(From Diary 1)
Up way too early, and east-on towards East London. It is a
greyish day, and we get a few drizzles. The
car stinks of petrol, and despite we drive with the windows open,
the scent is real unpleasant. The gravel road is real crowded: We
meet a huge herd of meat-cattle. The shepherds walk with the
animals, while the owner follow up in his new 4X4. He stop for a
chat, and I can feel how eager he is to figure who I am - guess he
Half way to East London, we turn inland towards Peddie. It is a
slightly smaller road, winding its way through the enormous hills.
The further inland we go, the dryer the fields seems. The almost
cleared, huge grass fields starts to be covered with
Acacia bushes. A
typical bush-savannah, mainly with cows and goats, a few sheep but also some
indigenous animals. More and more large Aloes and some new Euphorbia
In Peddie, we turn south again, and passes through the rather big
King William's Town, and then Mount Coke. I drop Bulelani off, in
east East London, and
try to find the Tilty Hill Trail. It is in the inland area of town,
up in the hills. I find the right road and a farm with that name, but no signs for a trail. I
do a few stops along the long gravelroad. It is mainly bush-area,
and I don't find many interesting plants. I cross a river, where a
big heron fishes. Then I'm back at the sealed road, and try Amalinda
Nature Reserve, once again.
It still look like a dumpsite at the edge of a township, and I hope I'm in the wrong place. In
general, it is an unchanged landscape, and I don't bother finding
the reserve. Next up is down at the beach;
Dassie Trail. I find it in first go, and start walking the trail. It
leads through a low forest, and I see a couple of guinea fowls. Then
I reach the plastic board-walk, leading out through the marshes.
Here are several salt-tolerant succulents among the grass. Small
lizards flee in front of me, and numerous birds tweaks in the
bushes. At the sea, some mangrove is found along with the sea-view.
I returns through the forest, which have
some huge trees and a few bulbs. Large groups of ticks are gathered
in exposed places, but disrepairs fast, when I get close. Only a few
plants are flowering, among them an invasive Opuntia cactus, with yellow
flowers and lovely purple Ipomoeas.
The weather have not improved, and I head homewards. I've planned to
go to The Kap River Nature Reserve on the way, but like some other reserves I
passes, it seems to be closed.
of at a
Fish River Light Tower sign. It is a narrow gravelroad, leading six kilometres out to the sea. Surprisingly
little to see, except for the tower, the huge dunes and a few
flowers. On the way back, I catch up with a huge tortoise. As I get
out to take a few pictures, I scare off the large herd of gazelles
on the field.
I don't get to see that much of the surroundings, while I
drive on the rough road: The car have a ground clearing as an
average garden snail, and the brick-sized rocks and deep wheel-track
could kill it instantly - I know; I've done it before. On the sealed
road, I have to watch-out for potholes.
I continues pass the road to the farm; somehow, I already misses
breakfast and water. The first mall is out of muesli, but I get
water and a huge bag of potatoes. The next have muesli, and I hit home.
The dog (an old and calm Bordercollie bitch) have missed me, and Xolea is out
of internet time. I find a plastic bag, and try to contain the smell of
petrol. Apparently, some have leaked out, and melted some
noise-limiting material. Leave the car open, and hope the smell will
vanish. The wind have picked up, and I figure my planned tasks outside
can wait. Instead, I write and work with the few photos of the day.
I figured it is my time to cook, and I find
some huge pork-chops to be fried and make a bunch of homemade,
spiced, jacked fries, which get an hour in the oven. They turn out
perfect; mossy inside, crunchy outside. A bit
optimistic, I try out with a sauce, despite I have a hard time
finding what I would like to put in. It end up a rather spicy gravy.
Judged by how little the dog get, from the rather big meal I have
cooked, I guess it was good.
