My Heritage Day - 25 September 2007

Celebration time in South Africa. It's the heritage day, better known as braai (BBQ) day. Which I missed.

From the top to the maze

The Water TowerSpring is a big deal for South Africans. After winter, the only short two months of the year when the temperature can be considered cold by the locals, spring is the start of that long, sunny and pleasant period of the year that makes South Africa so attractive.
24 September, or Heritage day , as wikipedia puts it, is a Public Holiday on which South Africans across the spectrum are encouraged to celebrate their cultural heritage and the diversity of their beliefs and traditions, in the wider context of a nation that belongs to all its people.

How do they celebrate it? By organizing braais (or bbqs) all around the country and spreading love with steaks, sausages and beers.

On the mountain Unfortunately, I missed it. Instead of having a nice time with Lindsey's family for some reasons (mostly due to the fact that once in a while I get so upset with myself that I'd rather disappear than punching some random person), I decided to take my mountain bike and climb the closest mountain I could find, which was the mountain overlooking Weltevreden Park (and all the nearby towns) to reach the water tower at the top.

I've been there already, once. In January 2005 . Lindsey drove me my last night in South Africa in the middle of a summer night. It took forever, since we got lost few times. We spend some time talking and deciding what to do in the future. It just made sense to go there, once of the few places that I know.

Relaxing on the mountainOn the mountainConfiding in maps here is pointless: every week there is a new road, or old names get replaced by new (more Africans) names. I took my backpack, my helmet, a bottle of water, the photo camera and the map.
So with my bicycle, I just kept the water tower as aim and I started to climb the mountain.
As you may know, riding a bicycle on a mountain is very hard, especially is the time is midday, with the sun trying to rape the sun-protection cream and then your skin. There aren't many different roads to get to the top, usually one on the side of the mountain and the other on the opposite side. And they are all long, with a lot of curves.

On the mountainOn the mountainLuckily, the traffic was non existent. Everyone was just enjoying the braais and the local worker looked at me like I was some insane man. Maybe, in that particular moment, I was. I needed to clear my mind and generally release some dangerous toxins from my body. Nothing is more cleansing than pain, and with my lungs exploding, I decided to climb until I was dead.

I didn't die obviously. I reached the closest place to the top, before realizing that the entrance of the water tower was probably on the opposite side of the mountain. So I found a nice spot to relax and look at the valley beneath.
I'm still not sure how much time I spent up there. Maybe 1 hour or 2, but it's difficult to say, since the light, the traffic, the noise, the wind and the temperature never changed it.

I needed it, and it was the right thing to do, even if, with no food in my stomach and the smell of barbecues in the air on my way back, I still think that I should have eaten something before the long ride.

The Entrance of the mazeThe sun in the labyrinthThe afternoon was more relaxed. I re-joined Lindsey's family for a visit to the Honeydew A-maize-ing Mazes , an array of challenging mazes, from short ones to very (very) long versions (1.8km of walking path for the permanent one and 3.5km for the seasonal Maize Maze, designed by Adrian Fisher , an Englishman who loves to create natural mazes around the world).

Finally outWe split in two teams, and the youngsters (me, Lindsey and Jill, Lindsey's sister) won easily against all the other teams. The goal was to find 5 secret chambers and resolve the cryptic clues.
Some groups gave up because they got lost and under the sun the situation was critical. Luckily, under the guidance of Jill, our labyrinth expert, and Lindsey, our clue expert, we solved the labyrinth in less than 50 minutes and we won our big prize: ice creams. Me? I just strolled around and took the pictures you see around. I was too damn tired to even think about how to solve the maze!

  With the late sunset coming to finally bring some peace over this hot land, the day was over. The weather man promised us some rain this week. I doubt it (and I was wrong. Finally, after two months, it rained).