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Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Long trips of restorative silence 1 - the Northern Cape

Early morning departure from Kimberley

There comes a point in everyone's life, I believe, where you simply have to pack up your emotional turmoil and get away from it all. How possible this is to execute practically, varies from one person to another. Still, this is what a friend did after her husband passed away, and I was invited to tag along as traveling companion and soundboard for her thoughts and emotions. I have blogged about the spark that ignited the journey and you can follow this link to learn more about it. In this blog, I want to tell you a little about the places we stopped at, as well as the ones we simply flashed passed. I also want to tell you about the road itself, and what incredible release is locked up in the expanse of the Northern Cape landscape.

Landzicht Wine, just outside Jacobsdal has award winning wine that is worth stopping for

Our journey started on a farm nestled somewhere between the expansive city of Kimberley and the tiny town of Jacobsdal. Jacobsdal may be poor in people, but it is rich in history. It has a fantastic winery, a huge abattoir, and some of the prettiest old houses, testifying to the passage of time with their corrugated roofs and wrap-around porches. Do not neglect stopping by the blockhouse before leaving either, as the story of strife for control over this country with its rich mineral deposits, are locked up in those walls.

The Blockhouse at Jacobsdal

From Kimberley we headed north towards Vryburg, passing through Warrenton, Jan Kempdorp, and Hartswater, before turning west at Vryburg.

 The open road, open skies and open veld stretching before us. Note how the veld changes as we travel further away  from Kimberley and closer to our destination in Springbok.

 If memory serves me right, this photo was taken in Jan Kempdorp at one of the road stalls.

From Vryburg, we travelled through Kuruman with its many stalls, making a stop-over worth your while. We then flashed passed Kathu and through Olifantshoek and Upington. We kept going until we reached Keimoes and here we had to stop for the red raisins sold from the Keimoes Padstal/Road Stall. L bought five kilograms of these, which I thought slightly excessive, until I tasted them. Then I wondered if we had enough!

The Keimoes Road Stall with its fabulous red raisins 

Kakamas, if I remember correctly 

From Keimoes, we traveled through Kakamas, passed Pofadder, through Aggeneys, and finally to Springbok.

Note how the landscape had changed at this stage 

 Yet a different landscape

And a whole new landscape as we traveled on 

Approaching Springbok, we encountered some very heavy clouds that had us worried for a couple of kilometers. We traveled with a lot of luggage on an uncovered bakkie and we did not look forward to being burdened with wet suitcases! Yet, the trip had brought home to us the urgent need for heavy rains over the whole of the Northern Cape and we were not about to send up prayers to keep the rain away. So, we did the unthinkable and started thanking God for the rain. It drizzled down on us for nearly 50 km. When we arrived in Springbok, we discovered the drops had been light enough to have been carried over the bakkie in the slipstream. All the luggage was dry!

Approaching Springbok

 The guesthouse where we stayed at in Springbok

I get very restless when sitting still for too long and I love walking in the rain. So, when we arrived in Springbok, I could hardly wait to don a Drimac and set off on some explorations. I was fascinated with the plants and wildflowers of the town, even though we were too early to find them in full bloom. I have posted photos of a few that impressed me.

The Kokerboom will always be one the trees that fascinate me more than most 

A little outcrop between the houses offered this pretty picture

As I was photographing the flowers, stooped low for a better shot, one of the local workers, in his overalls on his way home, stopped to talk to me about the flowers, giving me so much insight that I wished for a recorder afterward. What a bonus encounter! What a lovely man! 

Wild grasses have always held a fascination for me. I drew up close for this photo. As an artist, I was fascinated by the dominant purple in the seeds and realized how much pink and purple I would have to use to replicate it. 

 The roads were wet, but on the whole journey, I could not help being impressed by two things; the Northern Cape towns are clean of litter and the roads are in excellent condition.

When we traveled through Springbok the next day, it was clear that this town was very well kept and could easily be in line for the prettiest little town in the country.

The next morning saw us setting off towards Hondeklipbaai. I have already written about our trip over the Wildeperdepas and the amazing photos we took there. The scenery was an absolute delight. You can read more about this by following this link.

On Wildeperdepas 

A view from Wildeperdepas

We arrived in Hondeklipbaai while it was still early and had a lovely stroll along the beach before joining friends for dinner. But I have spoken about the beauty of Hondeklipbaai before. Read more about it here. I have also talked about the delightful meals we had in this quaint little town.

Koiingnaas, next to Hondeklipbaai 

Some faded road signs mark the way

In this blog, I would rather tell you about a round trip we undertook from Hondeklipbaai, back to Springbok, and returning to Hondeklipbaai on the same day. This was to pick up a parcel that was ordered from Cape Town. What makes the trip worth mentioning, was the road we traveled. We decided to do some sightseeing and follow different routes from the one previously taken.

 Scenery along the route

 Scenery along the route

We traveled from Hondeklipbaai, passed Koiingnaas, all the way up the coast to Kleinzee (Kleinsee). We then turned back inland and traveled over the most perfect, (though gravelly in some places) dirt road that one could wish for. Along this route, through the Richtersveld, the scenery kept changing so fast that I could barely keep up with the camera. Do not expect perfect photos, as most of these were taken hanging out of a window from a moving vehicle. Yet, I simply had to share the experience with you, and pictures do it so much better than words.

 Scenery along the route

 Scenery along the route

 Scenery along the route

 Scenery along the route

We finally met up with the delivery guys at a guesthouse slightly outside of Springbok, where we took ownership of the parcel - a larger cage for Janneman, the Capuchin monkey traveling with us.

 Scenery along the route

Scenery along the route

The guesthouse where we met up with the delivery guys 

It was now time to start the journey back. This time we opted for the tarred road, as far as it would take us, and this time our route took us past Kamieskroon. We turned back just before reaching Garies and returned to Hondeklipbaai. Once again the picturesque countryside begged to be photographed.

The scene from the Daisy Guesthouse 

 The scenery on the way back to Hondeklipbaai

 The scenery on the way back to Hondeklipbaai

 The scenery on the way back to Hondeklipbaai

 The scenery on the way back to Hondeklipbaai

The scenery on the way back to Hondeklipbaai

A picture worthy of painting

Finally, we ended up back where we started from in Hondeklipbaai. The pictures were still worth taking. Every trip on these lovely roads are healing to the soul. It is as if ointment is dropped on open wounds and it soothes and caresses soul, mind, body and spirit. In these vast spaces, with its endless silence, there is just enough room to reunite the fragments of your life and to start healing.


Some of the cute road signs in town

Marietjie Uys (Miekie) is a published author. You can buy my books here:
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