Day125 Sunday 13 February. 2011
After riding around for an hour we settled on a camp a few km out-of-town. The ride down was through desert and only once through the border was the scenery different in so far as we climbed up into the mountains and had a little change of view. Once we had camped up and washed our sweaty gear, we had a slow, pleasant evening an watched the sun go down behind mountains that threatened no storm or rain, yet.
Day126 Monday 14th February.
I prepared a valentine’s day breakfast of muesli for Diane as a treat…. Rode out of town by nine after packing away in sunshine that promised a hot day. We cooked gently on the road east toward Upington, that bordered the south of the Kalahari desert. At Pofadder we fuelled up at a very friendly gas station where the attendants asked about the trip and what our route was. A very pleasant hour passed by with other customers chatting with us about their journeys and ours. On the road to the falls we noticed birds nesting on top of the electricity poles. I guess they were weaver birds as they had woven grass into a thatched roof kind of nest. Some of them were very large, about one and a half meter by two meter high. In places the poles were broken and sometimes as many as eight or ten would be on the ground , broken in one or more places. We mused if the nests had got to heavy and snapped the possibly termite eaten poles with their weight. There was no evidence of nests where the poles had broken, but I guess the vacant nest in these winds would not take long to be blown away by the strong desert blow. Augrabies Falls was our destination and on our arrival the security man on the gate asked if we intended to camp as it was three pm and I guess later than most day visitors roll up. After much discussion on whether we needed to camp or would we be in and out before the six thirty close, he lost the will to live and booked us as day visitors and told us to camp up and if anyone asked, tell them he said it was all OK!!!! nice guy. A slow afternoon was had and we left the falls till tomorrow. At nine pm we had a nice surprise as Ben and Kate rolled in, they had ridden here from Fish River.
Day127 Tuesday 15th February.
At day break our walk around the falls was spectacular due to the sunrise being a fiery red, which was in stark contrast to the grey of the rocks and muddy brown water. Although a lot smaller than Victoria falls they made up for it with the viewing platforms being on stilts above the gorge. About thirty per cent of the board walks and platforms had been washed away by the resent flooding of the Orange river, but this only added to the atmosphere of the area by reminding you of the force and power of nature. After a couple of hours wandering around the viewing places we went back to camp and found the monkeys had used the tent for trampoline practice and broke one section of our new poles. Not impressed. As I packed Diane made good work of the repair and we caught up with Ben and Kate’s travels. By half ten we were on the road heading east in brilliant sunshine and thirty-five degrees of warmth. Upington saw us at the Spar for an early feed. Diane had a little hassle from a beggar two, but she soon saw them off with a little gentle persuasion. What did catch our attention was that the place was alive with police, on foot and in trucks. Not that we wanted to stay there, we felt moving on was the right thing to do. We made good time and at Groblershoop gas station a guy took interest in the bike and after chatting of his travels he invited us back to his place to camp. As it was only half two we thanked him but carried on with our intended plan., also persuaded by the western sky being as black as my hat. The road gained hight as we headed through the mountains, but unfortunately the clouds seemed to like the high ground too and soon we were in a spectacular electricity storm, but thankfully with not too much rain. Many of the lightning strikes that came to earth would leave a faint glow in the sky for many seconds and some as the first strike hit the earth the white part of the arc had a kind of blue purple outline to it. Maybe these were the ones that you can hear sizzle, followed by ears hurting with the thunder after. Like the kind we had at Keetmanshoop. As the road dropped into Griekwastad from around three km away I could see water across the road. Pulling over to a drier side of the of the main road into town we assessed the situation, which looked grim. Diane pointed to a bottle store to our right which had flood water running through it. As we looked down into town the water was across the whole road for about half a km and in places fast flowing. I had given thought to the possibility to river crossings before, but not to deeply as I reckoned it would only occur if we went off the beaten tracks,as the route had been kept to tar roads I was shocked at this new hazard which looked scary to say the least. The owner of the store came over and she told us that this was very unusual, but had happened last week also!! A lot of black locals were walking through it with no problem but riding through was a different matter. The lady said that were going through in their four by four and we should follow, as there was nothing on this side of the water we had little choice but to follow. Camping up and waiting for it to subside was out of the question, as the ground was all fairly flat and water-logged, and she said last week it was there for a day or two. Following then a respectable distance behind and centre of the road as the camber meant it was shallower, we set off. It was all going swimmingly until the depth got to foot peg level and bits of flotsam started to appear. At a T junction the cross flow of water pushed the truck over to the right in a smooth sideways motion that was bizarre to see from behind. As we started to slide I de clutched a little and revved the motor and sped out of the remaining two hundred meters faster than I wanted, but it got us out safely. The landcruser coming toward us stopped and let us pass, before he ventured in. as we passed through I was dimly aware of people shouting encouragement to us!! Our escort took us to a friend of hers who ran a guest house so we could dry out, even though we were not really wet, surprisingly enough. The landlady said that we were welcome to stay but the house had no power or water. Amazed by how it could possibly have no water her husband explained the wind pump in the garden was for decoration now and the water was drawn up by a submersible electric pump. As she started to welcome us into the empty-of-guests lodging I asked how much she would be charging for the hospitality. A discounted rate was offered but was still out of our league, so we asked only if we could camp on the veranda. She agreed we could do that for free. She left to go home to fetch us some water. On her return she said that she had been thinking ang we could not possibly sleep on the front porch and we must come and use the house proper. Very nice lady!! With the bike parked in the secure compound, under a canopy, our gear was off loaded. To save any work for her we said we would sleep in the living room on the sofas, the least we could do. I asked her husband if the flood was common problem, he said not. He had lost a lot of animal feed that was in the sheep pasture out the back of the house, and pointed out one of their trees which had been felled by the lightning. A good tree is a felled tree. My brother and I always joked about, but this one looked a bit sad. After they had left we made hot drinks on our stove outside and hung up our damp gear. The house was still really warm inside from the days earlier sunshine. Sitting out on the veranda bench we talked about the ride through the water and how thoughtful and generous folks can be to strangers in need, and how fast kindness can come our way. We read the paper by failing daylight and hit the couch at dusk. We aimed to be packed and ready to leave when they arrive back in the morning with news of the water situation. As I tried to get to sleep the cicadas were making a lot of noise, and as I listened I realized there was a lot of frog calling mixed in with it to. Maybe this area is wetter than we first thought. Earlier in the evening I thought there was a church spire on the sky line, and on the hour and every half hour the iron bell clanged and reminded me of Preston-on-Wye and the church I had to avoid when failing to land at Tony’s home in his ultra-light.
Day128 Wednesday 16th February.
We waited for our host to return in the morning after packing the bike gear. An unforeseen breakfast was eaten with fresh coffee on the porch in faint sunshine. With goodbyes said, as if leaving a favourite aunt we head east for Kimberley. At Shoprite we sat in sunshine eating more Weet Bix trying to find a cheap camp site. Failing we went look at the big hole diamond mine, on leaving we decided to travel on to Bloemfontein. At ten kilo from town a likely stop presented itself to us and we asked to be given permission to put up the tent for the night. The owner had no problem with this, save for our safety. After a short discussion he said that it was better to camp at his house a few km along the road. He took us there where we soon set up on his lawn eating mashed potato and onion with fish soup. When his wife arrived with their children she said that we could not possibly sleep on the lawn while they were inside and invite us into the spare room. A splendid night was spent in a bed with a ice-cream supper with chocolate sauce.
Day129 Thursday 17th February.
Heading into Bloemfontein to find internet café to catch up with folks we felt very privileged to have been once again made welcome in a stranger’s home and treated as family. Heading out to Lesotho to find some mountains in what promised to be a wet day we were still bowled over by people’s generosity. and hospitality.
See the chapter about Lesotho.
In the town of Fouriesburg we asked at a house where we might camp out with our tiny tent, the nice man said his friend, Fourie, might be able to accommodate us at his farm, and told us to wait while he drove off to enquire. On his return we followed them to a lodge out-of-town, as we sat on the bike, thinking this was out of our price range the owner showed us in and said you must stay in here and not camp out. There is a bath and shower for your use and a kitchen for you to make your dinner in. Dumbfounded by more unbounded hospitality we settled in for a hot bath and lodge comfort in immaculate surroundings and left the tent on the bike.
Day130 Friday 18th February.
Dave and Donna got in touch via sms this morning and we have arranged to meet then in Dundee later in the day. With our farewells said to Fourie and Leandi we headed off on their advise towards Clarens and a mountain road through a national park called the Golden Gate. Clarens was a really nice little town, with a small gas station and a central immaculate village green with mature trees around it. It was mostly made up of tourist gift shops, but they all managed to sell something different, Diane had a long walk around then while I had Weet Bix for second breakfast and then adjusted the bike chain. As we rode out a group of fifteen to twenty local bikers came toward us. They mostly had BMW and they were all very shiny new looking machines. The luggage boxes on the bikes looked very smart, as they passed all waved to us and I wondered what we looked like to them, with our bags strapped on top of our boxes. The town and the ride were very enjoyable and the road straightened out and we were soon out onto flat land heading for the new toll road to Durban. Arriving later than we hoped for in Dundee, Donna and Dave were camped out. We went to town for food and had a chat with two very nice gentlemen whom we failed to find out their names. They were a little bowled over by where we had come from and the journey in general.
The four of us sat out till late and talked of our different journeys, was great to see them and catch up.
Day131 Saturday 19th February.
Nhlangano in Swaziland was our destination and our road there was up and down sweeping through plantations of fir and eucalyptus trees. The few towns on route had the familiar market stall with fruit and veg in buckets and piled displays as it was further north up the continent. The road out of Piet Retief was bumpy, potholed and sandy where it had blown out from the tree plantations, so the going was slow and I wondered what the roads the other side of the river would be like. We only saw two other cars on the twenty-five km to the border and from a distance behind them it looked as they were drunk as they weaved from side to side avoiding the holey surface. With customs cleared we headed for a backpackers in Malkerns on a smooth tar surface.
See the chapter about Swaziland.
Day133 Monday 21st February.
Within five km of the border we stooped to take photos of giraffe that were having dinner by the road side. They were about ten meters away and the closest we had seen yet. The road was flanked on one side by a Pongolapoort Lake on one side and tall bushy trees on the other. The lake made the air welcoming in being cooler. The last one hundred and sixty clicks to St. Lucia were a bit of a slog, but worth it. Our camp site had a lot of signs saying ‘Don’t feed the Hippos’, or Don’t feed the Crocodiles, they bite!’ So we went to the water’s edge and had a great evening watching the crocs sliding silently from place to place keeping tabs on the tourists, and which was to be tea. And the hippos play fighting and waving their ears about. Cute to watch but I would not want to wrestle with one!
Day134 Tuesday 22nd February.
I rose at five thirty and went to the water’s edge and watched the crocs and hippos, as I approached the bank one hippo was ambling down to the water, alas I had no camera on me so the moment was not caught. It was amazing to see this animal of maybe a ton and a half going about its business. I reckon it knew I was there and wanting to avoid a fight went back to the water…. Talking with a local guy as I packed the bike he said about the earth quake that had hit New Zealand the day before, it was over six on the Richter scale and caused a lot of damage. He asked about the trip and offered to take us on an up river trip if they were not fully booked. He drove one of the sight-seeing boats, but bad news, the office said that even though it was eight am they had only three placed left and they would be taken by the ten am departure.
The ride to Stanger was on a very smooth tar road and the ocean on occasions was visible as azure blue through the trees. Eating a late breakfast of my favourite Weet Bix outside the Spar shop we noticed that the town’s population that passed us by, and it a very busy place, were ninety percent were of Indian decent. It was a real culture shock to see a different race other than white Europe or black African. We headed toward Durban (Durbs!), stopping just north at a mall to check e-mails, a couple from Pietermaritzburg, who wish to remain anonymous, had invited us to spend a couple of days with them. We rushed off to the highway and headed to Durban then west to P.M.B. arriving there just as the sky had finished getting us fairly damp. They lived in a fairly typical house for white South Africa, surrounded by brick walls of two and a half meter high, topped off with a good half meter of razor wire. Theirs was not electric which was uncommon. The two Rhodesian ridge back dogs were also high on the list of security hardware that most folks have. The chap had a number of bikes so that was an obvious topic of conversation. This couple was the first of our private hosts who took a deep interest in the trip.
Day135 Wednesday 23rd February.
We walked the three km to a huge mall and spent most of the day there window shopping and reading travel guides in bookshops. We had a nice walk back through a park and some of the homes we saw had gone to amazing standards with security. An interesting evening was spent with the after dinner conversation being our hosts views on white and black differences…..
Day136 Thursday 24th February.
We bid farewell and by late morning headed to the Karkloof area to meet Charlie, a well-travelled biker who lives in a fantastic hill surrounded farm-house. The hills and valleys were a mix of woods and green fields, very Hereford in its scenery. Immediately we were welcomed in and the bike was garaged out of knowledge rather that security. A washing machine was offered so all our gear went in and was soon on the line in the sunshine. We even took the linings out of the crash hats and they went in also. These had never been washed before, as to be honest I had forgotten they were removable. But now they were a health hazard.
