Leave Johannesburg 23rd Feb; 2012.
It has been a hard time leaving all the fabulous people we have crossed paths with in wonderful Southern Africa but time is running and we need to head off. It is without doubt the sad part of visiting such great places. It’s all with mixed emotions leaving the security of solid walls, hot water, and a soft bed, for all the insecurity/ discomforts of the open road which lies ahead.
I can’t help but feeling a little sad parting with these homely comfort’s and great friends, Elayne to feels the same enjoying the culinary skills of Steve and his wonderful full size kitchen she miss’s so much…… but Victor and crew must take to the road once again.
It’s a cool bright Jo-berg day, that almost perfect African climate at 1600 plus mtrs those wild lighting storms I have enjoyed watching crashing and banging across the late afternoon Jo-berg sky, the cool evenings and those bright clear days.
Our rough plan is to head to Cape Town making a detour to Kimberly on the N12 then onto Outshoorn dropping in across the Groot Swartberge taking the longer route via to catch up with Marius and his family ……Nick and Lillian who we last saw in Kigoma Tanzania….what a great stay we had and so many storeys from Nick it would fill this blog many times over. Thank you so much guys for organizing the local news paper to write up a short storey on Victor and crew.
Waving good bye to Pipa and Steve our dear friends was tough, they had been so helpful there was nothing they would not do to help us with our adventure, Pipa was constantly helping with any request we made ,Maps enlarged photocopying, printer, email, we completely overrun there small office. I am sure they thought we were completely mad as Elayne and I argued about that Angolan visa, that DRC visa, that Congo visa, or which Embassy we should go to first the DRC or Congo or should we wait until we get to Windhoek Namibia, or should we try and get our Angolan visa in Namibia…the endless discussions went way into the night every night wondering how on earth these two people sit next to each other without killing each other!!!!
Poor Pipa and Steve even their wonderful dogs looked like they had enough with those visa discussions.
The list of things to do was piling up and time was running out for us, we needed make a dash up the west coast of Africa before the wet season could arrive, but like all global weather predicting nobody knows what the weather will or will not do anymore……. its just a gamble…..but Pipa is checking everyday ……Oh no you can’t go now Pipa exclaims…VICTOR HAS TO STAY ….its raining in the Congo…..and the DRC…..!!! As she scans her Blackberry for all the latest weather info up the west coast of Africa…….”We won’t let you go!”, her words ring in my head.
There again that’s Pipa and Steve they were always willing to help whatever.
Steve organises a spare rear wheel rim from John Thomson’s collection of used racing rims. Yes one of poor old Victors rear wheel rims began to fail in Northern Zambia cracking the steel around the leading edge so we had a puncture in our steel rim.
The only thing I could do was to patch inside steel rim with silicon which worked a treat …but I could not trust it for a long haul. So now I have a very expensive bead locker racing rim as a spare something I would consider fitting as alternative rims for Overland travel in the future a great system for removing your tyre and for running at very low pressures. …Unfortunately they are banned for road use in Australia….mmmmh that makes sense.
The endless Angolan visa saga continued even Steve and Pipa became Angolan visa experts by time we had worked out that final plan…….and then we started with the DRC and Congo visas I think we traumatized Steve and Pipa for ever contemplating any overland trip beyond Namibia.
BYE to Jo-Berg……………
Victor found his way to the N12 bouncing along once again bouncing was quite the problem as Victor had a strange bouncing in the suspension when we hit certain speeds I was completely perplexed what this problem could be, and wondered if fitting the heaver duty rear springs had caused some in-balance between front and rear spring rates ….I was totally confused the bouncing continued unabated I was still scratching my head thinking…..what the hell is going on with Victor………..??????
Elayne and I sit silently burbling along the N12 heading south (the diamond route) to that very big well known hole in the ground around Kimberly, but both of us were still dreaming on what lies ahead and all those friends we have just left behind, thousands of Kilometres, heat dust, mud, rain (with lot’s of bouncing in between according to Elayne) to Europe the west coast Africa, those never ending borders /visas and that wet season which could arrive anytime soon,……. we had just started…….and I felt tired and feed up……….And Victors new bouncing problem became very annoying indeed.
That lump in my throat was there once again thinking of all the kind help we had received with our new springs, reconditioned diesel pump/ injectors (which John Thomson from Swaziland insisted I did) new tyres all round also supplied by J. Thomson the, John’s list of repairs and rejuvenation on Victor was endless his help epic how could we every forget that….NEVER …we both agreed and hugged.
Victor has literately a new bounce in his step and a new burble in his exhaust note due to these dear friends (not sure about that bounce though) the road was flat (well at least at certain speeds) and we began to enjoy that freedom of the road just a little.
