I think of her now as the Tea Lady, because she was drinking tea when I met her and had an English accent to go along with her English colonial outfit. She was one of the first native white South Africans I had met on my very first trip to that country. And now the Tea Lady, who was in fact a volunteer for the local historical society of a small town a couple hours drive north of Pretoria, was chugging her way up this steep, gravelly mountain path with the rest of us trailing behind gasping for breath.
entrance of Historic Cave. Photograph kindly provided by Dr. Amanda Esterhuysen.
Behind us, back beyond the tea, was The Limeworks, an old fertilizer mine that has yielded a respectable number of australopithecine (early human ancestor) remains. Off to our left, as I followed the tea lady and was, in turn, followed by my flock of tourists (I was leading an ecotourist-educational trip to South Africa), was the Cave of Hearths. Cave of Hearths is said by some to be one of the longest occupied archaeological sites in the world (second longest, to be exact) with artifacts dating from the Oldowan to much more recent times representing a ‘continuous’ (in paleolithic terms) use by humans for perhaps 1.5 million years or so.
Continue reading The Story of Stories: The Siege of Mugombane