Finished with work on the game reserve, the next stop was Mossel Bay for shark cage diving! But first, a little R&R. Liezel drove us from the game reserve to George at 7am Saturday morning to rent a car for our next week of travel. The car turned out to be a VW Polo which is promising as I was expecting some tiny car I’d never heard of. I’ve loved every VW I’ve ever rented, and I’m in the driver’s seat this trip as renting an automatic car was about twice as expensive as a manual, which Dave doesn’t do (yet!). I am LOVING it though, I miss having a stick shift, and having it on my left side instead of right hasn’t been a problem at all.
With the early transfer though, we arrived at our B&B really early. Luckily the owner could not have been nicer about it, and was there at the door waiting to show us to our room. Considering how exhausted we were after the past two weeks of physical work, tent sleeping, and early mornings, the house that awaited us was pretty much a dream come true. Picture one of the big houses on the Outer Banks, but divided into 6 rentable rooms, all facing the ocean. There was a pool table, darts, three common living areas, a Jacuzzi, a very small pool, three common decks overlooking the ocean, a barbeque, and magazines everywhere. And this was before we got to our room which was spacious with an extra long king bed, a nice bath, separate shower, television, and our own balcony. This is EXACTLY what we needed after two weeks in a tent! We spent the entire day lounging in and around the pool and Jacuzzi (first such Jacuzzi we’ve found in this country by the way), and were reluctant to leave even for our FREE dinner at a local game reserve that was part of the special package we got for staying for 3 days. The game reserve was gorgeous though, admittedly in a better setting than ours had been, and the food was delicious. We added eland, impala, and crocodile tail to our growing repertoire of meat (again, apologies to the vegetarians, this must disgust you), with impala becoming my new favorite meat, but still not edging out ostrich for Dave.
The next day was more lounging until around 3:30 when we left for a braai at Jim and Elsie’s, which was more good food and good fun. We watched some dvr’ed episodes of “The Wild”, a soap opera in South Africa that features their son James. We’ve been trying to catch a new romantic comedy that is out in theaters right now featuring their daughter-in-law Anel as the lead actress but haven’t quite gotten out of the house early enough yet.
Monday morning was our shark cage diving appointment! We had actually had a few conversations around whether we should bail, but not due to fear of sharks. Real fear number one: we had guessed it would cost about $100 per person, but in reality it was almost double that, and there was no guarantee of finding the sharks. Real fear number two: Dave gets sea-sick and while he was ok on the short boat ride to Robbens Island, legend has it even the strongest of stomachs can fail on this one. They urge EVERYONE to take motion sickness tablets before leaving. However, it was Dave that was really pushing this one, we had to do it, and so we did…
The boat left around 10 in the morning, and traveled for about 15 minutes before reaching the first spot. They were licensed to do this in two different areas on the water primarily because they “chum” the water to draw the sharks-throwing in sardines. This is controversial as it could conceivably draw more sharks to an area where people swim and surf, but so far has not been a big issue. Still, they keep to areas away from people. So, we throw anchor, and…wait….and wait….and wait…. I’ve never had an issue with motion sickness and luckily this is no exception, so I just lay down and sun on the front of the ship while we wait. I keep sitting up to check on Dave, who says he’s doing fine, which is great! As I doze though I hear the girl beside him announce that she’s going to be sick so as she throws up overboard I run to get her one of our extra Dramamine. When I get to the back of the boat, I realize she wasn’t the first after all. There’s one girl in there that looks about as bad as I’ve ever seen anyone, and another hovering about-I’m not quite sure of her status but there’s not really any other good reason to be back there with the sardines unless you’re trying to throw up in relative privacy.
So, I deliver the pills and return to my pretty pleasant position chilling on the boat, dozing a little. I hear the crew telling us that we’re going to pull anchor and move on to the second location-Seal Island-so I wake myself up and realize that Dave doesn’t look so hot. I mean, he’s hot of course, but not feeling so well…he tells me that he doesn’t think he’ll make it through the next stop, and as we head forward, he heads backwards in the direction of the makeshift infirmary. Poor baby.
En route to the second spot we actually do find two great whites, which was a relief. For us anyway-nobody seemed bothered by the fact there were swimmers in the ocean (at the beach we had walked the day before) within 100 feet of these two great whites, who each measured about 12-15 feet. I mean literally nobody was concerned, we still cannot understand why they wouldn’t mention it to someone. We weren’t able to cage dive here though as they didn’t have licenses, and it was too close to the shore anyway. So, we make it to Seal Island which is a pretty cool sight in and of itself- hundreds of seals on this giant rock, sliding in and out of the water, playing, and making seal noises. I watch for awhile and then Dave returns to the back of the boat and I lay back down so as not to watch his misery. He remains there for the next hour while we wait, to no avail, and I join him towards the end, and feel terrible for him, and all of the other people back there. I’ve never seen him so sick and there’s nothing to do at this point but hope we don’t see a shark so we’ll get back to shore soon. Which is exactly what happens.
So, both of our real fears came true. We were given a voucher so that we could come back another day, which is nice, but useless with Dave’s stomach. This is our first real downer of the trip so we can’t complain too much, but we really did want to get in there with the great whites up close so it’s unfortunate it just didn’t work out, but that’s nature-what are you gonna do.
We continued exploring the Garden Route the next day, stopping at a town called Wilderness to find the “Map of Africa”, a mountaintop view of two rivers that intersect to form what looks like…wait for it…..yup, a map of Africa. We spent that evening at our first and only legit backpack establishment, a place called AfroVibe. It’s located on the beach in Sedgefield, who prides itself on being the slowest town in South Africa, whatever that means! There’s a very cool bar/restaurant downstairs where they have a bonfire every night and we spent the evening with a Brit/Chilean couple. To make things worse, they were regaling us with tales of their successful dive with seven great whites the week before and said it was one of the best experiences of their lives! Gurrrr…..