Legends 2003: Trip report by Tanya, with comments by Wouter

Date:26 April to 4 May 2003
Place:Mabuasehube National Park, Botswana
Vehicle:Spikkels, the 1959 SII Rand-Lover.

[My comments are in square brackets -- Wouter]

Friday, 25 April 2003

My adventure of course started way before we’d even left for Botswana. I’d forgotten to pack my passport and only realised half way to work, that I’d left it behind. *note to self, remember to go through the painstakingly prepared lists before saying smugly, yes I’ve got everything* Wouter couldn't leave work to go back to Kommetjie to pick it up, so it was up to me. He picked me up from Kenilworth station and suggested that I drive the Yellow Thing back to his work "just to get used to it" [Well, to reassure me that I could trust my baby with, well, my babe :-)]. You must remember that I’d only ever driven it once before and that was in Matjiesfontein on a little dirt road in the middle of nowhere. Previous Land-Rover driving experience.. nil. The poor little old lady who saw her life flash before her eyes when I turned into the road right in front of her, is probably still talking about it at her bridge club. I managed to complete the short distance from the station to Wouter’s work and then suddenly I was on my own. A 5’4" sweaty palmed gal in a huge yellow Land-Rover. At least one consolation, they’d see me coming. What can I say, I didn’t ding it, I didn’t ding anyone else, I didn’t even ride over the cyclist who in his infinite wisdom decided to pull out in front of me. I even drove back over Ou Kaapse Weg, and let me tell you – the traffic was Hell (with a capital H): every Tom, Dick and Harry – plus spouses, kids and dogs, were on the road, what with the long weekend ahead. I arrived back at Wouter’s work, with dirty hands (sweating hands on that steering wheel is not a good idea, the black gooey stuff just comes right off) and a proud grin on my face.

Saturday, 26 April 2003

The official start of our trip was Saturday morning, we left Wouter’s place at 05:55 and stopped off to pick up his second spare tyre. We were planning on leaving bright and breezy at four, but Wouter had been up half the night packing the Land-Rover and had opted for a later start, figuring he'd be more up to the long drive with a bit more sleep in him. He then realised he'd left his cell phone behind, so we had to go back for that (made me feel slightly better about leaving the passport behind, needless to say we’re both as ‘loskop’ as each other.) So the official start time was 06:30. We stopped at Piketberg for breakfast, a toasted sarmie with the works for Wouter, and a lovely juicy burger for me. Having fortified the soul with grease, we were ready for whatever lay ahead. We needed some spare or other that Wouter hadn’t had a chance to get yet, [piping to connect the third fuel tank to the three-way valve. And a spare fanbelt.] so the first "major dorp" we came to that had a spares place open was Clanwilliam (10:05), I nipped into the Spar for last minute provisions. Never go into a Spar on a Saturday morning in a small town! I swear the entire town was in there, the cacophony of noise was something else! Once again we hit the road and I drove from Vanrhynsdorp (11:45). Wouter was now feeling the effects of the stress of getting his landy in working order in time for the trip and the subsequent late nights that had entailed, and needed to relax. Of course the first thing that happens is we arrive at the Van Rhyn’s Pass, which went up and up and up. I had enormous fun though, navigating the turns and keeping the vehicle at the right speed. In fact most of the time I drove Wouter had to keep gently reminding me that I was going too flippen fast. [And the Rand-Lover was running better with Tanya nailing it than with me being careful. Must be a lesson in there somewhere]. I mean really, how anyone can say that 85 km/h is too fast is beyond me. The pass levelled out at the top and once again it was the long straight road. I drove until we were just outside the turnoff to Brandvlei then Wouter took over. We stopped at Brandvlei for fuel and an ice cream (15:22) and it was my turn to drive. I was starting to really enjoy this, once I'd gotten over the complete panic every time a car came towards us.

Wouter by this stage had obviously complete trust in my abilities because he fell asleep, looking very appealing with his mouth hanging open. What a straight road, I kept myself amused by seeing how many burnt out tyres, road kill and skid marks I could find. A bit macabre maybe, but what else is one to do? We opted to stay over at Kenhardt (17:30), a quick call to our trusty tour guide (Wouter’s Dad) and we knew just where to stay -- Kenhardt Hotel. An obvious choice maybe, but one never knows, it's always a good idea to check first. What a lovely hotel, not much to look at from the outside, but the décor inside was very nicely done. The owners, who’d taken over running the place not that long ago, were extremely friendly and made us feel right at home. The first thing I did was have a bath, and this wasn’t just any old bath, this must have been the daddy of all baths, because it was huge. Even stretched out fully I couldn’t get my toes to touch the other end without half drowning myself.

