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               DIARY 4              2015-16   

                Map + Plan


1, 2, 3, 4   

2/2 From Botswana, we head into South Africa. The border crossing is real smooth and free, and we plan to drive most of the way, straight to Lesotho, where we can enjoy additional three days of adventures. The first 125 kilometres is a pretty good gravel road, leading in-between fenced cattle fields and some game-farms. It is getting more and more fertile, and the altitude goes from Botswana's 1000 metres to 1500 metres. After 200 kilometres, we reach the rather large city of Kuruman, and I would like to buy some internet time to my South African cell-phone, making it possible to check Gry's flight and emails.
We park in the middle of the town, and after quite some asking around, we find a shop, selling internet bundles.
When we return to the car, a guy try to pull Gry's backpack of her back. She grab it back, and shouts at him. I don't see anything, because another guy is first blocking my door, then ripping out the smartphone-GPS from the car. I do not appreciate that, and chase him down, through him to the ground, and retrieve my phone. Then I see Gry running up the street, and try to get in contact with her. I get her to stop, figuring chasing a gang of criminals is a bit to hazard around here. Then I see a police officer grapping the guy I left on the ground, and carrying him off.
Now I learn, the other guy stolen Gry's back from within the car. Two cameras, all her photos, her passport, credit card and cell phone are among the loot. The policeman is gone, and despite it is a rather busy street, people are kind of gone too. A few Indian shopkeepers approach us, and advise us to go to the police-station, 100 meters up the street. On the way up there, I stupidly tell Gry, the "officer" might be one of the gang, rescuing his mate.
The police station is real busy, but we get to talk with a engaged officer. He can't find anyone, arresting anyone, and it doesn't look good. We walk back, and ask the cell-phone repairman, standing on the corner. He says, is was a member of the K9-group, and we head back to the police station.
They still can't find him, and one of the bosses drives with us to the scene of the crime. Suddenly, no one saw anything. Then one guy step up, and give some real good information. As fare as we get it (not knowing their languish), they actually know the criminal. Back at the police station, they only fill out a report, if Gry intend to meet at court within half a year or so.
Finally, we get them to write it down in the day-report and a OB-report, and give Gry a paper for her insurance company. The police might go and pay one of the criminals a visit, and we should stay around and see, if they retrieve any of Gry's belongings.
We find a nice lodge with a rondawel a bit out of town, and they even have a restaurant. A really shitty start for Gry's third South Africa experience! On top of that, we just realised; they got my passport as well: it was in Gry's bag. The manager of the lodge is really helpful, but we fail to get anywhere this evening.

3/2 We head into the police station, and get the chief of the K9-section to try to locate Gry's belongings and the passports. We sit and wait for him until noon, but he returns empty-handed. Then we have to head for Pretoria and the Danish embassy, 600 kilometres away. Gry need her passport Saturday, and time is limited.
It is a real good road, cutting through endless cattle fields at first, then sunflowers, corn and more cows. We pass a single lake with around 2-300 flamingos, and see a few Springboks and ostriches. We can't reach the embassy before it closes, and decide we rather sleep in the countryside, rather than Pretoria/Johannesburg.
We make a detour around (not through) Johannesburg, and stop right outside Rustenburg, in what seems like game- and tourist country.
After a bit fumbling around, we get a nice house for 610 ZAR. The thunder have been in the distance all day, and we been hit by a few wind tears. Now, we are right under the thunder, and I don't miss the tent. We get emails from the embassy, and we do have to pay them a visit - and 4000 ZAR, before noon tomorrow. It is only 120 kilometres away, real close in South Africa terms.
We spend the evening making copies of my pictures to Gry. It is fare from what she had with her two cameras, but better than none, I guess.

