Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Klara Majola

As soon as a person drives over the crest of the Gydo pass, just outside Ceres, there is an unobtrusive turnoff to the left with the sign, Agter-Witzenberg. It is a narrow road that leads through the mountains and opens up inside a completely new valley filled with vinyards and fruit-trees.

Klara Majola lived in this remote farm community with her father who was blind and the rest of the family.

On the 31'st of July 1950, the Cape newspaper Die Burger ran the following news item which I loosely translate here.

Frozen in the Veld
Went searching for her blind father

Ceres. -- An 8 year old black girl froze to death one night in the last week after she went looking for her blind father and got lost. She is Klara Majola. She lived on Mr. Ernst van Dyk's far, Die Eike, in Agter-Witzenberg.
Klara made it a habit to lead her blind dad around the farm and to take him to places where he could gather wood. Later she would then go fetch him.
Her mother went to a nearby farm during the day. She came back at dusk and wanted to go fetch her husband, but Klara offered to do it.
It appears that she could not find her father and got lost. The workers and other occupants of the farm went to look for her. Her father answered their call, but Klara could not be found. Shortly after finding her father, it started to Rain.
Mr. Van Dyk only heard about the events the next day. He immediately gathered a search party. Klara was found dead in a road.
It appears that she slipped over some rocks in a stream and fell into the water. She was to cold and frozen to get up. Her one arm was under her body and the other hand was in her mouth.
It was particularly cold that night and a thick layer of snow had fallen.
This story has been taken up in various ways in Afrikaans literature.

D.J. Opperman was so affected by the story that he wrote a poem about it in Engel uit die klip, Tafelberg, 1951.

Klara Majola

Klara Majola wou haar vader
toe die skemer sak, gaan haal
waar hy, die blinde, hout vergader;
maar Klara Majola het verdwaal.

Klein Klara Majola lê verkluim
in die Bokkeveld se bros kapok,
haar arms en bene bruin
en kromgetrek soos wingerdstok.

Klara Majola, die koue geweld
sif stadiger oor my uit die ruim.
maar nooit sal ek in die Bokkeveld
so warm, Klara Majola, soos jy verkluim.

D.J. Opperman

The story was also transformed into a story by Boerneef in a compilation, Teen die Helling. The title of this story was "Klara Mentoor".

Anyway. The point is that I had the privilege of driving into that very same valley with my Gomoto over the week-end. At that stage I did not know the significant link that it had to the literature that I grew up with. But still, I am happy to have been there.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Other people's Gomoto Experiences

I have not been very active on this blog for about a month. This has mainly been due to the fact that I sometimes struggle to balance work-life, family-life, and the life required by my dreams. The Gomoto-blog fits into my dream life, and it took a back-seat for a while.

An interesting phenomenon that has been happening though, is that people e-mail me with their experiences of their Gomotos and some even ask me for advice because they are considering investing in a Gomoto. I am really enjoying this. I also get quite a number of hits every week from people who searched Google for "Gomoto" or "Gomoto Motorcycles".

Up until now my advice has been very positive. Yes! By all means, go ahead and buy it! You will really enjoy it. I say this because I am enjoying my Gomoto, not because anybody has asked me to say this.

A week or so ago I received this e-mail from Daniel Dobinson. Daniel has commented on my blog before. He is also a proud owner of a Gomoto. He gave me permission to publish his e-mail on my blog as long as I take responsibility for the spelling mistakes (Fortunately Firefox 2 has a built-in spell checker).
Hey Weiers

Well, remember I told you that i bought a Gomoto-just like yours! Well, its also red but has the mags on the wheels. Thought I'd update you about my thoughts on it(I've run out of work!)

Well, firstly, it's just as fun as any other bike I've had! I was really surprised to find that a tiny engine and old school bike could be so much fun. I've owned a 250cc motocross bike and a CBR400 before and I think it's really just the freedom (from traffic jams?) a bike gives you thats so wonderful.

I've fitted it with a bike box so now the only inconvenience of motorcycling has been
removed. I can now go for runs after work, do some limited shopping and go to the beach with all my paraphernalia stuffed in the back.

I've done 1000km on it so its first free service is due. I have reservations about the type of service that I'll get from 2 wheel mecca, because so far its been a bit on the slack side. My complaints are thus: the front fender came with a weird stain on it that can't be removed. The sales guy assured me it will be replaced on the first service but I'll wait and see if that occurs.

