So we just got back from one of the most epic weeks of my life. After UCT orientation and registration ended, we had a week before classes started and so a bunch of kids from my program and I booked tickets on the Baz Bus to go backpacking along the Garden Route, which is a series of towns and national parks along the western and eastern Cape of Africa. There were 13 of us, which actually ended up being a great number and equaled so much fun. The Baz Bus is a great system for the most part; basically, you book a ticket for a certain amount of time, and then you can get on and off in any town that the Baz stops in, and they even bring you directly to your hostel.
The trip kicked off with a hectic early morning walk/minibus ride to Obs (Observatory, a neighborhood about fifteen minutes from my apartment with a lot of bars and restaurants where UCT kids live) and then an hour-long wait on the sidewalk in front of a hostel called The Green Elephant for the Baz Bus, which, like everything else in South Africa, runs on its own schedule, i.e. is late pretty frequently. A common expression here is “TIA, mate” which stands for This Is Africa, and can be used as justification for pretty much anything. Our first leg of the trip was about six hours to Wilderness (yes, there is a town called Wilderness) but we lucked out with a great driver named Sam who let us play Jackie’s CDs (the Beatles, reggae, and more reggae by a singer I actually remember the name of, Sista Cat; she’s from Philly but lives in California, check her out, seriously) and fell in love with Lindsay, who we now all refer to as Leen-say on a regular basis. The Baz system is pretty impressive; wherever they’re dropping people off, they pick up an equal number of people up so that the bus is always full, and consequently they’re making mad bank. We stopped a couple of times on the way to Wilderness, once at a McDonald’s (Sam apologized profusely to Leen-say for taking her to McDonald’s on their first date) and to pick up a barefoot girl with the best hair I’ve ever seen who was going to visit her aunt in Wilderness and surf and once in George, which is about 20 minutes from Wildnerness.
We got to our backpackers (hostels are called backpackers in SA) in Wilderness which was called the Fairy Knowe and all of us immediately fell in love with it. It’s got huge grounds and the owner, Monica, is awesome and helped us plan our kloofing voyage for the next day in addition to taking us shopping and making dinner. Fairy Knowe was definitely the nicest place we stayed; we had three rooms in a little house set back on the grounds that had a porch with a bunch of armchairs on it and the beds were super clean and the most comfortable things I’ve ever slept on. Before dinner, Jackie, Dana, and I went for a walk following the train tracks for the steam train that I think still stops at Fairy Knowe, which ended up in us climbing down the railroad bridge to a sort of embankment on a river and just hanging out there for a while. Christine and I showered outside accompanied by a gigantic spider friend (we were in Wilderness, after all… wow, lame, sorry bout it) and then we hung out at the hostel’s bar and at the bonfire. I was exhausted for some reason even though I’d slept on the bus, and I ended up falling asleep at like 10:30, but that ended up being great for the next day’s extreme activities.
After eating peanut butter and raisin sandwiches on crackers late into the night and sleeping in our swimsuits, we woke up and packed up all our stuff and PEACED out of the Island Vibe. We went to breakfast at a really cute place in downtown Knysna called Fat Susi’s Bistro and then got a cab to Leisure Island where we sat on the beach, rented kayaks and kayaked out to the Heads (not all that interesting rock formations at the mouth of the lagoon where the ocean meets the fresh water) while battling crazy wind and some rain and intense currents. After kayaking was done, we went to get lunch at a restaurant on the waterfront called Paquita’s before getting the Baz to Plettenberg Bay, called Plett, which is a resort town about 20 minutes from Knysna. I also forgot to include (retrospective realization) that in order to get from the lagoon where we kayaked, the guy who we rented the kayaks from put all of us in the back of his pickup truck and drove us about 15 minutes through downtown Knysna to the waterfront. Crazy shit. Ohhh life.
in the pickup truck. this unfortunately does depict the first five minutes in which lindsay was straddling christine.