(6 April 2015)
Footprints: An outline or indentation left by a foot on a surface.
There’s this new thing that all the hot and healthy green people like to do… measure their carbon footprints?!? It’s all about emissions and ozone layers and global warming. It sounds all ingewikkeld but it just boils down to treading lightly.
Kraai and I set off to Mpumalanga to find a few forgotten footprints. We were determined to leave as little as possible of a financial footprint as we could. Luckily, with our bank balances – it turned out to be an easy task!
We left tyre tracks on every dirt road we could find on our way to Bronkhorstspruit.
But why Bronkhorstspruit?
There be the Hertzog graves on the farm of Waterval.
We found the prints of an old oxwagon and a Poskoets of 1952 left in cement.
Our first footprints! Happiness!!!
But, the graves of genl. J.B.M. Hertzog, his wife Katie and their daughter Wilhelmina Jacoba have been defaced numerous times by people probably looking for treasure. Having run out of options on preserving the graves, the family resorted to the age old measure of Virolocks… in Africa it’s also called boulders!
Graves are the footprints of angels.
― Henry Wadsworth Longfellow ―
This is an old resort that had its bygone days in the 80’s. My mother told me how they danced the night away in the caves during a company function.
The locks to the main gate were rusted away and we didn’t even need to take out the tyre levers (not that we had these with us – oops!).
We were just about to enter when a small car sped up to the gate behind us. Kraai wispered that we should probably take off our helmets so they could see we are chickens.
A car brimming with 3 little dirty smiles jumping around on the back seat pulled up. Hubby first just stared at us and then gave the same genetic smile as kiddies in the back. It was the Liversage family from next door and they came to check who the criminals were this time round. When they heard that we just wanted to have a look at the formar glorious falls, they offered to be our tour guides.
The resort had to close down as it lost its sparkle. Or maybe not so much lost it, but it got dimmed by the smell of sewerage water tumbling over the cliff from the township that grew roots in Leandra just above the resort.
Join me – it’s lovely! Promise...
The smell was unbearable!
How sad is this footprint left behind a water curtain of filth? In our day to day life to survive we destroy what is beautiful. And then we sommer forget about it too.
We stayed in Bethal that night and woke up with a disproportionate print on our frontal lobe.
We found a dusty rutted road that was not plotted on the GPS. Tempting! Conquered!
The road wounded down to a big black hole. At first we thought we found a gateway to another dimension, but it turned out to be Burgerspan.
The station at Burgerspan: Although the various buildings have been demolished, the water tanks and water intake point is still standing. This is reminiscent of the bygone days of steam locomotives.
I keep trying to explain to people that the archetype of intelligence is not Dustin Hoffman in 'The Rain Man;' it is a human being - period. It is squishy things that explode in a vacuum, leaving footprints on their moon.
― Eliezer Yudkowsky ―
I sometimes have to wonder about Kraai’s sanity?
I was still admiring the rusty train tracks, when she pointed Kapow’s front wheel in the direction of the big black hole and opened throttle. I still wanted to warn her of anthills, mole burrows and biker-eating obstacles that live in savanna plains…
Mitchelin left a few footprints in the verlate vlakte.
We followed the spoor of the old San people, the Bushmen of the Drakensberg that disappeared with time. It led us to a small town called Chrissiesmeer.
Kraai stopped to help Corrie up his drive-way. Two-wheeled brethren always stand together!
History has it that the Bushmen had to leave the Drakensberg in fear of being pursued by angry Boer commandos for stealing horses. So, in the early 1800’s the Bushmen migrated/fled to the pan-valley of Mpumalanga. But as the history of these men goes, the other clans of Swazi’s got fed-up with them stealing their livestock.
So the hunter-gatherers changed their game to being hunted-gather-no-mores. The Swazi’s complained to their chiefs, whom sent out warriors to hunt the ‘poachers’. Bushmen are by nature an elusive people and were able to elude the Swazi warriors (…mostly). One of their tactics was to hide in/on the pans and lakes of this area. These Lake Bushmen lived where few were prepared to go. African myths would have stopped an enemy from entering any large body of water.