Feeling much better we hit the hotel pub, practically empty, the only other three patrons being far more interested in the rugby game and their Brandy and Cokes. We gathered we were playing by the animation coming from that corner of the bar and yells of ‘WP’ every now and then. [I remember "WP" mostly being followed by "is k*k": those are all Northern Cape supporters up there...] Who knows whether we won or not, because by that stage we were in the dining room having our supper. We had the dining room all to ourselves, Wouter ordered the mixed grill, apparently the speciality of the house -- two mutton chops, [and bloody excellent mutton chops they were too] a piece of wors, two fried eggs and chips. Vegetables? There they are, Sir * pointing to the chips *. [Would you like us to slaughter a chicken, Sir?] I rather naively ordered steak and chips, and ended up with the whole cow. I took one look at this enormous piece of meat on my plate and gave up the fight before I’d started, I think I probably ate a quarter of it. This however didn’t stop me from having pudding, which was fruit salad and ice cream. Having finished our meal we rather unwisely went back to the pub for a liqueur or two (actually more like three or four, but hey who's counting). It wasn't till we were through our second (or was that third?) liqueur that I noticed the owners were braaing their supper in the pub's fireplace. You have to love small towns. We rather unsteadily weaved our way back to our room and crashed for the night.

Sunday, 27 April 2003

We left Kenhardt at 07:37, passed through Keimoes (08:38), stopped at Upington for fuel and breakfast, well I had breakfast, Wouter was still recovering from his mixed grill. A toasted sandwich with the entire works for R6.00 -- you can’t beat that. We headed out of Upington (09:35), passed through Olifantshoek (11:45), I have a note here in Wouter’s handwriting "Tanya drove last ¾ hour, going well" Now either he’s referring to my phenomenal driving skills, or the car, ah well I’m going with the former. [Complete silence -- Wouter]. There were road works on the R380 so we had to do a detour via Deben, which on our map was written Dibeng, all rather confusing really. Just outside of Deben we hit a gravel road and Wouter took over the driving once again. [And nailed it -- the border post closed at 4 and I had no idea how far it was, what with the detours and everything]. We had to get to the border post before 16:00 so we were racing against the clock. We managed to get there by 15:00 and found the South African border guys very friendly. [and not specifically happy that the engine number did not match the licence disk, but they let us through anyway]. The Botswana side on the other hand, seemed totally disinterested in us; perhaps it was the fact that they had to work on a Sunday, I really don’t know. Despite warnings about goods being confiscated we drove through without a hitch.

Then the real fun started, we arrived at Berrybush (16:15) to be greeted by a rather worried looking Jill Thomas. Seems there was a miss-communication and arrangements weren't exactly as we thought they were. We were under the impression the first night was going to be spent at Berrybush. Instead Keith had booked a night at Mabuasehube Park and our group had already left to get to the gate in time, cut off time being 18:00. So here we were with very little petrol, no Pula because Wouter hadn't been able to change any before we left, no meat and very little time to get to the gate. Jill very kindly changed some of our money for us [P400 at 1.6:1] and we headed back into town to fill up. Whilst at the petrol station I popped across the road to the local restaurant and asked him whether he had any money to change, got a really good exchange rate of 1.53. By the time I got back Wouter was talking to an ex-pat (Benny) who was quite prepared to change the remainder of our money for us at the exchange rate of 1.60 [P1000]. His wife had sadly passed away from cancer some time back and he'd found himself in Tsabong running a B&B. [Nice looking place, on the corner where you turn north to Mabuasehube] He’d obviously not spoken to an Afrikaner for a very long time, because he prattled away for ages, telling us all about his life, and how he has an opportunity to purchase a land rover for some ridiculous amount of money, [110 V8 for P15000? Bargain, wonder if I can smuggle one in...] and was this a good idea. Eventually having kindly filled our 2 spare water containers (25l each) we left Tsabong (17:05) and were on our way to the park. [Carrying only 140 litres of fuel, since I still had to fix the third tank, and 75 litres of water -- W]. The first 40 km's of the 120 km's was gravel, and we’d been warned that the rest would be heavy sand. We hit the soft sand at 17:33, with the sun on it's way down and the gate still a long way away, nothing to do but camp right there in the bush. We tried to get up onto the bank, but the sand was just too thick and soft, so we backtracked to the start of the sand track and camped there. Of course Benny's words of warning “pasop vir die leeu’s” did absolutely nothing to make me feel at ease. Wouter fiddled with a few things on his L/R and then we put together a makeshift supper of curried fish, tomato, cheese and bread. Went down a treat! Minimal ablutions and we were ready for bed by 19:45. I tried to read for a bit but our bright white light attracted a myriad of flying things and not even the excitement of finding out ‘whodunnit’ could keep me from turning the light off in exasperation and going to sleep.

