Departing storm over dolerite outcrops, Loxton – Northern Cape

This is sheep country, baaa!! The first summer rains have not arrived – it’s three months late. The land is grey and brittle – farmers are desperate. The dorpers have chewed the karoo bush down to their roots – when the rain arrives, it will let them thrive again.

Today I’m told is going be a beautiful Nimbus day. The itinerary is set. A trip down the R356 to Loxton. Rocky outcrops are strewn along the way. I’m told Bud Spencer’s ex wife, or ex girlfriend now lives in Loxton and grows the most delicious garlic – I’ve come to buy. I open the window to see if my senses can pick up the pungent flavors of Allium sativum. Two hours later, no garlic, but dust is everywhere, killing my taste buds.

As we drove back, storm clouds were gathering. Nimbus was waking up. Her huge black presence is magnified in long rolling balls across the flat Karoo veld, and in ever decreasing sizes as they reach the horizon. Black dolerite outcrops break the horizon line – the pitch-black rocks are a sharp contrast to the tones of grey above.

Within seconds Nimbus explodes. The torrential rain poured down pummeling the Mercedes. Within minutes the water level was half a meter high, rushing, pushing, shoving, left then right – straight down towards a river I traveled, that now runs through the road. The engine, spluttered, choked; smoke now poured through the bonnet. Then a loud bang . . . silence . . . only the thunderous noise of the downpour pounding the roof as we floated along the Karoo veld. Next another bang as the Merc was caught on a tree stump. Nimbus was in an unforgiving mood but the tree stump is a lifesaver. I always thought that the definition of insanity was Chicken Vindaloo vs. Chicken Madras – now it was being tossed around in a German metal box half-filled with rainwater.

Aided by the local police, eventually help in the shape of Conrad Nel arrived. The few hours of rain had turned the brittle earth into a lush green blanket, stretching to all corners of my eyes. The dolerite black rocks gleamed in the dapple light. Steam drifted up from the rich red earth. The karoo vapors now mingled with the smells of wet dorper wool and the sweet karoo bush – leaning out of the cab I took several mouthfuls of the air.

The dolerite outcrops looked magical – unable to explain myself I asked Conrad Nel to stop. This moment was never going to be repeated. I felt Nimbus breath as it gushed passed me, bringing the scent of torn grass and ravaged wet earth. Her smile promised redemption. And when it came, her blackened face descended from the heavens in twist and turns as she spiraled corkscrew across the landscape between exploding lightning bolts. Totally oblivious of my recent life-threatening experience, I stood there, wishing Nimbus would never go away.

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