Captive Bushmen were put to death, while women and children were taken as slaves and absorbed into the Swazi nation. According to history, it is apparent that this tactic led to the final extermination of the San.
On closer inspection on some of the farms around Chrissiemeer one finds a handful of people with distinct Bushman features. They regard themselves as Bushmen or Amabushmana. They are short of stature with slanted eyes. The Drakensberg Bushwomen is the smallest of any racial group in the world - even shorter than the Congo Pygmies.
Today, in spite of these distinguishing genetic traits, there is an acute sense of loss of their original cultural identity and way of life. A deep sense of nostalgia and sadness is evident among these last remnants of the San.
That's what we all want, in the end. To know that we left footprints when we passed by, however briefly. We want to be remembered.
So remember us.
― Mike A. Lancaster, Human.4 ―
We had a quick dop with Gary at the old Billiard room before we made spore.
The area between Chrissiesmeer and Lothair is infested with a bug called a Pot. They leave huge Pot holes where ever they thread.
We were running out of time and it started to drizzle. Best was to find a sleeping spot at De Oude B&B (email@example.com). The Scheepers family invited us in and even offered to take us to the next footprint the following morning.
Oom Skip had a sluk of coffee the next morning before he led us to the site of one of the biggest footprints in the world. There were no sign boards to the site and we would have never found the print in the woods if Oom Skip didn’t take us there.
When I asked why this print wasn’t a tourist besienswaardigheid, Oom Skip explained that a few months ago someone tried to steal the footprint. Steal, as in – TAKE! A whole mountain?!?
It’s amazing what the tsotsis in Africa can load on a Datsun bakkie!
According to folklore, the footprint is that of a woman's left foot. Her name was iMpuluzi and named as such by Shaka, which means the naked goddess. The imprint of her foot was made as she ran across an open piece of ground. iMpulizi was running to her loved one and if one looks at the area one finds just below the hill an enormous rock that has the definite shape of a human skull. In the black cultures of Africa, the skull symbolizes eternity and even when a person has died many years ago a portion of the skull can never be destroyed.
The facts about this ‘footprint’ are that it is in granite. Granite is an igneous rock, which becomes solid when a previously very hot molten magma (around 800°C) cools down. It is difficult to imagine any sort of footprint, or fossil for that matter, surviving such a process. It is even more difficult to contemplate what would happen to the ‘giant’ who was going for a stroll barefoot in this igneous material! Remember too that granite does not form on the surface of the earth but deep underground. And as this rock is in-situ, seems that not only would the ‘giant’ need to be able to walk on molten magma, but she would have to be able to walk up the side of a wall of molten magma underground!
This giant footprint suffers from giant problems—and numerous problems at that. Even if this were a footprint, it wouldn’t be a human footprint because the redesign necessary for such a creature to exist at such a size would be so severe that the creature couldn’t have any genetic continuity with us.
While it is well enough to leave footprints on the sands of time, it is even more important to make sure they point in a commendable direction.
― James Branch Cabell ―
In our search for Brereton Park…
…we left our own footprints in the sand.
We were not too sure why we were looking for this place and it sure didn’t want us to find it. We got hopelessly lost in the forests!
We passed by a Goggo that was dancing next to the road, and as we waved at her I thought she might know where this Brereton was – so, I stopped. Kraai also waved, but wasn’t aware of my last-minute plan alteration. By the time she realized that my wheels were stationary, it was too late. She swerved but we connected on the left elbow side. I just plonked over as she took my wheels out from under me, but she did a spectacular tuck-and-roll down the dirt road.
We both got up unscathed and tried to fix bent forks and broken mirrors, while the whaling Goggo dusted us off.
There wasn’t much at Dirkiesdorp, but we made the most of it.
