Friday, May 11, 2007

Water in the Desert

Looking down on Wolseley

Day 5
Paarl – Wellington – Halfway – Wolsely – Tulbagh

There was drama in the first 10km. Yolandi crashed – touched handlebars – and since a fountain of blood had been created on her elbow, she had to be rushed to hospital. So after collecting money in Wellington, we ended up standing around for a while. I took some nice shots of people around me, refueled on medicine and lay down in the shade.

From there the road rose rapidly, as we headed up the Bains Kloof Pass towards Wolseley and Tulbagh. My legs felt immediately dead, but my partner (can’t remember her name, but remember her face) managed okay, and soon we were riding with San Marie and her partner.

The road fortunately maintained a very manageable gradient, and we soon lifted high over the valley below. With the Halfway banner in sight, we found a roadside waterfall (well, I did), and within a short time we were dinking our toes into the icy mountain stream. Then everyone else arrived: Ize, Jean, Andre, San Marie and the rest.

It was a fantastic experience. We ended up chuckling and laughing in the water. And then rode on to the halfway point, the weather was perfect, and still. About five of us drew alongside each other, posing for a photo (which I don't think came out). We stopped almost at the top of the Pass.

Took more beautiful photos, and had something to eat. Yolandi arrived while we were celebrating. I went to give her a hug, but she was quite off. I thought it might be the medication she was on.

After being warned that the section on the other side was treacherous, I took it fairly easy. The road going down the other side was much bumpier than Franschoek. At one point Danie overtook me on a sickle-sharp bend, and I was sure he’d overcooked the turn. He just made it. I was sort’ve in a mode where I was waiting for my partner, and also being careful and looking around me. Took an age for her to catch up, but once we did we rode together quite nicely.

At Wolseley we swam in a culvert, in crystal clear water beside a nice stretch of grass. I fell asleep at one point, and later heard, while I’d been asleep Sally had practically driven over my bike.

We went to an Old Age home and sang a few songs. I didn’t, my throat was too croaky, and I ended up coughing when I sang. They asked us to sing De La Rey – and that was the highlight.

From W we headed to Tulbagh – somewhere I’ve never been and was interested to see. We made a nice pace, but arrived shortly after the main group. The church at Tulbagh was probably the youngest of all the churches in all the towns – probably because a devastating earthquake had destroyed the orginal one. We arrived fairly early on a bleeding hot afternoon.

After quickly unpacking the basics, we piled into the steaming seats of the bus, and headed towards the farms, for a swim. We finally found a place, a round swimming pool, and we all fell in like those herds of animals that must cross crocodile infested waters. It was fun. We made whirlpools, then swam against them. 30 people in a pool can make a decent whirlpool.

I swam too, since I felt healthy enough too. That’s saying something. The day before I still felt pretty sickly, and it got progressively worse leading up to Day 1. So it was a good feeling, that day, to shower under a waterfall, and be in a swimming pool on such a hot day in the Karoo.

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