Tuesday, July 11, 2006

3310km: Successful Multi-day Road Trip

I'm back home after driving 600km in three days on my Gomoto.

Would I do it again?
Yes, most definitely!

I reported on the first day and a half's travel in my previous blog entry.
I will give a brief report on the rest of the trip here, in the form of an interview with myself :-)

So where did you sleep on Monday night?
I spent the night under a warm down duvet in a dormitory room of the CAPE AGULHAS BACKPACKERS in a small coastal town called Struisbaai. It is situated just 5 kilometres from Cape Aghullas, the southern most tip of Africa.

I thought you had packed a tent? Why a backpackers?
The two local caravan parks charge R84 per night for a stand. When I arrived, eager to pitch my tent, the lady at the campsite refused to let me enter before i investigated the Backpackers. They charge only R70 per person per night. It was not a difficult decision to make. (In fact, it was real relief. On my way from Bredasdorp to Struisbaai the wind blew so strongly that my Gomoto could sometimes not exceed 55km per hour!

What would you call a Gomoto with wings?
I have no idea! Probably a micro-light which only has a reverse gear. (Not enough power to fly forward.)

Corny Joke

Can you describe the backpackers hostel?
It is a new establishment which opened in February 2006. The owners have done everything possible to cultivate a laid-back relaxed atmosphere. The dormitory rooms have very neat and practical furniture, warm down duvets, en-suite showers, towels. The focus is on being practical. There is a notice at the toilet roll holder: "No Toilet Paper: Look in the kitchen cupboard above the plates." There are instructions on how to recycle trash. Each drawer in the kitchen is labelled with what utensils a person will find in it. (I like that, it is quite empowering to know where to find things when you need them). The colour schemes are vibrant. An outdoors patio, fire-place, and swimming pool is the center where most life seems to happen. Visitors have the option of writing a message on the green walls around the fire place. Almost everybody have written nice things. (Perhaps the not-so-nice things were painted over again.) I wrote my blog-address on the wall.

The owners of the place were not there, but their brother did a good job to make me feel welcome. The only one that made me feel a bit unwelcome was one of the dogs who did not know that I had moved in. And when I surprised it by suddenly opening a door it gave me quite a growl. I soon made friends with it, however and then it ignored me for the rest of the night.

Were there other people in the hostel?
Apparently there were about 7 people in the hostel the night before, but I only saw evidence in the form of some left-over bread. I decided not to eat it though. At about 19:00 the Moolman family from Johannesburg moved into another one of the dormitory rooms. Their 14 year old son had just competed in an inter-provincial Formula 3 powerboat championship competition on the Theewaterskloof dam in Villiers and they were on their way back home. The boy and his team came second. Congratulations!

So you spent your whole day laying around the hostel?
NO! I drove my Gomoto all over the place. I was not in the mood to explore Museums (and there are several at L'Agullas). I went to the southern most point of the continent, and then drove on to a small residential area, called Suiderstrand, situated within the Aghullas National Park. There is only one rough gravel road that leads to it, but I somehow got lost on the way back and ended up on a 4x4 track leading through the National park! In the beginning it was quite an adventure! I was hoping it would take me home in a different way, but about 5 minutes into the track, I hit some sandy spots. It is quite interesting to notice how a Gomoto Motrobike handles thick sand. One of two things tend to happen: 1) If the sand is very thick, the front wheel sinks directly into it, but inertia causes the driver to almost shoot over the handle bars. 2) More commonly though the front wheel suddenly gives way to the side, and then the back wheel seems to follow a person in a side-ways skid, and it takes quite a bit of muscling and exercise of the whole body to remain on the bike!

The sandy bits were interspersed with rocky sections, and in hindsight I am amazed that my Gomoto and its tires survived the ordeal. (I eventually decided that if this 4x4 route was going to lead anywhere it would take too long to get there. I turned back and got to see the lovely skid paterns created by my bike, followed by trenches where my boots hit the ground in an effort to retain my balance.) It was a really fun outing. I am now more convinced than ever that my Gomoto 125 cc motorbike can take any terrain that Africa can throw at it! (Although, I must honestly say that I would choose to bypass such difficult terrain should there be other options available.)

I bought my daughter a few small gifts at one of many shell-shops/art shops in the area. I bought some fresh milk (which the Moolman family promptly finished when they arrived at the Backpackers :-) ). And I went for a run on the 14km long white Sandy beach!

Did you run 14 km's?
No! I ran 15 minutes in one direction, and then I turned back and slogged my way back to the Backpackers (which is situated 200 metres from the beach - And NO!, I probably did run more than 200 metres). I did not have any footwear with me other than my boots, so I did my run without footwear. Later in the evening I got some weird cramps in my feet, which were obvioulsy traumatised by the strange new activity that they were exposed to.

I learned something useful. Apparently the name "Struisbaai" is derived from an old Dutch word, "Struis" (Obviously), which means "Large" or "Big". So I'm proud to say that my deductive reasoning figured out where the word "Volstruis" (Afrikaans for "Ostrich") comes from.

Would you go back to Struisbaai?

Yes, but this time en-route to some other interesting alcoves that I never got to explore. Apparently Arniston/Waenhuiskraans has a large cave that a person can only reach during low tide. And I would like to explore the De Mond and De Hoop nature reserves. (People who like Kite-Surfing will probably prefer to stay at Struisbaai for longer periods of time).

How far did you travel on the second day of your journey?
I travelled approximately 150 km's from Greyton to Struisbaai. I saw many Merino sheep, and a few beautiful pairs of Blue Cranes (actually they are all over the Overberg but always a beautiful sight.)

Yawn... Perhaps you can continue the story tomorrow. I'm off to bed.

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