Sunday, December 30, 2012

Lupela, Lady Grey and Eastern Cape Mountain Safari

It all started long ago when a 16 year old girl, Eliza Spencer, caught the eye of the 27 year old Lt George Grey. The stiff-upper lipped Sir George was just what she needed to spread her wings.

Sir George (of Grey College and Greyton fame) was expanding the Empire by removing poor aborigines from the face of the earth in Oz at the time. He spent a few years in Cape Town as governor the 1850s.

In our country we name places after people. Guys like Andries Pretorius, King Shaka, Hendrik Potgieter, Colonel John Graham and the worst of them all, Lord Alfred Milner. Lord Alf killed some 30,000 babies and toddlers who by today means a million Afrikaner people wiped out ... These guys still grace our map with King Shaka airport, Potchefstroom, Pretoria,  Grahamstown and Milnerton.

Dear Eliza, forced by circumstances beyond her control, led an unhappy life ... Lady Grey perhaps the perfect gift to her to make up for the injustices .... ?

The 2012 Town of the Year runner up in the Kyknet competition! 

Many a small town were created by the church to give the wide spreaded flock a place to worship. Lord Charles Somerset (of Somerset West and - East fame) in his Anglicization drive imported preachers from Scotland to lead the reluctant Dutch speaking rural population. Miss-guided purpose, great result. Robertson and Sutherland were named after these kilted dominees. 

Dominee Sutherland left a great and precious legacy, the Worcester School for the Blind.  The greatest perhaps Dominee Andrew Murray. The  priceless role of these people in uplifting our nation cannot be measured ...

In the case of Lady Grey, the kilt wearing Dominee David Ross did the hard work. A surveyor in previous life, he designed the town layout and gave it a great kick start. 

The war broke out, the local guys arrested the police officers, the magistrate, yet not the post master. Hauled down the Union Jack, burnt it and declared independence.  Her Majesty's forces again had the upper hand. These rebels were simply put against the wall and received a .303 for their deeds. 

The Lady Grey rebels laid down their rifles only 4 months later.

From here southwards many great English speaking people farm and live. Descendants of the 1820 settlers. Settler's stock and proud of it. Some 4000 jobless poor people came, fought the elements and created a legacy. Compared to those Rondebosch, Sandton and Maritzburg types, they are a class on their own and part of the building blocks of our great country.

You recognize them anywhere instantly as they end each paragraph with the word, "Ok?"

Talking about Maritzburg, when the Portuguese came here in 1497, they landed at a beautiful bay on Christmas day and named it, "Terro do Natal". The land of the birthday of Christ.  Some funny flightless birds ran around, caught for fresh meat and named it, "Galinha terro do Natal"  = "Chicken from the land of the birthday of Christ ". Today still the "Tarentaal!".

Da Gama and crew then moved inland and found the largest Union Jack ever seen. 15x10 kms! They laboriously rolled it away and what was underneath? Guess again? Maritzburg!

Back to Lady Grey: In 1905 came the railway all the way from Aliwal. This little siding for watering the locos still a memory of railways as it should be.

Living in this part of our beautifull country is the Xhosa. Madiba perhaps their greatest son, "I am the luckiest person, I spent 27 years behind bars giving me all the time to think how to create a new future ..."

Talking to these great and proud people here is a guideline by Yongama Skweyiya.  (Yongama an old friend of many years and do Afrikaans-Xhosa touching your heart):
Dankie – “enkosi”, Baie dankie – “enkosi kakhulu”
 Ek waardeer dit – “ndiyabulela”
 Xhosa het nie ‘n woord vir "asseblief" nie, ons gebruik meestal ‘n tipe van gesegte om dit aan te dui; dus is asseblief – “ndiyacela” wat ook as “ek vra mooi” kan vertaal word. Nog asseblief – “ndiphinde”
Ekskuus– “uxolo”
Skuif op – “bekela”
Hello – “Molo” vir enkel en   “Molweni” vir meervoud
How are you? – “kunjani”  vir enkel en  “Ninjani” vir meervoud
Mooi loop – “hamba kahle”, Mooi bly - "“sala-kahle”

After 750 endless km's, Lupela! (where the road ends). Beauty beyond words.

No cars, no caravan types, no revving bikers, almost no 4x4 braggers to sour lives, no signals, no TV, just heaven.

We lived in a large house, several en-suite bathrooms, large living room and a well equipped kitchen. 

There is also a single silo type dwelling housing 2 people available. Typically occupied by early retired 4x4 caricatures or bird watching fanatics. 

Breakfast served in an age old sandstone house. This side of the Orange, being Cape Colony, the 1860 architecture survived Queen Victoria's victorious troops while in the Free State they wiped out an entire architecture during the South African War's scourced earth attacks. 

Lord Alfred and his underling Lord Kitchener's great venture to finally subdue the dumb lot and lay their greedy hands on the largest gold and diamond reserves on the planet.

The old guys still watching every move!

Beakfast is served 5 star-ish. 

Out here you just chill and laugh.

With 6 Foxies and Jack Russells wagging their tails into your heart

A place where we find the value of our loved ones ...

To top it all, the Drakensberg Basalt, some 100 odd million years old. Sounds a lot, but remember our planet dates back to 3500 million years, making this a teenager! It was a free flowing lava and being hard it is the reason for the majestic Drakenberg mountains.

Note the bubbles in the rock. Gas bubbles caught up in the rock while it was cooling down. Bubbles in rocks often a clear indication of a lava.

