Port St Johns & Other Legends

Wikipedia describes Port St Johns as follows: “Port St. Johns (or Port Saint Johns) is a town of about 5000 people on the Wild Coast in the Eastern Cape province of South Africa. It is situated at the mouth of the Umzimvubu River, 220 kilometres (140 mi) northeast of East London and 70 kilometres (40 mi) east of Mthatha.”

South Africa Info is way more descriptive: “Port St Johns is a swashbuckling village of legend on the Pondo side of the Wild Coast of the Eastern Cape. It is also one of the highlights on any international backpacker’s world itinerary because of its natural setting, frontier atmosphere and appeal to more adventurous younger travellers.

The backpacker facilities in this African village are excellent. They cater for couples, solo travellers and small groups of young people. The backpacker lodges will help their guests set up activity itineraries every day, which include everything from jungle swings to unusual walking destinations.

Four backpacking establishments that come highly recommended in Port St Johns are:

The Island Backpackers Lodge
First Beach, Port St Johns, 5120
Tel/Fax: (047) 564 1958
Cell: 082 813 1611
E-mail:theisland@wildcoast.co.za
Web:www.theislandbackpackers.co.za

Amapondo Backpacker – HIGHLY RECOMENDED!!!
Second Beach Road, PO Box 190,
Port St Johns, 5120
Tel/: 081 257 4504
Cell: 083 315 3103
E-mail:info@amapondo.co.za
Web:www.amapondo.co.za

Ikaya ‘Le Intlabati (House On The Beach)
Second Beach, PO Box 32, Port St Johns, 5120
Tel/Fax: (047) 564 1266
Cell: 083 715 1421
E-mail:ikaya@telkomsa.net

Jungle Monkey
340 Berea Road, PO Box 130, Port St Johns, 5120
Tel/Fax: (047) 564 1517
E-mail:junglemonkey@iafrica.com

I stumbled upon PSJ (Port St Johns) for the second time in 2004. It has a special place in my heart.

Whilst I am no expert of the goings-on in PSJ, I do know a few things that work well for me when there:

  1. Jungle Monkey and Amapondo backpackers are great for a party; Spotted Grunter best if you want to sleep. Cremorne is on the North bank and neat
  2. The fishing is relaxing / laid-back if you want it to be; sometimes successful and sometimes not
  3. The food at Delicious Monster is “eat your fingers off your hand” stuff
  4. Cow pooh lines the airfield runway and the view from up there is refreshing / magnificent
  5. You can stay on the “cultured” side of the river  (North bank) or cultured side (South bank) – horses for courses
  6. Don’t swim in the sea as there are a lot of Sharks and attacks
  7. The drive to Poenskop is full of sights and it’s nice to fish there and have a picnic
  8. Crime is everywhere so be careful
  9. There is a gap in the mountain, which I have seen from a distance for good reason
  10. The sea is rough at times and the area has a history of shipwrecks
  11. There is an abandoned hotel (Cape Hermes) overlooking the sea
  12. The Sardines swim past in July / August
  13. Buy your food and drinks in the town – there area ample stores
  14. Visit PSJ at least once in your life if you are able to leave fussiness at home, drop any airs and graces, and “get down on the ground” with some of the locals – you will then have a laid-back rejuvenating holiday
  15. Read some more “facts” below

Early morning view from airfield

“Don’t land now as we are busy grazing”

The Gap

The birds are far & few but laid back 😉

Pic taken from Spotted Grunter side of river; Cremorne is in the rear

Buy your nuts, bananas and avocado pears on the roadside

The view from a table at DM (Delicious Monster) Restaurant at 2nd Beach

DM entrance

DM undercover & open eating / chill areas

DM specials

My no 1 dish Crayfish Thermidor

Timol’s choice of a meal

The other / alternative “facts”:

  1. During 2004 I met a chap by the name of Daryl. He stayed in PSJ on the side of a small river
  2. Whilst he may not have been an Angel and I’m sure wronged some people (like we all have), he was a gentleman
  3. He taught me few a few important things about life
  4. I did not take Daryl seriously when I first met him: he was dressed shabbily and did not have a few cents to rub together. However, looks can be very deceiving
  5. He made many claims about his “former” life. I thought him to be a storyteller of lies until he showed me some photographs that stunned me (shut my trap)
  6. He indirectly gave me relationship advice which turned out to be so true. I wish I had listened to him more carefully
  7. One day when chatting about load shedding (electrical supply cuts) for a few hours every week and how this “seriously” affected our lives, Daryl said “hey bru, that’s nothing. I never had electricity for 3 years”. This stumped us yet again.
  8. I caught a Salmon at Poenskop and gave it to Daryl. He was very appreciative.
  9. The next visit to PSJ I was gobsmacked to hear how Daryl stretched and shared that one fish with lots of people / neighbours
  10. Daryl was free diving one day when an octopus “attacked him”. His recount of this story every visit / every evening would have all and sunder in stitches / laughing our heads off
  11. One afternoon, when I first met Daryl, I needed salad dressing. I never thought to ask Daryl of all people. He offered to make me some and I hesitantly accepted; not knowing what on earth he would bring back. Daryl turned out to be a super talented cook – he came back with a fresh herb / creamy salad dressing that was so tasty. Again, Daryl proved that we should not judge a book by its cover
  12. In early April 2012 we again met up with Daryl and went on a fishing expedition to Poenskop
  13. Daryl was clearly suffering from a grave illness but made no fuss of it
  14. He slowly walked to and climbed onto the vehicle, and accompanied us – he made the effort albeit huge beyond what most would manage
  15. Daryl so unwell that he was not able to cast his line into the water – we had to help him
  16. Daryl still hasn’t told me why some call him “Double Barrel Daryl”
  17. He was an authority on many subjects

I have never telephoned Daryl although he gave me his mobile number years ago.

We called Daryl’s number last night; I’m not sure what made us do this. It might have been because we were sipping on a few beers, having fun, laughing and enjoying the company of family – the moment was good despite other heart-wrenching things going on in our lives at that time.

Alas, a feeling of sadness came over me when I heard that Daryl had passed away in April 2012 – no doubt shortly after that last fishing trip.

Below are some pics of the Legend.

Daryl in 2004 telling us the “octopus story”

The last fishing trip in early April 2012

Goodbye mate, until we meet again in person or spirit.

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