Monday, 24 June 2013

Oy vey! Are you lost?

Is this the Eastern Cape? Take me home, please...!

If there's anything more stressful or tedious than a domestic flight, generally, then it has to be a domestic flight to the Eastern Cape, specifically. The hour's flying time has unwary visitors buffeting in the 20 knot 'onshore breeze' well before most succeed in wrestling their seat-belt from under the frame-hugging buttocks of the unwashed behemoth in the adjacent seat. Squawking toddlers, wielding saliva-encrusted plastic rattlers & routinely allocated the seat behind, play whack-the-bald spot, a rather miserable game for the receiving passenger in front.. This & teeth-decaying flatulence from the aforementioned behemoth tends to abrogate from the majestic mountains of the Drakensberg seen from the window-seat's porthole of hope as the plane heads south.

Vegetation, trees especially, are as laid back as the local people, a function of the prevailing 'onshore breeze' (ie: gale) rather than by design or attitude. Seasoned travelers to the Eastern Cape's Buffalo City (East London & surrounds) observe, wistfully, the departures' lounge on their way out to rentals from the arrivals-hall..

Occasionally circumstance negates free-will and obligation dictates action. A Greater (Snowy) Sheathbill, an 'assisted' vagrant to these shores, was recently reported from the Eastern Cape's Mazeppa Bay; a fishing hamlet a 'short drive' [30 minutes by concorde] away from the aptly named Hole-in-the-wall, another fishing hamlet. In the Eastern Cape a 'short drive' is anything closer than the Hubble Telescope, the taxman's pineapple spy, up in the sky.. Ask a Slummies (East London) inhabitant for directions to Mazeppa Bay & you'll be told it's in the 'Kye' (Kei) a 'short drive' away. Don't ask.
A suspension bridge joins the island to the 'mainland' 

G. Sheathbill - Mazeppa Island 'Point' June 2013
A common inhabitant of the Antarctic most, if not all, Sheathbills are considered ship-assisted vagrants to these shores. Sheathbills, incidentally, are not adverse to feeding on faeces or faecal pellets, an unusual characteristic of the avian world. For its curious nature, only a mother-can-love-it looks and the fact that we hadn't seen the Sheathbill in the sub-region before, Alisha & I boarded Sunday's 6 am. flight to East London. From there we drove the 3 hour / 190 odd kilometers, 'miss-the-angora goat' obstacle course, up-coast to Mazeppa Bay. Road conditions were interesting..

G. Sheathbill - Mazeppa Bay 'Boiling Pot' June 2013
Mazeppa Bay itself, a mecca for shore-fishermen, is defined by its hotel, wild seas and rugged coastline. Follow the boat-launch path down to the shoreline, cross the suspension bridge to the island & Bob's probably your uncle, that's all there is to it. Hopelessly lost, yet completely at ease & showing no signs of distress, the Sheathbill permitted excellent views. Later we were accompanied by fishermen, holidaymakers & a horde of local kids who joined us as we leopard-crawled over hill & dale in pursuit of 'the shot'.

The 'Supermoon' - a welcome sight as we threaded through the traffic, home.
We returned home that arvie (afternoon) on the 6 pm flight, battered by the buster (strong wind) & a little kussed out (tired) from our trip to the Kye. Awesome.

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