Day 10: May 11: Mother’s Day in the U.S. and here I am in South Africa very far away from my kids and grandkids. In fact we are at the Mapungubwe Game Reserve. On the drive in, I photographed a zebra and a giraffe. But this paled compared to the photos I took on the Safari drives in Sabi Sands Game Reserve. It is hard to describe the experience of seeing lions, zebras, giraffes, rhinos, elephants, and leopards, just to name a few, in their own environment, just living out their lives. I will never forget it. Then there are the birds, too many unusual ones to name here and I admit I’m not a bird person. My primary interest is the big animals and we have seen many.
We have seen so much of Africa and so far that only includes South Africa and one day in Swaziland. I will continue to post, but internet and time have been the problems. We have stayed at places that have either poor connections or none at all, like tonight. I will copy and post this as soon as possible but that might be in Victoria Falls since tomorrow night we spend in “luxury tents” in Matopos National Park in Zimbabwe and that doesn’t sound like an internet destination.
The geography here is as varied as the people. We have driven through lush farmland, nearly desert like plains, mountains and towns, both large and small. One thing seems clear, there are still a lot of poor people in South Africa and it appears to be along racial lines. Still much to be done in this regard.
We thought the main problem for us driving these countries would be getting used to driving on the left side of the road. Actually we acclimated to that quite easily. The real problem turns out to be the number of people who walk the roads. There are buses of sorts in some areas, but mostly there is an informal pick-up service in which cars and pick-up trucks stop and people just climb on. These are black Africans. We have not seen any white Africans walking in the roads. Women carry almost anything on their heads, including tubs of laundry, firewood and suitcases. The most interesting one was a woman carrying a hatchet on her head. Many have children strapped on their backs.
To note, I have never seen a man doing this work. We spend a lot of time dodging pedestrians, goats, sheep, cows and donkeys on the main roads and in towns. Then there are the more exotic animals. Today we were stopped by a group of baboons. Twice monkeys scampered across the road in front of our car. In Kruger Park, with it’s magnificent Mopane trees, we had to stop for elephants. It is driving that keeps you alert. Our greatest concern are the children. They are curious about our old cars and run directly into the road to wave and simply follow the cars. It is scary.
The roads and distance has taken their tolls on the cars. Shocks, hoses, clutches have been problem for various cars. One of the old Porsches ran into a ditch rounding a corner too fast. Only minor damage done. Just yesterday Ed with the help of a fellow ralliest, had to put in a new fuel pump on the side of the road. The jag has some major oil pressure problem and did not make it in last night. We have been told they have to pull the engine to fix the problem. We all hope they catch up by tonight since tomorrow we cross the border to Zimbabwe and know this is a difficult border crossing. This rally has never gone into Zimbabwe so that is a new experience for all.
These are just my thoughts tonight. More later,
Jan, Ed and Stewball