4/12 Another greyish morning, but the
forecast predict some sun later. While Xolea still sleeps, I try to
invent an alarm-clock. Eventually, I have to get up at
half pass three, to catch
my flight to Johannesburg, and that causes for a efficient alarm. I
can barley hear my phone while awake. With a TV program on my
computer, starting a recording, the music program will also
start. A timer turns on the engine from a fan, rigged to make
notice, and the phone amplified by the house-PC's speakers should do
it! It in not natural to get up that early!
Spend most of the morning giving the kitchen a needed overhaul.
While am at it, I re-arrange most of the things to a more efficient
and logic placement - for me at least. Xolea turns up, and give a hand on the floors. Then we head for the
big city - or at least Port Alfred - to get some "air-time". The car
is not oozing that bad anymore, but enough for us to drive with the
windows open. The sun break trough from time to time, but I'll save
the sights in the area, for a sunny day. To prove me right, it
starts to drizzle later on.
While we are at town, we do a walk around. Xolea find a branch of
his bank, and get a replacement credit card - then he only need
money on it. I find some light
travelling shoos, a chain for the gate and a glass cutter. We see
the river, the shops, the bowling lawns and a few malls. The car
claims it is half full, but I fill it anyway. This time, it have
actually done 22 kilometres a litter. Guess the first 200 kilometres
use it doesn't show, were used when I picked it up.
Back home, it turns out we have the wrong set of
keys: We can't get into the house - the normal way. I push away the
box inside the broken terrace door window, and I can reach the key.
Second time today, Xolea find him self outside a locked door, but
now he know the password: "I'll cook supper". We talk about internet
sites and business, and when Xolea leaves on a date, I start working
on the terrace door window. As always, it is a bit tricky doing
house construction with only kitchen tool, but I manages.
Cannibalise some window glass from
another house, and get it in. While am at it, I add the missing doorhandle on the outside and fix the door, so it don't need a kick to
open. The "craftsman" have used the wrong hinges, and without the
right, it is sure challenging. Next job is to fit power to the washingmachine, and fix
the broken tile into my room. It have broken due to lack of concrete
underneath it. The tape someone have put on it, was not sufficient.
Then I gather the bits of the glass from the lamp cover, scattered all over the
huge terrace. Xolea returns with his date, and start cooking. He
manages to make a real tasty lasagne from noodles and a huge sausage.
A real light drizzle during the evening, but the weather should improve the next days, and I hope to be able to
find and explore some of the neighbouring sites.
5/12 As expected, it is a partly sunny day,
and I head out for adventures. First, I try to find Moya Park Bird
Reserve. I follow a gravel backroad for 35 kilometres, and enjoy it
way more than the Spark! Here are cattle farms and even a country
club with a tennis course. I see some ripen fruits of
Coccinia sessilifolia, some artificial water ponds,
which still looks nice, flowering African Lilies and a few pineapple
fields. Here are plenty of birds, from small flycatchers to large
buzzards. I fail to find the reserve, but the long road offers some
great sites anyway.
Next site should be The Big Pineapple, quite close. Unfortunately,
the GPS leads me into a maze of a township outside Bathurst. Not
exactly what I was looking for,
but interesting too. When I finally
find my way out, I spot the sign for the next sight; Waters Meeting
Nature Reserve, by accidence. Yet another gravelroad which seems
endless. I ask for directions once, and I am on the right trail.
I get to the staffed entrance, and pay my 20 ZAR fee (as an South
African). It is NOT a "Five Big" reserve, and I can get out of the
car. Just thought of a good prank: On the backside of the sign
telling "it is not a Five Big reserve", it could say "Thanks for the
visit to a Four Big Reserve. Hope you enjoyed the walks".
The first sight is the famous Horseshoe-view of the river. Then the
trail narrows, and then decent quite a lot! I see a lot of
interesting plants like huge Pelargoniums, Cycas, Portulaca afra,
Euphorbia trees, many different flowering succulents and some other
beautiful plants I can't recall the names of. I even find some Oxygonum delagoense!
