Day 26

Cross Africa has gone glam! We’re booked into the hotel Garden Court Mthatha. Could get used to this …

We left a breezy Kob Inn after a rather restless night of listening to a group of hikers who’d arrived there the afternoon, party in the bar until 3am. Apparently the owners had only given permission until 12pm, but the staff couldn’t get the lot to shut-up and go to bed. They just insisted on their right to party since they were paying guests. Now I ask, what about the rights of the other paying guests who paid for peace and quiet? Such selfishness … The lot definitely were paying for their indulgence with very obvious hangovers at breakfast though … and a huge surprise at the reception desk where a bar tab of R20 000 had been run up between the lot of them!

Leaving the lot to their, well … lot, we tracked back towards the tar of the N2 at Dutywa. The gravel roads had beaten us and what with the owners at Kob Inn not advising us try and go any further along those Wild Coast’s wild roads, we decided to play it safe … or rather a bit safer (didn’t quite know how safe the N2 was going to be but at least we have the vehicle behind us).

Just through the general chaos of Dutywa we stopped to offload the bikes and lube up with sunscreen. The weather forecast had predicted a scorcher of up to 30 degrees so we feared the wind was going to accompany such high temperatures, but we were blessed with ideal cycling conditions for the day … no wind.

The N2 running through the old Transkei towards Mthatha actually turned out to be quite a pleasant road to cycle. The hills were long but not too steep and the surface was still in good nick from a recent rebuild, obviously. The only problem with a 70 plus kilometre day in the Transkei, is the general lack of loo facilities. This omission forced us to simply drop and ‘let go’, so to speak, on the side of the road between the car doors. We took turns, Suzann and I, to stand and create a makeshift screen with a towel so the inhabitants of the houses on the hillside opposite didn’t get an eyeful of buttock. After a quad-burning squat to ensure complete evacuation … preferably not on shoe … we decided to turn our wee stop into a lunch break.

A few crackers and energy bars to the rescue, and we were on our bikes again. As far as the eye can see stretches houses, little clusters of fizzer pink and green huts on every hillside. And where the village hugs the road, hordes of school kids shout and cheer us on and try running along the road to keep up with us. I even heard my first, ‘white people’ yelled by a little boy on the side of the road.

As we approached Mthatha the road become busier and less safe. Finally, we reached the outskirts of the big city and decided to stop and load the bikes rather than brave the afternoon traffic in Mthatha.

Bikes safely on, we headed for the Savoy Hotel (much advertised on Algoa FM as the only place to stay in Mthatha). But when we finally ran the ‘only place to stay in Mthatha’ to earth, we quickly made a u-turn and headed back to the Garden Court Hotel we’d spied on the way in. No dodgy places for us …

Now we can relax in the lap of luxury while the bikes and vehicle are safely parked for the night. And as we arrived a fellow guest at the check-in counter started chatting and when he found out what we were doing he promptly opened his wallet and gave us a R1000 donation! Amazing!

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