Hurry, hurry, hurry. That's what today is about. There is so much to do. Food to collect, paths to be cleared, new ones to be cared for. So much to do. Hurry, hurry, hurry. Yesterday's rain kept us all below ground but now as the sun quickly dries the ground I move out following closely the scent of those ahead oft me. The trail leads to a new food source. Hurry, hurry, hurry. All of a sudden the path ahead is broken as a new smell rises powerfully towards me. In seconds there is a frenzy of activity as we divert towards the scent. In moments I've attached to the food with my powerful jaws. However it lifts me high into the air as I cling on.
"Let's go for a run," Nicky suggests as I stare languidly at the calm sea in front of me at Plettenberg Bay's main beach. "OK," I reply, "I suppose we should." We've registered to run the crazy Comrades Marathon again this year but our training has been on holiday.
As the sun starts to paint the thickly overcast sky with light in the early morning we set off from our timeshare at River Club chalets towards Robberg. "Eish, this is a long hill," I point out the obvious, just in case Nicky hadn't noticed. After about 9km we reach Robberg where the Cape weather treats us to a summer gift of rain and driving wind. This is why I love running...it makes you feel alive, well at least until you die of the cold. The reward for the run is our discovery of Clare's Coffee shop where we grab the most delicious roll and coffee to enjoy as our run winds down.
The next day the sun has chased away any memory of cold as it rises triumphantly into the cloudless sky. On a day like this the beautiful peninsula of Robberg provides not only stunning walks but spectacular views too - well that’s what we have been led to believe. Dressed in shorts, slops and T-shirts, our standard hiking gear, especially in hot weather, and with a picnic packed we are ready for our hike. We look disdainfully at the English and other obviously European tourists also heading out. They are easy to spot by their white legs, socks and shoes or socks and sandals. They don’t know how to hike in slops like us and really enjoy the hike.
Minutes later we are questioning our laid-back hiking attire. It seems that some ants have decided to use the path as their walkways necessitating us to do some quick shuffling to avoid them crawling all over us. “Don’t worry kids,” I shout encouragingly as we walk quickly, “the ants won't carry on for…EISH!” I reach down to try and dislodge a particularly tenacious ant that is clinging to my toe with its razor pincers. I begin to jog as I notice that my feet are quickly being swarmed by a crazed mob of razor-pincer ants. Soon we are all running.
“Not far now,” I pant as sweat streams into my eyes and I race up a steep path heading to the top of the hill. “This is crazy!” The onslaught of the ants is unabated. Every now and then we find a rock that is free of ants, and like rats clinging to a piece of flotsam in the ocean, we huddle together catching our breath, while the swarming ant-agonists search frenziedly for the human feast they are determined to drag piece by piece into their nest. Finally, short of a few bits of my toes and other body pieces that I had grown attached to, we reach the long sandy dune that stretches down towards the sea. The thick beach sand, thankfully, proves too much for the ants, but I’m sure I hear them call out as we leave them and their salivating jaws behind us, “We will finish you off on the way back!”
“Bliss!” That’s the only word to describe the feeling of running into the cool sea. The cool water instantly washes away the sweat and heat and helps begin the curing of our bites. The wounds to our soul and pride will take longer to heal, and possibly may require a counselling consult-ant.
An island, joined by a beach when the water is low, separates a raging sea on one side from a tranquil sea on the other. A walk around the island on the beautiful boardwalk, which is an ant free zone, gives us a glimpse, for the first time, of the beauty of this area. After enjoying a lunch on the beach and slowly letting the memory of our experience recede, we have to consider the return trip. It’s a circular trip, and so I’m hoping the ants have received the memo that they are not allowed on this side of the pennisula.
Setting off it seems we are in luck as we walk past a cave that once housed people in this area thousands of years ago. I wonder if the ants were cat-sized then? We are laughing at our luck as we can see the car park just ahead, once more enjoying our open shoes when out of nowhere they attack. In seconds the path is a swarming black mass of enraged beasties, all with just a single intention - to take us apart skin cell by skin cell. We run, dancing, skipping, slapping, screeching….and yes, laughing. It’s just crazy, but that’s what makes these moments memorable and why I would do it all again…but next time, at least for Robberg, with the shoes those foreigners were wearing.
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