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Saturday, April 10, 2010

Under the Transkei

 We’ve been quite busy sorting through all of the details involved in crossing Africa, but it is hard to believe we’ve already been gone 2 months. We have driven much of South Africa’s coast line and have ended up in St. Lucia, just south of the Mozambique boarder. St Lucia is so beautiful. There are loads of wild places within an hour’s drive from here so we’ve decided to make it home for a few days. Known for its National Parks, sub tropical beaches, extensive coral reefs (Dave there is good fishing here), lakes, caves and estuaries teeming with hippos and crocodiles, St. Lucia is a nature lover's paradise. The day we arrived we saw a huge pod of hippos in the wild…fantastic!  So today we’re off to find some crocks.
We spent the past week in an area known as the Transkei, a lovely part of Africa comprised of tiny villages connected together by a network of footpaths and dirt tracks with a few paved arteries feeding into the cities. We have steered away from the National Highways for the most part, sticking to secondary roads, as we usually do when exploring new places. You see wonderful things when you hop off the beaten path. As soon as our tires hit the dirt, we could feel the landscape unfold before us. Large, sprawling towns with their houses tightly packed and streets littered with garbage give way to green space, dilapidated sidewalks to foot paths and the cities nervous buzz fades into children’s hoots and laughter. Gardens appear. The shabbiness of ‘city’ life is immediately transformed into a vivid palette of colors, flowers and houses in every  shade of pink and orange, turquoise blue and endless shades of green. Open spaces appear. Metal roofs become thatch. Oh, how we love the back roads.
The Transkei is where I first felt that we had discovered the ‘real Africa’; whatever that may be. I guess it is a place that exists in my own mind (likely in all of our minds) an image formed long before I set foot on African soil, a place where the rhythms of life are less dependent upon European settlers, reparations and pity and more upon hard work, community governance and a sense of belonging in a particular place. Although that may be an idyllic vision, it seems truer here, if that makes any sense at all.
We are getting into the groove of life on the road, not that it took too much work, we’ve had practice. Glenn, having been here before, said that from here onward is where we will begin to discover the mysterious bumps and itches that are inherent to tropical places. When I started typing this post a few days ago I had just discovered one such itchy spot; one week later, the tiny bump on my calf has turned into a full blown, festering, purple infection that seems to attack the glands on the same side of the body. Glenn has them too, and naturally, is the first to notice their possible symptoms. He says it will only get worse…eventually we’ll be covered in mysterious rashes and spots; sweet. I have, however, taken the opportunity to experiment so my pustule is being subjected to a daily dose of teatree oil, while Glenn is staying pure and simply airing his out. We’ll post photos. Although mysterious rashes and itches are a minor inconvenience, we are still prepared with an arsenal of goos, salves, sprays and oils to deal with them. I am sure I will whine about this for real, at some point, but for now we are relatively spot-free and completely willing to subject our fragile American skin to Africa’s insects…within reason. Oh, and we just entered our first Malaria zone, so wish us luck.
I hope all is well wherever you are. We love and miss you like crazy,

PS: As I was signing off the most beautiful Blue Monkey (appropriately named for their bright, turquoise blue, ehm, balls…they could have just as easily been called red monkeys, but that is another story) just hoped onto the patio to eat the remnants of breakfast. If you haven’t grown up here do you ever get used to having monkeys in the trees?  

1 comment:

  1. Due to the fishing is now on our list. Sounds great....enjoy every moment. We send you both big, big hugs!
    Darcy XOXO