Monday, June 26, 2006

Day 4 & 5 - A night out

I left Masakala near Matatiele at 3am. Xolani wanted to join me, but as his map-reading skills are not to good I left him. Thank goodness, considering what was to come. It was a touch cold, and after a while I stopped to make Slush Puppies and an ice lolly (my water bottles froze up, and my camelback pipe was frozen solid). Other than that the route through to Marezel Mission station was uneventful, but again with the most glorius stretches of single-track. Arrived at the support station at 9am, and had a quick breakfast - omellete and steamed bread. Delicious!

Left for Vuvu at 10am. All went well until I could not find the entrance to one of the portage sections, and ended up crawling around the wrong kloof, instead of climbing onto a plateau. In the process I lost about 3 hours - shows what fatigue can do to your logical processes. I re-routed to an alternative, but longer route and rejoined the correct route later in the day. Darkness, however, caught up with me, and I was still up on the mountain on singletrack, and ill defined pathways. I heard a dog barking, and went towards it. It was guarding a shepherd's hut, where two youngsters were living (15 yrs and 19 yrs old). I was to spend the night with them. we played charades for a while (they could not speak english, and I could not speak Portuguese), and I passed out on their only bed (they insisted). Another 2 boys arrived, and the 4 of them heddled on the floor of the hut.

At first light I waited for them to have breakfast, then we left. They soon told me to leave my bicycle and follow them. I thought I was going to be part of tomorrow's supper, but they took me to the most exquisite Bushman paintings. There are apparently lots more, but I did not realy have time to explore. A sure-footed donkey lead the way down, and I was on a known road at about 9:30am.

Another big climb lead me up to a shop where our food supplies were left. I met Christopher the shopkeeper who gave me putu and chicken for lunch - food is tasting better and better as I go along. I also had a wash in a bowl, which caused some consternation, as some of the local kids had not seen a white person before, and even fewer had seen chest hair. After playing the Feely game with my chest hair for a while I got going to the nights official rest stop.

Upon arrival they knew nothing of our impending arriveal, so I continued in search of the elusive school. I finally got to a principal who has a school at the base of the pass I had to climb then next day, and he hooked me up with the area chief. He used to work on the mines, so can speak Fanakalo, so we chatted for ages about the state of the mining economy in South Africa, his kids, and the attitude of the locals to education - not good. He sleeps in his own hut seperate from the rest of the family, and I slept on his spare bed.

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