On Dec 13th we enjoyed breakfast around 8 am. Did I mention the breakfast at the Holiday Inn Express was amazing? We rested a bit and then packed up since our prearranged shuttle would be arriving around 11 to take us to Hermanus. Our shuttle did arrive eventually and 45 minutes late. Apparently the traffic into Cape town is insane largely because it was the very beginning of the summer holidays for school age kids. This of course delayed our shuttle which turned into 2 cars and 2 drivers since they could not rent a trailer (all the trailers were booked up). Our driver was originally from Zimbabwe and he educated us on the situation in Zimbabwe - that being the government was bankrupt, they currently do not have their own currency and are using US currency. The drive to Hermanus was interesting. We passed shanty towns on both sides of the road which led us to ask questions. Shanty towns are a very interesting phenomena since people can just squat on land and erect tin shacks with no questions asked. They often start as a small cement home where the owner rents out a shack at the back of the property and so on and so forth. Shanty towns have no running water or power (officially). The strangest thing is to see masses of satellite dishes throughout these townships. They are clearly hijacking power from somewhere for their power needs ... such as TV. Very interesting! During our drive to Hermanus we also spotted a very strange site - a ship on a small sand dune on the left side of the road. We were told this was a movie set for Pirates of the Caribbean. We finally arrived at Dr Chris and Maggie Boshoff's very lovely house in the suburb of Vermont and oh y goodness it was just one block from the sea. Maggie and Chris lived in Slave Lake many years ago. Mom was their housekeeper but she was much more than that. she taught Maggie many things including how to pick blueberries. Mom was very excited to see Maggie and Chris. I think the last time she saw Dr Chris was in 2007 and Maggie not too far behind, perhaps 2011. Maggie and Chris have a lovely view of the sea, especially from their second story add on. Breathtaking! It seems we may have picked a bad time of year to come visit - only because we actually missed seeing southern right whales right from their second story deck in the bay. Can you imagine? That would be so awesome! Hermanus is a beautiful coastal city 115 km east of Cape town. The full name of Hermanus is Hermanuspietersfontein. I am sticking to Hermanus since words that are ... oh let me see ... 22 letters long are absolutely insane. 22 letters !!! After a lunch of quiche and salad and Maggie's story of the elephant (see below) we headed off in 2 vehicles for a lovely drive around Hermanus. The girls toured in Maggie's Jeep (known as a Cherokee in South Africa but it is the spitting image of a Jeep Liberty) and the boys in Chris' Audi. During the drive we saw lots and lots of beautiful beaches (many were blue flag beaches which are high quality beaches that have achieved excellence in safety, facilities,cleanliness, environmental management and information). We also saw shanty towns and took a quick hike in Fernkloof nature reserve where we saw lots of fynbos species and protea. There are 1250 species of plants found so far in this park which stretches along the northern side of the town and has 60 km of trails. Maggie and Chris used to live close to this park and shared stories of baboons looting property especially when it comes to food items. Maggie told us a very specific story of a baboon chomping on an apple oblivious to their daughter being in the very same room. This happened several years ago and the photo and story made the papers. There were gorgeous thatched roofs on many properties and lots of baboon deterrents in the form of barbed wire stretched out along the top of cement walls and fences around properties. We retired back to the house and shortly afterwards Dr Philip Immelmann arrived. He had come to visit us all the way from Kenton Sea. As luck would have it he was dropping off a vehicle for his daughter Lynn who had arrived from Hong Kong to vacation in the area. Philip would be visiting for 2 nights and yes mom also Philip's housekeeper. Philip retired from Slave Lake about 2 years ago and mom kept house for many years for Philip and his late wife Daphne who passed 9 years ago. The 8 of us visited over drinks with one of Maggie and Chris sons - nicknamed Pikkie (meaning small ... but this Pikkie was really the opposite of small) - and his lovely family. We had a lovely meal prepared by Maggie and visited for several hours. Chris shared the story of his brother and his wife being carjacked which was absolutely terrifying. The carjackers shot his brother through the fleshy part of his upper arm only because he was shielding his head. Otherwise he would have been killed. His wife heard the gun shot as she ran for her life and was certain her husband had been shot. They all survived but the story as terrifying. Philip shared a story of a home invasion his daughter experienced. The whole family was asleep. We also shared some laughs as well as these terrifying stories. Thank goodness. Everyone has alarms and monitoring services. There is a fair degree of criminal activity. Ultimately we headed to bed. We were exhausted.
Maggie's story of the elephant: At one point during the afternoon Maggie eventually shared her entire elephant encounter with us which was an amazing story. In August Maggie booked a guided walk in a section of Kruger park. These walks include a number of other hikers and a guide. The group was hiking when the guide noticed elephants too close by and attempted to guide them away by waving his hands. One cow elephant appeared to have locked onto Maggie eye to eye and charged her. The guides shot the elephant dead with 2 head shots and in the process the elephant tripped Maggie with her tusk or leg. Maggie was trapped underneath the dying elephant and she says all she could think was"she got me". The dying elephant had arched her back and this gave the guide enough opportunity to grab Maggie by the hand and pull her out from underneath. I think Maggie is incredibly lucky as few if any people would live to tell this story. Maggie was bruised and swollen and the park insisted she be seen by a doctor at the clinic. It is such an odd story and no one really knows why this happened. The cow elephant was pregnant and perhaps that had something to do with this but why lock eyes on one particular person in the group. Maggie lost one of her favourite hiking boots from MEC during this elephant incident. When we were planning our visit Maggie had asked if I could bring her another pair since they were the best hiking boots she ever had. I brought Maggie the boots and I must say they are very lovely hiking boots!!! Nice and light and so I can see why she wanted another pair. We promised Maggie we would look for her boot when we were in Kruger but seriously Kruger is huge!! It is 19485 square kilometres!!!