'Agree With Everything - Deny Nothing - Embellish All

Sunday, August 14, 2005

The Wild West Coast of South Africa Part Three

The Wild West Coast of South Africa
Don’t get me wrong but we actually enjoyed our 4 days break up the coast. South Africa isn’t like the rest of Africa and The West Coast is probably nearer to real Africa than South Africa is. Come to think of it the West Coast is probably nearer to the West Coast of Scotland e.g. Largs, or maybe even West Cumbria’s beloved Silloth, in the 50’s. If you factor on top of that what you can imagine the boere (Afrikaner farmer) thinks of as being hip and stylish then you have it. A few examples:
Day 1 We take the dirt road from Elands Bay to Lamberts Bay. The dirt road is a Toll Road. 20 Rand (£1.80) is required to make the 50 kilometre dash alongside the railway line dicing death at crossings with 2 mile long iron ore trains. We cannot pay the coloured lady on the toll bar! Coloured is not a derogatory term. There are blacks, whites, asians and coloureds in SA; coloured being ‘mixed race’, usually Afrikaner with the Khoi San Bushmen people (well before Apartheid). Scouse African Steve (SAS) points out that ‘this is new’. It turns out that ‘in the new SA’ the general paranoia is that the ‘coloured girl’ will become a target for craam (crime). Her takings from 40 cars a day (approx £70) will become too much of a temptation for her or her friends. No wonder she looked pissed off as she stood there in the middle of nowhere. The southwester helmet and the driving rain might have had a bit to do with it too.
So we make our way to the Elands Bay Hotel (next to the fish factory).
(note the 'old boat' in restaurant and neat curtains and nice TV to watch whilst you eat)

The smell of stale lager, fags, floor polish, dripping rain… overwhelms the fish factory. A white Afrikaans speaking chap in shorts of indeterminate age and skin like one of those new grapefruit things directs me beyond the drip catching buckets, through some sliding doors which have long since stopped sliding (but have a nice appliquéd dolphin on them to indicate the sea theme nature of the establishment) to the sandlopper bar. It is 9.30 in the morning but the dimly lit bar is already in business. The barman, a dead spit for the lead singer with Dr Hook, except he has 2 eyes (both equally blood shot).. oh and 3 teeth, laboriously writes me a receipt for the toll in quadruplicate. I get 1 copy, he files 1 copy and he puts 2 in the overflowing ash tray. I thank him in Afrikans - ‘baiie dankie’ (pronounced Buy a Donkey) and make my way back through this colander of an hotel to SAS and Mrs RM and The Minder. At the other end of the dirt road and many stops for viewings of flamingo, plovers, heron, seals, iron ore trains we show our ticket to a younger version of the chap in shorts and a few clicks later we arrive at Lamberts Bay.
Lamberts Bay is a lot like Elands Bay with a much bigger fish factory and a very large colony of Cape Gannets and a very large pile of Gannet Guano.
The viewing of 1000’s of gannets, jack-ass penguins, seals, dolphins and whales took us 2 days to do interspersed with our usual culture tours. Brunch at the Lambert’s Bay Hotel was uneventful apart from my 2 mile hike to the guest toilet. There was a detour to pick up a key from the chap in shorts again. Whilst I struggled with the local currency and the divide by 2 stuff to pay for the 128 Rands worth of coffee, toasties, and chips (pronounced chups), SAS had found ‘Nanas’!! How I wish this woman had a web site. Nana is a local Afrikaans speaking….. cross between a biker’s short moll and a American west coast hippy. She had a fixed expression and painted on eyebrows. Nana’s is a Gift and Curio Shop, Hairdressers, Pet Grooming and… Taxidermist. Actually novelty taxidermy. What had attracted SAS’s attention was the stuffed Blue Crane (the national bird of SA) on the front step of the shop, held upright by a dowel of wood through the eye sockets and strung from the ceiling. The stuff inside was much more gruesome. Apart from most of the endangered birds of SA, she exhibited fantasy animals made up from the assorted pieces of other animals. Duck feet, porcupine body, antelope head with the teeth of the Dr Hook guy at Elands Bay. Yes she does dentistry too. There was no getting away for SAS as she explained to him in a dead pan how she made each of the items in her exhibition. His scouse irony was lost on her.
‘Are you sure you don’t want to buy anything?’ We locked the car doors and floored the accelerator. As I looked back she was fondling a door knocker made from a Springbok’s scrotum. ‘Viree poplar wuth the faarmers waarvs’


Blogger Nick said...

Did she say which of the Springboks had so generously donated his scrotum to her novelty taxidermy business? This sounds like the sort of marketing initiative that the Premiership could benefit from . . .

14/8/05 8:04 pm  

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