Written about July 19,
We struggled with jet lag longer than expected but finally got our act together and rented a car to go see some stone circle “Kraals” and the Stone Circle (Adam’s Calendar) Museum.
Proved to be mildly interesting. These are ancient ruins that certainly present many questions about their origins, age, and usage. The hypotheses presented are definitely intriguing but leave a great deal of room for doubt and other interpretations. The stones seem to be aligned to the sun and stars, but, Bottom Line, more mystery than answers.
This is located at -25.631666, 30.759639
A claim was made that GPS signals don’t work accurately inside the circles but both of ours did. If there are truly strange energy effects, then we did not have the proper equipment to record them. So, such claims, as far as we are concerned, are neither proven nor disproven.
This set of stone circles was at
Or, you can search for the location -25.59478318, 30.28896293 in a satellite map program. The trees shown in some satellite photos had been recently cut down for the paper mill. <Frown>
A much larger collection of circles and terraces, is at -25.721953, 30.2915704 There are many thousands in this area of Africa. Why?
Upon our return to Johannesburg we got a final night’s sleep and then a ride to Durban with a fellow tenant of the AirBnB. Spent the night there and spent way too many hours trying to figure out the best way to get to Shelly Beach. The logistics were proving ridiculously complicated.
The plan, and reason for the trip in the first place, was, and is, to spend a week or so in Shelly Beach visiting with one of my angels. The young lady (25 years my junior) who took me in while Gerhard was in ICU. She and her husband took me in, drove me around, fed me, comforted me, and even held Gerhard’s other hand when I let him go and the meds were withdrawn, allowing him to die. She had only know us for a single hour before making such a generous gesture. Her husband passed away a couple years ago and she reached out to me in loneliness for some succor. So here we are. After visiting with her, we want to spend a month driving to Cape Town and back. Then visit again before continuing on to Cairo.
She does not have a car and the public transportation leaves a great deal to be desired. The best (public transport) way we found to get to Shelly Beach from Durban was to take a South Shuttle bus but the web site gave the impression that they might object to our large collection of luggage, and either charge extra or even refuse to carry it. If I understand correctly, it looks as though the luggage gets placed in a little trailer pulled by the van style bus. It must be well marked to ensure no mix ups – in a country that is very key happy and theft conscious. The trip would involve many stops on route, each of which would be an opportunity for a ‘mixup’. The whole enterprise left us uncomfortable, based on past experience in other countries.
We therefore researched rent a car options. These, like airfares and phone plans, are designed to separate as much money from the customer as possible. There are SO many variables and conditions for each option and so many unknowns and surprises that it is just not possible to compare them properly. We finally decided to rent one in Durban proper, near the Point Yacht Club and take a Taxify (like Uber) to get to the rent a car place. The taxify went fine but upon arrival we discovered that the booking we had made had been made for Pinetown, from which we had just driven. Not sure whether that was my mistake or the web site’s. I guess in the end it was mine, because I very well knew that the site frequently did not update properly, and could have missed the change in booking location.
Since the Durban branch was not expecting us, they could not accommodate us at that time but would be able to 3 hours later. We settled down with all our luggage to wait. The time vanished while we did computer chores.
Drove down to Shelly Beach and checked in. Later, I was reading a posting on the wall regarding house rules. I found it accusatory, listing all the consequences of missing stuff or damages. The place was no where up to the standards we were used to. I joked about the conditions, commenting that we did, indeed, like a bargain and just what did one expect? But, come morning, my gut was telling me to get out. To cancel and find another place. It would not shut up. So we drove to another place that we had been in contact with and it looked so much better, called that hostess and asked if the place was still available – yes. Told her we would like to move there that afternoon. Then, we drove on back to Durban to return the rental car and catch a bus back to Shelly Beach without having to worry about luggage.
Somehow my gut was not worried about leaving stuff in the first unit until the afternoon – but I did not cancel my booking at the time we made the decision as I did not want them aware of it until we were ready to leave.
