Monthly Archives: April 2016

Overland Cuisine – the “Dutch Oven” or “Potjie”

 
 

In this post we want to introduce one of our most valuable (and also the heaviest) pieces of cooking gear, the "Petromax Feuertopf".

These iron cast pots are also called "Dutch Oven" (mainly in north America), "casserole dishes" (in some English speaking countries) or "Potjie" in southern Africa.

The "ancestors" of these pots travelled with the first white settlers to the American "West", went across the sea with Jan van Riebeeck and today can be found in almost all households all over southern Africa.

 

Anouk's enamel "Quarter Potjie" ... She loves cooking veggies for our braai in that.

 

There are various different sizes and varieties and "relatives" of the Dutch Oven can be found in many countries, e.g. on the Balkans and even in Australia.

Special for our "Petromax Dutch Oven" is the flat bottom which is good for baking bread, and the lid, which can also be used on the fire as a pan. It is also possible to add hot coals onto the lid when the "Feuertopf" is in the fire to have heat both from above and below.

The history of the "Dutch Oven" goes back to the 17th century, when these pots were made in northern Europe, the best pots actually to be found in what today is The Netherlands. That's where the name "Dutch Oven" originates.

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In Southern Africa, every family has their own traditional and favourite version of "potjiekos", a kind of stew, but unlike a typical stew, "potjiekos" is not stirred in the cooking process. Instead the ingrediences such as different kinds of meat and vegetables spiced with the typical Dutch-Malayan-Indian-African variety of spices are added one after the other in different layers which are not supposed to mix. The cooking process is generally slow using a constant but rather low heat (which is distributed equally by the cast iron pot). As only very little sauce or water is used (sometimes also beer or other alcoholic beverages), the ingrediences in the pot are rather steamed than boiled.

The atmosphere around a campfire with one or more "Potjies" bubbling along in the fire is very social and it always feels a bit like "witchcraft" with a big black pot in the fire.

 

There actually is a great variety of different meals which can be made in a "Dutch Oven": stews, pizza, bread, rolls, gorgeous ratatouille ... the list could continue endlessly here.

Stephanie from the French "KUMP" family presents her perfect Potjie bread ...

Baked potatoes from the Dutch Oven ... just add a layer of coarse salt on the bottom and put the clean potatoes on top ... after about 30 minutes they are just perfect!

We want to introduce three of our favourite dishes here:

 

We can tell you: these rolls for breakfast ... just gorgeous! Unbeatable!

 

Our freshly baked bread rolls which are great for breakfast ... See our post from Hungary in 2014 with a recipy for the rolls and also for Hungarian "Lesczo".

 

Veggie casserole - one of our favorite dishes!

 

At home but also when traveling we really like different varieties of veggie casserole. After greasing the pot, we add layer after layer of fresh vegetables (we actually prefer eggplant, onions, garlic, mushrooms, bell peppers and tomatoes with already boiled potatoes) spice it well, add some cream, water or broth ... top everything up with loads of cheese (favourably Swiss cheese like Gruyere, but Cheddar also works quite well), close the lid of the pot and let it simmer for 30 to 45 minutes. If you want, you can also add a layer of feta cheese.

 

Everything you need for "Biltong-Sauerkraut Pot with Boerewors"

 

On "Eisgaubib", our Namibian friend's farm, we created a new "Germibian" potjiekos recipy we call "Biltong-Sauerkraut Pot with Boerewors".

 

Frying the onions ...

 

After the pot is put in the fire and greased with coconut oil, we first fry the onions, a bit later adding the sliced potatoes (raw), frying and stirring until the onions and potatoes are turning slightly brownish.

 

Adding the potatoes and frying until everything turns brownish

 

After that, you add a layer of sauerkraut, one with as much fine cut biltong as you like (we prefer spiced Oryx actually), and another one of sauerkraut.

After the first layer of sauerkraut add the biltong and then another layer of sauerkraut.

... adding more sauerkraut!

We don't add water or broth but a good mug of a fresh and fruity white wine (depending on how you like your sauerkraut, this can be from dry wine to sweet).

... let it simmer ... and relax with a glass of beer or good red wine for a while!

Fresh "Boerewors" ... that will add a lot more southern African flavour to the sauerkraut.

