The Journal of Provincial Thought
jptArchives Issue 18
lildiamond1-Iss18-luminancediamond2_18 Pigasus- Cogito ergo nix iss18- c2007 Schafer
John Rice
Hatari It Isn't (continued; page 3) to page 1
to page 2

Just down the road, we dropped our things at the hotel where we will be spending the night, the Magoebaskloof Lodge—on top of a mountain—and then proceeded on, passing through the village of the Rain Queen (a whole story of its own), to visit the largest baobab tree in S. Africa.  It also is apparently the oldest known such tree in the world, carbon dated (they don’t have growth rings) at 6,000 years old.  The tree is probably about 60 feet in circumference and has multiple trunks.  Some describe it as looking as though the trunk were in the ground and the roots in the air.  The outside looks like elephant skin rather than tree bark.  The interior of the trunk is split, with a  cavity large enough for a small pub inside.

Brenda and Tamzin inside the Baobab tree pub

            Humankind was still in a rather primitive state when this tree was a seedling, and it was 4,000 years old when Christ was born.  Now more than 2,000 years after that event a couple from Winchester, Kentucky is standing at its base, marveling at its size and shape. 

            The baobab tree is reached by turning off the paved road, going down a dirt road and then turning off the dirt road onto essentially a path.  There are long stretches of deep sand on this path that under different circumstances one might have tried to take a bit quicker; but this far from home on a rented bike, we followed the lead of our guide and went through at a snail's pace, feathering the clutch and holding both feet out to catch any slips.  Once at the tree, the amazement of seeing it is tempered by the realization that you have to do this all over again to get out.

Not your average Kentucky landscape tree
Two old dogs in front of even older tree

Nearby were some small baobab saplings.  I’m going to come back in another 6,000 years to see what they look like.

            Another hour or so of magnificent mountain roads brought us back to the Magoebaskloof Lodge, our place for the night.

Brenda and Darryl at the Lodge

Local lady, statue of the Chief
and strange creature in red coat

The valley gets its name from Chief Makgoba of the Tlou people, who populated the area until the later 1800's, when they were largely displaced by the European settlers.  The lodge is a series of buildings spread across the brow of the mountaintop, reminding me a bit of the Big Lynn Lodge on the Blue Ridge Parkway.  Our room, down over the hill from the area shown in the above photo, had a sign inside warning us to keep the door locked at all times and not to leave the windows open, because wild monkeys were known to raid the rooms for food.  I went up to the coffee shop while Brenda took a shower, dutifully locking the door behind me as she instructed.  About an hour later, I got a call from her on my cell phone, telling me that she couldn't get out.  The room door, once locked, can't be opened from the inside.

            That night we met Darrell and Tamzin in the bar at the lodge, which had one bottle of Kentucky bourbon on its shelf.  I tried to convert Darryl, unsuccessfully, to its charms. Then we joined them for supper in the excellent restaurant.  I make it a point to try as many local foods as I can on these trips, so I can’t really tell you what it was that I ate, but it was good.  For dessert there was a buffet bar of various choices, so I tried one of each, just to be sure.  Tamzin explained to me what they were, but I’m afraid by that time I wasn’t taking notes.

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John's free-prize South African motorcycle odyssey continues next issue.
(Did ya get a load of that tree?)

jptARCHIVE Issue 18
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