Yeah, yeah, I know this post is a day late, but I was feeling so crappy on Monday that I just couldn’t summon the necessary energy to complete it. Sorry about that.
After my tongue in cheek post on Friday afternoon on how nothing else could possibly still go wrong before our long awaited trip to Oudtshoorn, I have now finally learnt that sometimes it is far better to hold one’s tongue instead of making a sarcastic comment.
In the end, the one thing I worried the most about (the weather) proved the least worrisome of them all as we were blessed with absolutely gorgeous summer weather the entire weekend.
Unfortunately we couldn’t really bask in it as both Chantelle and I were knocked out by a bout of severe gastro (Gastroenteritis), rendering us pretty inert for most of the weekend. This meant that we couldn’t enjoy any food or drink or engage in meaningful physical activities other than slowly and painfully ambling along on guided tours. In fact we visited every single public toilet between Cape Town and Oudtshoorn, spent 13 hours in total instead of the usual 8 or 9 on the road and in general just had the crappiest (pun intended) weekend of our life! Oh and we even managed to get a puncture on the way home too!
The trouble all started on Friday afternoon, right before Chantelle swung by to pick me up (we were going through in her Getz due to fuel economy reasons). As I left the flat, an unpleasant nausea sweep over me and I darted back inside, making the bathroom just in time to hurl my guts out (and crap my insides out). Shaking it off as a strange, once-off occurrence (obviously due to something I must have eaten), I stashed my gear in Chantelle’s car and off we headed on our big adventure.
Only the big adventure turned into more of a crawl as I was forced to frantically tap on my window every couple or so kilometres, cause Chantelle to bring the car to a sudden halt, and then violently retch what was remaining of my insides out. The rapid dehydration brought on by the violent vomiting and diarrhoea left me pretty much in a dried fruit-like state, and we eventually sought medical help in Heidelberg – only to be referred to Riversdale, a good couple of kilometres down the line. Thank goodness the doctor and pharmacy in Riversdale were able to stem the vomiting at least, and we were pretty soon back on track, though Chantelle was pretty much on her own for most of the trip.
After an extremely long, extremely frustrating trip of well over 7 and a half hours, night time fell and we finally pulled in at the Boulders Lodge and Spa, situated on the outskirts of Oudtshoorn. The guesthouse itself was ornately adorned with all things African and I immediately liked the look of the place. We were greeted on entrance, filled in our forms and then were taken to our fairly spacious room, decorated in nice (though a little odd), wrought iron furniture and African curios. However, my admiration for our place of stay soon turned to horror when I realised that the bed that we were given to sleep on featured a mattress harder than any form of concrete slab known to mankind. In fact, the mattress was so hard that on Saturday night it caused me to leave the bed in absolute agony thanks to a spastic shoulder and lie on the nearby couch, whimpering until Chantelle woke and tried to massage some sort of feeling back to my trembling shoulder. I eventually found the trick in sleeping was to prop the pillows high up against the headrest and then lie down in a half …sitting’ position and hope for the best from there on.
The other complaint, and it was a major complaint, was the en-suite bathroom’s broken door. Well, not the actual door, but the bloody glass panels making up the door. Two of said glass panels were in fact removed from the door, rendering the door in itself quite useless and not a great help, particularly in the light that both Chantelle and I were down with gastro and the unfortunate symptoms thereof.
So Friday was not a great day for Mr and Mrs Grumpy and we hit the sack, tired, demoralised and extremely sick – and of course were completely unable to get a decent night’s sleep anyway!
Saturday. Sick as we were, we were determined not to let this weekend go to waste and go out and do all the things we had originally planned to do anyway. Breakfast was extremely shitty, not because of our illness, but rather to the guesthouse staff’s inability to cook and fry things properly. Obviously this didn’t go down well with our rather sensitive stomachs, but then again I guess we were pushing our luck by ingesting anything anyway. Luckily the shitty breakfast was soon forgotten at the hands of our skilled masseuse as both Chantelle and I were treated to a half an hour back massage, compliments of the Lodge (they run a salon as part of their business). Now I’ve never been for a massage before and to be honest was quite nervous, but in the end I’m quite glad that I went because it was a thoroughly relaxing event.