Here are several hiking trails, and I do a part of each. The area it
a bit to lush for the plants I favour, but here are some great views
over the hills and river. I remove numerous crab-spider's webs with
my face, but
fails to capture a single good photo of the fantastic spider its
self. Besides from the insects, here are not that many visible
animals. I more than hear than see some lizards, but two different
tortoises don't make it, before they are portraited. One look like a
swimming one, but it is fare up in the hills. And it won't come out
The park is smaller than I thought - or I'm too impatience to walk
I head back to Bathurst, to find the
Pineapple. Tacky, I
know, but now I'm stubborn. As I drive through the village, I pass
an inn. Port Elizabeth Harley Club are parked outside, and I fancy a
cup of tea. The interior - with the bikers - look like something
form a movie, but that won't stop me from mingling my way to the
bar, and ask for a cup of tea! Seems like these guys are not used to
be pushed aside - now they are.
After tea, it is defiantly time to find that pineapple. I try the
roads leading out of town one by one, and that works. The Big
Pineapple is actually
big, and made out of glassfibre around a metal construction. Within,
there is a gift shop, two stories of museum and on top - around the
leaves, a viewing platform. Been there, paid
the fifteen ZARs and
took the picture.
It is getting close to three, and too late to
head on for Grahamstown and its botanical garden. Figures I go home a do some
work - after a cup of tea.
The "craftsman" have installed the air-condition
unit in the wall of the office, but not attached it to the
electricity. That wasn't that hard. Then I remove the holders from the
old curtains, and fill the holes in the wall. A quick look at the pools pump
reveals; it take spare parts to get that running.
A walk with the dog bring me a bit around the premises, and I find
the water tower, a giant spider and some huge Aloes. Back at the
house, the porch-gate annoys me. We can't close it due to the dog,
and the wind keep banging it op and down. Could give it a hook, but
removing it seems right. All the windows need a good cleaning, but
after 36, I figure I better start cooking.
is Hasselbach Potatoes and something with the "Chicken Polony". I
fry it in small bits until the outer is crispy, using braai-spice,
paprika and herbs. Then a creamy sauce with butter, full-fat milk,
cheese and herbs. None for the dog this evening either. It might
eventually end up eating some of the huge amount of dog food, stored
in the kitchen.
The wind have picked up, and my office is a bit
cold, due to the draft - it is out on the porch, to improve the internet
reception. I doubt it is more than 20C. I try to verify the GPS
points I have for the rest of the sights, but it is real difficult.
It is like they don't want visitors!
Despite my phone sits in a stationary position, the signal changes
from none to full every half hour or so. And even full signal does
not ensure any data transfer at all. I misses my 100GB
connection at home! Despite I can't up-load, I make the first slideshow from
The Sunshine Coast - in the rainy
6/12 The day starts with sunshine, but
also some strong winds and dark clouds in the horizon. It ought to
be better inland and up, and that is exactly what Grahamstown is.
Here is a little botanical garden, which should be worth a visit.
The GPS states it is 78 kilometres, but when I turn the other way,
it drop to 58. Guess it is on the car's side: The first 38 is rough
The road winds its way through huge hills with scattered farms. They
grow pineapples, some in what seems like endless fields. Others have
cattle and a few indigenous animals - way out to the back of the
fields. The farm housed are hidden behind the first hill, but the
workers cottages are right along the road.
The area between the fences and the road are packed with interesting
plants. I have to stop many times to get a closer look - and a
picture. The weather really improve: Now, it is almost all clear
skies and nearly no wind. The hills turn larger and less scattered
I reach Grahamstown , and the botanical garden is easily found, and almost empty. It is more
like a park with some exotic plants in one area. In this area,
Dracaena draco are found along with large Yuccas and some Cycas. Part of
the garden is bedrock, made from sandstone. The lower parts houses
some other plants, but higher up, it is wild nature with many
interesting plants. One being a
Encephalartos, others some cacti-like
After a hour, I feel I have seen it all, and figure the city centre
might have some sights - and a cup of tea.
