State of the Planet

News from the Columbia Climate School


Pricker Bushes, South African Barbeque and New Friends

Pink granite, in pink on the map, is what we are studying.

On Friday, we decided to revisit an area we had already been to.  This section covers the contact between the Bushveld rocks (green, colors as seen on the map) and the leptite (purple), granophyre (yellow) and granite (pink) rocks that we are interested in. 

What the map doesn’t show is topography.  Pink granite can be very resistant, meaning it doesn’t weather away as much as other rocks, forming very steep cliffs.  We hiked for some time up steep valleys without quite reaching the top.  On the way, I think we met just about every type of pricker bush South Africa has to offer. 

Pricker bushes covered the climb.

The day was long, but came with a reward.  On Friday night we had a large “braai,” or barbeque, with some of the farmers who helped us gain access to the lands.  We ate chicken, lamb chops, t-bone steaks, a type of sausage made from kudu meat and “putupap,” a crumbly type of maize meal with the texture of coucous.  One local farmer also brought fresh “amassi,”  boiled, unpasturized milk that is left to sit in yogurt culture overnight.  The result is a tangy/sour thin drinking yogurt.  I thought it was delicious, but most of the farmers dislike it.  I was especially grateful for the feast because Friday was my birthday.

South African barbeque is known as "braii."

We woke the next morning and headed to the top of the plateau to collect more lava samples and try to finish the section we started on Friday.  There is a town directly on top of the valley that we were hiking the day before, so we decided to drive there and see if we could find the rest, from the top this time.  Thankfully we were successful. 

Curious children often find us as we work.

While we were sampling, some local children grew curious about what we were doing and followed us as we worked.  On previous trips, Ed and I have carried a Polaroid camera with us so that we can take pictures of the children and give them aways.  The kids are always amazed and delighted to see themselves in the photos.  Today we used up our final packs of film, and because Polaroid stopped manufacturing it last year, we won’t be able to do this in the future.

Banner featuring a collage of extreme heat images.

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