Alex to Kosi – Day 37 – 39

So, it was still raining when we headed for breakfast at the hotel … a buffet with a difference … The choice of cereal was All-Bran flakes or cornflakes, sealed tightly under stretched cling wrap in individual bowls.  Where you were supposed to get the milk and sugar for topping from, we still don’t know.  But we chose the wrapped up bowls of fruit salad and yogurt.  One had to guess by the colour what flavour yogurt it was and then it was a balancing act to get two bowls and a cling wrapped glass of juice to your table.

Once seated with your garden of bowls strewn about your person it was time to try and get into their contents.  I don’t know what kind of cling film they use but it was like ‘run oxyacetylene torch along edge and dynamite where shown!’  Now I get that line from the mouth of Rowan Atkinson on the comedy show, The Thin Blue Line.

Then of course, there was the cooked part of that whole song and dance … oh and don’t forget to put your mask back on to take three steps from your table to the buffet counter, corona might get you on the way, because of course, it’s a very respectful virus that stands aside when you eat or drink.  And don’t dare touch a plate!  It summarily gets ripped from your grubby paws and placed on the counter (next to the other plates) and the server then proceeds to take another plate from the ‘clean’ stack to start dishing your food under your directed choice.  You can’t touch your plate until it’s full of food, but the server didn’t take account of the fact that she touched the plates we’d so uncouthly soiled, never thought of sanitizing her hands, and then simply grabbed another plate.  Our ‘cooties’ were now also on her hands and consequently on the ‘clean’ plate, so I ask, ‘what was that all about?’  Pointless.  Not even to mention the condiments episode …

No condiments on the tables, so the waitress brings you a bottle of tomato sauce and tabasco.  But when you’re done with them she simply proceeds to take them off your table, pirouette round and plonk them on the next table … no sanitizer, no nothing.  Not that that bothered us at all, but the inconsistency of behaviour was just ludicrous!  No condiments on the table so that they don’t get handled by repeated persons, but what just happened then was handling by repeated persons … we touched them, then the waitress, and then the other diners.  Again, our ‘cooties’ were now on the bottles, on the waitress and on the other diners too …  So ‘what was that all about?’  Pointless.  Point it out to people and they stare at you blankly.  People have become sheep and don’t think for themselves at all anymore.  Where has common sense gone?  But we didn’t mind.  It was just entertaining.

But we made it through the insanity of breakfast and checked out … in the rain.  There was nothing for it but to drive to Port St Johns.  So we did.  But first a diesel stop at the local Engen.  There the masked petrol jockey hurried up to us with his mask hanging half mast (or should we say, half mask?).  Our masks had disappeared under the general clutter of charger cables, GPS cords, sunscreen bottles, etc. in the front of the vehicle but he didn’t seem to mind the lack of them on our faces.  Then another guy jogged up wielding a large bottle of sanitizer with which he began spraying Suzann’s hands.  He got so into it, he sprayed her legs, the side of the car, everywhere … and it was one of those stinky ones that you’re not sure if it even has any alcohol in it.  But when he came at her again as she presented her card for payment, she quickly put a stop to him by a few forceful words, ‘I’ve sanitized already!’  No really, that was a bit ridiculous …

Then it was time to crawl through Mthatha’s traffic hoping and praying no skollie would make another attempt on the bicycle that was still rather precariously strapped to the back of the vehicle.  The usual hawkers of all kinds of crap were wandering about through the traffic but then we saw something we’d never seen before.  The car in front of us had its wiper blades changed at the robot.  The purveyor of handfuls of the stuff simply unclipped the old, lobbed them over his shoulder onto the pavement, and proceeded to fit new ones from his stash.  Crazy.

But then we began to recognize the typical African scenes that we’d last encountered in places like Tanzania … the shops displaying their wares on the pavements, the same colours (where still recognizable) adorned the dilapidated store fronts from which the contents seemed to ooze into the road, the mess of pedestrians … the only difference was that the myriad cops actually still had cars!  But we guess its only a matter of time before those will also disappear.  You don’t need to go to Tanzania for Africa ‘heavy’ … just go to the Eastern Cape!

