Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Richtersveld - Day 6 - Lazing on the Orange

We awoke to the sound of children hurrying here and there, squeals of laughter drifting from all around.
Russell had played Easter Bunny and hidden Easter eggs in the grass, bushes and trees around the campsite.

Since we had no obligation to go anywhere or do anything, we took the opportunity to investigate our surroundings and nice long walks along the Orange River became the order of the day for most of us and the tiny tots spent most of their time splashing about in the little pools of water inland from the river.
Just when we all thought we were the only people in the middle of nowhere, a fleet of canoes came cruising on down the river.  A competition of some sort is held every year in one of the little "towns" up river and is quite an event.

By about 11:00 it was pretty hot and both the children and adults were looking longingly to the cool water for some relief.  Russell and a couple of others managed to tether a rope around a rock in the middle of the river and to a rock on land and those who had, took their rubber tubes upstream and floated down to where the rope crossed the river as a barrier to stop anyone from being carried away by the rapid waters. 

Splishing and splashing and great peals of laughter filled the air.
Nic, or "Sir Winston", had made himself quite comfortable a little downstream and tried his luck at fishing. 

What a lazy day on the Orange.



Gordon asked if anyone had a spare tube we could use and we trundled off upstream.  About a kilometre or so from the campsite, we stopped off under some trees and lay in the long grass, soaking up the sounds, smells and sights of the beautiful surroundings.  Cormorants and other birds spent their time fishing, diving off rocks...

Just across the river from where we were is Namibia, the Orange River running along the border.  Fancy that! A hop, skip and a jump away!  Problem is if I had to do it I'd get nabbed!  So I quickly discouraged the thought and focused on the adventure to come.

After about ten minutes we continued our walk upstream and found a spot where we were able to launch ourselves into the tubes and take a leisurely, sometimes awkwardly bumpy and hair-raisingly scary, float down the river, back to camp.  We passed many nests, built by the Cormorants, which were put together with thorny branches and other matter.  These nests were about the size of the tubes we were using - HUGE and dangerous!

We allowed ourselves to drift this way and that and even touched the banks of Namibia!  After what must have been about half an hour or so, we began the approach to the barrier across the river.  For some strange reason, it seemed our tubes had picked up speed.  Oh me gosh...!  Boing, out the tube!  Under the water and washing away! With arms raised and rushing at a speed of knots, I just managed to grab hold of the rope, the river so desperately wanting to take my body downstream...!  I clung on for dear life and with much effort, managed to get my feet back on to the rocky and slippery surface of the riverbed and hoist myself out. 

Everyone else was relaxed.  Chilled.  How come it felt like I had almost met my end?  Panic.  That is what it was.  That moment I had experienced was mine alone.  Yhew!  It felt like an age before I was on terra firma, and the knees seemed to be made of jelly, but what an experience!  A wonderfully, cooling and refreshing ride down the Orange!

In no time at all we were all dried out and longing for a second go at the river, but I decided that wading in the water near to the bank would be a better option, so I went off and joined some children fishing for teeny-weeny fish in the rock pools.

The day lingered on and eventually we all started settling down, getting ready for night to come.  As the sun dropped behind the mountain across the river, the shadows changed the scenery once again.  Amazing what  difference a little shadow can make to a terrain.

Dark drew across the sky, fires were lit, children washed and fed, and stillness crept in.  Russell had another surprise ready.  Once it was dark enough and the fires were about ready, he threw some stones into the coals. 

There before our eyes, luminous green began to glow brighter and brighter and with little explosions, the stones split into pieces, creating a little firework display.  The stone - fluorite, or fluorspar as it is also known.



With the crackle and warm glow of the fire, everyone sat and chatted, braaied, ate and relaxed, this being the last fire of the weekend with an early start tomorrow for the long trek home for many and the beginning of an amazing trip for Gordon and I. 

The journey is only about to begin....

1 comment:

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