Catching Waves and Other Things in Jeffrey’s Bay
My first impression of Jeffrey’s Bay was odd – I thought I had arrived to California. Tanned blond surfers everywhere, people partying, and an entire town revolving around surf. I forgot I was in Africa for a second.
This wasn’t really what I was looking for, although soon I got used to the laid-back atmosphere of this place; taking the dogs to the beach, picking up shells for necklaces, and eventually starting to surf. For me, working at the backpacker’s was my real holiday, staying one entire month in the same place, relaxing and surfing. Traveling is the full-time job, but a job that I’m in love with.
In the middle of the month I put together some free days to enjoy a mini-holiday. Some guests from the backpacker’s offered me a ride to The Craigs, on the Garden Route, not very far from Jeffrey’s Bay. They dropped me off at the Bloukrans Bridge, where I was going to do the world’s highest bridge bungee jump, 216 meters high (709 feet).
I had already done bungee jumping before, so I wasn’t feeling very nervous, just on those three seconds before the jump when you’re looking down the bridge. No matter how many times you do it, the adrenaline always starts pumping at that moment, and that’s when you get fearful. That’s what I like about it, I’m an adrenaline junkie.
In the afternoon I hiked to Nature’s Valley, a vast area with spectacular views and beautiful hidden places, such as Salt River.
The next day, after a relaxing night at the backpacker’s I was staying in, I visited both a monkey and a bird sanctuary. I discovered many new species, and I saw lemurs from Madagascar!
The same day I was going to return to Jeffrey’s Bay, I decided to try skydiving before taking the bus. That was the first of an uncountable number of sudden decisions that I was about to make during my trip. I thought it was going to be an amplified version of the bungee jump, but I was surprised to find out that it was much smoother. With bungee jumping, the responsability is yours to physically make the decision to jump, and those are the seconds when you feel the adrenaline. With skydiving – providing you are not jumping solo, which would be my next step – you have an instructor strapped to your back and he is the one who makes the decision, so your task is just to relax and enjoy the view.
I didn’t have a bus ticket to go back to Jeffrey’s Bay, so I just stood at the gas station waiting for the bus to stop and asked if there was an available seat for me. It worked.
It dropped me off at the gas station in Humansdorp, a town near Jeffrey’s Bay, where I had to wait for the backpacker’s to send someone to pick me up. While I was waiting, for the first and only time during my whole trip through Africa, I felt the risk of getting my backpack stolen. A suspicious man approached me and started talking to me in English, something like “let me introduce myself…”, when a 10-year-old kid appeared and stood next to my right side, where I was holding my backpack. The man saw him and started to shout at him in a language I didn’t understand (South Africa has 11 official languages, English is just one of them), and then they started discussing, from what I gathered, which one of them was going to take my backpack.
So, I sat down on a bench with more people. The kid came and sat next to me, on the side where I had the backpack. I thought that they must be used to stupid tourists, because that wasn’t subtle at all. When the man came and started talking again, I stood up and entered the station’s toilets, that would at least let them cool down and maybe forget about me. After a while I went out again and sat on the bench with the backpack against the wall. The man had left already, tired of waiting, but the kid was standing there, and pointed with his fingers from his eyes to me, to let me know that he was watching me. Ok… Ten minutes later I got my ride and as I was entering the car, I smiled to the kid, and he smiled back.
About a week later I left Jeffrey’s Bay to start the real trip! Next stop: the Garden Route.