Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Shetchbook diary, to Pilanesberg Park

My first full day in South Africa, I took a safari drive through Pilanesberg Game Reserve.

It was amazing to see all the animals and their young ones. Beautiful countryside also.

Cycling to Emalahleni

Thankfully, the ranger gave me a ride from the campground to the paved road. It had rained a bit, was muddy, rough and I would be exhausted after a 12 mile ride!
He, and everyone else, are flabbergasted that I am riding through South Africa at all, and especially by myself! Crazy American granny!

It was great cycling on the R104 road again with mostly only double trailers hauling quarried rocks or coal. The road was often wide but I would pull off if they had no room to move around me. 
About noon I stopped at a roadside tent at the entrance to one of the mines. They were selling food and I bought the chicken and pap combo. My other choice was beef and pap. It was good, with gravy and a light curry flavor.  Along with a Coca Cola, for afternoon energy. They pulled up a chair for me and we chatted as I ate. It was a mother, her two daughters and a boyfriend, hoping the truckers would stop for lunch. 

We did a group selfie.
They were the highlight of my day. And they were curious about me, of course. Was I cycling for a charity? Was I by myself? What about my family?
Why was I doing this? I told them so I could meet them. And that was the best reason of all.

Friday, March 2, 2018

A day in Ezemevelo Campground.

Bets and Sone (a French name) invited me for brunch. Their warm welcome and hospitality amaze me. Bets brought her wood carving project, Sone is crocheting a blanket for her first grandchild to be born in June, and I paint in my sketchbook. We talk and laugh. It is like having instant old friends!

By two o’clock this Sunday afternoon everyone in the busy campground has packed up and headed home to Pretoria or Johannesburg. Fortunately there is a ranger and some workers living in the cabins around the corner, but it is totally quiet in the campground. I wander up to the little shop and swimming pool for a dip and to read in the shade. “Bushman of the Kalahari” by Laurens Van der Post, a South African writer and a good storyteller. There are a few people hanging around the pool who are day visitors.

The herd of wildebeest spend most of the day walking, running in short bursts, grazing and watering at the small dam nearby. I can watch them from my tent, it is just delightful. The wildebeest is my picture is a black one, a little darker than the many others here, and it has a blonde mane and tail. 

Upon returning to my tent, there are little blue monkeys literally all over my bicycle. My tent is a bit askew. Most scamper off immediately but a mother stays on the overhang tree branch nursing her baby until I walk right up to examine the crime scene. Doesn’t that sound like a charming picture? Except they were up to no good.

They chewed a hole through my tent, not the rain fly fortunately, but crawled up underneath to the less dense material in my very nice Big Agnes tent. Sure enough, they stole an energy bar. My bike levers were loosened but still intact! A few feet away they had dropped my headlight for camping. I was glad they left it behind!

Late afternoon I hiked the trail loop up over the small hill. There were larger herds of wildebeest, also known as gnus, and some elands, the biggest antelope of all. Africa has about 120 kinds of antelope. This game reserve was three separate ranches, now the fences are removed and there are three different management systems. Fortunately, the baboons are not in this area. It would not be safe camping with them!

Last night the wildebeest strolled through camp when all was quiet. Between their soft snorts could be heard the jackels howling nearby! I am not sure this is really safe and hope everyone watches their children closely!

But tonight I lay awake as the wildebeest fill the mostly vacant campground, I can hear them grazing right next to my tent. Not only that, but they always snort and tonight they are hiccuping! Between howling jackels and snorting wildebeests, I find it hard to sleep really well. Such is camping in a game reserve!

Cycling from Somabula Game Reserve to Ezemevelo Game Reserve.

Just did not expect to see three Buddhist temples in Bronkhorstspruit, South Africa. Good weather but when it warmed up I stopped along side the road to eat a sandwich in the shade of the only one around. There was a black woman sitting on the ground there and I asked her if I could join her. She said yes, so I parked my bike and sat down. Since I had purchased a package of two ham and cheese sandwiches at a gas station with a fast food store earlier, I asked her if she was hungry. She said yes, so I offered her the package and she said, just one. Also, I had a can of ice tea, which was too sweet, so I had about half and gave her the rest😃 I asked her what she was doing here. 

As it turns out behind us was a tall brick fence around a hospital. Her child, grand, meaning large the way she held up her hand, was in the hospital. She said she spoke Africaan, but she had enough English to communicate.

Glancing at her, while she ate, she took apart the sandwich, eating one layer at a time, instead of just taking a bite out of it. I tried not to stare, maybe she had never had a sandwich before?

After I rested a bit, I said good bye and hope your child gets better.