Last week my wife and I set out to spend five days at the Injisuthi Camp in the Giant's Castle area of the Ukhahlamba/Drakensberg Park. The last time we had visited the camp, was in July 1984. Natal had experienced some heavy snow falls that winter, and our children got to play in snow for the first time. All very exciting and most enjoyable.
Unfortunately that enjoyment was soured during our return journey, when some of the young local kids decided to throw stones at our car, as we drove back from the camp to the main road. So now we were heading out wondering what our experience would be like in November 2011.
Well for starters, the rural road to the camp was tarred, and better than many of the suburban roads, back in Pietermaritzburg. There was also plenty of activity, as storm water drains were being built alongside the road. The project seemed to be employing a lot of local people. Eskom was also busy extending the electrical infrastructure in the area and it seemed like potable water had already been piped into the area.
So as it turned out, the trip from the main road to the camp was very pleasant. The camp site and accommodation was in great shape, and of course the setting / surroundings were spectacular. We went on some great hikes enjoying a tremendous display of wild flowers, and some great vistas of the little berg, and the berg proper i.e., the mountains.
The trip had been terrific so far, so much so that our memories of the previous journey home, did not feature in our thinking as we left. That however did not last long, as we soon approached what looked like a barrier of rocks laid out across the road. In the new South Africa this means one of two things. The first would be that you are about to be held up, possibly hi-jacked. Not a pleasant thought. The second is associated with Service Delivery protests and the barricades are meant to keep the Police out.
As we got closer, we could see a gap in the barricade and shot through it. Further down the road another barricade had been laid and the previous scenario was repeated. When we spotted two overalled men walking beside the road, we stopped and enquired as to what was taking place. The answer, "Strike". The road / drainage workers were out on strike, and until their demands were met, no one was going to use the road.
Fortunately we were not the first to negotiate the road from the camp back to the main road. Never the less, it was still somewhat un-nerving to suddenly find a barrier blocking the road.
Was the experience different this time around? Well the berg remains as magnificent as it ever was. The local people certainly seem to more prosperous, and probably also more tolerant of vistors to the Injisuthi Camp passing through their area. Unfortunately the return journey was once again unpleasant, once again spoiling memories of a truly wonderful place.