Almost Disaster

The birds’ chorus and the sun woke me up at about 530! I tried to go back to sleep but gave it up at 6 and played on my laptop till Bob woke up at 7. We packed and had a really nice breakfast out on the terrace looking at the mountains. I had a mixed omelette, Bob had the works. Very nice sausage.
Set off about 930 and drove down into the Tsikamma National Park at the mouth of the Storms River. It was a spectacular drive down through the woods – very densely forested along this part of the coast, and we passed several large tribes of baboons.
At the Storms River mouth the NP have a big camp site with cabins as well as tents, and there are lots of activities available. Many hikes including an 8 day one called the Otter Trail. You can also kayak up the river canyon which must have been spectacular and you can kayak up and float back down on a lilo. I’d have loved to have done either activity but we needed to get to the ship by 430 latest and it was still 200km away so we had to leave by 12.
We decided instead to do a short hike to see waterfalls and a suspension bridge over the mouth of the river. It was only about 2km in length but it involved hundreds of steps up and down so it felt like a lot longer and we felt we’d earned our breakfast by the end. Anyway, a very nice walk along boardways set into the cliff faces and through woods. The coast is absolutely spectacular, lots of rocks, crashing surf and spray, all you need is Captain Poldark on his horse……
Walked across the suspension bridge to look up the gorge. Wow. Really must come back and go up there. They offer a dive or snorkel of the river mouth and I assume it must involve drifting down the river as there is no way you could swim up, or in the open sea at this point.
By the time we got back to base camp we were gasping with thirst as it was so hot so we had a cold drink in a café overlooking the rocks and the sea.
Finally at about 11, we decided to set off for Port Elizabeth. It was a lovely drive, along a very good road, the N2, which was pretty empty all the way. We filled up with petrol but otherwise did not stop. Got to the drop off at Hertz, Port Elizabeth Airport at about 115. We could see Queen Mary down in the port which was quite a relief!!!!
Dropped the car off and picked up a taxi easily. Its only a small airport and right in town. Our driver had a bit of a job to get us to the ship. We went in every gate trying to find the right one. In the end it turned out they had established a security barrier around the ship and he had to drop us and then we were taken on by Cunard shuttle bus. It was a bit of a rush as the bus saw us as we were unloading the boot and stopped and opened the door for us to jump on.
Got back to the ship and on board and put our bags through the screening when in a totally sickening moment I realised I had left my camera case in the cab, complete with camera, memory sticks and my driving license. I thought I was going to have a complete melt down.
We rushed up to the cabin and dropped our cases, and we were in a panic to be honest, not thinking very clearly. We decided to get a cab back to the airport in the vain hope of spotting the taxi driver. We didn’t have a card or anything. I really had no hope of finding it again. The shuttle drop off point was at a shopping mall (obviously!!!!!) and Bob said to me that when we got to the airport and couldn’t find him we should get a cab back there and buy a cheap camera to tide us over till we could sort the insurance out. I was absolutely sick at heart I can tell you.
We found a taxi driver at the mall and told him what had happened on the way to the airport. He was adamant that he would find the right taxi driver and get the camera back even if he had to drive around Port Elizabeth, he knew all the drivers. Yeah… yeah…. He said this chap would still be in the taxi queue at the airport and that he wouldn’t have got another fare yet. Well…. We got there and I couldn’t see the taxi, but I thought I would walk down the line just to be sure.
AND THERE HE WAS!!!! He was as surprised to see me as I was to see him and there on the back seat was my camera and case. He genuinely had not spotted it. Well, it’s a black case that just merged with the seat and upholstery. I was just about on my knees at this point with utter gratitude. Our second taxi driver was jubilant “I told you we are all honest men and that you would get it back…. Only in Port Elizabeth” etcetc. He’s right. In London there would have been no chance… we’d never have found the guy again for a start.
Bob and I paid the second chap who dropped us off at the mall and tottered inside to get a drink. I also bought a belt for my shorts. I would like to think it is all down to weightloss but I know better, but my shorts have gone so baggy I literally have to hold them up. I can get the off without undoing them! Got a really nice leather crafted built for £8. So many nice things to buy but you cant take any wooden products into Australia or raffia or anything like that Boohoo!.
Got back to the ship and collapsed in our cabin. So glad to be back, so glad our lovely time in South Africa did not end in disaster and just so glad to have my camera again.
Oh, the other thing we found out when we got back to the ship was that sailing was put back till 830pm so we could have kayaked after all! And now it is put back to 1030 at least because we have to wait for port clearance.
So, tonight we met our new table companions who all got on in Cape Town. 3 British couples and one Australian couple. They all seem nice so we will all get to know each other over the next couple of weeks. The show tonight was a ventriloquist who we have seen twice before on other ships, so we decided to skip that. We were really tired so we took a turn around the deck and enjoyed the warmth of the African evening and then turned in.

2 comments

  1. Hi to you both, glad everything turned out OK at the end. You have really shown that South Africa is the place for a land holiday. May I ask a favour? We have booked Stateroom 5215 (Sheltered Balcony) for our full Far East Voyage next January. If you are ever in the vicinity could you have a recce of the area to see what you think. Many thanks again.

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