• Joanna

Come CC with GG

Updated: Mar 21

I woke up this morning at 3am... my love affair with jet lag grows stronger.

All was good though. I showered. I wrote. I wandered around the gardens. I ate... The lady of the house made me breakfast and ended up sitting down, chatting with me until my ride appeared. She, along with her husband, moved over from Belgium 13 months ago.  They decided to sell their house and their business, quit their incessant jobs and permanently removed themselves from the stress & hustle bustle of city life. They bid their friends farewell and took off to live the remainder of their lives blissfully happy on the Garden Route of South Africa. Regrets?


Zero.


They set their sights on this beautiful historic home and turned it in to their own B&B... and are just now getting grounded, making friends and beginning to call living in paradise, home.

I was overwhelmed with both joy and jealousy at their story. They are an authentic inspiration to anyone that thinks their dreams are unreachable. Garden Route Safari Route Tour... take 2...


The Drive. The Outiniqua Mountains

Outeniqua” is said to be derived from a Khoikhoi tribe that once lived in the mountains.  It means “they who bear honey.”


The drive remains as is. Life threatening and terrifying. GG takes the roads Mach II with his hair on fire. There are some serious road rage issues displayed on a regular basis and continual expressions of anger and/or disbelief at every driver and vehicle on the road. Granted... he still continues to insist that we all buckle up whenever he is about to turn the key in the ignitiation... and the German lady still refuses to put safety first.

The Group. The group has one really big thing in common - and it has ultimately brought us together.


GG... and absolutely everything about him.


His driving.  His narcissism. His ridiculous stories. The poor choices he makes. His lack of organization.  His ‘surprises’. His elaborate excuses to remove himself from spending time with us. His unwavering confidence. His overwhelming self adoration.

In reading this, I fully see how I may appear to be victimizing us... but nothing could be further from the truth. He has been our main source of both amusement and ridicule throughout the trip... and we still have one more day to endure the comical agony. Everyone is much more comfortable together now and we poke fun at GG on the reg... behind his back, of course. Even the Germans are opening up... slightly... not really, but I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt.  I really don’t understand why they chose to do tours, because they rarely involve themselves in activities. The Guide GG remains, in his own mind, a pure legend, much loved and hands down, the best guide that ever hit the tourism road, running. Here are some classic GG moments of the day;


During dinner, he made mention that there was a really famous band upstairs on the rooftop patio, and although they were charging a cover of 150 ZAR to enter, he could walk in for free because he was so popular and everyone liked him.


I asked if it was the Rolling Stones.

It wasn’t.

At one point, I inquired about the whereabouts of the infamous Blade Runner, Oscar Pitorius. GG used to be his roommate.  Of course he did.


“Great guy.”

Turns out... not so great a guy... if you’re his girlfriend... and standing behind a door.

We drove though Wilderness, a coastal towns famous for it’s outdoor recreational sports. The wind was full strength and all of us in the van were admiring the various paragliders gliding around. GG didn’t miss an opportunity to let us know that one of his best friends, AND the best paraglider in SA, once landed his glider beside a local bar... walked in, guzzled 2 beers back and then just took off up in to the air again... without a launching area. He also has an open invitation to learn to paraglide... anytime... anywhere.


One time the police tried to arrest this guy because he was paragliding with a beer... and that’s illegal. But he didn't care... because he doesn’t care about the law...


Enlightening.

The stories don’t stop.


GG once knew a paraglider that travelled extensively throughout Columbia... AND Sweden, just using his paraglider to go from town to town.... no other means of transportation.


I commented that this story seemed a bit made up and I was going to require more information if I was expected to believe this yarn. I’m envisioning a stranger popping out of the sky, introducing himself and asking if there’s room at the inn? Then promptly disappearing up in to the clouds the following day? It sounds very Littlest Hobo meets Superman to me.


The stories of girls fawning over him in Serbia continued.


The lady who manages the local pizza restaurant thinks GG is hot and sometimes her husband thinks they are having an affair.


Once he was at a local restaurant with a tour, and the place was packed, yet understaffed.  He’s so good at problem solving, that he immediately jumped up and starting organizing the kitchen, clearing plates and taking orders. Afterwards, everyone just kept praising him for being the best and saving the day.


He’s never worked in the restaurant hospitality industry before... but that night he discovered that he’s fabulously good at it.

He’s really good friends with the guy who is the South African division CEO for Viator.  ‘Really good friends’ translates to ‘they got drunk together... twice’.... and then GG tried to hook him up wth the girl who was in charge of tourism marketing.

One girl on tour became fell so hard and so fast in love with GG - and quite disgruntled when he wouldn't accept her advances... got very drunk in front of the entire crew, stood up on a chair at a busy restaurant and threw a drink at him.It just goes on and on... But my personal favourite of the day...


