Posted by: glenswatman | April 11, 2007

200610 South Africa



SUNDAY 1 OCTOBER 2006 – It’s really hot again so we are happy to sit around until after lunch.  Drive back to Pietermaritzburg where hospitality club host Nolan Jonathan has offered us a place to park up.  He lives on Durban Road, very convenient to the hospital and Midland Caravans.  At the gate we are greeted by his Dad Nelson and introduced to his Mum Jessie and brother Caelim.  Nolan is married and to a Bulgarian girl called Geri whom he met when he was on a 2-year working visa in England.  His parents were unaware of his involvement in Hospitality Club and didn’t know we were coming until an hour ago.  However they are used to having lots of visitors, take it all in their stride and being a similar age to us we have lots in common.  They have 2 cats and many dogs including some incredibly cute puppies.  Jessie insists we sleep in the house and join them for a meal, an excellent Biryani.   Younger son Caelim returns with his girlfriend Rochelle so we have met all the family except daughter Janice who is in Johannesburg.  Once again superb hosts.



MONDAY 2 OCTOBER – Dr Thomson said he would see me at 7.30am today but when I get the appointment card out, to see which department, I find it is for 7.00am. It’s already 10 to so we beat a hasty exit and arrive at the hospital just after 7am.  I am put in a room together with 4 other patients.  Nurses remove plasters and stitches and the Doctor flits around examining and giving instructions – very efficient.  I hate the saw that removes the cast, even though the nurse proves it cannot cut you it still burns when she presses through and onto my bunion!  The wound is healing nicely and everything looks good so Dr Thomson presses my foot upwards as far as I can tolerate and then puts on another full cast but this time with a walking heel underneath.  It will take ½ hour to dry after which I can start putting weight on it.  The cast must stay on for at least 4 weeks and preferably up to 6 weeks.  I can have it removed at any private clinic in South Africa and then make arrangements for follow up physio.  Within 30 minutes of arriving at the hospital we are driving off, excellent service.  At Midland Caravans we are soon in the workshop with Justin working his way through our snagging list.  Whatever the job is they seem to prefer to remove the part and work on it outside the van so the fridge, the toilet, the van door and the roof vents are all systematically taken out and repaired.  Initially I find it hard to put weight on my foot as the plaster rubs on my anklebone when my foot slides down in the cast.  I find that if I angle my foot outwards and lean backwards a bit it gets easier.  I still use the crutches but throughout the day find I can put more and more weight on my foot.  A good job too as one of the blisters on my hand bursts and starts to bleed.  Most of the jobs are done by closing time but they ask if we can leave the van for them to finish in the morning.  Salesman Jacob offers to drive us up to Nolan’s and shortly after we are arrive the family get home from work.  They run their own car wreckage dealers just out of town and all have a part in the business.  Whilst Nolan and Geri are out at the gym we have a meal with Jessie and Nelson and find lots to chat about.  Have a much better night’s sleep. 



TUESDAY 3 OCTOBER – There’s been a big change in the weather; in fact since we dropped down from Howick to Pietermaritzburg it has been much cooler with drizzle and often-heavy rain.  Jessie runs Steve up to Don’s mid morning.   She’s taken the day off work, as she is really keen to chat about our travels in the hope of doing something similar in the future.  Steve returns around 6pm having got the motorhome jobs done and been back to Winston to have more work done on the starter motor as it is still playing up.  Spend another evening chatting with the family.  We stay up even later with Nolan and Geri to watch DVD “Tsotsi” about crime in Soweto but all get too tired to see it through.



WEDNESDAY 4 OCTOBER – We have a few lose ends to tie up in town but give up on a some as it is cold and bucketing with rain.  Head off to Durban to visit George & Sheila, Geordies whom we met at the motorhome rally.  George meets us at a nearby garage and leads us to their home in Westville.  With my foot still sore I am happy to accept the invitation to stay in the house.  After a late lunch the lads head off to play snooker at the nearby Westville Country Club and return later with a take away.



