The Hastings Farm, Midlands, Kwa-Zulu Natal, South Africa

"I spent four days in the Midlands of the Kwa-Zulu Natal province of South Africa at the Hastings Farm. It is beautiful country inhabited by numerous antelope type critters, many different birds, and a plethora of plant life. The country is beautiful. The house we stayed at was set on a few hundred hectares developed and maintained by a cooperative of 15 people. Billy was our host and had a whole bunch of goodies set out for us on the table when we arrived. He drove a Toyota 4-runner with the steering wheel on the left side of the car(instead of the right which is the South African norm). On the first day we hopped into the car and drove out to one of 15 or so man-made lakes stocked with fish. Billy handed my dad and I a fly fishing rod and proceeded to show us the action or movement of the fly fisherman. I was a total failure, succeeding in catching more of the bank in back of me. I was on an embankment so I couldn't seem to get the movement down very well and frequently got caught up in the weeds.

After some time, we moved on to another lake where I was able to practice my casting with a little more freedom. Fly fishing is an art form that has to be learned. I spent the next 3 days trying to get it right.

Billy has a boat with a small battery-powered trolling motor. Each day we would park the 4-runner on a small hill, remove the battery from the car and hook the trolling motor up to the it. I thought that was kind of funny, but it seemed to work. The battery was always recharged on the round trip to the lake and back.

The sounds of nature, the serene lake, and just the thought that I was in South Africa fishing was an awesome experience. One of our days out on the lake was quite foggy. My dad and I couldn't see the shore 20 feet in either direction. I made certain I had my camera with me at all times so I wouldn't miss a thing. Many times the hymn "How great thou art" came to mind. The beauty of just being in the country with fresh air and being away from the constant barage of city noises was a welcome "sound" to my ears. I could see thousands more stars from that area in the mountains than I have ever seen, most them not viewable from my native northern hemisphere perspective. The morning of the first day allowed me to get some of the most spectacular pictures I took in SA. The reflecting tree is probably my favorite.

At times when it was too rainy to fish or I was tired and my arm hurt, I'd stay at the house and visit with my mom and Billy, and play with his two dogs Whiskey and Milo. They are Jack Russell's. Whiskey would dig all day while we were fishing and the other would try and help catch the fish. Milo, the fisher-dog, would go nuts when you caught one usually getting himself all tangled up in your fishing line. The other extra time we had was spent watching Cricket. Since I'm from the U.S. and since Cricket is not a widely published sport there, I didn't have the slightest concept of how it was played. By the end of the 4 days I had picked Billy's brain for the rules, how it was played, and what the strategy of the game was. I couldn't tell you all of it now since I've forgotten most of it but it was cool to have learned how it is played.

The food that Billy served us was exceptional as well. Every morning Billy would serve us bacon, fried tomatoes and bananas, and eggs. The fried tomatoes and bananas were excellent as I had never had them before. Apparently it's a native South African breakfast. Every evening we'd light a fire in the fire place and sit and watch T.V. until we got tired. The cool night air made for good sleeping.

All in all, for any fisherman, this is a dream come true. Plenty of lakes stocked with fish and plenty of fresh country air. If you haven't had the chance to spend time in this country, I recommend doing so."

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