Sunday, January 08, 2006

Red hills, ostriches and port!

Funky ostrich
Originally uploaded by CharlesFred.
We are now in a semi-desert area, known as the Klein (or Little) Karoo, having made the 800 km trip over from Hogsback (again this distance would take us just a little bit further than Basel, on the way to Rome, or if we were continuing on our journey from Basel, we would be between Arezzo and Rome, maybe in Chiusi or Orvieto).

We set off in the early morning, with the mist still thick and the rain still pouring down. Down the valley we went and then all the way down to the coast - the Sunshine Coast - with the same weather which accompanied us all the way along the Garden Route, until we stopped for lunch at a garage in a place called George, Fred getting us into a Wimpy. The food served there was about the worst you could possibly imagine, but it did give us timke to look at where we were going - by now we were heading for Cape Town) - and we decided to cross over the coastal mountain range (the Outenaqua?) and across to the Karoo.

Being semi-desert, one might have assumed it to be dry and sunny and that was very much the hope. As it turned out we did get a bit of sun after we crossed the pass, but it soon clouded over again, but this time dry.

The colours were simply amazing.. the dark clouds over the mountains, making them look purple providing a vivid background to the visats of red earth (and white sheep), blue fijnbos (fine bush), yellow flowers of the aloe veras, the bright greens of the willow trees and the pale yellows of the grasses on the verge. It was as if I was being teased by thye powers that be, my camera now not working and so unable to pick up on these incredible colours in this particular light.

As we descended we came into ostrich farm country around Oudtshoorn. Funny to see these birds in their pens, each pen filled with ostriches of the same age, from small chicks to large adults. You can ride them too, but both of us being over 70 kg, we would not have been allowed!

As we followed the R62 (the longest wine route in the world, apparently), we passed the Red Hills, and again, I so much missed having a camera as the forms and colours and shadings were outstandingly beautiful. Maybe we go there for a walk tomorrow.

We have ended up in a place called Calitzdorp (quite by coincidence - nothing tom do with the fact that it is the Port (wine) centre of South Africa! Welook forward to tasting it with our dinner (of ostrich steak, of course!). We are staying in Het Dorpshuis and we think we will stay for 2-3 days, there being so much to do and see here, about which, more later. Great ladies running Die Dorpshuis - Alison and Tiny, both make us feel really at home.

As it happens, the ostrich cook is not here today and Tiny, the evening manager and cook - who is not SO tiny, says we can better wait for tomorrow for ostrich, so we ate Karoo lamb... delicious, polished off with glass after glass of port, on-the-house, eating our dinner in the company of some very pleasant South Africans, a change from the backpacker people we have been mixing with.

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