Leaving Pipa and Steve in Jo-berg was tough they had been so helpful there was nothing they would not do to help us with our adventure thanks so much guys we will miss you both very much stay safe and keep well hope to see you all somewhere some day soon.
We head to-wards Cape Town for the last time before heading once again north this time along the West Coast of Africa a much tougher challenger for poor old Victor than the East coast which we had completed until Dar Es Salaam, but our furthest northern point along the rift valley was around Soroti in northern Uganda.
Our first night in Victor for so long…………….
w/p 845 date 24 Feb 2012
South 28’.50.190 East 024’41.611 1215mtrs above sea level.
It did feel strange indeed looking for our wild camp but we found a spot along the N12 just past Kimberly when I spotted what looked like a diamond mine entrance gate still open and decided to just drive in and find a spot to camp.
Hidden amongst the thorny Acacia trees and small scrubby bushes we made camp for the first time in a long time. All that well rehearsed our routine was gone and we started arguing straight away nothing worked as we struggle to put the tent up ….no not really but our hearts were not quite there did miss those solid walls, hot water, and a soft bed???
Elayne was concerned wether the large steel entrance gates will be closed at night leaving us stranded on the wrong side and it was Friday!!!
But the night was peaceful, waking to a very heavy dew the tent was dripping but the morning sun finally dried everything out ready for us to practise our forgotten packing routine……..packed up and that porridge warming our insides Victor beat a path back through the scrubby bush hoping that big heavy steel gate was still open….yes we were free back on the N12 heading south.
Oudtshoorn……catching up with more great friends.
What a great drive across to Oudtshoorn to briefly catch up with our dear friends Nick, Lillian, Marius who we had last spent a great night together besides Lake Tanganyika near Kigoma.
What a great warm welcome as Nick and Marius wait for us to hit the centre of town to guide us back to their beautiful new home on the outskirts of town. Just like it always is catching up with old camp fire friends it doesn’t matter how much time has pasted since you last met it always fills as if it was yesterday as travel stories start flying around another wonderful South African braai and true hospitality. Lillian is a dynamo and never stops waiting on us hand and foot; Marius was only just visiting his mum and dad before he and Debbie head to New York, their Land Cruiser already in a Container heading for their new travel experience across the America’s for 2 years. Marius and I meet over a year ago exchanging information on shipping from B/A to East London S/A over the internet, after Marius had made enquires with those famous guy’s at Dakar Motors Bounes Aires. It was just one of those strange travel experiences as while I was parked up on the main street of Kigoma Tanzania, Marius had spotted Victor (as Nick, Lillian, Debbie, and Marius were on a trip in their two fab Land Cruisers heading North) introduced himself …I am the guy who asked all those questions about MOL shipping from South America……well of course I remember and this is us in real life……. yes those passing ships are is it just the right people always meet.
A great weekend was had by all and we can only say thank you to Nick and Lillian for such great hospitality and all those great stories Nick.
Thanks also for arranging the local news paper to write an article on Victor and crew.
All the very best to Debbie and Marius on their travels go well be safe, and we look forward to your news letters.
Victor and Crew catch up with friends in Albertina.
W/P 847 Ferox Guest House South 34’.12.684 East 021’ 35.120
Victor and crew catch up with friends in Albertina Dolly and Quartas a smashing couple at their wonderful motel accommodation ….FEROX GUEST HOUSE ALBERTINA…..please stop over they are a great couple and a super place to rest up with lodgings or roof top tent.
Their great new restaurant was a delight and Quartas a wealth of very useful information on local interests, thanks so much for your kindness and hospitality and those grapes were to die for.
Victor and crew return to our mad Strassbaai fishermen and dear Rhona.
w/p848 date 11 March 2012
We stop off to see our two very great friends in Strassbaai Bobby and Rhona our room was waiting for us and Stompey their Staffie dog went mad at the site of us so we are sure he remembers us after almost a year.
We had great fun walking him each day along that beautiful white beach, Rhona is off to Europe soon so we hope she has a wonderful time, we will miss them very much such great people, thank-you guys for our stay with you we will not forget all your kindness and interest in our adventure it was again a sad day leaving your warm hospitality friendship and those broffies which Bobby introduced to us on a regular basis…..mmmmh Good South African Brandy and coffee….a must have drink Bobby say’s before you hit those sheets.
Saying goodbye to more dear Overland travellers Bryan Diana and Jambo their faithful Land Rover.
But we had another important meeting before we arrived in Cape Town and that was to catch up with Bryan and Diana our dear overland adventure’s who had given us so much information on Africa. Bryan and Diana are well seasoned Overlander’s who we had meet at the ‘’GET AWAY” show in Cape Town near Stellenbosch a year before. We all got on like a house on fire so catching up with them just before they departed for a 2 year trip in there wonderful Landrover called Jambo.
