Day 1, March 7. Somerset West to Karoo
: This is a rather cynical entry. Just writing from my notebooks, and I wasn’t a happy moose when I wrote in those at the time. The trip gets WAY better
Before leaving I stopped in at work to say goodbye. I knew that several of my cats would be leaving before I would have the chance to return to Cape Town, and there were some sad goodbyes. I set off at 10am planning at least two nights in the magnificent Karoo.
I had stopped at Karoo just 5 weeks ago on my way back from Joburg. The stopover wasn’t great. I had been put off by a very rude staff member and Karoo had a chance to redeem itself.
By the time I got to Worcester, I realized I hadn’t booked anything- ooops!
I had checked availability the night before and found only two campsites left. It was Saturday, so calling AnnaMarie at the booking office in Cape Town was out. For the next few hours I tried phoning the Karoo directly to book.
I finally got through. The phone was answered with a harsh, “what!?”, as if I had interrupted something important. “Um… is this the Karoo national park?”, I asked nervously. The ‘yes’, came after a very long pause. I proceeded to book a site and was hung up on while I thanked her. Wasn’t off to the best start, and it downspiralled from there.
At Leeu-Gamka I needed gas badly. Being South Africa, I arrived at the only gas station in ‘town’ to find the electricity out and no gas. I was nearly empty. Beaufort West was 75 kms away and my car loves its gas. The man at the station laughed at me. “You’ll make it. Try anyway”.
I crawled into Beaufort West, exceptionally irritable and tired. Why is the place always so noisy and dirty? Grrrr Grrrrr Grrrrr
. I filled the car and picked up supplies (rusks, always rusks, nothing else), and made for the park.
The welcome at the gate is always nice. The guy seems to remember I was there only a few weeks ago and welcomes me back. Speeding Jeeps on the way to reception set off my temper again and I was dying for the bathroom.
Before checking in, I headed for the bathroom. After washing my hands, I turned to leave – quickly – and smashed my face into the wall divide (just like this --
), which definitely hadn’t been there before. I passed out immediately. When I came around, I had also hit my hand quite hard on the wall and lovely bruises were developing nicely on both hand and face. Weakly, I drank some water and went to check in.
I wasn’t greeted nicely at reception. The same woman from the phone, I guessed. I asked about night drives. I’ve STILL never done a night drive at Karoo and I would love to. She laughed at me. “Most people, they do not like night drives. You must have three other people”. No night drive for Moose, once again.
Unhappy, exhausted, dizzy and sore, I rolled into camp. There was one campsite left, between two caravans, each sporting a giant satellite dish. No thanks. I opted for one of the rooftop tent sites. Not comfortable, but isolated. Took tent out of car and fished around in the trunk for loose pegs, dropping them on the ground as I went. When I walked over to the bathroom to get water, I returned to find all of my pegs gone, only two very bent ones remained. This was my luck on this trip.
By the time the tent was up (and pegged in with nothing), I was ready for bed. It was only 6:30. Sure enough, I didn’t sleep. It was much too hot. My neighbours were playing loud music from the 1920’s. I always feel it should be punk kids like me with black nail polish who should be causing the anti-social behaviour, but when I’m camping, it’s always the oldies…
I decided to go for a walk at dusk. This is where the Karoo is most magical and silent. I relaxed and smiled. I did the fossil trail. Last time I had walked the fossil trail, I didn’t really believe in fossils (it’s been quite a year…), and I took it all in, loving every moment.
I crawled back into bed and closed my eyes. I was in the Karoo. Tomorrow would be better. Smile. Deep breaths.