Posted by Kian Barker
Greetings and Salutations,
One of my favourite destinations is finding the locations of the many hot springs we have scattered across Southern Africa, poked away in all sorts of strange and not-so-strange places. Some are close to fairly large towns, other out in the middle of the sticks or where there are no sticks. The last location I visited was figuratively in the middle of the sticks, where there was not a stick in sight for a good few kilometer or two. Strange as it may seem, it was a reality. Riemvasmaak hot springs are located in one of the most incredible rock monoliths I have yet to visit. The road down to this rare location is as interesting as the location itself. Once at the spring, getting to the baths is good. Easy walk, but, and an amazing but, there are two small baths with reasonably warm water. However, a maximum of six people can fit into these baths, that are like a pin prick in the middle of this amazing sheer rock gorge, where I could not find a stick.
Arriving at one of these rare hot spring usually is with a little trepidation. You never know who will be in the hot springs or if there will be enough space. In this instance there was a family of four that had laid claim to the earthly, warm waters. Taking a trip down a rocky, impassable road to the heart of mother earth and to be turned away is just not in my character. It is one of those do or die situations. Not long and I was chatting to the occupants of Mother Earth warm secretions. Heavenly after a long and bumpy road. Since the pool was in the middle of the gorge, our voices boomed and echoed above our heads in the lake afternoon. After pleasantries we realised we were all South Africans on a similar wave length and social graces and etiquette were on a par. Eventually the father of this quartet of bathers starting relating about his escapades in Angola and some of the interesting interactions in the country as it started out with the fact that Angola is one of the most expensive countries to live in. Eventually we realised that it was not because of the high standard of living and extensive environmental consideration. Definitely not. This was about corruption or related costs.
All non-residents are required to have a driver, someone that will take you from one point in the inflated chaos to another point of inflated cost of living. In this particular instance they were stopped by a well dressed policeman. Since Dave was new in Angola and Luanda, he was reluctant to join in the common place etiquette for dealing with officials. His first encounter was rather interesting, because as they reached the outskirts of Luanda they were stopped by a policeman. Signaling for Dave to open his window, he did so. Then the policeman started to ask Dave if he noticed the white strap across his chest. His smart epaulettes and dress, his white belt and well polished service pistol and also noticed his police cap. But to also notice that he was sweating under his cap because it was hot. And since he was this policeman, Dave should pay him $10!! Well, Dave started to reason with the Policeman, coming from South Africa where this type of behaviour is unheard of. Just as the policeman was about to dismantle the car and search his briefcase, the driver said "just pay him the $10, because this wont be the first or last time - get used to it." Sitting there in Riemvasmaak I then realised why certain cities are more expensive than others. But then it also takes a different kind of business person to succeed in such an economy.
Weird but true, or is it?
Hasta la vista
The Knait Wrydah