South African 2000 - Part 2
By Skip Lynch
Albany, Oregon, USA
Sunday, March 12, 2000 - 4:51pm -- City Lodge, Port Elizabeth
We spent the morning at the Addo Elephant National Park. We saw more than
a few dozen elephants, several kudu, warthogs, red hartebeest, eland and more
birds than I could identify with my books. We then went back to a friend's house
for a braai (bar-b-q or cookout) of beef, pork, chicken and sausage (boerwors).
The food was just wonderful and the company was even better. Port Elizabeth
may be even nicer than Cape Town. I have one more week left here in SA. It's
going to be a very busy one too. We really haven't had a break . . . I mean, I
haven't had a really quiet moment since I left Jo'burg/Pretoria.
After the cookout, I met my buddies Loubser and Chris in the hotel bar
to plan our evening. Even though I really needed a night alone, I wanted to be
a considerate guest. Chris Kitson turned me onto a new drink: Cianzano and
Lemonade. Let me explain it this way, it's Cianzano "Blanco" vermouth in 7-Up.
But you'll need to drink a butt-load of it to get anywhere near tipsy. Beer and
mixed drinks were very cheap (especially when you consider the exchange rate).
We left the hotel and walked a few blocks down the beachfront road to an
open-air bar that had a live band performing. The music was all covers of
the U.S. alt-rock play list, but it was reasonably well done. By 10:00 P.M.
we were hungry again, and guess what (?), we went out for steak!
Wednesday, March 15, 2000 -- La Montagne Resort, Ballito
The one interesting thing that I witnessed was the cricket match from India.
The Proteas had won the Test Match in convincing style. But the five, one-day
matches were proving to be different. On Thursday, the SA Proteas blew a
sizable lead and eventually lost the match on a really bad call. On Sunday, they
just flat-out got their collective butts kicked. On this day, however, the Indians
won the toss and posted a good run total on 7 or 8 wickets. The Proteas
fought and clawed their way back before finally winning on a 6-run shot by
Herschelle Gibbs with only one over remaining. What was interesting about
all of this was that at Victoria CC, we were all a bunch of white guys sitting in
the 19th Hole cheering on the SA team while our waiters and bartenders were
all Indians. They were cheering for their home country under their breath.
When the winning score was made, the wait staff disappeared into the
For dinner, my traveling companions, Fanie Jordaan and Willem
Labuschagne wanted to show off their braai skills. I stepped out onto
the veranda and saw Willem grilling two porterhouse steaks, three
T-bones and an 18" piece of boerwors (not to mention the three
kinds of salad and the lemon meringue pie for dessert). When I
asked who was going to eat all of that, he calmly replied, "We are."
Well, let's just say that we didn't come close.
Thursday, March 16, 2000 -- Fanie Randall's House, Durban
I saw something that really disturbed me today. Fanie's car was
running low on gas. So he whipped into a gas station at light speed,
scattering the black, women attendants standing there, smoking his tires,
all the while screaming in his Dr. Strangelove voice, "Get out of the way
you f%#@ing swine!!!!" I came unglued. I told him that I understood that
I was a visitor in his country, but I wasn't going to tolerate that kind
of behavior in my presence. He back peddled and tried to say that the women
thought it was funny too. I looked at the women's faces and I knew they
were scared by the near miss. I was steaming.
Friday, March 17, 2000 -- Splashy Fen, outside of Underberg St. Patrick's Day!
We left Durban for Underberg around noon. It's not a long drive, but
with Fanie . . . well. . . Oh, he's ok . . . in small doses (racist shrieks aside).
We met up with Trevor Shuttleworth (and his 4-year-old son, Scotty) and
Matthew at the Underberg Country Club and home to the Underberg-Himeville
Trout Fishing Club. (Shown below and right.)
By the time Trevor showed and we set off for the fishing camp (4:00 P.M., the
rains had started in earnest. I mean it was pouring! Heading out from the
clubhouse we started our drive with wipers furiously beating away the rain.
We left the relative comfort of the highway and started up a gravel road. The
gravel road ended and we found ourselves stuck in the mud, twice. This could
in no way be misconstrued as a road. It was at best a cattle trail. It finally took
a four-wheel drive tractor to pull us out of the mud.
Once we finally arrived at our rondavel, it was nearly dark and the nearby
creek was swelling rapidly. It was a beautiful creek whose headwaters are
in Lesotho. It tumbles down the Drakensberg Mountains through grassy meadows
and rocky canyons. The section of the creek we could see reminded me of Soda
Butte Creek in Yellowstone. And like Soda Butte Creek and the Lamar River it
feeds, this little creek muddies rapidly and clears slowly.
