Monday, 29 October 2007

Springbok - place of Stones

I understand the saying -"caught between a rock and a hard place" -better now after my trip to Springbok, a small diamond and semi-precious stone mining town 5 hours drive from Cape Town up the West coast of South Africa.
I found myself in a Graveyard at the edge of the town. Dry weeds waved feebly in the hot berg wind. My camera found the grave of Sgt T.E.Wilson of the 5th Regiment, an English soldier who died in the Battle of O'Kiep under the command of Col. Shelton during the Boer War in 1890. a few feet away lay the remains of a 36 year-old man, his 2month -old baby and a woman of 93 whose simple stone read "there is no death".
Then my tears came, hot and snotty. And anger. Not sentimental. War, and childhood dreams never reached.
In Springbok the landscape is cruel. Harsh. A few Koker booms rise against stony hills. People hide in bars against the heat, creating more with their cigarettes.
At midday I drove alone to the seaside town of Kleinsee. The temperature reached 39 degrees. Booms across the entrance to the town. I needed a permit. I heard the woman guard mutter under her breath "......nie suspicious nie". I was not with a tour bus. Inside the boom the people looked shady. The streets did not. I felt eyes on me as I tried to find the beach. I stopped at the Spar for a drink. When I came out, Soldiers with guns clustered at the entrance. They were not there when I went in.The coast was cordoned off. I could hardly see the sea. A man in a toyota truck seemed to be following me. I would not ever reach the diamond sand or see the diamond sea. I decided it did not matter. I was glad to get out, although the drive took a lot longer than the woman at the Info had said. One hour and three quarters of dust road. I got into a skid around a corner. I held on, put my foot down and sasheed out of it. Three grey donkeys were all I saw on the trip. A few deserted buildings. I thought if I break down here my bones will go white before I am found.
Caught between a rock and a hard place.

No comments:

Subscribe Now: text