Having my own wheels is so important and the small rental is working out wonderfully well.
I headed out to get the lay of the land, heading up to Howick with no plans in mind until I remembered that the Nelson Mandela Capture Site is there. Last time I was in South Africa, Evie and I drove passed it, a simple monument on the side of the road, right next to the railway line.
The monument is still there but on the other side of the road, a very large building is being constructed as a visitor center and museum. There is currently a small museum housed in a shed, a couple of small craft stores and a café. But the most interesting thing there is the enormous metal sculpture, created by Marco Cianfanelli and Jeremy Rose, comprises 50 steel column constructions – each between 6.5 and 9.5 metres tall, set at the end of a long brick path, lined with aloes and indigenous plants. It’s called the Long Walk to Freedom and once you walk the path and arrive at the sculpture, stand in the exact spot, Madiba’s profile appears! Really spectacular.
Standing on ‘the spot,’ his profile is silhouetted against the green rolling hills of Kwa Zulu Natal and I know South Africans wish he had been able to remain as president for another term. Maybe the turmoil that is roiling this country at the moment, could have been avoided. But we will never know.
Turning back to home, I decided to take the back road through Hilton, avoiding the main highway which is heavily traveled, with so many “heavies” or semi’s. Hilton is a small village that has grown considerably. Once on the active railway line, the train station is now abandoned, with several old trains rotting away.
I did a u-turn and found a driveway to get close and where I found a hole in the fence that I could climb through and walk around the relics. Such a pity to see them simply rotting away, covered with graffiti, broken windows and in some cases, razor wire attached to try to keep vandals out, without much success.
But there is beauty in decay and I spent some time photographing the worn and boarded up caboose doors; the plants that have found footing in crevasses and cracks; and the designs of old-time switching gears.
I think the local men who were loitering nearby thought I was nuts!
A young man who also climbed through the fence told me that the local railway enthusiast club had run out of money to restore the old trains, so history will just rot away. What a pity!
Or "Ag, Shame!" as they say here in South Africa!
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[box] Mandela Capture Site, R103, Howick, 3290 Phone: 033 330 8195[/box]