Thursday, December 25, 2008

The Veld

Agave Americana, the desert Christmas tree

South African Journal: Day Fifteen – Christmas day, fruit and croissants for breakfast, kids opened presents. I got a bottle of wine and Antony Osler's book Stoep Zen (Stoep is Afrikaners for porch/patio were people gather; a place for conversation and reflection).

Maeder and Les sporting their new Jamas on Christmas day

Went back out into the veld (the land), this time saw some indigenous art carved into rocks on Maeter's property. An academic from the Free State University came and looked at this rock art that they are guessing it could be between 20,000-40,000 years old based on similar art from around the region.

Maeter also showed us a rock gong thought to be from the same era. This was a group of large rocks, all different sizes, that were specially balanced so that when they were struck with a baseball sized rock, each 'gong' made different tones. It was like a drum kit with a seat and five 'drums' in a horseshoe design around the stone seat. Academics looked at these as well and confirmed they are way old.

20,000 year old drum set

Doesn't look like much but this was used by a prehistoric old Neil Peart

I have to say, there are few things more fun than chasing baboons around the Karoo on a 185cc off-road Kawasaki... ok, didn't really chase baboons around the semi-desert. Baboons are all over this area but we didn't see any tonight as Rolando, Meg, Thea, Miles, Ben and I ripped it up on three motorbikes and a Jeep. There were a few rabbits that almost feel pray to this knobby wheeled Japanese pleasure craft but no distant relatives of man were harassed by our motoring fun. Can't think of a better way to spend Christmas day then by speeding 40 mph through the African desert on two wheels, avoiding aardvark holes at sunset. Good fun.

So my nephew Ben had his first driving lesson today. He is five years old, just. And the jeep didn't have power steering. My sister Meg worked the gas and break while he managed the steering wheel. Aside from almost driving me off the dirt road when I was trying to pass them, he did a pretty good job. Good thing not too many cars transverse this stretch of dirt road. He found a porcupine quill as well, which added to the excitement of his first day of driving.

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