We left Ballito late on the Thursday morning with a quick stop at the Midas to buy spare parts (just in case) but Bertus was driving better than he ever has. 80km/h on an uphill without even trying. We sat like two smiling idiots in the car, waving at people overtaking us while they take photos.
We arrived in St Lucia at about 15:30 and went to the municipal camping grounds, Sugar Loaf. Very nice, large campsites but everything looked a bit run down. It was however better than the backpackers just outside of town and at R110pppn it was below budget. Since it was out off season the place was not swamped, just a few people scattered throughout the camp, mostly overlanders.
We chose a spot close to the ablutions under this massive tree, keeping a few sites open between us and our neighbours. This however was not good enough for them as they seemed to take it as a personal insult that we chose that spot out of all the other sites. They were downright rude, taking a detour to the ablutions so that they can avoid eye contact with us – which I preferred because the glance you got every now and then (when they think you are not looking) was filled with daggers. Heaven knows what we did wrong – maybe they thought we were dodgy and they did not want us close to their kids?
Until now we have been pitching the tent on the ground but we decided that it was time to test the rooftop tent system. Everybody and their dog had some sort of opinion about our plan and we were determined to prove them all wrong – which is becoming a trend of ours on this trip. and basically why we are in this mess. We went to bed early to escape the smell of meat that seemed to surround us. As yummy as a tuna sandwich can be, it does not come close to a tjop on the coals.
We woke up earlier than what I would have wanted, Not because of our sleeping arrangement but the kid of the “happy campers” seemed to be possessed by some demon. He started crying at 05:00, stopping just long enough for you to dose off before he started again, worse than before with the pitch even higher. Pure evil. It’s mornings like these that makes it really easy to scroll past the cute baby photos that seem to have taken over my Facebook news feed.
We used to come to St Lucia when I was a child but I was too young to really remember anything about those holidays. I was therefore pretty excited to explore. It is a very pretty town but 100% aimed at tourists with these big land cruisers filled with cameras, the one lens bigger than the next, clicking away at just about everything.
We decided to take a drive to Cape Vidal which was another one of my childhood vacation spots that I only know about because of the stories I have heard and photos. To get there you need to drive through the Isimangaliso wetlands park which was beautiful with very diverse landscapes. You get the ocean and beach next to a dense forest with monkeys, then open grass landscapes bordering the St Lucia lake.
Our plan was to sleep in Cape Vidal that evening but R600 for a site, it seemed a bit preposterous. Clayton did manage to charm the receptionist and she was willing to give the site to us for R360 but that was still out of daily accommodation budget.
We decided to go back to Sugarloaf, this time careful about who we chose to camp next to. If there was even a hint of small children we skipped the site, no matter how beautiful or close to the ablutions. We found a site directly across another huge overlander. Randomly enough the couple who owned it, were friends of the other people with the overlander truck we met in Jeffrey’s Bay!
While we dined on delicious lamb tjops and braaibroodjies (we learned from the previous night’s mistake) we planned the next phase of our trip. Before we head off to Swaziland we will stop Sodwana which was another childhood vacation spot that I hope will awake some memories. If I did not know any better I would have sworn that my family photo-shopped me into most vacation photos because so far I do not remember much.