After leaving the cheese farm along an easy few kays to Nylstroom I stopped at this gem of a road stall and rested a bit to eat breakfast. Mapita is such an amazing little shop, I had a chat to some fellow travellers and then I was on my way again toward Nylstroom. I must admit I am feeling lethargic, my legs are not cooperating and the wind is still coming from dead ahead, no matter which way I cycle.
About twenty kilometres farther I pulled into another road stall, to have the rest of my breakfast and fill up water bottles. It is also such an amazing place, I had some coffee with the owner and after a rest and a stretch I left for Nylstroom. The last few days I will admit I have not done great distances. The wind is savage and insistent.
Downhill to Nylstroom and I managed to get through town relatively easy. It was hectic and so many people everywhere. I had to stop at a shop to get supplies for the next few days and the police stopped to look at my bike and ask me about my journey. I have never been surrounded by so many cops at once… I promise. So we chatted a bit about the area and they asked many questions about what I do and where I have been.
Just outside of town I stopped at another little shop and had a very interesting talk with the owner, who is a fellow writer and very intrigued by my journey and story. I spent a good hour here and finally headed on my way toward Settlers. (I was told by someone along the way to stop and meet the folks at the bowls club here, I have never heard of Settlers before.)
Settlers is tiny, I found the bowling club easily and had a short visit with the guys at the club. Daylight was fading and I still needed to find a place to sleep. I went on and pulled in at three different farms. Each time I got no answer. It is like everyone is on holiday, or they saw me coming and are hiding… they might have heard about my interactions with the cops outside Louis Trichardt and are scared to let me in.
By now I am a bit hopeless and feeling like I should have stayed in Settlers and found a place there. I have not often been on the wrong side of time with the sun setting, but the few times it has happened – It has not been fun. I finally got to a farm where I was chased by two very large dogs… This seems like a bad thing, but luckily one of the farm workers was close by and gave me the owners’ number to contact him and see if I can crash for the night. And I was invited to stay. I cannot explain the relief.
Slightly off topic for a moment…
If you are planning a cycling trip in the northern parts of South Africa, I highly recommend doing it. The roads are narrow and sometimes make you feel like you have to hold your breath to be as thin as possible. Limpopo has terrible roads – It is a fact, sorry guys. The potholes are enormous. The shoulders are covered in thorns and often there is nothing in the form of a shop or sign of human activity for many hours. But it is such an amazing place. The views are breathtaking, the people are great and I had an absolutely awesome adventure here.
Mpumalanga has winding, steep roads; mountain passes that feel like vertical walls and views that I guarantee are worth the fight to get up those mountains. I fought every step of the way to not give up and turn back down when the road was steep. There are so many places to go and attractions to see. The people are so great and every town has a little bit of history to share. There are some places to avoid and sometimes there are protests and mobs burning tyres about service delivery or something of the sort, but keeping up to date with news and avoiding these areas in times of protests is easy.
I would recommend coming to these places to anyone who wants to go on a bike touring holiday. And I will definitely be back for more adventures.
Back to the story now, The morning after the two dogs nearly ate me for dinner, brought more headwinds (four days in a row now) and a slight detour to Sondela to find out about a volunteer program they offer. Sadly, it is a children’s volunteer program. A great initiative, but I am a bit old for it…
I did get a super close encounter with a zebra along the 8km dirt track into Sondela.
I passed Settlers again on the way back to my route from Sondela and fought hard against the wind to make my way to Marble Hall. Along the way there is one little town called Tuinplaas. There is nothing here, the shop is closed down and the only place I could find to sit and rest was the NG Church. A pretty church with a lovely garden. There are about four houses in the town, and a police station. And a co-op, but it is Sunday so no one is there today. I am pretty sure the police station was closed as well. I saw no movement anywhere.
Moving on, the wind is absolutely terrible today. The last few days it has been constant and frustrating… today, it is relentless and my legs are feeling it. I manage to get another few kilometres done and turned into a house along the way to ask for a place to rest. The cutest Basset hound came to greet me and I got to spend the night on the couch and had a huge dinner
My last few days are here… Marble hall, Groblersdal and then Middleburg before I head to Pretoria for my three week sentence, I mean visit to the city… just kidding, I cannot wait to see the family and my Princess!