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Travel is glamorous only in retrospect - Paul Theroux

12 March 2019, Vanrhynsdorp to Nuwerus, 68,6km
Hardeveld Lodge R400


Last night at dinner at the ZAR, the caravan site restaurant, we enquired of a local man who had stopped at our table to chat, if there were any accommodation options between Vanrhynsdorp and Nuwerus, anxious about our ability to make the distance, given the many hills. He and his companions assured us there was nothing at all, but he offered us the keys to his farm, saying he would not be there, but we were welcome to stay! The farm is 10km down a dirt road off the N7, so we rejected his extraordinary offer, and in the end pushed through to Nuwerus. [The ZAR gave us a superb meal of “skaapstertjies” (sheep tails) and a pepper burger, with a delicious flame grilled patty.]
Our Hardeveld Lodge host, Fey van Heerden, came out to greet us as soon as we arrived, nine hours after leaving Vanrhynsdorp, and exhausted. She had seen us on the road at around 07:00, had assumed we were the guests she was expecting, and had rightly concluded we would be too tired to set up camp as planned. She offered us instead a lovely self-catering unit at half her usual price. So kind.
Before leaving Vanrhynsdorp, we drew cash at the garage ATM, having moved already into a cash “economy” in preparation for travelling through the rest of Africa where we will seldom be near places that accept credit cards. Using cash only means being more conscious about your finances. How much do you have on you? How many days will it last? Will there be a functional ATM at your next stop? How many days between ATMs? Are you prepared for an emergency?
Early this morning we encountered a man walking south toward us, several bags hung about his upper body, his stature and facial features declaring his San origins. I simply greeted him, but Charl stopped to ask where he was headed and to give him some cold water from a flask. He was walking from Garies to Piketberg to visit family, he said, a distance of 316km.
We are in the Northern Cape, in a dry and barren world painted 100 shades of brown; a world filled with silence, texture and drama. Although the entire distance is fenced, denoting nature reserve or farm land, we saw only five or so man-made structures in almost 70km; no people, no livestock, no crops. One structure was the impressive entrance to the “Griekwa Ratelgat Ontwikkelingstrust, ’n Khoisan Projek” - comprising a conference centre and apparently places to stay and eat with the Khoisan. Sadly, it was locked and unused - a waste of taxpayer funding, though we believe there are plans to revive it.
Every time we crested a hill, we could see the next hill ahead. The inclines were gentle enough, but long enough to be daunting, so we were immensely grateful to be riding them under dense cloud cover on a cool day.
There was vehicular traffic, of course, many drivers tooting or flashing their lights in greeting. One driver joined us in a rest stop and stood telling stories while we consumed crisps and grapes and water, fuelling our engines. When we told Org we were staying at the Hardeveld Lodge, he said the rooms had originally belonged to the church, and that people had stayed there when attending church events such as bazaars or “nagmaal” (communion). He likened the row of rooms to a “bekfluitjie” (mouth organ). And told us that as a boy, he and his friends would await their respective fathers there, each clutching their “koffertjie” (small suitcase). In the dry season, they could see the dust of approaching vehicles from a long way off, and would identify by the direction whose father was en route. He said often his father would call to say he would be late because the windmill had broken or there had been some other farming disaster, and then he would have to take his koffertjie and spend the night with “oom” (uncle) Jan or Gert or whoever. He told this story with a laugh, but there was something touching and lonely in the telling.

For today's route see below photos
For overview route, click on ROUTE tab above…

Vanrhynsdorp to Nuwerus
Vanrhynsdorp to Nuwerus
Vanrhynsdorp to Nuwerus
Vanrhynsdorp to Nuwerus
Vanrhynsdorp to Nuwerus - Sishen railway
Vanrhynsdorp to Nuwerus - Sishen railway
Vanrhynsdorp to Nuwerus
Vanrhynsdorp to Nuwerus
Vanrhynsdorp to Nuwerus
Vanrhynsdorp to Nuwerus
Vanrhynsdorp to Nuwerus
Vanrhynsdorp to Nuwerus
Vanrhynsdorp to Nuwerus
Vanrhynsdorp to Nuwerus
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