4/2 Despite we leave rather early, the 120 kilometres to the embassy in the middle of Pretoria take almost three hours. We almost find it, but the road is cut in two, and we are at the wrong end. We walk there, and are advised to bring our car to their guarded parking lot.
We fill out a single paper each, and I hand in a new passport photo. Then we walk to the nearby mall, and get new photos of Gry. Back at the embassy, they have made the call for the Danish police, and at noon, we have two brand new emergency passports.
We celebrate with lunch at the mall, and a bit of shopping, before we get the car, and head towards Bloemfontein. To avoid Soweto and Johannesburg in general, we do the Rustenburg detour again. Then south towards Kroonstad. Pretty soon, we drive through the farmers' huge fields and pass some rather large lakes and posh villages.
One time, we go through a tunnel, just to turn in on a dam. The breath look down the backside of the dam reveals some great looking nature. In a remote gas station, we feed our trusty truck with 75 litres of diesel.
The GPS apparently know a shortcut, and we turn into a gravel road. It have just rained, and the surface is steaming. Back on sealed road, we pass a huge grass field with Blessboks, Springboks, Élans, Zebras, Kudus, Oryxs, Wildebeests - and three horses and a goat.
Around five, we pass a cosy little town with quite some tourist offerings, and decide to call it a day. A nice, Japanese-styled house, surrounded by a perfect keep succulent garden, and a fantastic vegetarian dinner at a real nice restaurant in the same lot. They are fully booked and down staffed, but we have the entire evening, an just enjoy the surroundings and the setting sun.

5/2 Gry get to organise her (remaining) belongings, while I try to catch up with the rest of the world. The manager advises us to have a stroll along the river, and we do. It is a real nice garden along a beautiful river. Then we head for Bloemfontein, 300 kilometres to the south. The first 20 kilometres is gravel, then it is one straight toll-road. It it through the usual endless fields on huge, low hills. A few farmers have Springboks, Blessboks and giraffes, the rest different type of cows.
We reach Bloemfontein in the early afternoon, and find the ZOO. It turns out, they don't have the special big-horned cattle we were looking for, and we are not really here to see the giraffes and elephants in cages.
We check the location of the airport, and find a real nice lodge nearby. Then we give our trusty truck a much needed overhaul, which is mandatory, when I return it. It kind of look strange in white, but it is amassing how well it have taken the beating thought six countries, rivers, lakes, mountains and deserts. So fare, I have driven 12.000 kilometres, Gry have joined the 9.000.
We relax a bit before dinner, which we get at the lodge's nice restaurant. The young cook is a bit challenged. He have only had one vegetarian costumer before, about a year ago, but he manages to find some frozen "fake" stakes and serve them with mashed potatoes and a Greek salad.
Gry have had it, and I get to work at the computer the rest of the evening.

6/2 A real slow start on the day: Gry still sleeps, and I spend time at the computer. We only have to be at the airport, seven kilometres away at two, and have little to do meanwhile. We check out at eleven as asked to, and make a stroll in the large wedding garden, across the suspension bridge. It is huge, and have several lakes.
Back at the lodge, we sit in the lounge and drink tea and Fanta, chatting. At one, we head for the airport, but check-in is first at two. It is a nice but real tiny "international airport" - with only domestic flights. I keep Gry company until boarding time, and then head out, into Africa again.
I have two days to reach Johannesburg, and I don't intend to be there too early. I know the short route: Only cattle fields in a flat landscape - a bit like the dull, part of Jutland a dry summer. I rather make a bit "U on the side", passing over Lesotho, just nicking Swaziland and entering Johannesburg from the east.
I start with some good, but narrow gravelroads. When I think my internal organs need a rest, I find a toll-road towards Kroonstad. Then I turn of towards Bethlehem. I'm not really familiar with this part of South Africa, and it seems like I haven't missed much. Cattle-land around 1500 meters height, that is all. Then, after 200 kilometres, Lesotho is seen as blue mountains to the south, and single table mountains is getting closer.
I reach Bethlehem last time, where I shopped on the way to Lesotho - so long ago. I just realized: The car have been real quiet to sit in, for the last 250 kilometres. I got so familiar with having a co-driver.
I find a B&B in the quiet neighbourhood, and talk with the owner for an hour. Then I realises; I have to get something to eat, before it turns completely dark.
Back to centre of town, and try to find some vegetarian food. They don't have, but fix something. Salad, fries and mushrooms. Back in the dark to my little play-house in the back of the garden. It have an attached bathroom and tea kitchen; all I need. I sit and work all evening anyway. At least, I don't feel bad about is tonight, as I'm alone by now.

7/2 Despite the day's stint is only 600 kilometres, I get an early start. First I gas the car, then I head towards Phuthaditjhaba, and stop for a self-made breakfast at a great viewing site. The landscape have turned hilly or even mountainous, and the plants are interesting in 1700 metres height. I do several detours out on gravelroads, and botanizes along them. At one stop, I keep finding new species, and I leave without being finish. Some of the fields are fenced with barbwire, sitting on ancient stone poles.
Here are not much of the bigger wildlife, but a few white storks, two Secretary Birds, flying across the road and a lot of small birds. In some areas, the small falcons sit on every telegraph-pole.