THURSDAY 5 OCTOBER – It’s a much nicer day.  I sit out on the terrace, overlooking the pool, whilst Sheila puts a colour on my hair.  It’s been neglected recently and also need a cut so she runs me up to the nearby hairdressers where I get a dry trim, R90 (£7) and buy a repair treatment to put on later.  Get a message to phone Claire urgently, David has been to the doctor who thinks he may have a heart problem.  He needs his medical background before going to hospital tomorrow for tests.  Luckily we are near a phone so can speak to both Claire and David.   George is a mechanic and has looked at the van and removed the starter motor to try and get a replacement.  In the evening Rod (also from motorhome club) picks us up for drinks at their place.  Pat his wife is there and we meet their daughters Victoria and Sophie.  A bit later he suggests moving on to the country club and when we are there we also meet up with Dave from the motorhome club.  In the “men’s bar” there are old pub signs decorating the wall and we are surprised to see one for the “Mytton & Mermaid” at Atcham. 



FRIDAY 6 OCTOBER – I join Sheila for a trip to the local shopping centre before lunch.  She goes out to bowls in the afternoon whilst George takes us on a whistle stop tour of Durban.  Unable to walk very far we are restricted to a drive along the waterfront.  The beach is lovely and it’s really busy with lots of sellers on the esplanade.  Fancy rickshaws are used for taking tourists along the front.  Police chase after and capture what we assume to be an unlicensed trader and further along we see them frisking some young lads.  Part way along the beach there are vast numbers of people and from further along we can see that they are going into the sea to be baptised.  George tells us how at Christmas the blacks all come to Durban, take over the beach and basically live and camp there.  There’s an underwater world centre and a few other attractions but nothing unique.  We hear from David that the tests only showed the heart murmur that he has had from birth but he has to go back to the doctor on Monday.  We can’t find a new starter motor so decide to pursue the option of having our existing one re-conditioned but nothing can be done until Monday.  George and Steve go out to snooker early in the evening and Sheila and I join them later for a meal together at the Westville Country Club.  There’s a very good menu and prices are reasonable.  Unfortunately I come unlucky in my choice of a fillet steak as it is off, as is the replacement one, I compensate for this with a big chocolate pudding and a Dom Pedro (ice cream, liqueur and coffee). 



SATURDAY 7 OCTOBER – Steve is feeling a bit poorly with an upset stomach.  He’s been like it on and off for a few days and is probably just overload of food and drink.  A lie in until early afternoon seems to help a bit.  I seem to have a sleep deficit as well and am happy to keep taking naps throughout the day. 



SUNDAY 8 OCTOBER – Sheila organises a Braai for the afternoon and invites her bowling companions Jean and Derek.  Jean comes from Blackpool and Derek from Wakefield went to the same school as my Mum.  George cooks the steaks and sausages to go with the salad and potato bake and we eat it all in the thatched bar area by the pool.



MONDAY 9 OCTOBER – Wake to a dull and drizzly morning but the good news is that they are going to be able to re-condition the starter motor and it will be ready tomorrow.  Phone David and find that he hasn’t had all the test results back but is going to have another shot at giving up smoking in the hope it helps.  George & Sheila are having the outside of their house painted, walls and woodwork, and the painter arrives bright and early.  It’s a large bungalow with outbuildings and garage but will only cost R700 (£56) labour plus they feed the lad and give him bus fare.  Steve & George fit in an evening snooker session and return with a Chinese take away. 



TUESDAY 10 OCTOBER – I go shopping at the Spar with Sheila.  It’s really busy because senior citizens get a 5% discount on Tuesday.  The starter motor won’t be ready until tomorrow – what a surprise!  Once again Steve & George go off to snooker, Steve is really enjoying himself and getting good games.



WEDNESDAY 11 OCTOBER – At last we are back to sunny weather.  George picks up the re conditioned starter motor R950 (£76) and some spark plugs and has them all fitted and working by lunch time.  Sheila sends us off after bacon sandwiches eaten by the pool.  Use the motorway to get us round Durban and for many miles we drive through suburbs.  Eventually get to a bit of countryside and turn off to the old coast road.  It’s a pleasant drive and we soon reach Karridene Beach with camping at the Protea Hotel.  Again we get the pensioners discount price and settle into a spot near the toilet block.  It’s very quiet but they are fully booked over the weekend with a caravan club rally.  Steve checks out the beach but it’s a long walk up and over a hill so not possible for me.  He manages to catch a bit of football in the bar in the evening. We don’t want to go too far down the coast as Jessie and family are planning on visiting us over the weekend so will check out the next resort tomorrow.


