Day 4: Malutizicht to Earthrise Lodge (15km)
At 5:15 I went about making padkos for the day ahead. The Lourens left at their usual early hour with Dawid’s brother in law in tow with a bakkie full of backpacks. Dad and I shouldered our luggage with a smile and set off an hour later.
The weather threatened rain which necessitated us putting on our bag covers as a precaution. Dads red bag (christened “Tampy” – short for Tampon) metamorphosized from blood red to jelly bean maroon whereas my yellow rain cover blinded several astronauts on the ISS. It was considerably cooler with a polite wind blowing on our backs us as a courtesy.
Today was allegedly the day of the hardest terrain. Sure, there was a long hill and sure it was slow going but it was lined with trees and the view at the top would have stopped Jason Statham’s heart. The Kingdom of Lesotho was softened into an impressionistic haze by rolling rain clouds and dark wind-swept strata. It was cool (wonderfully so) and Dads mind wondered into several happy places. He entertained me for what felt like hours about relatives and the lives they lead. There are strong themes which run through our family. All make for lovely story telling.
Oh I nearly forgot – the boot. It couldn’t all be plain sailing now could it? Like George the Octopus, the incident with the Dog at Emden was an omen. Dads left boot had decided it needed a break from its sole. The separation was nowhere near amicable. We managed to arrange for glue and tape to be delivered that evening. For the time being the boots mouth was shut with a generous amount of chiro contact tape. Sturdy stuff. At approximately 1 billion rand for a roll it should be.
Close to our stop we passed some local kids playing a kind of hockey. Sticks buffeted a squashed can on the dirt road. Goals were old beer glasses. Magical. They were happy to oblige for a photo op which gave me what will likely be the best picture of the holiday. Not once did the mosquito scream of “sweets” greet us. I am deeply impressed with the pride of the rural communities. They are exquisitely clean and neat. I am not trying to sound like an old colonial but the truth is these people do a lot with a little and have every reason to be proud. Proud they are.
Joke of the day: when a herd of sheep run and bleat at the same time is that the Sirens of the Lambs? Dad has written me out of the will.
Earthrise has large rooms and clean sheets. Tonight we dine in luxury. I have spent the afternoon marveling at a sculpture of a cloth coelacanth. Dad is playing cobbler. Earthrise is defined by the incredibly beautiful Darla Hume light fixtures. It also has exceedingly ugly furniture. The couch which has pride of place in the main seating area was conceived by a Slovenian Chez Lounge Robot after a divorce. Its brown upholstery matched the aura given off by Chernobyl Reactor 2. There are prettier couches crammed into the windscreens of Toyota conquest sedans. If it were a person, it would have a BBC 2 documentary made about its daily life and struggle to live in an uncaring world. Its wife stopped calling years ago.
Dad and I slept in the afternoon. After swapping notes we both concluded that we had each slept deeply. We were joined in the evening by Dawid’s sister and nephew. A girlfriend was in tow whose mode was set to “stealth”. I do not believe she can speak. We all sat for dinner which was of the Kestell variety – take it or leave it. Several mountainous bowls of chicken Alfredo were put in front of us. I just got Alfredo. Not once was anyone asked about allergies or religious requirements for meals.
The evening was very charming though. We retired to the lounge and talked for a while before separating for bed. I read a recipe book about raw cooking (an oxymoron up there with Jumbo-Shrimp) which had a very low opinion of the intelligence of its target demographic. Page 7 was titled “What is raw food?” The authors look exactly how you imagined them – a nice girl from Cape Town married to Legolas’ gay sex double. Often bad recipe books have redeeming recipes. This one was the first where the forward should have been “Help, the editors won’t hear our pleas. Burn this book before its evil infects your Magimix and immersion blender. Food dehydrators were harmed to make every page. When we close our eyes at night all we hear are screams.”
 A running joke which started when Dad and I did our first unsupported cycle tour. We stayed at an Inn in Kestell where you had absolutely no option but to eat what was given to you… or else.