Sunday, November 29, 2009

Africa as of late

Africa is amazing, what else can I say? Internet has been hard to come by and when it is around it is very expensive. I am at a hostel now though, with decent prices and free computer use without the internet, thus my ability to post this blog.

So lets see...I flew into Cape Town a few weeks ago and since then I have moved on. After about a week of wine tasting, hiking, taking in amazing views, visiting with South African friends and exploring, we finally headed out. After toting our backpacks around Cape Town we rented a car and were off. First we drove to Cape Agulus, the southern most point of Africa, and the most southern place in the world that I have been to. We stayed at a wonderful little backpackers hostel and woke up at 5:30am the next morning to see the sunrise over the Indian Ocean. This was also the place that Andy proposed to me. We had discussed the idea of marriage before hand and even picked out a ring. So it wasn't a huge surprise, but Andy was very sweet about it and it was a special time. I can't wait to start a life with this man, he is truly amazing and wonderful and I am lucky to have him. I could probably write a book about his talents, quirks, and the things that make him so great. Love truly is grand!

Next stop...Bloukrans Bridge for the worlds tallest bungee-jump (216 meters). We had anticipated this activity for a few days and finally the moment arrived. We were buzzing with anxiety, nerves, and excitement. On our hands they wrote our weight and jumping number and we were harnessed up. Then a group of about 8 of us walked out a special walkway that ran under the bridge. When we got to the center of the bridge there was a group of Africans waiting to help us jump. They imediately gave us instructions and turned on some loud music to pump us up. They were a wonderful group of upbeat, happy guys to help us get into the right mood for jumping. Andy went first and with a huge grin and wide spread arms he jumped, it was crazy! Next Julie jumped with a nervous smile. I was fourth on the jumping list and I was beyond scared. They roped my ankles together, put their arms around me and carried to me to edge. They told me to put my toes over the edge and that was my first true glimpse of what awaited me. I could hardly see the bottom and a million thoughts went through my head. Then the count down began...5,4,3,2,1. I was for sure that I wouldn't be able to jump on my own, but sure enough my legs pushed off and I was airborn! I fell for 5 whole seconds and for about 3 of those I was truly horrified. The last 2 seconds I was finally able to enjoy myself and then it was over. I hung upside down for a few minutes and was finally pulled back up by my feet. It was incredible!! What a rush, oh man, a true crazy experience.

Next stop...was East London which is also situated along the coast on the Garden Route. We arrived at the hostel late at night in the pouring rain with the wind howling. The hostel was quite large, but very quiet. I think we were the only people staying there. All night long it poured rain and was windy. We were afraid the roof might blow off. The next morning right as we woke up the rain stoped. So we cooked up a big breakfast of eggs, tomato, onion, toast and instant coffee. After stuffing ourselves we piled back into the rental car and were on the road again. We drove a few hours to Mathatha, where we dropped the rental car off and were picked up in a truck by our next hostel.

Next stop...Coffee Bay. The guy from our hostel graciously drove us two hours over the most pot-holed road I have ever seen. We drove past little rondovles (round mud thatched roof houses) and finally arived in the sleepy little beach town called Coffee Bay. (A village of 600 people) We stayed for about a week and enjoyed all sorts of activities and people. Andy went surfing, we climbed over rocks and hills looking for caves, collected shells, learned how to play the jimbae drum, socialized with locals, explored, relaxed, ate amzing sugar loaf bread that our hostel baked daily, cooked a Thanksgiving meal, played with puppies...and it goes on. We had adjusted to the leisurely life of Coffee Bay quite quickly. We also ran into John (from South Africa) and Zasha (John's girlfriend from Switzerland), who were some people that Andy and Julie had befriended in Mozambique before I had arrived. They moved into our hostel and we spent the rest of our days in Coffee Bay with them. At one point they mentioned that their next stop was the Drakensburg mountain range and asked if we wanted to join them. So having no plans we decided that would be awesome.

Next stop...Drakensburg Mountains. Friday morning we woke up at 5am and packed all of our backpacks, a cooler and food, as well as all 5 of us into John's little VW Gulf. I can't believe we fit, it must have been a miricle! John drove us back over the pot-holed road and 6 hours on to Durban to his parents house. Just as the rain started to fall his parents welcomed us in with smiles and coffee. We unloaded our backpacks, re-packed for the mountains, picked up some tents and sleeping bags, had quick conversation with John's family and were on the road again. Our first stop was to the grocery store where we loaded up on fresh fruits and veggies, since Coffee Bay was lacking in those foods. Then we drove three hours to the Amphetheater Hostel near the base of the Drakensburg Mts. We arrived in the rain, but the hostel was buzzing with a party vibe. We met a huge group of John's rock-climber friends from Durban, and then set up our tents in the rain. Early the next morning we drove to the mountains and spent the day hiking with John, Zasha, and all of John's friends. It was a great time! Lots of jokes and stories were told as we hiked, laughter was had, and incredible scenery was taken in. At the summit we saw the worlds second tallest waterfall, Tugula Falls. At the end of the day we got lost driving in John's VW Gulf and almost ran out of gas. We were full of smiles though, because of the wonderful day we had. Finally we found the hostel, made dinner and enjoyed drinks with our new friends.

Today we are still in the Drakensburg, but taking it easy by the pool. It has all of a sudden gotten really hot, so a realaxing day next to the pool has been perfect. Tomorrow we are off on a backpacking trip in the mountains where we will hike, camp, and hopefully swim in some hot spring pools that John knows of. It has been so great to travel with a local South African, because he knows all the great places...and he's got a car. :) John and Zasha have been wonderful travel companions along with Andy and Julie. I am so blessed to be having such amazing experiences with quality people.

Well that's it for now. More experiences to come!


  1. Your trip sounds amazing! I can't wait to see it all for myself in three weeks. I hope you continue to have wonderful travel experiences!

  2. Ellie,
    So exciting! I wouldn't expect anything else from you, though :o) Love hearing about your adventures. I will continue to live vicariously through you! Enjoy.
    love ya,

  3. I can't wait to hear more and see photos. Did you get any of the bungee jumping? Just reading about it took away my breath! So glad you're having a great time.
    Love, Mom