Monday, March 31, 2008

Backpacking - Saturday March 15 and Sunday March 16, Day 2 and 3 – Jeffrey’s Bay

We had another early morning getting picked up by the Baz Bus from PE for J-Bay. The weather was awful. It was gloomy for most of the drive between hostels and the minute we out of the Baz Bus at our next hostel, Island Vibe, the skies let loose. Since the Baz Bus dropped us off so early we had a lot of time to hang out before being taken to our room. The hostel was set right on the beach with steps going down to the sand. We were warned by the woman at the front desk not to travel too far to the right though, as there are a lot of problems there. The next day when the weather cleared and the sky was blue we headed to the beach. Trying to stay away from the surf lessons taking place we went to the right. There we encountered a sign that read, “BEWARE: Muggings beyond This Point.” We all had to laugh. This was our second “TIA” moment. I wondered what would happen if a mugging happened before that point, would they have to move the sign?

Our room was perfect, as there were only four beds so we didn’t have to share the room with any strangers. We spent the day lazing around, napping and exploring the tiny beach town of Jeffrey’s Bay. It reminded me of a slightly less run-down version of Asbury Park, NJ. It had a lot more young people, but it had the same feeling. We couldn’t figure out how this crappy beach town could be the surf capital of South Africa, and one of the most desirable surf spots in the world. In fact, in July the annual Billabong Pro Tournament takes place on the beach near our hostel. The town has a large BMX culture, as well. We stumbled upon a rooftop BMX park overlooking the beach. My brother Mike would have loved it.

Later in the evening they had a braai and we got to have a delicious homemade dinner. There were lamb chops, salad, couscous and sausage. It was great! The four of us also enjoyed two fish bowls, a giant drink filled with various liquors and beers. You drink them through a hose. They were very good, but got old quickly because of their size.

At one point when I was waiting at the bar a couple asked me where I was from,

“America,” I responded.

“Obviously,” he shot back, “where from?”

After informing him of my Jersey roots I found out that they too were New Jersey natives, from the sad town of Ocean City, NJ. It was crazy coming halfway across the world and meeting someone from so close by. “Jersey,” as we continued calling them stayed for the next night also and told us about shark diving and other South African experiences they’d had. They were fun to talk to.

The next morning we got up early so we could do a little more shopping before the stores closed (it was Sunday) and then we headed down to “Mugger Beach,” as we call it. We enjoyed a picnic of our now usual PB&J and Simba chips (so much better than American potato chips!) and relaxed some more. The sea was pretty rough so we didn’t do any swimming, but the relaxation was nice.

Later on we heard from Kevin, another American from WAC who was traveling the same route as us with less formal planning. He came and met us at Island Vibe. The five of us took a walk down the beach at sunset. It was gorgeous. Along the way we saw a few GIANT washed-up jelly fish. I’ve never seen jellyfish so big. The boys also stumbled upon a dead baby tiger shark which was really cool to look at up close. It had so many razor sharp teeth. Seeing the baby shark up close got me really excited for our upcoming shark dive. After our walk we got to enjoy another home cooked meal. We had fish and rice and a few cosmos – delicious.

In the morning we packed up and hit the Baz Bus headed for our next stop, Plettenberg Bay.