Saturday, August 6, 2011

Eselbank and Beyond...


That night was COLD! Our family slept in one tent dressed in everything we had, and we still almost froze to death. They didn't think it was funny at the time, but it contributed to them remembering this as a stand out trip. It also served as a trip that shifted boundaries.

South Africa has a history of race tension, and crime is a problem. So a large portion of the populace has withdrawn into their own little dens where they feel safe. The problem is that in such a situation people (especially different races) don't talk to each other or get exposed to each other's cultures and ideas, and the first feeling when in each other's company is one of suspicion. It's a sad situation. The truth is the "security" people think they have is actually robbing them of their freedom.

To my family (most families) the idea of sleeping somewhere out in the open, with no security, fairly close to a settlement like this would have been totally foreign had they been told this beforehand. They probably would have opted out. And they would have missed out on this incredible experience. Our country is rich in history, cultures and natural beauty. You just have to go out and experience it. Don't try the same approach near a city though.

The sun rising over Eselbank:

(Photo by White Stripes)

Another photo later that morning. Notice some snow still on the mountain peaks. Winters here are cold.

Eselbank's main street:

Eselbank has no municipality. The community runs itself. They mostly work on surrounding farms and the people poor by our Western standards. Yet this community doesn't live in squalor. You can see the pride they take in their homes, gardens and dress. This was a Sunday morning and each were dressed in their Sunday best, on their way to church. It is exactly that, their sense of pride and self worth, that sets this community apart from others.

(Photo by Rustyb)

We meanwhile went in search of the waterfall.

(Photo by Rustyb)

It's quite a sight!

(Photo by White Stripes)

Trailrider, White Stripes, Kermit, Asterix, Firefly:

(Photo by White Stripes)

We said our goodbyes to White Stripes, Merrycan and Rustyb, who would be staying another couple of nights, and took on the rest of the Cederberg.

Our trusty ride:

The scenery around here is breathtaking. You can not capture it on film. It's not only the scenery, but the open spaces between the majestic mountains. it's something to experience.

There was lots of water around. Trying to get a water-crossing pic:

Now this is what a water-crossing should look like!

It seems deeper than it actually is. That wave is only there for a second. Heeltyd Speeltyd.

Further along the road we came across this interesting site:

The whole mountain side is laid out with stones. It is too big to read unless you go closer. I don't know who put it here or why, but it must have taken a lot of effort!

Approaching the end of the plateau:

Now we find ourselves on "official" roads again and we had a whole lot of passes lined up before we go back.

First up - Grootrivierhoogte Pass:

You descent into valleys and rise over mountains, with the most incredible vistas around you all the time. What an incredible place.

Blinkberg pass:

Gydo pass towards Ceres:

And west again over Nuwekloof Pass.

And just like that, the trip (and this report) was over.

We crammed so much into two days, it was total sensory overload. Piketberg, the passes, Leipoldt, Wupperthal, Eselbank and above all, the Cederberg. Doing a trip like this over a period of a week would be much better of course, but if I had to wait for a week to become available we might never do it. Seeing and sharing it was better than not seeing it at all. The time is now. If a week does become available we can always do it again.

Even the Nissan enjoyed it!

So where do we go to next...


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