On Tuesday 24th May I left East London with the Baz Bus to go to Coffee Bay, where I got to see and learn of the beauty of the Transkei region, hometown of the Xhosa people and former president Nelson Mandela.
As we enter the former Republic of Transkei, in the Eastern Cape province, we stop by the Qunu village where the driver explained that’s where Nelson Mandela grew up and was buried. Then we continued the trip to Coffee Bay, where I stayed at Sugarloaf Backpackers, an amazing place with great vibes from the people working there.
Sugarloaf is located by the river and close to the beach, giving you the possibility to enjoy the view from one of the hammocks, or watch the sunset while playing the drums by the outdoors fire place. They also have a bar and there are many activities to do in the area. I surfed, played drums, tried slacklining and did some hikes because I was only staying for a couple of nights.
The first hike was to the Lallies Hills with one of the girls working at the backpackers, Layla. She told me about the Xhosa culture and language.
This area is very rural, and the people still keep many traditions. For example, when a couple gets married the groom has to pay “Lobola” to the bride’s family, which is traditionally negotiated in cows. Then, the wife comes to live with the husband’s family where she is trained on all the necessary skills, like cooking, collecting wood, getting water, etc. They usually live in “Rondavels”, rounded houses with grass roof that they only use as bedrooms, since cooking and other needs are done outside. If the Rondavel is painted pink it means the family is Catholic, and if it’s painted green it means they maintain their traditional beliefs. The Xhosa language is hard to learn because they use three different sounds of clicks with the tongue. Nevertheless, most of them speak English as well, and everyone around here is very friendly.
The Hole in the Wall.
The second hike I did was to the Hole in the Wall, an extraordinary landscape that nature somehow built to our delight. It’s a three hours hike climbing up and down hills along the coast line that can be quite tiring but is completely worth it. On the way back I managed to skip the three hours walk hitchhiking. I was picked up by a group of fishers whom I hope catch the biggest fish on the sea.
I enjoyed Coffee Bay very much and the little I learned about the Xhosa culture, but now it’s time to leave Eastern Cape and head to the land of the Zulu, KwaZulu-Natal.