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During my travels newspaper columns were published weekly in the Dutch daily newspaper
Dutch newspaper Spits

This project has been supported by these great and warmhearted companies:
Netherlands: Paping Buitensport, ODLO, IPtower.nl, AVRO Dutch Broadcasting Org., Travelcare, TunaFish, Book A Tour, StadsRadio Rotterdam; UK: Lazystudent, KissFM, The Sunday Times, The Guardian; Isle of Man: SteamPacket/SeaCat; Ireland: BikeTheBurren; Belgium: Le Temps Perdu, Majer & PartnersAustria: OhmTV.com; Norway: Scanrail Pass, Hurtigruten, Best Western HotelsSouth Africa: eTravel, British Airways Comair, CapeTalk, BazBus Spain: Inter Rail, Train company Renfe; Australia: Channel 9 Television, Bridgeclimb, Harbourjet, SeaFM Central Coast, Moonshadow Cruises, Australian Zoo, Fraser Island Excursions, Hamilton Island Resort, FantaSea Cruises, Greyhound/McCafferty's Express Coaches, Aussie Overlanders, TravelAbout.com.au, Travelworld, Unlimited Internet, Kangaroo Island SeaLink, Acacia Apartments; Malaysia: Aircoast; Canada: VIA rail, Cedar Springs Lodge, BCTV/GlobalTV, St. George Hotel, VICKI GABEREAU talkshow, Ziptrek Ecotours, Whitler Blackcomb Ski Resort, Summit Ski & Snowboard Rental, High Mountain BrewHouse, Cougar Mountain Snowmobiling, Whistler Question Newspaper, Snowshoe Inn, First Air, Nunanet.com, Canadian North Accommodations by the Sea, DRL Coachlines Newfoundland, The National Post and Air North.


Reports

Tuesday, 13 November 2001
Grahamstown --> East London (SA)

Jeanine insisted on paying me a bus ticket to East London, so I did not have to hitchhike. In East London I stayed with Linda and Fred in their beautiful lodge "Niki-Nana".
Jeanine Van Heerden had already been to work as she had a case against a man who raped a 4-years-old (“I hope that bastard gets life,” she told me) and she was already back when I had a bath in the morning. The case was postponed.

Jeanine made me a breakfast with eggs and sausages and planned where I would end this day. Today I was going to leave Grahamstown again and I would travel to East London, only: Jeanine insisted on paying a bus ticket for me, so we needed to find out that the bus would leave at 2.30 pm.

Before heading off to the petrol station that served as the bus stop for this private mini-bus service, Jeanine gave me another short drive around Grahamstown, showing me the Rhodes University complexes and different sections of town – basically to show me that actually nothing much happens in Grahamstown...

Before bounding for East London, I thanked Jeanine for letting me stay at her place. And it was very different because she almost knew me totally, with everything I said or did, through these reports here. She had been very gentle and kind and amusing, and a big laugh too!

I was on the bus with some five other passengers and after we left this crater called Grahamstown I was suddenly dazed by the scenery I was offered. The bus drove me the 120km to East London, and the sights changed from low-ground bushes to high rising green woods on the hills where East London is located.

After the 2,5 hours driving with my eyes gummed to the windows, I arrived in the centre of East London, where my hostess Linda Jackson picked me up to take me to her home.

Linda runs the small backpacker’s lodge in the centre, a few blocks away from the beach, called Niki-Nana.

She had read about me in an email that the BTSA (Backpackers Association) had sent out to all her members and of course invited me to make some publicity for Niki-Nana.

The name origins from a title of a song featured on a CD by the Greek musician/composer Yanni and it sounded very catchy and exotic. Well, that’s what you see if you get to this place.

The outside walls are painted blazing green and the roof is zebra striped. Definitely something to slow down for if you would drive through the street!

Linda started her lodge just 9 months ago and she is struggling every day to get her place marketed. The first essentials are to be listed in the Lonely Planet book and in the Coast to Coast-backpackers guide (a free pocket size booklet produced by two dudes who visit the all the lodges in South Africa twice a year and write very informative and in a amusing laid-back-style about the possibilities in SA – what a life they must have!).

And Linda had to wait until the books were published to get the ordinary travellers informed about Niki-Nana.

She took me around the hostel, showing me the beautiful kept garden and the salt-water swimming pool, the kitchen and the dorms. I was going to be the only guest staying here, because the busy season would really start in a few weeks, but I didn’t mind that at all.

Linda lives together with Fred, who basically partnered her for her protection. Because a lady on her own would have a hard time in a lodge, especially if you would have a house full of backpackers and drunk people at the door at night – this still is the centre of East London.

After settling in the dorm, I joined Linda and Fred in the private part of the lodge and while dinner was prepared we chatted about my project, the use of the internet and their web site, and about how hard they have to work to keep their heads going up in the backpacker’s business.

We had dinner in candlelight and I really enjoyed the Greek salad with it. It was already 10pm when we finished the wine we drank and I headed to my bed.

Somehow the whole bus-trip and the lodge had impressed me so much that I was already tired at this time of the evening. And honestly, that doesn’t happen very often.

Good night East London!

Ramon.



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