Day 47 – 48

… and there we were forced to stay at Marakele another day. Why? We still had to get my mother’s glasses fixed after she sat the lens out in the Drakensberg. Hence we were out bright and early.

Running into our first snag for the day we got held up a while at reception. Needing to extend our stay by another day proved more challenging than expected. The signal was neither here nor there, and the speedpoint just wouldn’t maintain connectivity despite the receptionist standing up and waving the thing in the air. Finally she resorted to walking out of the office and began to parade around, waving her hands in the air … but still, nothing. Thankfully, she suggested we go to town first and on our return, we could try again.

Following the GPS took us on a wild optometrist chase. Firstly, the frustrating device directed us to a non-existent SpecSavers. Then she rerouted us to a medical centre for mine employees only. Thank goodness the pharmacist there could direct us to another pharmacy for further directions. Parking around the corner from the pharmacy, mom went in to ask for directions to a private optometrist while we waited in the vehicle. While waiting we were approached by the local car guard who we gave a Bible. Seeing this, another three men approached, also wanting Bibles. What a bumper day it turned out to be, what with four Bibles finding a new home.

Meanwhile, the lady at the pharmacy had arrived by the driver’s window with mom in tow. Apparently her directions were one to many for mom to remember, so she’d taken it upon herself to come and explain to the driver personally. Despite her kind effort, the directions were still a bit sketchy, leaving us to wander about in the residential streets of Thabazimbi. Thaba is quite a beautiful place, full of large well-kept houses with green lawns and lovely shady trees. But we were not here to sight-see. Losing patience, we stopped at a nearby physiotherapist office to ask again. Here we learned that the optometrist was in fact, in the dental centre we’d passed earlier on, thinking we were wrong because of the huge tooth on the signboard. Anyway, we finally ran the optometrist to earth and mom could go in to enquire about the possibility of having her specs repaired.

Expecting this to be a drawn-out procedure, Suzann and I settled in for a long wait in the vehicle outside. I even got my laptop out to try to publish the latest diary posts on the website. But I’d hardly got the thing started up when mom was back in the bakkie … sorted, with no charge to have the lens reinserted. What a blessing that the frame was not, as we’d initially thought, bent.

Now I had to balance the laptop carefully while Suzann headed to the local Spar to fill up the groceries in anticipation of our impending border crossing into Botswana. While mom and Suzann went to shop, I sat in the parking lot and got all the diary entries published … finally.

Heading back to Marakele, we first stopped off at reception to try the credit card machine again. This time, however, the transaction went through at the first try. Now we could get back to our campsite where the washing had been left soaking in Omo.

Mom headed off to do the washing while Suzann and I tried to stuff the groceries into the drawers, with some success … we’d have to eat the rest for supper … and we did.

Once the washing was pegged safely on the makeshift line that Suzann had rigged up between two thorn trees, we decided to head out for an afternoon game drive. Not that we expected to see many animals in the 30 plus degree heat, but at least we could escape it in the air-conditioned car. And, of course, we’d escape the ostrich that made her afternoon rounds in the campsite every day. My mother was mortally afraid of the big bird and herded us all into the tent at the very sight of this feathered visitor. I must say, she was a bit intimidating (the ostrich, that is) with that massive toenail that could rip a hole in your guts … but the thing seemed a bit affected, or curious, I’m not too sure which, because she wondered about in aimless circles and would peer around the tent, coming out of no-where, to scare the living daylights out of my mother.

Returning from a relatively fruitless drive, game viewing wise, Suzann and I set to fixing the irritating ‘ting’ that had appeared on my bike. Easy enough fix though it turned out to be. The brake adjustment we’d done a day ago had moved the entire mechanism a bit close to the rotating disc of the front wheel, causing it to ‘catch’ the metal at every revolution, making the ‘ting’ noise. A few swift turns with the multi-tool and everything was just fine again.

Our last task of the day was to change the batteries on our headlamps. They’d all become so poor, you had to strike a match to see if they were glowing …

With glasses repaired, groceries drawers filled, bikes adjusted and headlamps burning brightly again, we settled down to another balmy bushveld evening. The fire crackled as the sun set the sky ablaze in a riot of orange, and the trees turned black. The peace settled heavy as a blanket over the veld, the quiet broken only by the hoot of an owl and the sizzle of steak fat dripping into the coals.

The following morning saw the dawn of another scorcher, so we had to get a move on early so that Suzann could catch the cool of the morning for most of her ride. I was still not able to get a shoe on but the toe was healing fast so I drove back-up with ease.

Heading out toward Lephalale, the road was a steady but slight uphill, challenging Suzann as the temperature steadily rose to 28, then 29, then 30 degrees. With a mere 5km to go before the turn-off to Molalatau Lodge, our home for the night, the bakkie registered an outside temperature of 30 degrees. I sped up next to Suzann while mom called out this info, asking if she’d rather stop. Turned out, she was only going for another 2 minutes or so, hence she pulled off on the side of the road and we loaded the bikes. A few minutes later and we were at the lodge.

Molalatau is a nice enough place … a bit of a work in progress. It would be decidedly better if there were fewer flies and ‘miggies’ about … oh, and if the campsite could’ve been cleared of buck excrement … their ‘drolletjies’ are everywhere. At least the thorn trees provide some shade even though, what appears to be their seeds, are sticky as glue when you step on them. For this, and other reasons (thorns we’d not initially noticed), we had to put the tent up twice. The first attempt was under the thorn tree on top of all the thorns that would definitely cause us to pop … or rather, our air mattresses to blow down. Realizing this … a bit too late … we had to drop the tent and shift it onto a cement slab … then obviously having to put it up again. From our current vantage point we have a beautiful view of the sable antelope, come to drink just a short distance from the campsite. Warthogs are scratching around, monkeys hanging from the trees and mongooses running around the ablutions. No-one else seems to be around, not even in the lovely wooden cottages lining the river bank of the dry Mokolo River.

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