African shoestrings – South Africa Day Twenty-five
The hostel itself was an old large rambling single storey house with hand me down furniture spread haphazardly around the place,………… lounge chairs, torn dining chairs and card tables that had all seen better days and a large garden.
Sounds all right doesn’t it? Well I did miss out one important fact. It backed onto the runway. It didn’t take too many jumbo jets to fly over to work out why it was called the Airport backpackers!
Gerard was actually the owner and due to his Aussie manager being away, the manager as well.
A white South African in his late 30’s or so, Gerard just likes to drink and talk and without doubt is a wealth of information on travel in Africa.
Mind you, as Gerard’s bar was outside in the garden, conversations were often interrupted by the take off or landing of 747 or something similar. The noise was deafening initially until strangely enough you got used to it.
What fascinated me more were the clientele; an Israeli couple who were not together, so they kept saying anyway, helping Gerard in slow motion; two Scottish girls who spent the day sun-baking and were never far from each others side; a Sri Lankan family, who never left the place and seemed to spend all their time cooking and washing and finally a Norwegian man in his late sixties with a much younger Thai wife, who just seemed to hover all the time in the background.
The last couple had houses in both Norway and Thailand and he was a retired engineer, the last person you would be expecting to backpack around Africa.
They were waiting to catch the ‘Baz’ bus to Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe. Now the Baz bus is one of those innovations born from the principle, necessity is the mother of invention. Clearly aimed at the backpacker market it’s a hop on hop off bus that runs between J’burg and Cape Town with several side routes and of course it’s relatively cheap. We toyed with the idea of using it ourselves except for one important detail, it didn’t go anywhere we were going!