October 7, 2006

South AfricaThis morning was cloudy but still warm, and there had been a few showers overnight. We had a fairly early breakfast—yoghurt, bacon, toast, and fritters with golden syrup—and after goodbyes, we were on our way back to Johannesburg by 8:15 am.

Today was mostly a travelling day, and we headed north through the countryside over the Oliviershoek Pass. After a couple of hours we arrived at Harrismith and followed the N3 up to Johannesburg. The scenery along the way was nice for a while but then it got rather boring. We stopped about 11 am at a gas station and bought some chips and pop and also got some cash from the ATM there.

But we weren’t finished the tour yet. It was decided that rather than dropping people off at the airport really early, we would go to the Cradles of Civilization Museum. This museum showcases the Sterkfontein Caves, which are the limestone caves where some of the earliest hominid discoveries were made back in the 1930’s. A small museum exhibit has been built there, and we took a guided tour through the caves. We went down 219 steps to a well-lit cavern, complete with stalagmites and stalactites. The guide was very knowledgeable about early man and evolution and clearly loved her job. At one time we had to almost crawl through an opening between two caves. The temperature in the caves was not all that cold, in fact it was very comfortable compared to the hot sun outside.

By then it was 3:30 pm, so we headed to the airport and said our goodbyes to the rest of the group, except for Kim and Heather who were staying on. Then Craig and Charl kindly drove us down to Edenvale, where we had a room booked at the In Africa Lodge, a backpackers’ hostel.

The In Africa Lodge was a house somewhere in Edenvale; the route to get there was complicated. Gertie and Bruce were our hosts, and it turned out that Bruce had relatives on Vancouver Island and had visited British Columbia several times. They showed us around the place; we had a bedroom with a double bed next to the living room. We watched rugby on television for a while, then, since we hadn’t yet bought any food of our own, we had a pizza delivered for dinner. It was very tasty and filled us up nicely.

We sent off an e-mail to the family list, just to let them know how we were doing. And we read the e-mail from Caroline, reporting on her outing with Doris and Hilda to Van Dusen Gardens. It sounded like they had had a bit of trouble with Doris, so we sent a response thanking her for going on the outing. Then we watched some more television, wrote our journals, and made a shopping list. Even though it was only 9 pm, both of us were quite tired.

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