You close the lid and let the potjie simmer for about 40 minutes and then add the Boerewors on top to be finished within the next ten to twenty minutes (you can of course also braai the boerewors instead and just put it on top of the potjiekos when serving).

Ready to serve ...

Lekker ... Germibian potjiekos!

 

Have one or two glasses of "Camelthorn Weizen" to go with our "potjiekos" ... purely Namibian and certainly one of Mischa's favorite beers!

 

One variety for the cheese lovers is adding a layer of cheddar or other cheese (favourably Swiss cheese again) on top after about half an hour after having started the cooking process.

To make this dish more "traditional", one could start with frying meat (preferably Orxy, Kudu or beef) in the pot until it is brown, then add the onions and fry them together with the meat for a while, and then add a layer of potatoes and continue as above.

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Even though our "Dutch Oven" is a really heavy piece of gear and consumes quite a large portion of the very imited space in our Land Rover, we still would not want to travel without it. The older it gets also the more patina it gets and the food prepared in it will be getting better and better.

Just make sure that you only use hot water and a sponge for cleaning and that you dry it immediately after cleaning and add another layer of oil inside and outside. It will last a lifetime!

...

 
 

When we are down in South Africa, we will certainly buy one of the typical round-bottomed "Dutch Ovens" everybody uses here in addition to our "Petromax Dutch Oven".

Dreams are there to become true … The birth of a new project

Our 13-months overland journey through Africa will soon be over! We have to return back to our daily routines back home ... Dream over!

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Many people rather not go out and travel extendedly because they fear this very situation and many overland travellers don't go back home because of this and go on traveling for an indefinite period of time.

Certainly, we are also in the middle of this discussion and, of course, all have our mixed feelings when talking about coming home. Apart from the fact that long term "homeschooling" is not legal in Germany (not even for the children of teachers!), our two daughters simply want to go back to "their" island, even though they really enjoyed and still enjoy traveling, and we certainly don't want to stand in their way! The tiny German North Sea island called Spiekeroog is the home of our family!

So, how do we plan to deal with the situation of "coming back home"?

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Our unexpectedly long stay in Lüderitz surprises us with pivotal points which then surprise us with their depth and spontaneous impact.

 

Lüderitz might be far away from the normal tourist routes, but we think this place is really great!

 
 

Scotland? The Faeroe Islands? ...

 

Dreaming into the Lüderitzbucht, the harbour-town atmosphere and surrounding landscape reminds both of us on Scottish harbour towns and how we met and fell in love back in 2003 sailing around the British Isles as crew of the sail training ship "Thor Heyerdahl".

 

The sail training ship "Thor Heyerdahl", the place where Juliane and Mischa met back in 2003 ...

 

Independently of one another we observe that our two kids really enjoy the boat trip to "Halifax Island", the surrounding nature and also the swell.

 

The sea is challenging, but also a "place" where you can dream ... if you have been touched by the sea, it will never ever let you go!

 

But we also realise that both of us have really deeply missed "going out to sea" during the last ten (!) years.

Heiko, the captain on our penguin and dolphin boat trip from Lüderitz and former diamond diver, tells us about his experiences sailing with his family on the oceans for eleven years circumnavigating the world. And there it is! BANG! ... a new dream is born!!! Or maybe it is better to say "reborn"!

Back at "Lüderitz Backpackers" we again begin to collect our ideas, plan and sketch - just like we did it when began to plan our sabbatical overland trip through Africa sometime between 2008 and 2011. A sailing boat which can sail in our native wadden sea and be moored in the small harbour of our home island of Spiekeroog but also is suitable for global crossing finally is the solution for our inner conflict between wanderlust and itchy feet on the one side and homesickness on the other. Sitting over a glass of wine and cider, idea after idea is discussed, we discuss what such a boat should look like, which features it should have for our plans ... and are enormously happy and excited about our new travel project. The project "Ocean Gypsy" is born! Even Anouk begins to plan and draw her dream boat ... both daughters are "as keen as mustard"!

Family history, family plans ... a new project is born!

We know that especially sailing can provide a very substantial learning field and source of great experiences and can only further strengthen our Transafrica-family-team (we will come back to this topic in a later post), not least because of our own experiences with the project "High Seas High School" of our school. For us the oceans have always been rather "bridges" or "transport routes" than insuperable barriers separating people from each other! Sailing is going to provide more freedom to travel for us and we plan to use this extensively for our family in the future!

