Autumn – mystic moods

The day hides behind clouds.

The landscape disappears in the mist.

The colors vanish slowly between shadows.

Autumn in its late days brings up mystic moods in nature.

I embrace the dark times with its smells, its sounds, its secrets.

Where the eyesight comes to its boundaries, there’s more space for fantasy and dreams.

In The Boudoir With Thembi

Can we do some boudoir photography? Thembi asked me.

At least we gave it a try…

At the pump station – somewhere in South Africa

On our search of a good and cool location for another photo shooting we came across this abandon pump station on a farm. We decided for a rather shabby but sexy look. Maybe a bit like the pin-ups from the 70’s, but darker and less colorful.

Thembi got an old, stained, short trouser and a teared shirt. With her curly hair and a stern look, she posed in front of the huge petrol drum. The gas pipe in the hand she gave a self confident look to the camera.

Despite the serious look, it was all fun and we captured few shots. But decide for yourself…

Pilanesberg National Park

It’s a long time since my last update here. However, my journey didn’t stopped, but leaded me further west. At the time i got near to Pilanesberg National Park, i thought it’s worth a visit.

Pilanesberg National Park is roughly three hours drive from Johannesburg. Situated on an ancient vulcanic area, it shows a distinct landscape with many hills, valleys and small lakes and ponds. Although the wildlife is not dense as in other national parks, it has a superb birdlife and the stunning landscape offers beautiful viewpoints.

So, i took my time for birdwatching, explored different corners in the park and climbed up the hills for splendid views. I did not encounter many other people here, except that truck got stopped by a white rhino. You can guess who got the right of way.

After a long, peaceful day in the park i still didn’t get enough from the landscape. That leaded me to another idea, together with a young lady i just met outside the park. A plan to combine her request with my fascination for the landscape in the park started to build up. But that’s another story will be told in my next post. Keep tuned!

 Overlander Car Issues With ‚Tina Tortuga‘

A bright lamp enlightened all the issues of my newly named landrover Tortuga, #tinatortuga. I was standing under the lifted car with a mechanic to check the state of it. There’s an oil leaking and some unsolved problems with the prop shaft, what brought me to this mechanic. The source of leaking was founded quickly, but as I requested we went trough the entire vehicle, more or less.

Beside the leaking from transfer box there’s also leaking from oil filter housing, Even the tank is leaking and had to be repaired as some bushes and hoses has to be fixed and replaced too. Despite there isn’t much electronics in that vehicle it turned out difficult to find the bug which is blowing my indicators and hazard lights continually. In short, quite an overhaul.

I need a stay for the time of repairs. The estimated period of four to five days was doubled, as the costs of repairs was too, due some difficulties, mainly with the transfer box. All bearings of that part must be replaced. I didn’t care so much about the time, since there was heavy rain predicted. All i needed was a quit and dry spot to be.

Luckily I found a beautiful place outside town of Mbombela/Nelspruit. Friendly hosts welcomed me and showed me around the self catering house where I got a nice room with a glass door towards pool side and amazing view to the valley. That’s the place to stay for a few quit days. Reading, writing journal and sorting photos next to the pool. Having a beer or a glass of red wine in the evenings, after cooking myself a tasty meal, and chatting with the owners, while waiting my car got fixed. That’s all part of traveling too and must try to use the time as good as possible. 

Just the day before I could pick up ‚Tina Tortuga‘, another Landrover Defender arrived at the Lodge. Same model as mine and even the same color. A couple got off the car and settled in the accommodation. It turned out they are from Brazil and already four years on the road. So there was lots to chat about and share travel stories and experiences. And of course, as a Landy driver there’s also about workshop stories. That lovely couple gave me a lift to the landy-workshop and get a oil/filter change for their ‚Pandora‘ too. Who wants to see more of the journey from Eduardo and Rafaela visit their website: www.pandoraontheroad.com.br

Ten lazy days later I checked out of ‚Highland Creeks‘ and got ‚Tina Tortuga‘ back from the workshop. Since it was late of the day and weather forecast predicted another storm with heavy rain, I decided to stay another night at an apartment on my way out of town. Another jewel in the mountains as I found out. After all, the day ended beautifully with a glass of wine and a bath in a tube with a view. 

May I Introduce You: Tortuga, Tina Tortuga! 

Cars, especially travel cars and camper vans, needs to be named by their owners. I always denied this practice for my vehicles. Officially. But since many years I used to think, and tell in secret, if there’s a name for my beloved Land Rover, it must be „Tortuga“, the Spanish word for tortoise. 

„Tortuga“ is not beautiful, but adorable, slow, but strong, nice green, but colored inconspicuous. 

My friend Christa told me from a lady, who makes stickers for cars. After a few gin tonics and nice talks, I decided to give my motorized travel companion finally an official name. Now it was to find a nice turtle pictogram or drawing to put it on Tortuga as a sticker.  It should be simple, rather cute, but not too childish. I found something appealing, I think. Watch the pics and tell me your opinion on the comments, please.

Marloth Park, the place for the official naming ceremony, couldn’t be better. Free roaming wildlife all over the estate. Lots of green, lush trees and a beautiful riverside to walk or having a sundowner with friends. A spot which means freedom, security and lifestyle at same time. 

My friend Christa honored me to be the godmother of Tortuga for this event. After she helped me with the stickers, we got a bottle of sparkling wine to celebrate that event. From now an, my Land Rover discovering the world with me not nameless anymore, but as 

Tortuga, Tina Tortuga! 

