In a village, we meet a man with a nice, 1980’s racing bicycle. He tells us about the problems he face at the police roadblocks. “They stop me and demand a receipt for the bicycle. But because I don’t have any, I have to ‘pay’ – otherwise they commandeer the bicycle, and it will cost me even more to get it back again.”
Further east, we stay the night at Auberge Domaine del Albatros. It is situated along the road, along out in the forest. On a large, green meadow, between the road and a hillside, lies scattered four or five whitewashed huts with thatched roofs. The owner, Jean-Yves Akame, lets us stay in one of them huts for just five dollar. Inside is a large bed, a table with comfy chairs, a shower, toilet and a sink.
The electricity has been gone the whole day, thus the shower doesn’t work. So in the evening, Jean-Yves instead brings us a bucket of water and an oil lamp. In the hut closest to the road, he has built a bar. We meet there in the evening to discuss his project. He wishes that more tourists find their way to his auberge – he wants to show them around; tell them about the local culture and environment. His wife has made us tea; we sit for hours chatting.
The next morning, he takes us with on a short walk up through the forest and some cultivated fields. His knowledge about various plants and insects is astonishing – there seems to be a use for more or less every type of grass and plant that we see. The sap from one can heal wounds, the leaves of another can be folded into a cup to drink water with, and yet another is used to mark out property, or in a group of four to indicate a grave.
Unfortunately, most of my pictures from our two days at Albatros were destroyed on our way to Cape Town, but I still promised Jean-Yves to convey a warm welcome to the who finds his or her way to his auberge. I’m sure that a longer visit there can become a highlight of a journey through the country.