For Charlie’s work he had WiFi so I’m ashamed to say our remainder of the day was spent tying to upload pictures to the blog via another website. He apologised for the condition of his home and explained that he was moving into town soon so there were a few boxes being packed, that was good for us as it meant that our gear was less likely to make the house look like a bomb site. When stop we do tend to explode off the bike. All the sleeping and cooking gear gets spread out, and we can spread a long way!!
Sat in the garden was idyllic, there is a large lemon tree, loaded with fruit. I find it very easy to drink lots of water when you can squeeze very fresh lemon in to it. As we sat we were fussed around by the cat who was called ‘cry’ in Swahili, and I’m buggered if I can remember the word!! Behind the farmland the ground rises in a dramatic style, and in the late afternoon dark grey clouds drifted in and sat there looking threatening, but they did not rain on us. Looking at the single story building I noticed again that in Africa all the plumbing is run on the outside, may not look very pretty, but it is accessible and its never going to freeze on you. Also many of the houses are single skin walls, the cavity is not needed for insulation, so if you ran the pipes on the inside you would have them to look at from your sofa instead. Around six thirty Charlie came home from work and took us to a pub, (yes they are called pubs again, the other day when I spoke of The Bar, I had puzzled looks all round). The place was half in and half under a porch, all the windows were open and it made sitting on the large sofas very comfortable, with a breeze blowing in and a cool draught beer in my hand. When Charlie’s girlfriend, Fiona arrived we ordered food. The chef was an English chap who has been in SA for many years and made fantastic fish and chips, and they were served wrapped in newspaper. Shows how long he has been out of England for, yeah! The food was so nice I should plug it, if you are ever in Howick call in at the Corner House. We had a great evening and it was nice to chat and chill out.
Day137 Friday 25th February.
After setting the laptop to upload, again, we rode back in to town for food shopping. While in Pick and Pay a young guy came over and told us that he was working in England and had been for twelve years, but this summer he was hoping to ride his bike back to SA and move back home. He asked where we were from and the reply came back, ‘oh yeah I worked in Ledbury (near Hereford for the uninitiated), a few years ago’!!!, small world… Back at base we shamefully neglected our beautiful surroundings and Diane did photos and I the bike. We dined with our neighbours, Charlie’s sister and fellah, Loren and Philip, both keen bikers, with a desire to travel also. A lovely evening was spent talking bikes and countries.
Day138 Saturday 26th February.
There is a road out of Howick called the Meanders, and it winds through the hills passing small gift type shops,coffee houses and country hotels. All with the names of Toad Hall, Badgers House and Granny Mouse. We called in at some and Diane mooched through vast selections of ‘grannies home-made,’ EVERYTHING!, she must be a very busy bird for a granny. I sat on the immaculate lawns and took photos of the thatched roofed seating area were people sat and took tea. All very middle England, and all very pleasant. In one of the shops I found a really nice chess and backgammon board made in India from hard woods, the chequers and spires were marquetry and the pieces although machine-made were very nice. The board was also the box, hinged at the centre. It really took my fancy but we have come this far without one, and it weighed around half a kilo, and you can buy them in England, and it was not that cheap,and I left it behind!!! At the top of Nottingham Road we had coffee and warm scones with sharp tasting Blackcurrant jam, home made naturally. We rode the sixty clicks back on the same road as you always get a different perspective, especially because we had not seen it before. I should mention that just out-of-town is a small brass plaque set into a low curved brick wall. This site is called Mandela Capture. It is where Nelson Mandela was arrested in sixty-two. While I, in my ignorance don’t understand the ins and outs of his politics and what really happened, it felt like we were stood in a very important place in South Africa’s history. As we rode back through town in the late afternoon I commented on how quiet it all was for a Saturday, most if not all the shops closed for the weekend now. Only Pick and Pay supermarket and the bottle stores open, with the usual collection of mostly black locals sat around the doorways. Arriving back at the farm and not hungry after our scone snack I cooked the pies we bought yesterday and heaps of mashed spuds while Diane drove herself slightly crazy trying to upload photographs.
Day139 Sunday 27th February.
We had a slow sunny day sorting the blog and uploading pictures and walking around the farmland.
Day140 Monday 28th February.
We slowly packed the bike and had breakfast in the morning sunshine, a few white clouds sat on the hill and looking around us at the silent rolling fields and woodland neither of us wanted to leave. Even when I noticed the cat with one leg pointing skyward, washing something it made it all very homely, and to me, English. Charlie’s mum was at the house while I packed and said had I heard the news? Charlie and Fiona had only got engaged on Saturday night! The happy couple arrived for work at nine or so and told us of their summer plans over mugs of tea.
With e-mails exchanged we followed his white and red Yamaha to Pietermarizburg where Diane could replace her broken camera and I could change some money. Later than I thought we left town at two pm and headed to Durban. Diane had got in touch with Tony and Friedel on the Internet and they kindly invited us for coffee and a chat. With GPS set, by four pm we were soon in the wrong street asking a lady where their house was. After following her the half a click, the steep drive was attacked and thankfully the gate was open, as the rear brake needs bleeding again and I did not fancy a hill start! I felt bad just riding through without using the intercom to call the house but I had momentum and kept going. Thankfully Friedel was still turning the car around and as we shot through the gate into the drive, I attempted a cheery smile while trying to stop the bike without taking down the garage wall. After introducing ourselves Tony said that they could give us a bed for the night and would we like a cold beer. After thinking this through for five seconds we were all sat by the pool talking of bikes and travel. Tony plays drums in a few different bands, one being Jazz and two Blues. They play the Blues on a Tuesday night in club at the waterside in Durban, when he asked if we would like to go and listen to them play we readily accepted as we like the music and have not ‘been out’ since we left England. For dinner we dined on a fantastic curry with side dishes and a soft kind of chapatis, along with the chutney it all made for very good eating. A great night was had by us certainly and we made for bed at ten thirty, very late for us….
Day141 Tuesday 1st March.
Tony had left for work by the time we surfaced into the world from an excellent nights sleep. We had splendid, slow breakfast with Friedel of muesli, fruit and yoghurt. We were still sat talking when Tony arrived back. Over more tea I realized that the plan was for us to visit Itala Game Park where it was likely for us to see a white Rhino or two. En-route we called at Alfi Cox, KTM dealer, were we could purchase rear brake pads for the bike. Chatting to a very helpful Alfie I asked about possible head gasket problems, he reassured me that they were uncommon and only possible occurred on the slightly earlier models. The conversation jogged my memory into the fan situation, which now is noisy in its operation. Asking about a replacement, but as the cost was too great he offered an alternative which they have had good success in fitting to the motocross bikes. I think to fit a second fan and run it through the thermoswitch, with an isolator if needed. I reckon this would give me the best of both worlds. We arranged to return on Wednesday and buy what we need. The game park was only twenty km further on, and fairly soon we soon saw three rhino sleeping in the wet mud, with only a flick of an ear to prove they were not large lumps of rock. The drive around the park was an enjoyable three hours and we saw lots more giraffe, impala, buffalo and warthog. On our way to the exit we came across two more rhino grazing, it was a lovely park and we were glad that we did not spend big money in Kenya and the like on their game parks.
At six pm we left for the harbour bar in Durbs. The club was a large bar in a modern building completely open to the harbour on one side, with food outlets next door selling Pizza, Braai grill and the universal burger bar. The whole club theme was boaty of course, with the steels supporting the roof being round and topped out with canvas and ropes hanging from them. The music was excellent, the first band had a lady singer which I thought gave a different edge to what I have always thought was a very male genre. The second set a group of young men playing faster and louder with more popular music covers, the last to my mind was very traditional, at one stage two harmonics were being played, (not by the same musician I hasten to add), and they were all really excellent entertainment. It was great to be out and about in a colourful town.
Day142 Wednesday 2nd March.
We left after a lovely breakfast to go back to Alfie Cox to purchase the fan to back up the original unit that is showing signs of fatigue due to the beating it had further north. On the road we came across a truck that had broken through the highway barrier and came down on to our lanes. It had landed facing down the hill, across the inside lane leaving behind a trail of fuel and glass. To our thoughts it had occurred ten to twenty minutes earlier. The cab was totally caved in and somehow the driver had been thrown out of the cab as it had come down the embankment, he was lying on the central divide looking very dead. There were three vehicles stopped nearby with folks on their cell phones so i did not hesitate in keep going, as there was nothing to be done by us. With no cell and no medical training it was better to keep moving. At Alfies we bought what was needed and headed back on the alternative route to avoid the toll and traffic that may have built up due to the crash. Arriving back at Friedel and Tony’s we spent the afternoon in the pool, and uploading pictures. I attempted to fit the rear brake pads as they were almost worn through to the backing plate. I had bragged with Friedel that it would only take ten minuets. Half an hour later I was back in the kitchen washing my hands. It took me this long to realize that I had been sold the wrong pads, they were identical in shape but twenty five percent larger…
A Braai had been arranged for the evening with Friedel’s sister and husband coming as well. Siggy, and Tony cooked we enjoyed our first south African Braai very much and we had a great evening.
Day143 Thursday 3rd March.
We went back to Alfie to swap the brake pads at midday, we got distracted with the internet so ended up leaving at the hottest time of the day. I did not enjoy the ride as it was windy, I also felt I should have taken an old pad to compare and we had other jobs to do so this ride out was a waste of time and fuel, which has just gone up sixty cents! While I fitted the new pads the Wurth sales rep talked with us about his travels with the army, and how he has always wanted to do a bike trip. He had two older children and was divorced from their mother. He had now remarried and had a three-month old daughter, so his plan had changed slightly.
Tammy, Tony and Friedel’s daughter took us into town at lunch time to show us the ocean front and the new football stadium where the some of the world cup game were played in twenty ten. Walking the promenade, rickshaw driver hassled us for business. Telling them politely but firmly, ‘no thank you’ it reminded me of the more persistent sellers of tat further north in Africa. But these guys were fine and left us alone. We arrived at huge old cargo ship that had been turned into a restaurant and theme park for children. Half the stern had been replaced with glass so the dining area looked out over the ocean. As it was half a click from the water’s edge I asked Tammy if she knew how it had got there, she said it was reconstructed on the site. I thought that was a huge task and would cost a fortune but possible. Once we were on the top deck I looked closer at the flaking, rusting superstructure and knocked on a corroded steel panel, it was glass-fibre! Tammy meant it had been built as a show thing and I thought it had been taken to pieces and rebuilt on land. The whole ship was new and mostly plastic but it was very cleverly done, the effect of the paint was amazing. Tam then took us to the stadium where we took the glass tram-car ride up the centre spine to a viewing platform of the city. As the roof was a canvas tent type of thing you could see the seating laid out. Huge cables that ran to the glass outer wall supported the roof from the spine. It was a great thing to see and to get on the top was brilliant.
Day144 Friday 4th March.
We packed the bike and headed reluctantly south. We had a great time with Tony and Friedel and we were sad to leave. Getting very lost in Durban suburbs trying to find the main road then getting more lost in town itself as I could not find the N2 highway south. Finally I headed to the ocean and turned right at the water’s edge hoping the road would lead to the N2. The M4 was there instead but it was heading in the right direction and soon joined the N2. It was fairly windy and not a really pleasant ride even though we could see the blue water and white sand for a lot of the time. Arriving in Anerley, tea was taken at the Tea House Café. Charlie’s sister Lisa came and met us later and took us to a bar where we met her husband Justin and a few of their friends, a couple of beers were had and we followed them to their house on the beach in the dark, in light rain, down a sand road…
Sitting out on the deck eating our carry-out we had a glass of wine or two and talked long into the night with the sound of the ocean crashing in our ears. And can it crash! They had ten dogs that sat around us in a shift pattern while we ate. Justin loved dogs and hated to see them suffer. So when on his travels with work if he saw a hound being mistreated he would ask to buy it and give it a good home. A few of them were wary if you moved quick or out stretched an arm to rub a furry head. It did mean the house was well guarded though…
Day145 Saturday 5th March.
Lisa and Justin had a few things to do in town this morning so Diane and I walked along the beach to the café and talked with the owner again. Her husband drove by and told her he was going to play pool. Finishing our tea we asked where the pool room was, passing the bottle store on the way we bought some wine for the planed braai tonight. The bar was very local and like the town everybody knew everyone else. The rugby was on the television and although our table companions wanted to watch their local team play she was so intrigued by the trip a heap of questions came across it was nice she was curious but I reckon if after half an hour of conversation I said ‘nah its all lies we flew in’, ‘she would say ah yes I thought so’. There seems mostly an air of disbelief when you talk to folks. Further north in poorer countries locals thought we were from another planet, which I guess we were. Here people know its possible and they know you have done it but they are buggered if they know why, frankly I am too sometimes!!!!
We left and headed back via the beach and sat on the rocks and watched the ocean pounding the shore. I wanted to ring my folks but the noise and the wind would have made it more difficult, coupled with the delay on the phone I thought tomorrow would be better. We arrived back and sat on the deck and listened to Justin’s mum playing the piano.
When the other guests arrived the food was cooked and we ate a good feed of good food. We went to bed by ten and I think we were all fairly bushed.
Day146 Sunday 6th March.
