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Cartwheels over Lesotho, Part 8 - Sleeping under the Southern Cross
June 5, 2010
I must apologize to those of you depending on the forthcoming installments of this story to get your, err, daily dose of coffee and relaxation. A hectic work schedule has been keeping me up at night and dozing during the day when I should be writing. I will make this short and publish the following pictures without the thousand words they're worth, and leave the rest to your imagination. Our trip neared an end. We'd left the Mountain Zebra National Park and headed south, e...
Cartwheels over Lesotho, Part 7 - Stalking the Mountain Zebra
May 25, 2010
Out of Rhodes by mid-morning, we drove lazily through patchy fields, their freshly plowed soil dark as coal and contrasting strongly with lush green vegetation all around. In Barkly East, the dirt road was left behind and with it, all driving worries. We drifted north to Lady Grey and Aliwal and then plunged directly south on the wide N6, picking up speed and making up for a slow start. Cruising towards the sea, we realized we hadn't booked a campsite at Addo Elephant Natio...
Cartwheels over Lesotho, Part 6 - Flash Flood on the Road to Rhodes
May 17, 2010
My mosquito bites soothed and Himeville left behind, we drove southwestwards, keeping the dark Drakensberg walls to our right, through rolling hills and immense fields. This was Zulu land. We had already noticed around Himeville that the locals were friendlier, more self-assured. The Zulus are a dancing people. It seemed to show. We took two shortcuts. The first one, a long and rather straight dirt road across vast fields, was pleasant and efficient. So we got back on the...
Cartwheels over Lesotho - Space addendum to Golden Gate
May 16, 2010
On the 20th of February 2010, around 19:20, while camping in South Africa's Golden Gate National Park, Marie and I were busy preparing our evening meal in the rapidly darkening valley. I happened to glance up at the sky, as I often do for no particular reason, looking for planes, for birds, for friendly or threatening clouds, for signs of times to come or navigational clues in a complicated world... Then I looked again. Ascending some 30 or 40 degrees to the east from a ro...
Cartwheels over Lesotho, Part 5 - Differential Lock on the Sani Pass
We attacked the next leg with dreams of grandeur. Just like Sossusvlei had been the apotheosis of our 2009 Namib trip, Southern Africa's highest mountain pass was going to be something to write home about. Located in the Drakensberg mountain range, on the easternmost flank of Lesotho, the Sani Pass leads from Basotho Highlands to South Africa's KwaZulu Natal province, in a long climb and a hairy descent that drops pretty much straight down from one of the highest roads in ...
Cartwheels over Lesotho, Part 4 - Thy Mountain Kingdom Come
May 4, 2010
Like most storytellers, I enjoy the occasional temporal digression. It keeps me (and hopefully you too) sharp and focused. So let's rewind a bit. The last post recalled the end of our stay at the Golden Gate National Park and was leading up to a second incursion into Lesotho, a full crossing this time, to culminate both metaphorically and geographically with the infamous Sani Pass ascent. That story will come soon. But we had already ventured into the Mountain Kingdom betwee...
Cartwheels over Lesotho, Part 3 - The Ladybrand Disappointment
April 25, 2010
We packed up early and left the Vleihuisie with a tear in the eye. Then it was back over the hills and onto N9, direction Ladybrand. Reaching Middelburg, we branched off to the east towards Burgersdorp and Aliwal North, which we reached in good time. We were now ready to climb off the western flank of Lesotho. Aliwal North marked our passage from the Eastern Cape to the Free State. Our old friend the Orange River flowed through town on its winding way to the Atlantic Ocea...
Cartwheels over Lesotho, Part 2 - Once Upon a Time in Nieu Bethesda
April 16, 2010
From Beaufort West, we drove steadily east and as our morning unfolded, the Karoo's unflinching dryness mellowed out and slowly gave way to encouraging traces of vegetation. By the time we'd reached the town of Graaff Reinet, two-thirds into our daily leg, green had appeared all around us in a surprising display of tenacity. There had been much rain recently and we were witnessing its almost instantaneous effect on the landscape. Roads were flanked with high fluid grass wavi...