The Cradle of Humankind

Which is not the Cradle of Mankind which I keep calling it after which the locals correct me. Anyway it is about an hour away from Johannesburg through the countryside. The ride is fairly pleasant as the city melts away and opens up into rolling hills. I am reminded constantly that these are the oldest hills in the world. Fine they just look like hills to me. We pass by various ostrich farms and fishing lakes and on beyond the many chicken places. You can always tell the chicken farms large low metal sheeted buildings and there must be 15 or 20 in the area which ever way you turn there is one. We pass by a small hotel which is actually the entrance to the caves where the remains of what ever Neanderthal I am off to see were found. They have some paintings down there but not being a particular fan of caves I decline. I am ok to see what they brought up I don’t need to go down and see the hole they left. Now this is a mistake which I will find out later.

Arriving at the Cradle of Humankind you can see it as a dot on the landscape as it is right in the middle of nowhere. You enter through a barrier (after paying) and get a plastic card. On to the car park and then to the actual building. Buy you tickets and you are in. Now it looks very much like it was designed on a Disney theme as the first things that happens is you get in a little boat and drift down past some simulated ice flows then volcanoes neither of which is impressive but it does get cold then hot. I think I should have invited some kids to come along. Off the boat and onto the exhibition which is constructed of bright colorful plastic with lost of “Press me” buttons where random facts are blurted out at you. Not quite what I had expected. I though is would be more sedate and museum like. I understand the need to get people engaged in history but this is dumbing down a little too far. There is no need to bring people all the way out into the middle of nowhere you could have built this in the middle of the city. There are a few bones at the end but they are only replicas so maybe the caves would have been a better bet. I have seen the area in Tanzania where they found one of our early upright ancestors (I think it was named Lucy) and you could feel the atmosphere there were people passionate about it and it came across in their explanation. The discovery was accidental by a German who was traveling the length of Africa collecting butterflies who really stumbled over it. Here it is push the button to find out what sound a dinosaur might have sounded like. I may sound disappointed and that is because I was somewhat.

Outside the view of these old hills is quite good. You can tell the rains are due as everything has that dry parched look. I can imagine it would be quite spectacular in a month or so once the summer comes.

Moving one we encounter the crying child in the souvenir shop, I say crying more whining and so was the man muttering about the price of drinks being 3 times the norm. (he had 5 kids so some sympathy goes out to him). We hand in the card at the barrier and I wonder if we really needed it. The barrier stops us so not sure what the card in actually for. Maybe to stop people stealing cars but we are in the middle of nowhere with a fence around us nobody could walk in and steal a car without the barrier people spotting them. Maybe I am just not getting the logic. So on to find lunch which is at some cheese farm a very nice little place where they say they are full and we need to wait 45 minutes until I point out the 4 empty tables and suddenly we are seated. A nice veranda with a great view, kids, dogs and chickens wandering around the tables and a great salad it was nice to just sit in the warm sunshine and watch the world go by. One of the guests causes a bit of a stir by leaving in their own helicopter which excited the kids and scared the chickens but other than that it was quite peaceful. I imagine our house in France will be something similar but the cheese will come from the market and not be made by me.

Driving back to the city over the dam which I think is more cosmetic than functional it may be more for sailing as it is not generating electricity but is surrounded by holiday homes and hotels. As the city approaches you realize the mines are really close in fact the book I read says the town sort of grew up around the mines and there are several redundant pit heads which are inside the perimeter. The mine spoils are all around like big monumental scars. A big lump of earth standing out against the flat city ground. They are reclaiming them as they think the new extraction methods can eek out a little more gold. They reckon if there is 4 oz of gold per ton of spoil it is worth doing and given glod has just topped $1000 an oz well worth the effort. Lets hop they don’t just put the rocks back where they are perhaps they could be a little more inventive and hide them.

I am not talking about work because in the main it is not exciting but on the back end of my trip so off home soon. Maybe my trip back will provide some excitement. I have a 50 minute gap between landing and taking off again and not sure if I should book my luggage through or try and pick it up, oh the excitement of it all !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!