On the way to VERLOREN VALLEY… this is where it HAPPENED
So WHO Is Peter Engblom.
To me…from all the people I met in my life… I can say, that Peter Engblom, is one of my TOP 10 MOST CREATIVE minds I have ever met. Never mind the “big hearted” and the good friend he has been to me…and at various crossings of our lives.
The above image is of ONE VERY GOOD “VERY GOOD CRAZY” MAN
First I will tell you WHAT HAPPENED
I am on a journey to explore a certain location of interest to me, that I found looking at topographic maps of the area around Piketberg. Topographic maps, because it was the time before google maps, and sat-nav…and small dirt roads were hardly ever, if at all, on any “road-maps” of South-Africa.
There was one little shop, in one of the side streets, off Green Market Square in Cape-Town, which I discovered, was selling “topographic” maps…I was a frequent visitor to that shop…and sometime was looking for locations they did not have maps for…and they always managed to find me, what I was looking for…
Needless to say, they were intrigued by this “little old lady”, with her Chihuahua, and her Autovilla, which I parked in front of their shop…. looking for maps… not the usual “Indiana Jones, Mountaineers, Archaeologist, Explorers of all sorts, type of clientele, for their topographic maps.
So before I am heading onto a very long drive, where the next petrol station is more than 100 km away, I am stopping at the Petrol Station, just outside a small rural town on a hot afternoon. Barely a soul on the streets. A small rural town, far away from the big cities.
There was only one other vehicle getting petrol. A dusty old white farm Bakkie, that is a pick up truck, for you, my non South-African reader. At the back are sitting 4 or 5 black laborer with shovels and pickets. I could see they were intrigued, by the Autovilla, Cappuccino and me…and were talking about us, in a language I could not understand.
The Bakkie was there when I arrived, but did not leave before me…When I arrived, I saw the driver paying for the petrol, he just finished putting in his Bakkie.
I went about my business, making as little eye contact as possible, but my antennas on high alert. Something did not feel right.
You should know, that usually, I am the kind of person that starts conversation with any strangers I meet. Still doing it today, in my apartment building of 19 floors, and 6 flats on each floor. I talk to people in the lift…I am always interested…in people and their stories.
So I am leaving the petrol station, driving a few hundred meter or so out of town to a crossing, and then turning left, toward a long drive, out of civilization, with no “cell phone” cover.
At first I did not see them following me…I guess they waited until they saw me turn…
After about half an hour of driving in the hot sun…absolutely no other car on that road…I started to worry and fear crept into me…
I always have my Taurus 38 Special nearby and “griffbereit”, but now I took it into my right hand “schussbereit” …driving with the left hand, window wide open anyway…because of the heat… and my mind is racing…what WILL I DO… what CAN I DO…I really don’t want, to have to, ever, shoot any one.
And then I remembered what I have learned from my friend Peter Engblom, 13 years earlier.
And lucky me… there came a big green ROAD SIGN telling 120 K to the next town…and I with my arm out of the window…and with one hand driving, on this straight as a ruler road, I am practice shooting at the BIG GREEN ROAD sign…and hitting it too, 4 or 5 times..
And than quickly as I have practiced, while holding the wheel with one hand, I am re-loading the gun, taking the bullets in my mouth and placing them in the revolver…and the next round I am just shooting in the air toward the sky… and again quickly reloading the gun…and continue driving… and guess what… at the next opportunity, they turned around…
And I could take a BIG DEEP BREATH….and that was shortly before I arrived at VERLOREN VALLEY…were the above picture was taken.
WHAT DID I LEARN from my friend Peter Engblom 13 years earlier
1986, shortly after I arrived in Cape Town, a new “friend” by the name of Corrie Hansen, a most “gifted” photographer, and at that time, “good crazy” too, has entered my life, introduced by another friend.
One day, Corrie asked me if I wanted to come with him for a Weekend Shongululu Party, which a friend of his, Peter Engblom, is organizing for a group of friends…out in the Bush…near his family Farm near Durban…in Zulu Land.
Of course I said, yes, yes, yes, thank you.
