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.
We get lost often. Friendly locals give us directions, but they’re unaccustomed to maps. We can’t understand their accent anyway.
Finally, we park and then lug our backpacks about five football fields to the community owned Bulungula Lodge. It’s worth the drive.
Gotta love their vision: “being part of a solution to environmental problems through reduced consumption, appropriate technology, and creative thinking.”
We experience rural Transkei life on the Wild Coast of the Eastern Cape. Little things, like using clay for sunscreen.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
Pat catches a black fin. I of course catch nothing…not an unfamiliar theme.
Mare and I bounce back out over the road that brought us to this magical place, and she barely bitches about the potholes.