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Namibia tour – further comments

Saturday, 5 August, 2017

In my previous post + the 5 that followed on it, I reflected on our recent trip to the southern part of Namibia.  With this posting I make a few additional comments which I hope readers may find useful.

In my previous posts I have tried to paint the picture of the vastness of the landscape.

One may add that camping sites also need to be viewed a bit differently from, say, Mossel Bay in December. I thought I’ll try to give an idea what I’m talking about, courtesy of Google Maps’ 3D function.

Oewerbos. 
It was a rather glorious evening, sitting on the banks of the Orange river with the sun setting. On a cable (seemed like the feed of a foefie slide) a few birds were sitting. The variety with real wings, I mean. One had caught a fish, which he had in his beak. The fish was still very much alive, and evidently not amused. So the bird casually bludgeoning the fish to death on the cable. It took a number of attempts before the fish gave up the good fight. Such is life, nuh?

[Source: Imagery ©2017 CNES / Airbus, Map data ©2017 AfriGIS (Pty) Ltd, Google, South Africa www.google.com/maps]

Border post
The experience had been swift and painless on both occasions (in and out). Not knowing where to go, I stopped at the first official looking office, where I was told where to park, “where you unpack”. Aag no! It thought. But it turned out the stern looking member of SAPS was just having a bit of fun with me. No unpacking.

From what I understood from Neville at Oewerbos, the hunting season just opened a day or two before. Or maybe on that day – it was 1 July. That probably explained why, on the day of our return, all the vehicles in our vicinity, ours included, got searched.

In an endeavor to maximize packing effectivity, my wife bought us each a R50 nylon zipper bag. They were enormous. You could pack an illegal immigrant in it with ease. We did not, though, just for the records. But on first blush, the rear of the bakkie did look as though it could have been packed with “goods”, with these enormous bags being very evident. Well, actually, it was not that evident. It only became evident once I removed the groundsheet that I had over it to protect from dust and rain. Given that there had been neither dust nor rain when we arrived at the post, it might have raised some suspicion. So the gentlemen from (I assume) SARS and SAPS opened each of these bags, and meticulously went through our clothing.

A docile looking dog that appeared to be half ridge-back and two-and-a-half some other things, stood by. I greeted him friendly. He showed no interest, but I took that as a good sign.

My wife was contemplating whether the combination of our packing system and the age of our vehicle might have counted against us. I think not, though. All vehicles that looked like it could accommodate meat seem to have been checked, and one could easily stack a few kudu’s into those bags of us, provided of course they were not alive any more, and also not in one peace.

But even the lady right in front of us with a midget Peugeot got checked. The friendly dog gave her more than just a sniff-over and she had to park elsewhere for a more thorough search. I did see here again at Klawer, though, so evidently there was just a bit of mis-sniffing that had to be sorted out.

Once in Namibia
My youngest had difficulties grasping the concept that we’re driving along a river in Namibia, but just about 100m away from us – you could swim there – was a completely different country.  Ours.

On that road we …

Namibia Tour 2017 – Part 1

Tuesday, 18 July, 2017

Gate crashing a tour

When I met up with my cousin Lizette earlier this year, first on a funeral and the next day on a birthday (the birthday was the happier of the two affairs) she told me about their planned trip to Namibia in July.  Due to a combination of over eagerness, loud family interaction and a slight hearing problem, I understood her to invite us to join the tour  – something she afterwards denied having done.   We are still, however, on speaking terms, chiefly due to Lizette’s innate kindness.

But this is how it came about that on the morning of Saturday July 1st, we departed from Durbanville heading north, with my Mazda bakkie’s odometer indicating 310 001 km’s.  In between these two dates, of course, a lot happened, such as satisfying burocrats at Home Affairs, getting my twenty year old noble steed properly serviced, and acquiring some necessary camping equipment.  Mine was a party of four, which included my wife Marga and our 15 year old son, and a friend, Mariki.  We would join a convoy totalling four vehicles, us included.

