10 Green Bottles
It all really started 3 weeks ago when Archie phoned to cancel.
He said he didn’t have anything against me but Marietjie has her doubts, so they won’t be coming on the hike anymore.
I’m thinking: Hmmm.... interesting characters at ESSA
On Tuesday I get an e-mail from Gareth. If I don’t want to go on the trips he organises, then he is not going anymore on the ones I do. Looong diatribe basically containing sour grapes about me cancelling coming to hike on his farm and being stuck-up and sickly all the time blah-blah-blah, so there is no way he is going to Matlapa (of course peppered with swearwords unbeknowest to me)
I’m thinking: How fragile is the web of friendship and deceit
18h00 Friday Wits Club - Call from Jono: He and Marna have been doing some research on the internet on me, and after allegedly finding some subversive material, they made a collective decision not to risk spending time in my corrupting influence and would rather work night-and-day over the weekend than come along.
I’m thinking: Surely most trips must get off to a rocky start?
18h15 sees the boot and backseat stuffed with backpacks and we setting off in the dense M2 traffic. Supper is spent munching take-away pizzas on the pavement with entertainment provided by Middelburg jollers shouting abuse at their girlfriends. No trip is quite complete without getting lost, so ours included scenic midnight drives along Stoffberg/Roossenekal/Steelpoort/Tonteldoos/Richmond/Lydenburg/Der Zoete Inval. We eventually meet up with a sleepy Bernelle at the Matlapa overnight hut.
Saturday morning commences groggily with a cold pizza breakfast and a departure time of sunny 10’o Clock. In time, we find the Dwarsriver and cross it.
While reciting the Ballade of Dick Turpin to us, Nick suddenly gets swept away by a flash flood that comes roaring down the valley. No-one having done a river safety course, and all of us being aware that we still have 2 days of hard hiking to do, we wave at him encouragingly and watch him disappear into the distance.
Mariam, Bernelle, Heidi and I are thinking: Another good man down, maar ons meisies sal saamstaan en oorwin.
We pass Die Groot Boom, Maalgate and leopard crawl through Overhang Rock. Two (guide)dogs from the farmhouse, Boesman and Gingernut, accompany us, sometimes leading the way, other times providing red herrings. We go up Jacob’s Ladder and St. George’s Street without fatal injuries. After trekking through Bobbejaanstertvlakte, Bernelle (of all people) asks us why everything is so quiet. Alas! Mariam has disappeared! We backtrack for 15 minutes and are just in time to see a python with a large lump making its way leisurely into the bush.
Bernelle, Heidi and I are thinking: Fortunately it was very hungry, and it ate her backpack too – No-one particularly felt like carrying it down. We combine a minute of silence with our water break.
After surviving the descent down Russian Roulette gorge, the three of us arrive at the hut, badly in need of a swim in die Glygat pool. The rest of the evening is spent doing the things girls traditionally do when they are alone: getting drunk on Esprit and Bicardi Breezer, swearing, burping, telling sexist jokes, relating sexual conquests and having competitions to see who can extinguish the fire by weeing on it.
The next morning, Heidi and I awake only to find the bloody remains of what was probably Bernelle. It seems that when she went out to get a drink of water in the night, the two (guide)dogs attacked her and had themselves a little feast. We bury her with her backpack in a shallow grave, suspecting that she would like to hike if she were ever to return to this earth. We have a lovely breakfast by mixing her jar of Skippy peanut butter with Heidi’s Pro-Nutro - making sure we share it with the dogs (in case they get hungry during the day).
Heidi and I are thinking: We told her to give the dogs some pellets before she went to bed last night, so she brought it upon herself.
We conquer Poegaai Hoogte, a 1:2 incline, no sweat. The height we gained is quickly lost when follow the path down Broekskeurkloof (of course, not once considering taking the alternative route/Chicken Run), marvelling at the river, boulders, abundant wildlife and mermaids we encounter en route. We arrive at the farmhouse and walk over for a courtesy chat to the farmer, Oubaas. He notes his delight with Martinus van Skalkwyk’s new appointment and is adamant that there is hope for the country once more. In light of these recent developments, he decided that his bloodline will have to be continued, and without further ado, captures Heidi to be his son’s houvrou.
It was therefore with some lonesomeness, that I packed my belongings into a now spacious boot and bid my farewells. While driving back, I contemplated the weekend’s events, Life, human relationships, the Universe, meaningfulness, the stock market.
I came to the following conclusion: If The Tribe has spoken, who am I to argue?
And having the car all to myself, means playing my Evanescence CD as loudly as I wish...
So, all-in-all, another relaxing weekend in the Great Outdoors.