Our timing was perfect as they were staying at there caravan near Villiersdorp Threewaterskloof Dam. It was a superb spot to catch up before they departed for South America , and a great time was had by all endlessly discussing borders, visa’s, and all that usual stuff which bores the pants of most normal folks.
We hope to follow their journey firstname.lastname@example.org
None the less it was great to see them again and we hope they too have a great trip on those wonderful Continent’s ….good luck guy’s safe travels and we look forward to our future Barge travels together.
CAPE TOWN……here we come again……..and don’t forget your natural malaria medication…DEMAL 200…..from Tim Sales 021 7978077….in Cape Town.
Table Mountain lures ahead its table cloth hanging making it a beautiful sight as we enter the buzzing morning traffic. Fingers crossed our Angolan Visas will be waiting for us Lezel Combrick from Angolan Touring services, had managed to secure two tourist visas and after the hassle we had trying ourselves her services proved to be invaluable we had had enough like so many others wanting to obtain an Angolan tourist visa only to find you application lost once again. Not wanting to waste anymore time with the Angolan Embassy in Pretoria we opted to take advantage of Lezel services and kept our fingers crossed.
The morning traffic heading into Cape Town was in full swing, Victor and crew became the morning interest as passing motorists of all kinds waved and smiled as only Capetonians can do.
The only real problem we had was the continuous waving to whistling bystanders and inquisitive taxi vans full to the brim all beaming and waving away weaving even closer to get the best view of the two occupants in that strange looking vehicle. Razor blade gaps between us and those interested Cape Town taxis put Victor’s brakes and our nerves to the test.
Our arms begin to ache, our check muscle too but all was good fun waving too many interested passers bye.
TABLE MOUNTAIN LOOMS EVER CLOSER…………
You can’t imagine what a sight Table Mountain is approaching it from any angle it greets you with majesty a topographical work of art that would enthral any visitor. The small cable cars can now be seen clearly slowly making there way to the top disappearing behind white clouds pouring over the edge of Table Mountain just like a perfect table cloth with Lions Head completing the impressive backdrop.
We eventually found Lezels office in Sir Lowry Road opposite district six “the infamous district six I remember from years before’’ her directions were fine just our navigation was its usual rubbish …yes one wrong turn and we were in the back streets looking up to Table Mountain at some 35 degrees the back streets on the sloops of Table Mountain resembling San Francisco Victor pointing skywards.
Parked cars had huge blocks behind there rear wheels, testing Victors feeble brakes to there limits on the way back down ……….but we had them two 30 Day Angolan Tourist visas well done Lezel. We enjoyed a few moments of now a trendy area around district six not quite how I remembered it but that was along time ago.
Angolan visa’s at last………………..yeah……yeah…..yeah….
Elayne and I celebrate jumping up and down our two visas stamped into our passports; passing locals looked on at the strange ritual laughing at our joyful dancing around the pavement……….But at last….. NAMIBIA HERE WE COME… we had our start for the West Coast of Africa we can make our move hopefully before the wet season starts heading down from the north.
As any traveller would know the Angolan Visa is pretty tough one to get and trying at the borders for a tourist visa, we think would almost be an impossible task to try and enter Angola….maybe a transit visa at best at a border post if you’re lucky. But we wanted to stay at least 3 weeks.
I had bumped into a very enthusiastic young photographer the previous day in Somerset West Mall while waiting for Elayne to print off some photo copies getting some of our travel documents in order. Another Chris had been overwhelmed by Victors Charm and good looks, as curiosity lured him closer to Victor while I was hiding from the sun under a scant tree in the Malls car park.
Elayne and I had made this Mall our usual food top up spot almost a year ago to the day while living in Cape Town with Bez/Gail /Scotty/Bella and families. It was not long before Victor had 8-10 people around all admiring his adventure ,and me flat-out talking to passers by who also found Victor charm to difficult to pass without a comment.
Even the car park attendants who I had spoke to a year ago all came across shook my hands and re aquatinted themselves once again with Victor as word buzzed around Somerset West Car park even more parking attendants came to see that , strange car which was back in town. New Chris was pretty amazed how Victor had been befriended before and his charm had not been forgotten.
Several car park attendants shook my hand …man you were here a year ago where have you been…..you made it all the way to Uganda….well done man well done we knew that little car could make it we knew shaking there heads walking back to that thankless job seeing people in and out of there parking spots hopefully getting a tip for there services.
The long repeated explanation starts again my voice becoming horse by time Elayne had arrived back ready to go. We had an appointment with David Moore a film producer who had produced a classic 176 part travel show on S/A TV called ‘’ Going nowhere slowly ‘’ in a classic RED 1970’s v8 Chevy they meandered across Southern Africa having a great time meeting locals from country pubs and huge Karoo farms, remote villages in Mozambique and lots more.
