Umzumbe and South

Up not so early this morning. I think the sounds of the sea help me sleep soundly. Or maybe I was tired after a busy day yesterday.

Pix here

After a wonderful walk on the beach, we headed south. The plan was to go to a coffee plantation with a little café, and then on to the Wild Coast Casino. The “old road” as opposed to the new, or toll road, winds along the coast, through small towns, shaded by really old trees, then opens to vistas of sugar cane and massive banana plantations, then over numerous bridges spanning big and small rivers with unpronounceable Zulu names, that are lines with rushes and mangroves. A couple of the towns have really grown, and were bustling with activity. Others were just dots on the road, with a superette (small market) and petrol station. We did find a little roadside stall that had macadamia nuts and dried mango. Mmmmmm

This is the route we used to take when I was a tiny kid, and the family would go camping every July, down on the beach. Those camp sites are long gone, built up with larny house, hotels and timeshares. There was a lot of traffic, too so it took a while to get to Port Edward, where we turned inland. Zoze and Bryan weren’t too sure how far the plantation was and we initially thought we had missed it. But just around the corner, there it was, th Beaver Creek Coffee Estate and Café. The dirt road in was rather bumpy but manageable. Zoze says the place has grown as it now has a nice little gourmet food shop, with all the South African goodies – specialty jams, mustards, olive oils from the Cape, balsamic vinegars from the vineyards in Stellenbosch, and of course, all the coffees and teas. We tasted several of the offerings – my favorite was a roasted garlic pesto.

The Estate is the most southern coffee plantation in the world! Apparently there is a convergence zone off the coast that funnels the tropical air up the valley. It is about 8km wide and the farm sits right in the middle. The little shop and café are surrounded by coffee trees that are laden with berries and the roasting machine is housed in an old building with what appears to be a very leaky roof. We could smell the roasting beans as we drove up.

We taste tested a variety of their blends – unlimited refills and I ended up buying half a pound of the Estate Blend. We sat outside and eavesdropped on various conversations – very international travelers. An enormously fat man took the picture of us at the table – he coveted my camera!

Later we headed to the Casino, which is in the Transkei which, under the old apartheid regime, was a separate state. Now the border is open to all. Bryan spotted us R100 each and we hit the slots – and lost it all in about five minutes. Typical players, lots of older people, both black and white, trying to supplement their pensions, tourist down for holidays and hoping to pay for their rooms! Ha! Bryan was totally locked in and ended up sitting there for a couple of hours while Zoze and I went for a walk on the beach. The second half of the pix are of that beach. The pix of the casino were taken under cover as although I could take the camera into the casino, I was not supposed to take any pix of the slots! But they are quite fun.

By the time we dragged Bryan out of there, he had recouped all the money, but I don’t think he actually made any money – but it’s a good thing there isn’t a casino near where they live or he would be there all the time.

We took the toll road home, also a beautiful drive. It was quitting time b then, and there were hundreds of Africans walking along the roads. Coming from where and going to where, we couldn’t figure out. But obviously coming from work – but they have to walk for miles! There didn’t seem to be any houses close to the road.

We were all a bit tired when we arrived home – battled the alarm again, and the security guy showed up to make sure it was all ok. Supper and early to bed.