PE to Mossel Bay

From Robn.

Dave is adding photos over the next few days. When done, I will remove this paragraph. Enjoy.

From East London, on Aug 5/6, we continued on down to Port Elizabeth (PE), where we met a school teacher who hosted us and clarified quite a bit of South African History for us – not that I could regurgitate much of it! It is one thing to list arrival dates and battle dates which is already beyond my memory capabilities but to understand the why is what is important and at the same time probably unknowable. Just as pundits are trying to analyze how Trump came to power and are really just guessing at umpteen theories, I think the same holds true for all historical events. It is easy to say that the US joined World War Two because of the attack on Pearl Harbor but there were a great many other factors that led up to that event.

South Africa was ruled by whites made powerful by their technology, but that technology did not teach them how to get along in peace with other cultures. They apparently feared the blacks who outnumbered them and believed that total control was necessary to maintain their power and lifestyle. The US story of slavery and control over blacks is somewhat different since the numbers were so different. Blacks were not as much of a threat to the power structure as in South Africa. Revolts in the US were a threat to the wealth and the economy rather than actual life. Revolts in South Africa, due to the sheer numbers, were a higher risk to life and limb.

I find it fascinating that the result of these fears is always suppression. Suppression of rights, freedoms, and privileges of others. A drive to increase the differing living conditions. In actuality, the masses of people, not being as greedy as the haves, are generally content to put up with a great deal of inequality. The haves, I think, must recognize at some level that they are being very unfair and that eventually the have-nots will get tired of being treated unfairly and object. Yet instead of sharing a bit with them and treating them better, they clamp down all the more with sheer force of law and/or arms.

Once this cycle is set it becomes rather difficult to change. If the powers that be begin to share with the have-nots, the latter tend to remember the previous injustices and seek recompense for past behavior. They tend to not be satisfied with just a few bones tossed their way once the lines have been drawn. A great deal of turmoil could be avoided if people would simply work together in cooperation instead of people holding onto a sense of superior rights that they use to justify helping themselves to more than their share.

Enough of my soap box!

We visited with friends of mine from 2011. One helped me with visa hassles back then and the other sailed with me from PE to Hout Bay. It was good to see them again. I got to know them better this time around since last time I was so wrapped up in my own situation that I wasn’t paying near enough attention to the people around me. We also went to the Addo Elephant Park and saw a variety of wildlife. When it came to the elephants the first ones we saw were difficult to make out in the brush, but then we saw one on the far side of a brushy field. We watched for a while and then he came towards us. He would pause from time to time but was still wandering in our direction so we sat tight. Sure enough, he came up quite close. Judging by his size I would say it was a teenager. Later we saw a group of about 14 and then a family of all ages and sizes.


Above: Enroute to Addo. Low clouds in the valley.


Above: Many side roads are gravel. Often ‘corrugated’, ‘washboard’ or ‘corduroy’ type roads. This is good advice.

Greater Kudu 0809_1009

Above: Our first Addo animals, seen from a bunker. A Greater Kudu (R), and a Warthog (L).


Above: 3 Greater Kudus. One of the largest species of antelope. Bulls weigh 190–270 kg (420–600 lb), with a maximum of 315 kg (694 lb), and stand up to 160 cm (63 in) tall at the shoulder.


Above: One of the favorite pastimes at Addo is mooning the cars. A Zebra. Animals were often far away and, without a telephoto, not a good photo.


Above: This is the ‘teenager’ that began far, far away, and kept getting closer. Just wait….


Above: It decides that the bush, halfway between the elephant and the car looks tasty.

Elephant 462

Above: our best Elephant Photo, so far.


About: Getting a drink.


Above: Family getting closer to us. Some folks did not read the, “Do not hang out of your car!” sign.

Earlier at the Kragga Kamma Game Park we had seen rhinos, giraffes, a variety of members of the antelope family, wild dogs, a mongoose, ostriches, warthogs, and, and, and. There doesn’t seem to be much interest in sticking to indigenous animals.

We also went to the South End Museum which tells the story of forced re-settlements into segregated ‘homelands’ designed to ensure that the races stopped mixing. The community (one of many) had been a harmonious mix of working class people of various colors. This threatened the ruling Afrikaners and they began a policy of separating the living spaces.

We worry that America is moving in that terrible direction, with some few, but powerful people in our government promoting ethnic hatred and violence.

Of course, I had to visit the marina again for my trip down memory lane. And then we went to the Grass Roof Cafe for an organic vegan lunch. Their gardens right outside the restaurant provide their ingredients, which are also sold to the public.


We also spent a ridiculous amount of time trying to get our phones to work properly and learn how to buy our data and not waste it. It was disappearing way faster than normal as companies have gotten better and better at getting your devices to do things in the background without your knowledge or permission. It is a lot more noticeable when you are paying for each Mb. We heard that someone did an experiment where he downloaded a variety of phones with different data packages, made SURE that NOTHING was running even in the background and kept track of the “data usage”. One company falsely claimed that data was being used, which is outright theft. Personally I object to the expiration of purchased minutes or data simply because a time period has elapsed and consider that theft but at least that is admitted in the description of what you purchase – this was NOT part of the contract. Am I surprised? Hardly.

(Dave here) Similarly, AirBnB has been wonderful for our trip. We have met so many great folks and seen different aspects of life in the countries that we have visited. And, for much less than a hotel. BUT, I discovered that they are skimming extra money from us. They have a clearly posted service fee that they charge for their service.

Their website says, “…we charge guests a service fee between 5% and 15% of the reservation subtotal.”
Our recent bookings are all between 12 and 13%.