David and I had crossed paths while I was enjoying a beautiful evening sitting watching the surf crashing along the coast at Cape Agulhas. Elayne and I had revisited our great friends Bobby De Groot and Family at Strussbaai. (Bobby a wonderful Afrikaans guy kidnapped us almost a year ago on our first visit to Cape Agulhas.
David was also visiting the most Southern point of Africa with a German film producer having some strange ceremony with 2 bottles of beer at the Cape Agulhas memorial.
Yes the mad attract the mad ……and thank GOD for that miracle.
Our paths crossed and I am so pleased they had. After a very intense hour conversation with David and his German friend David had invited us back to his Durbanville home to enjoy a few beers and invaluable travel information for our West Coast adventure….how all this appointments happened at once I am not sure but poor New Chris who I had just met in Somerset West Mall also wanted to produce an article for the “Get Away magazine” a well read 4×4 magazine in South Africa. New Chris was also a professional photographer his wife Melisa a journalist and they to would be both fascinated to write an article about Victor and crew before we leave Cape Town.
Elayne was not really sure we could fit all these journalistic meetings in and was not without her reservations knowing how I go on and on for hours…..but a plan was struck and we were to meet Chris and his wife Melisa at Table view after we had picked up our Angolan Visas.
GOODBYE TO BELLVILLE……………..
We say our good byes to Scotty and Bella who had looked after us for several days. Scotty was a tough Afrikaans guy who would…… MARK A PLAN…..there was not much Scotty could not arranged from his workshop and Bella was just clam a peaceful as Scotty dashed around always busy with someone else’s problem he would fix. There was nothing Scotty could not achieve and our first stay with them was a culinary delight as with most South Africans a Braai was a sacred operation the tools and skills gathered over many years.
As most visitors to South Africa would know eating meat /biltong for breakfast is quite normal, every type of bush/game meat Scotty carefully dished up from his superbly engineered braai for us to tast and what a taste something we will never forget Scotty ruined our taste buds forever.
I laughed so much when I saw Scotty’s collection of cooking braai utensils right down to the full length welding gloves ….the know the guy’s an expert when he has these hanging up …….nothing like the burnt sausages we dish up in Oz……no the Afrikaans guy’s certainly know how to cook meat we have to put South Africa at the top of our worlds best braaier’s in front of Argentina and Russia, poor Australia is way down worlds list of BBQ, Braai Nations…
HI CHRIS AND MELISA……….
Our rendezvous went well meeting Chris and Melisa our navigation work for a change and spending most of the morning and way into the afternoon was a long photographic/recording session, but with two enthusiastic young people that can only lift our spirits.
Chris took hundreds of pictures and Victor looked even more magnificent with that wonderful view of Table Mountain who had appeared from several hours of sea fog just at the right time to snap a few good shots. It was late afternoon before we had finished our shoot with Chris and Melisa, again not enough time to enjoy there hospitality and enthusiasm but we hope all there future travel plans heading off around Africa one day soon on a Vespa scooter sounds a great adventure…….we are looking forward to that storey and pictures.
We waved our good bye’s once again it was a great day at Table View and thanks guy’s for all your effort we hope ‘’The Get Away ‘’ magazine publish your article.
DURBANVILLE DAVID AND ALISON MOORE…..a crazy wonderful family.
We headed to David Moor’s home in Durbanville. Leaving Cape Town for the last time was an emotional time for me as we headed along the N1 back towards Bellville my home many years ago; memories came flooding back from my teenage youth spent around these parts and my great friend Richard Hayes.
That is another long story which started way back in 1967 so will have to wait one which will take much longer to explain but Richard Hayes will always be part of my early life a friendship which will stay we me forever.
Table mountain disappeared it was a glorious evening warm and balmy the sun lighting up Table Mountain in a golden glow as I squinted to see her beauty for the last time in Victors mirrors.
Don’t worry Chris Elayne explains I am sure we will be back again……..my thoughts pass by all those years ago meeting my long lost teenage friend again once again after 42 years it was a meeting I will never forget and a time which could never be repeated again.
David’s instructions were not too bad but once again we could not find his home street and sat discussed with our once again useless navigation skills. Never do Elayne and I seem to get all the information we need to find a place ….or is it our fading memories????
Elayne insisted I buy some beer and a bottle of wine to take with us ….I argued …you go to the bottle shop I am finished it’s been a long day and it is not over yet. Elayne refuses to go and I am left wondering around the bottle shop. ….(not my scene shopping) You all might be wondering what is the significances of this entry but all will be reviled later as I purchase 6 beers and a bottle of red wine.
