TG Newsletter: SUNLAND BAOBAB
(5 March 2016)
Once upon a time, in a land right under your feet, a small invisible seed lay sleeping deep in the heart of the earth’s darkness, dreaming of the day he would first feel the sun’s rays on his branches. So this little seed decided to one day grow as close to the fireball of life as his little baobab spirit would allow. He timidly started stretching and pushing his way up through soil and earthworms until a charming little sprig inoffensively appeared.
Little Sunny kept on extending every watery cell for over a 1 000 years, never giving up. He smelt bushman fires under his leaves, saw voortrekkers pass by in their ossewaens, and loved the tickling of elephants reaching for fruit.
Sunny eventually became the biggest tree (currently) in South Africa. He is standing 22 meters high and is some 47 meters in circumference.
Three chickens; Skinny, Kraai and Chickita decided to go give moral support to Biggest-Little-Sunny. The fact that he has a pub in his belly was probably the convincing factor in us taking on this trip. It ended up with lots of hard riding, too much tar for our desire and running short of enough fireball.
But let’s start at the beginning… of our trip – not when the tree started growing!
Our first hurdle was that none of us has motor(cycle) transport. Kapow is still spending time in the hospital, while Jolandi’s bike is set on getting new springs, bearings and all things that rattle. Brom’s in need of loving care, but as a dutiful pony – he saddled up.
Jolandi got a BMW Xchallenge to borrow, Kraai used Brom and I twisted Mike Puzey’s throttle arm for a…
BENELLI TreK 1130
The TreK 1130 is one of the original sport touring motorcycles (we should have probably read the bike description BEFORE we took off on our trip, but heck – has anything ever stopped these chickens from an epic adventure?) of the modern era. Empowering this Italian triple is Walbro fuel injection via its three 53mm throttle bodies and precise Bosch injectors, the final result, an extremely healthy 126hp and 112nm of pure torque. Its two stage power control maps provide the rider ultimate choice and versatility, of either easy riding power delivery, or the feisty sports map.
Included is the all new comfort seat (which resulted in the three chickens fighting about using this bike on the long boring bum-num stretches) offering exceptional comfort and luxury for rider and pillion on those long journeys.
The second hurdle was getting the bikes fired up. The Benelli was dead, there were no juices flowing through the engine. First we thought it was fuel (the lights were on and flashing), so Jolandi went off to buy us a few litres.
Hurdle three – still no luck getting the Benelli started, we strapped him to the bakkie’s heart. Jumper cables connected, engines running, but yet no pulse?
Then Kraai asked about the funny red button glowing on the dash which read ‘power control’? We switched the button off and the roar of a mighty 1130cc’s filled the Buffelshoek valley!
It’s hard being an independent woman… okay…
We were finally on the road, albeit 3 hours late. So we decided to skip the first part of the adventure and took the fastest route to Bela-Bela, where we stopped for a kak-tus and met up with some fans.
We tried to keep to every twee-spoor dirt road we could find en-route, and got lost a few times. But getting lost on motorcycles is actually the amusing parts.
We rode through a sunflower field and forgot to pocket some of its magic. If only we took a flower with us, we might have had extra sunlight when this day came to an end.
The sunflower is also an emblem of constancy, which is maybe why this flower decided to rather favour the shiny white ray of light standing next to it.
Before long, Kraai pulled over. Brom was weaving and we quickly checked the pressure on the now almost wet-slick looking tyres. One of the self-determining women grabbed her tool kit and we took turns in manually pomping the tyres.
After the morning’s dramas, the Benelli was behaving well through the heat and the dirt roads. It was fun riding a big cc on dusty tracks and even though the tyres are mainly for asphalt use, it was easy to manoeuvre him over the farm roads. The bike appeared to be no ‘wol kombers’...
Playing musical-motorcycles… who got the donkey?!?
It was Kraai’s first time on a big adventure bike and she loved being able to flat-foot wherever we came to a halt. Jolandi kept reminding us that there was 1130cc of power in her wrist, nudging us faster and faster.
We stopped next to a muddy river bed and left superhu(wo)man tracks, where no man has ever gone before… except for the male cow that was standing behind me.
Orrie Baragwanath pass
Ahead of us was Lebowakgomo, the town dotting the start of the Orrie Baragwanath pass. We first had to avoid rear-ending a donkey, and then rear-ending a chicken… on a DR650…
Kraai grabbed a handful of breaks when we came to a rocky descent, forgetting that the Benelli behind her did NOT have that kind of stopping power on powder. Luckily I practise my break-slide skills during stunt practise.
There was about 160km left before Tzaneen, but we had to refuel in between. We had no idea how far or how rrrrrruff this pass was, so we stopped the first skorro-korro for info.
We asked where the next fuel would be, and we were told – THERE ARE NONE?!? They actually looked at us in amazement, asking us why we wanted to go that way… there was nothing? But ‘nothing’ is the first thing on any adventurers list.
We got directions to a house where the owner sells LEADED petrol, COLD CocaCola, and NAUGHTY picanins.
We declined the last item on the menu list… even though their laughter was infectious.
6 Kays after filling up, it became clear that the three minutes we spent on route planning the night before was maybe flavoured with one too many Reposados.