The route would roughly cover the area as on the map:

[Source:  Imagery © 2017 Landsat / Copernicus, Data SIO, NOAA, U.S. Navy, NGA, GEBCO, Map data © 2017 AfriGIS (Pty) Ltd, Google  www.google.com/maps]

Each made it on their own time to our first rendezvous point at Vioolsdrift.  As we stopped at roadworks just before Klawer, the vehicle that pulled up right behind me happened to be Lizette and Adriaan’s Colt double cab.  We travelled further in convoy to Oewerbos, some 13 kilometers north-west of the Vioolsdrift border post, but on the South African side.  About a half-an-hour later, Toit and Christine arrived with their Toyota double cab.  Then we were three cars.

It was a busy day at Oewerbos, with rugby on the big screen, and lots of people in the bar.  Apparently there had been an annual church bazaar, Neville behind the bar counter explained.  And the following day a church group would be moving in, he said.  I could not help but wonder when Neville would find the time to restock the bar for the church group of the next day, but it was evident that nothing could seriously unsettle Neville.  Not even a number of his guests absconding after ordering off a tab.

We had a drink on the river bank, watching the sun set.  There was a cano available, and I quite liked the idea of rowing to the middle of the river just to get a feel of Namibia.  That is now assuming the international border to be in the middle of the river.

[Picture:  Mariki Stassen]

We then retreated to the two-bed bungalows where we were staying.  Wors braai and two minute noodles with mince got our field kitchen started.  Not having to set up camp would give us an early head start the next morning.  Brother Johnie and his wife Rose were waiting at Ai-Ais, where he already had a puncture.  They would meet us the following morning where the C37 from Ai-Ais meets the C13 that runs along the Orange river to Rosh Pinah.  But there was no South African cell phone reception at Oewerbos, so we had to leave the final arrangements for the next morning.

 

Day one in Namibia

Sendelingsdrift, Rosh Pinah, Aus, Luderitz

[Source:  Imagery © 2017 Landsat / Copernicus, Data SIO, NOAA, U.S. Navy, NGA, GEBCO, Map data © 2017 AfriGIS (Pty) Ltd, Google  www.google.com/maps]

We made an early start the next morning, and were the first travellers at the border post.  Formalities were swift and painless.  At the first garage just across the border we filled up with Namibia’s substantially cheaper fuel, and bought MTC sim cards. We could then make contact with my brother Johnie to arrange for the rendezvous.  Him and his wife Rosie were now …

Namibia Tour 2017 – Part 2

Tuesday, 18 July, 2017

Kolmanskop

Mariki was up early to climb the rocky koppie just meters away from Zum Anker.  It provided a nice bird’s eye view of Luderitz.

We were the only newbies to Luderitz.  As the rest of the touring group had all previously done Kolmanskop, we went there on our own.  This was one of the two primary objectives of my tour, and we did not intend missing this.

Due to high numbers of tourists, we were divided in three groups.  English, German, and Afrikaans.  Our guide was very knowledgeable, and her presentation very good.   Space would preclude a complete rundown of the history of Kolmanskop, but you can read more about it at http://kolmanskop.net/

But in short, diamonds were found there in 1908.  It was so prevalent that it was picked up in jars, even at night with diamonds identifiable in the moonlight.  Amazingly, each house in Kolmanskop at that time had electricity and a telephone, with ice blocks being delivered to each house every morning to be used in the “top loader” fridges to cool down food.  The complex even sported a pool which looked about25m x 25m and about 3m deep.  However, in 1928 even richer diamond deposits were found at Oranjemund, and everyone then flocked there, simply leaving their homes at Kolmanskop.  Easy come easy go, I guess.

 

I’d prefer not to stay in this one.

The railway line between Luderitz and Aus, which had been in rehabilitation for more than ten years now, had been built at that time within an amazing ten months by 1908.  It is scheduled to re-open again this year.   It seems like an uphill battle, though, as there are places where whole sand dunes became settled across the tracks.

Johnie hoped to go on a tour to Bogenfels, but apparently these tours require two days’ notice, for which we did not have sufficient time.  We took a drive around the Luderitz peninsula, instead.  We managed to see Kleiner Bogenfels,

and also went down to one of two fjords.  The rather bad smaller roads caused us to thereafter rather aim for Diaz point, where the wind was blowing that I believe would meet the criteria of “fresh”.  Sommer very fresh.

