“The African Plate had its origins in the superkontinent, Pangea, about 550 million years ago. We’re sitting on the Kalahari Plate, which connects up to the Congo Plate and eventually, the Rift Valley. Actually, it’s correct to say we’re situated on a craton, which is part of a plate. You may not realise this, but we are moving 2,5 cm North every year.” Gertruida has the dejected look of an unsuccessful professor: she can see she’s lost her audience.
“You mean to tell me, we’re going to end up in Rhodesia one of these days?” Kleinpiet has drawn a little map of Africa with the froth of his beer, and is tracking Rolbos’ route to the Mediterranean.
“It’s called Zimbabwe, now; just like Pangea isn’t Pangea any more. It became Gondwana and that in time, formed the continents we now know as The World.”
“So what will they call Rolbos when we pass Salisbury?”
“Harare, Kleinpiet, Harare. That’s the new name. And by the time we get there, Harare will be where Nairobi is now.”
“But what about the Limpopo River? We’ll have to cross that to get to Rhodesia.” Kleinpiet is determined to show he is not completely ignorant. “To get a town across a river won’t be easy, you know? The beer might float away and I’m not sure if Vrede can swim.”
Gertruida sometimes wonders about the people living with her in Rolbos. Here she is, trying to explain about tectonic plates and why earthquakes occur, and now they’re discussing Vrede’s aquatic abilities.
“I’ll tell you what, Kleinpiet: you get up early every morning, anyway. Each day, first thing, I want you to get on your wind pump with your binoculars, and then you can be our lookout. If you see the Limpopo approaching, you can warn us. Then we can all move South or start building a boat.”
Kleinpiet doesn’t understand sarcasm.
“So that’s what happened to Noah? One minute he was in a desert, the next he had to herd all the animals in a boat. I didn’t know they were so advanced: imagine them already knowing about Pangoa and tectonic plates way back then.” Kleinpiet signals for another beer. “Well, I can tell you it isn’t going to happen here. I’ll make sure the Limpopo doesn’t surprise us.”
Needless to say, the news spread like a veldfire.
That’s why, when you drive around in the Northern Cape, you’ll notice the well-worn footpaths to the wind pumps along the way. The Americans have spent millions of Dollars on early-warning systems to tell them about tectonic changes; but here in the Karoo they have a much more sophisticated system. They’ll start running the day they get close to the Limpopo.
In the meantime, Boggel keeps an inflated ring cushion below the counter. Not only is it more comfortable, but he also doesn’t want to take a chance with Vrede. Man’s best friend deserves a lifejacket, after all.
And of course, Gertruida will never to breathe a word about a tsunami. There’s no telling what they’d do then…