The alarm (which is endlessly entertaining) has already packed in so I've disconnected it- I hope its under some warranty of sorts cos it's a handy thing to have. The last thing is that my carburetor hasn't been adjusted properly and so I've fiddled with it a bit but have to have the choke on the middle setting for it to run without bogging down after 7000 revs. I have tried to get they guys at 2 wheel mecca to look at it but they've never really fixed it so hopefully the mechanic will be able to to a proper job when i finally get it in for its service.

Well thats it. I'm really happy with it and soon my girlfriend will be riding it to work, in which case I might have to buy one for myself! Just wanted to let you know. I think the Gomoto sales must be booming because I see at least a couple every day on the roads and give them a good toot-tooting as we pass each other. I haven't taken it off road yet but plan on doing so soon!


PS: I a friend recently took part in a rally on a Gomoto... to Oudtshoorn! took him 9
hours apparently.

De Hellenwagen

There is an Afrikaans folk tale of Jan Ellis who worked as a postal driver in the mid-nineteenth century in the Western cape. He worked on the route between Ceres and Wellington. One night he was riding his postal cart, drawn by 4 horses. He had six passengers with him. It was the beginning of winter and there was a chill in the air. His passengers were wrapped in blankets to keep the cold out.

I took this picture at the Posryers museum in Ceres

Jan Ellis reached the deepest and narrowest section of Bain's Kloof at midnight. The rider, the horses, and the passengers were all very tense. At one stage they came to a sharp turn and the horses came to a standstill. They began to snort and push themselves backward. Jan Ellis had to do everything in his power to control the horses (or they would have gone over the precipice).

It was then that they heard the sound of an oncoming wagon. They could clearly hear it rattle over the rocks. Then the wagon appeared in the dim moonlight and they could see that it was going at an incredibly high and uncontrollable speed.

In the darkness this wagon was chasing over rocks, stones and bushes, where, even at day a person could only move at walking speed!

As the wagon came closer, its tent came into view. There was a driver in front. And it was clear that there was no way to avoid a collision. It seemed as though the wagon was going to ride right through Jan's postal cart. With a devilish noise the wagon came closer. The passengers saw six mules pulling the wagon: their bodies glistening with sweat and their mouthes wide open and foaming.

Fearfully Jan shouted at them, "Where the Devil are you going!"

"We're going to Heellll!" came a long drawn out shout from the ghost wagon, followed by a satanic laughter that made all the passenger's blood curdle.

As this apparition came closer and closer, the passengers on Jan's postal cart jumped off and fled into the dark fynbos. With just a few steps left before the collision the ghost wagon swerved . Right across them the driver of this wagon looked around and pushed his cape back revealing his face: white as that of a dead person, with brightly glowing orange eyes. Then that blood-curdling laughter came again and the wagon disappeared into the night.

A week later the news came to Wellington that Jan Ellis drove his post-cart into a ravine in Bain's Kloof. It seems as though he had to swerve for an oncoming vehicle.

Apparently the story still does the rounds in the Ceres Wellington area, that a fiery wagon drives through these passes at a high speed, forcing other vehicles to turn out and fall down the steep cliffs.

Yesterday I found a rational explanation for this story.

It was a GOMOTO!

My Gomoto at the highest section of Bain's Kloof Pass. (More photos of the kloof in the slide show account of my latest expedition posted just two blogs ago.)


"Die Vuurwa". An Afrikaans short story published in Afrika Vertel 2, a composition of short stories for South African high school learners. Editors: Annah Siteyini, Sidney Miller. Publishers: Nasou Via Afrika: Capetown. 2006. The story is an adaptation of a similar story recorded by Abel Coetzee.

This kind of story can be traced back to early Germanic folklore of over 2400 years ago. It then spread across Europe in different forms. Sometimes it made mention of a wild chase of a group of wild spirits under leadership of Wodan, the chief of the Teutonic deities. In the Netherlands the story became known as "The Fiery Wagon", or hellewagen.

Who knows, perhaps this blog will cause some people in future generations to talk about the Fiery Gomoto, a fiery motorbike and its driver from Hell :-).


My Gomoto seems to draw admirers everywhere I go :-)

Or perhaps it is just the fact that a stranger with a helmet rips out a camera from beneath his Gomoto Suit and starts clicking at name boards in a a busy downtown Ceres.

When these guys saw the camera they rushed to pose for a shot.

4703 km: Trip to Ceres

Correction: I did my calculations again. I did not travel 450km on that day. I did in fact travel 350km's. Sorry for misrepresenting the information.