We left the farm at 7:30 and after putting petrol in the car it was 8:00 by the time we were on the road. With all the roadworks on the N2 it was a little challenging leaving East London. I took the East Coast road but the turnoff to the N2 before the Gonubie Farmers’ Hall was closed and I had to turn around. Fortunately I remembered that the East Coast Resorts road winds up to the N2 instead of going all the way back to the Gonubie exit, as travelling along this road it came rushing back to me that I really am still a Wild Coast girl at heart.
Besides the actual towns in the Transkei that are run down and littered, the landscape of the Transkei is something special, and despite the warnings to be careful, I loved the trip through. Rolling hills as wide open land as far as you can see, quite in contrast to the greenness of the Western Cape and Garden Route, the brown grandfather mountains with their dark green stubble speak of the rich culture of the Transkei. The horizon is speckled with huts of bright orange, yellow, pink, green and blue, and though with modernisation thatched roofs have been replaced by zinc, the Xhosa round huts are still prevalent throughout. Makeshift kraals, donkeys carrying water barrels being led through the grasslands, locals riding shaggy ponies and sheep, goats and cattle galore – this is the Transkei! The harrowing side of this though are the livestock grazing a little too close to the road for my peace of mind, and the frequency of dead animals on the road have me willing the animals to remain rooted to their spots as I pass, praying they won’t suddenly make a mad dash in front of my car.
A short stop-go for roadworks just after Dutywa wasn’t too much of an inconvenience and we stopped very briefly in Mthatha at the Ultra City to use the bathrooms before the last stretch to Kokstad where we were meeting up with my brother and sister-in-law for the rest of the trip to Lidgetton. with 40km to go, I thought everyone had exaggerated about the road work delays until we hit the stop-go 35km before Kokstad and were delayed by over an hour. All I can say to anyone doing this route at this time – make sure you don’t drink anything after stopping at Mthatha because it is a torturous stop-go section for 35km until the next Ultra City with bathrooms available.
We met up with Trevor and Zan at about 14:30 and headed straight on towards Lidgetton. From Kokstad onwards there are fewer huts dotting the landscape and the views are just as magnificent, though with fewer animals on the road relenting a little on concentration levels to enjoy the views. We drove off the highway towards Lidgetton with the most magnificent sunset and were welcomed to The Gowers farm by a reed buck grazing close to the entrance at dusk – beginning her nocturnal foraging.
A much welcomed glass of red wine with dinner of stuffed grilled mushrooms, creamed spinach and salad for me, with roast chicken for Damian and everyone else and an early night to bed after a long day on the road.