Sunrise, the next morning was impossible to determine because of the heavy clouds still blanketing the nearby mountains. There’s something piously satisfying about being the first at the showers in a camp site. Hoping I’d elicit admiring glances from fellow campers that I was an up-and-at-‘em kind of camper, I put a jaunty spring into my step as I returned to the tent. All I got was a vision of Mrs. Chips prising one eye open to say, “What’s wrong? Why are you up so early?”
To regain a measure of favour, I brewed up some coffee and rusks, which we had while deciding to make a trip into Cradock to acquire decent pillows and some fresh meat.
Returning to the Park with our purchases, we selected a 4×4 track that took us away from any of the other vehicles. All 4×4 routes in the Park are not particularly challenging, with (my opinion) up to mild Grade 3 slopes. This one was no different, but we only began to see game towards where the route rejoined the main road.
Regrettably the low light conditions made for a quiet day photographically speaking. However, we made up for the disappointment by lighting the obligatory braai fire. I am sure that people in other countries have a kind of a benchmark against which they measure “The Life” – when they lean back and say “Aaah! This is the life”. To some it might be unlimited access to a strip joint. To others it might be lying on a deck chair on a luxury cruise. But I can’t think of anything right now that beats the tranquillity of a perfectly calm evening, devoid of the harsh jangle of other human dissonance – replaced with the harmonious blend of evening insects and the occasional howl of a Black Backed Jackal – punctuated by the infrequent pop and crackle of a log of thorn wood on the fire.
As the flames burned down to a friendly glow, I placed the lamb chops and boerewors on the fire with a care that would put Gordon Ramsay to shame. The evening was thus thrice enhanced by the seductive sizzle of the meat and that aroma of braaing wors that is unique to South Africa. Then came the sandwiches. Cheese, tomato, spring onion, buttered on the outside and placed on the grid where the coals are not as hot, but where a log is smoking slightly. This process not only toasts the sandwiches, but adds a delightfully smoky taste that leaves you craving for more.
Excuse me, I’m off to light a fire. See you in Episode III