Sunday 5th July 09 Ghanzi to Mafikeng

I always thought you spelt Mafikeng as Mafeking but I guess I was wrong. Jan 2012, have just met a young man from Mafikeng who has put me right, apparently you can have 1 i and 1 e in whichever order you like so both Mafikeng and Mafeking are correct. Trivia in the grand scheme but how many of us get annoyed when our surname is consistently mis-spelt? More on there later. I head off putting in the most fuel I can afford.and head many miles South. I see a couple of pans which aren’t submerged and take a short look. Arriving at the border I hope to get my next 3 month ticket which will see me to the end of my visit here but the guy says I have too many days on the existing one and will have to go to the Home Affairs office after my permit has less than 10 days to run. This is most annoying as it will probably be a frustrating wait in a big queue. Oh well, can’t be helped. I get to Mafikeng and the camp site on my GPS is to do with the scouting movement. There is no-one on the gate and the people nearby tell me to just head on down because there should be someone at the main building. There isn’t so I head to where there is a light. I find a guy who is a contractor staying there as he manages a housing programme in one of the townships. He says the xenophobia is rife but the local guys don’t work hard, complain all the time and do work of a low quality so they use keen skilled labour from Mozambique. How can the country get people into work if they don’t want to do the jobs? I don’t know. It is a story I hear not just from white people but from educated black people who have worked hard to get themselves into good positions. I will try to avoid any political comment in this journal but over the next few days I hear quite a lot which I will recount but not put any of my own input.

Monday 6th July 09 Mafikeng to Kimberley

I pack early and hit the road with still no-one about to take my money so I get another nights camping free. Kimberley is my destination today and I am there to see the big hole that was dug by hand in search of diamonds. The campsite is nothing special and the lady there quite rude. I am surprised how expensive it is but she says ‘You have pounds so you are rich’. I try to explain that you still need to have a quantity of a currency rather than just a good exchange rate but she then proceeds to tell me all the accountancy and financial subjects she took at school so she must know. I decide to leave it as she is unfortunately not open to reasoned debate and I have better things to do. I head to the Big Hole site and am pleased that you can see the reconstructed mining town for free and just look at the hole for R20. The tour costs R70 but I have had enough tour experiences for now. It is a huge site and it is worth seeing and coming to terms with the hole being dug by picks and spades from very precarious ropes. Back at the campsite I get a little money and head into town to buy food to cook. I am bothered by several of the car guards who just outright ask me for money even though I haven’t parked a car. They are just begging when they are already in a job. When I get to the campsite I meet a couple called Tommie and Ivonne. They have a shop in a place called Britstown. They have also converted part of their property into a Non Profit Organisation where they care for people in the later stages of terminal illness. They don’t want money but they want the official organisations to stop trying to close them down as the people they help will not receive help anywhere else. I am invited to visit and I will have to think about this as I am not really good around illness. It is a second cold night in a row. Down to freezing so I hope to get warmer at lower altitude even though I am heading South.

Tuesday 7th July 09 Kimberley to Middleburg

I pack in a leisurely fashion this morning and then set off. I make Britstown my first port of call but have already decided I won’t take them up on the offer to stop over. Arriving I go into the shop and meet the mother in law who calls Matt. He is originally from South Africa but now lives in London. He has been at the centre for nearly a year and is going home soon. He introduces me to the patients and explains a bit about the place but I decline the offer to see the poor parts of town. I want to move on. I know there are some of you reading this with strong Christian beliefs and I think that what Tommie and Ivonne would cherish more than anything is your prayers as I could tell from the centre that they are Christian. I don’t know they would want it but I also put their e-mail here in case anyone wishes to express support for the work they are doing (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) .

I head off to my next stop, which is the campsite at Middleberg. I have to phone a guy to open up but it looks okay and is really cheap. I set up and start cooking when a family who live there turn up. The young lad tells me all his troubles and that he wants to come to England because it is the same type of community that it used to be in South Africa!! I listen to his tales of woe and try to offer some positive advice as to how to improve his situation. He is a bit trapped but with luck will work his way out of bother. Early to bed and I don’t hear the sounding of a car horn as a late arrival wants to get in but can’t.

Wednesday 8th July 09 Middleberg to Addo.

The family here give me the info on where to get the cheap diesel and I head to fill up. This saves me about R40 which is nearly a nights camping money in most places and is 2 here in Middleberg. The road is fine and I head through one mountain pass beginning with a K which I fail to note which has a stunning view as you come through. I also pay a quick call to the Mountain Zebra Park at Cradock, which has typically expensive camping (geared to 2 people in a car) so I don’t stay but head on to Addo where I pull into the Orange Elephant Backpackers. The night is much warmer being at only 1,500ft instead of 4,500ft which has been the norm. My brakes are still squealing and I take another look at the wheels. They are still caked in mud from Botswana which is probably dropping very gradually into the brakes and causing this. I vow to fix this tomorrow.

Thursday 9th July 09 Addo

I follow up on my promise and settle down to a day cleaning the wheels out. I do a few more car chores including changing the fan belt as on inspection it is starting to show some cracks and I have been on the same one since I left home. I do some more re-jigging of the spares packing and am pleased to have found a place for that fan I took off even though I think I still need the radiator cowl. I chat to the young black guy working here. He is from Zimbabwe and worries that things may turn out a similar way here. In his words ‘The majority government took over a country that had an efficient infrastructure, if they aren’t careful they will destroy it and then they will lose the head start they had over other countries coming to a local democracy.’ I may post this update in a short while but tomorrow is laundry day and then head into the park to see some elephants.

Friday 10th July 09 Addo

I do my laundry and head off to the park. It turns out that the game viewing area isn’t that much increased from the time I visited in the ‘90’s but I do experience a couple of really good elephant encounters and may go back tomorrow to try and replicate this. I have found a waterhole the herds use and observed their route away from this ending up just where they all cross another road. There are quite a lot of little ones and some juveniles starting to fight for status so I hope to go for some useful video footage. I also picked up some information sheets geared towards children which may prove useful in sharing the experiences I have had this trip.

I am back at the backpackers and the owner is a guitarist so I will see if he knows the trumpeter that Pete Lacey mentioned to me.

This time I really will try to post this on the site.!!!!!!!