Thursday, April 28, 2016

Thursday 28th April 2016....Cango Caves!!!!!

Today was going to be a sort of mystery tour over some really high mountain passes and at the end see what you think....
I was on the road by 8.30am and after a couple of km onto a very good graded gravel road passing through many olive farms

osterich farms

I love this shot of ostrich herding!!!

and incredible scenery

to arrive at my first stop

This really is in the middle of no where...

I hiked into the falls and I was the only one there and it was beautiful and someone had done a lot of work and spent money on the stairs and bridges down to the falls..

because of the high walls of the canyon it was hard to get a good photo showing the height and the beauty but what impressed me was something different about these falls

.....In Zambia the power of the falls was astounding but these falls well at least to me the water seemed to jst gently flow down the steep canyon wall almost like in slow motion and then even gentlier was the smaller fall to the left of the main one...a really special start to the day....

Back onto the road and about 30 minutes later arrived here...

Common myth has it that the Caves were first explored by a local farmer named Jacobus van Zyl (after who the first chamber, van Zyl's Hall, was named) � although research fails to reveal anybody by that name in the Cango area in the 1770's. And besides � we now know that the Caves have been known to man since the Early Stone Age.
Still, even if there never was a Jacobus van Zyl, the Cango Caves have been at the forefront of tourism in South Africa since the end of the 18th century: the first to be protected by environmental legislation and the first to employ a full-time tourist guide, they remain South Africa's oldest tourist attraction.

In the 19th centuryentrance to the Caves cost 5 rix dollars � the modern equivalent of about R500.00 � but that even didn�t deter them and many carted away parts of the delicate stalactites and stalagmites for souvenirs or engraved their names onto the walls. In response, the governor of the Cape Colony, Lord Charles Somerset, published the first Caves Regulation in 1820. The 1st law designed to protect an environmental resource in South Africa; it banned the collection of souvenirs, proved for fines for anyone caught damaging Caves formations and prescribed an entrance fee which had to be paid to the District Officer � who was made responsible for enforcing the rules.
Many of the most significant discoveries in the Caves were made by its first full-time guide,Johnnie van Wassenaar. � who served for 43 years: from 1891 until his retirement in 1934. He opened many side chambers and introduced thousands of people to Cango 1, which remains the only part of the Caves which the public may visit. Importantly, though, it is clear that the Caves were known to man long before Europeans first landed at the Cape: recent finds � of some tool left behind in ancient hearths in the Cave mouth � prove that humans have lived and sheltered here for at least 80 000 years.
The Cango Caves reveal their secrets painfully slowly. Where once we thought that they�d been inhabited for a thousand centuries, recent archaeological finds have now proved that they�ve sheltered us for more than 80 000 years.
Where once we thought that they were only about one kilometre in length, we now know that they extend for well over 5 kilometres � and that they could be even bigger still.
But the Caves� history and their size are just two of their many mysteries. The skeletons of three genets (small cats) have been found in Cango 2: is there another secret entrance to the Caves? Or were these unfortunates drowned and left behind by receding floodwaters? And how did the skeletons of bats � which have also been found in Cango 2 � become enclosed in calcite many hundreds of even thousands of years ago?
There is an ancient engraving in the Caves: it�s the only piece of cave art in South Africa in a completely dark area. How did the artist prove himself with a light source to work? The engraving shows and elephant superimposed on an eland� and yet, amazingly, you see only the elephant when you view the work from one side � and only the eland when you view it from the other.
Why have so many Caves guides committed suicide? And is there a ghost in the Sand bypass (a tunnel which branches off from the Drum Chamber)? One of the guides drank poison in the bypass � and nobody has ever been able to solve the puzzle of why the lights in the Sand Bypass fuse so often�
And then there�s the mystery of Johnnie van Wassenaar�s 16-mile tunnel. This level-headed man once spent 29 hours underground � and, according to him, spent much of that time walking upright. Was the entrance to Johnnie�s lost chamber bricked up at some stage � perhaps during the construction of the stairway into the Van Zyl�s Hall?

It was superbly organized and only 85 Rand about 7 Canadian dollars and I joined 30 other people for a very informative and skilled guided tour.....enjoy the photos and tried to capture the enormity of the caves...

A very well spent and cheap hour I was really impressed with the size of the caverns and the beauty of the formations and again thumbs up to our tour guide she was great and funny!!!!!!

Next was to attempt to drive over this pass I had been told it may be closed but was happy to find it was open and all gravel but what an amazing drive..come join me and please fasten your seat belt!!!!

Just incredible workmanship and  the views!!!

Yes we have to go all the way down there!!!