 After the 1690 meter Van Reenes Pass, the landscape drops drastically, and as the roads twists it way through, the views are fantastic. Then, I am in KwaZulu-Natal at 1100 metres height, and it is just back to dull cattle fields. Only a few rocky hills offers some large Aloes. I do a short stop outside Bergville, but here are not that many interesting plants.
I stop in Ladysmith to get some cash, and do a stroll in the rather cosy, old town. The entire area is scatted with old battle sights - not my thing at all. I rather walk through the small forest I meet - and can't get into due to the rusty barbwire.
A breath stop in Dundee for lunch, then Newcastle is the next target. Besides from the nuclear plant, it seems so much nicer than the Scottish one, and I take a stroll. It is Sunday, but a posh barbershop is open, and I do need some maintenance. For 80 Rand, I get both hair and beard shortened - kind of the way I wanted it. At least, the young fellow is way easier to communicate with, than my usual barber at home. On the other side of town, I pass Laingsnek Pass at 1680 metres, but soon after, it is just cattle-fields again. Here, there are a few tiny villages with huts and rondawels. A single lake houses 60 flamingos, way out on a field.
I reach my target; Heidelberg at six, but having a real hard time finding the centre of town. The GPS favourites an industrial area with numerous car dealers. The true centre turns out to be four kilometres away. I find it after having seen the Muslim part, another industrial area and partly given up after half a hour.
First I find a Chinese Yummy Kitchen, and figure I can't be picky by now. I get a surprisingly tasty and large Veg Chop Soui for 38 Rand, and directions for the lodge-area.
Some are closed, some real expensive, and I have to settle for one - in the dusk - at 500 Rand. But it is truly cosy with a small kitchen and good internet. I upload some of the Lesotho/Swaziland-road photos and the flowers from there. Then I get the last Zimbabwe photo up, and finish with the entire Botswana album - during the night, and the Mac-part of the computer get updated too.

8/2 I'm up early, but not really in a hurry. My 25 litre backpack is a bit stuffed, and I might have to bring the heavy boots and food in a second bag. The car is kind of clean - well, at least compared to before we washed it. It even look tidy inside.
I try to relax and enjoy the great room I got, but at eight, I'm too restless, and head for the KEW office in Johannesburg. It does involve a lot of big, packed, multi lane roads, leading around the capital, and despite the GPS, I make two bad turns. Newer the less, I reach the office just after nine, and give the truck a last sip of diesel next door. It have now used 1212 litres on the 12.798 kilometres we have driven together in six countries. Not bad for a big truck in such challenging terrain. The old fart at the gas station ask for spare food, and he get the lot, including toiletpaper. His best tip of the day, for sure!
Every thing is all right with the truck, except the dent I made in the right door. I did not draw-up a 19.900 Rand insurance, and I have to pay the 6726 Rand along with the 500 Rand return-fee. They are so much going to feed me tea, until I have to go to the airport! I dress up in boots, and the rest can be fitted into the bag. - even the fleece jacked and the spare food and tea.
I spend the waiting time updating the accountancies with the bad news, look at the first photos and listening to others, heading out on adventures. I'm ready for one more, right now!
Then I speak with a Scottish couple, doing tours like mine, until we are driven to the airport. My skinny paper-passport does not cause any problems, but I have to go back to arrival-area to try to exchange my Mozambique Monopolies money. Here, the passport is a problem, but not more than a big smile and a good story can fix. It is not a good rate: 75%, but better than nothing.
It is a bumpy ride, but I manages to sleep most of the way to Port Elizabeth. Here, the entire family is waiting for me - except from the dog. Bo's car is still not finish at the workshop, and he have rented a huge Jeep. I'm signed on as a second driver, and do the 200 kilometres back to the Farm in the dark. It seems like the dog have missed me. I sort out my stuff and diary while the others cook. Despite the lack of a heads-up, Bo actually create a delightful vegetarian dish for me. He and I sit and talk to two in the morning, than I have to recharge a bit.

