Storms River to Mossel Bay again; More bus stupidity; Unexpected friends in Mossel Bay

We arrived back in Mossel Bay after a sleepless night in Storms River waiting for a bus that never stopped. Chris, the nice Englishman who gave us a ride to Mossel Bay from Storms River, dropped us off right downtown. We were happy to be back in Mossel Bay - it was a decent-sized town and we knew that the buses actually stopped there so it would be possible to get back to Cape Town, but more than that it was a place that we knew and liked, and where we had friends. More friends than we knew, as it happened. Sheryl was in the line for bus tickets at the Shoprite supermarket, trying to get a refund for the tickets we’d paid for but never been able to use, and was told that she needed to go to the other end of town to a different agent. She vented at the clerk a little, and a nice lady behind her asked her if she wanted a ride, because she was going that way anyway. Sheryl said yes and thank you without a second’s hesitation. Larissa turned out to be incredibly nice. She worked at the Nestle plant right near Mossel Bay’s bus stop (making baby food, sadly, not chocolate) and was heading back with a co-worker at the end of her lunch break. I think she must have taken a very long lunch break because after her friend dropped us all off at the ticket agent, she stayed and chatted with me for ages while Sheryl was inside fighting. We talked all about our trip and how she wants to travel, and how Nestle is putting her through university to study chemistry but how she really wants to work in the petrochemical industry instead. She was super, and even after she had to go back to work she called us to find out how it had worked out. We invited her out for ice cream that night, but didn’t hear from her afterward. She has our contact details, so I just have to add her to the list of people I hope get in touch someday.

How it worked out with the bus tickets, in short, was not at all. The agent in Mossel Bay was a horrible woman, actually. The whole back wall of the office was covered with a big mural of happy families on the bus - every single one of them white as a ghost. This was in direct contrast to the Cape Town office of the bus company itself, which is what we’ve come to think of as “normal” for South Africa (as if such an adjective could ever have meaning in this disturbing country) - that is, a perfectly mixed representation of all shades. She herself reflected the message of the mural, complaining to Sheryl after getting off the phone with the Cape Town office that it was no use trying to explain anything to the person she’d been talking to because he was (stage whisper) the wrong colour. One of the things that offends me most about the Afrikaaners here is the way that they assume that anyone white must be complicit in their bigotry and racism. In this case we had no choice but to swallow it, since we needed this woman’s help. She couldn’t help us in the end, but after some badgering from Sheryl, gave us the names of some people in Cape Town that she thought might be able to. We had to be satisfied with that and with buying tickets for the next day to get us back there. It was a victory of sorts.

We called the same hostel we’d stayed at before - they had space and they came to pick us up at the bus stop. We were both exhausted after the ordeal and as soon as we’d dropped our bags on the floor we fell over and slept for three hours. Ravenously hungry when we woke up at dinner-time, we took ourselves down to our friend Sandeep’s takeaway and told him and his wife Mano the whole sordid story. They commiserated, fed us, and Sandeep offered us a ride to the bus stop in the morning, which we were more than happy to accept. They’re good people, and we were lucky to have met them.

Chris Liberty - Dispatches from a Gentleman Adventurer
Being the internal dialog of a vagabond who chased his own tail across five continents for 4 years and 2 days from May 2008 to May 2012, in search of something that never really became clear.
This travelogue comprises 16,426 photographs and 402,515 words in 307 dispatches written from 335 places in 52 countries on 6 continents around the world.
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