Road-trip 2013! Andrew and I picked up our car early in the morning and headed down through the Transkei to East London where we planned to stay one night with yet another couchsurfer host to help break up our drive down to Cape Town.
We knew it would be a bit more expensive, but we were in desperate need of some freedom. Driving again (I haven’t had a car since… college?) was a little challenging. Not only has it been at least 5 years since I’ve driven a car, but shifting gears with my left hand and driving on the left side of the road, in pouring rain were not factors we considered.
Furthermore, one of the tires was low. Andrew pointed this out to the rental company right away. They assured us it was just because it had been sitting in the parking lot for awhile, and had it pumped up for us “to make us feel better.”
Driving through the Transkei was everything our South African friends warned us about. There were cows and goats wandering across the road whenever they wanted. I’m still a bit skeptical why there were absolutely no fences for these herds. If I had a herd of cattle, I would think fencing them in would eliminate accidental deaths of cows crossing the road on a highway where the majority of the people driving through are INSANE.
At one point, a woman wandered in the middle of the road- without looking and I had to swerve around her. It was raining. There was fog. Animals. People. Construction. It was a FEAT getting into East London that night. Andrew is not as experienced driving a standard (shift) car. I was nervous enough adapting to driving on the other side of the road, shifting with my left hand, in the rain, we both figured it was probably a safer bet for him to continue navigating and me continue driving.
Meanwhile, our tire kept losing air. Every time we stopped for gas, we had our tire pumped up.
We were late getting into East London. It was still pouring when we pulled up to our couchsurfer host’s house. Not house, more like mansion. We discovered we were actually staying in their bed and breakfast that was attached to their house. A beautiful room with a loft all to ourselves. We were drenched. I was exhausted. Our host, an older woman in her early sixties I’m guessing- but a youthful sixties- offered us some soup. I immediately accepted and we sat around her kitchen talking about our travels, warming up over homemade soup with fresh bread and butter.
Her and her husband had traveled up through Africa and ended up couchsurfing. They had a really positive experience doing so, and had since decided to attempt to give back to the community. I was so grateful. I am still so grateful. I can’t even imagine getting the same kind of reception if we had showed up to a generic hostel or hotel in town. Can you?