Water over a troubled bridge?

Down below from Diaz cross a young man had a spot of bother with his Nissan bakkie.  After a picnic with his girlfriend, he got stuck.  Under Rosie’s command those of us close enough not to be able to ignore his plight, were all commanded to assist in pushing the bakkie back to dry ground.

It turned out that, independent of our group, my remaining brother also arrived in Luderitz sometime during the day.  Just after dark we happened to pass each other on the road, and he recognized my vehicle.  Well, he should, I would think.  I’ve had it for the past 17 years.

I took him along to Barrels, where the rest of our crowd already convened for dinner.

We might have arrived there a bit late, as the place was full, and we were taken through the kitchen to what seems to be a breakfast corner. This was a lot quieter than the hustle and bustle of the main restaurant and bar.   We also met up again with the gentleman with the Nissan.  He still had the same girlfriend.

We had to wait rather long for our food, but we were advised that, due to the popularity of the place, if you’re not there by six in the evening, this is bound to happen.   We in any event were not in a hurry.

 

Day three    

The horses of Aus, Tiras Mountains, Gunsbewys

We could once again get on the road fairly quickly, as we only had to pack our bags, with all the camping stuff having remained in the bakkie for the two nights we stayed at Zum Anker.

Before we left …

Namibia Tour 2017 – Part 3

Tuesday, 18 July, 2017

Day four

Gunsbewys

[Source:  Imagery © 2017 Landsat / Copernicus, Data SIO, NOAA, U.S. Navy, NGA, GEBCO, Map data © 2017 AfriGIS (Pty) Ltd, Google  www.google.com/maps]

Trying to describe our journey with words and pictures can simply not do justice to the experience.  Everything is big and vast and majestic.  It enfolds you.  You need to live it to get a feel for it.  So bear with me in the endeavours that follow.

Hart wie Kameldornholz ist unser Land
Und trocken sind seine Riviere                              -Das Sudwesterlied

 

Arriving at Gunsbewys gave a first impression of a dusty farmstead with outside buildings.  The farm itself had never actually been actively farmed.   The fenced in erf has very little green.  And looking around you, you see vast expanse of land with very little that livestock would be able to live off.

However, Gertrude turned out to be a living encyclopedia.  One of the buildings houses a display of the animals and wildlife to be found in the area.  The magazine Go! visited Gunsbewys and interviewed Gertrude inside her display.  You can find the video clip here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=99p4yBaigsI

Cooking is done by green power, using the sun.

Electricity is generated by solar power, with battery backup to last through the night if used sparingly.

Gertrude provided us with laminated cards and instructions how to get to various places of interest close to each other at the southern foot of the Tiras mountains.  These included San rock paintings, and evidence of the San people having been active there at some stage.

The spots were clearly marked and we could easily find all but one of the attractions.   It was 32 degrees, but in the extreme arid conditions, it felt like 26 degrees.  Only a slight breeze is required to improve comfort.

The evening Gertrude took us on a short drive of about 3 km’s away from her house on a sand track.  To my embarrassment my vehicle got bogged down in what appeared to be very straight forward sand driving, albeit at a bit of an incline.   As it happened at the end of the motorised journey, it did not matter – for the moment.

Once disembarked, we have not walked 10 meters before Gertrude pointed out three markings in the sand.  It looked like three little half moons, with nothing to it.  However, as she demonstrated to us, it turned out to be a spider trap.

 

[Picture: Mariki Stassen]

Gertrude would point out the small markings of beetles and small creatures.

[Picture: Mariki Stassen]

We could follow the trail of a dung beatle forcing his black gold uphill to where his family was waiting on the feast.  I may mention that my nutritional needs differ vastly from the amaBhungane’s.

Gertrude demonstrated how one could collecte iron oxide with magnets from the dunes.

We could see the tracks of the Gemsbok that we saw running as we pulled up there.  The Gemsbok’s urine patch was the only remotely wet spot around.   We stayed there, watching the sun set on the dunes, before returning home.