 

 

Of course, we will continue overlanding with our "Nyati" as well! Maybe with a new offroad trailer!

 

In spite of this new project, us 4-wheel-nomads will go on overlanding in our Land Rover, of course! For summer 2017 we plan to go to Scotland, then at some point in time South America, Asia, West Africa will follow ... we have a long imaginary list of places we want to see during our lifetime! This "list" actually is even extended by the possibility to also travel by water.

...

Suddenly, "going home" is not the "end" of a dream but also the necessity for the beginning of a new one. ... "Home Port Spiekeroog!" ... If we have learned one thing about ourselves during the last few months and years, it is the fact that indeed we are really successfull in realising our dreams!

And suddenly everything "could be worse" and we can fully enjoy the last quarter of our Transafrican adventure without any melancholy.

Kolmannskuppe – from diamond fever to ghost town

 
 

Kolmanskop, formerly "Kolmannskuppe", yet again is one of those really "crazy" places.

It was one of these days sometime in 1905 when a Nama called "Coleman" got stuck with his oxcart about ten kilometres away from Lüderitz ... maybe his oxes ran off, who knows!?

Shortly after this incident railroad workers who were constructing the railway between Aus and Lüderitz found the first diamonds in the desert ... they just had to pick them up around them. They tried to keep it secret but when they reappeared in civilisation with their pockets full of diamonds, it obviously resulted in the fact that the news spread like wildfire in the colony of "Deutsch Südwestafrika" and a real "diamond fever" began.

After first only private persons were allowed to apply for mining rights, in 1908 the whole area was declared a "Sperrgebiet", a prohibited area. All further concessions were only granted to diamond corporations.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

The doctors' house

 

The small town of Kolmannskuppe, named after the Nama Coleman and completely owned by one of these diamond corporations within only a few years grew into a place where everything existed that was modern and the state of the art at that time:

The old shop now is a small museum showing items left in Kolmannskuppe.

there was a modern shop, a power station producing electricity (to a lesser extent for lighting the houses but more so for an X-ray control of the workers when they would leave the plant),

 

The hospital

 

A typical hospital corridor ... a lot of modern hospitals in Africa look worse!

... but here also the sand conquers everything!

in the hospital they had the only X-ray unit on the whole southern hemisphere (and the most modern one at the same time!),

 

Inside the ice factory

 

Here seawater was cooled down to produce fresh water iceblocks (in the metal containers).

The "Linde" company still exists in Germany

and even an ice factory they had here in the middle of the desert which supplied the inhabitants with ice blocks for their "refrigerators".

 

A "refrigerator" ... the meltwater was collected and used in the kitchen.

 

Apart from that every household got 20 litres of fresh water and even lemonade daily ... delivered free to their houses!

 

The stove in the butchers ... for making proper German "Leberwurst" and "Blutwurst"

 

Being a direct neighbor of the ice factory, the butcher used the cold air produced by the ice factory to cool down their cold storage house.

 

The small train used for passengers and delivering goods to every household ... pure luxury!

 

A small train connected the small shopping area with the residential houses so that the inhabitants did not have to walk on foot through the dust (also completely for free!!).

 

The ballhouse which has been restored to be used as a casino. Here also was the ninepin alley, the restaurant and the gymnasium.

 
 

The gymnasium-ballroom ... obviously restored recently, but the gym equipment is original and was left behind when the settlement was given up.

 
 

The ninepin alley

 
 

The restaurant stove

 

But people also celebrated in Kolmannskuppe! They had an á la carte restaurant, a ballroom (normally used as a gymnasium) and a ninepins alley.

 
 

Kolmannskuppe probably was one, maybe even THE ONE, of the richest and most modern cities in the whole of Africa.

The houses were beautifully painted on the inside with elaborate patterns. The lead-paint even today in some places looks as if painted only a ten years ago!

Beautiful patterns can be found in all of the houses ...

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They had everything ... and nothing at the same time, because this place really is "in the middle of nowhere": no local fresh water, no perspiration, no fertile soil for growing plants or vegetables ... only sand, sand, sand and wind and obnoxious heat ... and diamonds, of course!

