Day 42 – 46

So there I was, knackered by a big toe nail … Foot up on the bucket, I sat the entire day, nursing by boo-boo, while the resort slowly filled all around me. A fishing competition was scheduled at Loskop Dam for the weekend, and the caravans, tents and boats began rolling in thick and fast on Thursday afternoon. Mostly it seemed to be Ouma and Oupa, arriving with caravan and boat, in good time to secure the perfect site for the kids who’d surely be arriving on Friday. Yet by the time the sun began to set, one could clearly see that Ouma and Oupa still had a lot of life left in them …

The music began to play and as night fast approached so the volume increased. First it was Theuns Jordaan, then Juanita du Plessis, followed by Joe Black and Snotkop; and then suddenly it was Abba and the Bee-Gees turn. That was until the security arrived …

Apparently someone had phoned and complained about the noise but no-one seemed to know who the elusive caller was. The DJ ‘oomie’ with glass in hand began to get stroppy with the head of security, demanding to know who’d complained. So, of course, said head of security would come to us first, asking us if we’d made the call. We’d been singled out, what with our signage announcing loud and proud, Cycle for Bibles. Why people think Christians can’t have fun, take a joke or enjoy anything, I’d love to know? We’re normal people, not a bunch of pious kill-joys with our noses constantly in the Bible. Anyway, we promptly proceeded to inform the security that it was in fact, not us that had complained. We were actually quite enjoying the tunes. We never did find out who complained but the music was turned off in the end.

The following morning the ‘DJ’ slowly drove past us as we packed up camp … looking. He probably still thought it was us … or maybe he was just feeling a bit fragile after last night’s indulgence. At least our neighbours were pleasant enough … even came to chat about our project and at the mention of donations the ‘oom’ jumped on the banking details, very enthusiastic about contributing. He said, and I quote, ‘I just feel I must’.

We said a fond farewell to Loskop Dam, exiting almost unnoticed among the myriad boats that were lined up at the resort entrance, registering for the competition, no doubt.

Back on the N11, we had to stop to do a shop. Finding a Spar in Marble Hall we pulled into the parking area where I had the desirable job of looking after the bikes while mom and Suzann went in. Anyway, I wasn’t going anywhere very rapidly in any case … due to the old toe, hence I was the perfect candidate to wait in the vehicle. As I was still sitting there, minding my own business, a young man came up to the window to ask what we were all about. While chatting with him, he mentioned that he used to have a Bible but gave it to a taxi driver, believing that somehow he would get another. I reached back into the box of Bibles packed in the foot well behind the driver’s seat and pulled a Good News out. Handing it to him made me realize why it’s said that it is better to give than to receive. The look of pure joy that came over his face, and the reverence with which he took the Bible from me, carefully cradling it in his two hands, made my spirit soar. It’s times like these that make all the setbacks, troubles, illness, pain, compromise, etc. sooo worth it. And then to give another Bible to his brother who soon joined us … what a wonderful start to the day!

Shop done, Suzann was ready to take on the R33 that would take us from the N11 towards the N1 and Modimole. I slid in behind the wheel of the bakkie, gingerly sliding my slops off, careful not to touch my still heavily bandaged big toe. I’d give driving a go as the bum foot just had to give ‘petrol’ and all the major stepping was left to my left ‘clutch’ foot. And so it was that I was able to drive relatively comfortably behind Suzann, pedalling away under a bruised sky that ominously threatened rain. Also not a hundred years later, and it began to spit and spot. But did Suzann stop? Oh no! She just pedalled faster, apparently trying to pedal out under the large black cloud before it deposited all its contents on her. She made it …

With perfect cycling conditions … cool, with a tail wind and a road with a slight downward tilt, she cranked out a 90 plus kilometre day to Modimole, through the farmlands and cotton fields of this part of SA’s mega-farmers.

Just shy of Modimole she called it day, and we detoured towards Bela-Bela and the Forever Warmbaths Resort. Passing the ATKV Klein Kariba Resort first, we spontaneously decided to stay there instead. Turning in at reception the green lawns lay an expanse before us, and a hotel lobby couldn’t be fancier. But that’s where it ended … The campsite’s a dust bowl in the valley with paved blocks designating each site. This knackered us with respect to pegging the tent. We just had to hope that the brisk breeze wouldn’t turn to a gale in the night, resulting in lift-off … Paving is never a good idea for a tent, even at the best of times, but this paving had sunk in places causing our tent to drop off slightly in the rear, making the blood run to our heads as we lay. Cranial congestion on a cold windy night makes for much snoring, and what with the proximity of our neighbours I don’t know who had much sleep that night.

Up early, we set to breaking camp, not bothering to make the hundred mile trek to the ablutions. We consequently left with unwashed faces … what would granny have said if she were still here? Skande …

Choosing not to cycle again after such a long day yesterday (no heroics for a body just recovered from tick bite fever), Suzann drove us via Vaalwater towards Lephelale and Marakele National Park. Here we’d stay a few days to do some bike maintenance before backtracking a bit to do the requisite k’s we’d driven.

Shacking up under the thorn trees of Marakele, we would first have to wash our bikes before working on them as they were covered in a layer of red dust. The GPS had taken us on a gravel shortcut to Marakele instead of heading straight towards Thabazimbe on the tar. At least my mother saw a rhino and an elephant as we drove along the boundary fence of Marakele … on said gravel, or should we say sand, road.

Bike maintenance required us Google ‘how to adjust disc brakes on a mountain bike’. Unable to watch any YouTube videos on the subject since the internet was too slow, we had to read articles to sus out what to at least try. Bikes upturned on handle-bars and saddles in the red dirt, we went at the brakes with Allen Keys and multi-tools. Eventually we had the rear wheel of my bike off, but we couldn’t get it back on again. Try as we might the disc had got stuck and the chain had come off somehow and it was a complete mess. Stepping back in exasperation, I announced, ‘I’m going to throw this bike away!’ But with patience and perseverance we got the wheel unstuck and back in place … and the brakes adjusted as well. With a great sense of accomplishment we sat down to a well-deserved cup of coffee.

The peace of a bushveld evening began to descend over the campsite. As the last rays of the dying day painted the sky orange and the glowing ball dropped below the scraggly thorn trees, the fires began to crackle around us with the comforting murmur of voices in the background. The dust settled on another amazing day in nature.

The following morning saw us up and out to backtrack a way for Suzann to cycle the kilometres we’d just driven the day before. The day was perfect for cycling, sunny but cool. Heading out she cycled past game farm after game farm … the entire morning. My mother and I did some game viewing as we slowly drove behind her pumping legs. We saw nyala, impala, kudu and warthog. The warthogs had burrowed under the fences and were grazing on the verge as Suzann cycled by. She gave them such a fright that they went charging off along the fence desperately looking for the hole where they’d come out. Charging along next to Suzann, they looked as if they were engaged in a race. That was until they veered off suddenly, bulleting through their hole with dust flying. Quite entertaining it was.

Cycling done, we returned to Marakele for a well-deserved rest and a bit of game viewing the following day.

It’s nearly time to say farewell to South Africa. Botswana is calling …

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