The first day that we could sit down with a cup of coffee and a rusk in the early morning sunshine. The wind had not let up the previous day, so we had to find a sheltered spot to light the gas stove to concoct our supper of a Mexican omelette. We had even been strong enough to go as far as doing the dishes right after supper and not leaving them ‘till the morning, even though we really wanted to.
The morning began hot and windless but before we’d even started to pack the tent up, a breeze had started again. The myriad flamingos didn’t seem to mind the wind and went about their filter-feeding business without a feather out of place. The previous evening two large flocks went flying by our campsite. The birds seemed even more beautiful in flight. With morning came some more birds, and a few pelicans joined the flamingos in the shallow waters on the river bank. Two pelicans went waddling, as stately as a pelican can waddle, into the shallows. These two waded in and then begin to swim as the bottom gave out on them … all very civilized … no swooping down and splashing up a stormy landing.
We also got the chance to pack in a civilized manner by taking our time. We had nowhere particular to go, so we decided to take a drive through St. Helena and Stompneusbaai on our way to Paternoster and Tietiesbaai. We would stop for photos of an ocean as flat as a dam. In Malawi, we kept calling the lake, the sea because it looked just like the sea, only with less waves and fresh water, of course. We could’ve just as well have been standing on the shore of the lake because the sea looked just like the lake, small waves and all … it was just salty.
‘Die Winkel op Paternoster’ was not what it used to be though and Lynsey had quite an incident with the hand sanitiser, realizing too late that the stuff in the bottle was actually soap. There was no water though and the resultant glop was shared by smearing it off on Suzann’s hands. Luckily we spied some paper towels at the door and lustily began wiping the stuff off on them. Just as lucky, we didn’t have an audience.
That would change rapidly as we parked at the beach where the small fishing boats were coming in one after another. Every Dick, Tom and Harriet was afoot with anything from bags of live crayfish to mussels and hearts made out of shells … and everything came at a price.
So too did entry to Tietiebaai. But we were told that the lighthouse at Cape Columbine was closed. We wouldn’t even be able to get near for a close-up photo. We decided that twelve rand and ten whole cents would be wasted if the lighthouse was a no-go area. That’s what we actually came to see. It was not about the large rock on the top of the hill that apparently gave the place its name, Tietiesbaai. Whether that is true or not, we don’t know … the ‘tietie’ hill giving the name, that is.
Lunch time was still some while away and we decided to drive on to Saldanha. We were sure that we’d find a fish and chips place there. But no … not even on the harbour. At least we got to take a bit of a walk on the harbour and see the iron ore harbour with its red dust coating from afar.
We’d pass the ore terminal, the end of the Sishen-Saldanha railway line, on our way to Langebaan. But we’d still not find a good old West Coast fish and chips shop … and the place was so build up, we could hardly catch a glimpse of the lagoon. Tired, hungry and rather fed-up we backtracked to the Weskus Mall at Vredenburg where we ended up eating a chicken pie from Pick’nPay!
At least we had something in the tummy to give us strength enough to go and pitch the tent again at Kliphoek River Resort. Again on the banks of the Berg River, we got a private site with its own ablutions and even a roof under which we could pitch our tent. Just a pity that the wind nearly blew out the flame of our gas stove while frying patties for our mushroom burger supper.
It was then that we began wondering ‘what are we doing?’ It felt so like we’d been cycling our backsides off and no-one knew or cared, for that matter. We were feeling very sorry for ourselves indeed. Fatigue does strange things to the brain. But just as the early morning mist of the next day disappeared with the sun, so our brain-fog disappeared with a good sleep.
Washing had to be done but then we also had to get the consistently deflating tyres checked out as well. Suzann finished up the washing and with a line full of cycling gear and a camp chair decorated with ‘pantie flowers’ … she’d pegged the underwear to the armrests, we left in search of a tyre place. We quickly found Velddrif Tyres and within a ‘quick’ hour, the two slow punctures had been plugged and we were mobile again.
Then it definitely was time for fish and chips, and why not do it in style … a seafood platter for two at the Vishuis in the heritage site of Bokkomlaan?