I woke very early when Diane went for a drink of water and could not get back to sleep. In the dim light of early dawn I watched two geckos walking across the far wall above the window, it was fairly surreal. Listening to their chirruping call and the squeaks they made when ever they got to close to each other. Travelling through other people’s lives is weird, these lovely homes that we have stayed in are where they live all the time. Some folks we talk with at the malls think its unreal what we are doing and some are not interested in what we have done. You can see them glaze over when you answer their questions even though you have kept the answer very short and to the point. One chap studied the pannier which has the map of our route and countries passed through is drawn on and after five or so minuets said to me ‘I have not seen metal five litre cans for ten or more years’!!!!
We said to a nice guy in a café that because he can’t up sticks and travel due to family and business commitments that he could go for two or three months then return home for three or four then carry on for a while and so on. It would be good for us to be able to do that, but we don’t have the funds for the flights. I think the majority of people who understand why you are travelling have done so themselves or want to.
I packed the bike as best I could for the off first thing tomorrow, after we walked the beach to the bakery which to my surprise was open. I bought the biggest Chelsea bun I had ever seen, as it was still warm it had to be eaten immediately. The two of us struggled to finish it, but we did manage. Due to the warm bun the icing slid off as we walked and ran down my wrist. What a mess, but what a breakfast. Spoke to Pat and my folks which was nice, I was long overdue to call and it was nice to catch up. Slow day in paradise and early to bed.
Day147 Monday 7th March.
Riding up the steep drive with a sand covered railroad at the top at seven am filled my boots with fear but we were soon heading south into what promised to be a hot day. The road was excellent surface that dipped down into calm sandy bays or rocky inlets where muddy river water met the blue ocean in a white foamy wrestling match. When it climbed to hill tops that overlooked rolling green fields to the right or azure blue ocean to the right the cool morning air made the riding a perfect experience. This idyllic road we enjoyed till it turned west at Port St. Johns and headed inland onto the ‘infamous’ Transkei Road. I say infamous because all that said we should travel this road said ‘under no circumstance stop, talk to anyone, or help anything’. Full of fear and foreboding we tiptoed into the green fields that fell away sharply to streams that twisted through rocks and sheep droppings. Doted all over the hillside like toys, were mint green round thatched or tin roofed houses where men sat, women worked and adolescent children looked cross and grumpy. The young children often waved but everyone else was grim-faced. For us it was like Lesotho or Ethiopia so was not a great shock but for white South Africans I can well believe their misgivings. Muthatha was very rural for this far south and we stopped for fuel. As we often do we sat by the bike outside the gas station people watching, but in this town we generated a lot of curiosity. I know I keep saying it, but its was very Ethiopian. They were all very friendly and wanted know where we were from and going to. Finishing our rest a little sooner than we would have liked we headed out-of-town. Within twenty-five clicks we turned to the coast and before long were explaining once again to a disbelieving traffic cop our carnet was in fact a ’round disc’ exemption form. Diane sidelined him like a steam train and told him were we had come from and how no other country had questioned it before. Riding away after fifteen minutes of interrogation I was shaking my head not really believing that she had convinced anther one…
Our tar road to the fabled Coffee Bay soon became a little pot-holed but not enough to slow down the mini taxi buses. One and a half hours after turning of the main highway we finished with the wooded hills and valleys and hit the coast again. Not like Justin and Lisa’s beach but a nasty sandy, bumpy and over narrow stone bridges and a steep up and down hill with a small river to cross before descending into a backpacker hell. Most if not all of our experiences have been very good or at the worst OK, but this was not OK. Think we both were twenty years too old for the first hostel and too tired for the second. As we stood making our decision a young guy approached us timidly and then promptly offered us ‘Ganja or mushrooms mister’! When I declined he offered to Diane not realizing my ‘no’ was a ‘NO’! The tent was put up in failing light, too late to see the beach we went to pay and was invited to watch the ‘Unique African drum band’, which were playing that tonight. Trying to be more sociable that I felt, (I was log tired) we chatted to a few local lads. They all were a little to ‘Jack the Lad’ for our liking and we thought of getting to sleep before the drumming sessions started. Being to lazy to move fast enough, the drums came out and our companions it transpired were the drum band. They were good but being so close there is only so much drum solo I can take so we went to bed. Talking as we dozed off we compared the skill of those six guys playing one drum each to the likes of Tony, whom we stayed with in Durban. In our opinion it looked like one musician playing four or five drums plus two cymbals required a lot more ability than a group with one drum each. Maybe were wrong but the ‘Unique African drum band’ played us to sleep.
Day148 Tuesday 8th March.
By six thirty we were riding up and over the hill on our way to hopefully Port Elizabeth or PE as we now call it, as the local abbreviation has worn off on us. Before we got back to the main road a two up, six fifty Dakar BMW caught us up and passed us with a cheerie wave and sped off. As the tar road was like the surface of the moon we stayed at our sedate pace of sixty kph. The BM was pulling out of a lay-by as we passed ten km down the road and we stayed together until Dutywa. At a gas station we both filled up and we discovered Roger and Judy were from New Zealand and being retired had come to south Africa to work voluntary for two years in a church project near Coffee Bay. Roger advised us of a shorter route that would miss out the chaos of East London. We asked if they would like to join us for breakfast but they declined as porridge had already been taken by themselves. We stopped at the Spar and bought cereals and milk, sitting on the kerb by the bike a group soon gathered to watch us eat. When the sun came round to hit us full on we washed our bowls and moved on to King Williams Town We crossed Kei river bridge after a long winding decent through fantastic wooded valley and countless small streams and rivers crossing the road. The base of the gorge was spanned by three bridges, one rail, one old road and the magnificent new road, all back dropped by a steep rocky river gorge flanked by trees. Soon after climbing back to one thousand metres we turned right on the Komga road, after thirty km was stopped at Kei river village and sat beside a very English looking pond surrounded by wonderful smelling eucalyptus tress. I wanted to stop in Kings Williams Town but we had to push on as we would like to achieve PE tonight. At Grahamstown we stopped and filled the bike with the last of our money and gently cooked in our bike gear. I still prefer to be hot than wet. In the main market part of town we changed money and tried to find a café to get a cool drink and some tea, failing miserably we sat in Checkers car park where Diane had fries and a coke and I had fruit juice and whole meal rusks. Spot Mr. Healthy.
We called Terry and Dorieene who had sent sms through to invite us to stay in PE but we had not received them. We headed on to PE in the baking heat through more stunning scenery. About thirty km from the coast the temperature dropped and the on-shore breeze was like standing in front of an open fridge rather than an oven. On the road just after Summers river a white Polo came alongside us waving and thumbs up, with big smiles from the driver, it does happen every few days or so and its nice when folks are so friendly. Before the next off ramp after Swartkops river I pulled over to check if Terry had managed to sms the house co-ordinates to us. The Polo stopped in front of us and the chap hurried back to us and asked if we were OK and I asked if he was Terry. He was! He’d came out to find us and escort us to their home, what a nice chap. Half an hour later we were sat by their pool drinking tea. Dorieene made a lovely supper of cottage pie and we talked late, of their bike travels and our journey so far.
Day149 Wednesday 9th March.
The next morning we fettled the bike for a few hours and dried the tent until Dorieene returned home after her Wednesday walk, whereupon we had lunch. We had a tour around town in the afternoon and a walk on the beach. Nice relaxed day.
Day150 Thursday 10th March.
By ten am we were packed and ready to roll, we had the house to ourselves as Dorieene had to go out. Fully intending to get on the road today but the weather had other ideas. Some thunder rumbled around and the showers were very heavy, but then the sun would come out and warm the ground so it steamed. By half eleven Dorieene had returned and we gave up the idea of leaving and went to the cinema and watched a movie called ‘The Kings Speech’, on her recommendation, good film.
Day151 Friday 11th March.
Woke to brilliant sunshine, had a huge breakfast, packed, bade our farewells and headed for Jeffrey’s Bay. Stopping for coffee the owner gave us a couple of local tourist maps and many ideas for places to visit in the Western Cape. When we came to pay he declined our money and said it was a pleasure to have met us, nice chap eh? The road hugged the coast to our backpackers at Knysna. The waves that pounded the sands made white froth of the shallows which contrasted with the cold looking pale blue of the ocean
Day152 Saturday 12th March.
Waking to rain falling I was reluctant to get out of bed but it was nine am and as we were low on money the bank was beckoning us to its greedy sliding glass doors. I reckoned the commission was too high, but teller said that it had gone up on the first of the month with the new financial year beginning. Wanting to get moving I paid up and felt a little robbed, later we were told that it was very probable that it was correct. The rain had stopped and the roads were drying off but very low cloud hung about the tops. Heading to George through steep wooded mountain roads and passes, the air smelt very clean. Maybe a mixture of the salt, eucalyptus and lack of pollution. High in the Outeniqua Pass the clouds did is best to make us damp but once through to the other side of the mountains the sky cleared to a brilliant blue and warm sunshine that we had not seen for three of four days. The grey skies had reminded me a lot of England…
At Oudtshoorn we headed north to the Cango Caves. As Diane had never been in a cave system before I thought this was a great place to visit, as so many people we had talked with all said we should go. As we have not done hardly any of the tourist things en-route due to high entrance fees and riding a bike we pushed this boat out. We were not dis-appointed. In the first cavern the floor had been filled in with one hundred and fifty thousand tonnes of clay that had been dug out from a passageway that divided cavern one from cavern two. This was to enable classical concerts to be held there in the nineteen sixty’s. The cavern was renowned for its acoustics and to demonstrate this our guide sang Amazing Grace. The effect was stunning. We toured through the system and in the last one there was a very thin-walled, translucent rock formation that stood three meters high and our guide played these like a set of drums and sang a folk song in Afrikaans. Leaving the caves we filled up the bike in town with gas and ourselves with a steak pie apiece.
Living in South Africa its hard to be a vegetarian, but the meat here is very good…. We lost the penultimate metal can at the gas station that we have bought all the way from England due to a pin hole in the bottom. Cant believe how long they have lasted for.
It’s still a fair way to go before our destination of Swellendam so we headed west once more. And we wanted to visit Ronnie’s Sex Shop on the way….
The road to Ladismith was straight and fairly flat which meant we could go fairly quick if we avoided the natural hazards of wild tortoise that roamed the highway. From Ladismith to Barrydale the road improve with spectacular scenery of thickly wooded forests of fir and spruce. Soon we arrived at Ronnie’s and as we turned into the gravel parking lot I saw seven or six KTM nine fifty’s and nine ninety’s parked up next to a backkie with a three bike cart on the tow hook. The owners were sat outside in a fair state of inebriation and greeted us like long lost family, thank goodness we were not on a BMW!! With a drink we sat and talked of their days riding and we were asked of the trip south from England. Ronnies sex shop was a biker bar in the desert twenty click from town but it felt like the far side of the moon. The bar was decorated with a fair amount or ladies underwear, some of it worn by inflatable models and some of the garments had extra holes in places that was unusual to us. When my underwear has more than three holes, for legs and torso I throw them away but theses were new…. The bar was full of bike club photos and letters from folks passing through from all over the world. We left with much hand shaking and photo taking by a young guy was showed us his back which was peppered with recent shotgun pellet wounds. Apparently he had been caught trying to steal a sheep for their dinner earlier that week.
Tradouws Pass was breathtaking curves and hair clip corners with dramatic drops to the small river. This wound down and down which surprised me as I thought passes had to be high up in the mountains. The other side we climbed up to the main highway of Route Sixty Two once more.
Arriving in town we called Abri who came and meet us and took us to his farm where we had arranged to stay with him for the night. It was passed seven now and was dark so we really appreciated being escorted the five km back as we would have got lost for sure. Four of us ate a tasty braai supper of his lamb and home-made Bourworst
Day153 Sunday 13th March.
Spent the morning looking around the farm with Abri. It was interesting to have him explain about the water irrigation and looking down to the river how the citrus fruit was grown in the valley and partial flood plain, while the livestock was on the higher ground with the crops. Although there, with no rain fall the pasture can be hard to come by. I reckon I could never farm because so much is dependant on the weather. Feast or famine is in the hand of whatever gods believe in you. He made a chicken lasagna for dinner, boy can this guy cook some good food. We ate in front of the television and generally did not move much further all day!!
Day154 Monday 14th March.
Riding out into a brilliant sunny morning but the air was fairly cool which made for an ideal start to the day. Heading toward Worcester and the wine growing region to hopefully have a tour of our favourite red wine maker. At Robinsons we were told that the harvest was in full flow and no staff we available to show us around. But the nice lady organised with Graham Beck winery for us to be shown the process there. After an informative tour and a tasting we discovered that Mr. Beck sold his wine well out of our league, shame really, but what we tried was very palatable. Detouring through Bonnivale on our return to find a cheese factory that remained elusive to us we ended back at Swellendam Pick and Pay cheese counter instead. We also failed at the internet café as the guy hard not paid his rent and had been thrown out.
Day155 Tuesday 15th March.
