Our flight from Egypt to South Africa arrived in Johannesburg, although it would have benefited us to have paid the extra fare to fly into Cape Town, as we boarded an overnight bus that first day to travel the seventeen hours overland. Before night fell on the bus ride, the barren, low hills of the Karoo rolled past as we watched such classics as The Banger Sisters and Mr. Deeds. The mobile film festival continued into the evening, when one of our fellow passengers (sitting across the aisle from us) broke out his DVD collection to provide The Fast and the Furious, Joy Ride and Biker Boyz (which started after 11:00 p.m.). This same passenger, a very, very friendly Afrikaner on his way to visit his brother in Cape Province, was remarkably enthusiastic about the shows—reciting much of the dialogue (in Afrikaans), pretending to rev a motorcycle during the chase scenes, and prompting us to watch all the “good parts coming up”. It also startled us a little bit the first time we noticed his artificial leg propped up in the empty seat beside him.
We got to Cape Town early in the morning, checked into The Big Blue Hostel, and went to bed for a few hours as we were wiped out. That afternoon we went for a walk along some of the beaches at the base of Table Mountain, then went to see Matrix Revolutions since we didn’t get enough of action movies on the bus.
The following day we rented a car to explore the Cape. The cliffs and scenery on the Cape was spectacular, the wind was relentless, but Abi’s wildlife encounter was the main excitement for the day. In several areas we noticed signs warning not to feed the baboons, that they could be dangerous. Abi was walking across a parking lot, ice cream bar in hand, when a baboon (about the size of a large dog) appeared out of nowhere and tried to climb up on her to get the ice cream. I was alerted to the situation by a very panicked cry of, “Oh Travis, oh s_ _ t!” I yelled for her to drop the ice cream, since she was holding it high over head out of reach of the baboon, following instructions to not feed them. She still had the wrapper in her other hand, so the baboon continued pawing at her (he had her tank top gripped under her arm and nearly pulled it off). Abi then, in spite of being raised to never litter, ditched the wrapper, freed herself from the wiley primate, and hightailed it to the car, where she collected herself while I tried to get a photo of Mr. Peepers eating the ice cream bar. We continued along the coast to Hermanus where we watched a group of four southern right whales playing with each other about 50 meters off the shore.
The next morning we drove to Table Mountain and took the cable car to the top for a view over Cape Town from 1000 meters up. The fee for the tram was a little dear, but we enjoyed ourselves. We spent the rest of the morning walking around the city center and visited the District 6 Museum concerning the relocation of blacks from the city to shantytowns in the 1950s and 60s (since the end of apartheid in 1994 the government has been working to settle land claims of the blacks that were previously forced to leave). That night we decided to spoil ourselves before heading out into Untamed Africa and saw Intolerable Cruelty (hilarious, especially its lampoon of the legal culture). We got up at 5:30 a.m. to catch the bus to Jeffrey’s Bay.
As the bus pulled into our stop at Humansdorp (if you like that name, you’ll love Colleywoddle which we saw a couple of days later), it was in the low 60s and starting to rain—a perfect welcome for our time of surf and sun at the famous J Bay. What the climate lacked in warmth, Gary, Cristal, and Cindy more than made up for as the family owner/operators of Cristal Cove where we stayed. Gary (mulleted, mid 40s surfer and self-proclaimed rehabilitated pot-head) drove 20 minutes to pick us up at the bus stop, and put us in charge of after-hours reception duties for the night as his 19 year old son, David, who normally takes care of that, was out of town for the weekend. In exchange, we got to stay in David’s room that night until a regular room opened up the next evening. Cristal was very motherly towards us, which was a little disturbing given her two-sizes-too-small hip hugger jeans and her 15 years-past-their-prime boobs straining the boundaries of her V-neck half shirt. Cindy, their 16 year old daughter, was nearly unintelligible with her accent, but her body language told the story of her mildly-embarrassed and ever exasperated state due to her parents. Even the hired help, Debbie, was a character as she punctuated every sentence with a term of endearment or a dramatic flourish (yes, my darling; it would be an unequalled pleasure; certainly, my love; it would be my absolute delight; etc., etc.).
Anyway, the sun did come out the next couple of days, but the relentless wind made going to the beach impossible (except for exfoliating by sand-blasting). Whatever modest gains I’d made at surfing in Brazil could not be replicated in Jeffrey’s Bay, although I tried a few times. One afternoon, Abi went for a spirited horseback ride along the sand dunes and beach with Cindy and a few other guests from the hotel. After three nights at J Bay, we rented a car and drove to Durban, further east along the southern coast on the Indian Ocean.