All of you, unless you’ve been living under a rock, would have heard about Earth Hour. Come to think of it, if you do live under a rock you probably haven’t been wasting the earth’s electricity supply and resources anyway – so you’re excused. Well done. And be careful when you light candles next to your rock and don’t set the veld alight.
The rest of you know all about Earth Hour and how important it is to be aware of how we abuse our natural resources by using electricity like it’s going out of fashion. Which, along with Eskom, Crocs and Lady Gaga, I hope will.
OK. Now listen up. If you are going to be celebrating Earth Hour (8.30pm-9.30pm) on Saturday night – read all about it here – there’s only one place to do it. Stanford, Western Cape, South Africa.
Yes, that’s Stanford. Twenty-three kilometres beyond Hermanus, driving away from Cape Town towards um, oh yes, Gansbaai. You’ll be hearing a lot more from me about the sublime village of Stanford but, wait, let’s not get ahead of ourselves just yet. Be patient, OK? OK.
I’m here to tell you that you had better at least switch all your lights off at the appointed hour or, even better, join all Stanfordians on the Village Green for a memorable night of darkness, light, the moon, market, food and all that jazz that Nadia Pheiffer has kindly arranged for us.
You don’t have to be ridiculous about it. If you live in Kakamas or Cairo, we’re not expecting you to drive all the way to Stanford but, if you do, I’ll personally buy you a restorative Fanta Grape at the Stanford Arms.
Right. Movie time. While I fiddle with the projector, get out the popcorn, switch the lights off and enjoy…
Check? That was an ad, right? So you don’t have to go waving your Woolies duvet cover outside your window. Adpeople get a bit carried away sometimes. They’re just illustrating a point. A point I feel very passionate about. Like Stanford. Very passionate. And, while we’re on the subject, let me introduce you to Janet Marshall. Hatpeople, meet Janet, Janet meet my loyal and long-suffering Hatpeople. Cool. Here we go…
There she is! Janet Marshall. Effervescence personified. And as sharp as a lemon.
Now there’s a lot I could tell you about Janet. Suffice to say that, to many of us Janet and Stanford go together like bacon and eggs, like a fire and a jolly good Raka red, like… OK, you get my drift.
Now the thing you really need to know about Janet is that she is as passionate about Stanford, its people, its vibe and its potential as a tourist destination as Julius Malema is about talking crap and pissing everybody off. Which is pretty passionate, isn’t it?
OK. So here’s a heads-up for you folk lucky enough to be reading about this for the very first time. Janet’s going to be on Whale Coast FM radio between 12 and 1pm tomorrow (today if you’re reading this on Friday), making her debut as the host of a new slot devoted to what people can do if they come to the Overstrand area for a weekend or a week or, if they’re really lucky, a month.
Which, you may be totally gobsmacked to know, is a lot. Tomorrow’s show (we’ve established that that means Friday, right?) is dedicated to, yes, Stanford. Well, Stanford and Earth Hour and the general vibe that’s coming out of your favourite Overberg village these days (read “red-hot”).
You’ll be equally gobsmacked (and perhaps horrified) to learn that she’s chosen me to banter away the hour with her. Don’t ask. I don’t know. Perhaps everybody else is busy trimming their fingernails at 12pm tomorrow or something.
Never mind. I’ll do my best to keep up with the highly effusive, engaging, totally rad raconteur that is Ms Marshall. I like a challenge. OK. 12pm. Friday. Whale Coast FM. 96.0mz. Tune in. Or I’ll be tuning you.
Look. There you are minding your own business on the side of the road and trying to get a 2,000km unicycle ride from Durban to Cape Town out of the way when a German comes along and steals your deckchair. Um. Well, not exactly. I don’t do stereotypes on this blog, do I? No. Correct answer. Well, Martin Schroder has made a big impact on the Heart and Sole Tour anyway.
Unicyclist Geoff “Heartman” Brink and I went into the Oudebosch Farm Stall near Tsitsikamma to get a coffee and came out with a coffee and a German. Not just any old German. This one has been riding his bike (the more common two-wheeled version, mind) from his hometown of Cologne (Koln to Germans) in Germany through Europe and Africa to Cape Town. He’s doing a good job. But before I bang on about his little trip, let’s have a look at this crazy character…
That's him. Martin Schroder. And the bike that has carried him from Germany to here. Which, right now, is Knysna. Nice.
Even ignoring the Abe Lincoln vibe of his beard, Martin is a bit odd. Especially for a German, a nation known for machine-making precision, lederhosen, being annoyingly shrewd at winning football matches, drinking beer at an unacceptably early hour but otherwise keeping things absurdly tidy.
At 22, he has visited 69 countries around the world instead of going to university, finding himself a girlfriend with flaxen pigtails and a name like Heidi and settling down over his books like a good boy and drinking barrels of beer before 11am. Fair enough. Even Germans have a right to dare to be different. So he hasn’t used the usual modes of transport when swanning off to these 69 countries. He tends to run, cycle and, for all I know, toboggan into strange places blowing a flugelhorn.