The centre of Grahamstown is build around the sandstone
municipal house and two churches. The streets are broad - and almost
empty. Despite I do the entire centre, I fail to find a cup of tea.
Few shops are open, even fewer people can be seen on the streets.
But at least, here are two donkeys.
The day is still young, and The Great Fish River
Reserve is only 35 kilometres away. Thought I could do that sealed
road fast, but it is cutting through some amassing landscape with
some interesting plants. Huge Aloes, some flowering, different
Euphorbias and many smaller succulents. Here are even flowering
Portulaca afra - a first for me. Some baboons crosses the road, but
they are too fast for me - without a warning.
I reach the gravelroad to The Great Fish River Reserve, and despite a sigh claim 100
I find it more a 60 road - the car probably a 20. As I photo the
sign, a warthog grosses the road with a line of piglets - and I'm
not even in the park yet. It is one o'clock, and real hot -
defiantly not the right time to a gamedrive. But the plants are
there at least.
The girl in the entrance ask, if I'm really are going for a
gamedrive in this car - not if I'm South African. She don't say I
can't leave the car, and it appears to be another small-game resort.
Here are some huge piles of dung, just like rhinos, but I guess
zebras might do like horses. Besides from those piles, it zoological
I spot a few interesting plants, and do some walks. A birdwatch
tower houses a small water monitor and some starlings. The lake have
a few ducks and a group of baboons on the shore. Far away, a family
of warthogs drinks at the shore.
I take a sideroad, and it turns worse and worse while it descents a
steep stone covered hill. It crosses a river
and climb another steep hill. From the top of the hill, there are a
strange sight: Huge crop-circles, bright green in contrast to the
The road turns back, and I stop at a small pond to have a walk. I
notes a rhino sculpture in the deep shadows, and think that is a
great prank. Until it moves! It is a black rhino, which run into the bushes, but turn
around, when it find out I follow it. Then I do the same. Guess they after all had at least one
Big Five!. I start taking significantly more photos from the car - but not
Later, I learn, they actually have, Black Rhino,
Black-backed Jackal, Burchell's Zebra, Cape Buffalo, Chacma Baboon,
Elephant, Duiker, Dassie and Springboks. Guess I'm lucky not to have
encountered some of them while botanizing outside the car?
Passing the entrance, I find the other road. I doubt I can make it
all the way around in the Spark before four, and I only do some.
Here are no animals at all, and no new plants.
As I exit, the girl ask where I have been all that time. I show her
on the map, and it turns out the dotted road I started with, is a
maintenance road, which have been closed since it rained away. They
ought to buy Sparks for the crew, I guess.
As I hit homewards, I see some baboons in the
roadside, and get some great and clear photos - of the bushes in
front of them. The highest pass are more or less a pineforest, but
it is possible to get some great view over a huge area of valleys.
As with all the other photos of these enormous landscapes - they
just don't work.
I reach home at five, and start working on the photos. Suggest Xolea
we eat the rest of his lasagne before we have to feed it to the dog.
heat it in the microwave while Xolea is caught up at the TV.
7/12 While I eat my breakfast at the
porch, a tiny
antelope appears breathily from the bushes. A large group of monkeys
eat berries ten meters away, at least until a huge African
Crested Eagle lands on a
pole, fifteen meters from me. My camera is not made for
bird-photographing, and unfortunately, I only manages to make a
documentary photo. Way out in the clearing, a single warthog
move slowly around. A couple of kudus drinks from the bathtub, way out in the
Not much is happening here, and besides from the birds and crickets
song along with the humming of insects, there is no sounds at all.
It is a nice, calm day, and I plan to do some surveying at the
camera and a machete is the tools for the day, and I bring the dog
for company, safety and its exercise.
