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Reports

Wednesday, 7 November 2001
--> Plettenberg Bay (SA)

Another day at the Albergo For Backpackers and I am starting to like it. A fun and relaxing day in Plettenberg Bay with whale and dolphin watching and all the attempt to become a body-board star (never mind). Pancakes anyone?
After waking up in dorm number 4 of the Albergo For Backpackers, I got myself some coffee and sat in the 9am morning sun while Antoinette, with Grace one of the two (black) managers of the lodge, prepared me a full bacon and eggs breakfast.

The Dutch ladies Mieke and Annelies were writing in their own daily diaries, while I was sorting my things out on the office computer.

The three Dutchies, including Arjen, were going to check out today as they were on their way towards Stellenbosch and Cape Town. They were quite fun company to hang around with.

And in a few weeks Annelies will be back at her office in the Netherlands, trying to keep up with my ongoing travels through this website and the weekly chronicles that get published in a Dutch newspaper.

After they left, my hosts Mirjam and Leslie, also left off to go to a montly meeting with the South African Backpackers Lodges Association. And I was going for a whale and dolphin trip in the bay!

Like I wrote yesterday, my invitation at the Albergo was arranged by Ocean Blue Adventures, who had initially invited me to come along on their twice a day mammal trips in the Bay of Plettenberg.

The weather was much better than yesterday. No clouds covered the blue sky at all, however it was pretty windy. That promised an interesting boat trip.

I walked down the hill towards the office of Ocean Blue Adventures, a little shop too, where all their activities start from.

I was handed a jacket against the blazing wind on the sea and everybody had to wear a life jacket. All the participants were loaded in the back of a big pickup and the car drove us to the beach, where it connected us with the boat that was still in the sand.

After a few security instructions by one of the skipper the boat was launched into the water and suddenly we were navigating towards the Robberg Peninsula.

It was very interesting to get close to a seal colony again. Even though I had already experienced this before, it stays something magical to be this close with these creatures in their own environment.

One of the skippers even saw a lost penguin fishing around and this one was really out of track and seemed to be covered in oil. The best thing for its future was to try to catch the penguin and have it cleaned at the local mammal hospital in Plett. But after a few try-outs, it kept on failing and the crew gave up the catch.

At the end of the Peninsula, where the sea became pretty rough because of the open-sea wind, we colliding into a group of eight Northern Right Whales we were swimming by.

It’s hard to shoot them with my digital camera, but a fascinating thing to see from that close. I mean, eight of one of the biggest whales ever were just swimming up and down the surface next to the boat. And imagine them yourself: they are creatures almost 20 meters long! Breathtaking for everybody on the boat of course!

From the whale group we went a long way back to the beach again, where the boat sailed within a school of jumping and fishing dolphins.

Did you know that for the recording of the tv-serie of “Flipper”, the crew had to use seven different dolphins? It was told me on the boat.

It was another good experience to actually hang out the boat with your arms above the water and have the dolphins jump up to touch you.

It was almost three hours later, when the boat bumped itself on the beach again. We all got loaded into the truck and were driven back to the Ocean Blue Adventure office.

It was a odd thing, we didn’t touch the beach at all!

I thanked the people there for their invitation on the boat and with a stomach ready for something to drink and another meal, I walked back to the lodge and treated myself on some toasts with jelly.

I spent some times on the office computer, until Leslie and Mirjam got back from their meeting. They were going to have an easy day today. I was going to be their only guest in this beginning of the summer season (and I wasn’t even paying!).

I had my doubts about going to the beach today. The weather was great, but only that wind looked very tricky. But Leslie told me it would be perfect to go for some body-boarding on the waves.

So I got changed and headed for the beach where I already saw a group of youths in their wetsuits and with their boards, waiting for the perfect wave.

And this beach is known for its Big One. It is a wave created by actually two waves. One from the sea and the other one is the response of waves hitting the rocks at the side. At the point where the waves meet each other a big vulcana-like curl exists suddenly over nothing. And that one wave is BIG. And as seen from the beach that wave even saw pretty dangerous as it looked over two stories high…

So, you wouldn’t see me near that place. I was just the amateur body boarder in the water and probably quite a laugh for people enjoying the view from the beach. I mostly ended up eaten by the waves, looking for the direction where my body board must have gone to…

Back at home, Mirjam was preparing the dough for the Dutch pancakes we were going to eat tonight. I learned Mirjam how to flip the cakes in the pan and after she had created a big pile on a plate, we all got together in the restaurant and enjoyed the pancakes (or ‘pannenkoeken’ in Dutch) with syrup, bacon, banana or brown sugar. Delicious to eat, my last time I ate them was at the Dutch restaurant in Stellenbosch.

Leslie was a bit damaged after a tae-bo practice at the local gym, as he was relaxing his foot on a big of ice. The night ended with them doing some necessary paperwork for their administration and me relaxing in front of the fire place inside (it was getting to breezy outside), with their young dogs playing around.

I had to prepare a little for tomorrow, as I am going to do the World’s Highest Bungy Jump (216 meters!) at the Stormriver bridge. Hmmm, how should I actually prepare for a bungy jump like that?

Goodnight Plettenberg Bay!

Ramon



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