When life hands you lemons, make lemonade or drink Tequila!. In this case all I can say at the end of nearly 2 months up on the Mountain of Dragons, (Drakensberg) I love it! I am drinking proverbial Tequila every morning when the sun decides to show his face over the horizon. The colours go through just about the whole spectrum of the rainbow. The best is when there is a mist hanging over the valley and the sun turns bright red!
Being so high up, 2221m above Mother Ocean, it turns cold as soon as the sun sets behind the mountain. That is when your heart longs for Gluhwein and fire places. The Lounge area does have two of those, but obviously rather for the guests than mere mortals like us. When quiet (rare occasion) I have settled into the couch closest to a fireplace to read a book and enjoy a glass of wine. The cold is something that you can only understand once you have felt it. Freezing your tits off becomes a regular expression and in the case of guys, should you own a pair of walnuts, they will turn into peanuts.
Moon has shown her face in full, twice already. On the second full moon cycle there was a fire on the mountain right underneath. What a sight. The Mountains are so beautiful and the whole feel of the place is tranquil and peaceful. Mist settled down over the whole mountain and valley turning it into “a who dunnit” scene out of a Hitchcock film. A true mystery feel all around us. The wind nearly blew two guests off the hike around a koppie called Sugar Loaf and did manage to dislodge the one very large Jo Jo Tank from its hiding place behind the Rondawel. Then it promptly rolled it over the parking area and down into a ditch about 500m down the hill. The maintenance guys had to gather strength in numbers to get it out the next day. It is now wedged behind the building as to stop it from wandering off again in the near future.
The cattle, sheep, goats, horses and Herder’s dogs roam the area around the Lodge. The grass eaters graze the green areas, and so we do not need to mow the lawn. The one ram saw himself in my bedroom door and must have presumed he was confronted with a foe, so he rammed the door. The result a broken double glazing door had to be taken to the local aluminum and glass shop to be fixed. The Herders are responsible for damages as they cannot control their animals.
Speaking of which. When you drive down to Phuthaditjhaba (Formerly known as Witsieshoek or QwaQwa) for shopping trips (just about every day) you need to be vigilant not to run over one of said animals. They take leisurely strolls on the road down from the Lodge. Once you are out of the gate you are confronted with animals, taxis, people and all sorts of interesting things. Drive like you are in India and all is well. Or in this case go the way the Qwa Qwa’s do. Just drive at your own pace, look out as the taxi’s stop right there to pick up a person needing to get to the other side of the valley. Kids run over the road. Animals wander out from the side and as this is their place, they just go. You stop!
Due to the bad road up to the Sentinal Car Park where the hikes start, we have to transfer guests up there, unless they have brilliant 4×4 vehicles. On my 2nd day here I was taken up there to see the sights and to be initiated into the drive. The following day it so happened that there were no drivers available and I left for the carpark on a jolly. Sportsbra or not, this is not a ride for the faint at heart.
Uno came to visit during the time that Jan, the General Manager was on his off time. Instead of just enjoying a vacation he worked his butt off, and as reward was offered a job as Maintenance Manager. Starts on 1 August when I leave for my two week home break.
During my time here I have met lovely people! Guys who hiked and got “lost” and found instead themselves. Tales of baboons swinging on the Chain ladders, and hikers having to wait for them to leave. A man who spent 60 days on the mountain, walking right around Lesotho, KZN part of the mountain and ending his trek here. The Prophet who goes onto the mountain to pray for the whole town. The shepherds who live in the mountain. People I work with. Tour guides who come regularly as well as the powers that be from Head Office. During their time here they met with a group that is starting a haven for mentally disabled people and an orphanage! They have a building but still need to get it fixed, water and electricity connections, and after all that is done the furniture etc needed to make this a place of refuge. They came to ask if the Lodge would be involved somehow. They have faith like a mustard seed on steroids. Nothing will stop them from achieving their goal as they really believe it is possible. A great lesson learned and yes, the Lodge will support the monthly with a set amount. I hope we can get more businesses and even people involved. I am now part of this project as they invited me to sit on the board. Wonderful to have a reason for life other than just living. Today they got their FNB account set up, and hopefully soon they will be able to open their doors!
Most evenings are spent reading or watching series on laptop. It is so quiet here and as workday starts at 7am an early night is called for. Have been to Bethlehem, Harrismith and the outskirts of Clarence. Hopefully will be able to visit there soon and really get into the rhythm of the town that everyone talks about.
The wind nearly blew me over one day! Jan warned me re the wind that reaches speeds of 90km/h but no matter what who tells you, you have to feel it first to believe. This is a case of real terrifying wind. Walking to the main building from where I stay, the wind nearly blew me over about 5 times. Firstly I did the drunk man walking stint and realized there is a true danger of being blown over. Then I hid behind the parked cars. Whoever saw me must have thought I have gone off the rocker. After that no parked cars and just the wind and I – I managed to sit down to make myself invisible to the wind. That somehow worked, but the problem was I could not frog walk to the Lodge. This then resulted in a crouch run, sit down, stand up and drunk run pantomime. For the rest of the day I tried to stay indoors and had I to go somewhere it was case of hold onto something or someone. Bad news all round. It is costing R83000.00 due to damage done to roofs, cladding and facias of the buildings. The roof is partly off at the car park new building and at the gate the roof is badly damaged.
Until the next episode of Heidi in the Mountains…….. (Still have not seen Peter)
What a ride this has been!