Two fine zulus and a maladjusted mama

Trip Start Jul 19, 2009
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Trip End Oct 25, 2010


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Where I stayed
Penthouse on Long

Flag of South Africa  , Western Cape,
Friday, September 17, 2010

'You must be raving mad to travel 1.100 km with two strange men, but with two Zulus, that's asking for it.' 'Don't mention your trip, they'll know you have money.' 'Keep it on you at all times; take your bags with you when you leave the truck.'  ''Tell them you have come to help the little black children, say you are a missionary - they will respect you for that.'
What?! Excuse me, of course I wont flash money in front of people who have little or nothing, but I am not about to pretend I am a Christian to get some respect. If someone is going to harm me telling him the Lord sent me is not going to stop him in his tracks.

Louis, the drivers' boss, called me after about an hour on the road. Was everything all right? Very thoughtful, but not actually reassuring, I mean, should I worry? Was he worried?
Everything was fine. My dark companions chatting amicably, Zulu? Xhosa?, me reading.
They called me madam, informed me I could smoke if I wished and passed me a bottle of water.
Then they left me in peace.
I was happy as Larry and feeling quite smug. After all the tutting and warning - these men were perfectly kosher.
Till we stopped at a petrol station.

While the vehicle was being seen to I ran to a shop, got some drinks, hopped in again and, to my horror, I saw in the side mirror the truck was open and someone had his hands on my backpack.
Everything I need to survive here is in that bag, and a fair amount of cash to pay for the trip. I shout, jump out and confront the man. He raises his hands apologetically, bows and asks for 2 rand. What the fuck...........
My new friends show no emotion and no explanation about the trailer being open is offered. They shrug their shoulders, nothing to do with them.
I'm dumbfounded, but now distracted by a beggar, a dirty man, who is shoving a shiny red gift-packed bottle of perfume towards me. What am I supposed to do with that? It's not mine. I try to hand it to one of the drivers but he shakes his head. The shabby man is now rambling, numbers, counting down, refusing to take it back - oh, now I get it, I am supposed to buy it.
No way. It must be stolen and besides, I can't stand most perfume. My buddies are not helpful, looking away, I am left to fend for myself. Finally I manage to push him away and slam the door shut.
I need to get a grip but there is a sudden commotion, angry, raised voices from my drivers as they rush out of the car, leaving me alone, feeling rather vulnerable.

A little later they return, panting. What's up? The bum had sold them a knife earlier and pinched it back again while he was harassing me.
Now the tone of their unfamiliar language is not so friendly - rough and menacing. I don't like it.
It is getting dark as we drive on to the deserted roads, the trees and shrubs looking sinister in the twilight.
It comes to me I am at the mercy of these angry men through out the night. I don't know them, not even their names, thinking it better to keep myself to myself, now I wonder, how does their mind work - how does mine work for that matter. Have I put myself in danger?
The violence stories come back to haunt me: 'My maid has been with me for 20 years, raised my children, but wouldn't hesitate to kill me.' 'It will give a black man enormous status to rape a white woman and he will enjoy killing her after. Nothing personal. It's in their blood.'
I keep hearing this stuff and yet I have only met ordinary and kind people. Is it a racist belief? Or are these two men going to prove them right?

Dear God, I feel sick at the thought and want to get out of the truck, assess the situation.
Another petrol station looms up and I ask them to stop for me to use the toilet.
The oldest comes along with me. Crooked teeth, one in the front missing, the shiniest bald head I have ever seen. Kind eyes. I buy him a drink, he humbly accepts, thanking me in a soft voice, and as I pay I see him dropping a small coin in each of the three battered collection boxes on the counter.
I see a fine man, a gentle man. What was I thinking? Shame on me for doubting these people for no reason at all other than they have different ways of dealing with things, lives I don't understand, and I let the nasty stories get to me.

We sat in the dark, warm cabin, eating chocolate, drinking coffee and cola, and I knew in my heart I was perfectly safe.
 And so I was, well, the spare driver had to be told how the gears worked before he could take place behind the steering wheel. The other went to sleep, not at all perturbed, I stayed awake, just in case, till I was dropped of at the Cape Town airport at 5 am. The chauffeur asked a porter what was a safe place to leave madam till the city woke up.
Bless him.

Money I saved on the bus fare went to these men. Their faces lit up, but it was my pleasure. I felt they had given me far more, they had restored my wavering faith.
So will I continue to be foolhardy?
No. I respect the opinion of the South Africans, even those who are not ashamed to say they are racist. They have lived here all their lives, and I will listen to what they have to say and keep in mind I know nothing, nothing about this country's history, how things have become the way that they are now. I can not judge, I can only listen and try to understand, realise that my values and beliefs can not be applied indiscriminately to this part of the world. This country where I am feeling more and more at home, in spite of my incomprehension.

Enough, I am knackered, but looking forward to a day in Cape Town tomorrow and then onwards to Namibia and further........god, I am lucky.
I am, and grateful for all I am experiencing.

Bedtime now. And please don't worry - all is well.
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Comments

Mousy on

Ah but remember darling, you haven't yet run across lions, black mambas and lone bull elephants on the rampage - couple of Zulus - no probs! I have to admit though going it alone is very brave of you. What will you be doing in Namibia? Can't wait to hear. Lorra love Viv

Patsy on

I hold my heart (Dutch expression) don't know whether your courage should be admired or declared madness. either way - the journey of a lifetime! be safe - thinking of you, love -

rui on

you are having incredible adventures!
you can wright wonderful texts with all your incredible expriences!
I see in you a true strong woman and sametime very sensitive!
please take care with you and return as soon as you can!!!!!

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