The secret

It is not on  the Master that the ‘secret’ depends, but on the hearer.

The Master can at most open the door.

– Alexandra David-Neel

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Namibia – the South

Driving south from Windhoek you will find the Hardap dam. At the end of a good rainy season (as when I was there in March) the grass is spectacular.

I wish I had a recording of the birds in that tree to add here.  Sometimes at sunset it sounds as if they are losing it all together.

From there if you go west, you find Maltahöhe and this is were I went on my way to Sesriem. These photos are taken on the road between Maltohöhe and Solitair. Normally this is desert, but they had had record rains, the most in 30 years, and the veld was magnificent.

For some reason I paint things ‘ahead’ sometimes. The beams at sundown I had painted a while before I saw them here. I can still remember how disgusted I was with my bad imitation of sunset at the time.

On the road from Maltehöhe going to Sesriem, every dent in the road was a dam and I frequently got out to walk by the side of the road circling the dam to test the ground. With this methods travelling wasn’t fast but I made progress until I got to a huge donga that runs across the road. Aaahhhh

But…

Yeah!!! there’s a bulldozer!

The Roads Departement in NAM knows their country and furthermore they are in possession of heavy machinery, – with drivers.

Seemingly these are deployed at problem areas and they lurk there, waiting for any drivers in trouble.

So not a problem, they close the rift for me so that I may pass. Now its only the big water further on, says the driver’s assistant while he is busily revving and reversing. Not the news I wanted to hear off course. But this car won’t have a problem, he continues.

Not that a doubt his judgement, but his goodwill may have gotten the better of him.

And so it was, not 100 metres further I hit the ‘big water’. Easily 80 metres across, with a  dam on one side and a waterfall on the other and anybody’s guess what is under the water in between.

But our two intrepid roads workers arrive and start emptying the dam with the bulldozer.. Well least said soonest mended so we won’t mention the river on the other side of the dam.

Not wanting to seem ungrateful I watched this spectable for a while and two people started crossing from the other side on foot. One Check and one Slovak. They are merely testing the water and fully intent to drive through. I turned around, not wanting to be swept downstream..

On my way back to Maltahöhe  it is getting later and there is a long road ahead now, having to go via Solitair, so I am making time and spending less time walking…

And off course then get stuck, and what’s more the engine doesn’t make a sound when I turn the ignition.

So, I get out and try to push the car out, but I am not strong enough aaahhh.. but yeahhhh!! a small car (you can smell AVIS) comes along. Silly little man, he tries to pretend not to see me and drive right past. Can you imagine, you leave someone stranded in the middle of the desert, not another soul in sight. You just pretend not to see them! Going in the direction of the ‘big water’ but this off course the silly bugger doesn’t know. International tourist, we won’t mention nationalities..

Well off course I wasn’t going to have any of it and stood right in the middle of the road in front of him so he couldn’t pass even if he tried.

Poor little beggar then gives a poor show of trying to help me push the car out, but we don’t make any headway aaaahhh!

But….. yeah! a local farmer with a 4×4 comes along and stops to help. No pretense about this guy, he doesn’t even ask very much, just opens the back of his van to get the tools he needs from a tripple locked tool box. Before he even has the tool box open he dismisses the limp spined tourist, who is meanwhile standing there like a sheep in a hell of a hurry. You can go, I’m right behind you, he says..

Didn’t even look as if he realised he was being insulted poor thing.

I mention that the car also won’t start, but this guy takes life one step at a time (probably the only way in the desert) and simply states that we’ll get to that. He towes the car out and tells me never ever to leave the road. The road is firm, but the side of the road is trouble.

Well ok. The battery cable had come undone so this is fastened but he advises me to go by the garage in Maltahöhe so that they can fasten it properly for me before I continue.

This is my second stop at the garage, earlier I bought airtime there so I know they are good people. With my first stop in town, I went past the Hotel to ask about the famous lilies and stopped at the shop to buy a cold drink (which sprayed all over me, so I did a spot of laundry there too) so by this time I know half the town.

And better people you couldn’t hope to find. Viva Maltahöhe!

The people from the same garage fetched me from the desert some time later when my trip came to an unplanned end AND organised a place for me to spend the night AND gave me a lift to Windhoek the next day AND arranged a place for me to sleep there, – fine people as I said. They also had the kindness to invite me to join them on a family outing to Sesriem the following weekend as I didn’t make it there.