Gertrude was very impressed with Adriaan’s driving skills, and even named him “the headboy of headboys”.  Gmph….!  She was less impressed with Johnie’s endeavours to turn his Land Rover around in the limited space of the sand track.  She even jumped out to help push in spite of Johnie’s protestations that he was not stuck.  I chose not to stick around, and removed my bakke from the scene downhill in reverse gear, rather than to invite any comments on my driving skills.

That evening Gertrude joined us again for wors and patties, pap, salad and wine.  I’m not much of a cook, so I stood amazed at the absolute five star meals that the ladies could organise (to be executed as per instructions by the males) every day.

As one can imagine, harmony is key to living, touring and …

Namibia Tour 2017 – Part 4

Tuesday, 18 July, 2017

Day six

Friends leaving

Adriaan and Lizette left shortly after sunrise to arrange and attend the funeral and pay their respects.  I felt a rather emply gloominess with them departing.

Koiimasis ranch is an active farm with a horse stud and livestock.  You can check their website:  http://www.namibia-farm-lodge.com/.  Due to the drought the live stock had been removed from the farm, though. We went on a 5km walking trail the afternoon. It’s a nice walk, with a viewpoint along the road.

That evening we baked a pot bread, and the remainder of the steakof the prevous evening found its way into the potjiekos.

 

Day seven

Sossus Oasis

This was the first morning where we had to decamp and pack the vehicles from scratch.  Everything went rather efficiently, though.  By half past nine we were ready to leave.

[Source:  Imagery © 2017 Landsat / Copernicus, Data SIO, NOAA, U.S. Navy, NGA, GEBCO, Map data © 2017 AfriGIS (Pty) Ltd, Google  www.google.com/maps]

Johnie was now in the lead.

We hit the sandy D707 again, but had the good fortune of eventually landing on the freshly graded tracks of a grader.  At a windswept Betta we stopped for petrol and coffee and snacks.

I found Betta to be a curious place.  It seems in the middle of nowhere, and I wondered whether you decide to start a refreshment station there in the middle of nothing, or whether you incidentally live there, see the opportunity, and then slowly develop the place.  Betta offers accommodation, with a nicely developed website:  http://www.bettacamp.net/.  I noticed that each of the camping sites had water, electricity, roof cover and a deck.

We met up with a Swiss cyclist at Betta.  Africa was his last continent to conquer before returning home.

Being so close to Duwiseb, we considered paying Duwiseb a visit.  By democratic election the vote went the way of visiting Duwiseb, but we nevertheless eventually decided gainst it.  We were swayed by another tourist’s advice of how bad the road from Betta to Sesriem was.  So we decided to rather get the trip to Sesriem over and done with.

Good call.  I like driving on gravel roads, so I hate to have to admit that, by the end of the day, I found the road to Sesriem to be just 20 kilometers too far.

[Pictures: Mariki Stassen]

The gravel roads that we travelled varied from the sublime (Solitaire to Maltehohe) to the exciting (sandy D707 rounding the Tiras mountains) to the horrible – Betta to Sesriem.  Very rocky and corrugated.

[Picture: Mariki Stassen]

We arrived at Sossus Oasis just past 16h00.  There was a nice buzz at the shop.  There was a garage and a workshop.  I suppose every enterprise on a road such as this one would also stock a few new tyres.   You could collect wi-fi vouchers valid for two days at the shop, and utilise the wi-fi on the stoep of the shop.  From there we could see campsite 1 – 12, built in a circle, and each with its own shade, shower and wash-up.  This looked very nice!  http://www.sossus-oasis.com/

However, we were directed to site 15.  The road went past the larnie sites 1 – 12.  It went past two other sites.  It pretty much went past everything, before ending up under a tree at the outer edge of the terrain.  I guess it was the outer edge, because there was nothing else but open plains.

My initial thought was that this was a real dust heap.  However, upon further inspection it turned out that there was a built braai, working surface for a kitchen, electric light and plugs to tap electricity from.  On top of that the large tree provided ample shade for most of the day.  We were closest to the swimming pool of all the sites, and there was very nice ablution about 50 meters away.   And once …

Namibia 2017 tour – part 5

Tuesday, 18 July, 2017

Day nine

Tsauchab River Camp

At Sossus Oasis the sun now caught up with the moon, and was up before the moon disappeared.