I am not sure how long we sat on the side of the road 10 minutes at the most looking at a huge modern housing complex. Houses of all shapes and sizes bathed in golden sunlight all set in a perfect setting amongst rolling hills and valleys vine yards and galloping horses.
A car pulls up across the road…….Are you looking for David Moore…….a young man calls out…..We are stunned and stumble for a reply……..Yes we are Elayne calls out.
Great the young man replies I can help you find him as I work for David Moore just finished a film shoot this morning with him and he explained how you guy’s met……….” and you can’t miss this cool car the young man replies’’ Victor’s strange looks have come to the rescue once again Elayne and I still stunned the young man explains exactly where to go….what road side assist South Africa has we thought as we follow the young man’s instruction directly to David’s house.
Two wonderful old gates swing open as we approach David’s wonderful old RedV8 Chevy lies waiting for his next travel adventure along with a HUGE WOODEN CROSS….look at that I exclaim not the usual garden ornament one would expect to find lying around.
David greats us as long lost travel friends we seem to have a wonderful connection and David’s dry sense of humour is a delight to behold. I am still mesmerized by the huge wooden cross as David explains it is a prop from his latest film and he thought it would look good back at home….and it does indeed, a strange intensive sculpture.
David is a very open person what you see is what you get his life views are inspiring to listen to a great person who has taken his time to help us all he can and offer his home for as long as we want. Another real genuine world ambassador opening his house to strangers taking us in and helping anyway he can for our journey ahead. I present our humble offerings 6 Namibian Draught beers and a bottle of red wine. I had taken my time to choose the beer and wine at the local bottle shop in Durbanville scanning the cool clear refrigerators at all the different brews for something but I did not know what to buy…when I stopped at the Namibian Draught…..bingo I thought…….
Yes this is what David would drink I am sure.
David looks at the Namibian Draught beer ….”how did you know this is all I ever drink” I don’t touch another beer (if I can help it David exclaims) in fact David’s storey’s about tracking down Namibian Draught beer around Africa will delight listeners for hours, I really think he is an unpaid salesman for that Namibian amber fluid and should get some recognition for his gallant efforts especially as one storey goes crossing borders late at night into Zimbabwe from Zambia and smuggling 48 plus bottles back across into Zambia that’s dedication for you…..I am not sure how I guessed your favourite beer from the rest ,but something was talking to me.
All showered up I meet Alison David’s wife half naked while I was ambling up to our bedroom …Alison was a delightful host and a great time was had by all in that wonderful house full of gathered trinkets from around the world, walls full of photographic genius, African trinkets made from bent wire amused me no end a real museum indeed. A wonderful painting of David’s old Red Chevy V8 somewhere in the Karoo David’s hung above a huge fire place David’s new film was in the process of being in its final editing stage; we had the privilege of viewing several scenes from David’s full length movie, and that huge cross which now hangs across David and Alison’s front entrance appears strung across a huge Cadillac Fleetwood blazing across the Karoo or was that the Australian outback??? It looked great.
DAVID…well done, and to all your creative team we hope it will be a box office smash in South Africa and beyond.
Parting company from such warm hearted interesting people is a sad moment never enough time and never enough Namibian Draught according to us as I am now converted to the stuff and will no doubt end up on some obscure border crossing also trying to track down that delightful Namibian amber fluid.
Namibia sounds a wonderful palace and David has offered his connections and will arrange several stop-over’s for us to enjoy along some great back roads heading towards Namibia especially the R355 where David and Alison have a fantastic spot of several thousand hectares in the Karoo all to themselves and dear visiting friends. It was a fantastic place as David explains where to find their property….look for this then that and you will see the entrance to our spot of Paradise……and Paradise it was a photographic wonderland indeed as Elayne and I measure the amount of photographs we took along that R355 it was high on our top twenty roads we have travelled on.
Thanks David and Alison for all your help and good travel advice catch you again we hope somewhere someday soooooon.
Richard Hayes our friends, BAIN’S KLOOF….memory lane…along time ago.
It was weird coming back to a place in your far distant memory a place where teenage boys grew into manhood cementing relationships which would last a lifetime. Elayne waited in Victor as I walked around our favourite school camping spot high in the cool mountains at Bain’s Kloof.
It was 1967-1971 my teenage youth in South Africa.
So many memories’ it is hard to see those young men camping and planning their next trip up that beautiful river. Richard Hayes was my best friend back then and our reunion after Elayne tracked Richard down after 30 phone calls in Cape Town was the most interesting reunion I have ever had or ever will for that matter, so much time had past could not be repeated in my lifetime.
It was so strange to have incomplete stories in your distant memory only to sit down with your best friend and recapture those memories together, it was a spine tingling experience my memory flashing straight back seeing everything in colour with only the mention of one forgotten sentence. What I had forgotten Richard remembered and visa versa we sat for hours , his grow family whom I never met sitting with us wondering what and earth these two old farts were going on about.
