PE Adventures

Another Saturday in Port Elizabeth. No photos this time.

I have probably proven my looming insanity today. When I woke up I went out for a run. Looking out my window I could see some runners running along the road between the hotel and the beach. They looked a little serious for my liking so I determined to make my way to the beach and run along the sand. When I left the hotel, I found that there was a misty rain – just enough for me not to be able to run between the raindrops! I still decided to continue my run  as I had planned. the other runners were running for Breast Cancer Awareness month I suspect as there was a lot of pink in evidence – on men as well as women – an unheard of colour for men in SA!!

It is strange how running can create a feeling of euphoria – I know the reason for this , and also no doubt do many of you – even if you do not experience it very often! however there is something special about running along a beach in the early morning – even better if it is sunny and clear…..not to be this morning. the rain got progressively wetter…  😉 I am pleased to say that I made it to a small lighthouse – that had been the aim I expressed for myself by the end of next week. No camera, so no evidence I am sorry. However I even managed to run back again. Walking back into the hotel lobby dripping with water, the reception person looked at me rather disparagingly…this I think is their job in any case, but it happens in SA even more when you are a white man! 

I experienced this reaction again later in the day. I had planned to go to visit the largest mall here – called Greenacres. Having had a quote of 120 Rand to go by taxi I decided that I would travel using the shuttle taxi service that has sprung up in PE. These vans are found everywhere – except of course when you want one! They drive past pedestrians and sound their horns to attract customers. Upon embarking, you ensure that they are travelling in the correct direction, pay your 5 or 6 rand at some stage during the journey and hopefully alight at the correct destination. In my case, the driver obligingly did a quick u-turn and drove back to where I could transfer to another taxi to travel to Greenacres. They even stopped and found one for me –with much shouting back and forwards between drivers. In the meantime, I had been stared at pityingly by the various other (mostly black or coloured) passengers in the shuttle. One helpful white lady did say to me “You just keep smiling and they won’t know that you are scared by the whole experience”. My response was that the scary thing was that I did not know where was I was actually going…apart from the fact that at one stage the driver managed to get up to 100km in a built up area! worked out on this trip that they had taken about 100 rand in payments, when the taxi quote for travelling the whole way had been 120 rand. However at least I had shared this cost with 16 other people!

So part one was successful and I wandered about the mall – deciding that is was not that large – nor that interesting. I had also forgotten my glasses that need a nose piece to replace the one that has been broken somewhere in transit. As a result I am using my contact lenses rather more than usual lately. Still I found a shop that looked suspiciously like a Kathmandu shop with almost identical gear and prices and bought myself another neck pillow for my next flight. The last one was destroyed by the vituperous lady in the seat next door to me on my last flight, when she insisted on coming out my side rather than her boyfriend’s to get to a toilet. I shan’t detail my revenge as their might be ladies present….sufficient to say that I am sure she found the flight smelly  :):):)

Resisting the blandishments of sales and quite a nice food court, I made my way out again to the taxi rank to be greeted by one driver who refused to talk to me (Maybe he did not understand English. I suspect he refused to understand). Eventually I found my way to the carpark where the taxis went down to the waterfront, where I could again transfer to a taxi to bring me along to the Boardwalk which is next to my hotel. This trip it was an old taxi and I was seated right in the back. There were four ranks of chairs each with four people squashed in like sardines, rib cages pressed to each other. Talking of rank, there was a huge woman in front of me who did smell … at least the smell seemed to disappear when she fortunately alighted fairly soon, having abused the driver into driving about 40 metres further along than he originally stopped for her. The seat back in front of me had been knifed I think and the springs were rather viciously just hidden from sight but not from knees that hit them every time we moved. I put my hand over the hole to stop the inevitable ripping out of trousers or kneecap by these and only arrived at my destination with a sore hand, so that was fine. I was then directed by a helpful woman to the taxi which went along to the Boardwalk.

Once on these taxis, you pass forward your 5 or 6 rand (probably depending upon the whim of the driver or person collecting the money) and hope that they do not try to tell you that you have not paid. One such collector did try to say to the man near to me that he had not paid, but after he was sworn at, he agreed that he had been paid. The man on the other side of me tried to tell me that he would take my 5 rand and he would give me a 20 rand note to pay for the two of us. after looking at him very suspiciously, he sighed and pulled out a 10 rand note and I finally clicked and handed it forward with the requisite two fingers salute in the air. I did feel a little sorry for the young girl in the seat next door to me who tried very hard to keep as far away from me as possible – literally breathing a sigh of relief when we all had to get out to let out the man in the far corner of the van. when we got back in, we had more room and she could escape my ribcage interlocking with hers!

As for the rest of my day, well domesticity reigned with ironing of my nearly dry examining shirts and completion of a lot of paperwork for the next ten days of examining. The PE rugby team managed to draw their rugby match  – a home and away promotion series to see if they can play in the Currie Cup here next year. Coffee after dinner in the hotel bar. Such was my Saturday – an adventure in PE!

About David Adlam

I am a conductor, composer, clarinettist and examiner for Trinity Guildhall working in Auckland, New Zealand and overseas
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1 Response to PE Adventures

  1. Ann says:

    Hi David
    I’m sitting at my computer, shaking my head, grinning, with a terrified look on my face. I hope you’ve got the picture. I CANNOT believe that you were brave enough to travel on an SA taxi! In all the years that I have lived here (38 to be precise), I’ve NEVER done that! I’m sure that’s an experience you’ll never forget, and hopefully, will never try again! Suffice it to say, that if I had to depend on those taxis for going to work every day, I’d rather starve to death. As I think I might have mentioned previously, if you don’t have your own transport in SA, you’re stumped!

    What a brave man you are!

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