FOUR BIRDS IN A TREE

It is not always easy to photograph birds whilst driving for all too often, the moment you stop your vehicle to raise your camera, the said bird(s) fly off. Here are four that stayed perched:

Common Fiscal

Pale Chanting Goshawk

Bokmakierie

Brimstone Canary

Then came this surprise:

Suricate

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DRIVING THROUGH THE CISKEI

The pale flecks on either side of the road is litter, mostly plastic bags blown about by the wind.

One encounters a lot of goats along the road too.

LOTS of goats!

A typical DYI fix-it job on a bakkie – one of several seen out in the country.

A ‘bakkie’ is a typical South African word for a light delivery vehicle.

NOTE: Click on a photograph if you would like a larger view.

A BULL ON MY DOORSTEP

We soon got used to goats and cattle sharing the beach with us during our brief sojourn along the Wild Coast.

One afternoon, however, I heard a soft banging against the wooden deck attached to our rondavel. Bang, bang, bang. Who could it be? I looked out:

Before long this bull moved to the bottom of the wooden steps and really looked as though he would like to mount them!

“Good Afternoon, Bull,” I said, “Are you hoping for a cup of tea?” He blinked his moist eyes at me, shook his head, and went to munch on some grass instead.

TRANSKEI TRANSPORT

The ubiquitous mini-bus taxis are a common form of transport for rural people to get from where they live to the towns and back. Notice how this village hugs the main road. If you look carefully, you will see a tractor parked outside the rondavels on the far right.

By contrast, these horses have been in-spanned to pull a home-made wagon loaded with blue gum (Eucalyptus spp.) poles needed both for building homes and for firewood. Many of the homes we passed used outside fires for cooking or heating water for doing laundry.

Once off the tarred roads, the camber and corrugations of some of the dirt roads are such that vehicles travel on the wrong side of the road. The vehicle on the right has passengers inside the canopy with their luggage piled on top of it.

During the dry season dust is an enormous problem – after passing us, the vehicle ahead vanished in a cloud of dust! Mind you, that is probably preferable to the muddy conditions in rainy weather.

At least there were tangible signs of this rural road being resurfaced.

Some less used roads are merely tracks.

While others – this photograph does not do it justice – almost defy gravity.

‘Choose your rut’ is an option that all too frequently requires a quick decision on the part of the driver. While you are doing that, watch out for the donkeys too!

Watch out for goats too!

NOTE: Click on the photographs for a larger view.

SWELL ECO LODGE

The Swell Eco Lodge is tucked into such a quiet area along the Transkei Wild Coast that if it hadn’t been for intrepid members of my family I wouldn’t have heard of it – and what a tranquilly beautiful place it is!

This self-catering accommodation is situated within a peaceful rural Xhosa village in the area of Mngcibe, with spectacular views of the rolling hills, the sea and the nearby Mdumbi River – which is great to swim in.

This corner of paradise is definitely off the beaten track, so just getting there is an adventure of its own as one has to follow a series of ever-deteriorating roads to reach it. As we left the last of the towns and the tar behind, the dust became thicker and the roads more populated with livestock.

These included cattle, goats, pigs and even geese.

Once there, we were able to enjoy the pristine beaches mostly on our own, sharing it with goats and cattle – which didn’t bother us at all.

I highly recommend this as a place for complete peace and a recharge of the soul.

A FINE WELCOME

The National Arts Festival is currently being hosted here and this welcoming committee was patiently waiting at one of the main entrances to our town.

The rest of the Urban Herd were grazing further up the hill. This particular group of cattle have been in the area for the past week. Yesterday some of them wandered into this road in the face of oncoming traffic. Festival visitors who are clearly unused to sharing main roads with farm animals merely press their hooters and swerve out of the way without slowing down. I keep hoping the animals won’t do this at night for our street lights do not always shine.