Packed up and ready to roll by the crack of nine, Abri returned for breakfast and said that he would like to take us to Cape Agulhas rather than direct us. We thought this was great as we had struck up a good friendship with him and neither of us wanted to leave. We had a steady ninety clicks ride to Africas most southern point which was not a disappointment as these land marks can sometimes be. We stopped at Striusbaai where the sea and sky were brilliant blue with white-topped waves being pushed to shore by a welcome cooling breeze. While we sat at the small fishing harbour a Ray came in to sniff the landing quay. It was about one and a half meters across and we felt privileged to have seen such a big fish so close in the wild.
Agulhas was a beautiful place and the two of us felt a great sense of achievement to have actually got there. I thought it was much more of a land mark than Cape Point, especially as Cape is now a National Park and they charge big bucks to stand on the second most southerly point of Africa. We took lots of pictures of each other in daft poses about the brass plaque. Abri took some of the two of us while we posed a little more. I hope we did not embarrass him too much. After we had sat for half and hour talking to an elderly German gentleman who was intrigued in the trip and which route we had come . The German wanted to film us explaining our route and how long, thank goodness not why.. So Diane gave an admirable account of it and Abri also was asked to contribute which was nice.
My only regret is we did not get a picture of the three of us at the plaque.
Abri bought us wonderful fish and chips, with haddock, snook, and monk fish I think, at small tea house. Fantastic food.
When we were set onto the right road, which was a gravel surface, a twenty km short cut, we said our goodbyes and headed off. We both felt that we would meet up with Abri again so did not feel too sad at the parting. The road was as exactly as he described it, our only problem was the corrugations were enough to loosen the tent securing straps and the small plank of wood we have carried since Egypt to support the bike on in sand made a break for freedom. Turning back to look for ‘stick’ as its known we spent five km and half and hour looking for the wayward piece of tree. We went five hundred meters passed our ‘give up point’ when we found it with some other sticks, struggling with understanding Afrikaans. I think it was relived to be back in the team again and we all headed off to find the tar road.
Arriving in Hurmanus a bit of head scratching was going on trying to find somewhere to put up the tent, when a Dakar BMW with two New Zealanders stopped and asked if we needed a bed for the night!!! What a coincidence that we should be in the same street after nine or eight days separate travelling. Supplies having been bought we followed them to the holiday home they had been given to mind for a few days.
Day156 Wednesday 16th March.
Twisting our way to cape point through a very windy day but lovely landscape was fantastic, the air was still cool and the sky blue, maybe there is not much pollution here which gives the brilliance of colour. After getting in contact with Dale and Malony again we arranged to met him after his work finished, by coincidence only ten km from where we were visiting a penguin colony. We met them in Tanzania in late December on a road trip with their children near Mikumi National Park. As they ride bikes they had introduced themselves and invited us to stay when we arrived in Cape Town. We followed him home and watching him ride through the evening Cape traffic it reminded me how heavy and comparatively slow we were. We had a great evening talking of their trip in December and places we all had visited.
Day157 Thursday 17th March.
We paid Malony for a taxi ride into the centre of Cape Town and walked for hours around the waterfront and the different shops that have been built there in the last twenty years or so. The bars and café were mostly occupied by pink people from the northern hemisphere looking like real tourists and not like us trying to keep our heads down!! It would have been nice to have a pint of excellent looking Guinness but at close to four pounds a pint we left it.
Table Mountain was a sight to see as the weather was so clear. Later in the day the clouds rolled over the top of it and slid down the side, slow and steady, looking very white in the sunshine. Apparently this was called the table-cloth.
Later in the afternoon we asked a security man at a boom gate where the freight shipping offices were. He pointed out a tall building so were walked for half an hour in the midday sun to be told by the receptionist that this was the harbour admin, and fish cold storage offices and the container port was five to six km away. As we passed by the helpful boom gate minder, we threw bits of sun-dried fish at him that we picked up off the floor to thank him for his advise. Well in our minds we did anyway!
A guide-book said that Long Street is well worth the walk as it is full of independent tourist type shops. The truth was it’s full of bars and backpackers hostels. Not that many shops. We got a lift back as we were a bit foot sore to walk the eleven km back.
Day158 Friday 18th March.
As soon as I opened an eye you knew it was gonna be hot, very hot as it turned out thirty-one in the shade. I foolishly spent the best part of the morning on the internet trying to sort out shipping the bike from South Africa so by the time Diane could drag me away from it to go and visit one of the agents it was near midday and fairly warm. The co-ordinates had taken us to a slightly shabby part of town and I said before we found the address that I was not giving my bike to this guy. Happened that it was completely wrong!
When we were at Friedel and Tony’s I emailed a bike dealer for tyre prices so we headed there with only having to stop once to ask directions, not too bad for us! While I spoke to the shop assistant Diane bought fish and chips from next door and with coffee from the bike dealer we sat on the curb as we often do and ate. I read the posters on the shop window of two rallies that were being held nearby. One on the coast and the other in Worcester, about an hour from here. Would be good fun to go to an event like that in a foreign country, but maybe not much fun on our own. I arranged to pick up the tyres in a week or two as I want to get all I can from the current ones, helpfully the police here don’t really bother much about tread depth.
With new instructions to the shipping agent we headed off into a very hot afternoon. By three pm we gave up and headed back, the traffic was busy and wearing bike gear in town is not very comfortable to say the least.
When Dale and Malony returned we drove to a wine sales farm shop and we bought some very good wines for one pound fifty a bottle, it’s going to be tough back in England!
Malony’s mother and sister had prepared a delicious supper for us and the evening passed too quickly with a glass or two of wine.
Day159 Saturday 19th March.
Dale prepared a pooitjic for the evening meal. Pronounced poikkie, it is a black witches pot made of cast iron and although has maybe ten litre capacity it weighs about fifteen kilos!! Into this cauldron went all manner of vegetables and spices where they simmered together on a wood fire. The result was a fantastic stew which we ate with rice. A little later we were taken to one of Dale’s friends who was holding his birthday party. It was in full swing when we arrived, with guests all sitting out I the warm evening, the moon was very bright and large and the sky was full of stars. The locals here really could show English people how to cook outside. There were three wood fires, the one that was in a wheel-less barrow was a pooitjic curry, the other two in huge steel fire bowls on a metal frame-work. On these all kinds and cuts of meat and sausage were seasoned and cooked over glowing embers with the wood smoke giving a flavour of its own to the food. There were about half of the guests that rode bikes and a good number of them talked about their travels and were interested in ours. A few asked if we intended to attend the rally next weekend. We said that we had no plans too go but when they said that we should enter the greatest distance rode to attend I laughed and said it would be cheating. Most firmly I was told ‘no man you should do it, you may even win’! So it looks like we are going to Worcester next weekend.
Day160 Sunday 20th March. Diane’s birthday
Diane woke at dawn, which for us is nine am, to the sound of ‘Happy birthday’ being sung by The Familia Murphy, bearing a milk tart. Which is a pie, not a white lady of ill repute. After swiftly gaining clothes we joined them at the breakfast table for a fat girl breakfast of bacon, eggs, toast and tea. After we had all eaten too much we did bugger all really for the rest of the day. Watched an Afrikaans film called Mr Bones starring Leon Schster. Well worth downloading, hilarious.
Day161 Monday 21st March.
Bank holiday in Cape Town.
A few bales of tumble weed blew down deserted streets.
A harmonica was being blown, (lucky him) from a smoky bar room where swing doors squeaked and pealed their paint in the heat.
So at three pm we drove into the hotel district and picked Diane’s shoes which Rob and Sarah carried from Maun, Botswana and left at their hotel. With shoes collected with no hassle and went to Pick and Pay to buy food to cook, long over due, for our hosts.
One of Dales biker friends called in to say hi and thought he may know a company who can help with shipping the bike, seems like all of Cape Town is out to help us.
Day162 Tuesday 22nd March.
Diane struggled to get out of bed and by noon we both felt awful! Reckoned the house bug had caught us at last, the two children and Malony had succumbed to it a few days earlier. We planned to see the shipping agent and and find a crate supplier but we went nowhere fast all day. By evening we felt brighter but decidedly not well.
Day163 Wednesday 23rd March.
Out of the house and heading the wrong way by ten am. Managing to clock an impressive forty click before we started to get or correct bearings. We interrogated the shipping agent and bullied the local KTM dealer to offload his unwanted crates on us to make into a, well crate. Spent the pm wandering around the newish and very splendid Century Mall looking at all the wonderful presents we cant carry, let alone send home to loved ones…. sorry loved ones.
Day164 Thursday 24th March.
The day was to be spent sight-seeing in town, we managing to ride (sneak) through the bollards to avoid any parking charges being issued, we left the bike and headed for the Cape Town equivalent of Oxford Street. As we snaked and backtracked our way round the individual stalls, some selling spicy smelling hot foods, dried fruit and nuts and some selling mostly the same items as we have seen on the journey down we thought that we would look for a map to put on the pannier to show our path through Africa.
Asking at bookshops and tourist information we found ourselves being directed to the ones we had already been told to go to an hour earlier! Because some of the people did not know the names of the shops and that we entered by different doors it meant that we visited the same shops a few times before we realized that we were going in huge circles!! Now it was late afternoon and we had done our usual march of a town, seeing lots in the process of trying to archive one goal. Due to heat and foot fatigue we gave up on the map front and headed back to the bike. Passing a locksmith that also sold signs made to your own design we went in and asked if he can make maps and such like. He had a software program with thousands of designs and the one of global map outlines looked hopeful. We headed back to get the bike to make sure we have the correct size of the panniers.
When we returned to the bike and were told by an ‘attendant’ how he had slain dragons and kept foul demons at bay from the bike while we had been away. One of his older colleagues came over and gave him a clip on the ear and told him to stop hassling the tourists for money by making up story’s. The sore eared young man said how unfair it was and how the other guy was protecting his own people. Our redeemer was as black as coal! Sort that one out.
We took the bike to the locksmith so he could measure up. While we discussed what we wanted a traffic warden stood and started to write out a ticket for parking, but when he saw what we were doing he stopped and took a friendly interest and forgot about the ticket. Almost two hours later we were having the results we wanted being water slid onto the boxes, result! All that remained now was to carefully draw our line of progress on it with a suitable marker pen.
Day165 Friday 25th March.
We packed the bike which took ages as we have been in Cape for a week and have got out of practice. We aimed to be in Worcester for the Swallows bike club rally by mid afternoon. I had an SMS from Abri in Swellendam saying that his ewes had started to lamb so he was unable to join us for the weekend.
Our ride to Worcester was brilliant, it was really good to be out of the city and riding through open countryside. After forty km we had an option of paying toll fees to buy our way through a four thousand metre long tunnel, which although a feat of engineering, was smoky with exhaust fumes. Or taking the Du Toits Kloof Pass which climbed to eight hundred meters and gave fantastic views across a flat plain dotted with fir-tree plantation and azure blue lakes that mirrored the sky. We took the high road obviously, and as we climbed the air became cooler and was heavy with the fir-tree Christmas smells.
We bought a little food in the town as rally fodder is out of our budget, and probably terrible. When we had been robbed of the entrance fee we got camped up.
The house stop overs we have enjoyed in this country have been really good for us, and I hope our hosts have found us house trained enough for their hospitality, however it was really nice to be in the tent again for a few nights.
There was not a lot to do in the afternoon aside from a walk about the camp grounds and a look at the marque where thumping house party ‘music’ was at ninety decibels. When it got dark we went back as the party was in full swing and we people watch and chatted to a few groups of revellers.
The wet T-shirt and miss biker competitions were interesting to watch.. Also in so far as how they chose the winner. Not was on how much flesh was shown but maybe who the girls were, the winner in my mind was not the natural choice.
When we finally went to bed I realized that the background music of guys holding the throttle fully open so the engine screamed on the rev limiter for ten and twenty seconds at a time was not going to stop at midnight. Diane slept through the lot of it where as I woke what felt like every half an hour or so to the tune of backfiring exhaust pipes as the riders bounced the rev-counter needle on and off the red line. When there was respite from this, the rave music continued to thump out from the marquee enough to stop much sleep.
Day166 Saturday 26th March.
I woke with a thick head at six due to the lack of sleep and tried to ignore the din around the tent. My silk thermal gloves which I have not worn since Germany were next to my head. As I slowly gathered my thoughts I remembered that I had tried to cram them into my ears during the night.
When the tent became too hot as the sun climbed to give us a very hot day, I prepared a breakfast of muesli and warm milk, yum?
We wondered about a bit of a loss as what to do with our day, failing to find any bits of blown up engine we headed to the marque for the concourse competition. There was a tidy Bandit six hundred with twenty thousand km on the clock and the rest were show bike that looked as though they had been trailered in. I enjoyed walking about the bike parked next to the tents as they were clean but being used, I saw more Suzuki Katanas that day than I have ever seen in one place. Every time I see one I’m glad I kept mine.
Dale and Maloney arrived at evening and we spent the evening with them. At eight we headed to the big prize hand out where we thought we stood a chance of winning the longest distance competition. But we were pipped by a chap who had ridden from Moscow, bugger. Before the event started there was a whole show of Michael Jackson singing about save the planet and what looked like me a short prayer service, I was a tad bewildered.
Later armed with proper ear plug I headed for my bed at twelve and slept till seven.
Day167 Sunday 27th March.
