2016-11-15 to 2016-11-19
Monday night in Hoedspruit I received a call from Christopher at the Woodsman, he is hosting a party for local orphanages in and around Sabie on Friday. He has asked me if I would like to take part in the event and has offered to host me at his house until then. For me this is a great opportunity to spend time and learn about local life so I happily accept.
On Tuesday, I ride into Sabie via Lydenburg. Shortly after I leave Hoedspruit I have my first encounter with South African police, which I have been warned by locals about a propensity for wanting money. Fortunately I have just pulled out of the gas station so I haven’t even had a chance to do anything illegal. The officer asks me for my drivers license and road tax disc, I provide my license and because South Africa honours other countries road tax I tell him mine is covered by the fact that my license plates are valid until next year and he goes with it. We spend a bit of time chatting about what I am doing and he tells me he wishes to do the same thing, so I tell him to hop on but he doesn’t accept. After handing back my license he asks for lunch money. I say no as corruption is an issue in South Africa and I don’t want to be part of the problem. I also didn’t feel truly at risk as I already had my documents back and he said everything was fine.
After riding to Lydenburg I begin the ascent up Long Tom Pass (in this case a Long Tom refers to an artillery weapon used against the British by the Boers in the Second Boer War not a gravity separation device for gold.) The weather has moved in now and the road quickly enters into the clouds. At first water forms on the visor, no issue, but the temperature is dropping rapidly to point that I am afraid the visor may begin icing due to speed. I make it to the top of the pass and begin descending, which is welcome news as the temperature is increasing.
Once I get into Sabie, Christopher and I have lunch then head to his house where he shows me my room. When the kids get home from school we take them caving at one of the local caves. Nina, Cassidy (the daughter of Oscar, who is a shift manager at the Woodsman), and Joshua are with Christopher in the picture below. While we are caving I try my best to explain cave formation (sorry geology friends, I probably messed this up) to the kids but I don’t think they listened. That evening we have excellent Cypriot barbecue, actually the whole week the food was excellent.
Christopher and I spend the rest of the week preparing for the event by picking up vegetables from local farmers, a large barbecue from Christopher’s parent’s, visiting Nelspruit, and taking the kids to the swimming pool. In the evening we chat about travel and finish a few glasses of beer and scotch along the way.
Friday is the big day. Tabo, Doctor, Norma, Christoper, and I spend the morning delivering the food and barbecues to the fairground. Thankfully the staff at the Woodsman (which also has a catering division) has prepared all the salads and readied the chicken on the rotisseries. Jon and Sue (Canadians from two posts ago) have brought in the inflatable slip and slides and bounce house from White River. Once there we are joined by a few other volunteers to cook the food and entertain the kids. William has brought his Jeep Wrangler for the kids to ride in, I end up as line monitor for the Jeep. The Jeep is easily the biggest attraction, and I am kept busy breaking up squabbles, and keeping something resembling order to the lineup. The local equestrian club has also brought four horses for the kids to ride on. As the kids are eating I start rinsing dishes but am soon chased off by the ladies at the dish pit to get lunch for myself. All in approximately 175 kids from the local communities showed up and had a great time at the event. Chris and I clean up and head back to the house.
Chistopher, Jolene, Nina, Joshua, Dushi (Jolene’s mom), and Gran have entirely incorporated me into their family and when I go on Saturday to leave I feel like crying as I will miss being part of their family and have greatly appreciated every moment spent with them.
This week has been interesting because it brings up the point that I don’t know how I will be able to go back to my regular life and “forget this place” when I go home but I guess that is the point of this journey.