18 Dec 2011
Everything is packed or mothballed. After six weeks in Eden it’s time to go and see what’s on the apple tree in the ‘real’ world. I’m looking foreward to it. Summer in Africa’s sub-equatorial lowveld can be taxing.
Daybreak is already silhouetting the woodland lace when I fire up the six- cylinder just after four a.m. It’s a cool morning and for a change I actually enjoy the quirks of the ‘road’ south. Going on a 4×4 challenge is after all what some folks do for fun on a Sunday morning.
Today the bush is offering a special on mud. Lots of it, laid out in sheets and great slushy ponds. Just to make it even more interesting, they’re lined with ruts and rocks and roots, hidden under a layer of unpredictability.
It’s a beautiful morning though, almost as if the bush is laying on all its charm to make sure I come back for more. I make my way along, careful not to trip over the Tropic of Capricorn near Chimangue village, and reach the ‘main’ east/west road without serious incident.
Surprise: The road’s been graded! What used to be rock-dotted ostrich skin is now dermabraded dirt. And an even bigger surprise awaits at Giriyondo. The normally quiet border post is crowded with 4×4’s and boat- and camping trailers, part of the great exodus of South African holidaymakers who head to the beaches of Mozambique over Christmas.
Fortunately, in light of my clinical queue intolerance, I’m going against the stream, so I get through without too much hassle.
In Phalaborwa I park the weary Patrol outside Buffalo Pub & Grill where the beer is blissfully cold, the food is moth-free and the air temperature’s been tweaked. Afterwards, at Beverly Hills guesthouse, I float away my weariness in cool water under the palms. Aaaaaaaahhhh.. And even watch Sewende Laan.