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Zulu Battlefields

Written on: Sunday November 26th, 2006

A journal entry from: The Winter of 2006/2007

  • A strange start to our day when shortly after rising the electricity went off. This meant that we couldn?t pay our bill by visa so went into town to try to find an ATM plus grab some breakfast. The electricity in the whole town was down, so none of the ATM?s would work and the only place we could get breakfast was at Wimpy. However they did a beautiful cereal, fruit and yoghurt breakfast and somehow managed to produce some piping hot coffee so we filled our tummies and then went back to the hotel to try to find some way to pay. Ricard eventually discounted the bill a bit and we managed to scrape up enough money between us so we could be on our way.

  • We had a four hour drive ahead of us which again took us through Mtubatuba (apparently to pluralise words the Africans repeat them. Along the road black families began their day by getting water from the nearby ponds and at one point we saw a bunch of ladies taking their laundry to a pond. The pond didn?t look too clean but they always look well turned out and their whites are sparkling.

  • We drove through areas of beautiful countryside where the native people live in what we thought were communities of small round thatched huts but were later told that in fact the group of huts belong to one family. Instead of having separate rooms in a house, they have separate huts, one for mum and dad, one for children, one for cooking etc., the huts are round so that evil spirits can?t hide in the corners. We learned that the crops that we?d seen a few days ago are actually sugar cane and it?s a major industry in this area along with logging and coal mining. We also drove through a couple of reasonably sized towns which was teeming with people, some selling fruit by the side of the road, others cooking corn. In one town they had a number of tent like structures along the street with paintings of heads on them, we looked inside and realised that these were hairdressing shops!!

  • Thatchers? Guest House where we were staying for the nest two days was quite a long way from anywhere but well worth the drive. June and John Smith have a smallholding about 50 kms outside of Dundee, where they raise cattle and also, as the name suggests, produce thatch which they then use on roofs all over South Africa and even into Europe. We were able to watch some of his workers cutting and binding the thatch ready for transportation. Their guest house is 8 kms off the road on a dirt track, with no other houses in sight. They have a large pond just off the deck with a few ducks and tons of birds swoop around all day. As they?re such a long way from civilization we had booked to have an evening meal with them as well as breakfast. June settled us on the deck with a glass of juice while she started preparing the meal. It was a warm evening with a lovely sunset. The meal was smashing, a real home cooked meal which was a welcome treat after eating in restaurants for three weeks.

  • The next day we drove back to Dundee to pick up Paul Garner, our guide for the Battlefield Tour. Paul kept us entertained for the day as he filled us in on what brought about the battle between the Zulus and the Brits and eventually took us to the two major battles sites ? Isandlwana and Rourk?s Drift ? and recounted the battle tale in fine detail. This is our history lesson for the trip and now it?s back to golf and animal studies.

  • The weather for the day had been quite a contrast to that of the previous day, damp and cool, so we were delighted to get back to Thatchers? to find John had lit a log fire and there were delightful aromas coming from the kitchen. John and June joined us for dinner that night, bringing out port and coffee afterwards, discussing their lives in South Africa and answering our numerous questions.

  • Sunday morning we left the Smiths and drove for 3 hours back to Durban, we took the meandering route for about 40 kms, prettier and more leisurely than on the motorway. At the moment I?m sitting on the deck of our B & B with a view of the Indian Ocean. We?ll be here for a couple of nights, playing golf tomorrow and then flying to Nelspruit and Kruger Park on Tuesday where we?ll have our major safari. So our blogging days will probably be over until we get to Perth on December 5th, Well hopefully we?ll get to Perth, we?re still wait-listed on our flight, with only a week to go we?re getting a bit concerned.


From Karen on Nov 29th, 2006

Hi Handley! Glad to hear everything is well and your blog and pictures are fantastic! I've sent the link to my Mum. Thanks for the well wishes - healing slowly but you taught Chloe well. She's a great nurse :) Take care and have a great time!