 

This beam still bears the destination print "Lüderitzbucht"

 

Every drop of water and the complete material for building and furnishing the houses had to be delivered here from far away, most of it came by sea (sometimes as assembly kits) from far away.

 
 
 

The old flag of the sports club reading "deutsch, stark und frei", "German, strong and free".

 

...

But after less and less diamonds were found and the search for new sited was directed further down south to the Orange river, the mining of diamonds finally was stopped completely here in Kolmannskuppe in 1930. 26 years later, in 1956 the last inhabitant left this place which then became a "ghost town".

...

Today, again, diamonds are mined here by opencast mining. only since a couple of years ago Kolmanskoppe, still in the prohibited area, can be visited by tourists.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

But the ever moving sand gnaws and nibbles at the houses and consequently destroys them bit by bit ...

 
 

Soon, nothing will be left of this small town once posh and vivid. Hidden under the sand, gone with the wind and grinded up to fine dust by millions and squillions of grains of sand. The desert claims back its own!

In Germany the government would probably would put a preservation order on this place; here Kolmanskoppe still belongs to the mining company NAMDEB.

 
 

Lüderitz … a harbour town with a bit of a homecoming feeling

 

Lüderitz as seen from the sea.

 

We really like Lüderitz! Lüderitz, bought in 1883 by the German merchant of the same name and from 1884 on under the protection of the German emperor, is completely different compared to the rather "overdone" German and somehow "artificial" seeming Swakopmund.

The days of the fishing with smaller boats seems to be gone here as well ...

Here in Lüderitz, the atmosphere simply "fits". Guidebooks state that this town could easily be situated somewhere in Germany; we rather feel reminded on different harbour towns in Scotland, Hanstholm in Denmark or other somewhere else in Scandinavia.

Another "Woehrmann house"

Definitely an old German train!

The old turntable for train engines

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

"Krabbenhöft & Lampe" ... good accommodation and great seafood in the "Dias Cafe and Oyster Bar"

 

We enjoy long walks through the town, tasty and fresh seafood (oysters galore, calamari, fresh fish ... and all that at really reasonable prices compared to European prices), and relax in the reasonable but very clean "Lüderitz Backpackers".

Halifax Island with its penguin colonies

With captain Heiko, a real "original", old school German-Namibian through and through, ex-diamond diver, ex-circumnavigator "en famille" and simply an interesting person, we go on a short cruise to "Halifax Island" just a few miles out at sea where there are several penguin colonies.

 

Here they are ... in their favorite element!

 
 

Ruined whalers' buildings

 
 

My three girls just love the sea!

 

Guano production!

The lonely grave of the lighthouse keeper ... stalwart even in death!

Apart from penguins, we also see pelicans, seals and even dolphins who play in front of the catamaran's bow. Really Great!

 

Diaz Point with the old German lighthouse in the background

 

Shark Island ... long time ago a place of sorrow for the Herero, now a wild and romantic campsite ... strange connection!

Old lifeboat shack

Back ashore, we go on an excursion to Diaz Point. The Portuguese navigator went ashore here and set up a stone cross around Christmas 1487 to symbolize that this coast was in the Portuguese king's sphere of influence.

The old wooden stairs to Diaz Point ...

The Diaz Cross

 

Dreaming into the oceans

 

This natural bight near what today is called Lüderitz was first called "Angra das Voltas", reading "bay of the difficult manneuvres", later it was re-named "Angra Pequena" ("Small Cove"). The original Diaz' Cross is now in a museum but a replica version of the cross including a commemorative plaque was set up in reminiscense of the Portuguese explorer.

 
 

We stay in Lüderitz longer that actually planned, also because this town really inspires us.

 
 

Sossusvlei and Dead Vlei

On our way from Swakopmund to Sossusvlei, we could stop every five minutes because the landscape simply is impressively beautiful: from sea to sand dunes to moon landscapes, painted mountains to desert dunes again ... It seems as if Namibia is one continent in one country.

 

Big sanddunes near Walvis Bai

 
 

... on the moon?

 
 

Like in a painting ... but then that would be "unreal"!

 
 
 

Solitaire "Lodge" ... rather an Australian-style roadhouse ... but not bad!

... outdoor kitchen!

 

Beautiful - but the dust is everywhere! EVERYWHERE!

