A continuation of Part 1 to answer the recurring question “How did you end up in Nieu-Bethesda?”
From India, I flew to Abu Dhabi where I planned to meet my family. Them traveling to Abu Dhabi was less a case of them becoming vagabonds and more of me having the luxury of taking a break from my current adventures to join my family on a trip we had planned prior to me quitting my job. Vagabonds get the best vacations. I landed in Abu Dhabi a day ealier than the rest of my family and spent a night and day in the city with one of my good friends. My friend (Tim), in addition to giving me a couch to sleep on, introduced me to expat UAE brunch culture at an awesome Argentinian restaurant. The food was amazing although the bottomless drinks had me falling out of my chair after a month of virtually no drinking in India (with the exception of Sharad’s wedding and a little whiskey on my birthday). I was finally reunited with my family on March 10th when I came to join them at their hotel. As expected, my mother was happily surprised with her vagabond son’s clean-shaven face. On the days that followed, we cruised around Abu Dhabi to see some of the major sites (such as the Grand Mosque) and to see my father’s former offices. Not long after me, my father also left his corporate job and is now pursuing a much cooler career at StartUp Health
We then caught separate flights to Durban, where I was returning after only 9 months away (see post #1). A lot had happened since I had left; and not just around the endless construction in Umhlanga Rocks. I had left a job, my infant cooking blog grew into a travel blog, I had been to 5 new countries, and was now back in a familiar place under entirely different circumstances. But I was excited to share some of my favorite places with my entire family (Mom, Dad, Brittany, and Bailey). We stayed in Durban for a few days to enjoy the beach and visit a few restaurants including Remo’s and Pintxada in the village. Following, we took a quick visit to Cape Town for a whirlwind tour of the city by car. With a car, we were able to check off sights that had taken me 3 separate visits to see such as: Cape Point, the Penguins of Boulder Beach and Table Mountain. We even managed two vineyard visits in Stellenbosch on the way to the airport. We returned back to Durban for some more beach and sun and I went with my brother and father for caged shark diving. Or rather, we thought it would be a cage; when presented with the option of diving with or without, we all (cautiously) agreed that we would go without.
At the end of our trip together, we got up close and personal with some more animals at Phinda Game Reserve just past Hluhluwe. Having previously visited with my parents last year, Phinda was my first experience in a private game reserve. While some larger reserves like Kruger have wider tourist appeal, &Beyond’s experience at Phinda offers a life of luxury while on safari. I remember saying something on my first visit like “I don’t think I’m going to feel comfortable with a butler, this is over the top, I’m not going to ask for anything special” to happily accepting gin tonics while stretching out by our pool while nyalas walked by. This year was no different and I especially enjoyed the few nights of luxury after sleeping outside on hammocks for several nights over the past few months. I was especially excited to share this experience with my siblings whom I had been telling all week “You think this is cool? Just wait for Phinda”.
Sadly, I had to eventually say goodbye to my family as they got their flight back to the US. I was really happy not only to have seen them but to have shared time together in a country that has had a huge impact on my life. After seeing them off, I moved from the hotel where I had been staying with my family to the spare room of my friend Paul’s house. I spent the next week there planning out my next steps of my time in South Africa. During all these trips around India and South Africa, I had been sporadically in touch with Andre, owner of The Brewery and Two Goats Deli in Nieu-Bethesda, a small… actually… a tiny town in the Karoo. I had originally gotten in touch with Andre via Workaway and had offered my help at the brewery in exchange for room and board. Now that I was back on my own it was just a matter of picking a day and arranging my travel to the Karoo. Over email we settled on my arrival on the 5th of April which gave me a week more to spend in Durban doing yoga, surfing, and spending full days at Home Bru Cafe (common activities of my 2016 life in Umhlanga). Dry erase makers on the veranda windows and late night conversations over chess with Paul gave me ample tools to figure out some of the other things I wanted to accomplish in 2017 and beyond… hopefully more information about that has the year progresses.
I left Durban on the evening of the 4th to take an overnight bus towards Port Elizabeth where I planned to get a pick up that would take me as far as Graaff-Reniet and then get one final ride to Nieu-Bethsda. Sitting on a bus again, the first since Dharamsala, I felt like a proper traveler again. I put my phone back in airplane mode to conserve some battery and put some music on the fall asleep to. Upon arriving near Port Elizabeth and turning my data back on, a stream of messages from Andre came in. “Can’t arrange a pick up from Port Elizabeth today, can you stay at a backpackers?” “May be able to arrange a pick up from somewhere else” “Can you get to Uitenhage?” I walked to the front of the bus and asked if the bus makes any stops near Uitenhage. “It’s the next stop, 3 more minutes”. Well that’s lucky. I got off at a street corner and waited in a Spur while looking for, as the message read, “a silver Isuzu double cab. Name Eric”.
Several hours later, Eric and I were cruising down the road when we finally saw the signs for Nieu-Bethesda. I was stunned by the mountain views and got giddy over the thought of calling this my new home for the next month. We rounded a last hairpin turn as came unto the town. When we finally pulled up to The Brewery, I saw a spiky-haired, barefoot man hauling kegs around the front yard. “Andre?” I asked while stepping out of the car with my bag. “Kyle. Yes. You’re here. There’s a lot to do. Come with me to the back. We can start by filling bottles.”
After 5 months of what was effectively a productive vacation, and the past 2 months of jetting around 5 countries and countless cities, I had a job again. But more on that later.
PS I’ve scheduled this post to go live on the 25th of April so… Happy Birthday, Mom!