Distance : 1130.5 km
Country : South Africa
2:00 am, alarm goes, 2 hrs sleep and I’m far more interested in a few more minutes more sleep which is a big mistake because I oversleep and wake up 20 minutes late. Oh cr*p – shoot out of bed, bungle into clothes, grab the last few things to pack into my bag, empty the fridge into the cooler box, make a flask of coffee with the co-ords of an epileptic robot, stuff the last few bags into the Fortuner, let Timotei in, kiss the gorgeous wife goodbye, leap into vehicle, shoot round to TYK, stuff him into the back seat and head off to the meeting point.
3:30 am. : all 3 vehicles hit the road, raining, temp 15C
5 am : Mooi River, temp -3C, who ever named this town had serious delusions of marketing splendor because there is asolutely nothing mooi (nice) about this place. The expression “when hell freezes over” was obviously coined by someone who has never, ever been here because hell is here and its freezing!
7am : first brush with the law, we get flashed by an automatic speed trap… d*mn!
7:30 am : top of Van Reenans pass, frost and mist cover the landscape and the temp hits -3C again, another spot that is hell in winter (bit of a contradiction in metaphores, anyone who has been here understands though), pull into fuel stop, swop drivers and move on.
9:30 : Joburg – we are about as far from the bush as you possibly be in Africa, traffic everywhere.
10:30 : Pretoria and we have our first GTCB moment – KVet’s vehicle misses the Great North Road split and heads off into Pretoria! The other two vehicles continue North while they turn around and push to catch up
11:30 am : second brush with the law, Johno gets pulled over in a random police check and asked for his drivers licence… he provides the accurate excuse that his licence is in the car following (KVet), cop reluctantly lets him continue, KVet catching up
1:30pm : GTCB part 2 – can no-one in this group read road signs except yours truly?! Head halfway into Polokwane before lead car heeds flashing lights from behind, u-turn, rejoin Polokwane bypass and continue
2:30pm : The Prince of Anal Behavior (the non sexual kind) decides we need to heighten the tow bar so we begin the odessey. First engineering firm we find in Louis Trichardt is very helpful, removes tow hitch, but we find the tow bar cannot be raised, need a new plate. The next 30 minutes pushes the GTCB motto to the limit as some inane disembodied voice on the GPS leads us around Louis Trichardt like the Vehicular Pied Piper. I have now seen parts of the town that even the most drunken teenager in his wildest, most lost, night out has never seen! After going to every motor parts company in town we eventually track down the only place that can help. The other two vehicles have hitched up the trailer and continued leaving us to catch up once we have finally been reconstructed!
4:15 pm : Job done thanks to some very accommodating local firm and we head out of town only stopping to load up on a six pack so that my erstwhile and thirsty passenger can de-stress as we race to catch up to the others.
4:45 pm : did the Soutpansberg mountain pass with eyes closed except for the tunnels which we did with lights on and hooter blaring. Passenger downing beers faster than we can burn fuel! Driver remains steadfastly sober because random baboons and monkeys keep making suicide sprints across the road and picking out road kill from your radiator is not a fun job!
5:15pm : Arrive Alive at Tshipise only to find the rest of the team have spent the last 30 minutes sorting out a booking cockup that has seen our booking and payment vanish into the digital ether that runs the modern world! Step up TYK in all his Peacock glory. 15 minutes later not only have we managed to ensure that we have rooms for the night but due to the, ahem, age of certain members, we have been accorded pensioner status. Cue much laughter and permanent membership of the group to the Slick One!
Rest of the night : sundowners, swim in the hot mineral pool (awesome), supper and and a sing along of x-rated songs with a local followed by a debate on the relative aggressiveness of snakes. But that is story for another day!