So strange was my feeling’s meeting again after so many years …but nothing had changed it was still Richard’s face I could see those eyes and smile exactly the same, and those two front teeth just as i remember them.
Time never changed those smiling eyes they never changed with all those passing years they were just the same as I remember them.
I felt quite sick when we parted company all to short a time to recapture all those past memories, a last hug and that face that smile i will always remember, maybe this time we will never recapture those distant memories again.
It all felt so surreal families a wife whom I had never met or really knew all looking in on a time not shared by them.
I could write about this experience for days but nobody would give a hoot to listen to my ramblings, so it will be just between us old friends Richard and me, old memories history that time cannot change even if it wanted to.
Return to Bain’s Kloof……. a mountain camp which changed boy’s into young men.
It was cool, I could feel the same mountain breeze wiping across the Bain’s kloof landscape down into the valleys below. I exit Victor and start to walk around Elayne stays with Victor, my mind’s eye recapturing scenes from the past, voices talking young men fooling around, all still here as i retrace steeps i made more than 40 years ago.
I walk along a path down to an open grassy spot and stop……
There was the old campsite just there my heart skips a few beats my mind is racing trying to recapture those distant memories, voices echo in my head like some old movie playing out in my mind the landscape filling in the missing scenes.
I sit on a rock and looked at the same beautiful view, nothing has changed the rocks bear no scars my life time makes no impact on them.
It was another Zen moment for me on this journey a moment in time I could be transported back just as a time traveller my mind was carrying me back it all went quite and i was there.
I had not experienced anything like this before nothing had change…. except us.. The mountains had not changed the landscape still as it was, but as for us we looked so much older worn out that distant youth gone, only the echoes in the rocks still whispering that boyhood laughter still there captured in time captured forever.
Etched ,yes etched in the landscape just as unmistakable as Richards smile it was all still here no amount of passing time could erode those thoughts that energy will always be here, all of us were here still, I could see us all clearly around the camp fire, I could just stare into the past watching us pitch that old canvass tent, Paddy, Graham, Richard, Raymond, Garry me…..all in a perfect Paradise, no money, an old black and white film camera, bake beans and eggs, is all I ever remember eating for the whole school holidays, as we camped fished , hiked, drank, smoked what ever we could find, and just had a great all round innocent time ……..it was all still here.
I left the old campsite and wandered back to Victor and took one last look at the old campsite and white washed Rotary cottage where we took shelter once after being attacked/raided by a large troop of Baboons. We all laid down on the same green painted cement stoop, the old gum tree whistling in that storm. I can see all those young faces, I still can hear that endless boyhood laughter and that makes me happier.
Thanks Richard for being my best school friend it was an honour to meet you and your family, hopefully we meet somewhere again, and let’s make sure it is not another 40 years to wait…..Cheers mate, may you and your family have a safe journey in time.
18th March W/P 854
Stonehenge Tankwa Park Thanks guy’s for a great camping in that beautiful Karoo, that wonderful backdrop a star filled sky a glowing campfire we shall remember.
Thanks AMORA in Loeriesfontein……………
W/P 855 S28’40.543 E020’27.295
Especially the wonderful Loeriesfontein and dear Amora who looked after us so well at Boesmanland Pub with those wonderful silver windmills whirling and squeaking away.
Thanks again Amora for your warm hospitality and spontaneous kindness.
A CLOSE CALL INDEED ….KATKOP to GRANAATBOSKOLK just another out back Karoo road?
It is always a worry travelling on back roads through the back blocks of the Karoo or any dry desert terrain, the roads are mostly dead straight (mostly the roads we used in the Karoo) dusty and in some cases had constant undulating hills going up and down over blind rises edging your way to the top hoping nothing is coming your way, or on your side of the road.
We had unknowingly entered a trucking road/route as we tried to make our way north to Bossiekom onto Kakamas.
We cut across the outback roads, between Katkop and Granaatboskolk . We make a turn left crossing a bridge over a railway track stretching out miles in either direction the railway kissing the horizon in either direction.
Immediately I noticed the surface had deteriorated to a very bad corrugation which had Victor’s suspension groaning as we slowed to around 70klms per hour. This is a trucking road I exclaim…..and sure enough Elayne points ahead as we see a huge dust cloud heading our way. We can both see a large truck heading our way the dust cloud blowing across our path way into the arid Karoo.
The road is wide and dusty small scrub lay either side with some small stout trees growing scattered along its edge. There are no immediate problems we can see the truck moving slowly towards us keeping well to his Left hand side so as to keep the widest berth between us. I thought about stopping and letting him pass without having to enter that dreaded dust zone where you are unable to see anything for a few seconds….the thought flashed through my mind should I stop and let the dust pass us by, just pull up and let him pass.
