“I am looking for someone to share in an adventure that I am arranging, and it’s very difficult to find anyone,” said Gandalf.
“I should think so — in these parts! We are plain quiet folk and have no use for adventures. Nasty disturbing uncomfortable things! Make you late for dinner! I can’t think what anybody sees in them,” said our Mr. Baggins.
The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
We were about 60km outside Port Edward when we realised that we might actually be in real danger.
A shiny white Audi appeared to be trying to run us off the road.
It swerved in front of us and the driver stuck out his hand, signally us to pull over onto the gravel embankment. Twice we pulled out in front to avoid a crash. Twice the same car drove up close and then over-took us. When we came to a bend in the mountain pass, we realised that this wasn’t going to stop. I imagined the headlines back in the UK: British Couple … Fatal Accident … South Africa. We were going to have to acquiesce.
Hubby slowed down and came to a stop in the middle of the road. From the Audi, now pulled over in front of us, climbed two large men who headed towards us. My mouth went dry. Scenes from the Die Hard films came to mind.
Thus far, goats and pot holes in the road had simply been a lesson in quick manoeuvring. Being pulled over by the local taxi syndicate mafia-types was a different matter altogether!
In the back seat of our car sat an elderly black man in a neat tweed jacket. He let out an audible breath. He was the fourth person we had given a lift to so far in our more than 2000km drive from Kimberley in the Northern Cape to where we now were in a rural mountainous part of the former Transkei.
Thug 1: Why are you picking this man up?
Me: We are giving him a lift.
Thug 1: Pull over onto the gravel.
Thug 1: I want to know why you are giving this man a lift. There are taxis. You are taking our business.
Thug 2: We will charge you.
Stranger from another car: Is everything okay? You need to get out of the road. It’s dangerous to stop here.
*Thug 2 says something dismissive in Xhosa and than leaves*
Thug 1: TELL ME. I want to know why?
Me: We are just giving him a lift.
Thug 1: I am not speaking to you. I’m speaking to the driver.
Hubby: We are not asking him for money.
Me: Listen, we are just trying to be kind. <Divine inspiration?>
*Thug 1 and Thug 2 exchange confused glances.*
Thug 2: We are warning you … DO NOT give any more people lifts. They must take a taxi!
We drove off in silence, all three of us quietly thanking God for our precious lives.
Next, a certain lightness and frivolity took hold. We all talked at once. I took out our Xhosa-English dictionary to aid my halting Xhosa. “Siyahamba Umnghazi!” I said. “Uyaphi Mhlekazi?” We are going to Mnghazi. Where are you going Sir? “Ndiya eLusikisiki,” he said. I am going to Lusikisiki. “Kulungile!” Okay! “Siyanceda wena!” We help you!
And then, hoping he’d excuse our bad grammar: “Siya bafunda ukuthetha isiXhosa!” We are learning to speak Xhosa!
“Llungile,” said the man through a toothless grin. That’s good!
Our planned two week road trip from Kimberley to Morgan Bay via Lesotho (as well as the rest of our month-long stay in South Africa) was a great adventure. There is just too much to tell. So as not to bore, I give you some of the highlights in pictorial tidbits (click on any image for full size slide show and captions).
Our full road trip (including flights which or course are not roads). Please note the stats in the keys.
Constitution Hill, Johannesburg
Constitution Hill, Johannesburg
Inside the Constitutional Court, Johannesburg.
In our brief few hours in Johannesburg, aside from a meal with my sister, brother-in-law and mum, we visited the Constitutional Court and museum. Very moving.
Constitutional Court rules at Constitution Hill, Johannesburg.
Mandela, South African hero imprisoned briefly in the prison on Constitution Hill in Johannesburg – not far from my sister’s house.
La Petite Ferme, Franschoek.
Franschoek. Our view from our vineyard room at La Petite Ferme.
The Franschoek mountains and vines.
Wild flowers on our hike on the Franschoek pass.
Our view of the Cape winelands from the Franschoek pass.
Franschoek is having a drought.
A hike up on the Franschoek pass.
Franschoek: CAP Classique Festival. CAP Classique is the méthode champenoise in South Africa … but for obvious reasons they cannot call their sparkling wine ‘champagne’.
Had to taste the oysters at CAP Classique, washed down with sparkling wine.
Especially enjoyed the Steenberg Pinot Noir at CAP Classique. Hubby says that by then, with a few tastings under my belt, I’d begun to spout very confident wine opinions.
At CAP Classique we couldn’t help but see the humour in this stall. No offence to the stall owner.
Wild Yeast, the first chardonnay we found that we actually like – we are such pretentious wine snobs.
The Big Hole, Kimberley
The Big Hole, open cast mine, Kimberley
The Big Hole facts.
Yes, the Big hole IS that green and it’s natural! Boy was it hot that day, but mercifully, a thunderstorm and rain came over night.
A quote from Mandela on a wall where we were staying in Kimberley. We were hosted by the Zulu mother of our dear friends The Mozzies.
The blue dot is our location on the drive towards Ficksburg, Clarens and ultimately Lesotho … look at the name of the area north east of the blue dot – WHAT?!!!
We could not believe it either, so we Googled it! South East England – Free State, South Africa.
