Umkomaas is well known for it's excellent diving site. This is why we drove there in the first place (besides that it's a real dump). We left the lodge toward Umkomaas in search of the diving club.
There were few options for how to get there: the lodge's shuttle, a taxi or a train. We chose the train which cost 12 rand for a single direction. On the train we met a lady who asked us why we were on the train. She told us the train is very dangerous, and even she as a black woman (sadly South Africa is still divided this way) is afraid boarding the train.
She showed us several diving clubs and we chose the one that suited us. The front office lady's name was Pam. We scheduled a dive for the following day with the hope that the weather would improve by then. Pam also told us that after the dive, someone could take us to Port Shepston and from there to Port Elizabeth.
We took the train back to the lodge, and there we sat for hours planning our journey through the Garden Route.
It took us hours to understand how the heck we were going to get to Port Elizabeth using cheap transportation-we didn't have the money for bazbus and didn't want to get stuck there.
We remembered that Pam told us that from Port Shepston there's a bus to Port Elizabeth... So we found a ticket company called Compu Ticket (http://online.computicket.com) which sells tickets from almost anywhere to everywhere in South Africa, we decided to buy the ticket from Port Shepston to Port Elizabeth, and we were happy with our purchase.
From the park we went to the nearest intersection and tried to hitchhike to Hermanus. We found a guy driving to Albertina and from there another guy driving to Hermanus, where we hoped to see whales and the white shark. The driver promised us that Gansbaai is very similar to Hermanus but with less tourists around the whales, and other promises which eventually turned to be false.
An additional three hours in the desert landscape, and suddenly the houses were hanging like loosened teeth on the side of the roads, getting denser and higher.
We reached Lima only to catch a bus to Huaraz, which turned out to be a very challenging mission. Lima has no central bus station, but different ticket offices of different companies, each located in a different place. It's troubling when you're clueless, and easy when you know where you need to go and how.
We wandered between the different offices with our backpacks on our backs, until we finally got ticket to a local night bus - "la cama" and not "semi cama" (bed seats).
After a short tour in town we took a taxi to the bus station.
We continued on Istria peninsula through Ičići and after 18 km we arrived at a beautiful bird’s-eye view. We drank cappuccino and enjoyed the view, we continued in the direction of Pazin and from there to the beautiful city Rovinj. The city is located on the tongue of the land in a beautiful bay and all of the houses there are colorful.
The bus reached a town called Zumba in which there's nothing to do except take the bus to your next stop. It can be Vilcabamba, a resort town in which many travelers get stuck because of its horses, hot springs, and good hostels; it can be Loja in which there's supposed to be an interesting nature park; or it could be Cuenca, the third largest city in Ecuador, which has many things to offer. This is were I got off at the end of the night on the bus, skipping the other two who sounded too plowed by other tourists to me.
Back to the main land. From Guayaquil, I caught a bus to Puerto Lopez, whose famous for whales coming to it's shores from Antarctica to mate. On the bus I met another familiar face - young french photographer named Vincent, who was already in Cuenca and I was impressed with his Hebrew so much I was sure he was Israeli (this is how it is when you have a father in Tel Aviv). While we drove, he let me peek in the treasures he had on his insane camera's memory card, which was heavy like my backpack. The window beside me was open.
When the bus started rolling after one of the stops, i caught a glimpse of en eye someone outside running toward the window, jumping and touching my hand with his finger tips. It took me some time to realize he was grabbing for the camera. But he stayed behind, and the camera with me - Vincent had good reflexes and moved it on time. I would have felt so bad if it turned out otherwise. This is the closest thing I got close to to a robbery, and from then on I was more careful.
The drive was fun - Vincent's iphone played us music and we joined it singing loudly. When we got to Puerto Lopez Vincent had an innovative idea - go to the fanciest hotel in town, and offer them professional commercial photography (his courtesy) in exchange for free stay for his crew (me and the friend who accompanied him). So when the fanciest hotel didn't work, we found the cheapest hostel where we stayed, and it got us a dollar discount.
The bus drove three hours on a shattered road, in landscapes which favorably reminded me of north Peru - green, humid, very alive. There were many signs directing to other ecological farms than ours, and I started to imagine our farm as as a country club packed with rasta haired backpackers, smoking organic weed.
We got down in a normal looking town, where nobody was waiting for us with a sign. We called Biacto agency, and in minutes a shabby car with a smiling driver showed up. It was Gabrial, the guy who managed and maintained the farm for his boss in Quito. We drove on another dirt road, seeing through the spider web like shattered window, how the city disappears, and the forest replaces it.
I arrived to the Schipol airport around afternoon time. The airport was very easy to navigate my way around. The faster and easier way to get to your destination however, would probably be the train. Train tickets for domestic travel can be purchased from the yellow ticket machines near the platforms at Schiphol Plaza.
I took a train to Amsterdam Zuid station, and from there I took a local taxi. Taxis are very expensive in Amsterdam, and it's likely that even a short drive will rip you off.