Die KLR is koning!

(English and photographs below)

Na drie bloedig warme dae met temperature tot 48 ⁰C en meer as 900 km op teer, in sand, oor klip en sinkplaatpad én vir 200 km deur ‘n sandstorm haal ek my hoed vir die KLR af. Die getroue ou motorfiets ken net een pad, en dis vorentoe. More neem ek ‘n rusdag en maak eers alles skoon. Ek is nuuskierig hoe die lugfilter gaan lyk.

Ek het Vrydagmiddag in die Nubiese woestyn die eerste keer op hierdie reis my oomblik van erge heimweë gehad.

Daar is ‘n nuwe pad gebou wat Wadi Halfa met Khartoem verbind. Laas met die KLR was dit nog nie daar nie. Ek het besluit om van die dorpie Abri die ou sandspoor te ry. Die nuwe pad gaan verby al die interessante Nubiese dorpies waar juis die mooi en die wonder van so ‘n woestynrit opgesluit lê.

Ek is voor sonop weg uit Wadi Halfa. So 70 km suid van Halfa is ‘n waterpunt met ‘n blou kas wat daar staan. Die blou kas kan mens duidelik ook in Long Way Down sien. Ek was so verras om te sien dat my plakkers van 2008 en 2009 nog steeds op die kas is. Ek het die 2010 plakker langs die ander twee geplak.

My volgende punt “down memory lane” was die plek waar ek twee jaar gelede by die Nyl gekampeer en lekker in die Nyl geswem het.

Die eerste dorpie waar ek foto’s wou afgee, was so 55 km verder. Dis die plek waar die oupa met die beplooide gesig gewoon en met ons besoek verlede jaar reeds oorlede was. Niemand was tuis nie (dit was die Moslem-‘Sondag’). Ek het die oupa se seun langs die pad gekry, en toe hy die foto’s van sy oorlede pa en die skitterfoto sien wat Lizelle (www.lizellelotter.co.za) verlede jaar van sy ma geneem het, was hy in ekstase en het my dadelik saamgenooi na ‘n byeenkoms in hul dorpie. Dit was ‘n reuse voorreg om as ‘n nie-Moslem toegelaat te word tot hul ete en die seremonie met die uitreiking van ‘n trousertifikaat. Ek gaan later daaroor skryf. Ongelukkig kon ek nie die vroue te siene kry nie.

Toe het die oase gekom waar ons verlede jaar die hoogtepunt van ons reis beleef het, die plekkie met die mees temperamentvolle en humorryke oupatjie en oumatjie en hul lewendige klomp familielede. Toe ons verlede jaar vertrek het, het die ouma met haar skraal lyf en trane wat oor die wange gestroom het, ‘n klompie meter langs my bakkie gehardloop en vaarwel gewuif. Dis ook hier waar Vrydag die heimweë na my eie mense my oorval het.

Om by die oase uit te kom, is daar net een paadjie, en die gaan oor ruwe skerp rotse en klippe oor ‘n bergrant tot onder teen die Nyl. Daar is geen ander toegangspad nie. Ek het die KLR stadig oor die kokendwarme klippe oor die bergpaadjie gestuur. Onder was die oase bloedigwarm met die swart rotsrante wat dit aan drie kante toevou.

Daar was nie ‘n mens te siene nie. Ek het in die oop huis ingestap en die oumatjie daar doenig gekry. Die ou lyfie was nog skraler as verlede jaar. Daar was nog ‘n vrou by haar wat ek nie verlede jaar gesien het nie. Dit het gelyk of die oumatjie my glad nie herken nie. Ek het haar hul foto’s van verlede jaar gegee en sy het dit vinnig deurgeblaai en na die mense op die foto’s gewys en name afgerammel, soos iemand wat oor ver-kinders praat.

Die oupatjie het later gekom en nog net so borrelend gesels as verlede jaar, alles in Arabies. ‘n Jong seun het getolk. Dis daar waar die gevoel van totale verlatenheid my oorval het. Oupatjie het vertel dat sy seun weg is Khartoem toe, hy probeer nou ‘n werkspermit vir die VSA kry. Dis juis dié seun wat ons verlede jaar aan al die mense daar voorgestel het. Al die ander jongmense is ook weg, het elders werk en geleenthede gaan soek. Verlede jaar was daar nie ‘n sekonde se stilte nie. Hierdie jaar het die stilte soos ‘n doodstyding oor alles gehang.

Die oupatjie het alleen met sy boerderytjie aangekarring maar die tyding was duidelik sigbaar: Hy kan dit nie alleen behartig nie. Die agteruitgang lê soos ‘n handtekening oor alles.

Ek het ‘n rukkie onder ‘n groot koelteboom gesit, daar waar ons verlede jaar gekuier het en sonder ‘n sekonde se stilte Arabies, Engels en Afrikaans met mekaar gepraat het. Die stilte het my begin vang. Ek het besef ek kon nie en wou nie daar oornag nie. Die atmosfeer was te terneerdrukkend. Ek het na hulle huisie toe gestap om vir hulle te gaan sê en totsiens te sê. In die huisie voor my het die twee elkeen op ‘n matjie op die vloer gelê en slaap. Ek het vir ‘n rukkie na die twee maer lyfies gestaan en kyk en toe omgedraai en geloop. Ek wou hulle nie wakker maak nie.

