All posts by George

The beauty of nothingness….

How does one begin to describe the beauty of nothingness…..? Only after sitting on a sand dune and staring into the sea of sand do you appreciate the true beauty of nothingness.

Questions like who am I comes to mind in this bigger picture of nothingness. You come to realise that you are part of the blank canvas upon which the entire universe is painted. You start to realise how small and insignificant you really are. Only then do you realise that life as you know it has no bearing upon who you are but you live because of others. Your existence on earth is to be part of the bigger scheme of things and you have two options. To make life better for those around you and or to do the opposite. Choose wisely because you will be judged for it.

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By birth we all have the same degree of beauty and purity and then life shapes and changes us into who and what we become. Be careful of the impacts you have on others, especially children Your actions can be the difference between good and evil.
Sometimes we need to travel and get away from life as we know it to get completely lost in the nothingness to find our true selfs.

Stories in the sand

Each morning brings a new episode in the ongoing series “Stories in the sand” – to the trained eye a whole new world of intriguing interactions and dramas from the previous night unfolds each morning. Battles big and small, visits from the biggest, baddest and meanest to those who crawl.

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Its like an open book – one that could be read as well as contributed to. Maybe you could call it “Wiki-Landscape”. Though I’d prefer to think of it as the encyclopedia of who did what last night: a book that absorbs you such that you are suddenly one of the characters of the very story you are reading in the sand. What we often underestimate is exactly how much information we can gather from the signs left behind by animals and it is once we start following and identifying the spoor, that we start building a “bigger picture” of exactly what the animal/s are doing. A jackal scratching fleas, a Toktokkie looking for a mate, to the king of beasts leisurely strolling through camp to all sorts of critters running to and fro, there are much to read and learn.

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The stories in the red sand carried so many characters, events and action which we would have otherwise never seen, if we had not looked. The San (Bushman) are the oldest inhabitants of Southern Africa,  they have lived here for at least 20 000 years. They are the master readers when it comes to stories in the sand. They know each and every character by hart and they know exactly how to interpret what might look to us like ordinary marks in the sand.

Stories in the sand is any sign of a creature or trace by which the progress of something may be followed. A spoor may include tracks, scents, scat or broken foliage.

To read these stories in the sand you need to understand the basics.  

1. Who Made The Tracks?
What type of animal made these tracks? There are numerous pocket guides available for resources in identifying tracks. Signs of the Wild by Clive Barker is one of the most complete guides available.
2. What Was The Animal Doing When The Tracks Were Made?
Was the animal chasing another animal or hunting another animal? Was the animal walking or just grazing? Was the creature alone and if not – what was the interaction with the others?
3. When Were The Tracks Made?
By identifying when the tracks were made, you can get a better picture of the animals habits and or if its nocturnal or day living. How long ago did the animal past.
4. Where Did The Animal Go From Here?
Is it just passing through? Did it go to sleep near by? Sometimes, by following fresh tracks for a short distance, you will find the animal.
5. Why Did The Animal Go Though Here?
Why does the animal move at a specific time of day? Is this a pattern for this animal? Will it come by tomorrow and use this same path? Many animals have “roads” and “highways” that they constantly use.

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The forgotten pass

We stumbled upon this forgotten and now closed pass with a friend. It feels like time stood still and you are the only person on earth traveling here. Mother nature has begun here reclaiming of what was  hers once. The road is overgrown and partially lost to nature. This is one magical piece of road with as many photo opportunities as your mind can dream off.

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I try to live my life where I end up at a point where I have no regrets. Part of this philosophy made me find many forgotten dirt tracks and back roads. I just cant drive past an interesting looking turnoff with the thought of “I should have taken that road”. That would bug me endlessly thinking of what the experience should have been like.

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This pass winds through the Outeniekwa mountains and has many twists and turns and around every bend, a more beautiful sight awaits you. There are many mountain streams with deep rock pools and the most beautiful trees.

Its in these rock pools that you touch base with your inner child. For a fleeting moment you are 10 again without any fears and or worries.  Often the inner child holds information and feelings for the adult. Some of these feelings are painful; others are actually fun. The inner child holds the playfulness and innocence the adult has had to bury a long time ago.