 

In the early morning we could see two air balloons rounding the mountain south of us.

[Source:  Imagery © 2017 Landsat / Copernicus, Data SIO, NOAA, U.S. Navy, NGA, GEBCO, Map data © 2017 AfriGIS (Pty) Ltd, Google  www.google.com/maps]

We took our time decamping and packing.  We only had a 77km drive to get to Tsauchab River Camp today.  http://www.tsauchab.com/

What an interesting, stunning place.  As you drive into the farm, you are greeted by a number of very old vehicles, humoristic welded iron artworks, and a neat erf.

Johan and Niki were our hosts.  There is wi-fi and a pool, but once you leave the reception you have neither wi-fi nor cell phone signal.

The camping sites are all exclusive, with virtually unlimited space.  Our site comfortably housed our 4 tents, each with relative privacy.   Close by is an open toilet that faces away from the campsite (no, really).

Built in a big tree close by was a donkey to heat the water

with a basin and the shower built inside the tree.

Some 50 meters away there are two built facilities, one with a shower and toilet with also a separate toilet, and one with only a shower.  So we had access to three heated showers, and three flushing toilets.  There were no electricity.

Before dark we walked out a koppie that overlooks that farm.

The koppie that is visible about a third from the left, middle of the picture, is where our hiking of the next day took us.

Our dinner consisted of roosterkoek, butternut, baked potatoes and sweet potatoes, salad and chicken stirfry.

The moon was now full or nearly full.  Watching the glimmer of the moon approaching over the koppie was like watching the headlight of a train appearing.  It was just so bright!

 

Day 10

Hiking and driving

Guided by maps provided by Niki, we drove out to south of the lodge where we took a stroll along a spring with old fig trees.  The lush green surrounding seemed totally out of place in the dry area.

There is a 4×4 route that ranges initially zero, escalating to 3, before you reach the ‘no beginners’ part with a 5 rating.  There is a further hiking trail that would take you from the one leg of the 4×4 route to the other.

[Pictur:  Mariki Stassen]

Those who wanted to do the hike, did so, and Johnie and I drove around with the vehicles.  We did not go beyond the 3 rating part.

[Picture:  Mariki Stassen]

Steep inclines necessitated low range from time to time, and one rocky and twisting part caused a rear wheel to lift, but it is not the stuff that should hurt your vehicle if you do it slowly.

We were somewhat more rested than those doing the hiking trail when we met up again.

[Picture:  Mariki Stassen]

From there we visited the Neuras wine farm for a taste of wine.

Dinner consisted of spagetti, viennas, leftover butternut, sweet patato, salad and chicken of the previous evening.  Thereafter we baked a bread to round dinner off with bread and coffee.

 

Day 11

Solitaire, Rostock Ritz

Heading to Rostock Ritz from Tsauchab River Camp on the C14, we travelled on the best gravel road this far.  At places it was as good as tar, up to Solitaire.

[Source:  Imagery © 2017 Landsat / Copernicus, Data SIO, NOAA, U.S. Navy, NGA, GEBCO, Map data © 2017 AfriGIS (Pty) Ltd, Google  www.google.com/maps]

At Solitaire I filled up, we did coffee and some of us had the obligatory apple strudel.  We also bumped into the Swiss cyclist whom we have met at Betta.

Just as we were at the point of leaving, I saw my rear left wheel has lost …

Namibia Tour 2017 – Part 6 (final)

Tuesday, 18 July, 2017

 Day 12

Heading home, Grunau

We got up, motivated to get going, now heading for home.  This was a great tour, but I was keen on starting with the journey home.

[Source:  Imagery © 2017 Landsat / Copernicus, Data SIO, NOAA, U.S. Navy, NGA, GEBCO, Map data © 2017 AfriGIS (Pty) Ltd, Google  www.google.com/maps]

Toit and Christine headed for Windhoek, we said our goodbyes to Georg and Sabine, and left for Grunau in our two vehicle convoy.

