Day Seven: Ostriches and One Amazing Rainbow
Luckily I was feeling better the next morning for our four-hour drive from Mosaic to the Little Karoo where we were going to experience meerkats in their natural environment. The Little Karoo is known for being very hot and very dry. We drove inland from Hermanus to Oudtshoorn (pronounced OatsHorn). No matter how many times people explained to me how to correctly pronounce the name of the town, every time I looked at the spelling of the word I couldn´t get it straight. Afrikaans is one tricky language!
The road we took to go inland was called Route 62, modeled after Route 66 in the United States. We stopped for lunch along the way at an American style diner that had terrifically decadent milkshakes and decent burgers. Probably not what I should have been eating following a day of severe stomach problems, but oh well- the sacrifices we make for food…
We arrived in Oudtshoorn around 4 where the afternoon sun was sweltering. The outside temperature was roughly 40 degrees, according to Pepe´s car. It was hot! The ostriches were on a farm so they weren´t running wild, but the visit was interesting none-the-less. When ostrich feathers were all the rage adorning women´s hats during the Victorian Age, the town of Oudtshoorn was quite something. With the change in fashion after WWI, though, the town almost died out. It´s reviving now due to it´s location as the tourist hub in the Karoo.
Ostriches are quite interesting to watch. They´re not very smart and they will eat until they are so full they will die from gluttony. If they didn´t live in a desert, they would not survive long. After they eat they also immediately run their teeth along the metal fences in order to brush them. Another thing I found interesting was how fast the ostriches were: they can run 80 km/hr. Normally the farm lets you ride the ostriches and race them against each other but today we couldn´t because it was so hot. The government could have arrested us for animal cruelty if they caught us. So, instead, we fed the ostriches and stood on their eggs to prove how indestructible they are. And the eggs are huge- one ostrich egg is equivalent to 24 regular chicken eggs. That´s one LARGE omelette! Later we headed to the souvenir shop to purchase an ostrich leather wallet and these carved ostrich eggs we´d been eyeing since arriving in Africa. I´m actually not a fan of ostrich leather because it has all these little bumps on it where they plucked the feathers off the animals. A little tip for all you fashionistas out there: to find out if ostrich leather is real or fake, run your hand up and down the leather. One way the leather should feel smooth and the other way your hand should catch on the bumps where the feathers used to be.
After our ostrich experience we headed to our hotel, the Surval Olive Estate just outside town down a dirt road. The estate was very nice and had a great view of verdant orchards along with the impressive Swarthberg Mountains in the background. There is a lot of bird life there so Jon and I decided to take a walk on their grounds as the sun was setting. As we were photographing the many birds living in the trees and bushes surrounding the little lake below our hotel, a dark storm cloud appeared over the mountains. However, the foreground was still bathed in sunlight. It starting raining in the mountains and a rainbow soon appeared. It was a partial rainbow, but it was very wide and rose straight into the sky. As the sun began to set, the rainbow glowed brighter and brighter. Our evening walk through the olive estate was fantastic, because everywhere we went that rainbow punctuated the rain clouds with color. It was magical! (And Jon took a lot of photos, of course.) We had a quick dinner at the restaurant and headed straight to bed since we had to wake up early the next morning.