It’s pretty hot, the tents are pitched and the group is ready to walk. We’re dressed in sunglasses, shorts and tanktops, but our guide approaches us with a beanie and walking stick. He’d grown up here in the Cederberg mountains. After a short walk he takes off his beanie and reveales a big head of Rasta hair.
Suddenly he dives into the bushes and returnes with a little turtle. Our man turned out to be quite the wildlife catcher. He pulled insects from out of nowhere and showed us the smaller African life. Every now and then he leaves us alone and then comes back with yet another bush specimen. He puts his hand in his pocket and lifts a male scorpion out of it. “I have no clue why they scorpion doesn’t byte me.” He says laughing.
On our way we see some paintings. The short version of the story that goes with it, is that there was a man with a big dick who had made a woman pregnant. The drawing looking like a frog is the woman. The next drawing is a flat woman with a child. Everything is explained to us in such a direct and easy language and his tone of voice suggests there is no debate about any of this, but somehow it all sounds strange to our western ears.
Our man is a walking storybook. So he tells us about South Africa’s Dassies. The story goes that the women have a special toilet where they go once every month. Those places are full of black spots, dried blood. The bushmen use it as a medicine by making tea out of it. Every pain had a medicine from the bush. The nervous bush was used for tea to calm you down.
Walking through the bush comes with certain dangers. One of its inhabitants is the spitting black cobra, a snake that hides in between rocks. He’s looking for eyes and if he finds one he will spit in it. Our guide knew this from personal experience. As a 7 year-old boy it happened to him, but just in one eye. He talked about a burning sensation that lasted for almost an hour. He’d had to put his wee into his eye and then it was better. After that he had to put some medicine on it with a plaster. After half an hour the plaster was filled with yellow, a sign that things were getting better.
The walk opened my eyes and gave a good impression of the bushmen culture. The way our guide looked at life was so different from the way I see things. His stories were entertaining and the bush was beautiful, but we had to say goodbye. I forgot our guide’s name, but his character and ways will stay with me forever.