The good, the bad and the bearded

The good news is that the spare paddle that James is using is still intact.

The bad news is that he’s pretty much snapped the back of his boat clean off after shooting a fairly innocuous-looking weir too far to the left, yesterday about 4km short of Orania.

The damage...part 1.

The damage…part 1.

Not to be outdone, Sam shot the weir too far right and sustained similar damage.

The damage...part 2. It turns out that the weir that inflicted the damage to the kayaks has a sharp steel railing running along its top edge.

The damage…part 2. It turns out that the weir that inflicted the damage to the kayaks has a sharp steel railing running along its top edge.

No, the kayak isn’t at that angle because James is paddling so fast. Limping into Orania with a severely damaged tail section.

No, the kayak isn’t at that angle because James is paddling so fast. Limping into Orania with a severely damaged tail section.

Sitting on the river bank surveying the damage and feeling more than a little sheepish, things looked pretty grim.

Since then though, a series of minor miracles have meant that the boats are river-worthy once again and we’re ready to push onward.

First Jana at the reception of the Aan-die-Oewer campsite in Orania put us in touch with Jaco de Bruin, transport manager at Jojo Tanks, a company manufacturing (would you believe it) plastic water tanks. He agreed to visit our campsite the next day to inspect the kayaks. We had been in contact with Gavin, the guide from Vanderkloof, who had decided to join us for a few days at the exact time we were deconstructing our boats. Him, Jaco and the three of us converged on our camp early this morning, decided a repair was feasible and transported the boats to Jojo Tanks, where Jaco carried out the plastic welding repair operation.

Patching up the kayaks at Jaco de Bruin’s workshop.

Patching up the kayaks at Jaco de Bruin’s workshop.

By 11am, we were good to go. We owe a heartfelt thanks to Jan Joubert and the ladies at Aan-die-Oewer, Gavin (again), and especially Jaco, all of whom gave up their time freely to help us out.

Ship-shape and all smiles.

Ship-shape and all smiles.

Orania tour bus.

Orania tour bus.

Orania has its own currency, the Ora.

Orania has its own currency, the Ora.

That left the rest of the day for some sightseeing around Orania.

We had been intrigued to see what Orania was all about, knowing little of it except its reputation as a center of Afrikaner nationalism with the eventual goal of independence from South Africa.
That much is certainly true, and we also found many examples of sustainable, environmentally-conscious living and a sense of self-reliance and entrepreneurship that, short of any political intentions, are more-or-less precisely what many in the environmental movements are calling for.
Many houses are built from natural materials like cob and straw bales, a significant proportion are entirely solar-powered and solar water heaters are obligatory. Most of the construction is done by the homeowners themselves.

“Earth Boat” house in the process of construction. Such a home has zero carbon footprint, being built using a combination of recycled and natural raw materials and relying on solar power, rainwater, biogas and natural temperature regulation.

“Earth Boat” house in the process of construction. Such a home has zero carbon footprint, being built using a combination of recycled and natural raw materials and relying on solar power, rainwater, biogas and natural temperature regulation.

The koeksister monument in Orania.

The koeksister monument in Orania.

We saw only a brief and perhaps superficial picture of Orania, when kindly shown around the town by local guide and farmer John Strydom. While our personal political views differ, the environmentalists in us could not help but think that Orania offers some positive examples for South Africa, and left us scratching our heads as to if, and how much, the political ends detract from their real achievements.

Tomorrow we head off towards Hopetown and some exciting water, to test out our new repairs!

Until we can write again, we leave you in the capable hands of James’s sweetheart Caitlin, who is managing the blog and posting some great pieces in our absence – thanks Caitlin!

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3 thoughts on “The good, the bad and the bearded

  1. Just goes to show that people of all nationalities, creeds, political views etc are still firstly people who care about others. We can learn from your experience, and apply it to our own lives. A big thanks to the generous people of Orania who truly saved the day. And their zero carbon footprint attitude is impressive. I don’t think the three adventurers will ever forget the kindness shown. However, julle drie moet nou net julle Afrikaanse spelling reg kry : “Aan-die-Oewer” is die naam van die woonwapark, nie “Oewe” nie! ” Oewer” means shore. Vasbyt!

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