Ek dink dit was die laaste keer wat ek hulle gesien het. Verlede jaar se herinneringe is vir my mooier as hierdie jaar se realiteit. Mag die foto’s hulle ook aan die mooi van die verlede herinner.

Ek het op die warmste tyd van die dag daar weggery, die woestyn in. Die hitte op daardie oomblik was meer draagbaar as dit wat ek agtergelaat het.

Die beroemde blou kas, en my plakkers van 2008, 2009 en 2010.

Holding the photograph in his hands the son of the lady couldn't believe what he had received a few minutes earlier.

How long will he manage all the work on his own?

Sunday morning I started riding at 4 the morning, using the light of the full moon!

The sunshine disappeared and a yellow light coloured the whole desert. Then the sand came, 200 km of wind and sand. But, I was lucky. It could have been much worse.

(English)

After three scorching hot days with day temperatures as high as 48 ⁰C, after more than 900 km on tar, sand, over stones and corrugated road, and today 200 km through a sand storm I can only but salute the KLR. What a reliable bike. It knew only one way, and that is going south. Tomorrow I am not going to ride but clean everything from the sand and dust. I look forward to see the air filter!

On Friday in the Nubian desert I had my first bout of homesickness of this trip.

A new road was built, connecting Wadi Halfa and Khartoum. The last time I was on the KLR there road still wasn’t there. I decided to use the new road until I got to Abri. From there on I intended to go on the old sandy track through the Nubian villages. It was in those villages that one experienced the beauty of travelling through the Nubian desert.

I left Wadi Halfa well before sunrise. About 70 km south of Halfa is a point where one can get water. A striking feature is the blue cupboard standing there. On the DVD of Long Way Down the cupboard was clearly visible. It was a pleasant surprise to find my stickers of 2008 and 2009 still on it. I added the 2010 sticker to the other two.

The next point down memory lane was the spot where I camped close to the Nile and had a refreshing swim two years ago.

The first village where I wanted to give photographs that we had taken last year was 55 km further down the track. That was the village with the old grandfather with wrinkled face who had passed away six months after my first visit. No-one was at home as it was Friday and Muslim ‘Sunday’. I met the son of the old man close to his home. When he saw the photographs he was deeply touched and immediately took me with to their mosque, where I was privileged to attend two special ceremonies as a non-Muslim. I will write about these later. Unfortunately I couldn’t meet any of the ladies, especially not the old lady of whom Lizelle (www.lizellelotter.co.za) took a stunning photograph last year.

Then I reached the oasis which was the highlight of our trip last year. Last year we met the most stunning old grandfather and grandmother with their bunch of lively relatives. On our departure last year the frail old granny ran 40, 50 m next to my car and with tears streaming down her face shouted the last farewells to us. This was here where the feeling of homesickness overcame me on Friday.

To reach the oasis one has to travel over a stony hill and narrow track, covered with sharp flat stones. I rode the KLR carefully over the stones. A cut tire there was the last thing that I wanted to happen there. It was boiling hot in the oasis as from three sides it was surrounded by the mountain ridge covered by black stones.

There was no-one around as I stopped the KLR. I walked into the house and found the old granny busy with her daily chores. With her was a lady that I couldn’t remember of last year. First it seemed as if the granny hadn’t recognized me at all. I then gave her the photographs of last year. She looked through it, pointed to some of the people on the photographs and mentioned their names, like someone speaking of children far away.

Later the old grandfather came to say hello. He was as bubbly as last year. A boy living close buy helped with the translation. The old grandfather told me that his son, who introduced us to his family last year, moved away to Khartoum hoping to secure a work permit for the US. All the other young people had left the oasis, hoping to find a better future somewhere else in Sudan. Last year we didn’t have silence for a moment. Now there was no sound at all. It felt like after a funeral and everyone had left to go home.

The old man was struggling with his small farm and hardly managed all activities. One could see the negligence everywhere.

I sat for a while in the shade of a huge tree. I missed the atmosphere of last year, the bubbly sound of life. I realized that I couldn’t und wouldn’t spend the night there. The silence was catching up with me, and that caused me to start missing my own people at home. I decided to go and tell them that I was going to leave. I walked through the front door, and in front of me the two old people were lying and sleeping, each on a little carpet, covered with a sheet of linen. I stood there for a while, watching the two frail figures, and then turned around and walked away, without waking them up.

That was perhaps the last time that I saw them. The memories of last year were better than the reality of this year. I hope that the photographs will be a lasting memory to them of the times that were.

It was at the hottest time of the day that I steered the KLR up the mountain track, away from the oasis. The heat was more bearable that the memory of those two old people lying sleeping on the floor.

About Lodie

Africa, Africa, Africa!
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2 Responses to Die KLR is koning!

  1. Elke dag ‘n dag nader aan “home”, ons geniet jou skrywes Lodie, mooiry en sterkte verder!

  2. My hart is nou regtig baie seer.

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