After 500m we sent Jolandi out to scout a stretch of the pass. I would gladly take the Benelli over the Baragwanath pass (NO – never! I never do crazy stuffs like that…), but if it got any rockier, I would have to invest in a new belly-pipe before I give the bike back to Mike.
It was already 16:30, and we wisely decided to turn around.
We started chasing down the sun, sliding over Chuniespoort…
Pursuing the horizon, round and round.
Our long shadows casted out in front of us, pointing us in the right direction.
Until the buzzing fireflies casted their own light.
There was still 1700m of sand road left before we could rest our traveling rims. I saw Jolandi’s light behind me swerve, but the swerving sensation might have been me paddling through the darkness. We made final destination at 20:00, with Doug (the owner of the farm) that came searching for us, escorting us to the tented camp. Here we were welcomed by Zama, Zama Lek!
Early the next morning we had a coffee under Sunny, the stoutest tree in South Africa.
…somewhere in the world they call it coffee, okay!!!
Even though this is one colossal tree, the main attraction is not on the outside. There is a hole inside Sunny – a DRINKING hole. The owners of the Sunland baobab converted the hollow space (which most baobabs develop when they are older than a 1 000 years) into a pub, with a counter and seating space for 14 droinkies.
Some traditional folklore suggests that by drinking water that baobab seeds have been soaked in, people would be protected from crocodile attacks. We have to confirm this myth as no krokko even tried so much as nibbling on our toes. Though I’m not sure that the consecrated baobab water in the green bottles we found under the counter hadn’t expired???
“The problem with the baobab is that it doesn’t get handsome until it’s about 800 years old.”
~ Hugh Glen, government botanist ~
Another African myth is that when the baobab tree saw its reflection for the first time in a dam, he saw that its own flowers lacked bright colour, its leaves were tiny, it was grossly fat, and its bark resembled the wrinkled hide of an old elephant. It became cantankerous about the branch it was dealt in life and demanded that The Creator do something about his lot.
At first everybody just ignored his cheekiness, as they all knew that some organisms were purposefully less than perfect, but after time The Creator became annoyed with this young sapling’s whining. He came out from behind the clouds and seized the ingrate by the trunk, yanked it from the ground, turned it over and replanted it upside down.
From that day, the Upside-Down-Tree (baobab) has kept quiet, paying off its misdemeanour by doing good deeds for people and animals.
We saw that part of the tree was kept up with stilts and there was a gaping hole at the top. Sunny might be dying… The owners are still waiting for expert botanists to advise them on how to save the rest of The Tree Of Souls. Hopefully they can save this heritage!
“The size and height of the tree determines how heavily the ground will shake when it falls. The cassava tree falls and not even the pests in the forest are aware. The baobab tree falls and the whole forest looks empty! Such is human life!”
~ Israelmore Ayivor ~
Before heading home, there was still one stop we wanted to make, one that could bring relief to the country’s drought.
The legend has it that…
Modjadji the Rain Queen has the magic to control rainfall, storms and drought. It is believed that Modjadji cannot die and when the queen comes to the end of her life, she hands over her reign (or should that be ‘rain’) to her daughter. She then drinks poison to speed her to the great cumulonimbus in the sky. This monarch is the only ruling queen position in Southern Africa and has a history of over 400 years.
She has had Kings from all over South Africa visit her, pleading with her to make rain. In the past, she’s had visits from Shaka the King of the Zulus, Moshoeshoe of the Basotho, and she’s famously know for letting Nelson Mandela wait 20 minutes for their meeting.
We set out…
…but we couldn’t find a palace, a cloud, or a queen.
We finally stopped at a tavern, where we were convinced we would find answers.
But the people refused to talk to us. There was a young man that aggressively mentioned that we had no idea what we were talking about and that there was no such thing as a Rain Queen. My brother warned me about this…
Modjadji is a sacred leader of the Lobedu people and they do not want ignorant white people sniffling around.
After a while, one of the guys came to ask why we were there. We told him that we were hoping to meet Modjadji, but he had bad news…
The last Modjadji died in June 2005 and due to disputes among the chieftaincy, they have not yet enthroned a new queen. This is a huge threat to the sustenance of rainmaking. If there is no new queen soon, we might have to revert to shooting at the clouds again.
Long live Sunny – love live Modjadji!
CHICKITA PRODUCTIONS PRESENT:
Jolandi created a short movie with better sound effects and 3D graphics than I could ever conjure up in your minds with words. See how Kraai had a one-night-stand with a moth, and how Skinny saved a sandy face plant.
Contact Biker’s Warehouse for more info on the Benelli 1130 Trek and Amazonas (the adventure version)
Benelli 1130 Trek: R100 000
Benelli 1130 Trek Amazonas: R110 000
• 1130 cc Liquid cooled 4-stroke, 4 valve DOHC Inline-3 engine with balancer shaft
• Marzocchi front suspension and Sachs rear suspension
• High performance Brembo disc brakes
• Stylish Italian aluminium alloy rims
Every cent you donate will become a rain drop. Well… I can’t really promise that, but I also can’t say that it won’t happen. Test it! Hehehe…!
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