On the way home I drove by this guy and I turned around and stopped gave him some water and some grapes and asked if I could take a photo and he smiled and said sure...

I was back home by 4 pm and i think getting the most for your money and 8 hours this was a steal of a beautiful day.
The sun was still shining so for me it was tea on the back stoop and here is my view and this special tree...
 This tree has been grafted and it bears three fruits...


and these below not yet in season how cool is that to go to the tree and pick 3 fruits all in one place!!!

Citrus (Orange, Lemon, Lime, Grapefruit, Naartjie genus)
Life > eukaryotes > Archaeoplastida > Chloroplastida > Charophyta > Streptophytina > Plantae (land plants) > Tracheophyta (vascular plants) > Euphyllophyta > Lignophyta (woody plants) > Spermatophyta (seed plants) > Angiospermae (flowering plants) > Eudicotyledons > Core Eudicots > Rosids > Eurosid II > Order: Sapindales > Family: Rutaceae
Flower of Citrus limon (Lemon)
Flower of Citrus limon (Lemon)

Cross-section and longitudinal section through Citrus sinensis fruit (Orange).
Native from northern India to China and south through Malaysia, the East Indies and the Philippines. About seven species and more than seven hybrids are cultivated in southern Africa including familiar fruit such as oranges, naartjies, grapefruit and lemons.
The genus Citrus is native to southeast Asia, occurring from northern India to China and south through Malaysia, the East Indies and the Philippines. They are all small evergreen trees and shrubs, usually with spines on trunks and branches. The ecology of wild species is now hard to establish because of drastic habitat modifications in the region as well as extensive hybridisation between wild and domesticated plants. The history of domestication has also been hard to establish because archaeological evidence is lacking and it has been difficult to link names and descriptions in ancient accounts with the actual species we know today. Records of domestication go back to about 500 BC. 
Citrus fruits are high in vitamin C, flavonoids, acids and volatile oils. They contain coumarins such as bergapten which make the skin sensitive to sunlight. Many citrus species and varieties are not cultivated for producing fresh edible fruit but are sour and used for other purposes: oil is extracted from freshly open flowers (e.g. neroli oil from Bergamot) and used in perfumes. Leaves are used for flavouring foods and for medicinal infusions. Essential oils are extracted from leaves and unripe or ripe fruit and used in flavourings and for scenting toiletry products. The skin of fruit is used for making marmalade.

To finally end my day a saw my first hummingbird come to the feeder!!!

So there you have it just another boring day in South Africa!!!!

I managed last night with out TV so i should be OK tonight having said that it is already 8.45pm and I have yet to explore that bath tub again!!!!!

Tomorrow I move on still in the mountains but heading towards Cape Town!!
Yashi Kochi!! 

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Wednesday 27th April 2016...Freedom Day!!!

Today is a National holiday...

Freedom Day: What is it, what does it mean for South Africa, and how are people celebrating?

Nelson Mandela at a rally, 1994, South Africa
Nelson Mandela at a rally, 1994, South Africa. CREDIT:  GREG MARINOVICH

What is Freedom Day?

South Africa celebrates Freedom Day each year on 27th April, marking the anniversary of the day in 1994 when the country held its first ever all-race, democratic election, ending decades of sanctioned racial oppression under the apartheid system.

What does Freedom Day mean for South Africa?

The South African government's official website says Freedom Day is significant because it "marks the end of over three hundred years of colonialism, segregation and white minority rule and the establishment of a new democratic government led by Nelson Mandela and a new state subject to a new constitution."

The South African flag projected onto South Africa House in London's Trafalgar Square, April 2004, as the country prepared to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Freedom Day 
The South African flag projected onto South Africa House in London's Trafalgar Square, April 2004, as the country prepared to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Freedom Day CREDIT: MARTYN HAYHOW/AFP/GETTY IMAGES
For many South Africans Freedom Day brings back memories of the euphoria of 1994, when black, Indian and mixed race voters stood in long meandering lines - alongside whites - to cast their first ballots.
Nobel peace laureate Desmond Tutu said the day felt like "falling in love".
FW de Klerk, apartheid South Africa's last president, described the day as "our proudest moment as South Africans".

Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Nelson Mandela in Cape Town in 1994
Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Nelson Mandela in Cape Town, 1994 CREDIT:  DDP USA/REX SHUTTERSTOCK
However, 22 years on, South Africa is counting both the gains and failures of the democratic era.
While the country boasts a strong constitution, an independent judiciary, and is probably Africa's most developed country, a 2014 AFP report noted that its successes are "tainted by mismanagement and high level corruption blamed largely on the ANC-led administration."