9/2 Despite the late night, I'm ready at eight - leaving the house to me alone, for quite some time. It is still a fantastic view over the property from the porch, and I enjoy my breakfast here. Bo turns up, and we plan the day. A tour to town to shop groceries - a way different experience, that to do it with Gry. Then the builders marked to get  few spare parts for the house, and a stop at a second-hand shop to look for furniture. In stead, we find some needed plates, a fork and a knife. Lunch at the mall, where the sushi bar actually have veggie chop mei. Then Bo get his African telephone reclaimed.
While we left the Farm, I elegantly removed most of the front of the huge Jeep on a stub, hidden in the tall grass. When we return, I clip the front on, and add a single screw, and it look like new. It is ridiculous thin plastic, felt and paper-like material, without a single piece of metal. Nothing like the 30 kilos of iron the truck had! American flimsy look-alike.
Then I show Bulelani how to replace the windows he broke, and add a hook to the door, preventing the mistake another time. Then the toilet door get a lock, a missing light-switch is installed, a table get glued together and last but not least: The bloody stub that wrecked the car, meet me and the huge axe - and it looses big!  A large, invasive locus from Asia passes through the garden, and I show it the door.
Bo is cooking, among others; a real tasty couscous salad. The evening is spend talking about the use of the land and project in general.

10/2 I get a head-start on the day, eating breakfast on the porch and spoiling the dog. The fan on the house-computer is running all the time, and I clean the inner fan - without any effect. Then we talk about the possibilities for making a volunteer project in connection with the farm. What does it take, what can the farm offer, what should the tasks involve, what form of business form and how can it be financed. Then I wait for the rest, and we drive to town to shop for second-hand furniture, parts for the house, food and have a meeting at an office.
On the way back, we must have hit a piece of metal: One back-tire is getting flat quite fast. I change it, put a chain on the other terrace door, make panels on the side of the terrace door, but need a drill to fit them. Same goes for the towel-hooks for the bathrooms and changing the lock on the frontdoor.
The biggest challenge of the day is to brake into the guesthouse. Someone have lost the key for the brand new door, and the lock refuses to be picked.  I manages to open the bathroom window, and climb through a 40x25 centimetre hole. Just opening that window is a challenge: It have been fitted by what appears to be a blind man, and I have to remove quite some concrete, just to open it. Inside, I can open a window for Bulelani, who gives a hand. Finally, we get the hinges on the door opened, and then we can open the door. Inside, it can be a real nice guesthouse. Everything just need to be finished.

11/2 The main task of the day was to go to Port Elizabeth and exchange the Jeep for Bo's Volvo, but it is still not finish. Plan B is to continue fixing small things around the house, when I got some drills. We drive to town after lunch, and find a lot of small spare parts for the house and some tools. We even find a new, small working table for the house, and squeeze it into the Jeep.
At the first stop, a young man tells us; one wheel is hissing, and it turns out, our spare tire is having a puncture too. We find a fixer real close, and get both tires fixed for 80 Rand. Next to the shop, a honest sign announces "Cheap Wine and Lousy Food"! We don't try it.
Back at the house, I set up hooks for towels, shelf for shampoo, rack for dishwashing tools, panels along the floor and a few other items.
Then I get a email from the last true botanist at Copenhagen History Museum, which I work with. A International famous orchid specialist. Due to cut-backs, he, the leader of the garden, another lab-botanist and four gardeners out of 17 are sacked. At the same time, they are building a new museum of natural history for a billion Danish Kroner - without any botanists??? Denmark is a no longer a civilised country.
To get that one to settle, I take the dog for a walk. At the churchyard, we find two huge tortoises. One male of 35 centimetres, the female 48 centimetres. Real great to see we have wild animals like that on the farm.
While I update the diary, the others listen to the TV. At first, I thought it was a comedy, but it is from their parliament. I make the mistake to check the weather forecast from Denmark: -7 at night, up to 3 at daytime, rain and snow. What exactly is I'm heading back to??? And why???

12/2 Not much action in the morning, but after noon, we head into Bathurst town to find a drilling machine, some groceries and a serious haircut for me. We make it back to the farm without a single puncture today; a nice change. I finally get the lock on the main-door installed, but then, here is not much more I can do by now.
At dinner, Bo have overdone him self with a collection of Indian dishes, accompanied by a fantastic Nobel Late Harvest vine. A strange but perfect match. A thunderstorm passes bye during the late evening, and the lightning is great.

13/2 The morning is spend fixing a few items at the house and talking about the project. Then we head into Port Alfred to do some shopping and look for other parts for the project. Another thunderstorm passes bye, and the temperature drops to 22C.
I do a bit of working on the computer, while I wait for it to stop. I get restless, and that is a bad thing. A tour around the premises only reveal a bit of forgotten barbwire, but that don't entertain me for long. Then I finish up the slideshows from South Africa. Some new and some more photos in existing folders. Now, I just need some internet time to upload.
This evening, Bo is taking us all to Greece with a great salad and an even better moussaka - both with and without meat.