Wait for it...


Wait for it...

GG is going to start his OWN tour company.


Why?

Because he’s better at it than anyone he’s ever met.

I asked if he had a name in mind.  He does’t yet.  I suggested “Come CC with GG” or “Buckle Up For Safety Tours.”


The Shopping. No strip malls today.


Shame.


In good form, and true fashion, I did bring it up a few times... expressing my disappointment in not stopping each time I noticed that we were passing one by. Lucky I’m in the back of the van, where I can only offend quietly or here... as an keyboard warrior.

The Elephant Sanctuary. The elephant sanctuary was slightly misrepresented to us. We were under the distinct impression that we were going to meet 3 baby elephants who were rescued 17 years ago, when their mother was killed by poachers for her tusks. I envisioned a predominantly educational platform. Hard hitting facts, material on the ever-increasing hazards that face the wildlife... I was even open to the opportunity to financially support a survival strategy / sanctuary / environmental endeavour - by way of donation or a metaphorical baby orphan elephant adoption or... anything to campaign for economic support to increase awareness on what has been happening to decrease the elephant population.

Anything.


Except... forcing the elephants to do tricks for photos and them tipping the trainers.


Since my time in Greece, working with the sea turtles, I have never been an advocate for any wild animal / human interaction outside of the natural. I refuse to participate in handling baby sea turtles, swimming with the dolphins, selfies with the tigers, camel rides, holding koalas... etc. Unfortunately this Game Reserve did exactly that, they exploited the animals for financial gain and by the time we were in, we were deep. I admit, I did snap one selfie at the beginning of the trek, as the elephants passed me by on their way down to the watering hole and I was photographed standing beside the elephants as they were stopped for a drink. It was a powerful and engulfing moment being close to these magificent beasts and temporarily, I was caught up in the moment. A few of us took a major step back though when the intrusive selfies began. The tugging of the ears, hands in the mouths, being wrapped around their trucks... the more poses that the elephants were forced to do for the sake of the selfie, the more unnerving, unethical and somber it became. Bottoms up! We were witnessing a stream of carnival tricks.

The trainers didn’t tell us any stories of how the babies were discovered or what is being done to prevent future tragedies from occurring, such as this. They were very willing to open discussion on tipping them personally, once the elephants were back at their enclosure. When we mentioned our concerns to GG, he said that nothing like that has ever happened before and he just couldn’t believe it.  Considering he comes here 2-3 times a month with a van load of photo-frenzied tourists, I find that difficult to believe. Perhaps it’s code for, he gets a cut...  I will not fall prey to this again and hope that the rest of my tours don’t involve anything so intrusive.


Regret...


The Hippo. The hippopotamus, otherwise known as The River Horse, is a semi-aquatic, plant-eating animal that can spend up to 16 hours in water, bobbing along with their eyes & nostrils lurking above the surface.  To look at a hippo, you see fat... with a big mouth.


Could be describing a lot of us.


What I didn't really know is that they are one of the most aggressive and dangerous animals on the planet - and responsible for about 500 deaths in Africa per year. They can snap a canoe in half. They can’t swim at all, but can shoot through water at an alarming rate because their limb muscles are for powerful propulsion. Crocodile don’t mess with them. Lions don’t mess with them.  They are bad ass. The song, “I want a hippopotamus for Christmas”.... no, you don’t. They are not to be trifled with. As threatening and combative as they can be, their numbers are decreasing and unfortunately this species now faces extinction because of their ivory canine teeth - making them targeted poacher prey.


Oh... and I saw a Giraffe and a bunch of Springbok.

The Zip-Lining. When every single one of us in the van expressed zero interest in Bungee jumping, it took a few hours for GG to come up with alterior options... but he did it.  I’ll give him that. Of course, prior to doing so, he had to spend his time wisely by trying to convince us to jump off the highest bridge in South Africa. In doing so, he insisted we watch a homemade video of himself making the jump. The whole time, amusing himself to no end, accepting & encouraging praise on his form and bravery while maintaining that he was NOT an adrenaline junkie, although reminding us he had bungee jumped 10 times... and was planning on doing a backflip next time. This conversation quickly took the recreational GG detour and suddenly we were all inundated with his extensive resume of action adventure experiences and then a much anticipated rundown of each place he was planning on sky diving in 2020.

Five locations.


Five expensive locations, to boot.

He admitted that he’d never tried it before, but he already knows that he will not only love it, but be good at it.


... and so five it shall be.


We reeled the conversation back to our options for the day and we got this;

Bird Paradise and Monkeyland - both sounding absolutely dreadful and dripping with captivity.


