Day 12 -13
Blessed. Or as Clayton says: Bless-ed. He calls himself a Rastafarian with his dreadlocks and Jah praising, and I have truly been bless-ed to have met him!
So as you remember, I randomly met him at the souvenir tent at the Fan Fest on Sunday night. Monday night, he met up with me at CUT and took me out to the bars. Today, he picked me up and drove me out to Kimberley to see the diamond mind! The night that I met him, he said he could take me for SAR400 - to cover the petrol (gas for you Americans), just so that he can show me how nice South Africans are. He surely lived up to this! So he picked up today at 1:00PM, drove me down to Kimberley about 1.5 hours away to see the Big Hole.
A little about the ‘Big Hole’ there…it is big! You get there and it looks like the Wild, Wild West at Disneyland (or is it Frontier Land? Whatever, you know what I mean) and you walk into a building. There inside are some shops, a theater and an exhibit room; the big hole is actually behind an automatic door that goes out. You’re walking into a building so the last thing you expect to see is a huge hole on the other side of the glass doors! Nor would you think that the hole was dug up by humans. It is surely a sight that you really have to be there to believe. I had the option of paying SAR20 to just go and see the hole or for SAR50 more, I could watch a 20 minute video and have an ‘underground mining experience.’ Ah, what the heck, I went with the SAR70 since I had traveled all that way and didn’t want to miss anything important.
The movie was actually done quite well. It was a short movie that told the story and history of the mining in Kimberley. The underground mining experience was also quite cool because they added special sound effects to make you feel as if you were actually mining. The creepy thing though was that the guide had mentioned that they have their fair share of ghost stories as many miners lost their lives there. She also took me around their little exhibit to show me the different diamond replicas that have been found there. For less than $10, I thought it was a good deal. Maybe a little pricey for South Africa but about what you would pay to go to a good museum in Europe. Clayton met up with a good friend of his, Desi, that he hadn’t seen for about a year and a half so the two got to catch up while I did my tour.
After I was done with my tour, I met up with the guys again, Desi got picked up and Clayton and I made our way down to Coffefontein – Clayton’s hometown. He had planned to show me his town and took me to his home to have a home cooked meal with his family. It was soooo good! I got to eat traditional South African food with a family! I am again counting my lucky stars for having an opportunity to do this. On the menu: pork strips (like pork chops but I liked their version better, they were much more moist than chops usually are), sautéed beef and onion and the most traditional of all, pap and kachakacha gravy and bratwurst. Clayton’s family was extremely nice and his mother was a wild one. As soon as we finished eating, she brought me over to their bar, which is housed in their own sitting arena (outdoor covered lanai) for the World Cup that Clayton’s father built single-handedly, complete with traditional thatched roof! and poured me shots! Oh my God, she never got the memo that I am a lightweight! She started me off with Cuervo then a strawberry cream shot and a banana cream shot. After the tequila, I was feeling it. Then my last shot was a lime schnapps and ginger ale; that was actually my favorite one. Oh my! What a night. Luckily I kept my composure. I also got to take my ukulele out to show them the few chords that I could play…sadly it was all of two tunes. No singing though, I haven’t had any epiphanies that have allowed me to write a song. Sadly the ukulele has just been extra luggage and nothing like I thought my performing days would be. Hopefully Jody will be able to send me some songs that I can learn and play.
We left before the final soccer match of the day came on (Brazil vs. North Korea) and Clayton gave me a quick tour of his hometown. What a great host! He even remembered that he had Asians in his town so he brought me down to meet them. He wasn’t sure if they were Chinese or Korean. I told him if I see their faces I would know. I actually saw them and thought they were Korean at first (the game was on my mind) but it turned out that they were Chinese! So, as you know, I got to use my very poor Chinese with them! I told them that I was Chinese American (depends how far back you go…I like to say the fact that we traced our family back to China in the 1400s qualifies me as Chinese so technically, not a lie) and they embraced me and gifted us with cigarette each…it was a bar so they sell single cigarettes. Chinese people don’t usually give away free stuff so I felt that we bonded and they were happy to meet us. After snapping a photo, we were finally on our way and on the road back to Bloem, an hour and a half away.
It was a great night and I even got to see a falling star on the way back. The air is so clean here and the landscape vast that it is really a beautiful place to go star gazing. Clayton is also housing me now for the remaining time that I am here in Bloem. I’m actually thinking about leaving my omiyage box (yes, I am still lugging it around) here when I go to Lesotho and then come back again before I make my way to the Eastern Cape. Clayton said he’s a good cook so I’m also looking forward to another home cooked meal! Doesn’t it always taste better when I guy cooks for you? It does for me!
So far my trip has been so fulfilling because of all the people that I have met and who have made this trip so amazing for me. I hope someday they will come to Hawaii, or wherever I am, and I can return the favor. Rasta Fari! Irie, man! Bless-ed!