I changed my mind and dropped our speed down to sixty klm, and also headed for our edge giving him the widest possible berth. It was hot around 37c vivid blue skies a flat horizon to our sides the view had not changed for some hundred kilometres, just us on the road with this one truck heading towards us at 60klm per hour I guess.
The dust cloud loomed ever closer.
Elayne looked at me as if to ask what I was going to do, she also hates entering that swirling dust and noise our vision dropping to zero a tense moment until the noise and dust passes us by.
I put on my headlights and stare straight ahead. The truck is 300mtrs away I thought about stopping again it seemed the sensible thing to do we had plenty of time and had no rush, wait I thought just pull up just stop in the road the truck was well to my right with enough space to pass ….the thought again flashed through my mind ……. Elayne would be happier if I did that…..my mind repeats the thought over and over again.
STOP CHRIS…… I remember clearly thinking …….pull up just stop……….. it’s the best thing to do.
But I decided to solider on gritting my teeth staring directly ahead there is plenty of room, but the dust is immense the cloud generated by the trucks 30 pounding wheels is growing bigger and bigger the closer we get. I now could see nothing to my left all the vegetation and wide horizon vivid blue sky had disappeared altogether, a twilight zone was here all my senses become tense I can smell the bellowing hot dust cutting across our path.
The truck approached passing to my right I could see the driver smiling for a split second looking down from above the huge dual wheels pounding the corrugations the rattling springs the noise was deafening, just for a second we entered the huge dust cloud blowing from his side across to us. …I complain aloud as Victors cabin fills with dust and small flying stones….its always blowing towards us….. It’s always bloody blowing our way as I repeat my frustration this time even louder….. I bellow trying to hear myself above the 30 pounding truck wheels beating that dusty road.
I look towards Elayne for a split second to see her face. She is staring straight ahead her eyes intense searching ….I hate this Chris …I hear her voice …I hate this……my eyes flash to the front as we are completely enveloped in dust. Its double truck which is passing us a huge trailer……shit I call out I can’t see a thing…..the blind zone carries on I hesitate ….do I stop do I stop ….I can’t see a dam thing ahead my foot hovers over the brake peddle I should stop I see Elayne’s eyes flash towards me as if telling me to stop with her eyes.
I again want to stop but for some reason I continue.
I try to see something ahead my eyes blinking I wipe my face and windscreen in a feeble attempt to see something ahead.
THE DUST IS SO THICK I CAN”T SEE A BLOODY THING BEYOND VICTOR’S BONNET…………
The dust is so thick I can’t see beyond Victor’s bonnet, waves of powder dust descend upon us like a erupting volcano…. ….it’s been an eternity in the blasted stuff I am driving blind, totally blind I am an idiot I should have stop when I had the chance I could have just waited on my side of the road……its to late I cannot even see the edge of the road the rattling pounding wheels seem all around us I have no sense of direction …I grip Victor’s steering wheel harder and brace myself…..
It was a sickening sight at first I could not believe what I was seeing …it cannot be …it cannot be I remember looking ahead ,the same type of truck Slabbert Burger Transport was directly in front of me only metres away heading straight for us on my side of the road. I looked at the drivers face for a millionth of a second, fear struck me as our eyes met, like a hammer rushing through my body like a cold rush my mind’s eye starring ahead frozen. With all my might I swing Victors steering wheel (which has a very high ratio rack one turn lock to lock thank God this time I usually complain how hard the steering is) immediately swinging Victors steering wheel hard to the left full lock I could do nothing else as some 50 tonnes of steel truck was less than a few metres from impact. Victor takes off as we leave the road across scrub vegetation small trees I can only hear there bending cracking branches I can see nothing.
I am waiting for the impact my body goes ridged I can feel the wind on my face the heat of the radiator the smell of diesel the roar of the engine is in my ears.
The truck will hit my side thank God for that Elayne will survive I thought …but nothing will survive hitting this truck nothing.
I was convinced we will hit I was just waiting for the impact a millionth of a second away my body was waiting for the impact we could not come out of this situation unscathed.
Elayne screams out as Victor is on two wheels I can see nothing but dust I strain to see ahead waiting for a frontal impact as I see several small trees brush past my window big enough to bring us crashing to an instant Holt. I can hear Victor’s suspension trying to cope with the rugged terrain scrapping hard scrub runs beneath our floor breaking Karoo scrub cracking across Victor’s bonnet.
It feels like eternity as Victor’s 4 wheels once again touch down on mother earth. I gain control but still cannot see ahead.