The rallies I have been to in England Sunday morning was a slow gathering of thoughts through a steaming hangover, but these guys were packed and driving their cars and bakkies out by ten am.
We spoke to Johan and met him and his seven-year old son in town at midday and followed him to his grape farm, not for wine but for the table. They lived twenty clicks from town and I stopped trying to keep Johan in sight and marvelled at the scenery. The road and rail followed the river in the base of a narrow-ish valley. The mountains either side were new I think as they were very sharp and pointy on the tops but the slopes were deeply carved and rounded by water erosion. There were grape farms climbing the lower slopes then a short burst of fir trees the vast steep upper sides were a light grey limestone that turned pink in the failing sunshine.
We met his wife Niki who offered us a drink but we needed to wash first. We were shown to our room which was a lovely design of white carpets and red drapes and cushions, with antique furniture of mid to dark Oak and Chestnut.
After showering, the first for three days, we sat under a large vine and I was given about a third of a bottle of whiskey in an elegant goblet, while Diane stuck to a very nice Shiraz. Due to having no breakfast the alcohol went to my head. On the table there were a fat, round candles carved and colourful. I was grateful that the clear and while candle in a snowball glass was not lit when I mistook it for my drink.
They had six dogs of varying sizes, a pair of friendly Alsatians, (which I liked) pair of jealous Jack Russells (which I was wary of) who growled if any other dog came close to them if they were by a person, a huge white Labrador (who was amiable and always wanted a head rub), and a Bassett Hound (a very independent dog whom Diane adored).
Mia, their eight year old daughter joined us for food and we had a fantastic dinner of chicken, spicy spuds, rice, salad and chutney. We sat out till twelve or so talking of all kinds of topics from farming to spiritualism.
Day168 Monday 28th March.
Rising late we had a slow morning and went to a local hotel for a steak lunch. As a failing veg-head I can say it was as good as the meat we ate in Botswana. We are now hearing that Botswanan meat is renowned in southern Africa for its quality.
Johan had work to do on his computer so Niki, Diane and myself went to a wine bar cum café and drank a very cold, refreshing, local (next farm), white wine and watched the mountains getting heat stroke.
Niki had a ‘phone call and announced that she was going to collect her pot-bellied pig that she had been hoping would be available for her. Slightly stunned we went to a small housing complex and sure enough there we collected a pure black, week old porker no larger than a Guinea pig. As we sat about the kitchen floor the pig, Pickles came and sniffed us all out, I rubbed his shoulders and back it stopped the grunting he made as he walked stiff-legged from one to the other of us. He stood still and snuffled the inside of my knee. With his box and powdered dog milk and blanket we headed for the car. I got in the back again and was given the said boxed pig to keep safe. It was trying to hold a wet frog and he squealed like a, well stuck pig unless you held him on your chest with his snout under your chin and rubbed his shoulders. Back at the house he trotted about the kitchen and grunted as he went sniffing about. When the dogs came in he stood his ground and sniffed them as good as he got. We pigged away the afternoon and for supper Johan cooked an amazing prawn and pasta dish and grilled some huge prawns that in England you would mistake for small lobsters. Great day!!
Day169 Tuesday 29th March.
We went into town with Johan in the morning to look at internet modems and pick up a few items at the mall. We went and were bought a lunch of calamari and fries at Ocean Basket, everyone had raved about the food and this first time we ate there we were not disappointed.
As Johan wants me to ride their six fifty BMW to the dealer in Cape Town tomorrow I decided to strip my bike in the afternoon, for a service which must include the long overdue valve clearances. I could write a list of parts I need and collect them from the KTM dealer when we are in town. Taking my time and enjoying the dirty hands and generally fettling the bike as I stripped it down to the cam covers, took the usual two to three hours as there are lots of parts to remove, some standard and some home-made like the boxes and tool tube. I needed to borrow feeler blades from the mechanic at the farm so when I got as far as removing the cam covers I stopped for the night and socialized.
Day170 Wednesday 30th March.
Woke at the crack of eight with Johan beating down the door with the brass knocker. Later he asked if it was very loud as he had never used it before, as I wiped the blood off my ears and bellowed at him ‘what did you say’. He smiled and we collected the feeler blades and headed for the garage. In an hour we had set the motor to TDC twice and with a happy heart at the prospect of not having to get new shims or having these ones ground thinner, we headed for breakfast. By ten we were heading for Cape town where we would leave the six fifty at the dealers for servicing, the on to KTM for the parts I needed for a service and repairs.
While we waited for service at the parts counter a chap listened in on our conversation and asked if I was on a nine fifty with water cans strapped to the crash bars. Gobsmacked I asked why and he said that he had read about the trip on the internet and saw the bike leaving town on Friday. With e-mail addresses exchanged he headed off and I bought the parts I needed.
Back at the ranch I carried on with the bike while Diane and Niki were out visiting folks. By seven pm they returned and Diane came to the garage, sat on a pannier and said she had met her match and could drink no more and was going to bed. I carried on for an hour or so then went to catch up on the day with Johan and Niki.
Day171 Thursday 31st March.
Johan produced a pressure washer and detergent this morning which made a daunting task a lot easier for me. As I moved the bike outside into the sunshine I was amazed at how light it felt. With all the extra racks, boxes and fuel tanks removed it felt like a three fifty motocross machine, light and nimble. It certainly looked very thin! It took a good two hours to soap the bike and wash off six months of travelling. I watch as the last of the slurry that had been caked into reassess of the motor from the ‘tunnel of doom’, north of Addis Ababa was washed away. Back in the garage I started the polishing of stainless and alloy that would take a couple of days.
Day172 Friday 1st April.
Spoke to Kevin at KTM Cape Town about the clutch drag that has been on and off since I went to Cumbria to see friends before we left, and for two or three months now it been dragging a bit but more when it is hot. Advised to fit new pressure springs he said when they get to short in free length, they can cause either slip or drag!! sort that one out. The spares department had them in stock which for me is good indication of turnover. Also the clutch is fed with oil as it is a dry sump design and the oil jet can block with dirt. I removed and cleaned the jet as a precaution. At noon we took Niki to the airport as she is visiting family in Bloemfontein. It’s a nine hour drive from here, so flying makes sense. It’s easy to forget how big South Africa is, let alone the continent.
Comparing the springs on our return they were the two and half mill shorter that I had measured. Even the lever felt stiffer to pull in after they were fitted!
Day173 Saturday 2nd April.
The two of us got stuck in and spent an enjoyable day cleaning the plastic and polishing the metalwork. We even polished the inside of the tanks etc. as they were caked with spilt fuel residue that dust had settled upon.
We were called to feed at two pm, Johan had braaied a Snook! Snook is a predator sea fish and is gorgeous food when battered and fried but on the braai is was so much nicer, a little dryer and sticky with lemon juice that made eating it with your fingers even more enjoyable.
At six we called it a day as the pig wanted feeding and we felt like a productive day had been had.
I spent the evening on and off covered with milk, pig snot and spit, dog hair and more snot of dog while I fed the porker with an interested audience of Alsatian, Basset and Terrier.
Day174 Sunday 3rd April. Mothering Sunday.
Wanted to telephone Mum today but the cell service was too poor, when its good it’s still difficult as there is a time delay and our sentences get muddled up, but at the least I can call from most anywhere, wonders of modern technology yeah?
We blitzed the bike and got it back together and mostly packed for our departure in the morning. The big problem I have with a dismantle and clean is that I get distracted and find interesting bits to fettle and toy with. This time it was the extra fan that I had bought in Durban. While the bike was in bits it seemed like a good time for fettling the fan! It fitted where no fan has the right to be, and soon it was wired up and spinning like a good fan should. As the KTM has two power take off points, one through the switch, and one not, I thought I would wire it through the same fuse outlet as the heated grips. My reason being you would not want hot grips and an extra fan would you?? Never let it be said I have small feet for nothing. I enjoyed the routing of cables and making it a neat job, reminded me of my old days as an electricians side kick. Remains to be seen if it makes a difference though, but I can’t see it making it hotter…
Last job of the day was to drain the oil on Johan Honda town bike. Plug pulled I headed for a hot bath.
Day175 Monday 4th April.
Woke early before the cock was up! and headed next door to the garage, (how cool is it to have a garage off the bedroom? If I ever have a house again I’m having a garage off the bedroom). Once Johan’s bike was back together I set to packing and getting gone. While this hive of activity buzzed next door, Diane slept on.
In Worcester we posted a few items back and our Bao game as it had not seen much action, along with my thermals, Lucas’s T-shirts that he printed in Zimbabwe and waxed cotton over trousers that have no place in warm continents. The parcel weighed four fecking kilos. Too much heavy stuff man!
We set off in a north-easterly direction out of Worcester, which was a bit of a bugger as we wanted to go a little south and more west…
On the way out-of-town we rode alongside a bakkie, at about fifty-five kph with a largish dirt bike in the back. Sat on the bike were two children of about eight and ten years of age, the older boy on the front and the younger girl on the pillion. Both sat as if they were riding! Her arms around his waist. It sights like this that I will miss once we are out of Africa. The black family’s all sat in the trailer being pulled by a beat up old vehicle and children sat three up on a small scooter being ridden by mum or dad.
Soon we were really lost in the mountains and all the directions we were given and the map meant we were on our own wits again. After only two hours and one coffee stop (me) and one wine stop (her) we set our own course and soon heading for a different destination that we set out for in the morning. The road was a little potholed and the setting sun was in my eyes for three hours, but the wind that blew from the Atlantic was a real headache.
Arriving at Salhadna Bay camp site, late, wind-blown and poor we told by the owner that we could not afford the inn and headed into town.
We arrived at Susan’s self catering lodge and although it was full she gave us a bed in the laundry room which was much better than sleeping in a draughty tent. We slept well thank you Susan.
Day176 Tuesday 5th April. Karen’s Birthday.
Tried to sms Karen today but her number is not on this old ‘phone, sorry sis. I’ll try to email tomorrow from a café, I should invest in a three G modem really…
Following the coast road south was a little of a disappointment as it was quite a way from the ocean and the sandy scrub land was not much of an eye opener. Stopping for gas thirty clicks from Cape Town we decided to head for the Cape Peninsular and a camp site for a little open air living.
We still have found it impossible to wild camp and it has really eaten into our budget. Zandvlei camp ground checked out OK, with good grass, hot showers, and only a few other happy campers. We pitched up and cooked a kilo of prawns with piri piri oil, ate them with crusty French bread spread with home-made Guacamole which we put too much garlic in because we love it that way.
All along the garden route of the south coast we had been told of the abundance of ‘Eat all you can for one hundred Rand’ sea food restaurants, on the west coast. Not finding one, we splashed out on the prawns.
After our feed we walked to the beach it the dark, stepping carefully through the jelly fish that had been washed up. Watching the white-topped rollers coming ashore from America I guess. A few folks played crazy golf (called ‘put put’ here) by flood light, apart from them the promenade was deserted. We both slept sound till eight with the sound of surf in our ears.
Day177 Wednesday 6th April.
Slow day doing nothing really well, walked to the beach and checked e-mail to see what is happening regarding shipping. Nothing there either!
The wind was very strong and by one am you could hear the surf like it was at the camp gate. It blew very strong throughout the night and kept us awake, we were thankful that we pitched the tent facing the ocean and had set all the guy ropes.
Day178 Thursday 7th April.
Same as Wednesday but slept better with no wind.
Wondering now if we should change shippers or head up the west coast as we are spending to stand still. It could be a plan to ship to Dakar and ride to Europe that way. I have asked where can we ship to that we can afford. we will see what he comes back with!!!!
The highlight of our day was tea of Snook and muscle soup with crusty French bread.
Day179 Friday 8th April.
We walked back to town this morning and checked emails to find I had received my referral for the chest X-ray from the Australian embassy. While Diane’s embassy official failed in calling her back. Its was great to have some news and we could now finally start doing something constructive instead of sitting around and doing nothing.
I called the hospital and asked if I needed an appointment, to my surprise they said no, just turn up. By four pm Diane still had no referral letter, and now it was too late for the hospital so we decided that because we were packed up we would make our way in land a bit to a cheaper camp site.
Stellenbosch Backpackers was small and did not have anywhere really secure to put the bike. The camping was also a small area and positioned out the back of the house in the garden, right next to the bar. We were not keen but it was cheap fee per-night and also had free wi-fi. However it was obviously popular because they were full, however the guy on reception recommended a caravan park just outside of town.
The camping was expensive for both of us for the night. We both felt gutted that now it was late in the day we had no other option but to pay it.
We were both shattered, and could not get the pegs in the hard forestry ground so tied the guy ropes to the bike and Braai.
Realizing that it was four pm in England we called the lady at the embassy, she told us she had just emailed the referral letter to Diane. I called the X-ray department and what a bonus they worked till one pm on Saturday. So we both could go to the hospital together in the morning, we thought that we would have to wait till Monday. We walked up to the farm stall to discover it had already shut so instead we made do with what we had, for tea. Parsley, curry powder, paprika, butter beans and pasta was not the nicest thing we had cooked but all day with no food it filled a gap. At 8pm we were both too tired and weary for a shower so instead had an early night.
Day180 Saturday 9th April.