14/2 Considering I have been in exile for almost three months, the Danish weather forecast is depressing; just as cold and miserable as when I left. I have to enjoy this last day, sucking up all the sun I can get. Meanwhile, I watch a Bushbok (or something looking a bit that way) in the clearing.
A walk around the premises reveal a new Bromeliad, a natural bird-bath and yet another pile of trash in the else unspoiled part.
Before noon, we head for the local craft and vegetable marked in Bathurst. It is tiny but cosy, and it is fun to see some of the farmers from the area. Next to it is a small back-yard nursery with some large Encephalartos and a surprisingly wide variety of plants. Then we head to the big mall and shop for the evening.
Back at the farm, I suck up some more sun and start packing my limited stuff. Considering how flat the 25 litre back-pack is, I must have forgotten something, somewhere. Even with the heavy fleece jacket in, I can fit more. A long walk with the dog to some new areas of the farm. I try to find the big lake from another side, but end up on a hill and in a large pine forest. A bit spooky, I find a bag and two pieces of glass on the back-lawn. They have only been here a day or less, to judge from the grass underneath. None of us put it there.
Bo is real mean, cooking the dinner: He fries bacon! Then he ask me to fire up the braai. At least, he also make a large and delightful pasta salad, and serve ice with fruits for desert.

15/2 I spend most of the morning enjoying the sun and warmth, but at noon, it is time to say goodbye. Well, to the sun, temperature, the dog and Xolea. I set the GPS for the Volvo workshop in Port Elizabeth, and it leads us inland. We use to drive on the costal road, and it is not that interesting anymore, anyway.
This road which passes Grahamstown, on the other hand, it a real thrill. It leads through a pass, rocky hills with flowering Aloes and hardly any settlements at all. It continues to be this great natural display the first 120 kilometres pass Grahamstown, on the smooth motorway. Then it flattens out a bit, and the usual dull grassland takes over.
At the workshop, which Bo have called almost every day, they admit; they did get the brand new V90 engine in December. But they lacked the papers... Now, they have taken the old one out, and they are just started to clean it for all the bits, which will go on the new one. They think they can finish Friday - more renting of the expensive Jeep.
I drive to the airport - with a bit of the same feeling as driving my self to the scaffold. I manages to get the seat additional ten centimetres back, and Bo can kind of squeeze in behind the wheel. He extend the rent of the car, and we say goodbye.
I do the check-in my self, and have three hours to kill, before the short flight to Johannesburg. That is a long time in a small airport! I hack the VIP-lounge's internet, and upload the last slideshows. Then I make my own monthly pay, including the refunding of the African expenses - good month for me privately, not for my company!
I sleep most of the way to Johannesburg. Here, the emergency passport causes me a bit delay. Then I change my last 2700 Rands into US$ - only because they do not have Danish Kroner. Some of the rand originates from the Mozambique Monopoly money, and when I finally get them into something useful - they have vanished.

16/2 Nice night fly to London. I catch up on new movies like 007 and Minions, and don't get much sleep. They actually have vegetarian courses for each serving at Virgin. Then I have three hours to spend in London before the last stint to Copenhagen - and the train back to Roskilde. Just in London, it is a cold and miserable experience, and Denmark unbearable. 2C but at least a bit of sun and little wind.

South Africa have been a great experience, despise the mugging. Every one else have been so sweet, the nature is so nice, and the project I visited so interesting. I have driven around 5000 kilometres and taken 1850 photos - and I will be back!
It have not exactly been a cheep tour, but considered all the fantastic experiences - it actually have. The entire tour counted 15.000 kilometres and more than 10.000 photos - and a lot of experiences. Not least the special El Nino year, causing draught in most areas.

1/6 of flight 1046   Flights 6275  
Mini car 1190   Cars 27958  
8 day 4x4 3824   Food 5341  
Food 1800   Hotels 6105  
Hotels 1700   Gadgets 7700  
1/6 gadgets 2200   Fuel 7580  
Passport 850   Entrees 4440  
Fuel 1800  


65399 €8.767
Entrees 630        
DKK 15040 €2000      

Diary 1 + 2 + 3 + 4   Map + Plan  Photos