Within the black void that I occupied during the night, I managed to build an enviable pillow fort AND kill a mosquito. 

I remember none of this. The red/black smear on my palm and cheek act as a bloody reminder of my productive night’s sleep.

I was impressed by my engineering prowess, so impressed in fact, that I expressed my impressment loudly when I could not get out of bed for all the linen swaddling me.

After swapping notes with Dad in the morning, it appeared we both slept well. The air is cool and there are some clouds which is as good weather one could ask for. Breakfast was stout. Not “bulging elbow English Bulldog” stout but more, “Mildly Annoyed Jewish Mother” stout. 

Speaking of Jewish Mothers.

Dad and I have a morning ritual where sunscreen is applied in judicious quantities. I don’t think either of us live in fear of getting burnt (or worse), but what we DO fear is the wrath of my mother, who has with quiet confidence ensured Tropitone’s liquidity for the past thirty years. If we ever needed to take the fight of global warming to the sun, I would like to suggest giving my mother a bull-horn and half an hour in the stratosphere to put it in its place.

As a result Dad and I always leave for the day’s cycling looking like body doubles for an albino pro-wrestling tournament.

We were off. The long downhill out of Fouriesburg turned into our gravel road turnoff where for two hours we cycled more or less uninterrupted by any traffic. The dirt road is a bit of a pain but nothing major. My bottom has gotten used to its bashing by my saddle, that is not to say I did not occasionally wince on the odd bump. My faeces have been successfully compacted to the point that they have not seen the light of day since yesterday morning. This makes me technically a taxi for processed meals. I doubt I am capable of pooping anymore, only excreting coprolites.

It is interesting how a change of transport changes your perception of a road. We spent a spell redoing a route we had walked earlier in the year during the Sungazer. I recalled it being flatter, smoother and longer. Now that I am on a bike it is shorter, hillier and made out of corrugated roofing shingles. It is important you understand this is not a complaint. Your brain becomes very pliant to its circumstances when it realizes that complaining does not help. Despite how much more technical riding on a dirt road is, you eventually settle into a mental routine of finding better graded routes for your tyre to follow.

Trusted steeds and the tyre’s we followed.

We reached the junction for the R26 and hit the tar with gusto. From there onwards it was a wonderfully uneventful spell on smooth asphalt right into the town of Fciksburg.

What is a Ficksburg? It is a small(ish) town with very little charm but big on having a chemist where Dad can buy eye drops. Seriously, the dry air and dirt have made him look like Willie Nelson’s inhaler. With those eyes, it is hard to take him seriously when he says he wants a snack. We stopped for lunch at another of the nation’s many boerechique restaurant/cafes. It was superb! Spinach quiches served to us by a woman who came across as a little annoyed that two sweating men were in her cafe. Shortly after the arrival of our food, a large family that was more common than the refreshing taste of Fresca sat next to us. Each one looked like their doctor kept rescheduling the annual checkup and had been doing so for the past thirty years. The youngest wore wraparound sports glasses inside, ostensibly to protect his eyes from the face his mirror makes every time he leaves home in a dirty vest. Dad, ever the one to restrain himself, commented on this loudly. I think he completely overestimates how good I would be protecting him in a fight. 

We checked in to the Imperani and scrubbed down. This was followed by a walk around town trying to find a chemist. We eventually found the Clicks, having taken a detour through Spar so that yours truly could buy… ahem… relieving tablets. After traipsing around the rest of the town we settled in for coffee at La Chocolat, a cafe aspiring to great things where second hand books, jars of jams, cherry preserves and an irate owner are all on offer. We were told, in great detail, how the province was suffering as a result of corruption and how he had to go into massive debt to keep his cafe afloat amidst load shedding and water outages. Inside, being used for inventory spreadsheets, was a Mac desktop which a quick google tells me is worth R37 000.00. 

I wonder how much of people’s problems start with themselves.

Dad recognized the owner from a previous tour he had done on the motorbike which sparked his (the owners) desire to share his opinions on the state of the nation with us. As we were leaving, he went one better insisting we go to his restaurant for dinner. He was insisting so much, that he continued to insist as we walked down the steps and into the road. In fact, I think he is insisting still.

The face of a man who you do not insist to.

We will eat at the hotel thank you.

Dinner was rather lovely. Dad and I ambled to the back of the restaurant where we were served by a flustered waitress who could not believe her luck in having the only table that was drinking wine by the bottle and not brandy by the glass. Dad ordered a starter of fried mozzarella sticks and so help me if four Mandingo portions of cheese didn’t arrive. If he was lactose intolerant, he would have turned into a whistling teapot. There is less cheese inside Dutch newlyweds. Mains were pizzas and discussions about life. Neither Dad nor I could stomach a whole pizza each which meant our waitress went home with a Frankenstein pizza box for herself and her family. Dad took great pains to write her name as well as those of her children on the box that there would be no doubt.

He is funny and sweet that way.

I got into my room only to have my stomach turn over three times and declare moral bankruptcy. One liberating trip to the loo later and I feel asleep.

Midnight. My colon starts to sing Sounds of Silence. I dash to the loo again and levitate three feet for half an hour. There are less abused anuses in pharmaceutical labs.

Our hotel rooms are large and comfortable but there is one incredible downside. Somewhere very close is a dog, most likely locked or chained, that has been reduced to whining and yapping constantly. I feel for the poor thing but Lord do I need the sleep.

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