Today we drove from Bethal down to Harrismith. A special place to us, as a very dear friend of ours grew up here. You are constantly in our thoughts Liz.
We were only 15 minutes or so out of Bethal when we stopped for the first picture… Tutuka Power Station. It seemed quite menacing on the horizon and was the cause of a huge dirty brown stain in the sky that stretched for some kilometres.
I've mentioned the trucks before; we are travelling for the most part on narrow back roads that are usually full of pot holes & this morning they were also up & down roller coaster roads. The mining trucks are wide, high and tend to hog the centre line so seeing past them is difficult. This morning I passed one and caught up another trying to pass a slower goods truck. These are all truck + trailer units so 1 mining truck with it's nose up the tail pipe of another presented a bit of a challenge. The 1st truck caught us up as I was waiting to pass the next 2 and fortunately I managed it before he crimped into the space. So then I had the pleasure of watching 2 mining trucks in the mirror vying for the opportunity to pass the goods truck. Scary business.
We wanted to go for a walk a bit in the Platenburg Park which has a huge escarpment that over looks the town. It was closed as people were hunting eland in there today but the lovely man at the gate let us in for a few photos close to the gate.
When we'd finished he asked something that we interpreted as wanting money for doing us a favour... but no, it turned out that he couldn't leave until tomorrow morning and he gave William R200 (roughly NZD20) & wanted us to go to the Spar store down the road and get him some biscuits & a coke. We were happy to help him out but were somewhat gob smacked that an African man would trust complete strangers with his money. Anyway, we did the deed and also gave him some of our oranges which delighted him. It was really nice to be able to help him out and enjoy that small connection. The traveller's dilemma is that you need to be constantly on your guard here which means you have to brush aside people who approach you, as mostly they do not have good intentions in mind. If you do the polite Kiwi "no thanks" that's it; you are immediately marked by your accent as a target and are hounded for more info, as in; where are you from, how long are you here etc etc. Which, while seemingly polite, is usually just a prelude to gaining your trust or your money or otherwise causing you problems. But of course, the shame of it is, that you might be brushing off a genuine attempt to connect with a visitor - unfortunately there is no way of knowing. So moments when you can have a genuine conversation/connection with a local are special.
Apparently there is a reasonable restaurant here and it's closed for the weekend. Huh? The rest are Nandos, KFC, Steers & the like. Anyway, we are rather tired of protein heavy meals so we got some wine, salads & a couple of meat dishes from the Spar (think New World supermarket) & had a self catered dinner at our guest house. The whole meal, (for 2) including a nice shiraz, came to only NZ$18.
Oh and the air is clear again, no pollution in Harrismith!