Sunday, 29 May 2011

Cats, lots of cats!

So many thoughts going around my head right now. Mostly about my misplace notebook - the last time I saw it was in the Cafe at Wildlife Ranch before we returned to the hostel. Will be my mission tomorrow before the shuttle collects us, hopefully it was handed in. 

The last time I updated was in Knysna, so very blue, more than slightly European.The second day there was gloriously sunny, not a cloud in the sky, as if the rain the previous day was just a dream. Laura, Lizzie and I had a lovely lunch at the Oyster Bar by the harbour. We shared a bottle of wine called 'Angel's Tears', Lizzie and I shared four 'Angels on Horseback', which were oysters cooked in bacon and breadcrumbs. Laura and had a 1kg of sticky prawns between us, twas rather good. 

Oysters are a specialty in Knysna, there was a guy in the boat outside the bar washing them with a hose. We could see the water through the floorboards of this bar as a traditional version of 'Scarborough Faire' was playing quietly overhead. The first and last time I tried oysters was a couple of birthdays ago when the boyfriend took me to a champagne bar with a live piano in Birmingham, it was part of an otherwise delicious seafood platter. Birmingham is pretty land-locked and not the best place to eat oysters, it has to be said. I saw Laura's oysters and decided to order one single large oyster on ice for a whole R8. Wasn't bad actually, tastes mostly of brine but less so than the oysters I've had before. Lizzie later said that 'it looks like the thick gloppy stuff people with COPD cough up', which was charming. She had the grace to wait until after I had eaten, it has to be added in her defense. 
In the afternoon, we went on a free tour of the Knysna Heads, and we found out from our guide Orin that Knysna was founded in 1816. There are 62,800 people living there, of which 15,000 were coloured, 20,000 were in townships and the rest were white. The Heads were rocks either side of the lagoon, and named the most dangerous entry point by the Navy, due to the number of fatalities and currents that can reach 150km/hr. My favourite fact of the day was that 120 million tons of water pass through the Heads every 6hrs; Orin told us to imagine 20 million fully-grown elephants. 
We went on an impromptu 1hr township tour at the end of this, Orin hadn't had work for a few days and needed the money. Well, the township tour was free, but we were told that we were welcome to tip the guide! It was interesting, the informal settlement, not everyone who lives in a township is poor. Amidst the shacks were nice houses with electricity and microwaves, Orin told us that the black folk like to stick to their own, even when they make it in the world. He made us walk down a squelchy muddy path that had 'islands' of cardboard here and there to stop you disappearing - that was one of the main 'streets' of the township. There are no toilets in this place, proximity of the homes means it's a pretty big fire risk. Orin reckoned the best way of advertising was by 'holding hands', which he demonstrated for rather too long on me. Word of mouth through a close-knit community was his point really, that and personal space wasn't really that popular a concept around here. 

I would write more about the township and a story Orin told us, but I'm running out of time, so I'll move onto Oudtshoorn before I log off. Had an ostrich braai yesterday night at the hostel, kebabs and sausage with potato, homemade bread and salad. Mmm. Beds are so comfy, lots of space which made a nice change after the narrow aisle between bunks in Knysna's Island Vibe. Went to Cango Caves today, Laura and I didn't do the Adventure tour (our guide has been there for 4 years and only went up to the Devil's Chimney twice), but we took the standard round in one of Africa's most impressive caves. Lizzie said afterwards that the caving we did in Swaziland was much more hardcore, it was warm and dry here and only for 30 minutes.Amazing formations, so very, very old. 

Then went onto the Ostrich Farm, where for the price of R50, I got a hug, a ride, and a 'neck massage' from ostriches. The last one I put in inverted commas because you basically hold a bucket of feed, bend down a bit, and you can't see anything for ostrich heads as they ate from behind of you. The ride was pretty wild, I got picked first for everything on this tour, and my ride was called 'Killer'. The others' trotted, but my word, Killer was actually mad and just ran. 

Wildlife Ranch was the one I looked forward to the most, I could write so much about it but again, I'm aware of the clock ticking. It was mostly like a zoo with a guide but you could buy 'experiences' additional to this, which meant I was playing with three 3 month old tiger cubs, and got to pet two 2 year old Cheetahs. 70kmh in 2 seconds, the cheetah was not much more than fur and muscle. One started licking my hand, and it was like sandpaper. They behaved so much like the cats at Wild Spirit that I found myself laughing out loud. The tiger cubs were brothers, two were the normal tiger sort of colour but the third was white. It was amazing, it really was. 
Right, I have to go now, Hermanus tomorrow. Lizzie is doing shark cage diving there, but I won't be. Mostly because of expenses, as I much preferred to play with big cats and Lizzie doesn't like cats so went for a bike ride instead. I've heard there are nice places to eat out in Hermanus though - it was a super noodle evening tonight as today as been a relatively expense day. Speak soon!


  1. Sounds truly amazing :-) The experience of playing with creatures that become such lean ferocious predators. Tigers? I assume that they had a number of non-African species there, just for variety. According to QI, the number of tiger pets in the USA is over three times greater than the number alive in the wild.

    Were ostriches are pecky and aggressive as they have been portrayed? Especially for someone who had the first go, having 'Killer' as a ride must have been pretty unnerving.

    Lots of love, and I hope that your journal is found soon :-)

  2. Aww, so glad you've had the most amazing experience! Riding ostriches, wow, especially 'Killer', lol. Look forward to seeing you on the ? 13th June. Take care. Much love. xxxx