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Drakensburgs, Natal


I headed east from Ladysmith to Winterton, in the Drakensburgs, a Mountain
range that runs along the eastern border of Lesotho up into Orange Free

Pretty much all of South Africas water comes from this range. On the
side, it flows into Lesotho and then into rivers like the Orange in Western
On the Eastern side, it comes into Natal as the source of the eastern

It is a very beautiful range - I stayed in a Backpackers lodge and then got
at 4:30 AM to ride to the Cathedral Peak hotel 50Km away, seeing sunrise on
the way. I spent the day with a guide climbing Cathedral Peak, at over
(~ 10,000ft) with spectacular views along the way. I disappointed my guide
my $10 throwaway camera - I am sure he was used to flashier models from
the beautiful resort hotel. On the way back we were treated to the view of
electric storm moving north along the mountain range, not 5Km from us,
we stayed (relatively) dry. Huge, open, green valleys and a myriad of
The peak (predictably) was in cloud, but they cleared at times on the way
and I think I have some good pictures.

That night the owners of my lodge invited me to a going-away party for a
of theirs, at a local hotel. It consisted of the (usual) scene of the men
incoherently drunk and the ladies staying in the ladies bar .. One of the
worked at the Drakensburg Boys Choir School - a world-famous music school.
I dropped by there on my way south, and they are geared up with computers
and Internet in a way that would make any western school proud. One of the
music teachers went to "Varsity" (University) at Rhodes college,
the start of Internet in South Africa, and developed the schools network.
much of their equipment is donated, as they are "on the map". They are
up a 30 computer system, Pentium multimedia machines, with a router and
a dedicated 64K line (gratis from Telkom - R2000 ($500) per month value),
they have scanners, will be buying a CDROM writer soon. Yesssss..

I made my way down to Pietmaritzberg (shortened by everyone to 'Maritzberg)
and am writing this from an Internet Cafe here in town. Maritzberg is very
historic, and has the "Church of the Vow", a major piece of Voortrekker
history, now a very nice museum.

I talked with a guy last night who was refreshingly upbeat about RSAs
he being a very successful installer of three systems :-

1) The electric metering system from Escom, the utility company, of which
   I have written before,

2) telephone systems for Telkom, using shorthaul microwave from residences
   to a central microwave tower. Not the cheapest way to go, but the
  and most secure in the townships. Hitech for the townships ..

3) the excellent parking meter system, which I think I wrote about, that I
   in Cape town. This uses a single meter for up to 8 bays. You park your
  walk to the indicated meter (which knows you have arrived), insert your
  If you overstay, a radio link calls the meter man ..... If you leave
early, the
  meter resets, so there is no borrowed time. You will see this RSA export
  a town near you next year.

He organised the (all-black) installation team. He arranged accommodation,
arranged food for them, closed roads, etc. In our discussion of employment
we agreed that unskilled white folks in RSA have little prospects.

He also maintained, as have others I have talked to, that the black people
here are unable to plan for more than a day ahead. I can also see that.

Gotta run - my hour is up ..

Cheers,     Andy!

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