Life & Travels Afloat in our Moody
The start of Day 3 of the trip was a rude awakening. Daniel spotted a leak with a pool of liquid under the Landy. At 7 in the morning, and with the temperature in single figures due to the height, pulling bits off was not a fun pastime. Thanks to wifi and the internet, it transpired that the leaking bit was a fuel cooler, and its propensity to dump coolant is well known among Land Rover aficionados. The good news is that it usually self-seals when the engine is warm!
So after a few lake pics, it was off to see the Katse Dam, the highest in Africa. Holding a huge amount of water, this supplies Johannesburg, (so to then hear there was a water shortage and cut-offs was a bit of a surprise waiting for us when we get back). The visit included a tour inside the dam wall that was surprising. A dam wall 185m high, and 60m thick at the base is quite something.All yesterday’s fiddling with the fuses also had a side effect. The car alarm now sounds when it feels like it, usually just at the wrong time!
I should mention that the country is very agrarian based. With rich soils, there is a lot of crop growing even on steep slopes. Ploughing is by hand drawn with cattle, and there are a lot of shepherds looking after small herds of sheep, goats and cattle. Transport is by horse or donkey, of which there are many. The men are well-wrapped with blankets as a sort of overcoat, and balaclavas just allowing eyes to be seen. And all wear wellies! Very often these are white, which is a real help to see the men at night.
And the children…. Mention has to be made of them. Rushing to the roadside at the sight of a foreigner’s car, they offer their traditional greeting by holding both hands out and shrieking ‘Marney-marney!’. Quite how even the youngest have picked up this sad expectation is unclear, but they will run a distance just to be within earshot of the road just in the hope.The driver took a rapid swerve when he spotted a sign for dinosaur footprints. Me, I was suspicious because of the concrete moulding yard opposite, but Dinosaur Daniel had the helm! At the end of the track was a dilapidated rondavel next to a stream with a flock of ‘marney-marney’ greeters, but a youth trotted up and surprisingly took us to see some pretty authentic looking mouldings in the riverbed. (Ok, they were real, but then so was the fleecing of Daniel’s wallet to pay for the experience 🙂 )
Today was quite a relief in that we enjoyed the smoothness of tarmac. I would have said that the absence of boulders was great, but there was the odd one here and there. (Daniel even had to reverse to hit one, but nuff said…). Somehow we were not enticed by the few bars we saw, so down in the lowlands we stopped at a shop and stocked up on soft drinks, potato crisps and chocolate. Great diet, but it was the best of what was on offer. Heading round to the north-west, and back into the highlands, we again climbed and climbed and climbed. You may think I am exaggerating, but at one point, there was a sudden bang. One of the packets of crisps had exploded and the other was as tight as a drum thanks to the drop in pressure!
Over yet another mountain pass, we dropped a few hundred metres to our next halt at Oxbow Lodge. Very isolated, electricity was just for part of the evening, courtesy of a generator. Basic but clean, this hostelry was quite quaint if not even a bit eccentric. The dining-room was blessed with an unusual chandelier, so African in nature! Early night needed as the plan is to leave at 0600.
Knowing that the road reverts to gravel shortly, and that we want to make the border crossing before it closes at 1700, our previous experience of distance in this country has made us wary!