Unexpected Joy!

First the confession- I am guilty… Mea culpa, mea maxima culpa… I have lost my muse for blog writing. It has been months and even years since I wrote regularly. Now I am down to one follower, thank YOU, oh patient one!  But I really want to share this…

Yesterday we drove around in our district. We live in a beautiful part of South Africa. Outside our town there is an antique store on a farm- Oude Werf, It is about 2.4 km from the main road on a spectacular gravel road.

And then we saw them for the first time. I have heard about them from the owners, but they are quite good at hiding. I only had my phone with me, it is not nearly photography  club beginner standard photos. But good enough to share the feel of the moment…

The two baby giraffes…

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Yes I know, it was nearly noon, the light is harsh. I had to zoom with my Sony Xperia, pixelating is a problem… but just say Aaaawwwe… .

And nearby- their parents and a friend was visiting around a clump of grass…

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It was such joy finding these moments on our way to a coffee and antique shop outside our town. Winter is beautiful around our part of the world as well.

When you are down and out, fly a kite…

I have seen something that I really wish I could take a photo of. One of the highlights of my year is when I go on our yearly Word Rider tour.  This is a project of the South African Bible Society, when about 60 of us, from all over the country, gather around to go to one region, and visit the outbacks, the schools in the rural areas of South Africa where no tourist ever goes. We visit, and give every grade 7 learner in the school a brand new bible in the language of their choice. We get to have a good conversation with these kids, and to pray for them.

This year’s tour started in the world famous surfing town of Jeffereys Bay. And if you have ever been there, you probably would not have noticed- just behind the surf shops is a township, where very poor people live. This whole province of the Eastern Cape is one of the most poverty stricken parts of our country.

It is a beautiful part of the country. One of the famous landmarks between Port Elizabeth (the southern most city in Africa- look it up…) and Jeffereys Bay is the Van Staden River Bridge. Amazing place. Unfortunately many people who have lost hope, has used this bridge to jump off and end their lives…

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We visited a lot of schools, meeting the learners, and learning about their lives…

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It is heartbreaking to see towns where unemployment is as high as 97%. The people have lost hope of ever finding a job again. The kids are living in these circumstances. They have big hopes and dreams. But many towns only have a primary school, and the nearest secondary school might be 100 km away, the hostels too expensive and bus transport unavailable or unaffordable. So many of these kids just get to leave school after grade 7, and go home sitting around, waiting for better days to come.

But now- the photo I wish I could have taken, but we were riding in formation…

There was this one kid in a squatter camp (shanty town). It was incredibly messy around, with lots of plastic and paper discarded around the tin houses. A bad place to grow up. But this one kid took a yellow plastic shopping bag, and some twigs. He found a piece of fishing line. He built himself a beautiful kite. And in the midst of all this squalor he was flying his kite in the breeze. He looked so happy…

 

Where did April go?

I had a very fast April. Before it really kicked off, the end whistle have blown.

But it was a good month. I have walked 105 km in preparation for our upcoming Camino, which now I can start describing as “next month…” Just a short while ago  it was still 100 days away, and now… 46 I think.

A lot of time of April went into a wonderful project.  We went to the West Coast of South Africa on our motorbikes as part of the Word Riders of South Africa, a yearly project of the Bible Society of South Africa. Each year we visit another part of South Africa, going to the rural schools, meeting with people off the beaten tracks. For the official blog of what we do- vist wordriders.wordpress.com

The West Coast of South Africa is a wildly beautiful, haunted, very dry place, with some of the most colorful people in our country.

I had an amazing time with my fellow Word Riders again this year.

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We have seen the sun setting over the Atlantic…
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We have drunk gallons of coffee…
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We rode some interesting roads…
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I had some amazing quiet times…
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and we discovered amazing places to eat… and have some more coffee.,..

April was wonderful, going so fast that I have never blogged at all. But I enjoyed it a lot, it was a good month in my journey of life…

And so the journey continues, onwards to Santiago…

Ultreia

 

 

 

Anniversary Breakfast Run

Today is my 28th Wedding Anniversary. So no walking today…

Today I took my bride on one of my favorite breakfast runs. It is a 300 km circle route in the Waterberg region, Limpopo province of South Africa. In this 300 km we only pass through 3 towns, 2 of them very small. The rest is scenic nature at it’s best…

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Like this… the beautiful entrance to the pass on the Mokopane (Potgietersrust) to Marken road… Biker’s heaven!

