If there is one post I wish could get a lot of views, it is this one. Why, because this was the day I met an amazing woman named Mary. But more about that in just a bit.
Heading out that day, I had this unrealistic dream of getting to Kimberley. Which was a good 520 km from Augrabies. I think the most kilometers I had done in one day was not more than 300, and so, in preparation for this giant leap, I hit the road early in the morning. Crossing the over luscious Orange River was a good start to the day’s journey.
The town of Kakamas was pretty and green. It was starting to heat up.
As I took the turn towards Keimoes, I spotted a nice restaurant hosted by a hotel, to have coffee. There was a black piggy there who was having breakfast for a long time. He didn’t look up once. Just kept chomping on the grass. I forgot his name, but the waiter did tell me what it was. It was kind of cute, but I forgot it.
There were some ducks, swans and other critters in the little lake in the garden which was on the grounds of the Hotel behind the restaurant.
There were some springbokkies also, at least thats what I think they are. Forgive me for my ignorance if they are not, I’m just a bit lazy at the moment to figure it out.
Then on the road it was again, and on and on and on. Hot, hot hot and hotter it got. And brown. The green had left the road. And then came Upington. Urgh, Upington is not nice. Its like a big, ugly, dirty, busy, Hot. Just NOT very nice. But I figured I could do with another sticker for my pony, so I found one at this place:
Behind the curios shop, I had unintentionally found a gem of a place. I parked there, not knowing what it was, and walked around to the curios shop. When I returned there were two (or three) ladies marveling over my luggage strapped bike. Of course conversation, ensued, in Afrikaans. My Afrikaans was quite good after only 7 days on the road. All of where I’d been (and most of where I was still heading was Afrikaans). Where was I from? How long had I been on the road? Where was I headed? Aren’t I scared? And then they told me about this place I was finding myself at. It was the Oasis Skills Development Center. Mary (the lady photographed with me in the picture below) started it as an NGO after being retrenched from her teaching post many years ago. Together, she and her husband – with his illness and all – built this center from the ground up, in some ways, very literally. She sourced funding and came up with initiatives which I believe keep this center sustainable. It consists of a school for children with disabilities and is also a full blown center where people with disabilities and others learn skills and craft and ultimately partake in manufacture of goods/crafts to fund the center. Mary says that its hard to find a market for some of their goods. They have stacks and stacks of quilted goods and by now loads and loads of fresh produce. And beautiful garden decor and furniture. Its just incredible. And so inspiring. The team of people running this center are a blessing to Upington and I believe to South Africa. In principle, there is a lot of systems in place to assist centers such as these with funding, networking, partners, etc, but in practice, when one seeks out the help of these structures, one often finds ones self on the one end of a phone line that never gets picked up. Its frustrating. I do hope that a whole lot of potential investors, – and people looking to perhaps to link up with them in terms of business – stumble across this post, and take the time to browse through the website of Oasis Skills Development Center. It is truly remarkable. South Africa needs more people like Mary. May she and her team be blessed.
After Upington, it was tough to keep the spirits up I tell you. The road to Kimberley was very dry, very hot, and very long. I put in petrol at Olifantsfontein (which had not seen and elephant since the time of Jan Van Riebeeck). And hit the road. Preparing myself to probably find a town a couple of hundred km down the road. There was still about 400 km to go to Kimberley from Olifantsfontein, and I was already knackered. HOWEVER, that road was so nasty, ugly and uninviting, that there was NO WAY IN HELL, I would rest my head anywhere before Kimberley. Black hills both sides of the roads, blasted to hell for whatever they held in them that was valuable. Trucks carting loads of this blasted mined stuff to wherever. Slow traffic, and to top it off, lots of roadworks and all the glorious ‘stop and go’-s that come with that. Nothing My eyes could ever wish to see again. Gosh. I made one stop in Posmansburg for fuel and a bite to eat at the Wimpy and then it was back on the road which was incredibly tricky to get onto again. By about Barkley West, the road was starting to look a lot more user friendly and easy on the eye, and by that time it was less than 100 km to Kimberley, with at least a couple of hours of daylight, so, while my body was feeling like it could take no more, I kept on until Kimberley.