#tinatortuga

Tina Tortuga (#tinatortuga) is officially named 🙂

The Ancient Mine Of Ngwenya / Eswatini

After paying a small entrance fee, the guard at the gate jumped in my car and joined me up to the mine. We got to a halt in front of a huge dip. That’s all? That’s the mine? I asked myself a bit disappointed. From the oldest mine on earth I was expecting something more exciting. 

I was doubting about the age of this mine, till I looked up on Wikipedia about Ngwenya Mine. As my guide told me, the scientist dating back the first use of the hematite, or iron ore, for more than 40,000 years. It was used in the stone age for coloring the skin, probably as protecting from the sun.

But first we stepped into the remains of the former museum, which burned down by wildfire a couple years ago. Just in front of the ruins lies the deep hole from the old commercial mine. There are two more dips, the guide explains me. We drove further and parked at another mine dip, filled with water. 

From here we got on our feet and walked up to the highest point, the top of Mount Ngwenya. The last steps are on a steep latter. Stairways to heaven, slipped in my mind and followed me for awhile. From the top, a green wide valley opened up in front of my eyes. The sun rays plays with the clouds, draws pattern in the green landscape. The clouds sprays rain over it, as if it’s in a playful competition with the sun.

Eventually we got to the cave I mentioned earlier. Reddish rocks and ground all around here. Easy to imagine how the early homo sapiens was impressed of that colorful stone. My guide picked up some hematite and rubbed it on the back of my hand to demonstrate how the skin got colored. With the reddish stain on my hand we left the place, still imagining how 40000 years ago people was wandering these beautiful hills.

The Ngwenya Glass Factory In Eswatini

A pretty building with nice cafe and a small park, I thought when I parked my car. The entrance lead me into a showroom full of glassy souvenirs, but also nice vases and drinking glasses. 

Stairs goes up to a door. Behind that I found myself on a balcony overlooking the workshop. Red hot, molten glasses from an oven become nice wine glasses.mIt seems so easy, but certainly needs some skill to produce it all so perfectly.

However, I ended the short tour not with a glass, but a cup of espresso in my hand.

Hike in Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary/Eswatini

The sun shines trough the green canopy of the trees in my camp. It’s better weather than predicted. With the morning coffee i decided to go for a hike in the Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary. This became almost a routine when in Eswatini. The view from Mount Nyonyane is just great and opens the land in direction of Manzini. The West is overlooking the green mountains of Eswatini.

I finished my coffee next to the yellow python from the ‚Legend backpackers hostel‘ and got even a feathered guest on the veranda. More wildlife is waiting for me in the Sanctuary. That’s something great in that park, one can hike trough free roaming wildlife. No dangerous predators around, except the crocodiles in water and snakes in the bush.

Already after i passed the entrance gate, impalas, kudus and other antelopes blocking my way and gazing at me. Different species of birds singing from the trees or hidden in the bush. Just the hippos and crocodiles dived under water and not wanted to be seen this time.

At the main camp i learned the way isn’t in good condition due the heavy rain in the past days. They recommended to me to drive up to the side of the mountain and hike along the ridge. This is also a shorter walk, since there’s a chance of more rain in the afternoon.

A steep, earthen road trough dense forest brings me up to the ridge. Not without to get stopped from some workers, who just freed the road from big fallen rocks. They warned me from deep ruts in the road up, but the Land Rover took it with ease.

The view was splendid on my hike along the ridge to the top of Mount Nyonyane, also known as the „Execution Rock“. In the past, so i’m told, the condemned were sent up to trow themselves from that rock to death. Today there’s no dark thought about it, but enjoying once more the beautiful view.

On the top i took a rest and watched a bird flying over the hilly landscape. Sailing along like a bird, how wonderful would it be, i thought. Then i remember the can of Red Bull i carried in my backpack. I grabbed it and took a good sip of it. Gives you wings, says the slogan, and as i finished it, i stood at the edge and flew towards the lake underneath me…

Eventually i stopped dreaming, opened my eyes and noticed clouds coming up. Time to get back to my car and leave the sanctuary. A look back to the mountain shows dark clouds, but i was already on my way to a nice espresso, and later a good pizza, at Pizza Vesuvio next to my camp.

Piri-Piri Market In Mozambique

Best place to buy fresh product and local specialities are the local markets. It’s also the place to meet people and chat with locals. Fresh made Piri-Piri, a spicy sauce made from chilli peppers, are displayed all over the market. It was my goal to get some before i leave the country. The women been calling me to get her best products, even i was just roaming around first. A cute toddler sat in front of the vegetables and observed me curiously when got picked up by his mother. Too cute to just pass by.

Next to the colorful market is a simply restaurant with refreshment. Just right to sit down, watching the life on market and get to know more people. Junior tells me from his work as a psychiatrist in the hospital nearby. He’s also a photo enthusiast, tells me from his uncle, who got even famous as a photographer. Pity i don’t have more time to meet that guy in person.

On my way out of the market i stumbled in „Fernandos Bar“, covered with cards and stickers. Why isn’t there are business card of mine, i asked amused. Hand me some over, i’ll stick it somewhere, the bar keeper replied. In no time was my business card tacked above the bar desk and several sticker of my website put on the fridge and the beer tap. This must be celebrate with a tasty beer, i decided…