Thursday, February 15, 2018

From fire into fire

Stanley – Thursday

Two weeks ago, I reported on the dire state Cape Town was in with respect to water, or lack thereof.  At that time, Day Zero – the day our taps were to be turned off – was around April 16.  That dreaded day has been pushed back now to the middle of May, largely for two reasons.  First, Capetownians have been taking the situation very seriously and have made dramatic cuts in their water usage.  Everyday, people post innovative ways of saving water.I such as directing the outlet hose of the washing machine into a large bucket rather than into a drain.  (By the way, if you decide to do this, ensure the outlet hose is tethered, otherwise it will jump out of the bucket and spew water everywhere!)

Second, a number of farmers in the Grabouw district (about 100 kms from Cape Town) gifted 10 billion litres of water they had in storage in their dam to Cape Town.

And there have been a couple of rain showers, barely enough to wet the ground, but enough for people to harvest.  For example, last Friday I collected 120 litres from the downspout from my roof.  That’s nearly a week’s worth of toilet flushes.

I’ve been looking forward for weeks to getting to the bush.  My favorite place.  Mette and I are planning to spend three weeks there.  I have a deadline at the end of the month for our stand-alone thriller, DEAD OF NIGHT.  Mette has a new Tree app and will soon be teaching me about the flora of the region.

So, getting out of drought-stricken Cape Town to the bush was something to look forward to.

Except . . .

I developed an enervating, hacking cough that is still with me after ten days.  And I broke a tooth the day before heading north.

And . . .

There is a vicious drought in the bush also.  In fact, overall the drought is so severe that the government declared a national emergency.  In January, Ingwelala, where we are staying, had 1.5 mm of rain (25 mm = 1 inch).  The average is 89.4 mm.  There is no grass anywhere, so game is scarce.  However, birds are still plentiful.

Ingwelala grasslands

Wilting leaves

Nothing for the grazers

Waterhole, normally surrounded by grass 
Crowned lapwing looking for something to eat


We have a small pond in front of our bungalow, which we filled with water.  All we had to do was sit and watch as we ate our pawpaws, and the game and the birds came to us.

Delicious pawpaw

Here are the photos from Day 1.

Grey go-away bird.  Played a big role as Kweh in THE SECOND DEATH OF GOODLUCK TINUBU

Arrow-marked babbler
Officially, the crested barbet.  I call it the committee bird since it looks as though that's how it was designed.
Red-billed hornbill

Female nyala
This mama warthog had four little ones
Cape glossy starling was delighted with our little pond 
This Natal spur fowl was more interested in our crumbs

As was this red-billed hornbill

One of the few animals we saw - of course, they don't eat grass

"I can see you, but you can't see me!"
Three-banded plover

Impala - or the McDonald's of the bush (from the M on the bum)

How can one not fall in love with the lilac-breasted roller?

PS.  There is good news, of course.  President Zuma has resigned.  And, as one of the Black mechanics here in Ingwelala whom I know well just said: "Now it will rain!" 

If it does, I’ll go outside, dance, and enjoy getting soaked.


  1. So glad Cape Town has experienced a bit of improvement. I hope folks don’t take it as an excuse to let up on their conservation effortd. And wishing for relief for the lovely creatures in Ingwelala.

  2. I forgot to mention that while we were eating dinner outside th bungalow, a hyena wandered up to check things out. Mette was not happy. neither was the hyena - obviously didn't't like Greek salad.

  3. If the end of Zuma's reign leads to rain, I can imagine a resignation or two that could lead to blizzards.

  4. It rained last night - 26mm. Thank you Zuma. I was just taking off my clothes to do the rain dance, when Mette said "No way! You will only make your hacking cough worse." Sigh. So when I am recovered, I will wait for rain and do the dance anyway.