Greetings friends!

Ria here, it feels like its been ages since my last blog, but then again time has been moving a bit slowly these days, and we’re loving it! The past few days have been both fun and challenging. The joys have come in various forms – starting with a visit from the Magans last Saturday. From our last blog you would have gathered that we took a rest day on Saturday the 25th of March. We spent the day at De Bos campsite in Montague and on Saturday afternoon were treated to a much anticipated mutton curry and rice prepared by Jiten’s mom – she once again ensured that our bellies were full (we even kept some for breakfast the next day) and more than satisfied.

The following day (Sunday 26 Mar 2011) we cycled out of Montagu and on towards Barrydale. It was a scorcher of a day that consisted mostly of uphills and one very long ascent up the Traddou Pass. I think it was the heat more than anything that got to us as we entered the semi-desert Klein Karoo region. By 3pm we were exhausted and out of water. Several attempts to get water from houses along the road proved fruitless as it seems most people in these parts do not stay home on a Sunday. We then resorted to waving our water bottle to passing motorists in the hope that someone would stop and assist with some much needed liquid refreshment. We soldiered on through the midday heat and at some point heard the sound of children playing not too far off the road, this led me to leaving my bike on the side of the road with Jiten and Imraan and walking off to the nearby houses to ask for water. At this point I must say the generosity of everyone we’ve come across on to date has been amazing. There was no hesitation in sharing some of their water with us. At this point in time, an ambulance had come along and dropped off two bottles of water with Imraan and Jiten (one containing ice water and one completely frozen) – after dropping of the water they made a U-turn and continued towards Montagu – they had earlier seen our waving of the water bottles and had gone to fetch us water!

Now would you believe that within one hour of having parched throats and ambulance assistance, we were sitting in a life giving ice cold brakwater pool? We almost didn’t – about 20kms before Barrydale we saw a sign for an establishment called the Karoo Saloon. All I really wanted was a cold coke. Not only did we get that but were also offered the use of the owners brakwater pool. In fact we loved this turn of circumstances so much that we didn’t leave and ended up joining in on the evening braai and sleeping on luscious lawn of Karoo Saloon. Thanks to all who made our short stay there a memorable one – Alison, Trompies, Susan, Titan (the pittbull), and Oom Chris. We hope to visit this “oasis in the desert” again in the not too distant future.

And that brings me to today (Monday 28 March 2011): An early(ish) start saw us make good time to Barrydale. A food stop at the roadside garage resulted a meeting with a group of kids from a primary school in Pietermaritzburg. It didn’t take long to strike up conversation with the drivers of the Soobhugs Bus company – most of us from Durban are familiar with this name. It just so happens the bus driver comes from Redcliffe, a suburb of Verulam the town where I come from. At the end of our brief conversation he walked up to the bus and returned with three frozen juices for us – the hospitality of strangers on the road never ceases to amaze me. Its these gestures of kindness that are just one of the reasons why we’re travelling by bicycle and not some other faster means of transport. By just after lunch we got to the infamous Ronnies Sex Shop. Now don’t be fooled by the name, this is one of the coolest bars one will find, not only in the karoo, but all round. Again, it didn’t take long to make new friends and I savoured every beer, mmm I mean moment, spent there. Now if you’re thinking this day couldn’t get any better, it did. The rest of the afternoon was spent lounging in hot springs of the Warmwaterberg  and this is where we spent the night courtesy of Mr Magan – thanks again for everything.

That’s it for me. We’ve decided to take turns and blog every three days (though we can only post the blogs when have internet access). Imraan will be writing the next one. Hope you’ve enjoyed reading my first blog on the road.

Stay safe!

PS. I’ve just finalized this blog on the patio of the backpackers where we’re crashing at for the weekend (01 April 2011) – its sunset and I’m looking out at the Outeniqua mountains in front of me, Indian ocean to the lift, and rolling green hills around. FML ;-)