Sensible people

25/10/2016

No sensible person would set off into the Karoo (desert) without checking their fuel would they?
I did 😟😟😟
And here I am – 50km to go to Willowmore – another dot on the map
On a strip road (single lane) on a quarter of a tank of fuel 😢

Needless to say, the air conditioning is off , and it is desert heat ☀️☀️☀️🔥🔥; a rumbling 80 km/hr has been reduced to a trundling 60 and prayer has been introduced

Prayer that I get to Willowmore And
Prayer that there is a functioning petrol pump so I can get back
🚗🔙🔛

 

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Why Steytlerville?

24/10/2016

Steytlerville / Country Practice / Time Warp

Why Steytlerville ? Why Here? (As opposed to somewhere else)

A dear friend of mine has given up a lucrative, busy medical practice in The City of Gold (Johannesburg ) to throw his lot in with 130 Europeans in this little town at the end of a road in The Karoo ( for my ausie friends – read desert 😳)
And so I came to see why.

I get it – as I sit on a bench on the main road which is wide enough to turn an ox wagon in. Eating a vetkoek ( too difficult to explain to my ausie friends😜) and drinking rooibos tea. And strangely with Hillsong – cornerstone playing in the background .

There is an occasional car that goes back and forth – because back and forth is all one can do since no roads lead anywhere 😜 except to the local township or a private farm.

Two (yes 2) funeral parlours. One of which promises excellent service ( but doesn’t make clear whether in this world or the next) – the other makes no promises in either 😃

Three general handelaars which sell everything from wool ( but no knitting needles) to generators and koeksusters.

Which brings me to language –

Neither English nor Afrikaans are spoken here – but that delicious mix of them both which seems to unite the groups (in an unconscious way) and makes me long to be back living here.

Everyone greets me – not that that means hundreds of greetings, interpret rather tens of greetings. And I am definitely now ”n tannie’ – for my Ozzie friends – a greeting reserved for your elders – a mark of age, respect and implied wisdom!!!!!

Not quite the celestial reverence accorded my ‘Dr Dave’ as we strolled through town yesterday evening though -,”aand Doktor’ was the call from every stoep, evening walker, child playing , teenager loitering – no one can remember when there was a resident doctor in Steytlerville !!!!!!! and without ever having met him or consulted him- he is applauded by then for just being here.

We had a roast leg of lamb for dinner yesterday – the gift of a patient and Dave invited local farmers to join us. Between vast quantities of whiskey and beer we talked in our mutual blend of languages, late into the night before the reality of a pre dawn start forced us all to bed.
A constant struggle to overcome weather and labour issues makes a farmers life here a tough one.

Time moves differently here – could it be :

the light, a bright blue that sparkles , or the stars – millions of them breathtakingly shimmering,

the one long road that leads nowhere,

the river that once washed the bridge
away, not once but three times and hasn’t had a drop of water flow through it for some thirty years

the people who have chosen to move slowly, stopping to talk, taking time to listen, talking to their chickens, thriftily watering precious vegetables, sharing more generously than one is used to in the city?

Or am I romanticising a town on struggle street – time will tell as Dr Dave settles into Steytlerville ……

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A town in decay
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Dinner under the stars…..
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until the mosquitoes sent us inside
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Rio’s long gone – now its naked, make it yourself, or gaan dorp toe 🙂
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The Baviaans
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Lekker vetkoek, kaas en konfyt met rooibos tee

 

 

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The journey, the sky and a road – to Steytlerville

Love Languages ….

Warning : not for readers without sense of humour 😜😂

25/10/2016


Driving a manual car is  a little like love making.   There is a remarkable degree of sensitivity involved.   The left and right feet and indeed legs, need to work in harmony;  all senses have to be alert to the slightest change in vibration, sound or heaven forbid shudder.   

In the case of either of the first two, an immediate response is called for – but not a violent one mind you or you will jerk to an comfortable halt with all sorts of possible unpleasant consequences 😂😂 not the least of which is start again. (See what I mean about the similarity ?😢).   
No, it requires a subtle but timely back and forth, up and dfunny_looking_happy_guy_driving_a_little_cartoon_car_0521-1008-1314-5730_smuown movement with again all senses involved, hands included to negotiate an onward motion towards one’s destination.   