We were on the road at seven-thirty to Cape Town to get X-Rayed. I was really impressed with the hospital and after only one hour we were out and sat in the sunshine choosing our next disaster of a camp site.
We headed to Strand were the owner of a backpackers told us the rates had gone up and no wifi, so we then carried on to Montagu. Due to large small scale of our map it looked possible to take a road through the mountains and cut out a hundred clicks or so. This similar thing had happened on the Golden Gate road to Lesotho. There the road was not shown as it went through a national park. However after thirty five km we were being told in Grayton that the road stopped due to mountains being put in my way! I was not so concerned about back tracking but the fuel situation was grim and it looked like this small village would not have a gas station, and we would be buying off the locals again as we did in Malawi. But it did! After we had fuelled up with twenty one litres, (it holds twenty two) we sat next to the forecourt and had a bite of food.
A few folks passed, said hi and chatted briefly to Diane, (one chap was from Malvern, near my home town), but Jeff was more interested than most. We talked for about fifteen minutes and he was bursting with questions, and he asked our plans for the rest of the day. On hearing we had no plans we went to his house pitched our tent and had some tea and carried on our now three-way chat. Later his girlfriend, and their eighteen month old son arrived and soon we were heading to Genadendal which was a sort of township a few km away. It is situated in a valley and when we called at a house near the lip of it, the whole area was lit with dim yellow dots from the open doors of many dwellings. Soon we met their friends and saw where Jeff and Shannon used to live. We were taken to a shebeen which is an illegal bottle store. You must go to these shebeens with a carry bag because if the law see you coming out with beer the fan gets really messy. We followed Jeff through dim passage ways with small areas off where locals sat, smoked tobacco and drank to excess. Great place!!
We sat almost next door to the bar, on the dusty apron outside a friend’s house, and were made to feel very welcome, not many whites go to these townships and they were pleased we had came and sat with them.
Day181 Sunday 10th April.
Went to their plot of land where Jeff is starting to build a backpackers along the eco lines of local materials and solar energy. The lodges will be made of poles about seventy five mil diameter, log cabin style and roofed with corrugated tin as are the vast majority of dwellings in Southern Africa.
The land overlooks the village and to the mountains beyond. It will be a great backpackers for walkers and folks who want to sit and enjoy peaceful rest for a few days.
We walked to the Moravian church which was built in 1700’s its the oldest church in SA, and next to the castle in Cape Town the oldest building in S.A.
The area had many old Oak trees some with trunks that must have been eight meters girth. It all looked very old Holland with the water running through stone channels from the mountains to the water wheel.
Back at Grayton we bought food and cooked tea for all.
Day182 Monday 11th April.
We spent half of the day wandering through the streets of Grayton looking at the very unique shops. At first impression it was a one street town but once we explored it we discovered a community where one could stay and not have to go to the big city. All you need is here, unless you like bright lights! Although the star filled sky was bright light enough for me!
The rest of our day we spent at the Vanilla Café, busy on emails. We sent Red Bull an email asking for sponsorship. A few people have said we should ask because if you don’t, you don’t get, so watch this space, hopefully.
Day183 Tuesday 12th April.
Got in touch with Abri a few days ago and have arranged to meet up on Wednesday afternoon at his farm. We aim to crate the bike there if we ever get sensible answer from shipping agent. Next time we are in Cape we will go to M.S.C. and ask direct for a price. It may be we head elsewhere or head up the west coast. As there is reported, alleged unrest in the Ivory coast, Ghana and Congo, we would ship to Dakar then overland to Europe and have a think of what to do if the funds allow us to do anything else that head to England. We may have to find a few months work in Spain maybe, might even be fun.
Day184 Wednesday 13th April.
Diane went to the café, while I packed up our gear, to find out the X-ray results. They were clear and all was well. On the road at twelve pm after much goodbyes and hugs all round. It was a slow ride to Swellendam due to the wind that was coming from the south, as the KTM is fairly slab sided due to the panniers and tall flat fuel tanks it does tend to catch the wind.
We arrived at about four pm and it felt like coming home as we rode down the drive. While we waited for Abri to come home after working we sat out on the stoop with a fire. Was really good to see him again.
Once we had unpacked and showered he had prepared a meal for us all and while we ate the conversation was catching up with what each of us had done for the last month or so.
Day185 Thursday 14th April.
Bingo, on checking my e-mail my visa has come through.
Felt very English this morning, the mountains were covered with fog and cloud. The air had an autumn smell to it which I have not sensed for a long time. Abri came back unexpectedly as he could not do his planned crop spraying or even see his sheep due to the foggy conditions.
It did promise to clear so needing to change money I walked the seven clicks into town. Once on the road the sun broke through so my shirt came off and I enjoyed the exercise tremendously. I was a tad concerned over my saddles though, I bought them in Hereford for the trip and after wearing them every day they are starting to look tired. An hour and twenty minuets of sedate walking saw me at the bank where the nice lady told me the exchange rate had gone up. I called in at Spar and stocked up on a few items to help pay our way at Abri’s, I know he likes buttermilk rusks…Swellendam is a small town at the foot of the mountains but everything you need is there. At the shop I was asked if I wanted a plastic (bag), is it free I asked, no she said but these are, and gave me a large pack of condoms. I handed them back and said I reckon the dated would be out before I used them. Made her laugh.
On the walk there and back I was hooted at and waved to by a few vehicles, probably because I was in the yellow lane and not in the verge. I do try to stay out of the gutter.. Not far out of town I saw my first snake in Africa, a half meter Puff Adder we thought later, the diamond pattern on his back was really clear and although long he was very thin. Maybe its to hot here for many mice, however there is one or two in the farm-house. Back at the ranch not much had changed so we watched a movie and Abri cooked tea of chicken livers and spud salad.
Day186 Friday 15th April.
Slow morning proofreading the diary which as I’m ten days behind it takes ages. We rode to town and bought food and Diane will cook tea tonight. The chain oiler has ran out of lube so at the Yamaha dealer I bought some gear oil and asked if they had old crates which I could use for the KTM, which would mean not going to Cape, but alas they had none. However we were told of a trailer hire company in town, where we could hire one to take the crated bike to Cape.
Really nice to be out on the bike with less weight, made a good change to the handling, riding faster than the usual ninety kph was excellent.
Diane cooked a good feed for us and we talked a lot and had and early ish night.
Day187 Saturday 16th April. Tony’s Birthday.
E-mailed Liz and Pat early morning and tried to updated blog a little. Did a little research into shipping and got nowhere really.
Abri worked till one o’clock, then the rest of the day was spent fettling the bike.
Day188 Sunday 17th April.
Went with Abri this morning to check the sheep and lambs that now were about two to three weeks old. Was still surprising or shocking, depends on how you think of it, to see how rocky the land is. I know that grass will grow most places but here they grow a plant called Lucern for the sheep to graze on. The neighbouring farm had an irrigation system and I was not expecting to see such a green crop in this soil. We drove up to the higher ground to check the water in the round concrete reservoirs, these hold on average seven to ten thousand litres. They were cast on site but to me looked as though they could have been made out of square sections and built due to the possible mortar type joints that were visible.
The view to the north out to the mountains was stunning. The town lay in the river valley, like a model village in the Cotswolds in England. It was a clear sunny day the huge grain silos and larger buildings were plain to see although they all looked very small from here.
Went back via the farm, on the drive in there are a crop of eucalyptus trees that his grandfather planted as a wind break and now were around one hundred years old. The smaller ones looked as aged as the eighteen meter ones due I guess to their shedding of bark.
We collected some welding rods and goggles as Abri’s bakkie canopy rear door needs modifying after it fell from its lofty perch when one of the lashing eyes failed, bugger.
After a larger dinner than I’m used to (usually none) we headed to the workshop and each started on our own project, but it good to have another on hand to help when required. We looked at the canopy bent frame and door and came to the conclusion that the door is much easier to modify rather than the main frame.
With the bike, although the metal work had been straightened in Worcester, the rack top section was bending again and needs modifying. I soon had the rack off and had straightened it. After cutting a strengthening bar from slightly larger square tube I was soon discovering that I had lost the knack of arc welding!!!! I thought it was due to the rods being a bit big but that was soon proved wrong when the welding was done for me, bugger. Upon refitting, the front braces did not line up with the mounting points so they need cutting, lengthening and modifying slightly. I managed to weld in the second stiffening brace on the top, then called it a day at six pm as we had no more rods and the Leon Schuster film stared at eight. We watched one of his movies a few weeks ago and it was hilarious. This was a collection of his jokes played to the public and was equally as funny. He is very well-known in Cape Town and South Africa generally so when he thinks he has pushed the public to its limit he tells them who he really is and mostly gets away without being thumped!! You have to try to download some of this guys work, he is funny.
Day189 Monday 18th April.
Headed into town to stock up on consumables for the repair work. This side of town was a huge farm supplier called LandMark which stocked near everything you could want, from hydraulic jack rams to tea pots, (very important), combined Harvesters to chocolate bars. There I also bought an auto darkening welding helmet as the goggles in the workshop are cooking my face with the arc light. Abri has heard of the helmets but never used one so I thought it would make a nice present for him. Although sadly, it will be second hand when he gets it! The modifications went smoothly as did the painting, which smartened them up considerably.
Day190 Tuesday 19th April.
Went back to LandMark again to have the side stand, which had got bent on the truck in Ethiopia, straightened. I tried to do the job ‘cold’ at Nairobi but failed, here they had an oxy torch and when it was cherry red it bent smoothly. The guys there did a great job and did not mind me ‘helping’ and they asked a lot of questions about the trip through Africa.
After the work was done I went to pay, and on my return they finding paint to stop the bare metalwork from corroding, proper job!
I toured the town in the blazing thirty degree afternoon heat failing to find a vehicle with which to tow the trailer, to Cape, if we had a crate.
Back at the farm I gave the rack and stand another coat of paint, which really gave them a shine.
Day191 Wednesday 20th April.
Unusually for a bike rider in South Africa Abri has a KTM and a BMW. Here generally the two don’t mix. On the road we have noticed that if the bike coming the other way does not wave back it almost certainly is a BMW, hectic yeah?
Today is the day that his BM six fifty comes home after a six week visit to the dealer for a little paint work and a few repairs. On arrival we looked over the bike and noticed that one of the fork leg dust seal covers did not look new although both should have been changed, and two were on the invoice. Some screws that were corroded and should have been changed, had not been. So it looks like dealer servicing the world over is not what it should be. When I asked why did he not do the work himself the reply was that in SA a stamped service book will almost certainly sell the bike while one which is not, make for a much poorer price.
I cant believe how long at night we are sleeping for. We are asleep by ten pm and don’t wake till eight or nine am. Must be the county air. Can’t be unwinding any more than we have been as our only stress is the movement of the bike, which is now looking like its cheaper to ship elsewhere possibly Oz and not to England.
Day192 Thursday 21st April.
On the farm one of the last ewes to lamb had failed to deliver her two. Now dead Abri had to retrieve them by hand which was a messy business and is dubious if she will make the night through. It was interesting in listening to him talk about how its better to leave them to lamb and not interfere. As they often lamb in groups if one is having problems and you intervene it is very likely that the other mothers will walk away and their lambs will not keep up and die. Better to lose one or two than risk eight or five.
Day193 Friday 22nd April.
After checking on the ewe, who has moved from where he left her, so that’s a good sign, Abri has today off. We have planned a ride out of around two hundred and fifty km. First riding through the Tradouw Pass again to Barrydale and back to Ronnies Sex Shop, on the Route Sixty-Two. Which I maybe should remind you is a biker bar, in the semi desert, twenty five km from the nearest town and not anything else! Turning off the highway to go on to the Garcia Pass, and returning home on the N Two.
After a huge breakfast of warm hot cross buns and All Bran, (I missed my cereals big time further north), we headed out. The sky was clear blue, no clouds at all and it was warming up nicely, but for the first time I wore my thermal under pants for warmth as well as a sweat barrier for my leather over pants.
In Barrydale is a café called the Country Pumpkin, run by bike riders and they have the wonderful idea of giving a free coffee or a fruit punch drink to bikers that stop by. There we met Eugene a friend of Abri’s who lives in Cape and was en-route to a BMW gathering at Oudtshoorn. We had second breakfast together then all rode to Ronnies. On the road I noticed that Abri had no tail light, so much for dealer service! As the police were out in force for the holiday traffic it was not good. Apparently they would stop you for that light even though its day time. Its law to ride with lights on at all times and a lot of the cars and bakkies now do the same, on a voluntary basis.
We were riding through semi desert arid open land towards Ronnies, and from a distance I could see the car park was fairly full of cars and very few bikes. The Easter holiday here is a little different to anything I have seen in England. The black villages we rode through we saw a great many family’s walking to church with their own bibles proudly in their hand. Everyone from eldest grandparents to toddling children. While the white folks to go out and enjoy the Autumn sunshine at Ronnies. It was great to sit and people watch there. I thought it was a great place to be able to visit for folks as it was so different from anywhere else we had seen. At around two pm we felt it was time to move on toward Riversdale. We stopped on the descent from the Garcia Pass and overlooked to plains toward the ocean over large pine forests. The sky was still cloudless and mid blue, as the sun beat the limestone mountains they shone like they were made of metal. The wind had blown its self out for now and the only sound was a cicada. On the highway the wind was coming in strong again, and it was interesting to observe the upright riding position of Abri on his six fifty Dakar compared to our ten to fifteen degree lean toward the ocean to our left!
