Travelling through heat, cold and dust

The Karoo was in the grips of a terrible drought in the November, 1903, when T Silver attempted to drive through the area. This decision cost him dearly.  He tells of his experiences in The Veld and African Pictorial, of November, 1903. “The sun-baked Karoo lay before me, an illimitable panorama of rocky boulders, stunted bushes, waterless river beds and sand, sand, sand! Stone and sand, sand and stone – nothing else.  Only the hum of beetles broke the deadly monotony.  In this dreary, dancing, palpitating heat if was difficult to find the right track. All too soon darkness fell. My petrol ran out, and I was exhausted. There was nothing for it, I was forced to sleep beside the machine. The night became bitterly cold. I had no water, my tongue was parched and my lips cracked. As soon as daylight came I decided to walk to Prince Albert. It was a dreary, wearing, 15 mile (24 km) trudge.” A day’s rest was badly needed, but with the tanks refilled, he decided to push on.  Still good luck was not with him.  All too soon he ran into a blinding dust storm. He tried to grope his way through it to Victoria West, but the task was too daunting, he did not manage. Staying on the road was virtually impossible.  A patrolling policeman found him lying prostrate beside his car.  The policeman had to use brandy to revive him.  Fortunately he was also able to offer Silver a little nourishment and food.  Then, patched up, “with mouth, lips and ears covered in ghastly-looking sores, boots worn through and feet badly blistered”, Silver eventually reached the Modder River.


© Rose’s Roundup, June 2011 (No 209)

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