Across South Africa
What to say about the drive itself? A combination of immense beauty along the coast of South Africa and imense poverty as one headed inland. Oddly enough, I suppose, there were regions in which they overlapped.
One such region was just north of East London. We crested a hill (driving on the the left hand side of the road ) and took in a vast lansdscape. Imagine Southern California before the smog, freeways, Starbucks and subdivisions. Dry, rolling hills and a single two lane road running up the side of a tall rise. Through the haze of cooking fires, one could make out the pastel painted sides of what could only be called huts. A heard of cows and goats grazed in the foreground and children swatted at bugs as they awaited their taxis. Beautiful? No question. But sad in a way. This was a different flavor of poverty than what I saw in South America. In Brasil or Argentina, it was an acceptance of the hand they were dealt any they seemed happy. In South Africa, the feeling was one of exhaustion. Maybe it was the winter, maybe the defeat of Ghana in Match 58. One can only see so much from the window of a car.
On the other hand, if you think that the South African road crew doesn’t know what they doing, we had just started down a long slope when we saw the oddest thing – a warthog crossing sign – the only one of the trip. And not more than 30 feet away was – you guessed it, a warthog contentedly chewing on some piece of trash. Don’t believe me? Phil will vouch for me.
Recommended stops – Mossel Bay for the calm and East London for the food. While I dined on a lamb steak, my buddies had crocodile starters and ostrich flambe. The Stellenbosch area just outside of Cape Town was also a nice stopover. I have to recommend visiting Spier, a beautiful winery complete with tastefully decorated sampling rooms (get it?), organic restaurant, local crafts fair, immaculate picnic areas and a cheetah and eagle recuperation area. The white wine was particularly good.
The drive was long, but the roads were in spectacular shape – no issues at all maintaining 100km/h through the whole trip (excepting small towns and big trucks). Wish I could have spent far more time, but, heck, we made it.