How are people celebrating?

The government says: "This year’s Freedom Day celebrations is a highly significant occasion as South Africans have just celebrated 20 years of the Constitution and are celebrating 22 years of Constitutional Democracy. President Jacob Zuma will deliver (a) keynote address (at Giyani stadium, Limpopo Province).

South African president and African National Congress president Jacob Zuma delivers a speech during the Party official launch of the Municipal Elections manifesto earlier this month
South African president and African National Congress president Jacob Zuma delivers a speech during the Party official launch of the Municipal Elections manifesto earlier this month CREDIT: MICHAEL SHEEHAN/AFP/GETTY IMAGES
"This is a time to reflect on the strides we have made in achieving the vision of a better life for all. Undoubtedly much has changed since 1994 and there has been progress in every sphere of society, but we are aware that more must still be done.
"Government calls on all South Africans to join in celebrating national Freedom Day and to extend celebrations of our democracy across the country in reflecting on the achievements we have made as a nation.

Welcome to De Rust

The quaint Little Karoo village of De Rust lies at the southern portal of the famous Meiringspoort (canyon), at the foot of the Swartberg mountains, about 35 km from Oudtshoorn. Considered to be the gateway between the Klein Karoo and the Great Karoo, De Rust has a typical Karoo atmosphere steeped in history, hospitality and time—time for well-being and time for community. This slow pace of life and clean fresh air has an appeal to those who seldom have time to quiet their minds. Like most towns in the region, it is ostrich country, while the tranquil tree-lined village boasts excellent examples of late 19th century architecture.
Ridiculously scenic, with mountains so close and so clear you feel you can almost reach out and touch them, De Rust is as yet relatively 'undiscovered', a quiet and safe town where villagers walk their dogs and everyone greets as you pass by. It is one of the few towns that is so quiet at night that the sound of an approaching car will startle you, and you may hear nothing else but the booming call of an ostrich, the lost hoot of a Cape Eagle Owl or perhaps the forlorn braying of a donkey. The Karoo has a treasure trove of nothing - where the silence echoes and the stars reach down from above.
De Rust was established in 1900 on a portion of Meirings farm. Petrus Johannes Meiring extensively explored the Swartberg Mountain range and discovered the route through it, following the Karoo’s Great River (Groot Rivier) which flows through the gorge, and crosses the 25km tarred road 25 times. This gorge and meandering pass is now known as the Meiringspoort. Long before the village of De Rust was established, it had already been used as a rest stop before trekking through the poort (canyon).

It does appear that lots of places are still open but the schools are closed...I was on the road by 9.30 am heading for the town mentioned above!!!

the road was on a good highway and after a while I had my last sighting of the coast for a few days...


love that beach

and that bridge also!!!

I then turned into the mountains and ostrich country...

boy I am sorry but they are one ugly bird!!!

Around 2pm I was here

 and I have to dis agree with the above account of this small seems nothing special to me at all. I do not see any special charm and character...but I know the mountain passes close by are air bnb cottage is on the main road but it seems quiet..the cottage is over 100 years old and very nicely furnished with everything I need....

you can imagine where I will be tonight....

There is a waterfall 12 km out of town and I took the very scenic pass to get there

just a short walk and a lovely fall a bit hard with the angle of the sun to get a good shot but I enjoying sitting and having a bite to eat here before going back home and having tea on the back stoop facing the mountains!!

Cooked a nice pork dinner and now the first problem arises!!!!

Where is the TV??? No TV???? What am I to do??? How do I watch the game tonight???

No worries I will get by!!!

In the US and Canada the going phrase is “No problem” New Zealand and Australia it was “no worries” and I now realize here the phrase is “MY pleasure” I hear it all the time.

So a quiet evening reading, writing and some planning...tomorrow a full driving day to see a waterfall and the largest caves in SA and then back here again for another night.

Yashi Kochi!!

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Tuesday 26th April 2016...contrasting hikes!!!!

I found this on the Internet last night!!!!
This is certainly one of Knysna's hidden gems and I am fortunate to have heard about it. Although it is a relatively short walk, only 3.6km, the hills and descents are very steep. It is advised that you wear proper shoes, keep your flip-flops for the beach. Be sure to take your camera and eats because when you reach the Homtini River the rewards are satisfying and you will want to spend some time there. The waters of the river are very refreshing and is a great idea to take your swim wear for a dip in the summer. The depth of the big pool hasn't been established and diving is not recommended. Don't be so engrossed with the river and entertaining rock pools that you miss seeing the stalactites and stalagmites in the 'cellar'. Take care on the rocks as they can be slippery.  The discolouration of the water is caused by tannins and humic acids from leaves on the forest floor. Take your time to check out all the different shapes and colours of fungi on dead trees and listen to the birds. Enjoy your hike!

