When I left you last we were at the hotel in Cape Town just about to meet our tour group, and tour guide, Colin.
There are 11 of us total. The next morning (Monday) we packed all our stuff into a type of Toyota Landcruiser that I had never seen before. We pile all our gear on the roof, and we climb in the windows (which pivot at the top) to get in the seats. We also tow a trailer that houses a fridge and freezer, as well as the rest of the gear.
Before leaving this part of South Africa, Colin takes us to Table View which is a boardwalk by the water by which we can see the whole city of Cape Town with Table Mountain in the background. It's very beautiful and impressive. Then we go to a mall for a quick break - where Shawna and I bought hoodies, bottled water and candy - all of which end up being very handy.
We stopped at a gas station along our way and had lunch - sandwiches and drinks. Colin told us about the campsite that we'd be arriving at that night. He warned us that a wolf lives there and we should not interact with it. Ummm... huh? Sure enough, after a few hours of driving we arrive at the Gecko Creek Campsite and there's a sign, "Beware of Wolf." He sure doesn't look much like a wolf at first, since he's so plainly happy to have visitors. He is wagging his tail and giving a puppy dog look. But once you get a little closer you see that this thing is HUGE. He kinda looks like a Husky but way more muscular. He's a Husky on stereoids. Anyways, it's hard, but we don't interact with him. Later on, we get a little more information from the manager, who says, "he loves people, and he welcomes everyone into his pack, but his pack has a hierarchy, and you are at the bottom." This is further illustrated by "Wolf Rules" that say things like, "if you drop food on the ground when the wolf is near, do not pick it up - just back away slowly."
We have some time to relax on site which is nice because this Gecko Creek Campsite is really beautiful - way better than I was expecting. There are swings and chairs and hammocks, a pool with a bar, a fire pit, a barbeque, a kitchen area and decent showers. It was way better than any provincial park site I've stayed at, that's for sure. :)
Colin makes us dinner on most nights and that first night he made chicken, rice and mixed veggies. Colin has one heck of a time being our cook because out of 10 people, 5 of them have special dietary requirements. Shawna doesn't have dairy, Yvonne is vegetarian, and the 3 guys in the German family all have Celiac disease. This makes it really hard on Colin and especially since he only gets a certain budget; some of those diets are expensive to support. It also means that the rest of us get what we get!
After dinner we went to the fire pit and relaxed around the fire in, of course, bean bag chairs. We looked up at the stars and I can't believe how many there are. How come we don't have that many stars? The sky is filled with stars here, I can't find any constellations since it's so overwhelming! We are exhausted from our day on the road and head to bed early.
The next morning (Tuesday), we have breakfast, pack up our stuff and leave camp. We have a long day of driving ahead of us - over 500km and we're crossing the border into Namibia. We have to rotate positions in the Landcruiser because there are good and not-so-good spots. We drive and drive and drive. After several hours we pull over at a rest stop (like our rest stops but no washrooms) and have lunch. Colin pulls out a table, enough chairs for everyone and we start making sandwiches. He also made a salad out of last night's rice that, despite my skepticism, was really rather tasty. It had mint peas in it, rice, carrots, mayonnaise, onion and tomato. Sound strange? It actually tasted rather good. I was starting to have faith in Colin's cooking abilities. :)
We stopped in a town called Springbok not long after where we went to a grocery store. What I notice about the landscape leading up to the cities is that there are orange orchards everywhere. Orange vendors, orange trees, and now in Springbok, orange hawkers. They pleasantly harass us on the streets, trying to get us to buy bags of oranges. It's one of the big crops here it seems.
We motor on. Eventually we reach the South African/Namibian border crossing. First we have to get out and get our passports stamped to say we leave S.A., then we drive a little further to get out and get admitted to Namibia. All goes without incident. We marvel at the Orange River which is the natural border between the two countries. And no, it isn't orange - maybe that refers to the local crops?
We head to our campsite which is quite close. Shawna & I are the only two out of the group who are doing the full-camping option. Everyone else either has all cabins or half-and-half. So we set up our tent and try to help Colin out with preparing dinner. Have to say, it wasn't so good this time. Plain polenta (looks like mashed potatoes, fooled us into taking a lot), some kind of very salty BBQd meat, and spinach with peanut butter sauce. The peanut butter sauce wasn't real peanut butter, either. It was "caramel crunch" peanut butter. Not totally hideous, but not good. Not like gomae. Sigh - maybe this food thing is going to be hit-and-miss.
Early to bed. Breakfast this morning (Wednesday) was good (toast, eggs, sauteed veggies), and we headed off for the day's excursion on the Orange River. Yes that's right - we were spending a half day canoeing down the river for 20 kms. Good thing I'm an expert now, huh? Shawna and I were rock stars. :) We did well, and had no problem with the 4 sets of rapids we had to paddle through. We stopped early for lunch on the bank, and the bugs were crazy. The only relief you got from them was paddling, so our break wasn't too long. I thought I was being vigilant with suncreen, but apparently not good enough - I burned nearly everywhere that I had left exposed, which wasn't much: backs of my hands, cheeks, lips, nose. I was probably the most covered of everyone and still... how annoying. This African sun is gonna be tough to manage.
I was glad when the canoeing was done so we could get away from those bugs. We showered, did laundry, and discovered the business center - yay.
Tomorrow we are off on the road again. :)
Hope all is well at home,
1 month ago