South Africa Midlands Day 9

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July 27th 2013
Published: July 27th 2013
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Today we have been doing the tourist thing, just to prove we do sometimes, despite what people think. We were awoken again this morning by the Egyptian Geese alarm clock as it got light, and as I sit this evening writing this they are calling away outside, but these geese must be unique as the roost in trees, particularly the tall eucalyptus trees.

After a wonderful breakfast where the menu offers starters, main course and dessert we headed off on a leisurely drive down to Howick to see the spectacular waterfall which crashes 110 meters down the vertical rock face. As it’s a Saturday the locals were out completing the weekly wash at the top of the falls, seemingly oblivious that a step in the wrong direction could send them plummeting over the edge.

Next stop was the amazing Nelson Mandela capture site. This marks the point where he was stopped by the police in 1962 and arrested, resulting in 27 years as a prisoner. There is a small museum that marks his life set out along the lines of character, comrade, leader, activist, prisoner, negotiator and statesman to mark the stages of his life. The exhibition is not to be missed: really informative and realistic, as it does not avoid the failings that Mandela has admitted to in his books but also criticism of his presidency.

There is an outside exhibit called the long walk to freedom which symbolises this country’s past and there is a sculpture at the end of this long path that slowly sinks into a cutting in the hill side. From a distance it looks a bit like a copse of burnt trees but as you emerge from the cutting it reveals itself to be an image of Nelson Mandela. It is a very moving experience to walk down to the small plaque commemorating the opening of the museum in 2012 to mark 50 years since the arrest and read the notes from school children.

The capture site also has a lovely café and some shops, one of which is so nice that it is one of those places where you want to buy the whole shop; hence Meg has been on a shop-a-thon today doing what she can to stimulate the retail sector economic revival. But as this could be the last opportunity for shopping before we return home, and our anniversary Rob remained silent.

At one of the stops Meg was befriended by the donkeys and Shetland ponies that seemed convinced she had some food in her bag. As we walked around looking at the other animals we were shadowed by a stalking donkey which got very possessive and kept pushing the others out of the way, almost like a donkey bouncer.

We are off to dine again this evening and subject ourselves to the trial of a five course dinner. I know it’s a burden but we will do our best.

Tomorrow we move on again to Isinbindi. This is a shorter journey that the last at only about four and hours most of the journey is on tarmac with only the last bit on gravel. We plan to stop at Spion Kop on the way to break up the journey but more on that tomorrow.

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