I start with a narrow stretch along the road. It is mainly dense
bushes, and the machete comes in handy. I find the perfect location
for the workers village; hidden from the road and with an awesome
view. I find some flowering
Boophane disticha, but only a few other interesting plants.
A bit further down, an old gravel-dig offers the perfect location
for the storytellers cave. Around the dig are several ponds and a
small lake, which have reach a rather natural appearance. A great
location for a healers hut.
On its shore, I find a tiny tortoise. It can't be more than a year
or two old, and I consider it a great discovery: The population at
the farm thrives!
An animal trail lours me into the bushes, and here are a few other
interesting plants. Here are also some huge Opuntias; invasive
plants, which have be removed. Problem is; if you just chop them
down, they start growing from each piece.
The animals are not human tall, and I have to work my way through
tunnels in the bushes,
with the machete. The trail leads to a little creek, then up the
first hill. The backside, seen from the house, is covered in forest,
and I am working my way through thick bushes. As it finally opens
up, I find my self at the green road, leading down to the river. The
dog is eager to return home, and why not? We been on the move for
three hours. Some wide trails have been
completely flatten in the grass of the clearing. I guess on a
tortoise, and start tracking it. Suddenly, a loud hissing occurs,
but it is only a huge female tortoise. I get some photos, as
it relaxes again. The track leads passed the house, and I tag
along, just to find out where it starts.
Back at the house, I get a cup of tea.
sit at the porch, the kudos return to drink, and at least fifteen
species of birds passes bye. Xolea is out of airtime once again, and
that does make him restless. We head for
Bathurst village, which have something in-between a tiny General
a large Convenient Store. The few white people attending it, look so
much like Aussies from way out-back.
On the way back, I show Xolea the road leading to the river. On the
bridge, a small Water Monitor sits - breathily. While Xolea open the
gate, a tiny, striped snake flies, almost as frighten as Xolea. I
chase it into the bushes, but can't catch up.
I watch the wildlife from the porch, while I sip yet another cup
of tea. My plan is to gather litter from the roadsides, but it does
not have to be in the midday sun and heat, reaching 30C. Way better
to write, sort photos and start on a layout plan for the project - in the shadow.
At three, I get restless, and drag the dog out
for another walk. I bring three trash-bags, but have to get back for
additional two. In the breath moment I'm in the inner enclosure, a
large tortoise reveals itself at the gate, and I let it in.
Collecting and sorting the trash along the public road lasted the
rest of the afternoon, and I start cooking right away, when I get
home. Supper is the easy way: Roasted pork-chops in a
pan, covered with sliced potatoes and tomatoes and drowned in an
Italian tomato-soup, added a bit of herbs. After an hour in the
oven, it is fare from ready. The oven is not as warm as the dial
tells, but after some additional time, the potatoes are eatable. It taste just
like I wanted it to, but Xolea is not that impressed. Never the
less, the dog have to do with its dry pills.
I try to upload, but despite my phone claims I
have only used one tenth of what I bought, it seems like I'm out. Unfortunately, it is Cell
C's measurement that counts, and I'm off the grit. Those 200 ZAR
didn't last long, despite I got a 300% bonus! At home, I have a
100GB/s unlimited connection for little less than 200 ZAR - a month!
It is the night of flying termites, and the poor
dog have a lot of company at the porch. Not that we are alone in the
house; some mice find the dog's food delicate, but they are shown
the door, and the food removed.
I spend the evening deleting numerous photos, realising I have saved
way too many - which I still have, I guess.
8/12 Just as I'm about to have
Cingiswa calls. She will be at the Bathurst intersection in ten
minutes, and I rush of. It is a slightly greyish day, and besides
from buying some internet time, I have no plans.
A tour to Bathurst give me internet time for Cingiswa; Vodacom,
but Cell C is off-line. Might explain why they are cheaper...
