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29 August 2012

Freedom, Low Flying, Close Calls and a Maiden Voyage

“So there I sat, excited as all hell, and ready to go. My Maiden Voyage, my very first solo road trip! I couldn’t believe it was really happening.”

  I loved the feeling of having the freedom to turn down an interesting looking road, and explore without having someone hounding me about the time.

I stopped at any interesting looking shops. The one was this tiny little shop at South Port with a huge chalk board facing the main road which said “Sayidie’s Farm Stall. Farm Fresh Milk and Fresh Produce” and I just couldn’t resist pulling in and checking it out. As you climb out the car an old world feel hits you like you just jumped through a porthole to the 1950s with the geraniums flowering in pots and hanging baskets outside, and the calico cat sunning herself. You walk inside and can’t quite decide which way to walk first, towards the shelves of home-made preserves and jams, or towards the hay-bale and wicker basket displays of fruit and vegetables, I decided to keep right and work my way around. As you walk a little deeper into the shop, you notice this huge metal tank in the back corner, and for those of us who did our history and know country life (or the older generation) we instantly recognize it as a milk tank! And that milk is indeed irresistible, so back to the car I ran and emptied out one of my water bottles, just to fill it with milk, after all not only was this fresh full cream milk, but it was super cheap too. I ended up enjoying the milk so much (it had an inch of thick cream on top) that on my way home, I stopped and bought 5 liters of it. YUMMY!!! As I walked out, I was amazed to see a fellow walking in with a 25l drum, when asking why he gets so much, he told me it was to make home-made Feta Cheese! Now if only I had listened carefully enough to how he said he makes it.

And then of course my one friend and I went Chinese store hopping in Sheppie to try find a fedora hat, which we didn’t find in any Chinese store, but due to my friend’s good fashion sense and knowledge of various clothing stores, we found at a Jet Mart on markdown from R79 to R20, and at the till I got the awesome surprise that it had been marked even more down to only R10. SCORE!!! So now when I am not wearing my wide brimmed white summery beach hat, or my leather cowboy hat, I’m walking around looking like a female version of Neil Caffery from the White Collar series. And that’s from a girl who has always held onto the belief that I am not a hat wearing kind of person.

Then of course was the trip to Oribi, with an old friend and two that just didn’t know they were my friends yet. The jokes and laughter of a car full of friends is always a “Be There Moment”, recounting the jokes and sights just would not be the same if you were not there. But what I can tell you is that when you arrive at the Picnic area and the bottom of Oribi Gorge and are ready to embark on your hike, the Hoopoe Falls hike, as strenuous as this 4-5 hour hike may be is well well worth it. The awe-inspiring cliffs that you are surrounded by, the sometimes clam and sometimes crazy river that you walk along, the cool forests that you pass through are all good reminders that we are but merely small and insignificant human beings. Taking along our costumes and swimming at the bottom of the falls was freezing to say the least (and the moment that I dropped my car keys in the bottom of the river was heart stopping), and taking along food and water was essential. I was severely disappointed that my pictures were all lost when my memory card decided to malfunction mid-hike, however delighted that my friends had taken so many photos and shared them with me. Driving out of Oribi Gorge that evening, we had converted a city boy to hiking, made new friends and memories and were exhausted but content, the sun busy setting behind us as if the gorge itself were saying bon-voyage and come again soon.

On the Sunday I took a relaxed drive home (as you know, also stopping at the farm stall for more milk). I saddens me to see how even on a Sunday afternoon people insist on going at speeds that ought to be considered low-flying, they endanger themselves and all those around them. But you know me, I didn’t quite drive like a granny, but I certainly stayed within the speed limit. And the benefits to that are not only arriving with your life and car intact, but being able to enjoy the scenery. So I can just be glad for the upbringing I have had, to never forget to stop and smell the roses, or whatever other flowers are around.