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?