Then, AirBnB, not so publicly, charges an additional 3% for converting my US$ to the host’s currency. OK, but I want to pay in the local currency, since I have a credit card that does not charge a foreign exchange fee, and I want to save the 3%. But, that is not allowed. And, they gave us a terrible exchange rate, so that we lost 8.94%, not 3%.

We have been looking into the rules and, counting charges to the Host and Guest, AirBnB gets about 36% of the money above board and, in our case, nearly 9% more as hidden fees. That is creeping toward 50%. Hmmm…. They make almost the same as the Host.


There was more to see in PE, of course, but it was time to move on, and we headed for Plettenberg. On the way we went down to the ocean at Stormsrivier and hiked to the suspension bridges. The trail was on a steep cliff side and had many sections of board walk and stairs to make it more accessible. Enough elevation change to make us old fogies short of breath. No regrets, of course, as we need the exercise and the scenery was fantastic.

From there we went to our next AirBnB. Here we stayed with a couple who brought their mask making and chocolate businesses down from Jo’berg. These are venetian style masks rather than African tribal masks and they are the only source in South Africa (or did she say the whole of Africa?). The owners are as eclectic as their business – as someone else said. We had very enjoyable conversations with them. They have 3 dogs and about 3 domestic cats. The native large cats keep eating the domestic ones. We thought that they had one peacock and his half dozen hens, but we soon learned that they are wild pea fowl that think the place belongs to them along with several guinea hens. Some days there were several peacocks and lots of various birds, large and small.


Above: The front show


Above: Mooning me and, more importantly, a Pea Hen. She seemed to strut off in a huff!


Above: The tail’s normal mode. ‘Reefed’ in sailor talk.


Above: A peacock right outside our open window and door. His legs are just long enough that he walked up the stairs. They fly well enough to spend the night in a tall tree.


Above: If you actually need a good reason to not trifle with a baboon, these canine teeth might convince you. Packs of baboons are in the area, but since the humans that live here, started having human males urinate along back property line, they stay away. They have come into the house and done some damage, looking for food. But, no more.

From this base we ventured out to see more sanctuaries. Monkey Land and Birds of Eden the first day, Jukani Wildlife Sanctuary the second. Most of the monkeys in Monkey Land are not indigenous to South Africa and they can not mix predatory monkeys with animals they would attack, so they limit their charges to smaller species. They claim that they do not interact with the animals (i.e. touching or hand feeding), but I’m not clear what difference it would make. Several of the monkeys were totally comfortable walking amongst us on the trails – simply ignoring us as they chased each other.

Some steal items from the guests. An iPhone and a hair clip, with the lady’s hair extension, come to mind. Not quite a toupee, but the woman was upset to loose it. One was trying to open Dave’s backpack. So much for maintaining distance!

The bird sanctuary also had many non indigenous birds of all sizes. Most of them I could not name for love nor money. Pheasants, parrots, swans, guinea hens, I am semi familiar with, but not all the truly colorful ones nor the “little brown jobs”. One guinea hen followed me around for a long time and seemed to be begging for attention. It even brushed up against me. I had difficulty resisting the temptation to pet it. They are amazing when viewed at less than arm’s length.

A small parrot, who was probably a pet before coming here flew over our heads and sought our attention. A finger held out was all the invite it needed and it flew over and climbed up onto our shoulders. Bit one of my buttons off! We did not know how to get it to leave but a pair of other birds chased him off. Later, we saw the sign saying to not allow them to land on us. Oops. Why not put the sign at the beginning of the trail?

At Jukani they have assorted cats from around the world, mostly from zoos and circuses and the like. Animals that can not live in the wild because they never learned to hunt for themselves. Joy Adamson taught Elsa to hunt for herself and was able to reintroduce her to the wild. So it can be done, but I can believe that it would not always be successful and that the animal would probably have a high risk of being killed by humans, or other predators. The number of cats and other animals needing a retirement home must be huge.

We were particularly interested in seeing Spirit, featured in the movie “The Animal Communicator” about Anna Breytenbach. I couldn’t say why – we just did. When we were on the tour, Spirit was in his shelter minding his own business. We were told that he might be more visible closer to feeding time and if we came back later in the day we could skip the tour and someone would accompany us to the viewing platform near him. We did so and he was sleeping off in the distance. He moseyed a bit closer but chose not to come close. That’s fine. A twelve minute video about Anna and Spirit is at:–zc1KIxk

The following day we went out to the World Heritage Site at Robberg Nature Preserve. Hiked for a few hours along steep trails that reminded us of the Hike near Milan a year ago. I would guess that it was about 3 plus Km or a little over 2 miles, but with a lot of elevation changes. Part of it was a long steep slope of thick soft sand and we were glad to be going downhill rather than up. I’m not sure if it qualified as a dune – which I think of as ever shifting – given the amount of bushes and the dimensions. It is maybe 6 meters across at the narrow parts and dropping from an elevation of 120 meters as near as we can guess from the map, over a distance of some 600 meters. A slope of 1 in 4 to 1 in 5 in places. Too bad we didn’t have an appropriate board and skills to slide down! We saw lots of seals but from a long ways away. We were far above them, which limited the smell a lot.

It was very good exercise, stunning scenery, good weather, a wonderful day.

I’ll take a break here before continuing. I really enjoyed Plettenberg and find it interesting that I never considered visiting it with Heidi. On the other hand, my charts do not make it look at all inviting, I had not heard of the place as a potential stop, plus it is not far from Port Elizabeth and Heidi and I needed to cover distance when we had the chance.

Cheers, Robn and Dave


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