The wares on sale at a farm stall on a cherry farm in the Free State, where we stopped for a delicious breakfast. Cherry produce is a bit too sweet for my tastes, but the biltong was delicious!
A friendly and interfering (in our breakfast) cock at the Cherry farm stall in the Free State.
Blanket Shop, Clarens – 2 x Traditional Basotho blankets please!
The proprietor of the blanket shop in Clarens near the northern border crossing into Lesotho. Her father before her also ran this shop. We bought our blankets here.
Basotho on pony and wearing blankets on the morning commute. This is their main way of getting from A-B, aside from walking. Ours was almost the only car we saw on the road.
A typical rural sight of the traditional Basotho blankets drying out in the sun on trees and bushes.
Hubby being taught by the Basotho people how to wear his Lesotho blanket.
Lesotho beer (Maluti beer) celebrating 50 years of Lesotho’s independence. Basutoland gained its independence from Britain and became the Kingdom of Lesotho in 1966.
Maliba Lodge Lesotho. We learnt that the ‘l’ followed by an ‘i’ in Sotho is pronounced ‘d’ – so Madiba lodge.
Wearing my new Basotho blanket and with a good book and a glass of sherry, I’m truly starting to relax.
Maliba Lodge from above, thunder storm gathering on the horizon.
Maliba Lodge Lesotho – our view at breakfast.
Starting the pony trek
We climbed (well the ponies did actually) up to 2800m on our 3.5hour pony trek in Lesotho.
The triple falls we trekked to in Lesotho. This pic was taken from horseback on the way. When we got there, we swam in the top pool.
Sangoma outfits in her hut for different occasions.
We were asked if we wanted the bones read for us. We declined.
Sangoma medicine cabinet.
A rural Lesotho village
Our little fan base following us around in the Lesotho village.
We tasted Umqombothi (this is actually a Xhosa word) – African beer at the local Shebeen in the Butha-Buthe region of Lesotho.
The back yard of the Shebeen.
Hubby the pied piper of Lesotho
Golden Gate Highlands National Park, Northern Natal Highlands
Sangoma dance – Phezulu
Phezulu Zulu village in The Valley of 1000 Hills.
A visit with DF to the Phezulu Zulu village and Reptile Park in The Valley of 1000 Hills.
My English Hubby, with beard and safari hat, was rather taken with the idea of getting a pet constrictor – NO!
Phezulu Zulu village in The Valley of 1000 Hills.
Cappuccino from a friendly barrister on our arrival at Umngazi River Bungalows
Mangroves Umngazana, Transkei
Umngazana mangrove swamp – Mangrove tree crab.
Spooted: Transkei locust
Umngazana: Hubby’s first time to see a locust. Trying unsuccessfully to scare Tannie K and SG.
Transkei goats – spotted practically EVERYWHERE!
Nelson Mandela Museum in Qunu, Transkei – sadly an extremely disappointing tribute to a great man. But I liked this quote.
Nelson Mandela museum, Qunu
Legavaan or ‘water/veld monitor’ spotted by Hubby.
Inkwenkwezi: unfortunately we only saw their bottoms. I spotted these rhino. Even the ranger didn’t see them. So I’m not just a ‘goat spotter’ as Hubby would have you believe!
White Lion in Inkwenkwezi.
I was asked on FB if this is the Shetlands. Actually it’s Morgan Bay, my home village in South Africa.
Dad, his niece and grand niece. Dad is now quite frail and keeps his eyes closed, but still managed to interact with this little baby treasure.
Nativity play at Kei Mouth Church. As I mentioned in my Christmas day post, Hubby, Cousin P and I had some starring roles.
P.s. Please have a close look at the map of our trip for statistics which you will find in the map keys – Geography teachers please note my excellent map skills.
P.p.s. The only place our linguistic skills did not help us at all, was in Lesotho. Even when the Basothos spoke their limited English, the lilts, liaisons, rhythm and stresses of their speech were not familiar. It took repetition, rephrasing, acting and pointing on both sides to be fully understood.
P.p.p.s. Wherever we went we brought a dramatic thunder storm and rain. Since they hadn’t seen rain in Kimberley for more than a year, the Kimberlians we frankly reluctant to let us leave.
P.p.p.p.s. I was told by a shopkeeper in a Biltong shop in Kimberley that my accent was ‘gorgeous’. So much for Hubby and his laughter at how I pronounce certain words!
P.p.p.p.p.s. Thankfully my brother’s surfboard and our Lesotho blankets, which missed the connection in Johannesburg, were safely delivered by British Airways 4 days after our return to the UK. Now my brother can resume his North Sea antics – crazy man!
P.p.p.p.p.p.s. We tried to squeeze in as many family and friends as possible. This meant we saw lots of beloved peeps, but some so fleetingly. Thank you so much if you were one of those who we only managed to see for 30 minutes (CS and PS in Durban) or 2 hours (Aunty K, Uncle M, SG x2 in Umgazana; B&B and Aunty N & Uncle B in Kirstenbosch Gardens; ‘The East London Ladies’, Birdie and Charlie; Sissi and Boetie in JHB) etc and nevertheless you managed to look happy and grateful! Also, thanks to the precious peeps who hosted and fed us along the way.