 
 
 

Sossusvlei and Dead Vlei

The Namib, which follows the complete coastline of Namibia, is the oldest desert on this planet, between three and four million years old. Anouk really loves the red sand and clearly states that the Namib is her favourite desert - far more beautiful than the Sahara which she didn't like that much!

 

"Fairy Circles" - no magic behind them, though: it's the termites who simply love the grass and eat it up completely in a circle ... other vegetation doesn't exist! Anouk still thinks the circles are magic!

 
 

Nature can be sooo beautiful!

 
 

The ever moving sand!

 

In the Dead Vlei Anouk wants to spend her honeymoon (still a long way to go, though!).

The "Dead Vlei" ... one of the most "magic" places we have ever been to ... just "made by nature"!

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Everything ...

... is a matter of perspective!

 
 
 

It is so very wonderful that we are allowed to experience all this as a family! Nobody can ever take this away from us!

 

Sossusvlei

This dune is called "Big Mama"

 
 

From Sossusvlei and Dead Vlei we move on further down south to Lüderitz, again driving through an ever changing landscape full of natural wonders.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Mischa on the lookout ...

 

... for the beautiful "Namib Feral Horses".

 

It is not a 100% sure where these horses originate from, but the most logic explanation is that the soldiers of the German "Schutztruppe" set them free just before surrendering in 1915. Beautiful horses!

 

“Friesian Freshness” in Namibia … Swakopmund

 

Swakopmund as seen from the pier

 
 

Lighthouse, beach ... palms ... PALMS?? A bit "un-German" right!?

 

What we wrote about Namibia in our last posts shows how diverse this country is, so one should maybe not be too surprised to find a "real" German town here. Still, Swakopmund surprised us a bit.

It was founded in 1892 because the new German colony needed a harbor for trade with the "motherland". There were only two other options to construct a harbour along the coast of what is now Namibia, Walvis Bai (then British) and Angra Pequena, which today is Lüderitz. But Angra Pequena was separated from the habitable lands by a stretch of dry desert of more than 120km.

 

The "Woermann Haus" ... the company still is in family hands.

 

Today, 124 years later, in Swakopmund there is the strange feeling that suddenly, you are back in Germany, even though the German "Schutztruppe" in "Deutsch Südwestafrika" surrendered 101 years ago.

 

The "Altes Amtsgericht", the old court.

 

Looks a bit like Esens, a small town not far away from where we live.

Without the palm tree, this could easily be somewhere in Germany!

Just a small detail from the wall outside a shop reading "Imperial Customs Post Swakopmund"

 
 
 
 
 

Memorial for the "Herero Uprisal" ... No further explanation! What do modern day Herero think when they see this!?

 
 

This really is strange: this memorial is to remember the dead German soldiers from World War I AND World War II (when the ruling power in Namibia, South Africa, fought AGAINST the Germans) ...

 

Most shops have German shop signs, there are German memorials, German houses and a lot of German products in the shops (which especially our two daughters just love - homesickness cure!).

The "girls" back home at the North Sea??

Happy kids

For us parents this town is a bit like one of the towns on the mainland near our island ...

 

Germany, Denmark, The Netherlands?? No! Namibia!

 

... or it could be one of the small towns on the German Baltic Sea coast, or in Denmark, Norway, Sweden and the Netherlands.

"Peter's Antiques" in Swakopmund really is a very interesting shop full of mysterious objects, masks, books, coins ... great!

This is "THE" shop for Mischa and Anouk ... they could spend ages here ... and an awful lot of money!

Still, it feels a bit too unreal here on the west coast of southern Africa. In a way, this town simply "doesn't fit". Also, it seems a bit too much "made" to fit the expectations of the tourists - most of which are, of course, German.

 

Wide and empty streets.

 

Really strange are the extremely wide (and empty!) streets.

 

The old pier ... and at the end there is "Pier 1905", one of our favorite restaurants ... great seafood at exceptionally reasonable prices!

 
 

The seawater aquarium ... not comparable to the one we have at our school, the "Nationalparkhaus Wittbülten"!

 
 

What a beautiful Land Rover!

 

...

A boat trip from Walvis Bai

Walvis Bai has an interesting history, being "discovered" by the Portuguese Bartholomeo Diaz, used by whalers since the 17hundreds and from 1795 being part of the British Empire. From 1884 on Walvis Bai was part of the Cape Colony ... so it remained in South African ownership until 1994 when it was handed over to Namibia.

