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Once the travel bug bites there is no known antidote, and I know that I shall be happily infected until the end of my life - Michael Palin

2 March 2019, Melkbosstrand to Darling, 44,4km
Disa Lodge R350

“Are you sober?” asked Nicky, the vagrant we encountered outside the Darling Spar. He had offered to watch our bikes, but as Charl was shopping for Sprite Zero only, I stayed outside with them and did not require his proffered services. In jeans that both hid and accentuated his stick-thin legs, and Rasta dreadlocks, and muddled questions that confirmed his inebriated state, he initiated a conversation, asking from where we had come and where we were going. As he demanded more and more answers, I eventually told him we were en route Morocco, which resulted in his astonished question: “Are you sober?”
We began our sojourn in Darling with a light lunch at the Mosaic Cafe. We were seated near a local couple who distressed us by telling us the road to Moorreesburg, our next destination, is dirt; and astonished us by telling us he had spent four summers in the Antarctic doing construction. Extraordinary that I should mention the Antarctic two days in a row.
We slept better than anticipated in our little tent last night, though not great. What we found most difficult about our camping experiment, was having nowhere comfortable to sit to update the blog, or read a book between setup and dinner. Our friend Rob Hart drove up from Durbanville and took us out to dinner at a pretty restaurant overlooking the sea - which made the entire camping exercise more than just tolerable.
We began our climb inland from the coast under an overcast sky in a rain so soft it was a cool whisper on our cheeks. And although it was not long lasting, the cloud cover was. We had more climbs than we are ready for, so did quite a bit of walking, but still arrived in Darling in time for lunch.
We had left Melkbosstrand in a disorganised state, with very little in the way of drinks and snacks, having incorrectly assumed we would see a shop or garage on the way out. Atlantis lies about halfway between Melkbos and Darling, essentially a coloured “township”. By the time we were opposite, I was desperate for something to eat so asked a man gathering scrap metal on the main road if there was a shop anywhere before Darling. He said no, but that there was a Pakistani shop about 300m into Atlantis. Long before we reached his recommendation, we came across a “spaza” shop in the kitchen of a small, neat home, made obvious by signs advertising cold drinks and airtime on the vibracrete-wood wall. I entered the yard and through a security gate saw a woman in a purple-striped dressing gown watching TV in her front room. I said I was looking for the shop and she directed me to a small window into her kitchen, shelves packed with stock. She sold us two small packets of fresh Niknaks and an unknown brand of pineapple cold drink, Double O, for just R9. When I said I had never heard of the brand, she told me it was “famous”.
We had arranged discounted accommodation with the cousin of a friend. Pat and Bobby Beckman not only gave us a bed, but invited us and their neighbours, Cat and Peter Hall, for a pork chop braai and an “interview”; Peter writes for the Darling “dorpskoerant”. Extraordinarily generous. Cat told us about an “older” couple travelling through Africa in a van; on the side they had painted: “Adventure before dementia”.  

For today's route see below photos
For overview route, click on ROUTE tab above…

Atlantis spaza shop
Atlantis spaza shop
Darling in the distance
Darling in the distance
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