Oh my tired self . . .

Yesterday struck out with the car to visit a museum in another town and to see the tea plantation.  The route there was fairly confusing as there seem to be several ways to get anywhere from any place else, so you can sometimes see two signs, side-by-side, both reading “To ‘A’  and ‘B'”, but pointing in opposite directions.  *That* really threw me, let me tell ya!!

Then I got to the town and had considerable trouble finding the museum – which was great, by the way – and then had to find the tourist info so I could get directions to the tea plantation.

Anyway, it was about 3 p.m. before I got to the plantation, and it wasn’t enough that I was driving through these 2 lane, corkscrew mountain roads, (check out R71 sometime, MT) but the driveway up to the plantation was probably 5 km and was so much hairier, I can’t tell you.  Wasn’t even a regulation 2 lane width and had sheer cliff going up on one side of you, and sheer cliff going down on the other with sometimes a couple inches of grass between you and the abyss.

Well, going up was a breeze compared to coming down, since going up I was on the inside.  Curves were mostly blind, and I held my breath a goodly number of times.  Let’s just say that my cup of tea and very large piece of melktart were very much needed and appreciated.  The view was spectacular, and the peace and quiet was so soothing – at least until the monkeys started trying to chase me away from my tart so they could have it.

Going down this cliff was a white-knuckle nightmare.  I was on the outside, someone was following me, though to give him credit, he didn’t tailgate, and not only were the curves blind still, but each switchback would put my face to the glare of the sunset for a period of time, and despite my sunglasses and the fact that my visor was down I’d still be blinded.

I just sat at the bottom and sweated bullets for a few minutes and got my breath back.  Then onwards on the highway, which is pretty hairy all on it’s own, though seemed tame after the ‘driveway’ experience.  AND it was work-leaving time, so I constantly had a pile of impatient locals behind me.  I’d pull over whenever I could and just let the build up pass.  They have very wide paved breakdown lanes here on many of the secondary roads and all the national highways, and people here are very generous about pulling into those if they are slow and letting others rush by.  They pass in some – um – unusual places though, I’ve gotta say.

Anyway, I got through that just as it got dark, then had to stop and get directions from Polokwane to the highway. Going through Polokwane was the long (long) way home, but I knew I’d get irretrievably lost if I took the short route that I took to get there.

Anyway, gotta go as office is closing and will finish this asap..

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2 Comments »

  1. RBC said

    WOW! You’ve been having a grand time. Been “away” from your journal for quite some time as I worked for Elections Ontario the past 2 months. Exhausted. Thanksgiving: postponed until November as we were too busy 🙂 Although our returning officer did bring in homemade pumpkin pie.

    I worked the advance polls with someone who was from South Africa but she wouldn’t share anything with me. I’ve worked with people who lived in South Africa and it always sounded so fascinating. One girl talked about how “well off” her family was, the servants they had and how wonderful J’burg was. (Time was late 70s)

  2. MT said

    Hi, grannym!

    Glad you survived the drive home. Found your tea plantation on the ‘net. You should know by now that any place ending in ‘kloof’ or ‘kop’ involves heights and twisting roads! Checked the R71 in the road atlas and the route you took has little dots alongside the track showing mountain passes most of the way. It may have been a harrowing drive, but think of the story you’ll have to tell. Hope you took pics from the tea place. The write-up said the views were fantastic. The melktart was not mentioned, but bet it was good as well. Those Afrikaans ladies sure know how to bake. Know what you mean about the road signs. Found on the last trip that many of the signs show the ‘new’ names, but the maps and atlases haven’t caught up to the changes. Most confusing, esp. if you were driver as well as navigator. Must be time for you to turn your car in – or are you driving back to JHB for that?

    *** And some of the signs that were changed are in the process of being changed back, as there have been constitutional challenges of the name changes re insufficient consultation with stakeholders. Louis Trichardt is again the name, it’s one of the challenges. ***

    Think you are leaving for home soon. Imagine – what luck – to be in SA the weekend they play England for the rugby world cup!! (Ha ha) There will either be partying or mourning by Saturday night. Best be off the roads no matter what the result. There will be copious amounts of liquid refreshments consumed. Read on-line that there has been a run on biltong worldwide in anticipation of the match (NOT kidding!).

    Have a restful day or two before you start that long journey back. Last year it took me forty hours door-to-door …. Pietermaritzburg – Durban – JHB – Dakar – Washington – Detroit – home. Was pooped for days – but would do it again in a minute. Hope to, soon, before I get too old and decrepit. Safe trip, grannym! Best regards from MT
    *** Hm-m-m-m. I would have taken the bus to JHB, had a day’s rest, then taken the plane. Planes are the world’s worst invention – or maybe it’s just airports. I CANNOT believe the s*** they put you through at the airports now. I got to JHB at 4 p.m. for a 7:45 flight, and just barely made it, and still didn’t have time to collect my return of VAT. At Paris, they put us all through *extensive* security procedures (took me 20 minutes to get through, as they checked every button, inside your socks, had to unload backpack several times, open camera cases and empty etc), though we had undergone same at JHB and were just going from one plane to another with no contact with the outside world. Right now I’m of the opinion that I will never again go anywhere I can’t get to by train.

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