Sounded like something I should do and after breakfast packed up and the directions were great I found the trail head right away but I was way off the grid and two problems arose right away.....first where to park as these signs were all down one side of the path

I did find a spot close to a tree that I thought would be Baboon proof....the next problem was at the hike entrance was this sign!!

I had driven about 20 km to get here and I did not feel like driving all the way back to town and then out again so I ventured on with my story ready for the warden if I met one!!!!
The hike was only short one but downhill which was hard going as it was slippery but my trekking pole helped and soon I got to the river and the pools..unfortunately with the lack of sun and shadows and the black water the photos are not the best but believe me it was so lovely being there on my own, so peaceful and the water glistening a nice start to my day!!!
You know I like signs with arrows!!

The hike back up was much easier than going down and when I returned to the car it was baboon free but I did see some in the fields close by!!!
My next hike was going to be a 9km beach hike and again I found the trail head easily and oh my what a wonderful sight one of the nicest stretches of open beach and pounding waves I have seen!!!

 So I started walking on this beach it was great...I had it all to myself and after about 6 km I decided it was time to stop for lunch and after lunch I needed to have one swim in the Indian Ocean......
There I was in the middle of this exquisite beach surrounded by sand ocean and no people so I decided it was time for a skinny dip.......NOW

You have been warned the next photo does not contain partial nudity

IT CONTAINS total nudity   (may my Mum forgive me)


I did not last long in the water it was refreshingly cool!!!!!  Back on the beach towel put my shorts on and fell asleep even with the pounding surf crashing in the distance..
Life is good!!!!

Eventually hiked back to the car but on the way back I decided to test my new acquired  tracking skills..

I deduced that this was the track of a white woman about 35 years of age wearing a blue top, red shorts and pink runners!!! The track was fresh maybe 5 minutes old and she was moving left!!!!
How was that????  I am getting good at this although I did have some help with this as she ran right past me!!

After two great hikes I decided in all honesty I should go to the national parks office and pay for a permit for my first hike......I located the office back in town and spoke to a nice lady and I told her what i had done and she said that was honest of me to come in and then she asked if that was my favorite team, referring to the soccer shirt I was wearing and of course I said yes number ONE!!!!..She smiled and looked at me and said today was my lucky free day and waived the permit.....I like to think my Pearson charms came through again but I am sure it was the shirt!!!
I arrived home around 4pm after a great day and i was sitting outside on the patio having tea when I looked over to the house across the street to see this

As I watched he climbed along the ledge a window was open and in he went!!!  Came out about 20 seconds later with a tube of toothpaste in his mouth...I like that a cheeky monkey who is concerned about his dental hygiene.... too funny!!!!
You must admit my days are not boring!!!
I had a great shower and soup for dinner and you will pleased to know that there is no English premier league soccer on for me to watch tonight.......BUT...there is a live European cup semi final game to watch and starting in 5 minutes so sorry have to run!!!!

Before I go this is a long but I found interesting read for a few reasons......firstly that so many innocent people lost their lives and it occurred in my home town of Sheffield and I had in 1969 done crowd control at this stadium and also the officer in charge when this incident occurred was in the same training class as myself!!!

Hillsborough inquests: Fans unlawfully killed, jury concludes

  • From the se

Media captionThe families of many of those killed sang "You'll Never Walk Alone" outside court

Ninety-six football fans who died as a result of a crush in the 1989 Hillsborough disaster were unlawfully killed, the inquests have concluded.
The jury found match commander Ch Supt David Duckenfield was "responsible for manslaughter by gross negligence" due to a breach of his duty of care.
Police errors also added to a dangerous situation at the FA Cup semi-final.
After a 27-year campaign by victims' families, the behaviour of Liverpool fans was exonerated.
The jury found they did not contribute to the danger unfolding at the turnstiles at the Leppings Lane end of Sheffield Wednesday's ground on 15 April 1989.
Nine jurors reached unanimous decisions on all but one of the 14 questions at the inquests into Britain's worst sporting disaster.
The coroner Sir John Goldring said he would accept a majority decision about whether the fans were unlawfully killed - seven jurors agreed they were.
When the conclusion of the unlawful killing was revealed, families were seen hugging each other in the public gallery and some punched the air.

