Thursday brought bad weather, hitting us on the drive to Storms River unfortunately right when we wanted to get out with all our bags. Leaving the job until later we went and checked in to the Tube ‘n Axe hostel where we had a 6 bed dorm just outside of the main area, giving us an outdoor, partially-covered bathroom with a compost toilet. The shower was surprisingly good and made for a nice experience to be outdoors, the toilet was a different matter but something I knew I should get used to as the situation would only get worse when I begin my overland tours up through Africa.
Not one for adrenaline based activities but happy to watch, we headed to the Bloukrans Bridge for Emily to do the world’s highest bungy jump – or so they claim – while I would sit in the restaurant and admire it from a distance. Being a tourist attraction the road was packed with souvenirs and quite vocal workers trying to get you to buy anything they had on offer, despite telling them no on multiple occasions. It becomes an art of not making eye contact and applies to people in the streets too, which is more difficult but sometimes more important as often they may not be needing anything and it might be a ploy to rob you of your belongings. Of course you never know, so you have to be safe and go with the ignoring method each time just in case.
Setting myself up at the restaurant I had a great viewpoint, using my camera lens as make-do binoculars. Not one part of me had the desire to do it and I couldn’t quite understand the thrill of it but was happy to watch and eat at the nice restaurant for lunch.
Saturday brought my type of adrenaline activity as Emily had pushed both Sophie and me to do the tubing activity. It was 3-4 hours down a 5km section of the river, riddled with rocks creating rapids for us to go down. With the trip in general pushing me out of my comfort zone I was weirdly not nervous for it, though that doesn’t mean I didn’t squeal down the big ones where the rush of water threatened to flip me out of my tube (which I was proud only happened once). Having been against the idea I was surprised to find how much I enjoyed myself and was proud to have done something I never would have done prior to the trip. It’s been exciting to learn about myself in a new light and already I feel like I’ve changed in more ways than I expected. Having now decided not to move back to Sydney it’ll be exciting to see where I end up and good to be able to start fresh there.
Arriving back from tubing we were provided with lunch at the hostel followed by a long shower after discovering how much the wetsuits smelled and thus how gross I felt. Feeling fairly exhausted from the day given the length of river that we had to paddle ourselves down as well as the areas which were too difficult to tube down, forcing us to get out and try navigate our way through the unclear water, finding support on whatever rocks our feet could feel for. My arms couldn’t move much from the paddling and even lifting my glass of wine to my mouth provided more exercise than I could handle, making me a little anxious about how I’d feel the next day.
Enjoying the bonfire in the common area next to the restaurant Emily and I sat and chatted with some new people from the hostel having just said goodbye to Sophie who would be making her way to Johannesburg now. I wasn’t stoked that I was saying goodbye again, and it felt like a practise run before my goodbye with Emily in a few days time, something I think we’ll both struggle with considering we would have been traveling together for 2 and a half weeks with almost no time apart.
We packed up our stuff on Sunday, something I’m getting better at and thankfully not yet getting sick of, before heading out for a walk in the forest surrounding Storms River. Unable to work out where the map actually wanted us to go we stopped halfway and turned back, unsure where we’d gone wrong but adamant on blaming the map. Nonetheless it was beautiful and it was a nice way to finish off our few days there with the sun out in full. We headed back to the town which we’d grown to enjoy, a simple street with less than 10 individual retailers, a nice relaxed vibe and beautiful scenery around it. We decided to treat ourselves to lunch at the 60s diner and sat outside to continue enjoying the lovely day before getting in the car ready for our next destination.