Monday, July 27, 2009

South Africa 2009: Swaziland and Adam's Calendar

En route to the Kingdom of Swaziland. Hopefully click for bigger, though Blogger seems to treat these photos at random; some you can embiggen, others you can't.

There's only so much partying you can do when you're a dog of war. So one day, Mother, Alex and I reconnoitred the main access route from Barberton to Swaziland. The baSwazi are a fearsome, warlike people hitherto unconquered by any who have encountered them. We trod warily...

The road to Swaziland

The Swazi border post was probably the trickiest that any of us have yet had to deal with. Liberal bribes were required before we could pass...

Alex, making a "donation for a television set". We all know that really means "bribe".

Alex: "Thank god they have tea in Swaziland!"

We were all extremely tense. The Swazi's warlike reputation, and the cursory manner in which we were manhandled at the border post had us all on edge. Mother was a split second from grabbing me in a headlock and snapping my neck when I walked up to take this shot.

Eventually we settled down, and perused the extensive menu. Here, Alex is trying to decide what to have...

The extensive menu.

A Swazi warrior/waitress.

Smiling as Alex recounted how we smashed the Boer at Spioenkop.

Alex writing a note of thanks to the Swazi King, for not having us eviscerated.

Here are a couple of shots which bring something of the vibrancy and culture of Swaziland to your monitor...

Alex found religion, momentarily.

En route back from Swaziland. We'd been in country for maybe an hour and a half. Doesn't sound long, but you try going that long without blinking. Tense doesn't begin to describe it...

Back in Barberton, here's a backlit plant for your enjoyment.

Oh noes! In our absence, Jeremy had tried to oust Morris as Governor of Mpumalanga! Fortunately we were able to broker a peace deal, and they now rule as a duumvirate.

Alex brokering the peace deal. We had seven tonnes of kitty pellets choppered in for the event.

"Aaargh! Apocalypse!!"

Oh - it's OK, only a sunset...

Adam's Calendar
The oldest statue on earth.

Right. Adam's Calendar. A major bone of contention for all of us. High above the de Kaap Valley, or 'Valley of Death', lies Kaapsehoop - an old gold mining town. Some years ago, a bush pilot flying over the area noticed what appeared to be megalithic standing stones, which he and a local crackpot investigated. Today, still wanted by the government, they operate a highly overpriced tour, aimed squarely at Graham Hancock/Erich von Däniken fans. Sadly, the author of Adam's Calendar wasn't able to guide the tour as he usually does, so we were ably led by his protegé, Enosh. Enosh's primary role is as a birdwatching guide, and he is very talented at that. He has also committed to memory the details and theories about Adam's Calendar.
Our first stopping point was a small drystone structure which wouldn't look out of place in a trendy gardening centre. It had a tree growing out of it. "Here", said Enosh, "is the Altar. It is 75,000 years old." Alex wanted to know how one could date the structure, which - to his untrained eye (note for the casual reader, Alex is a professional archaeologist, with over a decade of experience) appeared to be closer to 75 years old. "Ah," said Enosh. Apparently his extensive training had prepared him for this. "The tree growing out of it is very slow growing".
I (always ready to broaden my knowledge of the natural world) enquired the rate of growth of this particular species. Enosh thought for a bit, as he considered the tree. "I would say," he surmised, "that this tree is at least 40 years old".
Well that clears that up then.
Enosh then drew our attention to the valley, far below. "See those two hills over there?" he said. We did. They looked like two hills, standing side by side, but boy were we wrong. "Michael [author of Adam's Calendar] believes that they are pyramids, built 75,000 years ago, by two star-crossed lovers! We still need to investigate, but if you are churlish enough to require 'proof'..." [I paraphrase his words] "...then let it be known that the hills align with every point of Adam's Calendar! And..." by now we were agog "they also align with Orion's Belt!".

Holy shit. If that's not proof of extraterrestrial forces at work then I don't know what is. As an aside, Alex and I spent the hour long drive home identifying pyramidal structures. Since Barberton is surrounded by hills, we saw a lot.

I'll let Alex go into full detail about the wonder that is Adam's Calendar; by this point I had lost interest and started taking some photos.

Ancient tool marks, identified by a pair of modern tools. Apparently the lichen on the stones helps date these bad boys to 75,000 years old!

Alex gives his verdict on Adam's Calendar.

The Calendar stone. Apparently on the solstice, the sunrise aligns [with something]! Sadly we weren't there on the solstice.

Holy shit!! Maybe we were there on the solstice!!
Alex got chatting to a woman who had some ideas. She disputed that the stones could have been moved during 19th century mining operations; "How could those people then have moved these massive stones? They only had donkeys and carts!" Alex, experienced archaeologist who has worked around the world: "Er, what about the Pyramids - they were built by slaves!". Gullible woman: "Well, that's only a theory!". Sorry Alex, the Pyramids were built by superior alien beings from the Orion constellation!

Alex: "You're an idiot"
Woman: "No, you are"
Needless to say, Alex got in a massive rage, and smashed Adam's Calendar into a thousand bits. So this blog entry will save you the bother of going.

Enosh. Doing a difficult job when he'd rather be birdwatching.

Behold, a silver box with wires coming out of it! It must be Kaapsehoop's only...

Alex, disgusted that the book Adam's Calendar costs nearly £20

Some knick knacks on sale at Kaapsehoop. Or ancient stellar alignment measuring devices?

Alex chatted up a hot bird on the way home.

Back in Barberton. The hill we climbed the other day is... an ancient pyramid! Look! It even aligns with the Caltex garage, which proves it!

Yeah boy! Check out the lead up to this point!


Pragya said...


alex_sotheran said...

reading this about Adam's Calander made me mad again.

'A noble spirit embiggens the smallest man'

Craig said...

Yeah, it's a technical term. Like 'technical' in fact.

Craig said...

Thanks Alex, for helping clarify the word.

Yeah, writing about Adam's Calendar angryfied me - I've just smashed up the office around me.