Here's an outline of our road trip so far:
Johannesburg --> Sabie --> Arathusa Safari Lodge --> Mbabane, Swaziland --> Saint Lucia --> Durban --> Bulungula Lodge
Bulungula Lodge, South Africa
After some much needed downtime in Durban we took off to the Wild Coast to see a part of Africa that only some ever get to really experience. Located a good 2 hours down some questionable dirt and rock roads, nestled right into a Xhosa community in a remote village is Bulungula Lodge. For reference Xhosa is a Nguni Bantu language that speaks with click consonants and one of the official languages of South Africa (although English is still widely spoken throughout South Africa).
Along our drive to the lodge through the rural communities, we had groups of children running after our vehicle yelling “sweeties, SWEEEETIESSSSS” hoping that we would stop and give them treats. Luckily, we had one bag of candy that we ended up giving to a mob of kids who were running alongside us! We also came across numerous cows, donkeys, chickens, pigs.. you name it we drove by it. It was pretty eye opening to see as the further we got from the main road, the more remote things became. Houses became more spread out, more rustic and simple. The pace of things slowed right down, no one was in a hurry to go anywhere or do anything fast.
Upon arrival to the lodge we couldn’t believe how beautiful this place was and we all agreed that it was worth the drive. For the next 3 nights we slept in a traditional and very simplistic hut but we didn’t mind. Our hut was made up of dirt and cow dung, made into the shape of a yurt with a straw roof and consisted of 2 beds, a small table and one lightbulb hanging from the roof. It actually down poured one night and it’s amazing how dry the inside of our hut stayed.
While we were there we wanted the whole experience, so we ate all the traditional meals that were prepared for us by local Khosa women. All dishes were simple but delicious and included things like chicken/veg curry or a stew with rice or roti. They do have traditional Khosa bread that came with each mornings breakfast and can only be described as dense and filling yet delicious bread. The thing that amazed us most about the bread was the size in which it is cooked.. a loaf is nearly the size of a small car tire.
At Bulungula they used compost toilets. This is the second time in our travels that we had come across this (the other being in Colombia when we were on the floating hostel in the water). For anyone who doesn’t know basically the toilet is separated so #1 in the front and #2 in the back of the toilet. It’s definitely an experience and we are extremely thankful to have flushing toilets almost everywhere we go. The showers on the other hand were a really neat innovation. They are actually powered by paraffin wax which when lit heats up the hot water for the shower.. and boy can it get hot!
Our time was spent walking through the village, conversing with the locals, watching the fisherman catch huge lobsters, trying to learn some Khosa words (clicks included), enjoying the beautiful scenery and just doing some self-reflecting while embracing the quiet and relaxing moments Bulungula provided.
Bulungula was truly an eye opening experience for all of us as we were able to see inside how others live and how truly fortunate we are with the opportunities that we have all been given. Although, life is improving for people of these small villages (ie: they recently received running water to most houses, more kids are receiving a proper education and actually completing school) they still face a lot of challenges that we can’t even begin to comprehend.