So it has been with my little white cars for the last two weeks.   Each looks pretty much the same; four wheels, steering wheel, in other words  all the working parts look pretty much the same but don’t let that fool you.   Just as I imagine 😜 in the case of ‘the lovers’  – all parts look like they should work the same way.   But there’s the catch – the subtle variations leave me floundering if, for one moment I ignore This particular car.    That one may have responded to a quick sharp change but don’t try that on this one – a slow duet, one foot waiting for the other to engage, and then again a different rhythm for the next white car 😂😂😂
Imagine my language issues with 5 cars in two weeks!!!! No wonder I find myself single 😳

At least though, I find myself still alive – because you see I have discovered I am not the only one with ‘Umweldt’
Luckily it would appear others on the road have been gifted too.   So that when my love language fails me and my car lurches violently forward (yup you got the idea) like when you’ve eaten something bad – it just keeps lurching again and again in a forward direction and I can only hang on and wait for it to stop, or when the robot (lights) change and all those behind me are ready to move forward – I find again I used the wrong language : well failed to use any language at all forgetting it wasn’t automatic and not noticing it had retreated into silent protest and I don’t move an inch.

So just as I imagine 😜 would be the case with ‘the lover’, there is first confusion, then disbelief that such a stupid thing could sabotage, then irritation, because there is after all only one person to blame (in this case me) and then the the deep breathe Begin again 🤔and give thanks for that Umweldt all around me as others anticipate my gymnastics –

how do we do it?
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120km/hr

120km/hr here is more an indication than a speed limit – it allows one to work out how long it will take to get, for example from Port Elizabeth to Port Alfred – 170km = 1.5 hours give or take.

It does not mean you don’t exceed 120 – rather if you get to 150/160 you may think of slowing down a little 😳

I am driving a little white car – looks very cute and has a radio, blue tooth and air conditioning but I’m not sure if it has a complete engine😂😂.

At 80km/hr I find myself clutching the steering wheel to hold it in place, at 85km/hr I feel as though the wheels may separate from the chassis and make for a very interesting story. ( as opposed perhaps to the current story )

Feeling a little like those elderly people behind the wheel of their snail paced cars, I crawled up every hill – and there were quite a few, and rolled down the others too. The only time I felt like I could hold my own on the road was when I drove through a klein dorp (small town) where the speed limit dropped to 60km 😂😂

Otherwise I obeyed the unwritten rule (is there such a thing?) of pulling into the left yellow lane; at which point the car behind me – and there always was one, and then another, would pass me with a gracious flash of hazard lights to thank me and I would offer an equally gracious dipping of my headlights to thank them for thanking me!!!

This passing I might add did not take into account any solid white lines – I was in the yellow- they passed, regardless of the road markings 😂😂

And so we navigated our way through the rules of the road to suit ourselves – and today at least – it worked.

With patience and lots of pedalling I made it to Port Alfred, which is at sea level, grateful I didn’t have this car in Johannesburg (6 000 ft above sea level) or I may still be driving back from the airport!

I wait with interest to see how my car and I relate on an equally long drive to Steytlerville

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People watching

Killing time people watching :

Woman covered from head to toe in austere black – eyes not even visible

Sitting next to fair skinned ‘mature’ lady wearing very short shorts, shoe string strapped top not covering much and slip slops

The contrast – imagining what each makes of the other – assuming they have even noticed the Other

My Bubble

A week back ‘Home’ and I’m safely ensconced in ‘the bubble’.

I read the papers daily and make the appropriate sounds of indignation, anger, sadness but the Emotion which is engaged is one of resignation and mild detachment.

I meet my friends, enjoy the exchange rate that makes eating out easy – ( although the cost of living is much higher than previous visits)

We worry about the drought – but as an intellectual observation because ‘we have a borehole for our garden’

I see past the beggars, looking ahead at the robots (lights) as though there was
something very significant about them that demands my total attention.

I drive like a local – aggressively, fast (as opposed to Very fast which is the norm and I am sure my next step) always alert to ‘the possible’ – hi jacking, window smashing theft etc.