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When we rode this breakfast run, we stopped for coffee at the beautiful Vintage Lady Tea Garden on the curvy road from Naboomspruit (Mookgopong). You reach this Tea Garden  when turning onto the Sterkstroom road.

From there onwards, turn right at the Tinmyne (tin mines…) road, and left at the T junction between Mokopane and Marken.

We continued onwards, turning left on the Vaalwater road, and right at Melkrivier. We had a wonderful Mutton Curry at Eventieria. This place, a big cat sanctuary, is simply a must-see in South Africa. Lions, leopards, cheetahs and yes, tigers in Africa… click on the link to read that story… “One day when I am big, I want a TIGER!” Erich Venter…

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The famous South African author Deon Meyer said of our region there was only two good things: the hamburger at the Big 5 Restaurant in Vaalwater, and the way out of here. I beg to differ, although that hamburger is very good indeed. Big 5 is now Hunter’s Hide in Vaalwater.  Worth a visit, but not today. We rode on to Modimolle (Nylstroom)…

It was a 300 km breakfast run with my wife, on our trusty BMW R1150 GS (2000 model, still going strong!) .  When we have grandkids one day, this trip will still be worth boring them with….

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Fortunately my wife has not fed me to the crocodiles… yet…

PS:

The Breakfast Run: starting in Nylstroom (Modimolle) on to Naboomspruit (Mookgopong) onwards to Potgietersrust (Mokopane). About 15 km before Mokopane turn left on the Sterkrivier road, a beautiful road with nice sweeping curves. At 100 km from Nylstroom you get the Vintage Lady Tea Garden, and they do have excellent coffees and breakfasts. On to where the Tinmines road turn right, very good sweeping curves. But be careful, the T Junction is not very clearly marked, you will have trouble when approaching at 300 km/h! Turn left towards Marken. Enjoy the pass underneath Hanglip, not too far past the summit turn Left on the Vaalwater road, and later on right just pass Melkrivier, before the tar becomes gravel onwards to Modimolle. On the Vaalwater road Eventieria will be at about 203 km from Nylstroom. 30 km before Vaalwater. Spend some time here. Then in Vaalwater, turn left towards Nylstroom, another 60 km to go. This circle is about 298 km from Nylstroom around and back. You are welcome! Enjoy.

Where the H is Nylstroom? 130 km north of South Africa’s capital Pretoria. About 170 km north from O. R. Tambo Airport in Johannesburg…

 

Misty Mountains rocks!

Our youngest had to play rugby for his school in Louis Trichardt today, a town 260 km away from  us. He wanted to travel with his team, staying with friends last night and leaving at 03h00 am with the school bus.

So my wife and I decided to make it a nice breakaway. We booked at Misty Mountains for Friday night.  The place is aptly named, as we drove through the thickest cloud of mist I have ever seen, with visibility cut short to only single meters ahead. It was really scary driving there, as South African rural drivers with unroadworthy vehicles abound. Vehicles suddenly looming out of the dark without any lights on, sometimes travelling at ridiculous speeds considering the low visibility,  that really scares me in our country.

But the B&B really proved to be great!  When we arrived, we found out that they did not have dinner options, and we really did not want to drive back through the dense fog to town. The owner  of Misty Mountains came to our rescue, telling us about the restaurant at the Mountain Inn Country Hotel not too far away.  We went there for dinner, and that was a real joy! It has an old English charm, with the table properly laid for a seven course meal. The prices were surprisingly affordable. I had a grilled pork neck dish, and my wife the Thai curry chicken. The food was excellent. We ended our meal with a cheese platter and some Dom Pedros.

We enjoyed the stay at Misty Mountains a lot.

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The owner also farms with proteas we discovered this morning when the fog lifted. Proteas are South Africa’s national flower.

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We also enjoyed visiting the town of Louis Trichardt.

As a huge supporter of non- franchised coffee shops we discovered and enjoyed Hennetjiesnes Coffee Shop (The Hen’s Nest), serving Lavazza coffee. The ambiance and service in this coffee shop is a delight! Remember to visit them whenever your road trip in South Africa reach Louis Trichardt on your way to Messina and onward to Zimbabwe…

The rugby match did not go our way…