We were in South Africa again. My father lives on the lower edge of the country called ‘the Garden route’. Halfway our stay Frank and I decided to make a trip via the East Cape to Johannesburg.
We tried to stay off the highway, to see more of the country. For example a nice viewpoint on the Bloukrans river mouth …
10 Minutes after we had taken the road that recommended viewpoint, we suddenly found ourselves in a line for a gate with a counter.
What? A ticket for just a river mouth?
Hmmm, we only wanted to eat our banana on a simple bench, or so. Not a tourist attraction.
Well, these local people need to make some money too, so … okay. What should it be? Maybe a few dollars for parking?
Ah wait, there is a list of prices … 3 dollars for South Africans and … huh? … 15 dollars for foreigners?
Yeah, fat dick! Just to just to eat our banana off the road, and stretching our legs for a moment?!
We drove about 6 hours a day. Without stopping. No, that’s not really what we wanted, but there are simply no resting areas. Cafes, or just a scruffy coffee shop along the road don’t exist here. At least not in the south-east.
Back in the days the roads were built by the white South-African farmers, but they probably have forgotten to lay along footpaths. Most black South-Africans don’t have a car, but like everyone else, sometimes they need to go to another township or neighbourhood. So they use the motorway as footpath. And there are Very Many pedestrians! Sometimes they also have some cattle, but no land. Therefore they take their cattle to graze on the shoulders of the road. These animals can easily wander on the roads. And they continually do.
Massively hanging out and broadly sitting along the motorway apparently seems to be a regional daily activity of the locals. It is not really appealing to stop your car between them and peacefully eat your lunch.
The amount of waste along the roads is really baffling. In some parts it seems like every 10 meters a complete garbage bag is emptied on the side of the road. The pieces of waste are flapping between the laundry that is also hanging on the same fences.
To supply our mobile food box we bought a bunch of bananas from a poor old lady. She was sitting on the pavement in front of a hardware store. Where -by the way- everyone who entered the door first is extensively searched for guns and knifes by the owner. The old lady placed an upside down plastic crate serving as a counter. Besides a few bunches of bananas there are also set out 2 packs of cigarettes. You can buy them per cigarette. The price of 10 bananas is 1 Rand (that is 0.20 US dollar). We almost felt ashamed to even walk around here. We paid 5 Rand for the bananas and became blessed from head to toe. Oh boy …
The still enormous gap between black and white is immense and nonstop felt. Later on, this experience and the pictures below will be translated in a painting and story called ‘the Free One’.
Here is another moment the seeds of that painting were sprouting.