Monthly Archives: February 2014

Friday 21/02/2014

South Africa is a diverse country.
Here are some images of what I have seen over the last two weeks

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The view from the Township

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Knysna harbour

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Plettenberg Bay

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Waterfall in “The Crags”

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Xhosa village in Bulungula

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Field of Red-hot Pokers in Southern Drakensberg

At the same time, I have explored rock pools, spoken to a certified healer, visited two “big trees”, (yellowwoods, aged somewhere between 600 and 2000 years old, depending on what you’re reading) and been told I was under arrest, (minor problem with a visa).

Learnt about the language of the Xhosa, which has three click sounds:
Ch or S, which sounds like our tsk of disapproval
X, which is a bit more like the sound you make when pretending to be a horse trotting
Q, which is an explosive sound, rather like when a bubble gum bubble breaks.

I saw the endangered Samango monkeys at Hogsback, which claims to be the inspiration for Mirkwood in
Lord of the Rings.
I have a picture of “the worlds rarest plant”- Woods Cycad in Durban Botanic Gardens.

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Finally, a little curiosity. While I was being shown round the forest and coast near Knysna by my English guide, Jay, we started talking about those coincidences and serendipity in life that take on a certain significance. I told him about Carl Jung’s theory of the Collective Unconscious and Synchronicity, which he was not familiar with. That afternoon I arrived at Wild Spirit Lodge in The Crags. After I dropped my bag in the dorm, I sat down at the main refectory table on the veranda and on it was Jung’s “Modern Man in Search of a Soul”. I smiled to myself and asked who was reading it, but no-one knew how it got there,

Next stop, Nepal!

Durban Monday 17/02/14

My first night in Knysna I found a funky little bistro called Bloo

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I had to ring a bell to be let in through a grill and shown upstairs. It felt like I was going into a speakeasy. I had a lentil and spinach “bobotie”, a kind of flan, and Francoise Hardy was playing in the background.

The next day I went to Monkey World and Birds of Eden. They are both sanctuaries for animals kept in captivity, often as pets. Here, at least, they can lead more normal lives, but they will never be able to be released into the wild. The birds were impossible to photograph, but here are two of the inhabitants of Monkey World – neither of which is a monkey.
Ring-tailed Lemur
Ring-tailed Lemur

Atlas, male gibbon
Atlas, male gibbon

Also visited the local township.
The oldest part had mainly wooden shacks and all the shops and trades were run by non South Africans.
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Once someone has built on a piece of land they can apply to own it. Houses in brick are now supplied to people over 28 years old. The houses have got bigger, but the land surrounding them has got smaller and they are more crowded together. There was a “community house” where those who were considered to have committed a crime were dealt with by a committee of residents, as the police generally treat the township as a no go area. Unlike some which have been in the media here, the sanctions are not violent and our guide – an Englishman who has lived there – told us about the sense of community and that young people respect their elders.
There is a strong Rasta group around Judah Square.

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We met a charming man called Brother Jebs, who was a San, one of the original tribal groups in Southern Africa.He was small and softly spoken, sometimes dropping into a whisper, with some nice reggae moves.He explained about
the beliefs of Rastafari – that they do not smoke cigarettes, not eat meat, fish or eggs, as they consider that to be savagery.

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When I showed him a picture of my son, Mark, with dreadlocks, he was very excited and though he usually keeps his head covered, asked me to take this picture

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That’s all for now. I have a problem with my WordPress app so have done this on Safari, so there may be some oddities

Sunday 02/02/2014

After Cape Town, went to Mossel Bay and stayed in a defunct railway carriage on the beach. The town is a bit dreary, but I did meet up with my old friends, the Rock Hyrax, here known as Dassies, at St. Blaize Cave and finally got a good photo

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Also I passed a school called Milkwoods, obviously private, and there were black and white girls and boys all together in the playground. In spite of the grave political problems here, this gave me hope for the future generation. Maybe they will be able to get past the feelings of resentment and the resurgence of tribalism that dominate today.

I then went to the Cango Caves in the Swartberg Range. They are not as beautiful as La Grotte des Demoiselles that are near Ganges, where we lived in France, not are the chambers as large, but I did do the “Adventure Tour”. This involved a lot of creeping, crawling and scrambling about and took over two hours. Only one or two bruises/abrasions and I particularly enjoyed the “Postbox” which was a (too short) slide down through a narrow slot.

Spent a couple of days chilling out at Fairy Knowe hostel in Wilderness. Went for a couple of longish walks along the river in the forest

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Crossing the river on a pontoon

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Visiting the waterfall

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And clambering up the side of the valley to see the view

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I am now in a harbour town called Knysna. I will fill you in with my experiences here when I have got to The Crags.