So, my 4 friends (Shana, Brooke, Hallie, and Sammy) and I decided that we wanted to go explore the Eastern part of South Africa before we left the beautiful country, so we planned a three part trip to Bulungula, Lesotho, and Durban for approximately 10 days.
Part I: Bulungula
We booked a bus leaving from the Cape Town bus station that would go through Port Elizabeth, and eventually drop us off in Mthatha, which was two hours outside of Bulungula. We got on our bus, after almost getting on the wrong bus from Cape Town. The bus was completely cramped and had absolutely no air conditioning whatsoever, so the bus ended up being 90 degrees. I tried to fall asleep (cause I can sleep in any moving vehicle) and within one hour of my sleep, the bus driver decided to play an African gospel concert on the TV's on repeat. I'm pretty sure it repeated a good four times before we got off the bus, so I was not able to sleep for 90% of the bus ride. We arrived in Mthatha, and was dropped off in the middle of this taxi rink where taxi drivers were pulling us every which way to try and get us to use their transport. Luckily Brooke friended this nice lady who helped us negotiate with a taxi driver who would take us as far as Elliotdale which was about an hour closer to Bulungula.
|The back of the flatbed truck|
|Our lovely Canoe ride|
The lodge was overrun with stray cats, dogs, cows, donkeys, and horses, and their was a stray dog that would follow us around everyday, and sleep outside of our hut at night, waiting for us to wake up. The lodge was brightly colored, and had a couch area, a kitchen for guests who cook their own food, and another kitchen for the isi Xhosa workers who would come in and cook nightly meals, that you could buy for a small fee. Also, the tribespeople made small crafts and trinkets that were also being sold in the lodge, as well as a sign up sheet was on a bulletin board, listing the various activities that was offered by the lodge.
The bathrooms were vibrantly painted, and completely eco-friendly. One half of the toilet was for #1 and the other was for #2. The shower was a pipe with a hole at the bottom, where you stuffed toilet paper and dump kerosene on the toilet paper then light it, to give you 7 minutes of hot shower water. The huts contained 6-8 beds and were lit by a single eco-friendly bulb.
The lodge was a 1 minute walk away from a beautiful, completely desolate beach, away from all of the chaotic world.
|The "yummy local beer"|
The first day at Bulungula, we relaxed and walked along the beach all day, after a long day of being crammed in buses, trucks, and canoes. That evening we signed up for a "village tour" of the local isi Xhosa village, on the tour we met the town's medicine woman. She is in charge of providing healthcare to those tribespeople who do not believe in any form of religion such as Christianity. Then, we bumped into the headswoman (the chief's wife) who was very intoxicated and coming back from the Shebeen (the local bar). She would not take a photo without one of our water bottles in her hand or doing the Nazi salute, she was quite hilarious, and such a character to meet. Then we went to the local store, where this Afrikaans woman in our group asked the shopkeeper if "the peanuts were fresh or not?" she was very degrading to the tribespeople, and we unfortunately had to live in the same hut with her. Then, we finally got to go and check out the Shebeen, where they sold cartons of "local beer" for 5 Rand a carton. The process was to shake the carton and dump the beer into a plastic pitcher and then pass it amongst one another. The beer was in all honesty the WORST thing I've ever tasted, it was a mixture between body sweat and vinegar, so we gave it off to this guy who was missing a mouthful of teeth, but continued to try and talk to us. After ten minutes of sitting in the Shebeen, our guide noticed a small feud going on across the hut and told us that we should probably leave. The milk crate that Sam was sitting on was knocked over and piled on by drunk, fighting men and women just pounding one another, literally 10 seconds after Sammy got off of the crate. We quickly left the Shebeen to head back to the lodge.
|Sporting the local sunscreen, head-wrap,|
and cutting up our squash for lunch
|The full moon sunset|
|Brookie and I watching the sunset.|
Toms which proved that the organization actually does donate pairs to African children. That night was a full moon so we ventured down to the beach to watch the sunset, and it was absolutely breathtaking to see a sunset over the Indian Ocean! We then sat around the fire circle and played the bongo drums with some of the local guys who hang out at the lodge at night. The next morning we woke up bright and early to head off on our next (crazy) part of the journey, and oh boy does it get weirder.