First up for the day was a trip to Cango Caves. I haven’t been to the caves since I was a little kid, so going back there and updating my memories was an amazing experience. The sheer vastness of the caves, the mystery and beauty of the various stone formations and a genuinely interesting and informative guide made for a great trip. We got a couple of piccies, sweated our remaining fluids out in the caves’ high humidity and generally plodded along amongst all the breathtaking beauty until finally we had seen all that we had come to see.
Next stop was a quick visit to the family-friendly Wilgewandel holiday farm, where we got to see a couple of camels in action but unfortunately could not ride ourselves thanks to the fact that we were feeling like piles of goo at that point in time and it probably wouldn’t have been the greatest thing in the world for our already moaning stomachs.
That visit was followed up by a quick detour to the Rust en Vrede waterfall, a couple of kays on from the caves. The ride was a bit rough – I generally hate gravel roads – but once we got there it was well worth it. A scenic short walk along a nicely crafted walkway that eventually opens up on a stunning waterfall in a quiet, shady secluded area, where one truly can feel in …rust en vrede’. I even got to test my animal noise-making abilities there, but I’m afraid they left much to be desired. Probably just as well we were almost the only people there! :)
The last part of the day was reserved for the main attraction, The Cango Wildlife Ranch (which used to be the old Oudtshoorn Crocodile Farm many years ago). As I’ve mentioned earlier, I was last in Oudtshoorn as a young boy, so my memories of the place are almost non-existent, but man was I ever impressed with what they have done to this place. Beautifully fashioned enclosures that are only viewable by walking along a guided walkway in the good hands of your knowledgeable tour guide allow you to fully focus all your attention on the many and varied species that call this sanctuary home. From Madagascan Lemurs to the great Nile Crocodile, Cango Wildlife Ranch has them all. And it is such a pleasure to the see the animals looking so good and so well looked after.
Of course, all of this takes a backseat to the real stars of the ranch’s show, namely their …catwalk’, the part of the ranch dedicated purely to the preservation and breeding of the big cat families. Cheetahs, Jaguars, Bengal Tigers and Lions all call this place home, and it is an absolute wonder to view these majestic animals from so close up! In fact Chantelle was so besotted with all these denizens of the park that she kept having to buy new batteries for her damn battery-chowing camera!
Having thoroughly enjoyed the sites of the day but not so much the visits to the bathroom nor the particularly bloated feeling both of us were carrying around, we decided to at least try and make the most of the evening and sit down for supper at a restaurant, even if we would have to go easy with the food choice. After I enjoyed a nice refreshing swim back at Boulders, we headed out along the main eating street in Oudtshoorn and picked out a quaint little place called Headlines, a place complete with a printed newspaper that acts like its menu. We picked a dish we thought would be easiest on our stomachs and lazed into a beautiful Oudtshoorn evening.
(Not that I slept well that evening. The food combined with the concrete slab known as a bed was just too much for me I’m afraid – and the amount of times I can say that I didn’t sleep well is just about zero, so you know that it was that bad!)
We slept in a little on Sunday morning (apart from getting up for toilet breaks the whole time), eventually got up, packed, half-heartedly munched through a quick breakfast (marginally better prepared this time around) and hit the road. This time we skipped the N2 and headed home via the R62, a delightful little route that takes you through all the little towns like Montagu, Ladysmith and Barrydale. Of course, we couldn’t really enjoy any of the sites, not even the famed …Ronnie’s Sex Shop’ bar as we were literally racing from public restroom to public restroom. In fact, we even managed to pick up a puncture just outside Barrydale, a clear indication that the forces around us were trying their utmost to slow us down.
Just over 5 hours later, we were back in Bellville, sprawled out on Chantelle’s mom’s couches and watching Idols through slitted eyes. As far as I’m concerned, this weekend from Hell is better left forgotten – the sooner the better!
In fact, the only good thing to come out of the weekend was the fact that I managed to clock Final Fantasy X-2 quickly on Sunday evening before bed. Turns out that if you solved the puzzles correctly then the route to the final battles is really easy and in fact, so is the final battle. No sweat. So at least something good did come from it after all – even if I had to keep pausing the final FMV to make a dash for the bathroom.