January 1st 2015, let’s start the year waking up a 3am and hit the road to discover the Pilanesberg national park, located at 2h30 drive from Pretoria.
The Pilanesberg is an ancient volcanic structure, circular in shape, that rises from flat surrounding plains which part of the ecologically rich transition zone between the Kalahari and the Lowveld. It is formed by three concentric ridges or rings of hills, of which the outermost has a diameter of about 24 km.
p.s I know, January of already far behind us…
Few hours drive from the South African capital-city, close to the Botswana border is the Madikwe Game Reserve. In 1991 the area was declared a reserve and 10 000 mammals were relocated from other National Parks in order to create the currently the fifth largest game reserve in South Africa. That’s the place where I spent few of the end of the year’s days off.
On December 11 and December 12 1602, the darkest night of the year, forces of the Duke of Savoy, under the command of the seigneur d’Albigny, and those of Charles Emmanuel’s brother-in-law, Philip III of Spain, launched an attack on the city-state of Geneva. The troops marched along the Arve River at night and assembled at Plainpalais, just outside the walls of Geneva, at 2 o’clock in the morning.
The original plan was to send in a group of commandos to open the gate door and let the other troops in. The Geneva citizens defeated the men by preventing them from scaling the walls. The night patrol from “La Monnaie” position raised the alarm and the “tocsin” bell was rung from the top of the cathedral, soon followed by the bells of all the city’s temples. The Genevois were alerted and the populace fought alongside their town militia.
The duke’s 2000-plus mercenaries were beaten. The Genevois lost 18 men in the fighting; the Savoyards suffered 54 fatalities and the troops had to retreat. Thirteen invaders who had been taken prisoner, including several well-born gentlemen, were summarily hanged the following day as thieves, since they could not be treated as prisoners of war, peace having been repeatedly sworn on the part of Savoy.
“The Company of 1602“, founded in March 1926 to perpetuate the commemoration of the Escalade organises every year in the upper town and around the cathedral some events which end by the historical procession evoking the people of Geneva at the time of the Escalade. Some 800 voluntary members dressed in period costumes, on foot or on horseback, parade in an impressive procession known as the Europe’s largest historical parade. Five times the procession gathers around his herald who invites, loud, and clear, all residents and visitors to remember that memorable night that allowed the Genevois to achieve a lasting peace.
This is it, Year 2014 is over so is my sabbatical year.
During this year I visited 3 continents and 12 countries. I spent time with friends and filled up my memory with souvenirs of plenty great moments and places. I also filled up plenty memory cards as images are easier to share than souvenirs.
Happy New Year 2015.