(N or S, E or W) indicates Google earth coordinates. Turn on the layers that show the little blue dots indicating pictures, much better than the ones I have taken.
Mark Twain is marveling at the speed of the railroad across the prairies compared to the stage he took not so many years before. He describes his journey along the
Cities on the western fringe.
Gil Scott-Heron live on the ipod. Live in 1990, full of hope as democracy turns out in Eastern Europe, Nelson Mandala is released from prison, the world is a hopeful place. The genius that is the man that invented rap when it meant something is in clear voice and full of hope, temporarily between bouts of heroin addiction and time in prison.
I survived and landed in
I checked into the Lariba Lodge, a beautiful place far too nice for this old miner. ( 25°50'48.34"S 28°10'41.60"E)
Thatched roof, green gardens full of trees and birds. Many of the trees had helpful name tags on them, but they couldn’t seem to get the birds to cooperate in the effort. The porter that took me to my room saw a message envelope waiting for me with my last name on it and spoke to me in Afrikaans, assuming that someone named Bernard would know the language. I should have been a real spy instead of just a military spy. In
Work had to be done, so I went and did that. Traveling north to Peitersburg where we overnighted in another nice roadhouse style motel with several units and a pool. Oh, and peacocks. I was told they would screech me awake in the morning, but my traveling companions didn’t know how early I got up. Interestingly, the sun was shining early and I walked out to catch the peacocks sunning themselves in the morning sun, wings partly spread, just as I had seen buzzards do on a corral fence in
After a healthy breakfast, we were on to Lebowakgomo to visit a job site. Stopping at the camp, I was treated to (sounds like pup)
I didn’t get any pictures, but it was here I saw my first and only African wildlife. A family of a half-dozen baboons had taken up residence under a tree by the roadside. Traffic didn’t seem to bother them and people weren’t even slowing down to look. I did see some graceful gazelles on road signs, appearing ready to leap from the red-rimmed triangle and right onto the road. A more striking sign was a small yellow sign on a tall fence by the side of the road. It reappeared about every 100 yards and said simply “Danger” over an outline of a large-maned lion.
After a day on this job site, we began to travel to another. Passing through a small town, there was a bright red Vodaphone box, about the size of the Coke trailer at a high school football game. Now it was Friday and market day. Lots of young people lined up at the Vodaphone box to buy minutes on their cell phones. There was also internet access available at the box. I had read how places like Africa and
The area we were passing through was the homelands area, similar to reservations in the
In Burgersfort, we stayed in another beautiful lodge, high on the mountainside with birds all around and frogs singing in the creek. My traveling companion asked to be sure we were not in the lodge he had stayed in the last time because the duck pair nesting there had woken him up early. The view from the room was without compare, and our hostess prepared a wonderful home-cooked meal of rice and stew that filled and satisfied. The next morning I enjoyed coffee by the pool while the rest of the crew jogged down the hill and back up (just had knee surgery donchaknow, best excuse there is- especially when your knee is as large as a thigh). The birds were up early, including one pair that seemed to be growling one minute, then had a flute-like whistle the next. No, I can’t describe it better than that. ( 24°40'23.94"S 30°19'7.62"E)
We visited a camp under construction Saturday morning. It made me proud to know the company I work for cares about our employees enough to work as hard as they have on the camp to make the conditions right. We are setting the example for
Lest anyone think my host was an unfeeling remnant of the old regime, he was a “trade unionist,” an early white member of the ANC and firebrand of the revolution in the early 90’s. I won’t relay all his stories, except to say he is proud to pay for the dental implants made necessary by a severely broken jaw in those times and speaks only reverently of “Mr Mandala,” nervous about the day when that great gentleman, now 90, passes.
Arriving back at the Lariba Lodge Saturday night, it had been a long day and I crashed. Sunday is laundry day on the road. I’m still getting the “road warrior” routine down, but I have picked up a few pointers. If you will be somewhere for a few days, use the hotel laundry. The do a great job and they are quick. Unfortunately, most do not have weekend coverage and that is the time I usually spend more than one day somewhere. Time to do “mike laundry.” I fill the sink and knead and squeeze each article of clothing for as long as seems necessary, refilling the sink between “loads.” I then wring it out, lay it flat on a towel and roll it up in the towel. Putting my big feet to work, I stand on the center and work my way to the outside of the roll a couple times, unroll and hang to dry. Even jeans will dry in a day this way, just have to remember to do laundry early. The other travel item I have purchased is the high-dollar, ex-officio underwear. It’s some sort of stretchy stuff that dries overnight. I take 4 pair of these, they take up about as much room as 2 pairs of socks. I change daily and wash every night in case I end up in a time or place I can’t get to it. Much better than the old “front side, back side, inside, outside” from scouts.
I had the best customer service experience of all my travels to date in the Lariba Lodge. I bought wireless but was working on battery power and needed to change batteries. I had written the user name and password I was given, but had written it wrong. Even though it was my fault, the young lady at the desk called the co-owner, who called back and apologized for not being at his computer, gave me the local number of a tech guy who could help me. The tech guy went through the logon scripts until he found mine and corrected my goof. Everyone was cheerful, even though I was interrupting their Sunday with my own goof.
Taking a break and walking the grounds of the lodge, I saw a tree full of hanging baskets. They were bird nests. Though I couldn’t catch a bird with the camera, it was a sparrow-sized yellow bird with a deep black collar on its breast. Pretty cool.
Having seen the beauty of this great country, I was not prepared for the everyday reality, or the nearness with which it struck. There is much more here than I will ever understand, but my knowledge of history gives me hope. In the
Yes, unemployment is 30-40%. Yes horrible things are happening, including carjackings and kidnappings. Yes, the electrical power grid can’t keep up with the growth of the population or the growth in industrial demand. If you want to know more, google it. I enjoyed the trip, the people and the countryside. My experience gave me hope and optimism. This country has gone through so much since 1994, and before. That they can begin to move beyond it so quickly is a testament to the work they are putting into the effort. Others are not so fortunate.
The people are so friendly, nearly everyone from the waitress at breakfast to the newest guy on the crew asking if it was my first trip to
I’m off to
Not quite yet. A contract driver picked me up at the hotel for the hour trip to the airport. As we chatted, I found out he was a licensed tour guide who spoke all 11 official languages of
The flight from
I could probably get used to it quickly, but our standard transmission trucks would be a trick to get used to shifting on the wrong side. But we were not to spend time in
We proceeded north and west to the coast. The terrain again looked much like
Swakopmund is on the
The desert just inland from Swakopmund is pretty harsh, like southern
We went for dinner at a beachside café. My host warned me away from the Oryx steak. I usually want to try the unusual stuff (like my whale blubber experience) just to have the story later, but when a local warns you away, discretion is the better part of storytelling….
( 21°59'49.65"S 15°35'38.55"E)
( 67°49'19.00"N 163°21'41.16"W)
Two pictures, one pose, Namibia and Alaska. If you look at the forearm just above my watch in the top photo, you can see the blistering from hanging my arm out in the African sun. Didn't get my summer tan before going from snow in Salt Lake to bright sun in Africa....
I also wanted to try a local dark beer, but the Dutch heritage and hot weather means lager only. When you ask for dark beer, you are offered Guinness. It’s okay, but I’ve come to believe that Guinness is the Bud of dark beer.. I had a Hansa draught instead, pretty tasty lager.
Another thing about Africa I didn’t notice till I got to
After the 2 hour flight back from