I’d been told by two separate sources in J-Bay of a new backpackers just down the way, a place they told me I needed to go, a place they told me I wouldn’t want to leave, a place they told me had a wild beauty, hidden along a dirt track. It sounded like my type of place. So still on a high after a morning surf and a kite lesson I set off in search of the Wild Woody Cape.
A little way outside of Port Elizabeth the high came crashing down when up ahead I saw the familiar blue lights and slowing of traffic, the cops where out inspecting. My first inclination was OH SHIT as I glanced over at my bag of Shamanistic goodies on the seat next to me. My second was of frustration, the sun was already low and I wanted to get to the Wild Woody Cape by sunset and then it dawned on me. If I react to this scenario with frustration or in a hostile manner then that first inclination of OH SHIT is likely to be the way this plays out. Instead I smiled and welcomed the interaction with a local Eastern Caper. We chatted and laughed, he was taken by the fact that I was driving an old VW Golf, I think he wanted to buy it, he waved me on in the direction of Addo Elephant Park, both of us richer for the interaction with each other.
A few wrong turns later and night had presented itself by the time I arrived at the Wild Woody Bar to be served up a scrumptious veggie burger for dinner, washing it down with an ice cold pilsner. Two beers and some shamanistic medicine later we were enthralled in conversation, our topics covered whether Google is evil or not, the virtues of bitcoin and profit based systems, and who’s reality was in fact the one we were in. We sat around the a fire warming our toes looking up at the stars as we dipped in and out of our conversation, it was one of those times in my life where I knew I was in exactly the right place with the right people. Time was lost, enveloped in the night sky only to be disturbed the guests they had actually been expecting when I showed up. It was 4 guys from Cape Town. They added a bottle of tequila to the mix but couldn’t quite find the flow of the conversations so when Che, our host, suggested a walk to the viewing platform they bid us good night.
Peter and Eva, the couple I had shared an apartment with in J-Bay had told me about this walk. They had painted a magical dream in my head of a path lit by glow worms and stars puncturing the canopy of a beach forest. Now as Che guided me through the darkness of an overgrown path, the only light, pin pricks of the few glow worms still awake, he changed that dream into a reality. His reality which he was happy to share. I could just barely make out his outline as we continued on, up a flight of stairs the trees parting the higher we climbed, more stars breaking through with each step. We came upon a viewing platform and stood staring up at the heavens and I could tell, this place was special.
Three days later and I had walked miles of coast and stared out at countless vicious waves abusing the shore, none looked surfable. If only the sand banks would have lined up and the right swell would have hit, then again if they had I may have never left. As it were I was leaving with a few realizations, I few changed thoughts, I was leaving a changed person. I had been guided through the emptiness South Africa’s largest dune field by Nathan and perhaps an emptiness reflected in myself. I’d signed up for a bitcoin account to pay for my stay and bought Google stocks. I still owe R190 to Che since I could not add funds to the account and promised to pay him when I could, if you have a bitcoin account maybe you can help out? I had realized I was in love, for the first time in years, and made a deal with Che that if a certain lady agreed to join me the following November I’d be back for a month. The place is truly magical, vast and encompassing, yet the people make it so welcoming that is is hard to get out and explore the miles of coastline and acres of forest which are waiting to lay open their secrets.
I drove out the dust road, stopping to look a back an take a few pictures, two kids were playing near the sign, smiling, I continued on my journey down the coast, smiling with the experience of finding this little gem. Thankful to those who told me about it and thankful to those who made it such an incredible experience.