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Venture to Bulungula, South Africa

Photo by Marilynn Windust

Bouncing over sharp rocks and ruts, dodging sheep, goats, cattle and pedestrians, our little Honda takes two hours to drive twenty-five miles. On the dusty road to Bulungula, Mare bitches every time I hit a pothole. I grip the steering wheel so tight that it just might crack.

Photo by Marilynn Windust

The road to Bulungula

We get lost often. Friendly locals give us directions, but they’re unaccustomed to maps. We can’t understand their accent anyway.

Photo by Marilynn Windust

The map to Bulungula

Finally, we park and then lug our backpacks about five football fields to the community owned Bulungula Lodge. It’s worth the drive.

Photo by Marilynn Windust

Finally our destination is in sight!

Gotta love their vision:  “being part of a solution to environmental problems through reduced consumption, appropriate technology, and creative thinking.”

Photo by Marilynn Windust

The hike to the Lodge from the parking area

We experience rural Transkei life on the Wild Coast of the Eastern Cape. Little things, like using clay for sunscreen.

Photo by Marilynn Windust

Employees of the Lodge show off their painting skills and their painted faces

Mare and I chill outside of our hut, taking in the scene. A river winds through green hills, greeting the Indian Ocean on a forested coastline of white sand.

Photo by Ron Mitchell

Home in Bulungula

This Fair Trade accredited, eco-friendly lodge opened in August 2004. The local community owns and runs it, after purchasing the establishment for two Rand (about 22 cents). Using solar panels and recycled water, in 24 hours the entire lodge consumes the amount of electricity that a toaster uses in an hour.

Photo by Marilynn Windust

Photo of photo on display at Bulungula Lodge

The Bulungula Incubator Project focuses on education, health, and sustainable livelihood. They received The McNaulty Prize last year, which recognizes the very best in high impact leadership.

Photo by Marilynn Windust

Photo of a photo on display at Bulungula Lodge

Luckily, the honor bar serves cold ones. Sip a few fireside to a serenade of bongos and a guitar. We chat with Herman, a volunteer who teaches plumbing, building, and electrical to the locals, recent applications to this community of 6,000.

Photo by Marilynn Windust

Hanging out sharing with fellow travelers and listening to local music

A handful of fellow travelers come from New Zealand, Germany (of course), France, Italy, and Switzerland. Jenny from the U.K. proves to be the most inspiring. She lost her husband five years ago, and is traveling alone on the BAZ Backpacker bus at the age of 78!

Photo by Marilynn Windust

Pat is a local guide who takes me surf fishing. He collects bait along the coastal walk, snagging sand crabs and cutting open some sort of cockle called “red bait,” that appears on the shore at low tide.

Photo by Marilynn Windust

Catching crabs and slicing open shells for “red bait”

Pat catches a black fin. I of course catch nothing…not an unfamiliar theme.

Photo by Marilynn Windust

Fishing near Bulungula

Mare and I bounce back out over the road that brought us to this magical place, and she barely bitches about the potholes.

Photo by Marilynn Windust

Leaving Bulungula

Touched by the people of Bulungula and the folks supporting this project (, we’re inspired, refreshed, and ready for the next adventure.     Ron Mitchell

13 Comments Post a comment
  1. Vicky Barr #

    I loved this!

    February 2, 2015
  2. Colleen Puderbaugh #

    Well done Ron….Wow, what an astonishing place. I’m so glad you guys are experiencing this and through your writing, so are we. Thank you!

    February 2, 2015
    • We’ve been having an amazing several days lately. It is truly a pleasure to share it on this word press thing! Got some cool ones coming up.

      February 2, 2015
  3. Skip #

    You two are having a GREAT time, I know…and thanks for sharing your adventure(s) on-line. I honestly enjoy reading all about them… Can’t wait for our Normandy to Paris River Cruise in May!!

    February 2, 2015
  4. ma, pa and jack #

    Dad loved looking at what looked like you walking with animals…. says you’re a chip off the old block when it comes to animals…. are you feeding them .. they look hungry…. I love the names of these places…. really….

    February 2, 2015
    • Dad would try to feed them…very dangerous act! Wait until you see photos of the next set of animals!

      February 2, 2015
  5. Mark Stodola #

    What an inspiring article. Thanks so much for sharing your adventures!

    February 2, 2015
  6. Hey, what do mean about the fishing? You caught plenty of gorgeous salmon on the Chilkoot River! Happy trails from rainy Seattle. Appropriate for mourning our gut-wrenching Super Bowl loss, wherein we snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. 😦

    February 5, 2015
    • Yes about the fish. Headed back to Haines this summer to volunteer in the Eagle Preserve. Sorry about your loss, hurts for a while.

      February 7, 2015
  7. #

    Hi you world travelers. We really enjoy watching all your adventures.The beautiful pictures, most of all ,your beautiful,sentimental writing.LOVE U GUYS.Ken& Dorothy

    February 10, 2015
    • Hello to you! Thank you for your kind words. We love you too. Stay warm back there.

      February 10, 2015

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