Sunday, June 30, 2013

Coming home.

We travelled through mining country. We travelled through cattle country. Anthills and Acacias. Columns of smoke from veld fires listing to the left. The rusted zinc roofs of small towns, their names ringing strangely in the mouth. Klerksdorp, birthplace of my father, who is long gone. Wolmaranstad, Leeudoringstad, Makwassie and Sewefontein. Brahman and stately Nguni: bred, advertised and auctioned.
Sterkfontein, Geluk, Vuurfontein and Christiana. Underneath this red earth: gold, diamonds and uranium.
We crossed the Vaal and then the Orange River. Mighty rivers of geography classes. The dam on the outskirts of Kimberley was choking, pink with flamingos. A thousand flower petals on the water.

We camped by the waterside at Mokala. Just in time to see a herd of Black Wildebeest drink.

There is give and take when you share an open space with others. The long legged man and I go quietly through the world. So it was that we were placed next to a louder species. With tread plate on their bonnets and flaps that lifted to reveal all manner of gadgets. Roof tents and headlamps and Intex and zips.
Many, many zips.

A free broadcast of other lives. Grant and Ludwig and their girlfriends Baby and Baby discussed their dinner (steak, bread and potatoes with Woolworths onion jam). What they needed to shop for the next day (Grant wanted some Amarula Cream Liqueur for Baby - "the Spirit of Africa". Baby needed a hairbrush.) What they would eat for lunch (leftover steak and sweet chilli sauce sandwiches.) And then, for an interminable time, Grant and Ludwig discussed tyre pressure, rims, axels...
The Babies were speechless.

We heard an expelled breath and a rustle in the undergrowth. You forget how large a porcupine is.
As we settled in for the night, there was a smack of animal lips and the crunching of a bone.

New school, old school.

I hadn't seen a giraffe in many years.
I blinked back a tear.
Then, a family of bush pigs awoke the carnivore in me. I dreamed up a side dish of pears and fennel, cooked ever so slowly.

Early morning zebra, Karoo National Park.
As you enter the towns, there are peeling old billboards, beseeching the faithful.
Somewhere between Heuningneskloof and Salt Lake, we came upon an abandoned church.

Consecrated in 1901, it now stands forgotten next to a wind pump. In a nearby field a cast iron bed slowly rusts. The church door is held shut with a big rock.

Next to some ruins, I picked up and old enamel cup, corroded and patterned with roses.

Douglas - place of confluence and pioneer seed.
Elim, Irene.
Small grey monkeys on bridges, and communal living for sociable weavers.

They come in different shapes and sizes, some so heavy that the telephone poles sag.
Things you miss and wonder about, when you fly.

Prieska and Britstown. Past the dolorite hills of Three Sisters we made haste. Victoria West, Beaufort West and Prince Albert and the world turns green again. The mountains are impossibly blue, shades of cornflower, of hyacinth and lobelia. A thick sifting of snow. The fynbos blooms deep purple.

My boots covered in dust,
I am home.


ckzero said...

Welkom. Nie die dorp nie, ek meen tuis.

Marie said...

Beautiful beautiful beautiful

...I think we may have had zips...

Marijke said...

Sjoe, a wonderful journey. You write beautifully.

the sourcerer said...

Dankie julle. Liefde.

tanja wllmot said...

ai. you make my heart navy blue with homesickness. jislaik. you catch pics of 'em places and spaces and all the bits in between and you say it just like a person might want it to be said. yes indeed - you write beautifully.