decide that it was time for bed. Our cottage only has one main room, so I moved to the outside….
As was the case in Kariega, we had the Southern Cross Beach House to ourselves since yesterday. We are feeling hopelessly spoiled and immensely important these days to have entire destinations to ourselves. Hopefully, our hosts will continue to call ahead and ensure that this trend continues…as it did at De Opstal…..once again, we are the only guests in a resort built for dozens. How wonderful to travel through South Africa in winter, one week before FIFA! :)
Back to breakfast. Had she been home, Shaun would have convocated today. We toasted to Shaun and her friends at breakfast. It’s too bad that Shaun’s convocation and this trip conflicted, but I would also have made Shaun’s choice… (Who wouldn’t have?) Just in case Shaun was regretting anything, some dolphins came by to toast her as well. That’s right – we watched dolphins swimming in the Indian Ocean from our patio while eating breakfast! I really don’t know how I am going to return to staring at a computer screen while eating a banana at work most mornings….
We left Plett (Shaun saw a monkey at the side of the road!), drove through Knysna (missed the Heads), and drove through wilderness.
Finally, we made it to Mossel Bay after Jess and I each jumped off a cliff.
Oh……does anybody want more info on that last bit? Mum? Jess and I (Shaun wasn’t interested) tried out paragliding today. I honestly thought that – coming to South Africa to run an 89km race – Comrades would make me more nervous than anything else. Standing at the top of a cliff with a paraglider strapped to my back…well…..let’s say Comrades didn’t quite affect me so acutely (I foolishly thought I was ready for Comrades…). We did it tandem – the guy who knew what he was doing was strapped to us…or us to him….and it was a beautiful way to see the Outteniqua Mountains, the Ocean, and the sleepy but picturesque town of Sedgefield below. How often have you seen birds landing at the top of a tree, two hundred feet below you? It was less of a rush than I expected, and more of a beautiful, peaceful experience. (Apparently our pilot didn’t like that Jessica also found it peaceful, as he put her through some corkscrews trying to elicit a scream….)
As we only had time for one, the second paragliding……pilot, co-worker(?), whatever…recommended we check out Seal Island in Mossel Bay rather than return to Knysna Heads. Worked for us – as little backtracking as possible! (Except for when we returned from Kariega….and when we will return from Oudtshoorn…and probably other times, too.)
What Lucille didn’t tell us was that Mossel Bay is an ugly city. “Welcome to Barrie!”, as Jessica put it! (Unless you like Barrie, in which case “Welcome to Hamilton!” Unless you are Kate…in which case welcome to…..Oshawa?) No worries, we went there to see the seals, not the city. We found the tourist centre, and were informed that the “winter weather” had stopped tours to Seal Island for the day. Um…what? I don’t know where to start. I’m wearing a t-shirt in this “winter”, and the pamphlet indicates that tours operate 10am-5pm, every day, all year long. Right.
At least we can get some good food in Mossel Bay – it is known for seafood. Problem #2. We went to a restaurant recommended by the tourist centre. You might remember that last night’s dinner was an excellent assortment of fish, calamari, prawn, mussels, etc? When I saw a similar looking item on the menu at the Sea Gypsy, I went for it. Foolish Matt. I should have appraised the place first. I was served textureless, deep-fried…..stuff that had once been fish, calamari, mussels, prawns…and some half-decent French fries. My mistake, but I’m still sore about it. The only consolation I could take was that a well-dressed couple walked in while we were getting ready to go. I was fighting the urge to tell them to leave and never come back…..and they walked right back out anyway! They were saved!!
The first hour or so of the drive from Mossel Bay to Oudtshoorn (“Oats-hoooorn”) is uphill. That took us through the foothills of the Outteniqua mountains, past a couple baboons at the side of the road (I love that!), and right to the top of some pretty tall mountains. The views were incredible! The driving was….well……I was happy enough to not be driving, and thankful that we made it through the mountain passes before dark (there are no streetlights, shoulders, or guardrails most of the way…). We were briefly lost, then found our way to our private country lodge.
I bid you good night. I suppose it is late enough for me to follow the lead of Shaun and Jessica now. :)