Wednesday, 6 May 2015

May 1: Mossel Bay

Over a year ago, I noticed that a friend of a friend on Facebook posted photos of Cape Town. Knowing I was going to Africa, this caused me to connect with her, and I found out that she actually lived in Mossel Bay on the Garden Route doing an internship for 6 months (she was studying Great White Shark behavior). It was this plus her comments about the area that caused us to start thinking about, and eventually target, visiting the Garden Route. Today, we headed off to Mossel Bay in her honour.

On the way out of our hostel, we saw an awesome bird that turns out to be the African and Asian equivalent of a robin. It’s even the national bird of Israel, but because I’ve never seen one before, I thought it was cool.

African Hoopoe
We headed down the coast and on the highway was an overlook of Mossel Bay and the nearby beaches.

The Bay. The town in the distance 
A beach on the way to Mossel
The town is quite historic. It was the first place of landing of a European past Namibia, and the first one past the Cape of Good Hope. In 1488, Bartholomew Dias landed here, made it over to about Durban, then went home. So the buildings have some history to them.

Mid 1800's 
Old but heavily modified 
Dutch style architecture 
Very colonial 
A bar now, but a sandstone building 
Historical buildings in the museum
The latter building contains a replica built in Portugal of Dias’ Caravel.

Not a very big ship
You can go on board (and we did) and be impressed by how that tiny little boat carried 33 people (all of whom slept on deck) and made it from Portugal to South Africa. In the museum is also a small aquarium and shell museum, which is sort of interesting.

Slipper lobster
The view across the museum grounds
Mossel Bay has a mostly uninteresting commercial harbor (where they would not let me take pictures), but it does have a lot of harbor-y things, like birds and cool restaurants.

Gulls. But at least they are photogenic.
A braii. South African BBQ on open fire
The town itself has some interesting things in the harbour area.

Still sort of active railway station 
Local artists 
Local places to learn to shoot people 
Local finish shop front displays 
Neither time is close to being right, but it's a Canadian flag!
But all the “action” is at The Point, which is where the bay meets the Indian Ocean and surfers surf…

Short rides of 20 seconds
…sea lions gambol…

Being harassed by gulls
…and the rocks meet the ocean under the lighthouse.

Looking into the bay 
The lighthouse 
Protected waters behind the rocks 
Somewhat less protected 
Ain't geology grand?
And on those rocks live… rock hyraxes. While they remind me of a pika or a marmot, they’re actually the closest living relative of… the elephant. Go figure. The ones here are fed (despite signs telling you not to).

Watching a guy throw bread from his car 
Waiting for bread 
Apparently bad tempered and with sharp teeth 
Can you spot all 4?

I can see why my friend Marley liked it here; there’s a lot to like about the town, and it was sure worth the day trip to visit. She says “she lost half her heart and most of he soul” here. Yep. Makes sense to me.

Dinner tonight was at Pomodoro in Wilderness, a funky little Italian place (without an Italian in sight) that was crazy busy and where the main was accidently served to us before we got wine and before we got our appetizers. Could have something to do with the fact that today was a National holiday (also explaining why all the stores in Mossel Bay were closed).


Today’s Africa Travel Tip: Gas Stations

There’s no such thing as a self-serve gas station in South Africa, nor a pay station, nor "pay at the pump" machines. Gas attendants fill you, and will check your oil, water and wash your windshields. You pay them, too (there’s no “pay at pump” or little attendant booth), and if you want to pay by credit card, they bring the credit card machine to your car. You tip these attendants, and depending on whom you talk to, it’s R5 or R2, which is 50¢ or 20¢.

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