I’ve found the leaving process hard and depressing. Look, we wouldn’t be going if I didn’t have high hopes for both the people and the place. But, well, it’s a bit like watching a dream die here. It is sad too. So we went off to the Wild Coast for a long weekend of fishing and diving spiny lobster with my brother (who has been my regular dive-partner for 20 odd years) and some friends to try and shake it off.
In typical fashion, the weather was glorious... For ducks and those who love twisty pot-holed roads in the mist and mizzle. (Wild Coast roads: you can tell how deep the potholes are by how much of the donkey’s ears are visible.) By local standards the roads are in good nick and only moderately cavernous. Of course the livestock are not fenced and they and most of local ‘taxis’ (minibus driven by a maniac, or elderly bald-tyred truck held together with rust and baling wire as well as the sheer weight of occupants) should be. We’d gone to a new place rather than one of our regular haunts --Mgazana. (31degrees 41'45.95" S 29 degrees 25'11.71" E). It’s beautiful (the wild coast is) -- and pretty fuberised biologically. (A situation created by the non-existent policing of the conservation laws, with the locals taking -- to sell -- with no regard for limits to size or numbers. Once it must have been very wonderful. I'd hang, draw and quarter the buyers and settle for hanging the first three sellers ;-)). As a result the diving proved moderately lousy, although the selection of sea-urchins was impressive. I just love finding the long sharp spines in the crevices I’m feeling up for spiny lobster. Yes, the lobster are spiny too... but the spines are shorter and don’t break off after penetrating your fingers. Anyway pain while pulling your dinner out of a crack is vastly different from pain when not pulling your dinner out of a crack.
Still, the views are really cool with wind-etched trees and sea-carved coast (camera batteries died :-( - more lesson for Flinders. Some pictures will be forthcoming from Chantelle) the company was good, the mud-crab curry (had me doing headstands in a cold shower the next day) was great, and the expression on my brother’s face when the throttle-lever on the outboard detached itself in his hand and we hurtled with crazy uncontrolled 5HP speed toward the mangroves, priceless. And every place needs a few stilty legged mangroves in an attractive shade of blue. Really. Adds to the charm.
B and I were determined to hone our ‘survive-on-Flinders’ skills so very bravely she put sardine (My B does not love sardine. It pongs) on her hooks and cast out at passing rocks. She got a couple of small Caranteen much to our pride. We will not starve, methinks. She’s gone from first grade to first-year uni at this in very short order. She’ll soon be better at it than me. Okay, that’s not hard. Than most people.
I swam the estuary with a throw-net (I’d never used one, and I am determined to learn. Have caught leaves on the lawn, practising.) On the incoming tide --I’m an idiot, but not enough of an idiot to do this on an outgoing tide!. With very low water it was a doddle 30 metre swim. I felt a bit spare with a wetsuit and fins for the job. Two hours later -- with 8 mullet (Some people throw perfect circles. I throw a lot of perfect bananas) I set off back, getting as close to the mouth as possible before getting into the water -- with an 80 metre swim and the tide racing in about as fast as a man can run I really didn’t think the wetsuit or fins were overkill. I thought I was in for a tour of the mangroves several klicks upstream.
Anyway, in more rain, after some fine art work (a new temporary number plate for the boat trailer contrived from the inside of an oreo packet with some charcoal and then mud-shielded with a plastic packet) we slithered our way muddily back.
The dogs are glad to see me. Even the cats were. Or maybe it is the lingering odour of sardine.