Today was our last day of dirt roads and I’m actually sad to see them go. There are only a handful of us that actually enjoy the dirt, so the majority of the group is glad to bid the dirt goodbye. Sure, there were several sections of corrugated sand where I cursed up a storm and vowed to murder each and every grain of sand and their families, but the overall experience was positive. There might be the odd patch of dirt in South Africa, but the vast majority of roads will remain paved.
The ride itself was wonderful. The air was cool and the gravel was perfectly maintained over the majority of the ride. For about 40-50km we skirted the Fish River Canyon. Off in the distance to our right, the canyon meandered through the landscape, slowly carving its mark into the bedrock. Eventually we left the canyon behind and made our way through a small set of foothills.
Once on the other side we were greeted by the strange sight of huge fields of green in the desert. The fields all turned out to be grapes. Large vineyards (or grape farms, as some people call them) have popped up all along the Orange River next to the border with South Africa. A small shanty town has also popped up to house the many day labourers needed to manage the massive fields. I’m unsure if I should be feeling sad or happy for the people here. They all live in tiny six foot corrugated steel or thatch hut boxes with no power or water. The corporations that manage the massive fields don’t seem to have any interest in building community housing or any sort of community infrastructure. On the other hand, they are providing employment for a large group of people who have a very limited skill set; all so we can have a nice bottle of rotten grapes with our dinner.
Oh, and I’ve gone back and posted some pictures to the last four days of blogs. Go back and take a look if your so inclined.