Just Knock on the Tree
The Odyssey of the Coddiwompling Tortoise – Rozinante – and The Storyteller
(Coddiwomple: to travel in a purposeful manner toward a vague destination.)
I won’t pretend it was easy to leave the Marico and its wonderful people behind but the horizon was calling. However, I promised to tell you about the early dramas there. Well, let me just tell you about one at the end of my stay. I’d filled up with diesel, then turned around in the service station and misjudged the distance from the metal u-bend because the cars there are angle-parked and people were queued up behind me. It resulted in the back of the van being almost sheared off. Fibreglass is not exactly forgiving.
Being only two hours from Johannesburg, I decided it wise to return to the support group I had there to attend to Rozinante’s facelift (or perhaps ‘buttlift’) is more appropriate. The Groot Marico mechanic, opposite Geraldine’s shop, had stapled the back together to make it back to the big city. Little did I know that when I waved goodbye to Geraldine, it would be the last time I’d see her alive. The morning after I returned, I would be attending her funeral. She had a virulent form of cancer and knew her days were numbered but we, none of us, know our time.
After the funeral service, as is customary in country towns, I am told, as distances are not that great, we all walked to the graveside. I found that a sobering experience. It was like Geraldine was walking with us. I happen to believe she was. I also believe that she may have been laughing her head off at what happened next, when the coffin was lowered and everyone was invited to take a handful of rose petals to scatter into her last resting place. Unfortunately, the sides of the grave had not been shored up firmly enough and ‘Yours Truly’s’ one leg slipped, soil splattering onto the top of the coffin and for a moment there, I thought I was going to go crashing down on top of Geraldine. Only some fancy footwork stopped me. The gasps of onlookers were somewhat embarrassing, to say the least.
Rock art along the way to Kuruman. Image Judy Barnes.
I decided I’d head south onto the N14, where I landed up in Kuruman in the Northern Cape. Twiddy, a dear (now late), friend, who was a geologist, enthused about the town because of The Eye.
Google reminds me that The Eye was discovered in1801 and was the source of water that led to the establishment of a mission there. I was to discover that it wasn’t just any mission either but more of that anon. Known as the ‘Oasis of the Kalahari’, Kuruman is blessed with a permanent and abundant source of water. It is the largest natural fountain in the Southern Hemisphere, delivering an astounding 20-30 million litres of fresh water every day.
I noticed that the municipal caravan park was built right around The Eye. The rate was good and the staff friendly so I booked in. I did notice some huge and very disturbing signs along the main road though, warning of thieves, and it seemed a very real threat as when I enquired about having my laptop looked at, the man who owned the computer shop, said he would meet me, wherever I parked the van and escort me to the shop, otherwise, it was highly likely that I could have my laptop stolen. The streets were teeming with people and I learnt that the previously-closed mine had recently reopened. I didn’t feel comfortable and was glad of his assistance.
Robert Moffat — Scottish missionary and bible translator. Image Judy Barnes.
Much to my surprise, I was to discover that the mining town of Kuruman was very famous and when I realised the reason, I was soon heading for my first interview. I wonder if you know where and why? I only knew I felt very excited to soon be walking in the footsteps of this historical figure who had been such a part of my upbringing on the other side of the world. My family often enthused about him when talking about Africa – and that is the only hint I’m giving you now, except to say he was connected to the Mission there and married the missionary’s daughter.
This is a give-away clue to the famous person. Image Judy Barnes.
Perhaps you’ll recall him being mauled by a lion. He was also a missionary as well as a doctor. I think those are enough hints. If you don’t know by now, then you’ve forgotten your history. So few people have been able to tell me who he is. If you don’t know, I’m afraid you’ll need to wait for Blog 16. Sorry … but that’s called a cliffhanger.