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On the road again
I just can’t wait to get on the road again
The life I love is travelin’ with my friends
And I can’t wait to get on the road again… — with apologies to Willie Nelson

We’re once again in our tiny rental car, chugging over African roads; right now we’re driving down theWild Coast, as it’s called. Sometimes the views are just breath-taking. (Also, notice the six-sided yurts in this homestead.)

Some of the backroads we’ve traversed have been unpaved, covered with sharp stones waiting to pop a tyre. Most of the highways are these two- or three-lane affairs. South Africans are very polite drivers, always looking out for one-another. When a faster-moving car comes up behind a slower one it frequently pulls over onto the shoulder, making as much room as possible for the faster car to pass. I was surprised the first few times I saw it, but within a few hours I was doing the same for zippy cars that came up behind me.

Cars are expensive; buses aren’t. Backpackers and travelers use the Baz Bus for its hop-on, hop-off door-to-door service between significant points and backpacker lodges, a network of which blankets the country. Most native South Africans use the local buses, whether it’s City-to-City, or Intercape (“We promote the Christian faith on our coaches“), or Translux. Rather than have all the buses stop, waiting passenger or not, in SA the locals make a hand gesture for each destination and the driver stops when he sees a customer. Sometimes, as we passed a crowded bus stop there’d be dozens of hand signs, it’d look like a stop-motion strobe light moment in a dance club.

This woman was selling refreshments on a hot day: on her head is a plastic tub with bottled water sitting in an ice bath, in her hand is an assortment of Chupa Chup lollipops, in the other is toffee candies and fresh oranges. I have no idea what’s in the plastic bag…

Buccaneers Lodge & Backpackers / Chintsa West Road, Chintsa West, Eastern Cape, 5275, South Africa / +27 43 734 3012

Buccaneers Lodge & Backpackers has a special place in Carmella’s heart. Thirteen years ago, on her other trip to South Africa, she stopped here for a short visit and stayed for a long time, working. Scary as it is, seeing a place you’ve loved years later, she’s decided to risk it. The first views from the main house are pretty amazing; palm trees, the roofs of the individual cabins, the Indian Ocean and a breakwater and a lagoon.

A wider view shows the overhead lattice and the common porch (in powder blue). This might have been the only time there weren’t backpackers on the porch, swapping tales animatedly. The main house also has a nicely-provisioned gift shop.

As you can see from that wide grin, Carmella was thrilled to be back in Cintsa.

Cintsa seemed happy to have Carmella back, celebrating with this rainbow.

I got both the smile and the rainbow in one shot.

Anyone that knows me knows I’m all about the hungry.  So this poster, advertising breakfast, made me happy.

In the back of the property is a game room and snack bar. I wanted to see everything in the first few minutes and so we braved the unexpected torrent and plowed to the other side of the hill. I used a bodyboard as an imprompteau umbrella.

Walking the property is worthwhile in itself, and the game room is pretty, with decorated windows looking out into the greenery.

The game room is protected from the elements; the snack bar is open to the skies, with horizontal poles ready to take tarps to form another roof, for extended rain days.

My main attraction to the game room was the news that one of the “Chintsa Mamas” was going to be making her famous burgers; with the upper kitchen closed for the midday meal, this was a good tip. She made an excellent burger, with a handful of cheeses and fully-decorated toppings.

Carmella and new friends decided it was time to walk down to the beach, over a narrow, homemade bridge. Canoes were tied up for paddling around the lagoon.


The views were very serene, with rain clouds in the background, sun around us, and mist shrouding the hills.

The beach sand is very soft, perfect for running around; no sharp fragments of wood from the forest.

In the distance, we saw a monstrous rainstorm with a waterspout reaching high into the sky.

The Barefoot Cafe / 5 Chintsa Drive, Chintsa, Chinsta East, 5275, South Africa / +27 43 738 5297

There aren’t a lot of restaurant options in Chintsa, so it’s great that at least one of them — The Barefoot Cafe — is fabulous.  First of all, the décor is cheery and bright, with surfboards on the walls. The staff are cheerful and know their menu; always nice. We had both the pizza and the fish and calamari with chips and salad. Actually, we tried several pizzas. Everything was fresh, tasty, satisfyingly spiced, and good portions.

Especially nice was the price; perfect for backpackers and for us.

Eyeballing the kitchen as I walked by I saw one of the Mamas womaning the evening meal. It smelled delightful. When it was done cooking, we helped move all the bowls into the common dining room and feasted with wonderful conversations with travelers from all over, all on the move to someplace else.

Much of Buccaneers is about putting on a good show and maintaining a good vibe for their guests; they’re thoughtful about it. Tonight it’s games night, with several local beers, and great music. Everyone seems to be having a good time, or finding someone interesting with whom to speak.

Speaking of which, Carmella gets to spend some time with the man who started Buccaneers, who was a role model and who she hasn’t seen in over a decade. They chat late into the night, sharing reminisces and making new stories, cameling up for the next time we’ll be here…

Next up, Addo Elephant Park.

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