01 November 2007

traversing the Transkei

We got up as late as we possibly could before breakfast (served at 7:30 am) as to get plenty of sleep. This was kind of weird as we were used to getting up quite early. We ate breakfast quickly, paid our bill, and headed out towards King William's Town. This was going to be the drive from hell and we needed to start as early as possible. Eight hours of driving. Yuck.

I didn't write any notes for this trip before we got to the guesthouse, so I'm relying on my Teflon memory. We took the N2, a route that included the Transkei. It was very isolated there. We passed several small villages made up of brightly colored houses and rondawels. It was kind of scary driving through these areas at times, as there were cattle and goats on the road here and there, as well as small children and other people...

little blue houses II

We also passed a few larger cities, including Mthatha. However, there were few places where we could actually stop. There were very few gas stations along the way, and there weren't any obvious places (that we could see) where it was realistic to stop and have lunch or get out and stretch our legs. When we passed the cities, the roads were crowded with cars and people. It was kind of unnerving to see people piled out on the highway like that. There were hawkers galore, there were people waiting for minibusses, holding cards – CE, XA, CB, XE, etc. We had no idea what any of these codes meant. If anyone knows, please say something ;-)

Fortunately we had water, biltong, and that bread we bought in Lesotho to survive on until we got to our guesthouse in King William's Town, where we had booked dinner. Not having coffee was really difficult though...

We finally did have a stop at the Nelson Mandela Museum in Qunu (yes, I know how to pronounce it correctly, with the click). Qunu is the village where Nelson Mandela grew up and reportedly enjoyed some of the happiest moments of his life; it's about 25 km from Mthatha. The museum itself was closed, I think, but we were still allowed to see the exhibit with a guide. Not only is there a museum on the premises, there was also a education center, accommodation, and a cafeteria. There were some school groups there when we toured the area. It was great to finally get out and stretch our legs. Unfortunately, we were unable to get any coffee :-(

We arrived at Panorama Guesthouse in King William's Town around 17:30-ish, tired and hungry. Our lovely hostess brought us some coffee, and we enjoyed that while sitting on the veranda, watching the birds (hah! Can't wait to get up early in the morning to see them!). Our guesthouse had a huge, lush garden with several birdbaths, and it was the same with the neighbor houses, and this attracted lots of sweet little birds. After relaxing and then washing up, we went to the dining room for dinner. We were really hungry now!

Our starter was butternut soup, with wholegrain bread on the side. It was one of the best butternut soups I have ever had, if not the best. No, it's not because I was very hungry. This was fantastic stuff! Hmm, I have to remember to e-mail her and ask for the recipe ;-)

The main course was lamb chops (or was it cutlets?) with pineapple, onions, and some soy sauce and curry, served with brown rice, mealie bake (I have to get the recipe for this too), and vegetables. All of this was so good! Lamb and pineapple are a great combination. Mmmm!!! There's nothing like a delicious home-cooked meal after a long, tiring day. We had a nice white wine with both our soup and the lamb. Namaqua. Bag in box. Don't remember the type of grape...

tasty lamb dinner

Dessert was a fluffy caramelly-minty mousse. I don't know what it's called but it's supposed to be a popular South African dessert. I'm not overly crazy about sweets, but this wasn't too bad, at least in small quantities :)

Oh, and all of this was 60 Rand! Totally unreal. If any of you reading this ever stay at Panorama Guesthouse in King William's Town, GET THE DINNER! :-D

After dinner we went up to our room to relax and watch TV (yay, Muvhango!). We also shared a bottle of wine:

Raka Quinary 2003
general info: 14% alcohol. 62% Cab sauv, 12% Cab franc, 2% Merlot, 3% Malbec, 3% Petit verdot
color: deep and opaque reddish-brown with hints of violet
nose: spices, red meat, dark berries, hint of tobacco and moldy sawdust
palate: spices, green pepper, asparagus. Full-bodied and powerful. Pleasant tannins. Aftertaste of red apple peel, grapefruit/pomelo finish.
grade: :-D

Oh, and we also washed our travel zip-off trousers in the bathroom sink. This was a dire necessity after yesterday's Lesotho dust bath. The water was screaming in pain as we put the filthy clothes in ;-)

And now Motswako on TV. Wheeeee!

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