R43 (£3.40)


THURSDAY 12 OCTOBER – Steve is very frustrated when we come to leave as the starter has one of the same problems as before and makes a strange noise.  Fortunately we now know we can overcome this by giving the van a nudge in gear but this isn’t the real answer, trust this is a one off problem.  Continue down the coast passing many beautiful beaches with what would in other countries be superb wild camping spots.  There are few towns and many prime beachfront sites are taken up with shanty style shacks.  At Scottburgh Caravan Park the stands are directly behind the beach giving you a fine view but also strong winds.  Manage to find a spot sheltered a bit by trees.  Steve explores the beach and town whilst I sunbathe.  He joins me when he returns and I’m glad as one of the site security men alerts us to a dangerous snake at the far side of the van.  It’s very thin and green and has its head reared up, a green mamba.  Rather than risk it coming in the van we throw a number of pebbles near it before it slithers off into the bushes.  Chat to a few other people staying on the site, many are here for 3 months taking up the special price of only R750 (£60) month.  We spoke to David on the phone this morning and he is really down in the dumps, not eating well and finding it hard to stop smoking.  We offered him a trip to South Africa and he gets back to us in the evening to accept.


. R87.52 (£6.90)


FRIDAY 13 OCTOBER – Unable to walk any great distance we pack up the van to drive into town to use the Internet.  After 3 hours and a number of phone calls we have David booked to fly out with Emirates on 24th October going back on 9th November, £537.  Return to the caravan park and set up stall again.  Like yesterday the hot calm sunny day turns windy and cloudy in the afternoon.  Have a round table planning meeting with ourselves and decide that we will try and book internal flights to get David to Port Elizabeth and then do a circuit with him from there.  Jessie phones me in the evening to say they are 10 minutes away en route to Port Edward, 100km further down the coast, where they have booked a bungalow for the weekend.  Nelson and Jessie arrive in one car closely followed by Nolan, Geri and 2 cats Angel and Tony in the other.  They call by but say they won’t stop long but end up spending ages chatting.  They wanted accommodation with a sea view and Port Edward was the only place they could find.  They ask us to drive down and join them tomorrow, as they’ve booked a 6-berth bungalow. 



SATURDAY 14 OCTOBER – Now that we have a plan of what we want to do with David we need to book his internal flights and this soon becomes a nightmare.  The web sites only allow you to book a ticket with a credit card in the same name as the passenger and the alternative cash option is not available at the moment.   We pass through lots of towns down the coast but all the travel agents are closed on a Saturday and when we visit the Internet café’s either the whole system is down or we cannot get onto the web sites we want to search out alternatives.  However it’s a really nice journey, again passing many stunning beaches with vast stretches having no development at all then a few small seaside towns.  Feel like we are back in England as we drive through Margate then Ramsgate.  Arrive at Port Edward Holiday Resort and soon find Nolan and Geri at their bungalow.  Whilst they do have sea views they first have to look through the prison style mesh fence topped with rolled barbed wire and then across a road.  Nelson and Jessie arrive back mid afternoon and they begin on the braai. They brought loads of meat to cook and Nelson also bought a large fresh bream from a fisherman on the beach.   The food is delicious and we sit out eating, rugged up against the cooler and windier night.  Move inside to spend more time chatting for the rest of the evening.  We’re parked just behind the bungalow and opt to sneak back and sleep in the van overnight. 



SUNDAY 15 OCTOBER – You are supposed to be off site by 9am and the caravan park here is very expensive and not that nice so we decide to relocate to nearby Old Pont Holiday Resort.  We are just settling onto our riverside stand when the family arrive.  They were going to stay until lunchtime but the resort charges a high fee for day visitors so they just stop to say good-bye before heading off up the coast.  Hopefully our paths will cross again in the future as once again our hospitality club hosts have become good friends.  It’s quite busy at the resort with day visitors making use of facilities to launch boats and Jet Ski’s onto the river, good entertainment for us watching the water skiers.  Back in England Claire manages to reserve David’s internal flights using the Internet.  We now have 72-hours to make the cash payment.  In the evening it goes very quiet with us being the only residents.


