. Rounding a sweeping curve we encountered a troupe of baboons....they were babooning around as you’d expect from a group of baboons. They made me smile but that smile was soon wiped from my face when suddenly the mountainous region we had been travelling through blissfully for the past hour somehow picked up a puncture. The glorious scenery let out a cataclysmic hiss as all the lush greenery and rock formations rushed out of the landscape in one big gush of expelled air and instantly flattened out into the place known as The Karoo. A long, straight road leading up to the horizon flanked by extreme flatness was all we saw for the next 7 hours. To make matters worse it was about 437 degrees outside and we had no aircon...AWESOME!!!....We did have a few distractions, some of them welcome, some of them,....not so much. Foot flat, I tried to outrun the intense heat and the endless road that teased me endlessly with its endlessness. I cranked the little Golf GTS up to a whopping 150 kph....trust me , if I’d gone any faster the car probably would’ve converted itself into a convertible ie the roof would’ve been torn off because of the unbelievable non-aero-dynamisticity of the car. The heat kept up with us with a minimum of effort. It even seemed bored with my attempts to get away with it and it showed it’s boredom by getting just a little bit hotter. I needed a worthy distraction.
Speed bumps in the Karoo are definitely a novelty, they come in the form of tortoises.....twice I had to break heavily to avoid the glacial movers
. The first was for a fairly large chap (about a foot tall) that would’ve definitely been flattened by one of the large trucks that patrol this hellish highway. These guys definitely do not have bumper stickers that say “I Break for Tortoises”. I pulled the car over and ran back to help the old guy over the road. Once I put him down I realised there was a fence fairly close to the edge of the road so he had nowhere to go............but I’d done my bit and I still had a billion miles of hell to cover so I had no time to deliberate this tortoises directional capabilities. Back in the car, pedal to the metal (as they say), flying along in our Smurfmobile (it was blue), up ahead in the distance, The Eagles saw a shimmering light but I saw a slight movement on the tarmac. Another little dude with his house on his back was making his way mindlessly across the road. This time I only managed to stop the car once I’d driven straight over the top of him but before anyone calls PETA, let me assure you all that I managed to avoid hitting the tortoise completely. To be honest , if that stretch of road was a murder scene and the tortoise was the prime suspect, a forensic scientist would’ve missed him, he was that small.....tiny, like an upside down tea cup....but smaller, yet no less decorative. It was gorgeous but I had no time to mess with my little non-swimming turtle so I put him/her on the side of the road and got on with the mammoth journey ahead. I was just getting used to the fact that I had been cursed to drive this road for the rest of my life when suddenly the traffic came to a dead stand still. And by traffic I mean the 5 trucks ahead of me and one bewildered sales rep that took a wrong turn at Sedgefield. The reason for this abrupt stop, and you may not believe this, was the 2010 Football World Cup. Yes, it’s true! When South Africa was told it would host the world cup it went into convulsions and made people dig up all the roads in the country,...and I mean all of them
. Between the tortoise rescue and Johannesburg we stopped no less than 23 times. Sometimes I’m pretty sure the roadwork mafia just wanted to create jobs, so they got people to stand in random spots and wave red flags around, bringing perfectly smooth running traffic to a dead standstill for no reason. I say no reason because there was no sign at all of any work being done on the roads. It was frustrating the first 5 times we stopped,...but around number 15 through 20 I had created a whole new language based solely on the abuse of profanity much to the dis-approval of Trace who was concerned that the only way I’d be able to get our child to sleep would be to let rip with a barrage of colourful swear words, apparently a kid relaxes when it hears familiar sounds, I’ll need to work on that.
We finally got through the worst of the Karoo and ended up in Kimberley. Kimberly has a big hole where they dug up a lot of diamonds. If you want to find out more go there your damn self. All I got from driving in its 40 degree temperatures was a serious tan on one half of my body and a diminished bank balance because we spent a night in a hotel that had a casino as its neighbour.
What seemed like a month later we finally arrived back at Sean and Adele’s place in Johannesburg. To a certain degree it was a relief to be back and to not have to worry about looking for accommodation or driving hundreds of miles to the next destination. It was time to chill and catch up with the family again. I did a lot of this, even some family that I haven’t seen for almost a decade. We also took in a cricket match at the Wanderers cricket ground in Johannesburg. The contenders were England and South Africa which was a lot of fun at a fantastic venue
One tourist attraction I will definitely point out to everyone that visits South Africa and even more so to the South African people themselves, is the Apartheid Museum.....it is a must see. I won’t go into detail as it must be seen to be believed. It is the biggest eye opener I’ve encountered in a very long time so if you’re in Johannesburg please make the effort to visit it. The scale of the injustices that took place in this country during the apartheid era were just unbelievable . There are different kinds of injustices in our government today, but they pale in comparison. Check it out.
OK, so we’ve been hanging out with my bro and Adele and the rest of the family just doing normal stuff, but now the road is calling, it’s time to get our asses back to a beach. The North Coast of South Africa is where we’re headed next. Surfs up dude.
The trip back began with some promising scenery. We weren't going to take the N1 again because we’d been there and done that,....so I decided to go back on the N12 so we could see a bit more of the country,....a decision I would later regret but initially it was brilliant. Meiringspoort Pass was the reason for the rapture I felt. Massive, sheer rock faces formed by undulating tectonic plates rose up on either side of the road as if this were the place planets met for a quick drink.....we were obviously in their private space but they seemed docile enough so no intimidation was experienced. Perhaps these geographic giants were calmed by the river that snaked down the valley between them occasionally darting under the road only to dart back again a few hundred meters later. Some of these "darts" had been given quaint names like Creek 1, Creek 2, Creek 3 and Ghost Creek...and Creek 4. The signs were in Afrikaans but that did not make them any more original. The Planet Pub went on for a great distance for which we were greatful because when it ended, it seemed the world itself had given up on the geography of the endless piece of South Africa that followed this Eden like Pass