I cast for a half-hour in the fading daylight. Swinging a heavily weighted, #10
black woolly bugger through the currents, I hooked a sizable fish that I just
couldn't turn. The fish gained his freedom when I could no longer follow him
downstream in the growing current. Oh well, I'll get 'em tomorrow.
Saturday, March 18, 2000 -- Splashy Fen, outside of Underberg
Spent the day fishing with Trevor and Matthew on a private lake near Splashy
Fen. The skies were clear and the air was fairly hot. I thought it was amazing
that we were fishing for trout in 65o F water. In spite of my precautions, I still
sunburned my chest.
Trevor and Matthew have fished that lake a lot and it showed in the fish totals
of the day. I caught one nice 3.5-4 pound fish but I lost several monsters. It
happened over and over to me. I'd get the fish hooked and nearly as quickly,
he'd have me snapped off. The first fish I hooked, a huge brown that may have
been the fish of the day, broke me off at the knot (I was having a bad knot day).
Others just snapped off the 6-pound tippet like it was nothing. Most of the fish
that day were taken on #12 soft hackles in black or peacock herl. Matthew
caught a nice 6.5-pound brown trout, and little Scotty Shuttleworth caught his
first fish, a 4 pound plus rainbow, while trolling a purple woolly bugger I had tied.
The wildlife around the lake was scarce, except for the Egyptian geese and
Grey crowned cranes. We didn't see a lot of insect life, aside from damselflies
and dragonflies. Leeches were prevalent in the lake as were baitfish.
Trout were first introduced to South Africa in the 1850. Since then, brown trout
have adapted exceedingly well in the lakes, while the rainbows have done
equally well in the cold water rivers. There are several trout farms throughout
the Drakensberg and in Mpumalanga. Splashy Fen is one of the premier trout
farms. They specialize in trophy trout production and sell fish to private
Trevor and Matthew are keen to get their fishing business off of the ground.
They are making their own float tubes (they call them "kick boats"). The 6-foot
pontoon boats have a seat, but your legs dangle in the water, and you propel
yourself around the lake with flippers instead of oars. The pontoons are short
which makes the boats very maneuverable. They're custom-building these for
their friends for about R1,000 (about $160.00). I thought the boats were
wonderful for lakes, but poorly suited for river travel.
Also, Trevor and Matthew are excellent "fish camp" chefs and we all ate like kings.
I'm still bummed that we couldn't get up to the camp Thursday evening. Had we
done that, I might have had at least half a day to fish the river that ran next to our
rondavel. It was so pretty and the water looked very fishy. By Saturday morning,
the rains had the river swollen way beyond fishable. Maybe the next trip.
Sunday, March 19, 2000 -- Somewhere, 30,000' over the Atlantic, SA Flight 205
Fanie and I left Splashy Fen early and arrived back in Durban about mid-morning.
We had time to watch a little of the last one-day cricket match with India before
heading to the airport. My trip home is over 39 hours in total (Durban to Johannesburg,
Jo'burg to Cape Town, Cape Town to Ft. Lauderdale, Ft. Lauderdale to Atlanta, Atlanta
to Salt Lake City, Salt Lake City to Portland, and then a shuttle from PDX to Albany).
The woman on the aisle seat was upset that she had to sit next to a black woman
who had the middle seat. Actually the woman in the middle ignored all of the huffing
and snide, under-the-breath comments. I thought the woman in the middle was
extremely nice. We chatted until we ran out of daylight. But let me tell you, that's
a long freakin' flight from Cape Town when you're stuck in on a packed flight,
eated in the window seat. No wonder I ended up with two blood clots in my left leg.
The reason that the plane had to fly out of Cape Town is because a 747 loaded
with enough fuel to reach the U.S. is too heavy and the air is too thin for the high
altitude take-off from Jo'burg (remember that Jo'burg is nearly 5,500 feet above
sea-level). What they have to do is load the plane with enough fuel to get it to
Cape Town, refuel it to the gills and take off from sea-level (it adds about 3.5 hours
to the total trip). Even then, the plane doesn't carry enough fuel to directly reach
Atlanta (thus the stop in Ft. Lauderdale - another hour and fifteen-minute layover
stuck on the plane). The flight from Cape Town to Ft. Lauderdale is the longest
non-stop flight in all of aviation.
Southern Africa has a bounty of excellent flyfishing. Trout are often overlooked
because of the warm water species like large-mouthed bass, small-mouthed
yellowfish and tigerfish. But the higher elevations hold some stunning scenery
complete with beautiful rivers full of hungry trout. The price of a flight to South
Africa is quite affordable (around $1,300), and the buying power of the U.S.
dollar (about R6.50 = $1) is great. ~ Skip Lynch
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