Yes. He’s wired a tad differently from your run-of-the-mill Herr and Fraulein. In fact, he’s getting along very, very well with The Heartman. So I suspect that, as kindred spirits, the Big Kahuna Creator Guy took a little time out to have some fun when putting together these two. So, in no time at all, old Heartie and his new mate were doing this…
Yes. Pretty big, huh? You're rolling with the big boys now, Herr Schroder!
Oh, yes. Martin fancies his extreme sports. Like us, extreme gardening, extreme card games and extreme origami are right up his street. and so is fooling around with crocs. Not the dodgy shoes, silly. Crocodiles. He played nicely with one in Mozambique until it bit him on the arm. Lucky to still have two. Heartie and I love this story. So much so that we have named him Crocodile Cologne. Which, I’m sure you’ll agree, has a far better ring to it than Crocodile Dundee. Or Crocodile Melbourne. Or Crocodile Wagga Wagga. Crikey, what a ripper!
OK. So then, before I, as super-responsible back-up driver and, er, chaperone and nanny to these two madventurers, had time to intervene, this happened…
Er, anyone seen The Heartman? Oh, I see. Well, too late to do much about that then...
And you know how it is. Anything anybody can do, Germans can do better. Or louder. So off he goes...
Nice. We couldn’t pass the 216m bungy jump vibe at Bloukrans Bridge, allegedly the highest in the world, near Storms River without trying out the local freefall facilities.
OK. Two other things to tell you about. Well, I have 202 other things actually but you’ll have to wait for the book. First, Bob Skinstad’s in jail. No, he didn’t forget to pay his speeding fine. He put himself in a cell. As you all should know by now, Bob, after playing quite a lot of more than half-decent games behind the scrum for the Springboks, is doing some good. He’s heading up bobsforgood.co.za , an organisation dedicated to providing schoolchildren who walk around barefoot with much-needed shoes.
The Heart and Sole Tour, dedicated to fitting people who have lost legs to landmines with prosthetic limbs, likes this very cool initiative. We like it so much that, when Bob asked us to get involved with his “Walk This Way” series of events, we jumped at the opportunity to help. So when Bob’s been released from his self-imposed “jail term” at Cape Town’s Waterfront at the end of this week, we’ll be joining up with him on his road trip around the Western Cape to help raise awareness of this extremely good cause. More details later.
OK. One last thing. The Heartman and I have stayed at some wondrous boarding establishments on this tour. I can’t mention them all in this blog post but we would like to thank Tyrone and Tara for giving over to us part of their sublime oasis on the beach at Jeffreys Bay for three days.
It was immense. Their spot is called Beach Music, nestles among the coastal bush at Supertubes and its vibe is so chilled that even a Brazilian surfer called Flavio could forget that he had travelled hundreds of miles to catch as many of J Bay’s legendary waves as possible.
This pic probably sums up the Beach Music vibe…
Buddha among the boards. Yup. If that's the vibe you are trying to achieve, look no further than Beach Music. It's positively soporific.
Too many people to thank. But I’ll try… Clayton, Paula, Matthew and James Whitaker of Port Elizabeth, Earl and Jenny Lawrence of Wild Spirit Lodge, a beautiful backpackers phenomenally situated on the edge of the Tsitsikamma Forest (more about them later), Penny of Oudebosch Farm Stall who so generously fed and watered us, and Pieter and Sue Oosthuizen and Mike Mills of Rotary International (Knysna) who are extending the extraordinary hand of hospitality we have come to expect from Rotarians everywhere. Beautifulnesses all round!
* Right. Due to The Heartman’s very costly addiction to the finest champagne (that’s a porky pie (lie), OK?), The Heart and Sole Tour is scraping along on the bones of its bum. If you’ve got a bit of small change (or very large notes) to send our way, please do. We are relying on public donations to finish this hairy monster of a road trip. The bank details are…
G. M. Brink
Account: 056 706 804
Branch code: 042 626
Three gee. 3G. My newly fave number and letter. The re-entry of 3G internet connectivity into my life means that I can (possibly) avoid blogging suicide after days in the Vodacom Desert and get a post out to my Heartpeople. I’m sorry.
And this is a post of two halves. Yes, the joy and the sorrow. From high to low. Just like the story of The Heart and Sole Tour. Rollercoasterness, babies! With your permission, I’ll give you the bad news first. Yes? OK. Good.
Here’s the thing. The unavoidable, somewhat inevitable, awful, chuffing nightmarish thing. After three weeks of toiling up mountains in absurd heat, rain, majestic electrical thunderstorms and a spot of hail, The Heart & Sole Tour has come to a grinding halt. Why? No money. Geen geld. Asinamali.