The Germans picked creepy Monkeyland... but then opted out of doing anything at all.  So the entire 2 hours that the rest of us were away zooming through the jungle, they were sitting on a picnic bench.Zip lining won, hands down... yet, hands up.

GG thinks that they didn’t want to spend the money, which is fair enough, but they could have tagged along for a giggle and some exercise. We do so much sitting and long distance driving that it’s a much needed and appreciated break when we can stretch our legs.

My first experience with Zip-lining... and absolutely teaming down with rain. You could safely say that it was a terrential downpour... but like the troopers that we are... we continued.  There were 8 lines in total... some long, some short, some fast, some slow.  Each one came with it’s own fill of trepidation, excitement and adrenaline. We all laughed the entire time as we skyrocketed from platform to platform over this aeriel adventure park of marshes, grasslands, small pools, waterfalls and cliffs. We all were caked in mud by the end of it. Very Rambo. My right arm was almost useless at the end of it... but wow, what a rush!Check that off my bucket list...

The Waterfall. I would probably be obliged to say that this was my favourite part of the entire day... had we not stopped at a roadside gas station earlier for a morning pee and a coffee.

Close second.


Just prior to zip-lining, GG broke the news to us that he may have to cancel our kayaking adventure. Please note the emphasis I have placed on ‘adventure.’ Of course, we were all notably disappointed. We wanted to experience everything that was readily available to us. Also who would turn up the opportunity to kayak along a peaceful, pristine river ... slowly making your way along to one of nature’s most magestic creations... .the waterfall. It was a dream we all wanted to come true... and together, we prayed the rain away. Miraculously, it worked.

After lunch, the rain stopped and the waterfall kayaking dream was within our reach.

I have to also bring attention to the fact that this was one of the tour features that was FREE. Free - ugh... I take that back.  The better would to use is, ‘included.’ Our tour didn’t ‘include’ a lot, so we took what we could get. This tour could not be construed as cheap... especially considering how privy we have all now become to the costs of accommodation, gas, food, beverage and recreational activities in South Africa. NOT included was...


  • Any lunch (strip mall or not)

  • The Elephants

  • Zip Lining

  • Any dinner

  • Monkeyland

  • Birds of Paradise

  • Bungee Jumping

Breakfast was included in the tour price, but only due to the fact that most accommodations offer as a perk. It is safe to say that our tour was not suffering financial despair due to the strain of offering some yogurt and a bit of toast. ALSO not included;


  • Drinks - most tours will present you with a complimentary bottle of water. I guess we did get a milkshake, so I shouldn’t complain.

  • Snacks

  • TIPS - aggressively encouraged for all waiters, guides, trainers, drivers, helpers, movers and shakers.

Included...


  • Caving - unless we had opted for the adventurous upgrade.

  • Kayaking

  • Accommodation / Breakfast

  • Gas

  • Tomorrow’s much anticipated Game Reserve

  • One chocolate brownie milkshake

  • Sex on the Beach cocktail - GG bought us at dinner


In perspective, I paid approximately $1000 Canadian for 2 nights/3 days with this tour. Nomad Overlander Safari is $2000 Canadian for 3 weeks... camping.

I will keep everyone posted on the differences.


Although I may sound like an entitled, unappreciative complainer at times, it is moments and experiences like this that I will remember for years to come. I have always seen the comical in the negative and it has always provided me the humour for my commentaries and narratives... and it also gives me something substantial to write about.


And now back to our kayaking...


Let the kayaking adventure begin! We embarked at the shore line, just off the highway, in to what appeared to be a grimy little pool of water.


Off we went!


... for about... 40 seconds, until we hit the bridge crossing the river.


Disembark... everyone out... haul the kayak out of the water and over the walkway.  Back in to the water... once again assume position and...


Off we went!


For the second time... Why they didn’t have us ‘set sail’ from the passageway is beyond me. Pure logistic chaos.

We reached nature’s miracle in less than 5 minutes, as it was situated literally right around the corner from where we began, for the second time. All of us looked up at the tiny trickle of water dribbling down the rocks and in to the rusty looking river, snapped an obligatory photo, turned around and headed back... The  men who were employed on shore for no other reason that we could see, than to assist with hauling the kayaks over the small concrete passageway, were yelling at us to hurry up. Apparently we were too slow... and late. So that delightful little step in to a gem of nature really provided the ideal harmony that was lacking... up until now. So glad we were provided that hurried, calming 10 minutes.


Included”....


The Accommodation. It’s not as posh as the last place. It is littered with tacky Christmas decorations and badly in need of some new carpet. There was a huge spider on my bathroom wall.


I think he was intrigued by me...

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