So if you ever go past there, go in and shake their hands, the world can do with a lot more people of their calibre!

Sinterklaas (Santa Claus) Salad

I made this salad for Sinterklaas in the Netherlands. It is a huge occassion in the Netherlands, pakkiesaand being important for children as Sinterklaas and his helper Swarte Piet bring a huge bag full of presents!

The red paprika seemed to go well with Sinterklaas’ outfit and since Swarte Piet is from Spain we had to have citrus. Off course that is where citrus was from traditionally before South Africa started produsing and exporting and for balance I added all the colours of the rainbow! Red wants green and then you need yellow and eventually your salad is quite South African.

Fortunately my olive oil was from Spain, so that was a good fit. The balsemic vinegar is from Modena which isn’t quite Spain, but that can’t be helped.

An unusual combination, but the sweet of the manderines (naartjies) and the balsemic vinegar makes a good contrast with the sharp radish and the slight bitter of the spinach. Green beans for something crisp to bite into and the nuts and salami add texture and substance. The soft lettuce leaves and olive oil makes it juicy.

 Oak leaf lettuce, green and purple

Baby Spinich (a more or less equal amount as the lettuce)

Red paprika 2

Yellow paprika 1

Green beans (flat or round) a hand full

Radishes about a bunch

Naartjies 6 or 7

Sliced mini salami about 125gram

Mixed nuts (preferably unsalted) 220gram

Cream of Balsemic Vinegar

A good olive oil

Chop the paprika and green beans and marinate in the balsemic vinegar and olive oil. Don’t hold back with the oil and vinegar, it becomes the dressing for the whole salad. The longer you marinate the softer your ingredients.

 Peel the naartjies and remove the white bits, mix the segments in whole otherwise you have a mess.

Chop the radishes fine.

Shred the lettuce and spinash according to your own beliefs, add the rest of the ingredients, and there you go!

Luxembourg

A few photos of Luxembourg – the city. Luxembourg the country is a grand duchy and the last one in Europe.

Banking is important off course and brings with it the highest per capita income in Europe.

This is the Spaerkaese or savings chest, it seems to be their moto, save and guard.

Spaerkaese (Spaarkas) die Staatsbank
Spaerkaese the State Bank

One can speculate that the security brought by the casemate lead to banking in Luxembourg becoming so popular.

Their tunnels in the mountains together with the Bock became the dream of every military man to such an extent that a decision was taken on European level to demolish them as they had become a threat to peace in Europe.

Starting a war only in order to take them had become worth while.

The Luxembourgoise word for their country is Letzebuerg. If it means Last Burg as one may assume, – it is a germanic language, it is quite aptly named.

Below a protestant church shows the name on their glass doors.

Apparently they are not people who want to battle with ventilation.

The Pétrusse valley runs through the heart of the city and is planted and maintained very beautifully. There is a very sophisticated and massive sluice system in place 😉

Sluis Lux vallei kanaal

From the Pétrusse valley you can see how they built walls on top of the cliffs. The whole town is a project that ran over centuries with a single purpose – defence.

You can only imagine.

Their is a very old and tiny chapel in the Pétrusse valley named after Saint Quirin. It was cut into the rock with a facade of cut rock.

Inside is a fountain where you can still see the original shrine built over it to mark it as a holy site.

The chapel is said to date from the 5th century AD. Rather early for Christianity to reach the North?

Sint Quirin kapel
Chapel of Saint Quirin

According to church authorities, it is still used on special occassions, but it doesn’t look as if they had one recently..

In town everything is very well  kept and seemingly wi-fi is big.

The war memorial is for WWI volunteers who gave their lives for the freedom of their country. A golden lady or gëlle fra in the local language.

WW1 monument
Gëlle Fra

Luxembourg was invaded by the Germans despite their declared neutrality, it was labelled a war necessity. Many people of Luxembourg didn’t trust the declared goals of the Germans and suspected that Germany will annex their country after the war. Later plans proved them right.

Those in Luxembourg at the time of the invasion couldn’t do much but people overseas at the time could join the allied forces. 3700 fought with the French and 2000 lost their lives. Luxemburg lost about 1% of her population at the time. A much higher price than many other countries.

Charlotte seems to have been a popular grand duchess. Her statue has pride of place and she had an important bridge named after her.

Duchess Charlotte bridge
Charlotte Hertogin
Duchess Charlotte

Outside of town, people have their gardens and provision is made for bon fires.

It's a trip

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