To frighten you further, South Africa is riddled with volcanoes making Vesuvius look like a dwarf.  The Derdepoort gap in the Magaliesburg in Pretoria being one. Then our diamond mines in Kimberley, Koffiefontein and Cullinan were huge volcanoes sowing death and disaster on their day.

Our able chef feeding the nation.

Then the moment all have been waiting for: Christmas eve and the appearance of the archangel bringing the news that our Saviour is born.

The shepherds brought gifts and prayed at the crib of the Baby.

We, eleven and a half of us, all happy for the gift of life, to share, to love, to be in nature as perfect as it can be.

Then the secret preparation deeep in the wild unforgiving African bush for the coming of a new baby. A baby shower!!

With our new friend close by watching and guarding us.

The breathtaking Clarens Sandstone (also about 100 mil years old) giving shelter to those in need. The old people thrived in its caves and graced it with their artwork.

Bedtime = Story-time!

Just walking, walking, walking

While conquering the one snow covered peak after the other.

No hurdle whatsoever will stop us anymore!

Resting sore feet in cool crystal clear water.

Life that can be so good.

The friendly host watching over us, making sure we enjoy every second.

What is life without a daily braai?

Our youngest member also enjoyed every second.

Here even a number plate gets a new dimension.

"Sleep tight, I am watching over you ..."

Sniffing dogs leading us to new discoveries. 

Vulcanisation at its very best.

Graced by beauty beyond words.

And right next to our house, a stone tool factory! These people lived tens of thousands of years ago, long before the bushmen. Barefooted stone tool carrying brutes fearing only one thing, the big cats.

Some examples fit for the national museum.

Then sadly everything possible went wrong. A dream shattered for ever...

All firstly spoilt by some shameless public nudity!

And to make things even worse, noisy construction work by tweeting workers. 

And we were then frightened by some angry guys with heavy muscles, "Watch it ... enter and you will be reduced to mince meat!!"

Disaster upon disaster, agg nooo ... not this please! The birders moved in when least expected, all four of them ... 

Left brainy types intently listening to some exotic eagle crowing, showing no emotion at all, then compare it with the Robert's Bird guide on a Blackberry App!!

All this while delegating the hard manual research work to the junior member (bottom right). 

What is happening to the world as we knew it? Where are we going? Child labour, technological addiction ... I ask you?

The beauty (upper right) all the way from Boston, US of A, to find peace that not even the Yellowstone Park can provide.

Then the ultimate disaster struck us, when expected least, Madam Stoneage appeared from nowhere and was on the brutal attack, we had to flee for our lives!

To be rescued just in time by our friendly hosts!!

These three gentlemen made it all possible, made all the difference. It is guys like them this world needs to be a better place.

Disasters avoided and the word "chill" got a new meaning.

Then time to leave for our next stop with Lupela living in our hearts forever.
Book here! 

Firstly to Lady Grey town then off to Eastern Cape Mountain Safaris.

Some beauties built 80 years ago. 

If you are a 4x4 meanie, this is the place with the highest passes in the hemisphere Naude's Pass being number one and the third highest, Joubert's Pass, right here giving you everything to show off and yet again proof what we all know for many years,  Land Rovers are for sissies!

Come here and sleep over in the soul soothing Mountain View Country Inn

Then off to the beautiful church. Easter weekends the focus of the Passion Play. 

Book here now!

Home and gallery of our friendly hosts at Lupela. An art teacher and a hair dresser. Both artists in a class of their own.

Next stop, Kantienpoort, home of Eastern Cape Mountain Safaris

Rushing to cool down in crystal clear waters upstream of the Kraai and Orange rivers.

A new four legged friend, Wagter. Highly pedigreed all the way back to the USA. Sadly, these Yanks, loving man sized rump and fries, are all a bit obese!

Women can be a bit overwhelming sometimes!

Ploughing the food of our nation.

The breathtaking Clarens formation again. Note the white spots marking a giant eagle's nest.

Beauty, beauty, beauty ...

We walked for miles, you just cannot stop. Wagter leads the way, no wonder they use the species as guide dogs!

The house built 2 centuries back. Being south of the river, it just escaped the queen Vic's orders to destroy everything.

In the mean time lord Alfred took out 14000 black people, then went back to his roots in 1901 to be elevated by King George to the title of Viscount ... and in Waterkloof, Pretoria the main street is guess what? Milner Street! And parallel to it? Albert street. 

Prince Albert was Her Majesty's late husband. The plot comes together in mysterious ways! What would oom Paul say about all this?

The loving and kisses have no limits ...

The beauty just goes on and on.

Then a murderous climb high into the clouds to discover a new miracle.

Resting sore feet afterwards in a foot spa.

Our friendly hosts just walked the extra mile, over and over again.

Sadly all good things come to an end and delivering that sad news is never easy!

On the way back reminding us that all is just grace from God. Psalm 121 verses 1 and 2, 

"I will lift up my eyes to the mountains, from where my help will come. My help comes from the Lord who made heaven and earth"

Then sadly leaving the Colony back to the grind and rush of normal life up north. A last look at the mighty Orange forging it's way westwards while carrying many deep blue flawless carats all the way to Oranjemund.

To be welcomed back at home in the most graceful way.

Sources and acknowledgement: 

Yongama Skweyiya for Xhosa dictionary.
Leon Ehlers, geologist, for verifying the geological facts.
Daleen Oertel's research found at Lupela.

Hours of knowledge sharing by Viljoen Mathee, Walter Wessels,  Dawie and Louwtjie Naude.