We have just endured the second of two sweltering days out here in the Karoo. Temperatures of 40 degrees were forecast for the area and groups responded by getting up as early as 03h00 in order to get out there and try to reduce the impact of the heat. Thankfully, due to the rain in the area earlier this year, most groups were able to enjoy a swim in a dam or reservoir once they had reached their destination. These swims were made even more pleasurable by the extreme heat. In typical fashion, the weather is due to change and some storm clouds are already packing up overhead. We expect some rain over the next 24 hours and along with it, more milder temperatures. I must say, I am amazed at the resilience shown by the boys, girls and staff in the face of this sort of challenge. It is just incredible what we as human beings can do and tolerate, if we put our minds to it. This is one of the wonderful opportunities that the Journey provides in terms of self-understanding and self-realisation.
Group 3 have had a particularly tough time of their last two days of cycling. They have had to cope with extreme heat as well as negotiate some of the worst -maintained roads in the Eastern Cape! They have soldiered through it all and can look forward to a day off their feet (and backsides) as they enjoy a day of Rest & Create involving a potjie competition, some henna body painting and making a group banner. It will also give them a chance to recharge their batteries, get some washing done and catch up on some sleep. From their day off at Mount Marlow they will hike up to Oukraal for the night and then over Groenkop Mountain to the Solo site.
Group 2 are leading the way, having had their Solo stop in the heat yesterday and last night, before getting up to some breakfast, a Eucharist Service led by our two chaplains, a chance to meet with the chaplains, before hiking up the mountain to the picturesque Charlton Farm, perched overlooking Somerset East. Tomorrow the group will hike down to the outskirts of Somerset East before being bused to De Kaia where they will camp and enjoy a Rest & Create Day. Whilst writing this, the rain is starting and I have been chatting to one of the young local farmers, Cameron de Wet, who is clearly excited at the prospect of some meaningful rain.
Group 5 have been going really well, having hiked over to Klipfontein Farm where they had a lovely evening around the campfire. Yesterday they had to endure severe heat as they hiked up to Oukraal where they would have been able to take advantage of the shade under the thorn trees and the inviting dam below. This morning they hiked over Groenkop and would have had a hot walk down the valley into the Solo site. There they are camped under bivvies (tarpaulins) and they will be doing their best to make their camps sites as waterproof as possible. Tomorrow they too will head up to Charlton after the bush-style Eucharist Service. Hopefully they will be able to enjoy the environment up there and that it will not be too wet for them.
Group 4 have had three hard days on their feet, one a running day that got pretty warm, and then two very hot hiking days to get them to Oukraal this morning. They got there nice and early and were able to swim in the dam, get some washing done and relax during the afternoon. They will go over Groenkop tomorrow and are looking forward to the break that Solo will afford them. Last night they were able to gather around a fire and run a Talent Contest which saw both boys and girls getting the opportunity to express their talents. I believe that the harmony between some of the boys and girls was aching beautiful as they entertained the group to some traditional African songs.
Group 1 marched into Mount Marloiw today after a really early start. This proved to be a very good move as they dealt well with the heat and arrived at Mount Marlow in good time. Swimming in the lovely dam there would rank among their highlights of the Journey so far. They can look forward to a cooler evening now that we have had a few showers of rain and I am sure that the camp fire will draw everyone around. They will hike up to Oukraal tomorrow before heading over to Solo the next day.
I have just been standing on the stoep of the old farmhouse here at Mount Marlow and reveling in the drumming of the rain on the tin roof. There can be no sweeter sound to the Karoo farmer! Whilst rain presents its own challenges when camping and hiking, I am sure that we will all appreciate the relief from the heat and the possibility of some significant rainfall for the farmers.
All in all, Journey 2020 is proving to be very successful. It has been great to have both Headmasters out on Journey, actively participating with the groups. These firsthand insights give them a real sense of what Journey is about and this is reflected in both their Newsletters this week. We are grateful for their support and to all those who make Journey happen, not least of all the “home team” who keep the school going and cover where they can whilst staff are away. Every day has something new in store and we are eternally grateful for all the opportunities that Journey provides.