Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Road Trip - Part 9

Tuesday 24th March to Thursday 26th March – Amapondo Backpackers Port St Johns

The north-east corner of Transkei is home to the Pondo people (a group of isiXhosa speaking tribes) and is often referred to as Pondoland. Visitors are warned to look out for ‘pondo fever’, a sense of well being and relaxation which may lead to an unintentional extended stay! Indeed ramshackle Port St Johns has a relaxed and ‘new age’ feel to it and I suspect that many of the residents arrived for a visit of just a few days and just forgot to leave!

This is a very traditional area with many small villages dotted around the tropical landscape. People here farm for a living and obviously walk for miles just to get basic provisions as there are few who can afford vehicles and no shops outside the centre of Port St Johns.

We had a really relaxing stay, exploring the bustling town and relaxing on the near deserted second beach. Amapondo Backpackers is a real social hub for the local community and all of those staying there bonded with the locals nicely. We sat outside talking to our South African neighbours for ages and were joined in the bar by new friends from France and Switzerland. The food was provided by a Scottish chef who is good friends with Elaine’s brother André. In fact everywhere we went we met someone who knew André well from his days running a backpacker lodge in Hogsback.

Wednesday night was poker night and also the entire bar area was the setting for a music video shoot. We were all used as extras and band members, Elaine being the pianist! Some of the local hippie characters were in attendance and treated us all to their musical talents, truly awful but hilariously funny. The most eccentric of the bunch was Ben Dekker, well known in South Africa as a former actor and politician, who had dropped out of mainstream society some years ago to live in a cave above second beach!

We had a fabulous night and it was quite sad to go to sleep knowing that we had to start heading home the next day.

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