Driving through the Karoo can either be deathly boring or fascinating, depending on your route and attitude.
We were on the N9 between Middelburg (yes, the centrepoint of nowhere, some might say) and Uniondale when we saw something unusual. Two men were constructing two massive bottles as part of a gateway to a place called Good’s Bottle Store - using bottles.
Something like this in the middle of nowhere (did I mention this before?) is reason enough to stop, so we did.
It was while we were watching the two men laying bottles as nonchalantly as if they were bricks, that a pied country crow swaggered out of the sky. He landed on a fence nearby and tried to catch our eyes, as if we were cocktail waiters.
Then he tried the more direct approach of flying onto my shoulder and eyeballing me. I staggered back, convinced I was about to be pecked to death. Just then one of the builders called out: “Don’t worry, that’s Jimmy, he’s tame.”
We were transfixed, all the more when he kept following us around as we explored this odd little Baghdad CafÃ©.
Jimmy inspected every centimetre of the car, paying close attention to his own reflection in the rearview mirror.
He auditioned for a position as hood ornament, but eventually peeled off at 40 km/h. From that moment on, this was Crow Road. We saw crows everywhere, nesting on telephone poles at regular intervals, and eating roadkill.
We saw pale chanting goshawks on fenceposts, Steppe buzzards posing regally on telephone lines, vervet monkeys, a ground squirrel, a squad of meerkats and a slender mongoose in quick succession.
It took a crow to wake me up to how much wildlife lies in plain sight.