Friday, after work, we took the late night flight to Durban, maybe 2 hours flight, and another two hours by road…first asphalt, then dirt road…To the Engblom Sugar Farm near Eshowe, in the middle of Zulu Land… I could not see anything…except for the road ahead, which the car lights illuminated. It was in the middle of the night, everything around us pitch blackness. . We arrived at the farm around 2 am.
No one to greet us…all sleeping…except for the friendly dogs, who knew Corrie, and were wiggling their tails and greeting him, all the doors unlocked. Corrie took us thru the kitchen, where he grabbed 2 cold beers, and into the “lounge”, and we each sat on a couch, and Corrie said you can go and sleep in any one of the bedrooms, I am crashing right here. and so did I. We must have passed out after a few minutes.
Next morning…someone is gently touching me on my shoulder, and asking “would you like some tea madam?”…I had my face away from her…so slowly, still half sleepy, it must have been 6 am, or earlier…life on the farm starts early…so…I turn my head to look…and what I see, is the big round face of a black woman, all painted white, except for the eyes and mouth… and I got a fright… thought it was a bad voodoo dream…and suddenly… I was wide awake…shook my head…and was there in the moment again…
I said to her, laughing, at myself… “OMG…you gave me a fright”, she laughed, I laughed…we giggled…
Turned out to be one of the nicest Zulu woman, I have met. I think about her as a “Black Pearl”. She was living and working on the farm…in fact she was managing the laborers…doing office work…cooking …and tea for guests too. Mind you, the boys, Peter and his father were doing most of the cooking. Mostly Peter was doing the cooking. Peter’s father, a wonderful man, who I met too. said about her “she is running the farm”… and a big sugar farm it was.
Oh and the white paint… was white clay… to protect the face from the sun. That is what Zulu woman do for “sunscreen” Spf 100, I am guessing. And not just any clay…me being interested… I asked about the clay…and she took me to the special location where they got the white clay from, for sun protection, and another location for red clay, that was for “beauty treatment”… I still have a box of clay, here in my flat in Glasgow…am still using it sometime… the red clay. I call it my Zulu beauty treatment.
So that first morning, after a big farm breakfast, Peter Engblom asks me if I want to come along for a ride into town…he has to get cash money from the bank to pay the laborers. It was the beginning of the weekend, and its payday. So I go… yes, yes, yes thank you.
I have not really seen where I was, in terms of Zulu Landscape vistas….
So we drive in the farm Bakkie to town…Zulu Music full on, and for me a first too… and instantly loved it…dirt road first,… get the money and drive back…me, I am looking out in all directions…seeing Zulu Land for the first time… and WOW…The GREEN, a special kind of green color, other than anywhere else… more intense blue-green. The hills, dotted with Zulu huts… WOW…
And back on the dirt road, while I am looking… enjoying the vistas, the loud Zulu music, and the moment, suddenly big “bang bang bang” like explosions…with deafening sound…and I look to Peter…and he is driving with one hand… the other hand out the window with a gun in his hand… shooting in the air.
Never before, have I been near a gun, never mind heard one being fired close by. The nearest I ever got to a gun, was seeing one on a movie screen.
I am screaming… “Peter, what is happening?”
And Peter, cool like a cucumber, all smiles, while continuing to shoot intermittently, like a child playing with a toy gun, happy with himself, says:
“everyone around these hills, knows its payday, and that I am coming back from the bank, with lots of CASH… so I am just letting everyone know, that if they have any ideas, I am no easy target”
And the big child, must be around 2 meter tall, a gentle giant, continues waving his gun for all to see.. and singing and shooting, and dancing in his seat to the rhythm of the loud and wonderful Zulu music… oh man…what a “good crazy” man.
You can listen to some nice music, by clicking on the image below…
This one is for you, my “life saver” Peter Engblom, and with warm memories of your father. I feel privileged to have met both of you.
Thank you Corrie for inviting me to the Shongululu Party. The people I met during this long and unforgettable weekend…the connections I made… OMG…ALL had shaped my future life in South-Africa
Father and Son
The MAGNIFICENT 2 ENGBLOM
How I GOT a GUN… and learned to shoot… that is another Autovilla story… which will be told too… so stay tuned.