From Solitaire the road was extremely good.   At times we did 110km/h on the road.  I kept my vehicle in 4×4 though, for the safety of the four wheel traction.

[Picture:  Mariki Stassen]

Twenty kilometers before the end of our gravel roads, I heard and felt the wroep-wroepe-wroep of a rear tyre disintegrating.  At that time we were going uphill and not very fast, and I could bring the bakkie to a standstill.  There was a moment when the nose headed precariously in the direction of a donga next to the road, but at that time I was slow enough to apply the brakes without fear of losing control.

Johnie was ahead, and at that point there was no signal.  Marga then walked to a nearby hill until she got a signal to call Johnie to come back.  In the meantime, I got going on changing the tyre.

The outside sidewall of the tyre was virtually cut off from the tyre.  The spare wheel is underneath the bakkie, locked with a Solex lock.  I recently checked that it was still working.  And indeed, the key turned, but the lock would not unlock.  After a bit of under my breath encouragement, the lock relented, much to my relief.   I started jacking down the wheel, but after one turn, the crank handle would not move any further.  By then, the spare wheel has dropped only about an inch and was solidly stuck.  And so was I.

Eventually I got under the wheel and lifted it as high as it would go.  I managed to pry the stopper that kept the feel from falling to the ground through the centre hole of the wheel, and had the wheel come down on top of me.  I was rather relieved and remained in that position for a bit.  It was very refreshing.  The rest of the crowd thought I was dead.  But I was not.  Better luck next time.

Eventually I made it out from under the wheel and the vehicle.  As I put the wheel down on the ground without watching where I was going, I managed to split a finger nail when the full weight of the wheel squashed my finger on a rock that was substantially higher than where I expected the ground to be.  I duly noted a protest.

To my surprise this spare wheel,  that had not been inflated in the past 10 years, still had 1.8kpa of pressure in it.  Johnie took the wheel that came off into his Freelander, and off we went.

At Maltehohe we filled up, and attended to the tyre sales and repair outfit.  They did not have the size tyre that I required.  In the 17 years that I have been driving the bakkie, I have never had a puncture.  So given that the 112 km’s to Mariental was now tar, we decided to try our luck at Mariental.  The gentleman at the Maltehohe outfit was kind enough to remove my stuffed up tyre from the rim.  He could also pinpoint the cause of the flat tyre.  A small object on the centre of the tyre caused a similar leak to the one that was repaired at Solitaire.

At Trentyre in Mariental I was assisted by a friendly and helpful George. They stocked Goodyear tyres, but no Firestones, but at least I could get the correct size from him.  The tyre cost what the night in the …

JUKEBOX JIVE

Sunday, 30 October, 2016

By the time I arrived, the biker gang was there already, hanging around the counter of Molly’s Diner.  In spite of them swigging on their milk shakes, I did not feel intimidated.  I’m not that easily intimidated by 8-year olds, see.

The atmosphere held a palpable excitement, a mixture of parents and younger siblings getting ready for the show to begin.  This year Durbanville Prep School celebrated their 50th year with their annual concert, this time titled Jukebox Jive.   And what a show it was!

At the hop

The audience was captivated by the opening scene just as the biker gang was captivated by an (ageing) Molly, listening to her tales of the diner and its Jukebox that had been there since 1966, when she’d been there.  Which, of course, explains why she is by now slightly ageing.  Not that one would have noticed it, though.

Obladi oblada…verhoog

But speaking of age, you ain’t seen nothing yet.  The next moment an actor burst through onto the scene, with a just as captivating a dance.  I thought he might be slightly too old to be a learner of a school that only goes to grade 3.  I have difficulties guessing age, though.

I was thus relieved to be advised that coach Sampie was indeed somewhat closer to retirement age than to primary phase school going age.  But he ain’t lost none of his agility, I can tell you that.  I assume him to be the hip-hop coach.

With the help of the right song from the jukebox, the laaities in leathers then got tele-trans-time-sported back to the Cove of 1966.

Good golly, miss Molly….!

Impress them with your moves, bro.