 
 

We think this place is rather monotonous and without any "real flair" and just go here to go on a boat trip.

Seal colony

 

This guy has a rather "posh" look on his face!

 
 

This oil rig normally drills off the coast of Angola but the current low oil price simply makes drilling for more oil ineffective!

 
 

Mmh ... in Namibia we had the best fresh oysters ever! EVER!

 

Home, home on the range … A weekend on a cattle farm in Namibia

 
 

Our hosts in Windhoek, Debbie and Adriaan, invited us to come with them to their farm for a weekend ...

 
 

Their farm "Eisgaubib" is roundabout 110km away from Windhoek, but it feels like being in the middle of nowhere ... well, actually it really is. The farm is situated in a beautiful mountain area, the next neigbors live tens of kilometres away and it actually has a size five times the size of the island we live on, about 100 square kilometres. And this farm is not even one of the biggest ones in Namibia.

 

The small "farm shop" ... even people from other farms come here to buy things they need ranging from Coke to nails.

 

Originally, this farm was sold to it's first owner by the "state", when Namibia was still "Deutsch Südwestafrika", German South West Africa. Over the years, it had many owners and Debbie and Adriaan bought it to finance the university studies of their four children.

Wherever you go you meet old friends ...

... and this one ...

... and this one ...

... mmh! ...

 

... and this very special Land Rover Series 3/2 Zebra Conversion.

 
 

The "good ol' times" were really hard - for man and animals!

 

...

Farm life is not easy, but it is nice after a week's job in the office in Windhoek, to go into the open country and do some "real" work - and see the result of a hard working day at the end of it. Over the week the farm workers follow their daily routines and at the weekend Debbie and Adriaan come to stay, work and plan the following week(s).

 

A farm visitor not so welcome!

 

As at the moment, southern and central Namibia is suffering under a draught (after three years with less rain than usual), the farmers have a pretty hard life as their livestock don't find enough food in the open.

Fully loaded with fodder!

Distributing the fodder.

New farm worker!

Bone dry farm!

You can see that owning a farm is one of Anouk's dreams for her future!

Fear of dogs?? Gone!

So, every farmer has a special recipe to mix good fodder out of hay, molasses, shredded shrubs ... and whatever secret ingrediences else. This has to be distributed to the many fodder places on the farm. Sometimes, if a draught continues, farmers have to send their cattle to the butcher and reduce the size of the herd.

 

Back from work!

 

Out bush ...

A really big one ... could we "braai" it?

Unlike Germany, in Namibia, most livestock have large areas of land to grase and live ... Also, there is no stable where they are during nighttimes. To be able to defend themselves - and more probable their calves - the farmers don't cut the horns. Still, every once in a while the leopards take a calf or even a weak bull or cow. This wild life certainly is one of the "secret recipies" behind Namibias impressively good meat quality! You can have Beef, Mutton, Oryx, Kudu, Ostrich, Zebra and certainly a lot more different varieties of meat and everything is really tasty!

...

... rest!

 

... and solitude and silence!

 

But the evenings on a farm are absolutely gorgeous: after a day of hard work you see the sun going down, the surrounding mountains change colour every five minutes ... and it is stunningly beautiful.

 

Storytelling, braaiing, listening to the birds, braaiing, drinking, braaiing ...

 

The only noises you hear are the birds and the wind in the trees. What more do you need than that, and maybe a glass of good red wine or a whisky in your hand!? Someone has just started the fire for a later "Braai" and the fumes of the fire tickle your nose ... It doesn't take much time until it is getting darker and darker ... and then the stars come out ... We have never felt lonely or sad under the roof of the "Million Star Hotel", but being really part of "it". Nature can be so very wonderful!

... But, as the next morning - apart from Sundays - work is already waiting, nobody stays up too long.

 

Independence day cup-cakes!

 

... But, we have to leave this wonderful place (for a while!) and move on ...

Whaaaat?! Back home again!?

Impressive!

We were doing 70kmh ... AND THEY OVERTOOK US! ... EVEN THE YOUNG ONE!

 

Full of power and pride! Really Impressive ... and tasty!

 

Beautiful rock formations!