â€śWhere are you going??â€ť - Paulina
When we left Port Saint Johnâ€™s we took the more coastal route from road to the gravel and then to lonely tracks with the grass growing in the middle of it. Paulina asked if I knew when where we were goingâ€¦? â€śof course I do! WeÂ´re going to Cape Town!â€ť I kept following the GPS dotted line but knew that this route marked should/might be ok, if not weâ€™ll return at some point. By now I was getting more confidant with Paulina as a passenger and had changed my riding technique to a slowed sat down position instead of the faster stood up on the pegs approach but from time to time I would quickly stand to ease the suspension on difficult sections and Paulina also used her legs in a good way when looking ahead. It was different than riding alone but a pleasure to share with her.
These windy tracks took its toll on the lack of kms and as we passed a sign for Coffee Bay about 2.
30pm the voices in my head told me to look for camping. Maybe I should have discussed more length with Paulina but we decide to continue rather than stopping this early in the day. The road was very heavily pot holed effecting our time. Looking at the GPS again for camping I saw a nature reserve on the coast marked a couple of times and with camping, the other camping places where long behind us now or a long way ahead going towards the city of East London.
â€śAre we lost??â€ť â€“ Paulina
The route got worse from really rough pot holes tar to really heavy hard potholed gravel, to a stony track, getting dark, to grass growing in the middle with undisturbed animal dung. No vehicle had passed here for some time. The gates to the nature reserve was closed and the building behind the locked and fenced off area was empty, void of life.
It would be more dangerous to return to find camping and in less than 10 minuets I knew it would be dark. I quickly ran back up the track, off to the side looking for a place to pass the bike out of sight, hidden in the undergrowth. We had only one option really with no time to look for another, the things people told me about the Wild Coast ringing in my ears, to be careful. I told Paulina we had five minuets before it was completely dark, to do what I say without questioning it and to follow my orders then gave her a kiss. We got the bike off the track past any long thorny bushes and had the bike hidden in the long shoulder height grass. Quickly we erected the tent and I lay down rolling out a small patch of long grass for the tent, then quickly took our stuff from the bike parked 20feet away. With Paulina in the tent making up some cold food I hid the bike as much as possible (covering light reflective parts) and locking it, left a couple of cooking tins placed on top that if anybody moved the bike I would hear it clatter.
â€śNo Honey, to be lost you need to know where you are going!â€ť â€“ Robert
I wanted the bike separate form us to give some distance from nosy visitors and I kept my metal two and half foot long hand pump close by that night to pump any unwanted visitors! I told Paulina to be prepared to hear animals and not to worry about every noise on this windy night.
Maybe the cows know where we are...
We could hear the sea and the trees moving, she fell asleep while I continued to listen to the night sounds. The locals saw us as we rode down the track and they knew we were still down there, somewhere. The good thing was it got dark very quickly, our camp was made quickly and all was quite with the normal sounds of the Wild Coast. I wasnâ€™t afraid for myself camping in this way as I have done before but I now had the responsibility of Paulina with meâ€¦ next time listen to the voices in your head and aim for your camping in good time.
Morning camp, bike with tent hidden behind...
We awoke early in the morning at first light and nothing had happened, we survived, both us having an uncomfortable nights sleep but Paulina with less sleep. I will have to keep an eye on her today as she had a habit of falling asleep on the bike!! With day light brings much more safety, the crazy people come at night I find and now the normal locals will be starting their daily tasks.
Our daily morning task of packing the bike was getting easier as we found a routine together but with me still wanting things packed in my way (fixed in my ways). Everything has a home and if you find an empty space then something is missingâ€¦ We rode back along the rutted stony gravel track meeting the locals coming from their huts wearing warm cloths or blankets.
As I always have done I waved as we passed and got a wave and warm smiles in return as we rode through their homes. Maybe all those stories about the Wild Coast were an exaggeration in todayâ€™s world, maybe as white foreigners we would get treated differently, especially two up on a bikeâ€¦ I wander what would have happened if we asked to camp outside someoneâ€™s place last night, inside their communityâ€¦? Maybe like the people Iâ€™d meet up in the Mauritanian Sahara Desert and would give us a hut for the nightâ€¦? I will never know but for now I told myself these people donâ€™t seem so bad and to stop listening to much to stories.
Get to school!
We rode along the rough tracks and then on rough hard packed gravel roads (give me rough loose tracks any day compared to these rough hard packed roads that shook the bike and you to bits).
We camped just north of Port Elizabeth by a river, got food supplies to cook that night, a much needed shower Paulina said (men tend not to care so much about that!), had a couple of beers and relaxed.
Home on the hill...