Mpumalanga lies in Eastern South Africa, bordering Swaziland and Mozambique.
God’s Window, Lisbon’s Waterfall and Bourke’s Luck Potholes
On our first day in Mpumalanga, we awoke to warm sunshine. The boys were very excited because we had a full day of activities lined up, all of which interested them. After a quick breakfast, we set off for God’s Window, the first stop on our list.
The road route to God’s Window took us past one of the entrances to the famous Kruger National Park. Naturally, there was quite a long queue of cars turning in to the park. These roads are a bit painful to drive as, in addition to the tourist traffic, there are a huge number of trucks that crawl along, slowing everyone down. The worst offenders are the trucks that are carrying massive loads of cut logs, they barely move at all up the hills. My husband is normally a jolly and mild mannered fellow, but put him in this situation and he changes completely [just like Mr Change About in Enid Blyton’s book, The Folk of the Faraway Tree]. To help you imagine this part of the trip, I wrote the following poem:
Ode to driving
Take an ordinary man,
Put him in a fast car,
Set him on a long road,
And let him drive quite far.
He’ll turn into a maniac,
Competitiveness will come to the fore,
The trip will be quite exciting,
Even if he’s usually quite a bore.
If a truck slows down the traffic,
He’ll take it as a sign,
To put his foot flat,
And try to overtake the line.
His kind and gentle nature,
Will disappear, he’ll grunt,
And become quite obnoxious,
To be quite pointed and blunt.
I am sure you get the picture [BTW Hubby Dear didn’t appreciate my poem nearly as much as the boys and I did [grin]]. Anyhow, we did arrive in one piece at God’s Window. The morning was wonderfully clear and we had an excellent view. The boys were very intrigued by the seemingly endless man-made forests. This is paper making country.
Terence and Greg went for a much longer walk up to the natural forest above God’s Window. Michael’s asthma has been quite bad lately [change of seasons I think] so we went down to the ethnic market in the parking lot. The local artists make the most beautiful wooden products. I bought Mike a guitar made from a gourd and wood and a beautiful wooden doll, decorated with the most intricate beadwork, for myself. I also bought my sister, Catherine, a wooden cat as she collects cats. By this time, Terence and Greg had arrived and Terence bought a beautiful wooden salt and pepper set. These local people are very poor and rely on the sales of their artwork to tourists to make a living.
Our next stop was Lisbon Falls which were also very pretty. Terence and Greg walked right down to the water. Mike and I stopped about half way. Terence always urges Mike and me on but I am the one that has to half carry Mike back up the hill so I take the sensible option and turn back at the half way point.
There was another ethnic art shop so obviously Mike made straight for it and managed to talk me into buying him a shark’s tooth necklace. When Terence joined us, we decided to buy a beautifully made wooden serving bowl, with separate sections for different snacks. The local people were very pleased with the sales. Their products are certainly very cheap and well worth the money we paid.
It was now lunch time and we stopped for pancakes at Harries Pancakes in Graskop. The pancakes were delicious. Greg had biltong and mozzarella cheese, Terence had a bobotie filling (a traditional mince curry with fruit and one of the national dishes of South Africa) and I had chicken, cheese and cashew nuts. Mike refused to have a pancake and had a ham and cheese roll instead. It was a very pleasant lunch in the sunshine. On the way back to the car, we were waylaid by local people selling macadamia nuts and avocado pears, all grown locally. Naturally, we bought four bags of macadamia nuts and a huge bag of avocado pears. The avocado pears are of a very large size and we will be taking them home with us. I have an avocado loaf cake that I want to experiment with. At this rate we may have to leave a child behind when we leave. There won’t be space in the car for both boys and all the gifts and trinkets we have acquired.
On we went, to Bourke’s Luck Potholes this time. This was my favourite stop of the day. The area was very scenic and the potholes were fascinating. They looked like little pools where you might find fairies or leprechauns sunbathing and swimming on a fine day. There was a sheer drop into the gorge and the rocks were an interesting orangey colour.
We had to cross a bridge to get a good view, and photographs, of the potholes. Michael was not impressed. He has a fear of heights and was most reluctant to cross the bridge although it was made of metal and cement and was very secure. On our way back to the car, a baboon ran out of the bush and dashed across the path in front of us. My boys got a huge fright. It is a bit of a shock to have a wild animal with great sharp teeth that close to you. He was very busy about his own business though and didn’t even pause or give us a backward glance.
That was enough excitement for us for one day and the sun was dropping low in the sky. We headed back to our chalet for a light dinner and an early night. The following morning we would be up bright and early for a trip to the Kruger National Park.
Robbie and Michael Cheadle are the co-authors of the Sir Chocolate Book series