Sunday, February 28, 2010

And we're back...

Above: the N2 today, traveling towards Caledon en route from George. Just our fifteenth day since leaving Cape Town, and I feel as though we have been away for months, sometimes to another planet.

Where to begin?

We have taken not hundreds, but thousands of pictures. My camera fell on its head (strap broke). Not good. Shall have to address that soon. But much time will be needed to sort, delete, edit, process and post the pictures that made it.

I have seen flowers whose names I can only guess at in places I have never been before, and beautiful beyond my imagining. We climbed to the top of the passes of Lesotho, were almost swept off the mountains near Rhodes by cataracts gushing over the edge after thunderstorms, sweated at night in the hot Karoo to the sound of yipping jackals, rode horses through the tall green grass of the eastern Free State, had a fight in the post office in Nieu Bethesda, and fell asleep to crashing waves at Storms River Mouth.

But for now I will probably return to daily posts from Cape Town, and save the trip just completed for when I have more time for research (flower ID) and photo-editing.

But I might not be able to help myself and perhaps a post about montane grasslands or rain in the Karoo will sneak in.

It was a wonderful time. It left me impressed by the truth that you cannot know a country until you have traveled across it. It has left me hungry for more. It was moving, inspiring, troubling, uplifting, and most of all compelling.

The challenge will be to tell it like it was.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Cape Point flowers

Vince and I headed for Cape Point so that he could run from the tip to Olifantsbos, some 20kms, with me amusing myself as I saw fit in the interim.

I watched the waves at Dias Beach, which were kicking up after some event at sea, and then drove down all the little turnoffs I have not explored before.

At Platboom I saw ostriches on a dune.

And a flaming red leucadendron.

There were many, apparently young ones (they had a young, soft look about them...they did) right beside the road.

They punctuated the carpet of fynbos, where patches of pink erica also provided interest in the apparently barren green moor of fynbos.

Gnidia? I would have liked to have smelled it at night. Unless you rent Olifantsbos - the cottage - the night smells are a secret. And in the day, how many people go galloping to the tip of Cape Point, missing all this floral action right under their undelighted noses?

Ha! My 2010 flower: Aristea glauca, or at any rate, possibly. I see it everywhere.

Then I spotted two of these, growing side by side on the Circular Drive...A sport? Is this how new flowers are made? Palest blue.

At the turnoff for Olifantsbos I waited for Vince (having yelled encouragingly at him as I drove by) so that he could stop and assess the state of his legs and heat tolerance before doing the next lap all the way to the Olifantsbos parking lot, on the western side of the peninsula. So I inspected some of the pink ericas growing right next to the road in some reedy grasses.

Or grassy reeds?

Next, I braked - well, I was actually free wheeling at this point, going really slowly on my flower safari - for the masses of pale-blue-to-white flowers growing in small tufts right against the sand in amongst the low rocks. They turned out to be Roella squarrosa. It was hard to walk without stepping on them.

Every now and then their larger, bluer cousin, Roella triflora, stood taller above them.

Near Olifantsbos, I stopped again where some evidence of water tempted me to walk about 50 metres from the road, where the trickle had made deep tannic pools of fynbos water in the flatland. It was utterly quiet. No fences. No people. Not even an animal (that I could see).

Just bees, beetles. The plop of a frog. The sun climbing higher.

Psoralea, I think, but which one?

A fire had been and gone. Diastella divaricata - a protea in miniature, had grown.

Lachnaea densiflora.

Stilbe vestita - never seen it before.

Here are tiny, soft and furry Serruria villosa, growing in the sand, after the fire. They only grow on this peninsula.

Their flowers. The wind was blowing quite hard so I was holding flowers for pictures.


At Olifantsbos I loaded Vince up - he was beaming. Happy runner. We drove back towards Bordjiesdrif for our lunch picnic, past some bontebok and ostriches.

The tide had come in, and over the tidal pool, giving it much-needed clean water.

Petrels and gulls kept landing to sit and point in one direction.

After lunch (biltong sandwiches and grenadilla juice) we drove back home past Misty Cliffs so that we could check out the crazy waves we'd seen on Noordhoek Beach from Ou Kaapseweg on our way to the Point.

Misty Cliffs, above, lived up to their name.

At Bokramstrand, the tide was way high, right up to the dunes.

It was depositing new kelp and removing old, and the sea was wild on a blue sky, calm day.

I had never seen it like this - foam-mad and implacable. The rocks where we usually paddle were under water, and the whole beach had shape-shifted. The usual turquoise was a creamy mass of froth and rip current. I'd love to know what caused it.

And from there, home.

The blog will have a long rest, now. We have decided to leave laptops at home for our trip. Phew. It will be an alien feeling, but it is perhaps a good time to detach from the keyboard and the compulsion (and time it takes) to document, and to plug ourselves into our scenery, rather than sporadic power outlets. The cameras will be with us, though, and after we return we will begin the story of How It Went.

A school of sceptical thought thinks that photographing life removes one from it. I could not disagree more. Since I started to take pictures I see more than I ever did. The more I see the more I want to know. Wanting is desiring.

And that is what makes the engine go.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

On the road again

We leave soon on Road Trip No. 2, starting in the Karoo National Park, with stops in Nieu Bethesda, and Rhodes, over the Sani Pass (highest in Africa, yee haw!), into parts as yet unknown, a (self catering) splurge at the Maliba Lodge in Lesotho, into the Golden Gate Park in the Eastern Free State, more parts unknown...but involving lush mountains and some semi desert.