Margaret Aspinall reacts outside courtImage copyrightEPA
Image captionProminent campaigner Margaret Aspinall reacted outside court
Hillsborough familiesImage copyrightReuters
Image captionRelatives of the victims embraced following the unlawful killing conclusion

When considering how each of the 96 victims died the jury concluded many died well after 15:15 on the day of the match.
The coroner at the original inquest, Dr Stefan Popper, said he would not hear any evidence relating to deaths beyond that time because he believed all the victims had died, or suffered fatal injuries, by then.
The new inquests jury found the direct medical cause of death was compression asphyxia in all but three of the victims.
The earliest time of death was estimated at 14:57 and the last up to 17:00.
Tony Bland, the 96th victim, died in 1993 after being left brain damaged, due to or as a consequence of compression asphyxia.

The jury also concluded:

  • Police errors caused a dangerous situation at the turnstiles
  • Failures by commanding officers caused a crush on the terraces
  • There were mistakes in the police control box over the order to open the Leppings Lane end exit gates
  • Defects at the stadium contributed to the disaster
  • There was an error in the safety certification of the Hillsborough stadium
  • South Yorkshire Police (SYP) and South Yorkshire Ambulance Service delayed declaring a major incident
  • The emergency response was therefore delayed
  • Sheffield Wednesday failed to approve the plans for dedicated turnstiles for each pen
  • There was inadequate signage at the club and misleading information on match tickets
  • Club officials should have requested a delay in kick off as they were aware of a huge number of fans outside shortly before the game was due to start

At the scene: Judith Moritz, BBC News

Relatives sing following conclusionsImage copyrightReuters

The families clapped as the jury left the Hillsborough inquests in Warrington. One woman shouted "God bless the jury."
There were lots of tears as lawyers hugged the families and the shadow home secretary Andy Burnham hugged the families in court.
There were lawyers crying, Andy Burnham was crying and the families were hugging. People said they couldn't take in the enormity of it all.
Trevor Hicks, whose daughters Sarah and Vicky died, told me: "We've done it."
A spontaneous chorus of "You'll Never Walk Alone" was sung outside the courtroom as people raised Liverpool flags above their heads.

Hillsborough familiesImage copyrightReuters
Image captionMany family members and supporters reacted with jubilation

Leading campaigners Margaret Aspinall and Trevor Hicks were seen hugging each other in tears.
Ms Aspinall, whose 18-year-old son James died in the disaster, said: "I think we have changed a part of history now - I think that's the legacy the 96 have left."
Barry Devonside, father of Christopher who died aged 18, said: "I never thought in my wildest dreams that we would get this decision.
"We did our best - we couldn't do any more."
A statement on behalf of all of the families said the jury's conclusions "completely vindicate" the long fight for justice.
It added it has brought "significant progress on the journey... and sense of closure to the bereaved".
Prime Minister David Cameron called it a "landmark day" and said the inquests "provide long overdue justice".
He paid tribute to the "extraordinary courage of Hillsborough campaigners in their long search for the truth".

Relative reacts to Hillsborough conclusionsImage copyrightReuters
Image captionThere were emotional scenes outside the courtroom following the conclusions

Current SYP Chief Constable David Crompton said the force "got the policing... catastrophically wrong".
He said his force "unequivocally" accepts the conclusions of unlawful killing and the wider findings.
"As I have said before, I want to apologise unreservedly to the families and all those affected."

Hillsborough relativeImage copyrightPA
Image captionA relative holds up a photo of Keith McGrath, who died in the Hillsborough disaster, outside the Hillsborough inquests in Warrington

The police response to the increasing crowd outside the Leppings Lane turnstiles at Liverpool's match against Nottingham Forest was "slow and uncoordinated", the inquests in Warrington, Cheshire, heard.
The road closure "exacerbated" the situation and there were no filter cordons in place to regulate the movement of spectators.
Attempts to close the perimeter gates were made too late and there were no contingency plans for the "sudden arrival" of a large number of fans, the jury said.
Jurors concluded the commanding officers should have ordered the closing of the tunnel which led directly to the central pens where the fatal crush occurred.


Clive Coleman, BBC legal correspondent

"A lot of evidence has come to light here and in the police investigation. The inquest has done its job and now the criminal justice system takes over.
"They [Independent Police Complaints Commission] are looking at both organisations and individuals. The unlawful killing conclusion that we have had today the route to it was considering the actions of match commander David Duckenfield.
"The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) can consider a prosecution against David Duckenfield."

The CPS said: "In due course the CPS will formally consider whether any criminal charges should be brought against any individual or corporate body based upon all the available evidence."
A criminal investigation into the disaster, Operation Resolve, is being led by Assistant Commissioner Jon Stoddart.

Yashi Kochi!!!