Travel Journal

Ladybrand - Nieu Bethesda - Karoo Inn - February 8-9

(Monday 18 February 2008) by Karin
Alarm goes off early again as a delicious breakfast prepared by the staff awaits us at 6:00. By 6:30 we are on the road again, a very straight road. Sheep grazing the grasslands, scampering away from the road as the green machine approached. The vegetation gradually drying up to become the typical Karoo.
We stopped at the tiny, isolated town of Nieu Bethesda where Andrew and Jonathan visited 'Andre's Brewery' while the girls (Carole, Giovanna and I) visited the Owl House.
The Owl House is what put Nieu Bethesda on the map, and it's easy to see why. This fascinating place was the home, studio and life's work of Helen Martins and her long-time assistant Koos Malgas. In her fifties, she embarked with single minded determination on the transformation of the modest Karoo dwelling. Walls and ceilings coated with elaborate patterns of crushed glass embedded in bands of brightly colored paint are the essence of the interior decoration. All of it amplified by the myriad lamps, candles and specially shaped mirrors. It was only when the interior of the house was completed that she applied her imagination to the world beyond the door. She created hundred of sculptures and relief figures that crowd the 'camel yard' and cover the walls of the house. I loved it.
We then continued on to the Drifters Karoo Inn. We enjoyed the trip on top of the green machine from which we had of course a great view *_*. We stopped regularly to check out the leopard tortoise crossing our path and the cobra slithering its way back into the bush. The Inn was situated, as usual, extremely remote at the end of a long and tortuous road. On arrival we saw lots of springbok and bontebok. They are beautiful but unfortunately they didn't stay for the picture.
Our home for the next two nights is in stone cottages on a traditional farmstead nestled against the Sneeuberg Mountains. Two rooms and a shared bathroom. A fireplace in the entrance hall. This is the first place where I share a room, with Giovanna. A delicious dinner awaited us after which we retreated to the bar. Maybe not such a good idea as I got a taste of a few new drinks: Springbokkie (Mint liquor and Amarula) and Gemsbokkie (Kahlua and Amarula). Gemsbokkie is my favorite now. We all had a few good laughs.
Extensive morning walk on the schedule so I got up early so I could beat everyone to the shower. Springbok right outside our cabin but when I tried to take a picture it quickly ran away :-(. By the time we sat down for breakfast it was pouring down rain again. Not good as I was the one that said last night, when the innkeepers said that it would probably be a great day, that with my luck it would rain again. They do need rain here but why now :-(? I decided to go back to bed (tired after yesterdays late night) and so did the others. Andy made us a nice fire in the cabin and I drifted off to sleep again.
Afterwards we hung around for a while but after lunch it seemed to clear up a bit so off we went for a hike around the facing mountain. There were bontebok, springbok and we even saw some mountain zebras. These are very skittish and their stripes make them fade into the background. Also checked out a fossile. After about an hour it started drizzling again so we headed back. Soon the drizzle became a downpour though and we started jogging down the path with Carole up front. When she suddenly stopped for an ostrich with little ones. We all carefully walk around him and continued on. Ostriches don't like it when you come to close to their young. A bit further down the path Jonathan jumped in a huge puddle next to Giovanna and me, splashing water all over us. Even though we were wet already, Giovanna did not take that and picked up some mud what of course started a mud fight. Soon they were both covered in it. I watched them from a distance. We ran for the showers upon our return.
Another day has gone by.

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