We are on a budget and will be doing quite a bit of camping. So I have lists.

They start like this...



Currently this list ends with beer, with self-raising flour (for the beer bread we made last trip - see pic and recipe above) and avocadoes inbetween.


Big Knife


First Aid Kit
Torch (that's a flashlight to y'all, Stateside)

The Braai:(most cooking will be on a fire)


But the lists are long, long.

Jay and Guy have lent us their ammo boxes (yes folks, old ammunition boxes), which are very useful for our food, and, AND - the little fridge!!! So we have the teeny built-in fridge in the Landcruiser, between the seats, which accommodates juices or a bottle of wine, and theirs, which will be able to keep cool much, much more.

Thank you, Neighbours!~

I'm having to look at pictures of our camps in Nambia to see what we took with us. In the end we had good system in place, for quick set up and break down of camp. The first night was mayhem and tantrums. Then it got better.

Getting excited.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Red pepper salad

2 sweet red peppers grilled till black, peeled and chopped very, very finely
2 sweet red peppers, raw, chopped very, very finely
1 medium red onion, chopped very, very finely
3 cloves garlic squashed with some salt and chopped very, very finely
1 - 2 tsp hot red pepper flakes or berber spice if you have it
3 tsp pomegranate molasses (or 1 Tbsp lemon juice and little sugar)
salt, pepper

Mix in bowl.

Very nice bread, upon which to slather.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Bay leaf baked potato

Bay leaf 
Deeply green olive oil 
Hot oven till done

Monday, February 8, 2010

Cape Town Stadium

For Cape Town's, and the Stadium's, second test run before the World Cup, the Cape Town Stadium admitted 40,000 ticket holders to a rugby match, filling two of the three tiers in the stadium. The first test two weeks ago filled only the lower tier.

It was built for the FIFA World Cup, coming here in June, but the grass was neatly painted with rugby stripes and the rugby poles looked as though they belonged there. Maybe one day they will.

I had been told by people who had attended the first test run (a soccer match) that the transport from the public parking at the Civic Centre to the Stadium in Greenpoint would be seamless, but most observers have been extremely sceptical. No reason. It was seamless. Perfect, in a word.

Do not bother going near the stadium in your car. Park at Artscape or near the Civic Centre, queue for a bus where they tell you to, and off you will go, as they arrive, endlessly, in rotation. I have never seen anything this streamlined in this country. Or any country.

And it's free.

Men and women in yellow How Can I Help You? T-shirts helped us. Go there, wait here. Everything will be OK.

Our convoy cruised through green lights all the way, controlled by traffic police in our favour. We felt presidential.

South Africa is not known for its sterling public transport. On the contrary. So this was very exciting.

We were dropped off to walk approximately 400 metres (wild guess) to the stadium, and passed some new porta loos in case we absolutely had to pee right there.

Finishing touches include the indigenous plantings to be...

Fever trees have been planted in the pedestrian concourse beneath a new raised traffic circle.

There she is.

More How Can I help You?s were on hand at the gates. We should have stuck to this queue, at the main gates, as any gate will let you into the stadium area, regardless of your seating assignment. Instead we were directed to other gates with only four entrances and got stuck for a long time.

The best view of the shell is just beneath it, as it curves up and out with Signal Hill and the mountain in the background.

More How Can I Help You?s were stationed inside, and actually fewer than we needed, as we didn't have the colour-coded seating areas worked out yet. A map might be forthcoming.

This was reeeeeally useful, but we only saw one.

I am not a sports junkie, but the first time I walked into the (old) Yankee Stadium, I cried, without warning. I was very surprised and very moved. Go figure.

I didn't cry here, because here there is no history, yet. But I did stop in my tracks. I did say, Wow! It was awesome. Beautiful.

Wheelchair access was clearly no problem.

We were addressed by the mayor, and by the premier of the Western Cape, who was wearing an unfortunate outfit. But she still got a hero's welcome.

Then the Stormers and the Boland team trotted on.

It's the roar of the crowd. Makes the hairs stick up.

The big screen behind and above our heads showed replays and fights up close and personal.

We were facing the west, and became very hot after the sun hit us. No respite, and I hadn't brought a hat or extra suncream. They should sell hats. And suncream.

But there is beer!

Perhaps this is better beer drinking etiquette.

Then she got too hot, too. I hid under my sweater as well. Capetonians always carry sweaters.

When a team came on to fix divots in the turf my mouth hung open. I had assumed they were playing on Astroturf.

It's real grass!

There are no rugby pictures. I wasn't really watching the game.

We left early to avoid a crush, and some people opted for taxis.

The police were still very much in evidence. I have never seen so many cops in my life. They must have been bored because there was absolutely nothing for them to do.

Overheard on Afrikaans policeman's walkie talkie: Frans, I have a complaint about hawrse droppings here...

Frans: Ja, well...I haven't got to that one yet.

I honestly don't see the soccer hooligan element making it here for the World Cup...Anyway, aren't they all on the dole?

Already lots of people waiting for the busses, all leaving early -more How Can I help You?s might be needed on this return trip...

But they were all at the Civic Centre again, shepherding people back to their cars.

The parking was free.

So. It was a great experience.

In the lingua franca, I had a jol.