Saturday, July 3
Flagstaff - Port St.Johns
More goodbyes - this time it is me parting company with Camper Van nick and Fabio when we reach Port st.Johns.
I need to lie low somewhere for a few days to get myself together and to plan my last few days in South Africa. Port St.Johns is perfect because the town has an eastern African vibe, stunning beaches and vistas, and is home to a colony of hippies.
Again, it is sad to be saying more goodbyes. Nick has been an absolute star driving us all around during these past few weeks. He's also been a bloody good laugh as has Swiss Fabio. We have had an hilarious and very memorable time here. I am sad it is all coming to an end...
...but slightly relieved because I feel exhausted.
Luckily, 'Jungle Monkey' has brilliant 360-degree views of the sea, cliffs, mountains and lush green valleys from its vantage point above the town. It also has hammocks, a pool, World Cup footy on a big screen and local bands playing live music to a hippie vibe.
I expected Argentina to walk this World Cup so seeing them eliminated 4-0 at the hands of Germany shows just how brilliant this young German side can be. Schweinsteiger is the best player at South Africa 2010, and Ozil is the 'find' of this tournament alongside players like Mueller. I'm not sure why Maradona didn't bother to use the likes of Veron and Milito. Regardless, they simply weren't anywhere good enough to compete against this brilliant young German team.
They will meet Spain, who were fortunate to get past Paraguay. I will travel up to Durban next week hoping to get into the semi.
Meanwhile, I need to chill and get some sleep...
Friday, July 2
Umzumbe - Flagstaff
All good things come to an end. We say our goodbyes to Robin who has managed to grab a cheap one-way flight from Durban to Joburg, and changed his return flight so that he flies out of Joburg to the UK tonight at midnight.
England aside, it has been a brilliant few weeks. I've rarely had such a good laugh.
Nick, Fabio and I drive southwest into the land known as 'The Wild Coast'. I was rather assuming that the 'wild' part of the name was pure reference to the local nature, but it equally describes this Xhosa homeland. This is Nelson Mandela's tribe - the second largest black African group after the Zulus.
This place is roar and quite unlike anywhere else I have seen in South Africa. Many of the people live in multi-coloured rondavels and stroll about, adorned in colourful jewelry, as if strolling is the national pastime. They believe in witches here, and many of the Xhosa have the top of their left little finger removed to ward off bad luck.
The R61 takes you through rough and ready Bizana and up into the wild mountain communities of the 'Transkei'. There are numerous dead dogs on the road and small groups of local youths march with intricately-carved walking sticks by the roadside. It's almost like one great big township on cultural steroids set in mountains. It feels scary, but I can't honestly say whether, in reality, it is. We are met by countless looks of bemusement during our drive through but also by many beaming smiles and welcoming waves.
At my request, Camper van Nick calls it a night when we reach Flagstaff. I'm not up for driving through the rest of this region in the darkness with all the animals on the road so we find a bed and breakfast and check in just as the first of the quarter finals kicks off between Brasil and the Netherlands.
This is the evening that England should be playing in front of 90,000 in Joburg. Instead we find ourselves cooking pasta on a camping stove in a hotel bedroom in the middle of nowhere and washing our filthy clothes in the bathroom sink. It says it all really.
I'm not sad to see Brasil go out, but I am infuriated to see Ghana eliminated by the cheating Uruguayans. Who said cheats don't prosper?