I feel the hair rise on my arms and my breathe tighten as someone suddenly stops, swerves in front of me, drops a stone onto my windscreen (and I nearly didn’t pay the extra for insurance 😂), appears unexpectedly alongside my window – and then enjoy that strange sensation as your body realises all is well and slowly reverts to ‘normal’

‘Normal’

I’m back, like the proverbial frog and the hot water story, to normal enjoying this still remarkable country

Like ‘Home,’ ‘Normal’ is a question of definition 😜😂

“Home”

Adieu to an interesting part of Africa

And so the end of an amazing and exhausting adventure and Home beckons

‘Home’ to friends who mean the world to me and know me to my core and still chose me. I thank you all from the bottom of my heart.

“Home is where the heart is”, is for me, too simplistic.

Perhaps there comes a time when one must just accept – ‘Home’ isn’t always there for everyone. Fate conspires for many, and quite arbitrarily it seems, to confound the idea of ‘Home’ – whether through physical loss or rejection .

When we look at returning to the old ‘Home’ or staying in the new, Lady Macbeth comes to mind : ‘Returning were as tedious as go o’er’; so we end up with a foot in each camp – a wobbly somewhere.

Precious memories and links to our old ‘Home’ that keep us chained by a golden thread and special loving kind friends in our new ‘Home’ where we try to create memories that are spun too of golden thread – all very fragile.

I see it in my girls, in quiet moments when the earth is still – a certain look, a longing to ‘belong’, to be part of the rituals of a ‘Home’ – celebrations, mournings, laughing, weeping. I see it and I know it – it’s been my search too.

The joy of seeing my special ‘old friends’ will always be tempered by the knowledge that I must say good bye to them again

And That sadness will be softened by the knowledge that I will see my daughters and my new dear friends

And still we’re luckier than some – I met some Rwandans who have no threads at all – who got married with strangers celebrating with them – who could not go back to visit old friends and who have to start new traditions – alone
And that’s just for starters ….. Syrians, Somalis, Iraqis, Afghanis, seems
Home is certainly not available to everyone 😥 so perhaps in this life it must be after all wherever the heart is, pending the next place of rest ❤️

Thanks Uganda , Rwanda and Kenya for a great experience

Always a ‘last visit’

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Livingstone- my companion for a week
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The open air snake pit 😃
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Poor soul – tried to mount her(?) several times, always falling off, always in slow motion

Last visit in Kenya – could have spent more than three hours here – very interesting;
Early man – “Lucy” Leakey etc

Colonialism – so interesting to read the story from someone else’s perspective – treatment of locals after they joined our forces in WW1 beggars belief

Joy Adamson is referred here – a remarkable artist apart from lions

Natural history – so interesting

Snake park – very sadly neglected
Two highlights of it in photos 😜  7/10/2016

Roads …

04/10/2016

There are roads and then there is the Masai Mara ‘road’ – who would have thought – the main road into this famous reserve to which hundreds of thousands of dollars have been donated by international sources.

And I, in a misspent youth have been on some roads – stuck for seven days; winched out; pushed out; even walked out and left the car to be towed back : but they were back roads in the 70’s
Not a main road in 2016 where tourism is the prime source of income

I tried to capture on video some of what it has been like – but mostly just had to hang on. It took us 4 hours to do 70 km – the whole journey from lake Nakuru to Masai Mara was a long 6 hours beginning at 7am. We saw 3 tourist vehicles breakdown – poor souls

The only explanation being offered so far is “the government – people in government own the planes that fly in so they don’t want the road repaired in case people will stop flying”.
I almost wished I had flown in – but then I would never have known ……

There are 3 points where the road has totally disappeared ( look at the washed away bridge) where the Maasai have blocked any alternate route with a barrier and demand payment to go through – or you can turn back

Poor Livingstone – my guide driver – this was a challenge 😩

 

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Driving

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03/10/2016

Driving ….

Thankfully back on the left hand side and interestingly enough while the roads are chaotic – (took us over an hour to go 7 km this morning )- can’t imagine how one conducts business here 😜….

It kind of works- no one goes fast so even though we pass on a blind rise I soon stopped holding my breathe as I realised every one is slow and slows down further to allow whatever the other chooses to do 😂😂😂.

Cars inch in to the queue so tightly I can almost feel the drivers breathe on me, but no collision – we seem to be able to make room without any reaction from my driver

Trucks trucks and more trucks on roads that are reminiscent of Jan smuts avenue 😂 potted, cracked and crumbling

 

03/10/2016