Ben Oostdam's SA 2008-2 JOURNEY

Part 13 : December 02, 2008 - GRIQUATOWN to BLOEMFONTEIN


I took a shower, washed my underpants and waited for the geologists to have their breakfast first.
At 08:00, it was my turn, and besides enjoying a marvelous breakfast I had a nice chat with Barry Swanepoel, a contractor from Bloemfontein (Mango Moon Construction) , and our host, James de Villiers, who told me he and his family are moving to a place near Pretoria, but just recently had found a caretaker for their B & B which had been up for sale for R 600K.
I did not plan to visit any museum here to-day, but found out weeks later all I ever wanted to know about Griekwastad from "Children of the Mist" (Mistress?) and it was not too pretty, including a hanging tree and a Poisoned Snake Pit used to administer justice ...as cruel as the Dutch treatment of run-away slaves described in Michener's "The Covenant"...
I left at 09:50 (odometer 1340.6 - 020411) with sunny weather. My first stop was at a shop in Douglas, Northern Cape, where I talked with a white Boer, who had lived here for 28 years but now was ready to sell his establishment for R 800K and rejoin his wife, a cancer survivor, in Kimberley. He enlightened me on the name of a native drink, "Maas", a milk product.

In the middle of South Africa is the confluence of two mighty rivers, the largest in South Africa, the Orange and the Vaal. On this fertile soil nestles the town of Douglas. The town itself is a green patchwork of dramatic contrasts - space for the solitary and activity for the energetic.

A good place for sheep, fishing and rafting, and noticeably greener the closer one gets to the rivers! I bought a bottle of Kimberley Herb Beer, and continued on the route to Kimberley, leading past several Anglo-Boer War battlefields and even more ancient Permian-Carboniferous Dwyka glacial pavements with Koi paintings. Aome 67 kms before Kimberley I crossed the Vaal River - best known for the term:"Transvaal"
I also saw a solitary Ostrich who easily outran my car when I tried to backup and take her picture..
About noon and at odometer reading 1,505 I reached Kimberley, which looked more modern and large than I recollected from previous visits, at which times I had visited the worldfamous "Big Hole" [to my embarrasment I noted that all three links in my 1998 webpage are broken ...so much for "diamonds are forever!"]
I now crossed the border between North Cape and Free State for my final 158 kms to Bloemfontein. Looking at the AVIS roadmap, I became interested in the fact that the "province" northeast of Northern Cape is called "North West" ...., and hoped that new names introduced since Mandela became President (in my memory as big an event as the election of Obama!) take care of his problem... As is, however, I came to a place named "Stoeterij", which reminded me of my Frisian summervacation in the Netherlands during WW2, spent at Kerst Koopmans' "studfarm".
At Petrusberg at 13:30 I was desiccated and stopped in a village store for milk, juice and a cheeseburger. They were out of the latter but at that very moment a White lady came to deliver a basketload of new freshly made rolls to the Coloured manageress....another reversal since Mandela!
With surprisingly less problems than we had experienced last February, I found Gus' house at 15:00. Even though I was over-ready for a nappy, I skipped it to enjoy sitting in his backyard drinking a cold beer and chatting, till we had to go and pick up Susan, his wife and my sister in law, who still worked in a bank.
Most of the following week I spent in Bloemfontein, where I had my first set of photographs put on a CD and also bought a new camera. Starting at that point, the next pages continue my journal - except that I can use my own photos instead of downloads from the web on the pages up to now... because I lost the CD with well over a thousand shots. In te intervening days, I spent too much time Emailing , and too little swimming because the public pool within walking distance had been closed - but as retired gents we were allowed free admission to the excellent Municiapal Pool in town! We also talked, drank and ate a lot and I want to thank Gus and Susan again for their hospitality!


BLO fecit 20090516_7 - Contents of SA 2008-2 Journey