With no idea where to head next on my tour of South Africa, i decided to ask the campy owner of my hotel in Stellenbosch if he had any recommendations.
“Muscled gay,” he replied saucily, while licking his lips.
“I appreciate the compliment of my chiseled physique,” I replied, “but I was hoping you could point me towards a nice place to stay tonight.”
“Yes, Mossel Bay. Mossel Bay! And don’t flatter yourself, I’ve seen bigger biceps on penguins.”
So that’s how I ended up in the beautiful fishing village of Mossel Bay.
The 300km drive from Stella took me through monstrous canyons, across barren wastelands that are almost identical to the Aussie outback, and past some of the poorest towns I’ve ever seen. It’s easy to tell whether a town has a white population or not – they’re the ones with big shopping centres, nice schools, and neat houses. Towns that are entirely black or coloured look like something out of an apocalyptic nightmare. The disparity between rich and poor is astonishing.
It was pissing down and freezing cold by the time I arrived in Mossel Bay, so I did the only thing worth doing in weather like that – I got pissed. After glugging a bottle of cheap wine in my room, I headed into town with only $11 on me. I found a dive bar and immediately discovered that $11 goes a long way in this town, because longnecks of a local beer called Black Label (alcohol content 5.5%) only cost $3. As I got hammered, I had a look around at the locals, who are an unfortunate-looking lot. There are some incredibly rough heads in Mossel Bay, and I reckon a bit of inbreeding goes on here. Just don’t tell them I said that, because the locals seem as if punching on is their second favourite hobby after rooting their sisters.
I was feeling a bit rough in the morning, so I took a walk around town to shake off the hangover. There are some fantastic old buildings, but overall Mossel Bay isn’t a particularly pretty town, and reminds me of any number of crappy regional towns I’ve driven through back in Australia. There are dodgy-looking tattoo shops and heaps of pawn shops, and every second person looks like they sleep in a bin.
The town’s beach is really nice, though, and so is the awesomely-named St Blaize Hiking Trail, which starts at the eastern end of the shops and winds around thhe coast for the next 10km. It’s a spectacular hike, past rugged cliffs and wide bays, with all sorts of curious vegetation. I had an absolutely wonderful time strolling along and gazing in awe at the beauty of Africa. I even encountered a small, quokka-like animal called a dassie, and he danced around like a Lebanses eccy-head for my amusement. He was an ugly bastard, but I guess he’d have to be if he wants to fit in with the other unfortunates of Mossel Bay.