A humungous thank you to all of you who have contributed dosh to us but we simply do not have enough to continue. Apart from our “Spirit of Ubuntu” lunch (which I will shortly pictorialise for you) we had a bad day on Monday. Searing heat, virtually no hard shoulder on which to cocoon ourselves from flying trucks, crazymaking and potentially dangerous potholes and very, very, very tired bodies and minds.
The Heartman still managed to push himself 32km or so away from Engcobo towards Queenstown. But, because of the heat from hell, we only really rolled off after 5pm and, eventually, at after eight, we gave up and drove to Queenstown to rest minds and bodies. In fact, when we found a place to sleep, I didn’t so much find the bed as the bed found me. We came together as one. No shower. No brushing of teeth. El Collapso.
The next day was our birthday. Yes. Ours. Both born on January 19. Similar characters. With differences. I woke up The Heartman to give him a present. I had thought of getting him a pair of grey socks from Pep Stores, I told him, but I had something better. “Whashat?” he gurgled from his nightly slightly parallel universe. “Look. We’re not going to get much further. We’re knackered. We need a break. We need more funds. It’s your birthday. Spend as much of it as you can with your woman and your dogs at home.” His eyes opened. Wide. “Go. Get a flight from East London. Rest. Raise money. See you on Sunday.” He grinned and said something about Hatman not being so bad after all. He went. He’s recovering. And approaching some corporates about giving us the support we need to finish what we started and achieve our objective of raising awareness of the madness that are the millions of landmines still blowing off the limbs of people all over the world.
We are excruciatingly aware of the near-apocalyptic horror that is post-quake Haiti. It is only right that the compassionate eye of the world should be trained in that direction. But we are not asking for much. Just enough to cover fuel, food and airtime coasts to cover the rest of the Heart & Sole Tour from near Queenstown to Cape Town. We are closing in on the 600km mark, which means that old Heartie and I are a third of the way into this beautiful adventure.
The Heartman has used his rent money. I have exhausted my savings. It has been a giant leap of faith. But, even as we hang suspended somewhere along the arc of that leap, we still believe. I have always seen the two of us rolling into Cape Town and that vision is as clear and golden as the day this crazy wonderful idea was born. Please continue to help us achieve that.
OK. I promised you some snaps depicting what I am calling the “Spirit of Ubuntu” lunch. Quick preamble. We ride out of Engcobo on Monday. Blisteringly hot. We find a couple of trees offering shade. There are a few colourful rondavel huts nearby. The children come. Then the adults. The questions about the bicycle that has lost a wheel. The smiles. The shaking of heads. Our new friends sit around us and talk animatedly about the mad mlungus (white people). Heartie naps. I talk with the small crowd we have collected. They are hungry. Yes, we have some food (stored for camping) in the truck. Ah, I will cook it for lunch says Mama Cordelia, clearly the Big Mama of the community.
I bring out Imana beef mince, rice, a couple of onions, tinned tomatoes and some Aromat spices. Mama C sends oldest daughter Nosipho on a long walk to the spaza shop to get paraffin for the stove she has conjured up from a nearby hut. Pots and spoons magically appear. Mama Cordelia cooks lunch for us, her two daughters and assorted new arrivals, numbering about eight. It is beautiful. We sit on the grass under the trees next to the road to Queenstown eating Mama C’s impromptu lunch. Deliciousness. It tasted something like this…
Our Heartie is chuffed to have lunch served up for him by the redoubtable and indefatigable Mama Cordelia
This shy and delightful child rocks up for lunch. Nobody knows where her mother is. It doesn't matter. She is part of a bigger family. The community. She is duly fed...
Yes. I thought you might want to have another look at this adorable little girl. So I took this. Are you glad I did?
Mama Cordelia, unnamed sweetheart, Mamasolo, me and Nosipho devour the "Spirit of Ubuntu" lunch. Yes, those are (yugh) "Crocs" on my feet. Heartman gave them to me. Because I left my Havaianas in Umdloti. There. That's my story. And, yes, I'm sticking to it! Pic: Heartman
Ndiyabulela (thank-you in Xhosa), Mama Cordelia. And to your lovely daughters. And we’re sorry that we couldn’t accept your offer for us to marry them, even if they do cook as beautifully as you do!
Right. Back on the road…
Heartie gives a thumbs-up to the sign registering 117km to Queenstown. But the heat and dreadful road surface took its toll... Pix: Hatman
And I was going to give you a small closing ceremony provided by Mother Nature as we drove towards Queenstown but the internet connection has slowed down in solidarity with the Heart & Sole Tour. I’ll try again later. In the meantime, if you are able to help in any way – no matter how small – to fund our ride, here are the bank details…
G. M. Brink, Standard Bank, Musgrave Rd, Durban. Acc. 056706804 / Branch Code 042626.
* And, should you want to read Shaun Trennery’s interview with Geoff “Heartman” Brink on the excellent izimvo.com website, please go right on over to here.