I discover Mossel Bay was reached by the Portuguese explorer Bartholemew Dias in 1488. The Dias Museum houses a replica caravel (ship), but somewhere in removing all the money from tourists’ wallets the town has lost its soul.
Options for moving on are limited once more, and its getting tiresome. I head straight for Port Elizabeth by coach, the route following the coast. I thought there might be some sort of waiting room, perhaps with a clock and a TV of departing coaches. A waiting room there is: four walls, floor of two different types of tiles, nine plastic chairs, two empty plastic crates and an old traffic cone. Its like being back in an embassy. I’m kept entertained for a while by a beetle the size of my finger-nail. It would fly to the flourescent tube lighting, stun itself, plummet to the tiles, spend a little time wriggling its legs to right itself and then start the whole process again. And again and again.
Port Elizabeth has clearly had some renovation, but other areas create a certain wariness in me. There is lots of 1970s concrete, lots of cheap stores.
Its difficult not to show amazement when a pool of 20 or more dolphins swim within metres of your pizza. The clouds had cleared to leave a pink backlight to the cranes and metalwork of the commercial port. Glancing up, I see the dolphins swimming in line to the shore, almost too close to it. A fantastic sight.
I catch a local minibus taxi to the terminus for onward transport, climbing aboard a 3/4 full seven seater for East London. The sea is like glass, the cargo vessels on it like models. The road then moves inland, through rolling hills and lots of private game lodges.
East London is a black city. The most “African” city I’ve been in for some time, certainly in South Africa. Unfortunately, this means delapidation, rubbish strewn streets, dripping air conditioning pipes on the sides of buildings. I feel like I stick out. I feel very rich, and very much a target.