05.10.2009 - 06.10.2009
Our luck continued unabated the next day. Barreling down the empty road in the early morning back to Upington, I rotated the electronic computer on Lydia to a display which showed that we had 127km worth of fuel remaining. This was an interesting discovery, especially as we had just past a sign saying 'Upington 150km', and there was definitely no fuel – or even a building – until that point. Slowing right down, we then crawled along at 90km/h, allegedly the most fuel efficient speed possible, praying hard. Luckily, that, at least, worked and we made it into Upington showing 11km of petrol to spare and with 3 different warning sounds and lights for low fuel going off.
By the end of the day, we had driven some 850km – stunningly, the first several hours were clear and sunny, though it got increasingly gray with periodic very wet patches - and were in the Karoo, a beautiful, dry (yeah, right) mountainous area of South-Western-ish South Africa. An hour or so before our destination, we stopped over in the small town of Middelburg for more fuel, provisions and refreshment. In a coffee shop, we got talking to the friendly owner who was saying that they were desperately in need of rain, as they hadn't had a drop in 8months. Maaret and I looked at each other, and told the woman not to worry. We were here and the rain was chasing us hard, so it would surely rain soon. The woman didn't seem to believe us, until a full 12minutes had passed and the rain started. We should start charging for our services as Rain gods.
We were staying in Nieuw Bethesda, a small village nestle in the mountains, and a very strange – if picturesque - one. It seemed a very white colonial village, and was one of the first places we had seen that did not have every door and window barred, and foreboding. In a way, it looked like how I expect small villages in rural America to look, but the whole thing looked kind of out of place.
Fred finally made his first appearance that evening, as soon as a bottle of Tall Horse wine made it's appearance. I admit that I was happy to see him, although he did look slightly unwell, and i was not overly impressed: I get up at 4am to go and collect him, and then drive him around for 5whole days before he can even be bothered to awake from his drunken stupor and say hello. Rumours of his escapades in Europe have also reached me, and suggest that the young lad is rapidly going off the rails. The lad needs discipline. And wine, naturally.
The following day we wandered a bit around the Karoo including the obviously touristy town of Graaf-Reinert, which was again nice but strange. Another, larger, old colonial town, the differences between the richer white and poorer black (as was) area are blatantly obvious, whilst the old buildings are all so well kept, whitewashed and scrupulous clean as to appear almost clinical, as opposed to loved and lived in. Escaping town, we took in the wonderfully named 'Valley of Desolation', which, obviously, is actually a mountain with some great views and a trail around the summit, before heading slowly back towards home.
The small bits of the Karoo that i have seen are beautiful, but the towns whilst pretty and a bit strange and could certainly use some integration into the real world.