Another long day - The ninth step ... Somewhere in South Africa - CycleBlaze

December 15, 2020

Another long day

The sun was not yet up but we were ten kilometers down the road already.
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Always good when there's less than a hundred kays to go.
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The road was pretty flat and to start off with there was very little traffic.  So we ambled along enjoying the spaces in our heads and around us.  With not that much to see along the Karoo roads there is a lot of time to enjoy one's own head.  I tend to spend a lot of time listening to music in my head (I don't have any means of listening to music otherwise).  The problem is that I repeat the same songs over and over.

Lots of very little.
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Every now and then we had gneiss outcrops. These are the preferred environment of one of our bogey birds - Cinnamon-breasted Warbler (Euryptila subcinnamomea). They are best picked up by their distinctive call but we unfortunately never heard anything remotely like it.
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'I've seen the smouses go mad before. You come to our land. You understand nothing about our climate. That isn't the sun. That's Satan's eye hanging in the sky, man!" These were the words of a local farmer to the the smous, the Jewish traveling merchant in the book by Sir Anthony Sher KBE on his family hometown of Middelpos, Anglicized to MiddlePost in the book of the same name. Sher's grandfather, originally a smous himself, ran the hotel in Middelpos. There were once Jewish communities and synagogues in many Karoo towns, mostly originating from Eastern Europe and the Baltic states in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Interestingly, they mostly spoke no English, only Afrikaans and Yiddish. Most were shop keepers but there were also many farmers. The museum in Calvinia, which we will visit soon, used to be the town's synagogue.
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After about seventy kilometers Leigh started to take a bit of strain.  I guess the recovery time we enjoyed in Willliston wasn't quite enough given our state of fitness.  She struggled on until the R63 merged with the R27 when she suddenly came to life again.

At this point we could have changed our minds again and turned northwards to Upington.
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Traffic was moderate for most of the day but when joining the R27 it got quite busy.  Even so, we have been treated with the utmost respect by motorists for most of the trip so far.  I have always considered South African drivers to be selfish and they certainly drive too fast when seen from a cyclists point of view.  But our experiences so far on this trip have softened my view.

We pulled into Calvinia just before three o'clock.  It's a very neat and tidy town and a lot bigger than I expected.  We are spending the next three nights here at a rather way-out place called The Magic Garden.  I will post a few pictures later but the gate to the premises is an old car door which sets the scene for the rest of the property.

The gate into The Magic Garden.
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Today's ride: 120 km (75 miles)
Total: 894 km (555 miles)

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Mike AylingThanks for the history lesson Jean-Marc.

I grew up in Umtata in the nineteen fifties and there was a small Jewish community there then including our family GP, an Attorney, a family who ran a private hotel and the rest must have been in retail. There was no overt anti Semitism at that time AFAICR, they were just members of the community.
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1 month ago
Jean-Marc StrydomTo Mike AylingThe impression I have always had of South African folks' prejudices is that they have been mostly racial and that religious freedom has always been sacrosanct. But for God's sake, don't believe in nothing ! ;-). Unfortunately, the size of South Africa's Jewish community seems to have diminished significantly over the past thirty years. The majority of my Jewish friends married out of the faith and only one, who remains single, attends schul regularly. There were so many Jews who were important in the Liberation Struggle and would be a shame to see the community die out here.
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1 month ago
Jean-Marc StrydomTo Mike AylingHi Mike. I was also born in the Transkei! My parents were living in Willowvale (between Idutywa and the Wild Coast) at the time. My grandparents traded at Lusizi (between Kentani and Willowvale).
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1 month ago