Which the kids on stage duly did.  Jailhouse Rock, strait outa the fifties, ek sê.

And then Jimmy spotted her.

Would you be my girl?  Ba-ba-ba-barbara Ann…

Oh, and cleverly, Molly is suddenly her young 1966 self.

Time it was…

Barbara-Ann’s fun was then duly spoiled by her brother.  That’s mos the thing about siblings.

Dad says it’s time to go home, and “if my dad says it is ten o’clock, then it is ten o’clock”, Barbara-Ann explained.  Seriaas?  That’s clearly 1966.  Current day thinking considers “if my dad says it is ten o’clock” to simply mean the opening bet that sets in motion intricate negotiations regarding the true time to come home.

Enter Chi-Chi van der Merwe and Betty.  Man, need I say more….

Under the Boardwalk

Now Micky the sixties surfer started strutting his stuff.  Cool shirt.  Cool moves.  Cool hair.  Anything goes to get Barbara-Ann’s attention.  Which he duly does with some measure of success.

Then followed a cacophony of colours and dances.

Sonbrilletjies (no, not Al Debbo.  And if you don’t know who Al Debbo is, you are too young to read this anyway).   Followed by the Ossewa Jive (I kid you not), and then whole Hawai Huppelkind brigade joined in the fun.

The missing link

Around here somewhere I missed a chapter which was called Limbo.  Or actually, I did see it, I just missed when it started.  But worse than that, I realised I got the characters totally confused.  I was sure that Jimmy, the biker dude chasing Barbara-Ann, got switched!

Turns out he was indeed switched!  Jimmy the biker dude who is chasing Barbara-Ann #1 got taken ill.   So between scenes Jimmy the biker dude who is chasing Barbara-Ann#2 seemlessly took his place.

Sommer just like that.  The show must go on.  And it did!

muur-1

Candyman

Now here’s a tip for future business opportunities.  Everything in this scene had to do with sugar and sweets of all kinds.  Imagine you take a break here and open up the tuck shop for 10 minutes.  Just a thought, nuh?

Ok, I must say the Drakensberg Boys Choir ensemble at the back threw me out a bit, but I take this as a clever anachronism.…

A touch of 4×4

Thursday, 30 June, 2016

This past holiday we stayed on a farm in the Klein Karoo – basically house sitting while the farmer is away on holiday.  We had friends over, and I took my friend for a look and see on the farm.  It’s been a while since my bakkie has done any off-roading, so I relished at the opportunity just to engage the transfer box for a change.

On the farm there is a kloof where the farmer made a road with a bulldozer a few years back.  Being a bit tied down with farming activities, though, the road was used seldom in the recent past.

It is a rather steep incline.  Low range is essential as a safety precaution against having to contend with a runaway vehicle.  Given recent rains I was uncertain whether it would be a good idea to drive down there.   So we stopped at the point of no return.  Once past this point you have to go down right to the end of the road to be able to turn around, except if you feel crazy enough to drive back in reverse.

Afdraend

 

After a cursory inspection I judged it safe to proceed.

The 3.4 liter petrol engine does not provide the braking capacity of a high compression diesel engine, so even in low range first gear some slight braking was still required to keep the speed in check.

I find it very frustrating that pictures just never give an indication of how steep an incline is.  Regardless of how I take them, the pictures is just never impressive enough  to convince the unenlightened reader.  The picture below maybe illustrates the incline more clearly.  It shows two fourteen year olds walking down the road, doing battle to keep their balance.

Sukkel

After traversing the steep  incline around two sharp bends, the road evens out below.  However, the further we went, the less it resembled a road.  At some places the road was totally obscured by trees and shrubs that have overgrown it.  Die pad

I had nothing with me that could cut or hack, and there was no escape route or place to turn around.  So the bakkie simply had to bash down the obstacles.   At least the general whereabouts of the road was still evident, so one could just point the bakkie’s nose in the right direction.

Driffie

Eventually we reached the end of the road where there was place to turn the vehicle around again.

By that time the two side mirrors were pressed flat against the vehicle, and the body showed the marks of its battle with the flora.  We were fortunate to not also encounter some of the local fauna.