Of cause, I end up
working: Plan for the project, laundry, rubbish disposal, mouse
entrance closing, sorting out the food-storage and compile a
list of garden birds. Only the latter fails, due to a significantly
lack of bird-fieldguides at the house. Here are martins, yellow
finches (or weavers), black and whit fly-catchers, Green
Wood-Hoopoe, a greenish-yellow
weaver? with black hood and red beak, drogos?,
red-cheated sunbird, blue starlings, buzzards in the valley, black
sparrows, Bül-büls, doves, gray ibises, red capped woodpecker, and that is
at the midday heat; 30C. Other birds passes bye, but I fail to get
even a rough identification. Some are sparrows, and other starlings.
Could be fun to feed them, and get a closer look, but I guess the
monkeys will raid the place.
I try the general store in Bathurst once more,
and now they can sell internet time. I want worth 200 ZAR, but they
can only offer 10, 19 and 399. I go for 4*19, considering I don't
get a 300% bonus here. The plan to cook some Spaghetti Carbonera was
stranded a bit on only having the pasta. Here, I find some bacon and
powder cheese sauce. Back at the farm, everyone is still sleeping.
I need Xolea to show me how to get the printed bungles transferred
into internet time on my phone. It say "call *147*PI" That does
sound easy, but what you have to do is call: "*147*the 13 digit
code#" and accept roaming. Do it again for each bungle. Then call "*147#" and choose code 4
for Bundles (change to numbers from letters to reach the 4). Now, you can't see the
"send"-button. Choose the microphone symbol, then the text symbol,
and within 1/10 of a second, the "send" button is visible. Then menu
1 for data (and find the "send"), then 2 for 30 days (and find the
"send"). Then menu 1 for "on-off purchase" (and find the
"send"). Then menu 3 for 19 ZAR bundles, and the first of four
bundles are active: Do it for each one! I really appreciate my Danish
internet - cheap too, on top of it. Balance is a bit easier: *147#, menu 4,
I inspect the brand new and expensive terrace with Cingiswa. The
wall made to raise it, is just brigs on top of each other, and they
are fallen apart from the pressure of the dirt behind. The wall
should have been three times broader or in an angle. The deck is
made of "concrete" but real tender. Instead of 1:3 or 1:4, the
"craftsman" used 1:25. The good part is; It will be so easy to
remove, and recycle the metal grit. Even the "concrete" can be used
to fill the proper terrace as gravel - or sand. You can literally
drill a hole in it, with a wooden stick!
At four, I take the dog for a walk. We stay within the fence, and
find our way to the river. Part of the tour is through dense, spiny
bushes, and a machete would have been handy.
At the river, some sort of den is made under some dense bushes. It
occurs to me, it might as well be the huge bushpigs' home, and I realises
the dog have gone. I turn around, and several hundred meters from
the river, a huge crab walks around. It behave real intermediating,
but one must be that around here. A bit further up the road, I find
what might be Haemanthus and a new Euphorbia along with other
unfamiliar plants. A hare flies rapidly, but the dog don't notes it
As Xolea locked him self out yesterday, it is his time to cook.
Oven-roasted potatoes boats, chicken steaks and minced meat with
gravy. And it is great - but we do the gravy one more time together.
It should be great weather tomorrow, and I have planned to go west
and see The Shamwari Game Reserve. Unfortunately, I misunderstood Cingiswa:
She did not want internet, but telephone bungles, and I have to
drive her to town tomorrow. If I should have any chance seeing any
of the reserve's big five, I have to be there real early, and that
is not going to happen then. I might settle for The Sibuya Private
Reserve - if it is open. Not that I'm going to be there early, but
they have the big animals, and the plants don't hide during the warm
part of the day anyway. Further more, we run out of water, and we
have to figure how we get more in the morning.
I sit on the porch after supper and pad the dog. Tonight, it is not
termites, but small green moths that are the most numerous. But I
think I can count at least 50 different species of moths, beetles,
flies and other winged insects. And not a single one of them go for
See the next
part of the diary on Diary 3