At the hotel we met up with Oom Norman and Tannie Annetjie. They wanted to take the two dust covered wesies home to scrub and feed them. But we were on our way to a man that leaves bigger footprints than most can ever fill.
If you think you can ride, you have not yet met The Man Of Steel – Jan Staal. He is the owner of Country Trax.
The ultimate determinant of my life has got nothing to do with neither my past nor my present but my aspirations, my tenacity to dare and to do; to leave a great and an indelible positive footprint on earth.
― Ernest Agyemang Yeboah ―
If there is a place that bikers go after they die, I imagine it looks like this farm.
Jan and Elsie invited us in, sitting around a log fire, sipping on a vino. We told stories, bragged about kilos ridden and compared the size of the footprints we’ve left around Africa.
Ou murasie – 1895
That night Jan took us to the woods on the neighbour’s farm. The two old ruins left crumbling under bloekombome was build back in 1895. But since the first shoe left a scuff mark on the polished floors, the ghosts made sure there’s more scuff marks left in other pieces of underwear as well. No family has ever stayed there for long and we went to inspect.
We prepped our binnegoed, by lathering it in alcohol.
Be hole, be dust, be dream, be wind, be night, be dark, be wish, be mind. Now slip, now slide, now move unseen, above, beneath, betwixt, between.
- Neil Gaiman -
Ghosts are just our own conscience moaning with us for leaving footprints in the wrong place at the wrong time. They like making these dire pronouncements only when it’s dark, as if blackness makes their statements more important.
But I like listening to my ghosts; they are not as over worked as my guardian angels.
Erasmus Memorial – Morgenzon
The last footprints we went looking for on our trip were those of farmer Daniël Erasmus who was killed by lightning in 1884.
According to the family, lightning struck Daniël on 25 January that year on the farm Uitkyk between Standerton and Morgenzon. The sheep on the farm were sheared on the day. Bad weather came up and Daniël went out on his horse to collect the sheep from the field and move them to a safe spot. He was struck where he was standing next to his horse by a dam on the farm.
The thunderclap was so hard that his pocket knife was found 21 steps away from his body and his pipe was broken in half. His shoelaces were untied over his shoes and clothes were ripped into shreds.
We finally found the spot hidden next to the road, covered in kosmos.
No grass has grown on his footprints, where he was killed ever since 1884. The indent left by his elbow was also visible for years after. When there was heavy rain, the water formed puddles around the footprints but inside the prints the water immediately drained away.
Through the years rumours have done its rounds that the farmer was upset with God and went outside firing shots into the air. But Daniël’s grandchildren erected a memorial on the site stating that he was a God fearing man that would never do such a thing.
The footprints were stolen in the 1990s either by a local toordokter or by youths that thought there was a treasure to be found under the prints (again?!?).
It was the end of our Voetspore tour and with aching joints we headed our horses in the direction of home.
I'd seen glimpses of a different me. It was a different me because in those increments of time I thought I actually became a winner. The truth, however, is painful. It was a truth that told me with a scratching internal brutality that I was me, and that winning wasn't natural for me. It had to be fought for, in the echoes and trodden footprints of my mind. In a way, I had to scavenge for moments of ‘alrightness’.
― Markus Zusak, Getting the Girl ―
Dankie! Dankie! Dankie! I see every cent deposited into my account. I see your names and know that you enjoy my scribbles, my spelling mistakes and sometimes… just sometimes, you enjoy my dark humour.
If you're familiar with the rural concept of the honesty bar, this honesty newsletter ain't much different... I'm a completely un-paid journalist, relying instead on readers using the honour system. You read the newsletter and then leave an amount you see fit for the entertainment you've received.
If you don't find it particularly amusing, then you fork out NO dosh. I won't stop sending you the letter – it is still mahala to those that count their coins and... I love sharing my stories.
As requested by my overseas readers, you can donate to this newsletter on my PayPal account:
You can do an EFT transfer to the account below
Not making footprints – too busy changing gears!
YouTube: Skinny van Schalkwyk