So we drove north to Durban. We had inadvertently taken possession of a fleece belonging to our driver which had gotten mixed up with our pile of fleeces, so we returned it to his place of business and checked out a place to leave our excess luggage that he had offered for use during our road trip. We could not leave it just yet because we still have to sort out what to leave behind and what to take. Still not even sure whether that will be by rent a car or hop on hop off backpacker’s bus.
Next we discovered the ‘Conscious Cafe’ which had Excellent Organic food and a homey atmosphere. Met the owner who has also cruised the oceans and now volunteers with Sea Shepherds. Back to Avis on a now tight schedule and a quick walk to the bus stop. Made it with 5 minutes to spare plus the 15 minutes that the bus was late.
Back to our airbnb where we packed up our stuff, made the cancellation, arranged to return the keys, and got a lift with our new hostess to our new unit. We were still dealing with formalities there, when I got a call from the previous hostess expressing shock at our departure. I told her I would call her back. She emailed me twice saying I owed her 610R and another accusing me of not calling her back yet. She seemed in a panic believing that she was not going to get her money. (One Rand, aka ZAR, is about 13 to the US Dollar.)
I did not call her back. Instead I sent her an e-mail:
Do not worry about your payment. It will be more than you are expecting as I had to pay for two nights even though only staying one. I think that is only fair. If I had cancelled upon arrival then I would have only paid for one night, but since I did not cancel until today, you are entitled to tonight’s earnings.
The first problem I had was when you asked for 500R cash on arrival for cleaning – via e-mail. I had already paid an agreed fee of half that and did not appreciate a last moment additional charge. (I also find a 500R fee to be excessive based on charges by your competition.)
I got a sense that you did not trust me or Airbnb. The last few e-mails and your call confirmed that. I do not like to do business with people who do not trust me.
Also the place is rather run down with laminate peeling off of cabinet doors, overhead light in the bedroom does not work, peeling paint in the bathroom, and a toilet flush mechanism that was frozen until we worked it loose, and the like. Dirt and socks under the bed. No dish soap or scrubbers for cleaning the kitchen. I had to go buy our own which is not the sort of stuff travelers want to lug around! It made the place feel like it catered to the untrustworthy people you seem to think I am. So that gave me visions of people who might have duplicated your keys and I simply did not feel safe anymore. Perhaps the lock happy customs of South Africa have made me more sensitive than I should be.
I hope that you will find this instructive and do well in your endeavors.
P.S. Airbnb will be paying you today. Because of the time zone difference I do not know when it will appear in your account. If you have any issues with that, contact them. +1 855 424 7262.
I am glad to be out of there. The distrust was palpable. Unfortunately South Africa has an official unemployment rate in the high 20%’s and supposedly a true figure in the high 30%’s. With such figures comes desperation and crime. People do not go out on foot at night and do not leave anything unlocked for even a couple of minutes. Car doors are locked even while driving. The norm is to be in a compound, surrounded by a head high, or greater, wall, topped with 3 feet or more of electrified fence.That last place we cancelled out of also had the ability to lock oneself inside the locked grill door before unlocking the weather door! The two doors being two feet apart or less. Doesn’t make me feel any safer though. Geez! If you had already locked the first one before unlocking the second, you would REALLY be unable to defend yourself from a knife attack – or any other kind! As much as I find fault with problems in the US, it is not that bad – at least not in most places.
The main roads we have driven here are in better condition than the ones we drove in WA, but with expensive tolls – we went through one toll booth 4 times which cost 83R or $6.30, EACH time, and there were several others on the same road for lesser amounts. Back roads can be in horrible shape, requiring a speed of about 2 miles per hour if you care about your car! And, of course, everything in between. The limited access divided highways with usually 2 lanes each way have goats and cows grazing nearby with no fences to keep them off the road. People sell oranges, avocados, fish, and sugar cane, alongside the highway and cross over on foot – often at a leisurely pace. The speed limit is 120Km = 75 mph! And just as in the USA, it is often exceeded. They do usually have a wide shoulder/breakdown lane which is much more utilized than those back home – for buying from the vendors as well as other purposes.
Robn and Dave