Africa, Part 6. I think this is all of it.

I had to hike up a mountain. Let me rephrase that. My mom made me hike up a mountain. I do not like going out into nature. The walking surfaces tend to be uneven, with unstable rocks and slippery bits and grasses obscuring ankle-breaking holes. I am clumsy. This is a bad combination. But Mom was keen on seeing these San people rock paintings, and I tried to get out of it, I really did, but she wasn’t having any of it. So I climbed the damn stupid mountain, bitching and moaning the whole way. Let’s look at pictures.

This is the view from the about a quarter-way up the mountain.


This is the view from the top of the mountain.


And this is me at the top of the mountain, where I was all sweaty and miserable. Take in the unhappiness, people.


And here’s a rock painting painted by a San medicine man. The paintings are between 3000 and 200 years old, and the reason that the dates are so far apart is because the San would paint over old paintings, so anthropologists can’t date the older stuff without scraping off the newer stuff, which they’re not going to do.


It was extremely interesting, and I probably would have found it fascinating if there was a cable car, but there was not, so I spent the whole time looking at the paintings while grumbling with a thundercloud drawn over my head, like a Charlie Brown character.

Eventually we trekked back to the surface of earth, where the foliage is amazing. If I was doing another Lord of the Rings, I would do it there. It’s very cinematic.

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Two other things that were interesting KwaZulu Natal:

Outside our cottage there was a tree. I learned in Africa that lichen only grows on the north side of a tree (I forgot the reason, though), so if you’re lost, you can look at the trees and figure which way north is. On this particular tree the delineation is very apparent.


Since he was doing all the driving, Cricket HATED signs like this. There are all over KZN. This might have been his favorite.


Here are some random pics from Africa that didn’t fit into any other categories. The first bunch is a random collection of bug pictures. The insects there can be enormous. Like, if they fly around and land on you, they are heavy and you go “uh” from the surprise of the weight. It’s astonishing. This is cricket in Kruger on a ranger’s fingers.


This is a millipede on my arm. I like the way their tiny feetsies feel, little hooklike toes moving like synchronized swimmers.


A praying mantis I saw in a restroom. I tried to pick it up and move it outside to take a picture of it, but it started chewing on me, so I dropped it and screamed. Apparently, a man came running out of the men’s room all concerned and asked one of our traveling companions what was wrong. Our companion said, “She’s American,” and the man said, “Oh, it figures,” like all Americans go into the bathroom and shriek. No mention of the mammoth bug chowing down on my finger. No, no, us Americans, we’re all fat and stupid and scream when we pee. It’s just how we are.


This is a female golden orb spider. She’s a big lady, about three inches. See that small brown thing? That’s her husband. She’ll eat him eventually. I walked face-first into one of those webs (about two feet across), and then flailed around like an alien was trying to emerge from my chest while clawing at my hair for giant freaky spiders. Me and nature, we don’t get along so well.


And here’s one eating a big grasshopper. They have no mouth to speak of, so they fill their food with an acid that turns it into soup, then they drink their kill. Mmmm. Slurpy pre-digested grasshopper.


Three other miscellaneous monster insects.

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This is a license plate that I liked. It has a baobab tree on it. I heart baobabs. And British-Empire-looking crests. Also, note that this is a BMW. South Africa makes all the wrong-side-of-the-car BMWs for the rest of the world. All the heads of state in Africa drive around in them. They’re all over the place.


Okay, a holdover from the British is a deep love of all things chutney. They have chutney-flavored chips and meat products and everything. They also make a chutney powder for your popcorn. I do not know what Aromat is. I’m guessing it’s like Mrs. Dash, a festive mixture of random herbs and spices.


Has anyone been following the news? Did anyone hear how the Dalai Lama was not allowed to come to South Africa for a peace conference because South Africa has a big love affair going on with China? Really smooth, South Africa. Excellent PR on your part. Anyway, shortly after that news broke, I saw this worker in the airport.


Yeah, whatever. If you were so enlightened you would have let the freakin’ Dalai Lama in. BTW, does anyone know what “enlightened security” even means? Do they prevent terrorist attacks by flying off the walls and treading on the tops of bamboo like in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon? I’m curious about this.

And finally, South Africa is gearing up for the FIFA world soccor/footbal thingie. It’s a great big hairy deal, like the Olympics. They’re building stadiums in a bunch of cities. There are billboards all over. And these clocks scattered here and there:


Cricket found these fabulous. Every time we had some downtime, he would say, “Hey, we could go watch the FIFA countdown clocks. They might have changed since the last time we saw them.” Me thinks perhaps he pokes fun at the FIFA people.

Alright, there’s my whole Africa trip. Hope you enjoyed it.

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