An informal coastline tour

2008-02-01 00:00

IN the early summer of 2005 husband and wife team Chris Marais and Julienne du Toit set out on a 70-day journey that would see them traverse the entire length of the South African coastline from Alexandra Bay in the west to Kosi Bay in the east.

In this informal and reflective travelogue they describe their various adventures and quirky encounters with a broad cross-section of South African society, while vividly evoking the atmosphere of the various places they stopped at. At the wheel of his trusty bakkie Marais proves a disarming guide, bright and funny, while his narrative is consistently enlivened by his ability to home in on a pertinent or revealing detail.

Despite its generally humorous, laid-back tone the book does have a more serious purpose - to highlight the various threats facing our coastline.

The closing chapter, written by Du Toit, deals with a subject that is causing much concern and debate - since the late nineties pelagic fishing stocks have been moving steadily eastwards from their traditional west coast haunts. The reason for this is not yet fully understood although both overfishing and global warming have been blamed.

Elsewhere Marais makes no bones about his dislike for the seemingly unchecked property development (“bad taste hard at work with its little face brick fantasies”) that is irretrievably changing the face of our coastline, mostly for the worse. He is equally critical of the proliferation of golfing estates (“Where they see a fairway to heaven, I see a boring expanse of over-irrigated grass”) which he feels a country with our limited water resources can ill-afford.

Having travelled through many of the places he describes I can only concur with his sentiments.

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