I have a soft spot in my heart for turtles. Their vulnerable state, resilience in the wild, glorious grace as they move and quite simply, those little faces and big eyes :) I also have a dream of how I want to live one day. It involves palm trees, hammocks, the sound of the sea as you fall asleep and water temperatures above 25' C.
These past few days I got to experience both the above- lucky girl.
Along with one of my project supervisor, her 2 kids and a local contact we roadtripped from Durban to Hluhluwi up to Bhanga Nek (right on the Mozam border!).
Through herds of cows, national parks and local villages we drove. Over sand-dunes and through tropical jungle we made our way.
We stayed in little huts overlooking the mouth of an estuary that leads to Bhanga Nek. We showered with bees, frogs and cockroaches, ate with ants and slept with mosquitoes:P
The beach below, Bhanga Nek- is sight to the turtle monitoring station established by George Hughes (my hero!). Every year, adult turtles come and lay their eggs here and every year, just a few months on, the babies hatch and make their way to the sea. We got to witness the second! :) A night trek along sand dunes, revealed nests of newly hatched loggerheads scampering down to the sea! It was quite overwhelming-watching these little beauties so determined to get to the ocean, knowing that they are going to face so many difficulties and obstacles, that only one in every thousand is going to live long enough to come back and nest in 20 years.
Other adventures over the 4 days included snorkling in warm water! (glorious!), enduring 95% humidity, driving through a KZN thunderstorm at 3 am and getting stuck (and unstuck) on sand-dunes in the jungle :)
What a treat and privelage to see something so special and to live amongst the palms, pineapples and sugar cane of the tropics. To be able to live by the currents, plan by the tides and follow the sun in the truest sense :)
hands filled with snacks and towels, snorkels and fins we clumsily walk down the sandy path..
there is a tree-a big one, doorway to a white sandy alcove and 2 perfect, sheltered, little blue bays.
the one bay is open, with beds of sea lettuce, tongue weed and codium. like sweets on the seafloor; urchins, sponge and starfish are scattered all around. schools of little fish swim this way and that-ocassionally joined by a curious penguin.
the other bay is a forest. a kelp forest. much deeper, the dappled light hits the box jellies and sea breams speeding through the alleyways of kelp trees. with deep breaths we dive down and join them, following their routes, tumble turning under the water.
its the best thing really. being with the most wonderful of people, in a hiding place from the rest of the world, surrounded by the wild ocean and her astonishingly beautiful creatures.
followed by fluffy towels, pineapple and mint water, tired hands carry adventure equipment back past the tree and along the sandy pathway;
heads in the clouds, hearts left in the sea
“I have seen them riding seaward on the waves
Combing the white hair of the waves blown back
When the wind blows the water white and black.
We have lingered in the chambers of the sea
By sea-girls wreathed with seaweed red and brown
Till human voices wake us, and we drown.”
― T.S. Eliot, The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock
this summer my latibule has consisted of tidal pools. swimming pools in the ocean.
i have about 6 in my "secrets of a capetown kid" pocket book. the ocean you see, is unpredictable and when the dear ol table cloth drapes the mountain, she is often too rough to swim in. tidal pools are sort of immune to these frivolous fluctuations. they offer to replenish your salt water veins and rewild your messy hair, to clear your head and hug your skin cells on ANY day.
its about as good as it gets really :)
here are some of my pools in the sea (the first and last are not mine-but i wish they were :P)
snap back heart attack, you're just like a ticket to the sun!
i CANNOT describe to you just how happy i've been this last week. summer holidays are the climax of all good things and whilst there is much work to be done, this past week has been pure sea gypsy wander and wonder :)
let me tell you about some of these little pockets of sunshine:
two of my best mates came to fetch me after my last exam-we went to go eat hudsons chickpea burgers-yum :)
i've been loving my runs in the evenings, especially in the warm summer rain...
my little sister is back from uni and we've been loving the beach, the late night series and the crazy dancing!
shortstraw and al bairre played a gig in long street. IT WAS INSANE. we danced like crazzzzzy people!
there have been saturday morning markets and afternoon picnics at kirstenbosch, napping in the sun-hmmm, how lovely is that.
throwback sea days. like true little seagypies we've been spending days wondering from one beach to the next. staying for a little while-flirting with the waves, letting ourselves be kissed by the sun and then quickly scrambling over the rocks to the repeat the same at the next beach.
the best part is that only good things are too come: longer days, warmer nights, darker skin and lighter hair :)
the adventurers, sea nymphs and wild ones are quite excited about this.
the ocean was everyones playground today. it was a spontaneous party. no one was invited but everyone was present.the whales were particularly flirty-so many of them.with fits of excitement they were releasing little explosions of white vapour-everywhere. misty fireworks. like sprinklers in the sea. there were shadows, formed by the paragliders, cutting the otherwise un-interrupted sunshine.khayakers sliced through the blue blue water, contouring the coast by sea and us runners were mirroring them on land.
there were longboarders doing tricks in the parking lot- ocean hipsters with white blonde curls, faded levi cutoffs and old maritime tommy hilfiger shirts. there were cyclists, swimmers, surfers. jugglers, ice-cream sellers, bodyboarders.
everyone seemed happy and content. brightly coloured running shoes were like birthday balloons on the coast road, high fives and smiles were exchanged between passing runners, like celebratory greetings and wishes.
on a day like this when inside sunshine has been a struggle to come by, when one is lost inside ones head- the dear atlantic seabord came to the rescue. she gave us sea breezes and rays of light. she threw a party. she showed me how its inhabitants can appreciate and love her-utilise and still respect her. she passed out a hug, she lifted them spirits- promising to celebrate for real in just 2 short days. xxx
its not far to drive. just a few bends and a little mountain pass. you can only see it from the little mountain outcrop-the sentinel-or from boat. on most days its pretty tame-beautiful blue sea-nice wreck for deep dives-lots of seals. but sometimes, when the swell comes, dungeons becomes DUNGEONS. the power of the sea, its brute force and graceful thunder attract saffa's (and the worlds) best big wave surfers. its incredible to watch. being completely at the mercy of the ocean, riding it like a wild beast. i can only imagine that feeling-of being propelled by waves that have built energy across an entire ocean-releasing it in the majesty of well formed slick beautiful sets. you've got to love how nature puts us little people in our place. :)
check out this video by otto whitehead, taken yesterday:
dungeons gets sublime
(check out the rest of the shots on the wavescape website)