Drakensburg to Jo'burg

Wed, 20 Aug 2008 19:21:02 +0000

Tugela Falls Index Leaving Africa

The bus back to Johannesburg leaves around 12:00, actually quite an inconvenient time. It doesn't get into Johannesburg until late, but there's no time to do anything in Drakensburg in the morning. At least that meant a nice relaxed morning. I had some breakfast, this time using the milk on my weetbix like I'm supposed to. I went for a walk out to the brook again. With not a lot to do, I experimented with trying to weave rope out of the dry grass. In principle that should work, but, without disappointment, I failed in my task utterly. So much for rushing around.

Back in the hostel I found a quiet spot in the bar next to the bouldering cave, and thought I'd have a go. For the uninitiated, bouldering is like those rock-climbing walls, but designed to train you in greater than 90 degree slopes, so you end up clinging to the roof. I suck at rock-climbing, but I entertained myself trying. After a while the kids from yesterday joined me, and I very irresponsibly took turns with them on the bouldering cave. I'm sure they're too young, will probably break their necks, etc, but that'd just serve them right for calling me Mr Bean. Despite my extra weight, my height enabled me to get right onto the roof. There's nothing as self-validating as beating children in competition. As always with rock climbing, however, every sinew was stretched far beyond normal. I'm going to be sore for days.

Eventually the bus turned up. It was a bit over-crowded with a large Dutch group at first, but we soon dropped them off at a nearby hostel. The rest of us spent most of the trip deep in conversation, on a variety of topics. But for the largest stretch of the journey I ended up talking to one South African guy continuously for about three hours. I can't remember the last time I talked so much. Not that the conversation was particularly fascinating, but this guy was a real talker, and it was interesting. He had a lot of insights into life in South Africa, the politics, the gap between rich and poor, how they build houses (he's an architect). He's also the first person I've talked to who believes that 9/11 was an inside job, which put the conversation in danger of turning into an argument, but fortunately we moved onto other things.

As we neared Johannesburg I started to get a painful headache, and then I started to feel feverish. As before, I really hope this isn't malaria. But it feels more like another dose of cold, and this is the cold season after all. I hope I'm fit to fly tomorrow.

I didn't have a booking at the Backpacker's Ritz, since they always seem to have plenty of beds free. Actually in this instance that was probably silly: apparently they're often full on Sundays. But they did have a place for me this time. I booked an airport transfer for tomorrow, and so I'm all set. I'm leaving Africa. I'm surprised at how disappointed I am by that. Despite, or probably because of, all the nightmarish bus journeys, I've really enjoyed myself here.

Tugela Falls Index Leaving Africa