Thursday, 21 July 2011

Cradle of Humankind: who's your daddy?

Maropengo at The Cradle of Humankind
Wednesday 20th July: Johannesburg

Another balmy blue-skyed day in downtown Jo'Burg.

We had organised with our favourite taxi driver, Mish, to be picked up at 10am and make the hour trip to the Cradle of Humankind, which is a world heritage site.

He has taken us anywhere we have needed to go over the last few days as walking isn't acceptable.

I'm not sure how people who live here manage to get any exercise as you can't, especially if you're white, just wander around the streets. You don't see anybody power walking or jogging or taking dogs for a walk at all in the suburbs. We have all become very unfit: in Botswana the possibility of attack by a wild animal prevented us going for long walks, and here threat of a different sort of attack prevents the same.When we suggest we might walk somewhere the locals look a bit confused and just shake their heads in horror. It does make you appreciate the relative safety of our streets!

The Cradle of Humankind is an area in the hills outside Jo'Burg where significant archaelogical finds have been made, the most significant being the skulls and skeletons of 'Little Foot' and 'Mrs Plies', predecessors of humans, whose bones have been aged at 2 million years old. Not bad eh? It seems the aborigines of Australia are considered relative newcomers at only 40.000 years old!

We started with a tour of Maropengo, which is a museum hidden under a grass-covered mound. It included a 'boat' ride through a tunnel showing the elements required for life: water, fire etc. Sort of corny but fun :less scary than the river caves at Luna Park!

There were lots of displays about the formation of earth and the evolution of the human species, which they attribute to one female in Africa, so very interesting.

Then we had some lunch and drove to the Sterkfontein caves. We paid for Mish, the driver, to come with us as he had never been, but he was a bit concerned about the caves! We climbed down over a hundred steps and walked for 500 metres underground, some of it through narrow low tunnels in the rock. We saw the places where the skeleton of Little Foot is still encased in rock, and where Mrs Plies was found. The guide rolled her eyeys when asked when the Little Foot skeleton would finally be extracted from the cave: apparently the Professor has said every year that it was imminenet, but it hasn't happened yet.

There have been archaeological sites there since early last century and the Sterkfontein Caves site is owned by one of the Universities whose students work on it too. There are lots of caves but one was enough for us. I bought a fridge magnet which has a picture of a hominod ( early human) and the caption 'Who's my daddy?' ( Another point towards winning the Tourist of the Year prize!).

Stopped to buy something for dinner at the Woolies food store: they make fantastic ready-made microwaveable dinners, so we bought some and headed for the guest house so Erin could watch a replay of the World Netball Championships and Ewan could watch the Tour de France. How did I end up travelling with 2 sports-lovers I have to ask??

As a special treat Erin made me buy a Malva pudding which we will have with custard: it's like a caramel golden syrup pudding and definitely not a Weight Watchers delight!

With no exercise and the local delicacies to consume we will be rolling our way home I can tell you!!!!

Your too well-fed and extremely unfit correspondent


No comments:

Post a Comment