West Coast Waltz

I’m woken by the wind, pulling against the storm ropes.  For the umpteenth time I mentally thank everyone who advised me to get some for this trip to the windy Cape.  Today we explore the heart of the West Coast.  We quickly go through our morning rituals before the killer ants around our campsite gets snappy again, and head out to Langebaan, just about 20km from our campsite outside Vredenburg.

The holiday vibe is visible everywhere, and it is as if we really meet the holiday crowd for the first time on our trip.  We follow the signs to Club Mykonos as I’ve been here long ago, and head out to the beach.  It is our objective to at least feel the surf of every beach we go to, even if it is only our feet that gets wet.  Sure enough, the water is freezing and the wind really unpleasant.  We admire the view of the West Coast National Park in the distance, take a few pictures as usual, and get in the car again.  The GPS suggests Saldanha is the nearest town, and we follow a back route to our next destination.

Completely opposite from what we’ve just experienced in Langebaan, there aren’t any visible signs of holiday makers around town, and the real hustle and bustle is around the harbour area.  We spot a small public beach were we wade into the water about waist-deep.  It is still cold but the sun is scourging and your body gets used to the icy water.  It is an experience to be in such crystal clear water with expanses of turquoise and deep blue as far as the eye can see.   The wind and the freezing ocean chases us back to the car, and we pick St.Helena as our next stop.

En route we spot the sign for Jacobsbay and take the turn to this picturesque little town.  With about only the main road tarred, this truly unspoiled village transports you to a dream world.  We saw a popular restaurant from the distance but chose to head in the other direction where a small walkway headed around some rocks.  The views capture me and I snap away, caught in my own world.  With a few shots from every angle we move on. St. Helena is not nearly what we expected and by lack of visible public beaches, we drive straight trough and practically stumble upon Stompneusbay.  Here we see a hidden entrance leading towards a small beach where no swimming is permitted, but it is by far the most beautiful beach I have ever set feet on.  To the right a factory of some sort spoils the view but the land forms a natural bay with white sand curving to the left, hugging the ocean with its amazing shades of blue.  Large white boulders sticking out not far from shore, invites you to come explore but again the icy water makes it a less attractive option.  We go mad with the cameras, until the midday sun and the hot white sand sends us on our way once again.

Paternoster.  We have planned this as our last stop as we hope to see the fishing boats come in.  We meet another gravel road to reach this quant fisher village, but it is all worth it.  Buzzing with activity it reminds me of Clarens in the Free State – a picturesque town clearly geared for the thousands of tourists it attracts, without losing its character and uniqueness.  The restaurants are packed with visitors and small shops seem to overflow with eager buyers.  We head down towards the beach, hoping for some photo opportunities.  A take-away shop selling fish and chips seem to be very popular so we get in line.  There is an hour wait for our order and we spend it wandering on beach.  The strong winds have kept the fishermen at home, and their colourful boats strewn along the beach make for breathtaking photos.  Our fish & chips is well worth the wait.  Fresh, delicious, with the smell of the ocean and the sound of seagulls circling in hope of a bite.

With a sense of peace we head back to our tent, reluctant to leave the sights and sounds of the West Coast behind.  We retreat for the night, grateful for our little shelter against the stormy wind.

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