R40 pp (£3.20) + R15 (1.20) electric


MONDAY 16 OCTOBER – We are both awake at 5.15am and on the road by 5.45am.  We’ve a long journey ahead of us through the Transkei region of the East Cape and we have been warned that it is one of the most dangerous parts of South Africa where we must take extra care and try not to make stops en route.  Top up with fuel at Kokstad before heading into the Transkei, an area of seemingly never ending mountains and valleys all with scattered housing.  It’s quite attractive for the first half hour but as the day progresses it begins to feel like “Groundhog Day” as the scenery never changes.  The couple of bigger town we pass through are heaving with people and don’t have a good feel.  After 6-hours of driving we reach the capital of Umtata.    Steve calls into the tourist office to find out where the listed caravan park is and returns with the bad news that there isn’t one in the town and the one shown in the book is actually out on the coast miles away.   There are lots of beaches along the Wild Coast but most are accessed by long dirt roads.  We’ve no choice but to continue to East London.  Just south of the town is the place where Nelson Mandela grew up but we can’t spare the time to stop and visit the museum.  The weather deteriorates and added to the rain we get patches of dense fog making driving really hazardous, as there are often goats and cows roaming in the road.  Unfortunately I am unable to share the driving so Steve has to press on with me passing him food and drink from time to time.     It’s a real nightmare of a journey but thankfully Millie plods on and gets us safely to East London at 4pm.  Whilst visiting the Battlefields we met Scottish couple Ruth and Bill who now live over here and have invited us to visit.  We find their house easily and soon settle in to unwind after our long day.  Ruth used to be in the catering business and cooks up an excellent fish stew for supper.  Ruth has relatives here and they have been coming for holidays over the last 10-years and liked it so decided when Bill took redundancy to have a few years living here before trying elsewhere.  They have a fluffy chow puppy called “Muffin” and he spends the night outside guarding the van.



TUESDAY 17 OCTOBER – The weather is a bit better so Bill and Steve take a look at Millie and solve the squeaking and slipping fan belt problem by putting the old one back on.  Ruth runs me to the airport so I can pay for David’s ticket at the airline desk.  The price is not the same as the one quoted on the Internet, (what a surprise), but is in fact cheaper (even bigger surprise) and then cheaper again when it’s re entered keyed into the computer, R951 (£76) return from Johannesburg to Port Elizabeth.  In the afternoon Bill drives us up the coast to East Chintsa where we stop for a drink at the Crawford Estate in a bar with views down to the ocean.  Return via Ganubie, a seemingly pleasant seaside resort but by the time we get there it is windy and raining.  



WEDNESDAY 18 OCTOBER – Ruth and Bill go out early in the morning and Bill returns before lunch.  It’s another poor day so we are happy sitting in and catching up on some TV.  After Ruth returns we set out to Inkwenkwezi Private Game Reserve for an evening meal.  You are greeted with a glass of sherry then led into the light and airy dining room.  An A4 folder is on each table and within it a printed menu for you to tick off your selections before taking your order up.  Ruth has a 2 for 1 fish and chips voucher, normal price R29 (£2.35) each and Steve and Bill both order the giant burgers R29 (£2.35) plus sauce R5 (40p).  The burgers are as big as dinner plate, the huge bread roll has the burger inside it and chips piled on top.  If you can eat two of these you get a free case of beer but both Steve and Bill are beaten by the amount of bread in just one.  The fish is OK but nothing special, the best thing is the location of the restaurant.



THURSDAY 19 OCTOBER – We leave after lunch and as the poor weather seems to have passed through we enjoy our coastal drive. We pass many river mouths with superb beaches en route to our rendezvous in Port Alfred with Hospitality Club host Litty.  We’ve warned her we are in a big motorhome but she admits she is not good on judging sizes of things when she realises we will not fit through the gate to their garden.  She says it is not a problem as we can stay down at the “beach house” and promptly hops in the car with us following.  Port Alfred looks really nice with an attractive marina and lots of canal side luxury homes.  Litty drives us to magnificent Gisa’s Beach House on West Beach Road.  It belongs to a friend of hers from Florida and she deals with rentals of it but it’s empty until tomorrow.  We can park up the van and sleep inside it or in the house.  It’s a 3-storey building built in an “S” shape to give each room at least one sea view balcony and others views on 3 sides.  The owner is obviously a game trophy hunter as one of the 3 lounges has lots of stuffed animal heads on the wall and photos underneath of the accompanying kill.  Likewise the TV lounge with enormous stuffed fish.  The whole 3-storey apartment is decorated in an African theme and the main bedroom has a 4-poster bed and en suite bathroom with shower situated over a natural pebble bed.   Litty warns us to be careful if we do stay in the house as there have been incidents with local kids breaking in, when they know there are visitors, in the hope of stealing cameras etc.  In view of this we reckon we will be safer sleeping in the van. 



