After a very relaxed evening and super night’s rest on REAL beds, we were ready to leave the N7 and head down to the coast and Doringbaai. But the weather had other plans.
It was a bit overcast when we got up but we didn’t think it would rain. Yet, just as we were saying our final farewells to Hardeveld Country Lodge, the drops began to fall. We thought it was just going to be a spit and a spot though, so we set off through the little ‘dorpie’ of Nuwerus. We had hardly gone 500m on the gravel road that would take us coastward, than the rain began in earnest.
It had already been decided, from the outset, that should the rain fall we would pack it in. We had learned the hard way, on our last cycle expedition to Tanzania, that it’s just not worth it to ride in the rain. You are just left freezing cold and with heaps of sodden cycle gear that just won’t dry. Then, of course, the wet garments inevitably start to get that characteristic sour smell, somewhere between wet dog and stink feet … ‘old stinky’. So we hastily retreated into the dry warmth of the vehicle.
By the time we had driven 12km the rain suddenly let up. Warily we stopped to reassess. The rain had indeed stopped but the wind was blowing a gale from the front and the quality of the gravel road was such that would, most likely, end in tears (wobble-wobble … crash). So we decided to run it instead. Right there on the side of the lonely gravel road, we summarily ‘dropped our drawers’ and changed into running gear. We’d take it 5km at a time but the 5km turned into a hard slog against the prevailing wind and the corrugations on the road didn’t made footfall any easier.
After we’d both braved the elements for 5km, there was only 4km of the gravel road left before we’d hit tar again. We were big and strong and decided to give it a go again … 2km each. The tar road couldn’t have made it’s appearance sooner. From there it was another quick change (luckily only shirts because we run in tri-pants made for cycling as well, although the pad isn’t near as thick) we’d get back on the bikes.
The wind was a huge obstacle to our progress but the quiet backroads allowed us to use the vehicle as a windbreak again. The wind was not blowing from a constant direction though and kept changing. Sometimes the bulk of the vehicle shielded beautifully and the cycling effort came right down. The next minute the gale would turn and it was as if the vehicle wasn’t even there. Soon it just became like a whirlwind in the wake of the vehicle and out front the gusts threatened to tip us up. Just before we came upon the little town of Lutzville, we decided to pack it in for the day. It was just getting too dangerous. And the traffic began to pick up nearer town, through the many farms in the district.
We stopped to fill diesel at the first filling station we spied. It was there that we also spied a sign saying ‘pies’ on the garage shop door. After the Hilux was full we decided to fill ourselves up as well. It was only after we’d got the pies that we saw the coffee station. But the collections counter was right next to it and there were about three people hanging about waiting for their orders of chips. We couldn’t get near the coffee and the place was so small we decided to axe the coffee and buy a coke instead. That’s when we passed the shelf with the nougat. And, of course, a huge bar of nougat just jumped into our hands. It was good though.
We stopped off for lunch just outside of town in the remains of what looked very much like an old quarry. Across the road there was just vines as far as the eye could see. Then we remembered that this was the Oliphants River valley … a wine district.
On the road again and we’d stop to watch the long Sishen-Saldanha ore train chug by. It was somewhere between the holiday hamlet of Strandfontein and Doringbaai and we were stopped on the side of the road … fascinated. The train just went on and on and on … hundreds of ‘carriages’. It was heading north so it was going at a clip. It was empty, obviously heading back up country to pick up another load of iron ore to bring back to the harbour at Saldanha.
After the train had eventually passed, we headed into Doringbaai … which is actually just two streets. Our accommodation was in the one closest the beach. Confusion initially reigned as our booking had apparently gone AWOL … or was never put on the system. Finally someone recalled, but seemed awfully ‘put off’ because we’d not arrived on bikes. I don’t know if they misinterpreted our email communications and thought we were just two pack cyclists, or what? Anyway, after a bit of musical cars they did find a space for our vehicle. Then we could unpack and settle into our little, and I mean little, room at the bottom, at the back.
After a shower which, give them that, was lovely, we decided to crawl out of our hidey-hole and go walk on the beach and take pictures of the lighthouse and small harbour and the remnants of what appeared to once have been a fish factory.
The afternoon passed peacefully and we’d soon find ourselves in a quandary. What would we eat for supper? The little place wasn’t exactly kitted for self-catering, even though there was a rusty two plate stove and some dusty cutlery and crockery. There was, however, no place to wash up … except the bathroom basin. So we’d make sandwiches. Suzann prepped the topping while Lynsey balanced a slice of bread in each hand. But we had something to eat.
Then it was just some vigorous pumping with the mini hand pump to inflate our mattress. We’d hauled one of our mattresses out because the one bed in the room was a veritable plank. Suzann was in danger of getting a bad case of bursitis in her hip if she dared a night on that thing. So she’d end up lying sky high on the inflatable mattress on top of the bed. It was like the princess and the pea … just without the pea.