Driving through Africa ‘heavy’ in the dripping rain didn’t bode well for the tent again but by the time we reached Port St Johns it had stopped.  The sky still looked rather ominous though but the lady at reception at Cremorne didn’t seem to think it would rain again, so we pitched our tent and hoped for the best.  Everything was happening is slow motion since we’d both not even remotely recovered from the battering we’d taken physically and emotionally.  Lucky for that though since if we’d gone about the task at our usual pace we’d never have noticed that the large tree on our site was constantly dripping some rather oddly coloured sap, like the tree was trying to wee on us.  Consequently, we had to drag our little canvas house out under the tree and try and position everything so that any drips could be caught by our already half collapsing gazebo (we’d lost a nut that holds the concertina arms that pulls the whole thing out so we had to employ the duct tape again).  We parked the vehicle in the open though.  No telling how difficult it would be to get that ‘stuff’ off the car …

Eager for a better restaurant experience than at the hotel the previous night (and since we had no real food left, except chips and cookies) we decided to go to the resort’s restaurant for supper.  Entering, the dining room all looked great but when we sat on the chairs we felt, uh-oh … here’s something not lekker.  We ran our hands over the wooden furniture and it felt as if everything had just recently been oiled and the oil had not yet been allowed to draw in completely.  We were not going to get up with an oily ass so we moved to the picnic-type tables on the deck outside.  Unfortunately for us, an icy breeze began to blow across the river on the banks of which the resort sits so we had to transfer indoors.  At least the waitress gave us two scatter cushions from the lounge benches at the far end of the place to sit on.

Halfway through Suzann’s well done (medium requested) fillet steak, not to mention Lynsey’s raw one … a bat began to swoop around the dining room, narrowly missing us on it’s umpteenth pass.  Informing the waitress just got a little giggle and ‘oh, a bat’!  People want to crap themselves if you don’t wear a mask but they allow a bat to fly around in the dining room with the very real chance of having it poo in your plate!  That was the last straw!  We swallowed what we could of the meal and left.  We had no more energy left to complain.  We’d already had to go and moan to reception about the groundsman mowing up a storm with his little tractor … cutting across our site, centimeters from our tent, throwing up stones and grass clippings as he made pass after pass over our site to access the expanse of grass down to the river bank.

It was hard to hold my tongue when I saw the great ladies facilities at the restaurant because the ablution blocks were abysmal in comparison.  The blocks were right up at the entrance gate next to the lean-to shelter that housed the tractor and other equipment of various description, while the campsites were miles away down by the river.  This meant you had to wander across a vast expanse of ‘lawn’, passed the cottages and round the back … through the parked cars in the parking area for reception and the restaurant to access the bathroom.  Now no-one wants to walk through a parking lot in your pj’s with morning hair to get a ‘either freeze, or boil, pick your pick’ temperamental gas geyser shower.  We don’t want to know what would happen if you developed a runny tummy.  Under normal circumstances you’d hardly made it to the toilet and back before you’ve developed another pee.  And of course, don’t forget your crampons for the hike!  Maybe pack a lunch?  At least tell someone where you’re going so they can alert search and rescue if you haven’t returned by nightfall!

But we had a plan … We were not going to venture out in the dark, not with random dogs that had begun to appear in the park after nightfall.  So Suzann came up with a brilliant invention, the Tsitsikamma Spring Water toilet.  This marvelous contraption consisted of a 5 litre Tsitsikamma spring water can cut open half-way up the side to make a type of bucket.  The bucket had no handle though but we didn’t mind.  We’d just have to perfect our aim as we didn’t want the tent full of ‘sprinkles’ as it were.  When we’d done the necessary, the consequence would unceremoniously be chucked out on some random grass patch outside.  I’m sorry, but it’s simply a matter of human survival out here!  We just had to keep an eye on our invention the next day when the wind came up.  We couldn’t have our toilet blow away!

How could anyone, in any case, expect two people with body temperatures of 33.1 and 32 degrees, to go hiking to the block in the freezing evening breeze?  We were then ‘just off corpse’!  I honestly don’t think that anyone knows what normal body temperature should be!  Just goes to show, those expensive little ‘guns’ that everyone was forced to purchase only take the surface temperature, not your core, which is the true reflection.  Think about it.  Have you ever had the doc ‘shoot’ you with a little ‘gun’?  It’s always the ear, the mouth (before HIV, that is) or if you’re really unlucky, the anus!  It would be better to aim that thing at someone’s armpit or butt crack!  But then it would be slightly inappropriate to ask your guests to ‘bend over and pull everything apart’ at reception!  All we can say is, ‘someone’s making a killing selling those things’!  Kinda wish it was us.  At least we would have something to show for all our trouble …

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