FRIDAY 20 OCTOBER – By the time we get up the maid has arrived to clean the house.  We’re just in time to make use of the bathroom facilities before she gets to them.  There’s a lot of sea mist interrupting the view so no chance of one of the regular whale sightings.  Litty comes over to chat to us and we decide to move onto the local caravan park in the hope of spending more time with her.  She and her family fled from Zimbabwe 6 years ago to have to start from scratch over here running a tour business.  Her husband Don is away at the moment leading a hunting tour in Mozambique.  Relocate to Willows Caravan Park on a spit of land in the river opposite luxurious canal side homes.  It soon becomes a very hot morning and we enjoy sitting out watching boats go past.  Early afternoon it clouds over and again a cool sea mist rolls in. 


R80 (£6.40)


SATURDAY 21 OCTOBER – Litty invites us up for lunch and picks us up in the car.  Her mother in law also joins us for a delicious roast dinner.  She takes us back via her Mum’s retirement home and also point out a few features of the town.  The vast majority of the houses are holiday homes owned by wealthy families who swell the town in peak season to the extent the bank always runs out of money.  In the evening she returns.  Her cousin Sandy, and a group of friends from Zambia are in the Beach House and an invitation to the braai has been extended to us.  We learn lots about Zambia and also the fleeing from Zimbabwe where they all used to live, lots of sad stories that we were completely unaware of.  The families are here because it is half term and their children go to school nearby so this is a good place to take a holiday together.   



SUNDAY 22 OCTOBER – It’s a relatively short hop along the coast to Port Elizabeth, “the friendly city”.  Traffic is light so we can drive around checking out the backpackers that offer camping.  As it turns out there only Helicopter Backpackers that has room for our van and we are soon parked up in the front garden.  Steve is happy to watch the football in the afternoon and grand prix in the evening.  Another small campervan pulls with Dennis.  He’s an elderly gentleman and quite a character.  Back in the early 1970’s he retired from the army and along with wife Margaret and their 4 children then drove their motorhome from Germany to South Africa, shipping from Pakistan to Kenya.  Needless to say he has heaps to tell us.


35R pppn (£2.80)


MONDAY 23 OCTOBER – Sit out chatting to Dennis and reading his deceased wife’s diaries of their epic journey.  Late morning our hospitality club host Annie arrives.  In the car she takes us up to her home but we couldn’t get Millie up the drive.   We could leave the van out on the street and either sleep inside it or in a unit in her garden.  It’s one of the best areas of town so it shouldn’t be a problem.  She takes us back to pick up the van and we detour along the attractive seafront.  Annie phones up and tells us she has spoken to her partner Paul who says we would be better parked up in the garden of their B&B where he lives.  By chance they have had a cancellation on one of the self-contained units for the next two nights so we even get to stay in there.  Annie runs her own business selling supplies to the hospitals and uses the B&B main house for storage before delivery.  Paul also works in the medical industry supplying metal goods used in surgery.  In the evening we go home with Annie and meet her sons Mark, Tim and daughter Kelly.  Paul and Annie’s friend Gillian joins us for another good braai session.  Return with Paul around midnight.



TUESDAY 24 OCTOBER – Linger in the comfy king sized bed.  The hot sunny weather is beginning to taper off and it’s getting very windy.  Annie takes us for a drive to the shopping centre where we buy a mini black and white TV and radio R220 (£15.40).  Modern shopping centres have drawn most of the business out of town so on the way back Annie detours to show us the centre of the original city.  It’s now taken over by blacks but has a few impressive buildings and some interesting housing areas.  Late afternoon the wind is replaced by rain.  Set out to the airport at 9.30pm to meet David who is due to land at 9.35pm.  It’s still raining so I have a plastic bag wrapped around my foot.  Swing past the arrivals area and see David already stood outside.  He spots us and after quickly finishing his last cigarette he hops into the van.  His flight landed 25 minutes early and he had just come outside so perfect timing.  He’s not impressed with the cold rain as it was really hot in Johannesburg where he changed planes.  He’s noticeably lost weight but we should be able to build him up over the next couple of weeks and also encourage him to stop smoking.  Sit in the unit catching up on news and looking at some photo’s he has brought before retiring to bed around 11pm, David in the van and us in the unit.