Tier

This chap had been snapped recently by a researcher on the exact road that we travelled.

I know, you may ask ‘where are the pictures of the bakkie’.  No, there is none.  Whilst doing the trip, there was no time to consider that.  These pictures had been taken upon revisiting the kloof a few days later.  But then I thought it better to leave the vehicle at the last point where I could make a seventeen point turn, as is the ordinary turning circle of my bakkie.

In any event, just to get back to the story.  The return trip had the benefit that most of the obstructions had by then been subdued by some two tonnes of vehicle.  However, now it was uphill, instead of downhill.

After passing a little driffie, the bakkie got bogged down with all four wheels losing traction, bringing us to a grinding halt.  After the second attempt, my friend got out to guide me further.

Komplikasie

I would probably have done better to also inspect the terrain myself, but first it was the driffie with water running, and I was not inclined on getting wet.  And then followed the obstruction which allowed for only one door to open, which happened to be …

Skywalker goes to Bloemfontein

Tuesday, 12 April, 2016

Going on a road trip

The Modern Pentathlon national championships South Africa were held in Bloemfontein in April this year.  Kleinboet made it into the Western Cape team, and I decided to join the lot going up to Bloemfontein.  Just to keep an eye on him.

We made up part of the Boland contingent of the Western Cape team, which in turn were made up to a large extent from the boys of Paul Roos.  We departed early on the Thursday morning with a minibus and trailer from Stellenbosch.  Well, for me half past five in the morning is early, given that I had to leave home before 04h00 that morning to get to Stellenbosch.

We have not even left Stellenbosch when a quietness setlled  down on the bus with everyone asleep.  Except Coenie, of course, which was rather reasonable, given that he was driving the minibus.

There had been a mutual and total misunderstanding by all the athletes as to how the pit stops would work.  At the first post dawn stop just past Worcester, they were advised that this was a 10 minutes loo stop only.  But no, everyone also ordered some takeaways to eat.  The result was that a planned 10 minute stop became a 35 minute stop.

Near De Doorns Coenie’s lack of sleep the previous night (and obviously whilst driving too) caught up with him, and he swopped seats with Gerhard.  We managed to not stop at Laingsburg.  Trucks ruled supreme on the road between Laingsburg and Beaufort-West.

As we entered Beaufort-West I noticed that Club Lipstick does not exist anymore.  Not that I ever visited it, but two decades ago we considered it a bit of a landmark on the Southern side of town.  I just knew that this is a snippet of information that the readers of this publication were just dying to know.  We had to take on fuel, so this time the kids were free to take their time.  Which they duly did.  We considered this our lunch stop.

Steers

The exercise was repeated at Three sisters.   To our dismay we realised that we had been on the road for close to 7 hours already, and this was only the half way mark.

The upside of modern times is that all kids nowadays have are-we-there-yet deflectors, powered by either MTN, Vodacom or CellC.

Are we there yet suppressor

That, of course, takes some strain off the driver of the vehicle not having to provide running commentary on the progress being made.

There were not much planning put into fuel stops. As we stopped so often, we just filled up as we went along.   Somehow, though, we got it wrong.  At Colesberg the designated petrol stop was under construction, so we attended the nearby KFC instead.  They did not have unleaded fuel on offer.  Nor any  other fuel, for that matter.  The kids ordered food yet again.  I don’t know what it is with them.  If they don’t need to pee the need to eat!

Hop on the bus gus

With the fuel gauge still sitting comfortably at half, we set off for the last stretch to Bloemfontein.  As dusk approached, though, we realised we are running out of both fuel and towns.  After missing Springfontein South, we managed to get the Springfontein North turn off.  I’m not making this up.  This town with a population of 3699 people, has two entrances, duly marked, and really far apart.

After filling up yet again, we could then set off for the last 140 odd km’s knowing we will not run out of fuel. I even allowed my full weight back on the seat.

At 19h07 we reached Bohmer secondary school, where we were to stay in the school res.  The lady on the GPS had some fun first by making us drive right around Böhmer school’s residence before allowing us in at the main gate.

After getting everyone settled in, and some showered and …