Sunday, 10 March 2013

Different roads

aka Swansong - II

Is it just me? Or did Smaug's growl (it could hardly be called a roar) at the end of The Hobbit sound like a giant big block V8 starting up? :D

Last weekend I took a trip down to Asansol and it wasn't just the usual family visit. There was a wedding to be attended. I wasn't the only one who made it, so a few of us converged on the old school campus after many years. As is usually the case with such visits, old memories hung thick in every corner and corridor. I'm afraid the wedding reception was rather overrun by excited recollections from a decade ago :).

Speaking of recollections, let's continue with the story where I'd left off. So we left the Western Cape behind and started making our way east. The idea was to make it from Cape Town to Durban in three days. Yes, a somewhat steep hill to climb, but we were in high spirits. The first day went about as perfectly as anyone could ask.

The weather was perfect and so were the roads. We hugged the coast for a little while before it became obvious that this wasn't going to be the usual long distance trip across an unobtrusive landscape. Not that I'm one to complain about that :). Rolling hills, sudden passes, deep gorges, tantalizing views of rivers rushing along at impossible depths. To say nothing of the changing vegetation. It was as if every few hours or so the whole world around us transformed itself just to keep things interesting :).

I kept thinking about the last most spectacular road trip I'd ever been on, back in New Zealand. This was as close as I'd ever come to that in the intervening five years, and it wasn't for lack of trying! Eventually we hit the ocean again, close to Mossel Bay and made our way to Knysna. It was just an overnight stop, but we managed to make it to the lagoon waterfront and even found a particular seafood restaurant that had been recommended by some fellow divers in Simon's Town :).

Early next morning, it was off to the Storms River. We weren't just going to be driving through for three full days, we'd decided, so zip-lining on the way was just the thing! As far as adrenaline rushes go, it turned out to be fairly tame :). But hanging suspended 30m above the forest floor and zooming across from tree to tree was quite a refreshing experience! Once we were done with that, seeing how the Storms River mouth was really quite close by, we decided to visit that too.

We might have gotten a little carried away by the Middle-Earthesque scenery a bit, as it was very late in the morning by the time we got back on the road. We still had about 600km to travel to our next stop! We did quite well, despite the traffic and the road-works. But then the GPS got us in a spot of bother. Luckily, we'd been in touch with the proprietor of out next hotel at Haga-Haga. When we called to let her know we were quite close and told her where we were, she seemed to go into quite a panic! We'd overshot the mark by a good 90kms!!

Getting lost in a foreign country can be a bit distressing. Especially having just spent most of a very long day in a car. Thus it was quite a dreary trio in a completely inappropriate vehicle that traversed the last 15kms bouncing along on a bone-jarringly awful dirt road in a darkness pierced by cicadas. But then things looked up again. The proprietors turned out to be an extremely charming old couple thoroughly worried about our ordeal. Dinner was waiting as was the lawn out back. We were back at the ocean, and even though we couldn't see it, there was no mistaking the crashing waves and the soothing breeze.

The plan had been to leave again the next morning, and head all the way to Durban. But, cold beer in hand, standing in the wind, the water that close and absolutely nothing else for miles and miles all around (not to mention the 15km of horrifying dirt that would have to be covered before we could go anywhere), we couldn't help but throw all the plans to the wind and ask the owners for another night on our cabana. The gentleman was only too happy to oblige us, and we woke up the next morning, three rather tired but extremely happy people.

The resort lay at the edge of the water. A mix of rocky and sandy beaches stretched both ways as far as the eyes travelled. And there was hardly a soul to speak of. Paradise, as far as I was concerned!

Currently: reminiscing
Listening to: Dido - Sitting on the roof of the world

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