Explore back roads, swim naked in isolated rock pools far away from civilization and let out your inner child to guide you to inner peace and happiness.

 To my mind, the greatest reward and luxury of travel is to be able to experience places like this and to see everyday things as if for the first time, to be in a position in which you are left in awe with what mother nature has to offer. To just lie on your back on a road not being used anymore and to take in the smells, sounds and feelings in a place where time stands still. Our happiest moments in life seem to be when we discover a jewel like this in search of the mundane and normal stuff of daily life.

Bush coffee

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Camp coffee. There are a few things on tour that evokes the true spirit of camping and bush life like the smell and taste of freshly brewed coffee early in the morning. Sitting on a log or camp chair listening to mother nature and all the sounds greeting the new day with a nice hot coffee in the hand is what camping is all about for me. I am sure that we all have our own way and recipe for making the best cuppa.

I love the way coffee brings everyone together around the fire, listening to the early morning chatter. Coffee has a way of brightening the somber mood of the early rise and to make people happy. Coffee is the common man’s gold, and like gold, it brings to every person the feeling of luxury and nobility even in the most primitive of campsites deep in the wilderness.

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My own coffee preference is summed up perfectly by an old Turkish proverb – “Coffee should be black as hell, strong as death and sweet as love.”

Coffee in the morning does to your soul what an ice cold beer do on a very hot afternoon. It soothes your inner being and it has a calming effect. Sometimes its the simple things in life like a few friends around a campfire with a cup of coffee in the hand that makes us the most happy.

My perfect morning is waking up somewhere in the bush with the left overs of last nights fire still glowing with red hot embers and the eagerness of getting the fire to go, so that the first coffee can be brewed. All these special memories get stored somewhere deep in our minds to remind us of these good times, once back in the concrete jungle. The nice thing about this is that sometimes when walking past a coffee shop, the aroma of freshly brewed coffee brings back a rush of these special memories in the bush.

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African Roadside Take Aways

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No road trip through Africa is complete without a stop at a roadside African “take-away”.
While it may be daunting for first time diners to immerse themselves completely in the numerous foreign delicacies, you can’t travel Africa without at least trying some of the amazing roadside foods on offer.

African food is colourful, interesting and alien to most visitors. It also tastes terrific. A well-prepared local meal can be a highlight of your trip into Africa. Trying some delicious traditional African food should be part of every visitor’s itinerary.

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Marogo

Traditional African food is generally cooked over an open fire or in a three-legged pot (or potjie) right next to the road, so meat tends to be served in either stewed or grilled form. A starch usually accompanies the meat: mieliepap (maize porridge), potatoes or rice. Beetroot, carrots, cabbage and pumpkin are the vegetables most commonly served. Typical South African dishes includes tripe, morogo, chakalaka and amadumbe.

  • Tripe is a traditional treat favored by most Africans. In the Cape it is considered a regional delicacy and is often served lightly curried with small new potatoes and fried onions.
  • Morogo is a type of wild spinach. Combined with butter-braised onions and tomato or mixed into maize porridge, it is a rural ingredient with mainstream appeal.
  • Amadumbe is a sweet potato and peanut mash. A tasty restaurant variation of the dish is to cook sweet potatoes, mash them with butter and sprinkle them with roasted peanuts, topped off with a drizzle of honey.
  • Chakalaka is a spicy relish served alongside a main course and consists of grated carrots, green peppers, sliced onion, vinegar, chili and that secret ingredient that will distinguish it from anyone else’s.
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Amadumbe

One of the best parts of traveling is discovering the local food. Whether it’s the fast-food joints with funny names, the roadside food stalls with hot-off-the-grill snacks or the over-processed snack foods you can’t find anywhere else. The voyage of gastronomic discovery can lead you to some interesting places and even more interesting people. Take the time to have a meal with the locals, they might open up a world to you that you would otherwise never have known to exist and places that only they know about.

Which is your favourite?

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Stopping at a roadside restaurant
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Good food