A vivid blue sky breaks through the swirling dust a tree, scrub, bushes race past…. I can see, the dust rises into the clear blue sky we can see the dust disappears and my foot planted now on the brakes brings Victor to a ,sliding halt.
We are once again enveloped in our own dust it hangs motionless as we are still it swirls around our faces the vivid blue sky disappears once again.
I shout and scream like I have never screamed before into the dust the trucks trailer still rattling grinding its path across those corrugations unmoved in its direction a huge metal tanker unable to change course.
The dust gathers in my eyes as I try and scream louder and louder….YOU BASTARD……….YOU BASTARD……I look at Elayne’s face it is white with shock and horror our lives flashed before us my heart is racing ….Shit that was close I can’t believe how close that was …….Victor is safe we hug and cry all at once but I was so mad I jumped out of Victor and ran after the truck shaking my fists but all was over the truck enveloped in a dust cloud still moving along the swirling dust obscuring all ….I turn back to Victor the small prickly Karoo shrubs broken and torn from there roots Victors path clearly seen as he left the road some hundred meters back. Elayne walks over speechless staring at the trucks wheel marks in the dust….she stares at the dusty ground in silence we can both see the trucks imprints the wheels are all on our side of the road. I stumble back staring at the wheel marks still in shock horror my blood is pumping I am so mad this idiot would have just ran over us we would be a bump in the road for a 50 tonne’s of steel truck and trailer.
I turn to Victor and realise all could have been so different even all his roll bars and structural integrity could not possibly have saved us.
I gaze at the disappearing dust cloud and shake my head in disbelief.
We are still in shock I do not want to drive again the experience draining me of every once of energy I once had. The sun beats from that vivid blue sky stretching across the horizon, silence returns to this flat dusty world in the middle of the outback Karoo.
This strange arid world carries on in silence seconds we may never have seen stare at us intensely vivid are its features all around us I look as I have never seen before.
I could not help but see a mangled wreck; Victor lay in pieces blood all around our two crushed bodies lying amongst all those twisted pipes. I shake my head as if to get the thoughts out of my mind. I feel exhausted I am shaking all over.
I try and make sense of the situation I again look over Victor the CV rubber boots….Shit I exclaim to Elayne those CV boots could never have survived that bashing through the scrubby vegetation without putting a hole in one or all of them. Elayne checks her side as I scramble underneath checking out any damage.
NONE nothing no damage to Victor unscathed not a hole in any rubber boot not a bent tube or busted suspension nothing all looks ok. Elayne climbs to her feet and calls out Chris…Chris a truck is heading back our way. I stand in disbelief as I can clearly see the Slabbert Burger sign on the front of the truck. Elayne and I wait in the middle of the road standing defiantly looking at a 50 tonne truck and trailer heading towards us. The dust cloud comes ever closer and we wait….look the truck is slowing down. I start to think what I would say if it is the driver. My mind is racing once again the scene like some strange cowboy movie played out in the outback of the Karoo.
SORRY WAS A WORD TO EASY TO SAY……………
The truck comes to a halt some 20mtrs away the drive steeps down from his cab. He is a black driver the face burns back into my mind when I first looked into his eyes with all my fear. He was walking slowly towards us talking in Afrikaans….Sorry Sorry menuar….Sorry Boss…..Still in Afrikaans, Sorry Boss…….Sorry Boss, he begins to crouch his legs bending his head looking down at the dust and tracks which came so close to killing us.
SORRY >>>>SORRY…….boss sorry.
He held out his hand to shake, but I could not shake his hand. I was speechless shaking my head I could not utter a word I felt sorry for him my anger had gone we were alive….he was in the wrong and he knew it what more could I do….you idiot I mumbled under my breath….you idiot.
I shook my head looking at the ground….SORRY BOSS>>>SORRY he said over and over again…….I asked Elayne to get the camera and film this truck driver, but I think Elayne was still in shock I am not sure if we did film that truck and driver.
I carried on shaking my head as I waved my hand for him to go. The truck driver turned and left back to his cab and 50 tonne truck. He passes us by as he cannot turn around the truck it is way to long for that. We watch him drive a few klms up the road to find a place wide enough to turn the goliath of a truck around and head back towards us. We both wait standing next to Victor and stare at him still shaking my head as the truck passes us once again for the last time….all is over Elayne and I climb back into Victor and leave that place which burns a memory deep into my mind that dust, that vivid blue sky, the truck drivers eyes I will not forget……If I had stopped, if I had changed my mind and waited cautiously at the very edge of the road and waited for the dust and truck to pass we would have been killed without a doubt killed in the Karoo outback Victors torn blooded wreckage scattered amongst the scrubby dusty bush beneath that vivid blue sky, we would be there I saw it for a few seconds I saw his face looking at what he had done ……I saw it and I still see it.