WEDNESDAY 25 OCTOBER – We’re both awake at 6.30am and get up to clear out the unit.  Someone has just booked it for 1 month but luckily the smallest unit is now free and we can kindly been offered that.  The heavy rain through the night has now turned to drizzle.  Head down to the waterfront where we are lucky to spot a pod of about 50 dolphins playing in the bay.  They frequently jump right out of the water and can be seen quite clearly with binoculars.  The Boardwalk is an attractive entertainment and eating complex with a Chinese themed area and man made lake.  At the top of the boulevard is a casino where David is amused to see a “gun drop off” sign.  A bit further back along Marine Drive is Bayworld R33 (£2.60) where Steve and David go in to see the dolphin show, penguins, Nile crocodile and other wildlife including a Burmese python eating a rabbit.  We return to the Lodge and when it brightens up in the afternoon David goes for a dip in the cool swimming pool then warms up by wallowing in the Jacuzzi in our room.  We’ve been invited to Annie’s for a steak and wine evening at 7pm and set off early to pick up some booze on the way.  We are amazed to find all the off licences are already shut but luckily we carry a few supplies in the van.  Paul cooks the whole fillet on the braai and with accompaniments it’s one of the best meals we’ve had in ages, so much so that David even goes for thirds.



THURSDAY 26 OCTOBER – Set off along the motorway heading west towards Cape Town.  After about 1 hour we turn off for Jeffrey’s Bay a popular spot for surfers.    It’s a sunny day with clear blue skies and the temperature moderated by a strong wind.  The town sprawls along the bay with a number of shopping areas.  At the western end of town we end up unintentionally driving through the poorer black area, first a formal settlement and then the adjoining informal shantytown.  Surprisingly this is all located next to the new marina where they are cutting out even more canals for luxury homes to be built with their own mooring.  There’s a stunning beach running the whole way round the bay and we settle onto a central caravan park directly behind the sandy beach.  Steve and Dave set out to explore and find a huge dead jellyfish in the surf.  After lunch they head into town to do a bit of shopping and have a laugh when they see postcards in a pack of 8 for R15 but they can be split and sold at R1 each!  When they get back we all sit out sunbathing and reading for the rest of the afternoon.  Play card in the evening.


R80 (£6.40) stand for 2 + R12 (96p) per extra person


FRIDAY 27 OCTOBER – We are all awake around 7am so make an early start to head off along the “Garden Route”.  It’s another hot and sunny day so David is keen to get somewhere to make the most of it, in spite of getting burnt yesterday!  Pull up at Storms River to walk back over the bridge to gape down into the dramatic gorge.  Crossing into the province of WESTERN CAPE we are stopped by veterinary Police.  They want to confiscate any pork being brought in but when we own up to a small fillet that I am defrosting for lunch they say it is too small to worry about and we can keep it.  Turn off to Monkey land R100 (£8) pp or free to walk as far as the restaurant by which time you have seen lots of monkeys anyway.  Have difficulty finding the caravan park at Keurboomstrand and when we do it is empty, not great and seems overpriced at R50 (£4) pp.  Unfortunately they don’t have the business sense to encourage us to stay at a lower price.  It’s now after 1pm so we pull up on the cliff top whilst I cook up a pork stir-fry lunch.  Dropping down towards Plettenberg Bay we pull onto the riverside Aventura Plettenberg Caravan Park.  It’s the same price as the other one but a much nicer setting.  David has a brief dip in the river but doesn’t like the way the sand banks drop into deep gullies without warning.  He sits out sunbathing with socks on to protect his burnt ankles and a shirt covering his chest and neck.  Late afternoon he goes off with Steve to play mini golf. 


