Thursday 30th June
The end of another month…. and like the end of the past few months we are in yet another country.
An early start yesterday had us leaving Lux Belle Mare and driving the 45km to the airport dodging the usual people, vehicles and chickens on the road but watching the sun come up as we drove. The day before although a little windy was spent with our usual leisurely long breakfast although the mood was very sombre on account of a late night before with 2 football matches and England getting kicked out of Europe twice in a week(Go Iceland!!!!!…..I did say dark horses). We did some kayaking, the kids played some tennis, did some painting and were lucky enough to do an introductory scuba dive. They run this activity for kids normally on a Wednesday but as we would have left the resort they decided to bring it forward to the Tuesday. Although it was in the pool and not open water they all enjoyed the experience after coming to grips with breathing through a regulator. Although Noelle and I have our PADI tickets it has been around 20 years since we have dived and would have needed to do a refresher so we decided against going out ourselves.
The flight from Mauritius to Johannesburg took 4 hours. Breakfast was served on the plane but it was a “little” disappointing after what we have been accustomed to. Taking off and banking to gain altitude we saw a large ship had run aground on the coast …..nowhere near any harbour…….engine failure , the watch sleeping or just plain terrible navigation? We flew over Madagascar which itself is no small island..it took some time before we saw water again.
Touching down in Jo’burg around 12.30pm local time we made it through immigration and customs to be greeted by the Bidvest Bank counter….It has been a little under 6 years since Noelle and I were here last and 14 years since Harald and Kylie had visited South Africa. The main reason we are heading to Victoria Falls via South Africa is that we have friends who live in Lydenburg which is around a 3 hour drive North of Jo’Burg heading towards Kruger National Park. Johann and Ada both worked with us all on numerous Star Cruises Ships so are part of our larger ex-ship network. Johann is South African was the ships Doctor and Ada his wife is Chinese and has lived in South Africa the past 14 years. Doc as he is affectionately known to us is a partner in the local Lydenburg medical centre and last time we visited them they were living in the town.
Doc had arranged a driver to meet us at the airport and transport us. The fridge in the land cruiser was filled with cold drinks and the esky was filled with beer. Also provided was local biltong and dried meat sticks(perfect for the beer). So it was an enjoyable trip but everyone was a bit tired from the early start.
2 years ago they moved back to the family farm which is located about 15km from Lydenburg and this is where we are staying. The farm has been in the hands of 3 generations and doc’s parents who are in their 80’s still live on it…next door in fact. We are staying in the homestead which looks out over a magnificent view of the land and hills. The farm has been reduced in size so it is now around 800 hectares and runs around 400 head of cattle. The homestead has a huge porch which is where I am currently sitting looking out over the pool and the gardens towards the paddocks and hills. The sunrise at 6.30am this morning was stunning. The farm has hired help who look after the day to day chores as Doc rightly points out he fixes people….not farms.
Last night we had a braai with kilos of meat being cooked by the boys (over a few beers) and some awesome salads having been prepared by Ada. So at the table last night we had….a kiwi, Malaysian, Australian, Austrian, South African and Chinese. The drinks flowed and the stories were retold of our times together onboard.
Ada and Doc have 4 dogs (and their daughter Irene who is 6) so the kids love playing with he dogs. At least there is plenty of space outside for both kids and dogs alike to run around and burn off excess energy. One of the dogs is a great dane who was a puppy when we last visited. She is now huge….It is school holidays so Doc’s sisters children (1 boy and 1 girl) are also staying so KK has some female company instead of just boys for a few days.
We are here for 5 days but tomorrow we are all headed to a private game park about a 100km away for the weekend. We have use of the homestead and the facilities. (The owner is one of Doc’s medical partners).
We fly on Monday morning at 10.50am to Victoria Falls so it’s unlikely that we will have the ability to connect to the world until then. Today we are going to go for a walk around the property with the dogs then head into town for a look. The time zone thing is playing havoc with us at the moment in that my watch is one Malaysian time, my phone on NZ and South African Time and my alarm clock set on Mauritian time. This is how it stands…… 21.30pm in South Africa is 23.30pm in Mauritius which is 03.30am in Malaysia and 07.30am in NZ.
It is winter time here but the temps are around 15-20 degrees on the farm dropping to around 5 degrees overnight. We had the fire on last night and although it is shorts and t-shirts during the day the evening and mornings are cooler and see an extra layer being put on. We’re guessing this will be similar to Botswana and Namibia.
The silence and lack of people around us are a direct contrast to what we have experienced in Asia and the vastness of the view where all you can see is trees and hills to the horizon with not a crane or skyscraper in sight is welcomed after the hustle and bustle of the past few months.
So all is good as we head into the final month of our adventure. As mentioned earlier, we are expecting our ability to connect to the world to be less available so it’s possible from this point on updates will be less frequent. We’ll do our best to keep in touch.