Askham was a nice stay, I spent the morning wandering around and meeting some of the locals of the town. It did not take long, because, well, it is a tiny place. Now I head to tar roads again, beautiful, smooth tar roads…
I am heading to Upington along the R360. The road is like a really slow roller coaster. It goes up a dune, then down again, around a slow bend and then around another bend. I can imagine that in a car it feels like being on a boat. I am surrounded by red dunes and salt pans and although the road is quite monotonous, I am happy to be on tar and heading to a town with signal.
In Upington I have to get my camera looked at, it seems to be broken. That is about the best diagnosis I can do at the moment. Along the way to Upington I stayed at some amazing places. I stayed at Rooipan Guest house one night, Kalahari Guest House the next and then in Upington, at a friend of a friend from, you guessed it, High School. Every place I stayed was amazing and the hospitality is unmatched. At Kalahari Guest House I was up the creek without a paddle. Well, technically I was up a waterless creek with a paddle. And I had the entire camp grounds to myself. It was deafeningly silent and peaceful.
One of the days I was cycling toward Upington, I stopped at a picnic spot to swap empty water bottles with full ones and take a rest, but the only table at the picnic area was occupied. My dilemma is that I have to put the bike against something to stand. And there are no trees here. So this is the only place I can stop and take my backpack off. So I invaded their picnic. Before I knew it I had a sandwich in my hand and a glass of juice. My lunchtime companions are on the way back from the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, and we had a lovely visit in the shade, away from the scorching Kalahari sun.
At another picnic site, I pulled off to rest for a bit and lay down on the bench to rest my back. I ended up falling asleep, on the side of the road. I woke up a bit later and wiped the sleepy look off my face and continued on my way. Technically speaking, I have now officially slept on the side of the road.
Upington was a surprising little town, it is a very pretty and neat place and a lot smaller than I imagined, but it lacks the small town feeling I associate with towns in the Kalahari. Maybe I was tired, or still asleep from my nap on the side of the road. I will be back to Upington at some stage when I row the Orange River from Source to Mouth, so I will give it another shot.
I spent Saturday wandering about Upington trying to get someone to look at my camera, but found no help. The cable I need, I will only find in a bigger place with a decent camera shop. So I got going at about midday and only managed to get about 40km done before I found a place to spend the night.
I had a great visit and braai at my hosts for the evening and in the morning I left with ominous clouds looming overhead and threatening to give me a surprise shower at any time. The wind was also back after a day of respite. I like the word ‘ominous’ it sounds so… ominous and dramatic.
I braved the headwinds and walked often. The beautiful smell of rain kept me on the lookout for a place to pull into in case I needed a quick shelter from a downpour. And it just so happens that at about midday I had to pull into a farm and rush into a storeroom to get out of the rain. Ironically, by the time I found the farmer and explained my presence, the rain stopped. I finished my tea and grape jam toast and was on the road again, heading toward Groblershoop.
Great news Folks… The wind has changed direction and is now propelling me over hills and down the road at speeds previously unobtainable by bicycle. Before I knew it, I was a stones throw from Groblershoop and I drove over a thorn. So I walked toward town. Just outside of town I found a place to rest for the night and get my tyres fixed. My spares are all flat as well, so I have to patch a few holes.
In the morning I fixed my punctures and headed to town to have a look around and sit at the local coffee shop and do some writing. My hosts had called ahead to a farm down the road that I can stay at. So I have a bit of time to sit and catch up on things.
I passed a shop that brought back memories of being a kid:
My original plan was to head from Upington to Keinhardt and then Hopetown and Kimberley. Closing the circle by heading to Christiana and then Potch, Magaliesburg and end in Pretoria. Now, due to my three broken spokes on the back wheel, I cannot risk it, so I am heading back to Pretoria without the stop in Keinhardt and Hopetown. The broken spokes are from the bad roads I was on from Van Zylsrus to Askham.
At my stop for the night, we braaid a snoek and I fixed seven more holes in two tubes. This place is not kind to cyclists. I have now run out of patches and I hope I find a shop before I find more thorns. From here I am heading to Griekwastad, where I will be staying with relatives of my hosts for a night or two.
Griekwastad is a small place with a lot of history. Almost every town I have visited has an amazing history and back story. It is like some of the stories are from spy novels, or western movies and war films.
I visited the execution tree and some of the old buildings in town and I went to a ram auction. It was fun to watch how these auctions work and how everyone decides and calculates which animal to buy. I was fascinated and had a lot of fun, I had to fight the urge to bee on the animals. It looks like fun. Next time I am also packing in my ‘vellies’.
After two great days in Griekwastad, I was off to Campbell where my hosts called ahead and arranged for me to stay at a farm about 6km outside of the little town. Campbell is another tiny place with a massive history and I walked around at the oldest Missionary Church that is still in use in the Southern Hemisphere. Say that three times fast. Later in the afternoon I learnt to make wors or pipe steak as it is now known to me. It is quite a weird and squishy affair. I was amazed at how the intestines hold so much mince and how fast the sausage pressing machine works. I do not know the proper name for the giant injection-looking tool, but it is basically a giant injection that injects meat into pig intestines. And then we eat it.
I am in Kimberley now. At a guest house my Griekwastad hosts arranged for me. I did a 100km day today in the fastest time I have ever completed a 100km session and I had another afternoon nap. The best way to end a long day in the saddle.