R50  (£4) pp


SATURDAY 28 OCTOBER – Set off in the usual search for accommodation with or near a TV showing English football.  In Plettenberg Bay we find that the Amakaya Backpackers fits the bill.  It’s quite near the centre of town so Steve and Dave go off to check it out.  The guy at the backpackers assures us this is one of the safest towns in South Africa to the extent that he has no qualms about single girls being out alone in the early hours.  It’s the hottest day for ages so David mixes watching football with sitting out in the garden playing cards with me.  In the evening David gets upset and decides he wants to get back home as soon as possible and phones Donna to ask her to get him a flight back asap.



SUNDAY 29 OCTOBER – David really wants to get to Port Elizabeth airport today.  We retrace our steps on the big drive back.  Stop to check out the “big tree” but it’s a bit of a let down at only 35m and not worth me hobbling to.  Arrive at the airport just after 2pm and drop David off before parking nearby.  He tells us that there are no more SAExpress flights today, the airline he was originally booked with.  The only other flight to Johannesburg today with availability Nationwide with space only in business class R1658 (£130).  Donna is going to Manchester airport to change his flight to one that leaves from Johannesburg tomorrow but David is sure that if he takes the Nationwide flight he will be able to connect with today’s 1915hr Emirates flight out and if not he will wait in the airport overnight.  Drive to the Helicopter Backpackers for the night.  Around 9.30pm we get a call from David, he’s missed his connection and in spite of asking Police for help he cannot find a safe area within Johannesburg airport.  He is at the airport hotel asking us to pay for his room, they won’t accept our credit card payment without faxed details and we don’t know anywhere we could use a fax at this time on a Sunday night.  As the night progresses we get frantic messages from him and Donna culminating with news that the airport is closing until 4am.  To add to the problem David’s telephone battery is getting low.  We’ve already been discussing options and Steve now begins phoning accommodation in Johannesburg to see if any of them will do an airport pick up and accept payment from us.  We also contact our friends Nolan and Nelson as they know people in Johannesburg but can’t raise anyone at the moment.  Steve eventually strikes lucky with Doves Nest B&B where Gabriel (must be the archangel) agrees to send someone to the airport to pick up David and take payment from us tomorrow.  We text David with the information but think his phone has already died. Have sent him numerous texts with suggestions of where to go but don’t know which if these he has received.  Gabriel sends his colleague Cecelia out to find David having been given a description of him and details of our previous suggestions in the hope that she can find him.  There is no announcement system in the airport so this is our only hope.   After a seemingly endless wait and may more calls to Gabriel we are extremely relieved when he gets back to us to say they have found David and he is now with them at the B&B.  It’s almost midnight and we are absolutely shattered but at least David is safe, what a nightmare.


R35 (£2.80) pp


MONDAY 30 0CTOBER – We phone Doves Nest B&B, speak to him and also make arrangements to pay the money into their bank account today.  For their trust and service alone we are really grateful to them and would certainly recommend them.  Their prices include breakfast and shuttle to and from the airport.  Single R320 (£25) double R430, family room R520, telephone 011 975 1746.   Once we have paid the money into the bank we call in at Terracotta Lodge to see Paul & Annie.  With no tour plan in mind I can now fix a date to have my cast removed.   Paul knows all the orthopaedic surgeons and takes me to Greenacres Hospital to make arrangements for an appointment with Francois who he recommends.  Unfortunately they have also had problems dealing with foreign insurance companies and won’t accept promise of payment from them so it looks like this time we will have to pay it and then claim it back.  Paul also takes Steve with the van to check out the on going starter motor problem and they eliminate the battery from the equation.  Will deal with it further when we get back to PE.  Today we are heading for Port Saint Francis where some kind friends have given us a 4-night stay in a timeshare.  To get to the Port you have to drive through the main village of St Francis, an attractive English style country village with whitewashed houses having thatched roofs.  Heading out to the port we pass an area with all Mediterranean style housing.  Reach the RCI offices just before they close at 5pm and pick up the apartment key.  We are in Anchorage block and find ourselves with a 2-storey 3 bedroom, 2-bathroom unit.  Just about manage to unpack before it rains.  We’re quite happy to settle into the comfy lounge and watch satellite TV before having an early night.



TUESDAY 31 OCTOBER – It’s a fine morning so we walk through the complex to the waterfront, a grassy area with seating directly behind a small sandy beach.  Steve leaves me there whilst he makes the short walk to the main port area.  Mid afternoon we get a text from David to say he has arrived home safely.  Spend the rest of the day being couch potatoes.




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