Day194 Saturday 23rd April.
Abri has had an invitation to go hunting this morning so left us to our own devises for the day. It’s nice that he feels like we don’t need looking after or entertaining.
At midday we rode to town and stocked the larder for the Easter public holiday. It was interesting to see in Spar that the ‘happy’ shoppers had the siege mentality that you see in England. Trolleys with more bread and milk in, than a huge family could eat over the three days, and the shop was open tomorrow!
The afternoon saw me rectifying the alignment of the front splash guard and putting on of two more stickers on the bike.
Baked spuds, cheese and home-made chilli beans for tea, Abri did not join us as he was still out trying to kill wildlife.
Day195 Sunday 24th April.
Very slow day, wind was blowing fierce today so put paid to our ride to the coast. There is wetter weather forecast for the early part of next week and I reckon it is this wind that will bring it in. By three pm the sky did have more cloud it it!
Abri stopped over and had a braai with his hunting friends last night, and returned mid afternoon.
His sister came over from Cape Town to visit parents and then to head for the coast for the weekend. She picked the tyres from Craigs Motorcycles and bought them here for us so we could fit them while we are shipping limbo.
For tea I cooked a fat boy fried breakfast!!
Day196 Monday 25th April. (Sharon’s & Hanah’s birthday)
After a little shopping we set to a little gentle tyre fitting, the rear tyre was now almost smooth after twenty five thousand km, but you still can see the tread pattern, marvellous distance on one rear tyre. We broke the bead on the tyre using the side stand method. While it worked OK I thought that doing it on a warm asphalt surface would be a bit hectic. Also the thought of all that weight on one side of the main stand was not good.
After inspecting the inner tyre which was China made and bought in Egypt, and finally fitted in southern Ethiopia I saw no reason why not to refit it, time will tell if this was a wise move or not, we still have our repaired (in Ethiopia) tube that we bought from England as a spare. The new tyre was much stiffer than its predecessor, we even commented on the suppleness of it when we fitted it. After a slight wrestle it was on but the beads were a bugger to seat. The small air compressor we carry did not want to inflate it much passed three bars. Where as when it was last used I don’t remember it wanting to stop at five bar. We borrowed one but the beads still wont seat so I will leave it till tomorrow as now it’s getting late.
Day197 Tuesday 26th April.
Went out and seated the rear tyre and took off the front and managed to pinch the inner tyre upon fitting it. I could not believe that the front was so difficult to fit. I always thought that the rear was the worse of the two to fit. The real bite for me was the tube that had been in from new was in perfect condition till I got hold of it! Feeling very disappointed with myself I tried to fit the spare and bugger me managed to hole that one in two places! When Abri came home we went to town in his bakkie and had both repaired and fitted the thicker one in the wheel. I was not happy that the wheel had a repaired inner tube but as the depot had no new tubes the repaired one had to go in. I was advised not to fit the wheel and check that it was still OK in the morning. The real rub was that if I cant do it in perfect conditions in the garage with no deadline how will it do on the road if the situation arises?
On our return Diane had found that there were not flights till the end of the month. Bit of a downer as our visas expire on the fourteenth.
Day198 Wednesday 27th April.
Put the front wheel back in and checked over generally for tightness of nuts and screws, adjusted the chain and spent a few hours on the Net looking at moving on elsewhere.
After much searching of flights we came to the conclusion that we should apply for an extension to the SA visas. There was a lot of options, and a very real one was to stay illegally in the country and receive a fine on leaving. That strangely enough not that expensive. But I thought getting black listed was a stamp I did not want, as potentially you may have problems with other countries visa applications The fees for applying through an agent and the Home Affairs Office fee was equal to the fine, so that looked a better option. Even better was cut out the agent and do it yourself, which we have done all the way down.
Day199 Thursday 28th April.
Went to town and we both commented on how different the handling was. I guess after two or three months on fairly square, worn tyres it should feel odd. We called into the travel agent and she took our details and said she would call back later that day. I’m shamed to say, but as we walked across the footpaths back to the bike we both said ‘bet she don’t call us’. One hour later she phoned and said she had found us three flights, one half the cost of our efforts,
that fly the day the visas expires, nice lady, and I’m sorry to have been so negative….
Our tyre pump had fallen apart on our attempt to fit the tyres so at Midas the owner cut a deal on a nice shiny new pump. I did not want to spend the money but I would feel stupid on the side of the road without one.
Returning home Abri had planned a smoked Snook tea with sweet spuds and salad.
Day200 Friday 29th April.
We arranged to go back to Cape Town on Monday and started to pack our gear to be loaded onto the bike later.
We took the huge step and washed our sleeping bags, first time in seven months, sounds bad but we do use liners, and wash them far for frequently honest!
Diane’s visa should be posted to Australia today and hopefully will be granted late next week.
Day201 Saturday 30th April.
Diane applied for RSA certificate today to enable her to work in the restaurant trade in Australia. As there was a proportion of movie clips to watch, the download was too great on the three G modem so we headed for town to use the public web access. They were shut of course as it was now mid-day and Monday was another public holiday, the seventh or so in two weeks. It was possible over Easter to take three days off work and have thirteen consecutive days, due to weekends ans public holidays. And we thought the long Easter weekends were good in England.
We bought food for tea and headed back. Amongst our purchases was a huge pumpkin bought from the little local fruit and vegetable we had learnt to frequent as their produce was fresh, local and better value than the Spar. This thing was four kilo in weight, the size of a ten litre bucket, ranged from dark green to leaf green and was covered in wart like lumps. All round a handsome guy! We were happy we had remembered it as Abri had mentioned them and how good they were.
Diane seasoned the chicken and Abri cooked it over the embers of our wood fire. I was put on chicken watch and sat and watched the fat drip out of the meat and make the fire flare up. I thought this would probably be our last South African braai.
Day202 Sunday 1st May.
The day started really foggy with wonderful smells of trees and damp earth. The sun slowly burnt through and it turned into a glorious autumn day, cloudless sky and clear blue. By the afternoon the heat was a little too intense to be able stand in direct sunshine. Our last items of washing were dry in a few hours. We packed up our gear for an early-ish start to head to Cape Town. Packing the gear was always a large task after being stood still for a few weeks as we tend to spread out and there is a big risk of leaving something behind. Soon we had packed and settled to watch the movie ‘Meet Joe Black’.
Before Abri went target shooting we said we would make soup and showed him the pumpkin. He looked stunned shocked and horrified all in one expression, poor him! ‘No man’ he said the pumpkin I meant is the size of a litre and looks like two hands together in a kind of prayer and the skin is smooth and one colour. I looked at our monster on the table, which reminded me of an Ogre’s nose without the holes, and started to dissect it for the soup Diane and I planned to make. Abri returned after we had eaten, I think he stayed out hoping we had eaten all the food, but we left him half a pan full to have over the next couple of days, poor guy…. (it taste good though, Ogre Nose Soup with spud and Cumin).
The other two were hoping for rain tomorrow. Abri wanted a little because he was planting crops and Diane wanted a lot so he would not be able to plant and come to say goodbye. I wanted none as I detest getting wet on the bike! Especially as we had spent so long in cleaning it for shipping.
Day203 Monday 2nd May.
Abri returned from work at eight am and the day was cloudy but dry. I was still eating my breakfast of soup but were ready to roll. Last time we parted I sure we would meet up again soon, but this time I know its gonna be a long time before we get together again.
It felt strange to be riding the fully loaded bike again, with the new tyres the handling was much improved and it did not wander over the tar joints in the road any more. We took the inland road because the chance of staying dry was much greater than the highway on the coast. Passing through the mountains to Worcester I thought it will be a long time before we see this kind of scenery again, not even sure what county it will be in! Riding over the nine hundred meter Hugenot Pass, on the southern side the flat plains stretched to the Oceans. Only table Mountain stood tall.
Apparently Australia’s higher ground is around six hundred metres altitude.
As we got closer to the coast the wind gained in strength and gave us a few spots of water but nothing to get us damp.
Arriving at Dale and Maloney’s the sky was now decidedly dark and stormy. The evening saw a pretty good electrical storm, I hoped that Abri had finished planting as this rain would be good to water the crop into the earth. (later heard he had nine mil, good for a dry country).
Day204 Tuesday 3rd May.
I had asked the manager at KTM Cape Town if he could deliver our crate base to the shipping agency two km away. He said he could pending staff and vehicle availability. Arriving at the shop by ten am we were told ‘no vehicle’, they were all out on collection or delivery, bugger.
At the shippers the head man said they had no vehicles either, and to return on Wednesday when they would have picked it up for me. I asked if they had a sack barrow I could borrow so I could walk there and collect the base. The head of operations said he would ‘sort something out for me’. Ten minutes later he arrived in his Land Rover and said let’s go! On our return Diane had emptied the boxes, we got the bike onto the base with no problem and I realized that the base was made to take the bike built up and not with the front wheel removed as thought was common practice. The idea was to make it as compact as possible to reduce the cost. However leaving the wheel in would mean an easier rebuild the other end and we now have space to send all the metal boxes and not just one or maybe two. The bike was all finished and fully packed in four enjoyable hours.
We spoke to the lady at reception if there was a travel shop that she could recommend, after she made a few calls for us and found a good one we said could she possibly book a taxi for us, ‘no man!’ she said there are to expensive, I will run you into town, nice lady! On the journey we told of where we had stayed in S.A. She knew Abri’s family and her nephew farmed twenty clicks from him, small world, but I would not want to have paint it…
We were dropped off very close to the shop and soon we had flights reserved for us for three days, which should see us through to when Diane has her visa granted. We then failed to buy a travel guide for Oz as the shops were closing and we had forgotten were the book dealers were. We caught the train and save ninety percent of what the taxi fare would have been. We walked the one km back happy that the bike was in the warehouse and ready to go.
Day205 Wednesday 4th May.
Beautiful sunny morning so walking to the shops was a delight, I felt very odd knowing there was not the opportunity to ride the bike any place we wanted, or needed to go. We are now at the mercy of public transport, thankfully the train into town is very cheap. Today we finally found a dentist to get our teeth checked and cleaned. No appointment was made as we both feel we should save this task for a day when we are really at a loose end!!!! Now it’s just waiting to hopefully make sure the bike has gone before the visas expire.
Day206 Thursday 5th May.
Diane now has a work visa!
She had no email but when she tracked the application online it gave issue time, date and numbers. So not official but it looks good to me. We headed to internet café so she could sit her RSA exam. The examination took just short of four hours and she passed with flying colours, so now can serve alcohol.
Day207 Friday 6th May.
We were up and about by six am and on the train by nine. Riding through the outskirts of Thornton we passed through the towns graveyards. Seemed to be an awful lot for a small town! The golf course was next door where old men were playing. I guess in a few years or so the would be in the next field! under the grass and not golfing on it.
Although sunny, Cape town was cooler than when we were here six weeks ago. Wandering round the malls and waterfront was more pleasurable because the tourists have mostly gone now, the white people with pink sunburnt bits have headed home. There was a definitely a lack of hats and water bottles poorly hidden in backpacks. We picked up a few bits that we needed and found a taxi to take us to the shipping agent. We told him that we had been given a price by another driver so if he matched it we would use his cab. He did not know our destination so asked his buddy to take us. Soon after setting out he asked how did he quote such a low price and how they must have been lying. I said how nice it was to have him as our driver because he was honest and would stick to our agreed price. As we headed out of town we gave him directions as he had not a clue, and in returned he grumbled about how far it was, and ‘look at the meter man, it’s a hundred bucks already’! We arrived and he handed me the change with not a word spoken. I thanked him very much and we got out and he drove off, still not a word said. He probably was thinking it’s not fair to be ripped off by tourists, all the books say its him that should be better off…
After a short wait we had our driver and went to the customs house to pick up our guy to stamp the carnet for the exit of the bike. Town was busy so I suggested to our man to wait in the van and I would go and get him, Henri was the supposed main man. I found him and shook his and informed him what I needed, he gave me a huge smile with lots of white teeth in a cheerful black face, I smiled back and thought that it would be easier with this happy man. Because the carnet was not stamped on entry to S.A. it may be a problem, customs said at the border it was not necessary for an English bike to be stamped in. not strictly true… Henri was chatting with colouges behind the counter and it was crossing my mind he was in no hurry when a tall white guy with long blonde hair, pointy nose, smug look and worst of all a Hi-viz. vest on, shiny and clean, with CUSTOMS OFFICIAL on the front and back, my heart sank. Our driver had gone to park the van and walked into the office as we walked out, Mr. Customs muttered about waiting around and what a waste of his time it was. The van came down the road on the opposite site of the road, he waved for us to go to the corner so he did not have to double back, this was not allowed and I was firmly advised that nobody made hand signals to customs officials. My heart sank further. Diane and I rode in the back of the van, which we expected to do and let the driver suffer the silence up front. Soon I heard the comment of ‘I don’t think much of your company policy of driving it clients around in the rear of a panel van’. At the dock the bike was soon to be loaded in the container so I made the frame number clear for him to read but he just said read it out to me, dumbfounded I said but I could have memorized a different one, he smiled and said that’s OK. All the customs apart from the Egyptians and Sudanese did not bother to check the bike against the carnet. We headed back to finalized the paperwork and as I was handed back the documents the guy smiled called me sir and wished me a good day, maybe he was OK after all. We got dropped off in town at an Irish bar and we met an Australian and a New Zealander and we asked of work and the countries. Once again we told it should be straight forward.
