We are on the road…
I got up early and started my work at 6 am and was done by 8:45. By the time we were dressed and packed, and had filled the car, we were on the road at 10:30. Today was a beautiful day, the sun was shining, everything was bright. We drove along Melkbos beach to say goodbye, and to our mountain as well.
Going up Sir Lowry’s a truck stalled in front of us and we, and others behind us passed. I hear later on the radio that the road had been closed in both directions due to truck incidents. Already we felt blessed that we made it through in time. The road from there onwards is so beautiful – farmland as far as you can see on either side with rolling hills forming a purplish grey backdrop. Every now and then fields of flowers would take over the landscape, turning the lime green to luminous yellow. We’d pass herds of sheep with young lambs nuzzling their mothers, cattle, ostrich and here and there a few horses. Damian and I played “spot the first animal” with an appletiser prize – which he won.
We stopped for bathrooms in Riviersonderend. This is always a little challenging travelling on our own. Today we used the riksha and I asked a cleaning lady to keep an eye on Damian when it was my turn. It’s always a little nerve wracking leaving him outside the bathroom stall, with all the stories you hear. We were back on the road in less than 10 minutes. Our first touristy stop was Swellendam. We have been wanting to visit The Continent of Sulina (the faerie sanctuary) ever since a colleague told me about it in 2005. What an enchanting little place! There is a circular walk through a path overhung with trees, with all sorts of little faerie and pixie folk peeking out from among the leaves. We couldn’t stay very long and were soon back on the road again.
Last night I realised that the backpackers I was intending to check into was in Plettenberg Bay and not Knysna as I had thought. I didn’t want to travel that far yet as we had things we wanted to see in and around Knysna, so I e-mailed a few other places late last night. At our stop in Swellendam, I checked my e-mail and the only response I had was from Fairy Knowe in Wilderness, who had a cottage available at R420 or two dorm beds at R110 each. As we are on a tight budget I booked the dorm beds, and our first stop was organised.
We realised we hadn’t eaten besides a yogisip for Damian and my birthday cookies for me, so we were on the lookout for some snacks. A few kilometres before Heidelberg we spotted the Blue Crane Farm Shop and popped in and were delighted with the selection. It doubles as a restaurant so serve take away meals as well as a variety of tarts, cakes, homemade breads, fresh fruit and vegetables, biltong and preserves. I ordered a toasted cheese sandwich on rye bread. R15 for a three slice sandwich was really reasonable, I thought.
We arrived in Wilderness around 16h30 and my GPS took me to the wrong location, but after a quick phone call I was redirected to Fairy Knowe via Ebb and Flow which avoided the long stop-go traffic leading from Wilderness to Knysna. Fairy Knowe backpackers is absolutely delightful. We felt at home from the moment we arrived and I was soon wondering why I have never done the backpacker thing before. We were shown to a four bed dorm room and offered a basin to use for bathing Damian. The owner, Digby, then offered us the lodge cottage at a discounted price to help accommodate Damian as it has an ensuite bathroom and double bed – a huge blessing.
Digby directed me via the back dirt roads towards Knysna, again avoiding the stop goes. I had wanted to visit the Friday night food market in Welbedacht lane, though when we arrived it seemed it wasn’t happening. We settled for pizzas and made our way back to the lodge to sit by the heater with a glass of red for me, and an Appletiser for Damian. Listening to Sugarman over a glass of wine in an ambient setting was a wonderful way to spend our first holiday evening, and chatting to Digby I got to hear about life running a backpacker lodge. It’s pretty much 24/7 365 unless you have a manager, which Digby says he has had in the past. However, a couple of them ended up running off with backpackers they met and fell in love with – apparently an occupational hazard of running a backpacker lodge!
We went to sleep, snug in our room listening to the sounds of the sea!
Day 1… successful!