10 May 2008

Art gallery in the bush

In her post "Walking the hills", Suzi-k gave some insights into the Basotho concept of "not far". Let me just add that our guide's concept of not far and ours were two different things. To me walking to the corner store is not far, but the mall on the other side of town is far, which is why I drive there. Jerry, our guide would no doubt say that the mall , "is not far" and to prove his point would walk there in record time.

The bakkie in the distance. This picture does not do the walk justice I was using my telephoto lens

So when Jerry said that the bushman paintings were not far we took him at his word. If you read Suzi-k's post you will remember that after a long walk we left her in the middle of the blue gum plantation and continued our journey.

Our destination was somewhere near the rocky outcrop you can see on the right, above the blue gums. The trees hide much of the terrain we had to traverse, before getting there. Mt Moorosi can be seen towards the centre of the picture.

To lighten my load, I left my ruck-sack with my water with her - bad move.

And so the journey continued, through the plantation the through an open field, down through an erosion gully, up another hill and finally we reached the Senqu River. "Not far", he cheerfully said.

"Oh good" I said, as we proceeded to follow the river for what seemed like an interminable distance, on a rocky slope that would have suited me better if my right leg had been 12 inches shorter than my left leg. "If only someone had had the foresight to boat people down the river", I thought, as I valiantly struggled on in the heat, battling to breathe in the thin mountain air. And of course dying for a drink of water.

Eventually we arrived and after struggling through some dense bush, there it was - the gallery in the bush.

The bottom of the original overhang floor has long since eroded away, leaving the paintings high up on the walls.

The main panel still has some pictures in fairly good condition. Life must have been tough for these people, yet in spite of it they had time to express their creativity on rock faces, in a way that has endured for many hundreds of years.

This guy was obviously into modern art.

Jerry pointing out some of the finer details of the artwork. He reminded me of of one of my old school teachers.

Some close ups. It is amazing that these pictures have survived for so long.

Another panel with figures.

Walking back along the Senqu River. After a few stops to catch my breath, we eventually made it back. I must admit that my shortness of breath made me wonder if I was heading for another heart attack, but as I had no chest pains, I realised it must have been the altitude and the thin air I was not acclimatised to.

The walk was tough and the distance was probably half-way to the mall on the other side of town. Would I do it again? For sure, but only if it is snowing.


Old Wom Tigley said...

Well down Max..
Can you imagine trekking all that way an it said "Killroy Was Here"

dot said...

Laughing at Tom's comment!
Enjoyed your pictures. The paintings are an amazing sight. The whole countryside is an amazing sight!

photowannabe said...

I agree, this is totally amazing. I so enjoyed the trek from the comfort of my chair. Actually I would give anything to be there and see the fantastic sights for myself.

Andrea said...

Wow, these are great. Interesting shots.

Lin said...

thoroughly enjoying reading your blog after you responded to my blog. i've never been to south africa so i found it fascinating to see your photos and go there vicariously. my husband and i just took a rock art class and i enjoyed seeing yours. they feel they were more than doodles but have religious/sacred connotations. there is lots of rock art in utah where i live and throughout the southwest.