Those who know me really well, know that I am happiest at home. Over weekends Clayton knows that if he doesn’t get me out of the house before 10am then I ain’t going anywhere. In fact I have actually Googled what crime I can commit that will not end up with me going to jail but rather house arrest. I will at least then have a legit reason for staying at home. Therefore, taking this trip and venturing out of my comfort zone, knowing that I will not have a home to go back to in the evenings was quite a difficult thing to wrap my head around.
However, I realized that I find a temporary home-away-from-home at whichever backpackers we end up at. After making my toasted sarmie in the kitchen I walked with my book and plate to our favorite couch at Monkey Bay Backpackers when I had a Sheldon Cooper moment. Someone was sitting in our spot, on our couch. Granted it was 2 new girls so they did not realize their mistake but how could they not pick up on the fact that they have entered into our lair?! (Ignoring the fact that we probably took it away from someone else.)
That is the beauty of a Backpackers. It makes you feel at home. It is not like a Hotel where the people are so focused on customer satisfaction that it almost seems robotic and fake. The decor: basic and predictable. On the other-side of the spectrum are caravan parks where the aloof receptionist is so into the soppy article in the Huisgenoot that the concept of customer service has never crossed her mind. They give you a quick once-over to determine whether you will be trouble or not, take your money and sign you in before vaguely pointing to where you can pitch your tent. The exception that proves the rule was Medolino Caravan Park – the staff there are wonderful, friendly people and helped us out when our fighting spirit was almost non-existent.
In contrast, Backpackers staff seem genuinely interested in what you are doing, where you are going and where you have been. You never know what it will look like before you arrive but you can be sure that it will ooze imagination and creativity. They are also interesting people themselves who have fascinating stories to tell about their own travels – some stories (not too many) give you a bit of a wake up call but we learn from their mistakes, adjust our course and plan accordingly to make sure that we do not end up in the same situation or place.
In addition to the homely feeling and travel advise, the staff also give emotional support. Tired and irritated with the situation that Bertus has dumped on us so early in our travels, the guys at Monkey Bay Backpackers in Ballito were always there to offer encouragement. Whenever we thought about giving up on Bertus there will invariably be someone to remind us about how unbelievable this crazy adventure is and to stick it out, just one more day.
I am not sure if we are just fortunate with the backpackers we end up at but while we slowly make our way up the eastern side of South Africa, we are extending our travelling family.