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Overview: We spent 4 nights in Cintsa East on the Wild Coast, including a beach horse ride, another surfing lesson and a traditional Xhosa dinner.

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Arrival, Town, Beach Horse Ride, Surfing Lesson, Xhosa Dinner, Departure
Satellite Photo: See this South Africa satellite map with pushpins and then zoom in at least once.
Arrival: We arrived from Hogsback, two hours to the northwest.
Cintsa Town: Cintsa (also spelled Chintsa) is a half hour northeast of East London. It is actually comprised of two small villages, Cintsa East and Cintsa West, lying on either side of a river-fed lagoon (the river only connects with the ocean during low tide). Our B&B was in Cintsa East, and a brilliant backpackers was in Cintsa West, which was reachable by walking along the beach (or a roundabout drive).
We checked in to the charming The Gables Country House, a lovely B&B on a hill with views of the river and inland greenery (though no view of the ocean, as we had expected from the "fantastic views" description in our guidebook). Due to our long stay, they upgraded us from a room to a 2-story, 6-bed self-catering cottage with a thatched roof. Since it had rained recently and we weren't used to thatched roofs, we thought it smelled like wet grass when the windows weren't open.
We drove down to the beach for a quick peek before heading to the main drag, with all of 7 stores, for some lunch at Sea Breeze resto, where the waitron wrote down some handy Xhosa phrases, for us. It started to rain lightly so we bought some milk and minor sundries at the little grocery store (which was bigger than the one in Hogsback) plus two bottles of wine from the bottle shop and a six-pack of Smirnoff Ice. The wine bottles ranged from R20-150 in the stores, with a good selection of decent wine in the R30-60 range.
We relaxed at our cottage before heading to Michaela's resto for dinner. As it sits on top of a little hill, it has a very long wooden staircase, or a handy funicular - especially handy in the rain at night. This is the most expensive resto in Cintsa, though not excessively expensive; unfortunately our food was just ok.
After a great breakfast and a chat with the friendly proprietor, we drove down to Marlin St to buy cheese (blue cheese and one similar to Brie) from a woman who flies it down from Italians near Jo'burg. Her house has a fantastic unobstructed view of the lagoon, beach and waves!
We drove to Buccaneer's Backpackers in Cintsa West to book some of their activities (I had originally wanted to stay at this well rated backpackers, but the few private en-suite doubles were booked up). It sits on the hill with a similarly fantastic view; the beach is a mere 5 minute walk along the lagoon. We ate a casual lunch at their poolside resto (near the small sand volleyball court, climbing wall and massage/beauty shack) before enjoying the beach, including jumping into the cool but bearable water. We saw many funky shoveler snails that burrow into the wet sand, but also move quickly along the sand by articulating their one big "foot."
That night we had a very nice dinner at the Country Bumpkin resto, near our B&B.
Beach Horse Ride: We had a lazy morning; we did try to find the nearby cultural centre, whih seemed to be newly built but still unoccupied. Our beach horse ride, booked more cheaply directly than at the backpackers, started at 14:00 in a field near the turnoff for the backpackers. The guide was a friendly woman who in fact owns the horses. We thought the 2½ hour ride would be romantic, especially with no other guests, but our horses did not like each other. Actually, Susan's horse didn't like the guide's horse either, so most of the time she was 10m behind the guide and me.
Susan on horseback It took about 30 min along the road to get to the beach, where the real fun started. Susan's horse decided to roll back and forth in the sand, while Susan was still on him! Her horse rolled left, then right, then left and right and left and right again - Susan did a great job of standing one-legged on the beach with each roll, going from one leg to the other as the horse rolled back and forth. It would have made for a great video!
We rode further west along the beach, past rocky outcroppings, but not in the surf. We got to trot and canter a little, though the latter was difficult on the beach - difficult to stay on the horse that is! One of my feet kept popping out of the stirrups as I was bounced up and down. Not to mention the chafing as I wasn't wearing long pants.
We returned via a different route, going along the beach to the lagoon, then up the walking path past Buccaneer's. Actually, we had to go through the water at one point, as the horses could not go on the narrow foot bridge. Then Susan's horse fought with the guide's horse, giving Susan some leg bruises but she valiantly stayed on and regained control. We trotted and cantered up the hill, which in fact was easier than doing so on a flat surface.
We rushed home for a quick shower and then to another house with a view on Marlin Drive, this time for Susan's massage with Esther, a friendly Chinese woman who was born and raised in South Africa. I went to Michaela's for a sunset cappuccino, where a group of Vervet monkeys crossed the deck; one of them really wanted to get on the chair next to me, but was just a little too shy. That night we enjoyed dinner again at the Country Bumpkin.
Beach Surfing Lesson: The next morning I went alone for an early 9:00 surfing lesson at Buccaneer's, which included a wetsuit and use of the surfboard for the whole day. There were 2 teachers for us 6 students. This time the lesson on the beach was brief, focusing on the motion of jumping onto the surfboard. I also wore a cap this time, clipped to my sunglass straps, and drank plenty of water! As an added bonus, it was easy to walk the board back out to the waves, avoiding the need for tiring paddling. I managed to get up a few times for a few seconds, but didn't manage a good, solid ride. Unfortunately the water was quite cold and rough due to a change of wind direction, so I didn't make it out again in the afternoon.
Susan picked me up and we drove into Cintsa West for lunch at the Pub N Grub. The wind made it too chilly to sit on the deck. The rest of the afternoon involved Internet time at Buccaneer's, a shower, my massage by Esther (during which time Susan met a real estate agent who could show us an upcoming golf estate), and another sundowner coffee at Michaela's.
Xhosa Dinner: We returned to Buccaneer's for their weekly Xhosa Dinner in the owner's house. The inexpensive 3 course meal featured lots of vegetables, box wine, and lots of lively conversation around the 3 large tables.
So who or what is Xhosa? It is one of the larger ethnic groups in South Africa which is politically very active - Nelson Mandela is Xhosa - and their language is of course one of the eleven official languages of South Africa. The large area just east of Cintsa, the Transkei, is predominantly Xhosa.
Departure: After a late checkout, another massage for Susan, a little more beach time (sunny and not windy!) and buying some more cheese, we split a tasty pizza for lunch at Sea Breeze before a brief stop at the future golf course plots (too hard to tell with a poor site map) on our way out of town.
Then we cruised the pseudo-coastal non-highway roads in the rain, passing literally through East London, to Port Alfred on the coast, about four hours west of Cintsa.
Xhosa phrases
goodbyeusale kakuhle
thank youenkosi
how are you?unjani?
I'm fine thanksndiphilile enjosi
Dinner at Michaela'sR164 + tip
Vegetarian selectionR56
Mediterranean saladR48
Soup of the dayR24
glass semi sweet wine x2R13 each
cafe latteR10
Dinner at Country BumpkinR136 + tip
chicken curryR45
filet camembertR59
white wine glassR7
red wine glassR9
Lunch at Pub N GrubR74 + tip
red grapetiserR6.50
filter coffee x2R8 each
Lunch at Sea BreezeR89 + tip
pizza specialR35
salami feta tramezziniR34

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