Back at Thornton there was a party planned and a potjiekos cooking and a great evening was spent.
Day208 Saturday 7th May.
Went to mall from ten am till four pm and did bugger all else. On the return Dale asked if we would like one of their old suitcases to take our gear in, as it would keep it together, better than having half a dozen bags lying around.
Killing the days till we fly is fairly mundane with no transport and little money. We have walked a great deal around the area and taken the train to Cape Town and walked our legs short there too.
Day209 Sunday 8th May.
A real nothing day, got the suitcase packed for flying on Saturday.
Day210 Monday 9th May.
I ordered a bank card reader five weeks ago, the last time we were in town and it yet has to arrive. You need this calculator type device to produce an authorization number for internet banking and Diane needs to transfer funds for Australia. I walked to the post office to check for parcels, but was informed that there was no post for that address. The counter guy helpfully advised me to go to the parcel office. It was about one km away and was a pleasant day for walking, even through an industrial area. Upon arriving at the gate I was refused entry because I was on foot. Another walk to the other end of the building saw me at the customer service desk where I was without a tracking number they could not help then was told the public had no right of access and I should not be in the building…. Security let me in though. Strange.
Day211 Tuesday 10th May.
Another day of waiting with the high light being a visit to the dentist for a de-scale and polish. We made an appointment the day before and confirmed the cost with the receptionist but when the bill was totalled it was one third more that quoted due to the consultation fee. When we asked why this was not stated in the price, the response was everyone knows about it so it’s generally never mentioned. Feeling slightly ripped off we paid and left.
Day212 Wednesday 11th May.
Another day of passing the time away.
Day213 Thursday 12th May.
Headed into town in brilliant sunshine to visit the mountain. After a couple of stations a young man started to sing about the golly golly of the lord. Being a naïve sort of guy I thought he was happy to alive and singing about the joys of autumn. However soon he was being guided down the carriage by an older woman carrying a handle-less green plastic cup before her. He was literally singing for his supper. Diane gave them some loose change because he could sing.
A little while later a chap sat opposite us as black as coal and very very fat got exited when a smaller gentleman got into the carriage, he was his pastor. He seemed to me to greet his mentor by a low growling, snarling sound. But by the look on his face he was laughing and suddenly the situation looked less aggressive and blood thirsty.
We headed to the water front in town to seek out the V.A.T. office so we may reclaim the tax we had paid on our purchases in the country. We were distracted by a charming man who enticed us into a tavern and talked us into a breakfast pint of Guinness for me and a wine for her. As we had not done the tourist thing yet we felt it would be rude to walk by and ignore him. While sitting a conversation was struck up with the manager and two of his friends. They asked of the trip through Africa and what problems we had had on the way down. Although they were interested what they were soon asking was what we thought of South Africa. They were fiercely patriotic and were greatly pleased to hear that we had enjoyed their county very much and had been in it for close to three months. Interestingly enough we had our suspicions confirmed that a great deal of the bad press about the country came from ex-pats who had not a good word to say about the place. Only to tell you about the security of homes and the violence of fellow natives. After they had returned to their work a vast train of professional looking people filed past dressed in smart skirts and suits, heading to the waters edge. Soon they were to file pass back again and our waiter told us it was a common mistake for business men and women to take the wrong path out of the conference centre across the road. Scary to think they may be in charge of important issues but could not find their way about.
I commented on the singer in the train and his curious lyrics and we soon figured out that he must have meant the glory glory of the lord, we may be slow but in the end we get there. Eventually the tax office was found and we were told that the slips we had collected on our journey throughout the country were not eligible for a tax refund as it only applied to items being exported out. Not fuel or accommodation that had been used or consumed while staying in the country. Big bugger.
Heading to table mountain for a little height therapy a taxi soon pulled into the kerb stone and proudly told us how much he wanted for a lift to the cable car base station. Sadly we told him how tight we were and he agreed to half the fee and drove us off with tales of prosperity while the world football cup was being played. Nice to hear someone saying how much he had made for once and not how poor he was. Asking for his cell number as we got out he told us the dollar cab would be a cheaper bet for our return ride. Nice chap.
Diane failed in conquering her fear of heights and I bought my cable car ticket alone. The ride to the top was awesome and I had forgotten how much I enjoyed them. When it passed the other car then only I realized how fast they go, the info said ten meters a second which to me seemed hell of a rate of accent, if it was true.. At the top there were a great deal of people but as the area was vast it did not feel too hectic at all and once I had walked from the car it was incredibly quiet, no wind bird song or cicadas to interrupt my dizzying view of the model-like view of Cape Town and the harbours spread out below. The air was cool in the autumn sunshine but still had a burn to it when you stood still, and black birds with amber coloured under wings came and begged for food when I stopped. The fat rat cum pig animals that we had seen at Storms river were here to, probably not the same ones as it was a long was for them to walk. A middle aged American couple stood close by as one of the super rats had stretched out on his back in the sunshine and stuck his legs in the air on the rocks two meters below. She asked me what it was and I told her it was delicious. Looking nervous now she said was dead and could not help lying to her and said yes he had been hit by a truck. After exclaiming her horror to her husband at ‘the poor liddle critters’ demise he looked at me with a ‘you bastard’ look in his eyes and they left. Maybe they thought I had run him over and hid the truck as it was evidence. I had read that the successive Bush government had killed Osama Bin Laden, again, a few days ago and I missed my opportunity to enquire how, as I had been told about three years by the newspapers he was dead then too. I love Americans but could not eat a whole one. Now firmly on my way to Hell in their eyes I headed back down to be closer to where I was obviously bound.
You could easily spend days walking up there but after taking two and a half hours to walk the short forty minute trail I felt it was time to join my vertigo troubled partner.
Diane had haggled a great deal on the fare back to town and the driver was an equally great guy and we talked a lot on the way down the hill, it was our first and last dollar bus in Africa and very unexciting but at least we did ride in one and live to tell the tale. Better chance here than further north..
Back in town we took one of the new football induced buses to the airport so we can pick up a vehicle. The buses were tailor made and ran on special dedicated parts of the road for the football but now they ran only to the airport I think. The posh, smart looking shops of glass and stainless steel we had seen in Durbs and here were empty, not used and guarded by a board looking a chap in a peaked cap and smart uniform. Great shame as it looked a wonderful system.
We picked up a cheap cheap car for a day so we can visit Cape Point and Good Hope tomorrow and drop it back where we need to be later.
Day 214 Friday 13th May.
We surfaced at five thirty am to say goodbye to Dale and their children as schools start at eight am and they are out of the house by six. We packed our gear and said more goodbyes to Maloney.
The drive out of town south to Cape of Good Hope was a cloudy one. We had been to the National Park once before about six weeks ago but at that time thought the admission fee was to hectic, now we are leaving we know the budget better. Also I really wanted to see the area, and compare with Lands End in England, as I always thought that was overrated when the entrance fee was levied on it.
Arriving in hazy sunshine it was more dramatic than I thought, the blue ocean and bright white sands were lovely to see and I knew that I would regret not making the effort later. Its possible I may not come ever back…. We climbed over the trail path and sat the far side of the peninsular and looked out across the oceans to the Americas in the west and I suppose Antarctica to the south.
Driving round to Cape Point the landscape was very similar to Table Mountain, but the rocks had been twisted and curved more here. At the Point the cloud had blown in, literally you could see it swirling around you making your clothes damp. It was a twenty minute hike, all up hill, to the very end where the light house sat, it was the shortest one I have ever looked at but the cliff it stood on was two hundred meters high. The plaque said though that the light was not very visible and some sixty years later another one was built below, a lot closer to the water’s surface. I stood looking out to the south and a lady next to me said to her man excitedly ‘look to the left you can see it now’. I looked across and the cloud had moved to expose in brief sunshine the final pointy bit of land, made Alexandria Port seem a long way north, although Agulhas is the most southerly point. I prefered Agulhas as it was a lot less touristy when we were there, and they had wonderful fish and chips.
We stopped in Muzinburg at a curry house and bought the bunny chow that we failed to find it Durbs this was different to was we had expected as this was a standard loaf of white bread, gutted and stuffed with butter bean curry. We were told by Tam when we were in Durbs that it should be a round bread baked hard crust so the juice does not leak through. This was good scoff though and filled us up.
Arrived back at the airport sooner than expected and settled down to kill thirteen hours of waiting till we flew at eight am.
There was a cafe in the airport of the style my dentist had recommended we go and eat at, in Cape Town. It was a Dutch cafe but I’m sorry to say that although we scoured the menu for many minutes, both were out of our league price wise. Bugger.
We did have a coffee at one cafe though and talked with a few guys about SA, and its people. They were probably correct in saying that most of the criticism of their country was by ex-pats who maybe wished to justify their departure by saying how bad everything was back home. Maybe it was ten or twenty years ago, but now to my mind its a fantastic place, and I don’t relish the idea of leaving.
Abri called in the evening and wished us a safe journey, was never easy to say farewell to this guy, I think we got on well. He said that he would like to visit England again. Be good if he did.
While writing this at two in the morning and lamenting the leaving of Africa, two women interested in our trip came up and talked to us. One of them had a son who was big time into motocross, but the daughter seemed annoyed or jealous with his fame and not interested with our trip and made it painful for her mother to talk to us. His mother was confused with Alfi not giving us support as big KTM fan and main dealer in the Durban area.
Did not sleep much as the runway viewing point we were at was very bright, up and rolling again five am.
Day 215 Saturday 14th May.
The flight to Jo’burg was swift and I did sleep for thirty minutes and missed the take off completely, shame as I enjoy the up and the down bits but the middle is a little boring. I must mention the Malay airline has wonderful food and stacks of it. The connection to Kuala Lumpur was on time and the nine hours passed much swifter than I would have hoped for. We played chess on the video screen in the head rest, and although I still lost the game it must have lasted an hour or more.
My thoughts on our African Trip.
Wow what a Continent!
Looking back on our apprehension before we left, of Egypt and Sudan, and not knowing much of modern Ethiopia. I had only the vague memories of violence and killings. We had a fantastic time in all of them.
The Egyptians were hard barterers but good-natured and fair. When you said no thank you that was the end of the conversation.
Sudanese were interested, polite and respectful, if that’s how you treated them, and we saw or heard of nothing to the contrary.
Ethiopian children were charming in the south and a pain in the arse, sour faced and grumpy in the north, generally, in my opinion!!
The following countries we went through I had no preconceptions about. And enjoyed them all for different reasons, whether the people were warm and friendly (not that we experienced any real unpleasantness), or the stunning scenery. Or as often was, a pleasant mix of the two.
It was a great shame that our budget was blown out of our league due to not being able to camp, out apart from Egypt and Sudan. But at least we did not get mugged or eaten by the indigenous population.
The last of our countries we visited, South Africa, (and not forgetting Boetie and Imma in Namibia, who were South African as well!), I feel we really got to know what the people are like. We spent three months here (narrowly missed being deported due to expiry of the visa, left on the last day), and had an absolutely fantastic time. All the folks we met or stayed with were warm-hearted, kind and generous with their hospitality and time.
Especially Abri in Swellendam (who gave us a home twice) and Johan and Niki in Worcester. They gave us time, some tools and garage space to service, repair and clean our trusty bike. And to Dale and Malony in Cape Town who gave us shelter (on two occasions) before we left.
The KTM has been an excellent choice of transport. With two punctures and one sparking plug (rear, and easy to change) you can’t fault it.
It was never thrashed or ridden hard, and it never complained or failed to start first push of the button.
Although slightly over loaded, the front tyre lasted forty five thousand kms. (visible tread) and the rear twenty five thousand kms, (near smooth).
The service intervals I extended from seven thousand five hundred to ten thousand km and I saw no evidence of damage in the oil filters.
Yes an oil change will take you between three and five hours due to the strip down prior to actually starting the job. This is offset for me, by its an unusual bike (and colour) to do this kind of journey on, as most people use BMW.
Most of all I love it!
Bits I replaced, clutch springs, symptoms were slight clutch drag. They had been on the way out since England but decided to change them in Cape Town because I could.
Tyres were front Pirerrli Scorpions front and rear. The rear I replaced with standard but have tried a Continental TKC80 on the front.
Air filter, one in Nairobi, the second now is looking a little grubby.
Spark plugs, three in total.
Rear brake pads in Durbs, worn to the metal but in from new.
Modifications, apart from the front tool tube, which most people thought was daft before we left. And on the road folks thought a good idea to get the weight forward. I fitted a second cooling fan and although did not perform as well as I hoped. But the next time I strip it for an oil change will try to fit a cowling around it.