Location: Cincinnati, Ohio

Monday, February 25, 2008

Road warriors

On Saturday, I flew on Kukula airlines to Jo-burg. This airline is kind of a cross between Southwest in the US and Ryan Air in Europe. Inexpensive and kind of quirky. The pilot started off with: "Our flight time to Jo-burg will be 22 hours .... via New Delhi." Then: "Don't drink and drive, drink and fly instead. That's what I do." There were dozens of these during the flight and he had me rolling.

At Jo-burg, my former college chum, Heather Shaffer, was waiting for me. Looking a little tired from her ordeal with pneumonia but beautiful as usual, she had already fixed the arrangements for the rental car and all we had to do was walk to it. She had flown in earlier from Mozambique. I surrendered all driving responsibilities to her since she knew her way around and also was more accustomed by now to driving on the wrong side of the road. As I came to say in coming days "You're in good hands with All-Shaff." We had rented a Volkswagen Polo which would serve us well, although it was a little under-powered.

We quickly got on the equivalent of an interstate highway heading south out of the Jo-burg and Pretoria area. Something occurred to me very soon. Much of the terrain in this part of Africa reminded me a great deal of Montana. Rolling grassy plains roll off in the distance to jagged mountains. Pretty ironic to fly so very far from home and find something so familiar. This familiarity is, however, only as deep as appearances. Scratch a little deeper and things begin to understandably be quite different.

We had quite a long way to go. Because everything was measured in kilometers and not miles I was always confused about just how far we had to go. We were aiming for Ladysmith. Enroute, there were some cave drawings that we wanted to find. This resulted in what would become a continual problem. We would see interesting things on our maps, drive to near where these things ought to be, and find no sign posts or any sign at all about them. The bottom line is that we took at least an hour detour looking for these cave drawings. We even stopped at a B&B knocked on the door and asked for directions. The woman tried very hard to help us. We even walked over to the neighbor's house and she talked to him in Afrikaans trying to figure out how to get to where we wanted to go. The end result is the only cave drawings they knew of were a long way from where we were.
So, because of time constraints, we started to head off for the place we would stay the night near Ladysmith.
At top is my good friend, Heather, piloting the Polo. Next is a beautiful view from a mountain pass as we looked in vain for the cave paintings.


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