Roadblocks and stones that hit the mark

We are camping outside the fence that marks the boundary of the Kraal and we are woken by people walking around the car who are obviously packing up. We get dressed and walk towards the main building. This is what is happening: the government is busy constructing a new, tarred, road to make the hospital and this part of the Transkei more accessible. The local community believes that the government is not using enough local people to do this work and are therefor planning to create roadblocks to demonstrate against this.

Bags are being packed, doors closed, laundry folded and before we know it everyone has left to hopefully get through it before it’s really closed. There are stories that these roadblocks could last weeks before the police is able to end them. Helga and I are a little agitated by this, but decide to stay. We are not in a hurry to go anywhere and we are told that for our car there are enough (4×4) alternatives to leave the area. We use the rest of the day to write the blog, get coordinates for 4×4 tracks in the gps and finish our books.

February 25, 2016

We decide to go, we pack up and drive up the steep path leading to the road. Just before we left we heard that the demonstration had stopped and that the roadblocks are gone. We decide to take the road less traveled nonetheless. On the road to Isilimele, where the hospital is, we see an older woman slowly walking up the hill. We give here a ride and she tells us her name is Christina, that she’s 65 and is on her way to the hospital for TBC treatment. She speaks good English and tells us a little bit about her life while we tell her about our travels. We drop her off at the hospital and walk around quickly to get an impression about how things go here.

Helga and I leave the hospital and drive south over old roads with washed away bridges. We are heading towards Mdumbi.

 

A small track leads us towards the coast. Schools are just out and we drive through large groups of children all neatly dressed in similar uniforms. Almost all the groups we drive past turn towards us and cup their hands to beg for “ssssweeeets!”. We don’t respond to this request, but wave and give them a smile. I loose my patience when a group of boys, who we pass without giving attention, pick up some stones from the ground and throw them at the car. I can hear one of them hit their mark.It resonates through the car. I quickly brake and reverse, but by the time we reach the spot again they have all fled. With a huge adrenaline rush we drive down a road that will take us to the coast. When we get here we realise we took a wrong turn and ended up on the wrong side of the bay….we can almost see where we need to go, but we have to drive back through the small town we just came from, towards the main road and get the next exit.

Slowly we drive back, luckily the children are all spread out by now and they are no longer a bother. 

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Rinus Hartsuijker
Groningen
E-mail: contact@rinushartsuijker.com
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