I have managed to survive the roads, and just arrived at Derdepoort border post for two nights. It is hot here, and windy, but so peaceful to be on the outskirts of the country. Basically, if South Africa was a giant pie, and I was a little person on that pie, I would be sitting with my feet hanging off the edge of the crust right now. I could do with some pie.
I left the farm after coffee and rusks, with a giant lunch tin and a bag full of biltong and drywors. I have had to repack again to make place for all the food I have been given for the road. I had a short stretch of road to do today and I managed to arrive in Derdepoort just after lunch.
Arriving at my hosts for the night, I was shown to my room where I will be crashing. I have a whole apartment to myself, complete with a fridge filled with soft drinks and whiskey mini’s, Coffee and rusks and more food to pack in for the road when I leave. This journey has been absolutely breathtaking and humbling at the same time. I went for a walk up to the border post to stretch my legs and give the backside a rest from my saddle. At the top of the hill, there is an abandoned hospital, a post office and a mortuary. And of course the border control station with living quarters. I ventured into the abandoned hospital for a look around…
What an eerie place, it makes funny noises and there are still operating tables standing in some of the rooms. I have mentioned before that I am not squeamish, and I am also not easily spooked, but I got some photos of the place and wasted no time getting out. It was unnerving to walk around the abandoned, half-collapsed and over grown building. The fact that people lay in these rooms, some sick, some injured, some dying… and now it is just an empty shell with grass growing in the cracks.
Of course, a bird took off from a rafter as I got into the place, which made me jump and check if anyone saw me being frightened by a pigeon… then I got freaked out because, well, what if someone DID see me? That would mean that I am being watched by dead people. And if I can’t see the dead people that are watching me, they have home field advantage… I took some pictures and walked out as quickly as possible with my ego and dignity intact. I was definitely not going back to fetch either one. It is like the place was deserted in a rush, there are papers blowing around and filing cabinets containing patient files still standing around. Most of the files have been destroyed by the rain and sun over the years. But some are still legible. The x-ray room is almost completely intact, minus the roof and expensive equipment. I would love to have seen this place in full swing when it was operational. Oh, an operational hospital… so Punny.
I did not venture close to the mortuary at the end of the row of buildings. I figured one eerie, abandoned building for the day is enough, besides, what if there is another pigeon there?
I shook off the haunted hospital, I went into the abandoned post office, which was thankfully not as eerie, because lets face it, no scary movie ever took place in a post office. I saw the average things you would see in any abandoned post office, a lot of letters on the floor, and no one at the help desk. Come to think of it, most post offices in South Africa could be considered abandoned then…
Derdepoort is not actually a town, as I thought it was. It is just a farm with a petrol station, a general dealer and a workshop. You can buy anything you can think of at this shop, and it is the supply stop for most of the surrounding lodges and farmers. The great thing is that everyone knows each other, so there is always a buzz of conversation and laughter around the place.
Up on the hill at the border station, I walked around and took some photos of Botswana. I was told by the police I could walk into Botswana quickly and take a photo or two. So I illegally entered the country and got a snappy of me standing with one foot in SA and one in Botswana. A cliché and overdone thing, but I felt naughty doing it, so no one can stop me. The lady in the office shouted at me for being in the country without my passport, but I told her I was just taking a picture and would walk back to my country as soon as I was done. She clicked her tongue at me and told me I was supposed to get my passport stamped.
Back on home soil, I went to feed the animals in the camp west of the house. And the next moment a herd of Veloceraptors were chasing us. Okay, they were not really Veloceraptors, they where Emu’s, but they run very similar to the Raptors in JurassicPark. I think I have found where Steven got his inspiration for his killing machines in the trilogy. The Emu’s are so used to people, they followed us down the road to the feeding station, which is at the end of the runway. A dirt runway for small planes and bush pilots. After taking some photo’s of the raptors and hearing the very strange noises they make, we went further into the bush to feed the other animals. Kudu, Warthog, Impala and a few Birds (I just realised I don’t know many birds on a first name basis, I call them all ‘birds’, very prejudiced of me.)
Wow, I was meters away from the animals as they come to feed as if I were invisible. We drove back with the sun setting over the runway and the bushveld surroundings, past the flood line from earlier in the year where the river rushed down from Botswana at nearly three meters high… the watermarks where the flood passed, is too high for me to reach, even if I jump as high as I can. Strange to think the flood happened a few months ago, during one of the worst droughts in many years.
On the property, there are a few hippo’s grazing like it is nothing strange. Sometimes up to eight of them come to feed about six meters from the patio where I am sitting. They come from the Mariko River and for about two years now, they come up to the house to feed, there is hardly any grazing left in the bush for them. The drought has taken its toll on these giant beasts as well. They stomp around munching grass, lucern and potential burglars. You cannot walk around from about five thirty in the evenings, Hippo’s run faster than Usian Bolt, so even he might break a sweat trying to escape them on foot, We drive in and out of the property for safety reasons.
I am heading along the border tomorrow for a few kays, about 35km with Botswana on my right and Madikwe Nature Reserve on my left. I hope to be halfway to Zeerust tomorrow evening. Hopefully I get to see some elephant in the reserve, and I am told the rhino also spend a lot of time along the roads I will be driving.