Monday, 28 April 2003

Naturally my body conspired against me and I had to get up four times, yes FOUR times, in the middle of the night to commune with nature. Which is a bit daunting when you’re hovering as close to the landy as humanly possible, any minute expecting a roar near your ear. Wouter of course didn't have to get up at all -- life is so unfair. [I just unrolled it and stuck it out the window... :-)]. We awoke as the sun was rising and by 07:00 we were having breakfast (Weetbix) and listening to the birds. I have to say we were both a trifle disappointed (and somewhat relieved -- at least I was!) that the lions Benny had hinted at hadn’t materialised.

At 07:32 we hit the sand [Tyres at 1.7 front 1.9 rear] with a vengeance in pursuit of our group. Spotted a Gemsbok and some small buck along the way, but other than that there was very little to see, just miles and miles of bush. We arrived at the gate of the Mabuasehube Park at 09:10 and spent ages explaining to the head guy, whose name we later leant was TenPercent *sic* that we were indeed part of the large group of Land-Rovers already in the park and that we hadn’t actually spent the night there last night, but we would like to join the group and spend tonight there. Little did we know that those plans had changed as well, and we weren't due to sleep there that night at all. So we paid our 104 Pula to enter and stay in the park and found the group. Half of them had apparently gone off for a game drive with Keith, and the rest were sitting around gossiping about the night before.

The first place I headed was the ablution block to see whether there were any showers, yippee there were. Someone kindly mentioned that the only showers with warm water were in fact in the men's section, and I headed in there armed with shampoo and shower gel. Came out feeling 100% better and ready to officially meet the group. The rest eventually came back from their drive, just in time because a search party was preparing to go to the rescue. It appeared that the reliability of Keith's vehicle was in question. [OK, but this must be taken in perspective. Keith would originally have done the trip in a cruiser. Dave (I think) persuaded him to take his diesel SIII. Keith stole number plates off another vehicle, fitted a spare diesel tank on the back, and entered into the spirit of things. Probably the bravest guy in the convoy.]. My first introduction to Anita was her minutely examining some animals 'drol' and Jaco rushing off to get the 'drol book' to see if they could identify it. I was somewhat taken aback by this. We had of course by this time realised that we weren't staying the night in the camp and waited for everyone to get themselves organised to head off on the next part of the adventure. On the way out of the park we stopped at the office to try and explain the situation to TenPercent and see if we could negotiate a credit for Wednesday night. This took a little bit of effort but eventually light dawned in TenPercent's eyes and the penny dropped. That wasn't the only thing that dropped though, he suddenly asked Wouter whether he realised that he was leaking oil. [Well, the Rand-Lover]. We weren't just leaking oil, it was gushing out – we later saw just how much it had leaked by the rather conspicuous trail of oil we left on their lovely clean cement entrance way. [Oops! :-)] Up went the hood and out came the offending article to be fixed. [Oil pressure gauge plastic pipe broke on the engine side. Had to cut it shorter and refit the ferrule.]. This caused great excitement in the lives of the park officials and everyone crowded around to see what was going on. TenPercent couldn't seem to get over how old the Land-Rover was, and kept muttering to himself “sho, 1959, that's older than me”. Meanwhile the group had forged on ahead and by 11:54 we were ready to catch up.

I once again stared out the window in the hope of seeing something interesting. Sometime on Wouter spotted two dark shapes in the road ahead of us. A-ha! Out came the binoculars, I couldn't focus them properly and handed them to Wouter. Our extremely rare interesting animals turned out to be Johan and Willem, who had stopped to wait for us. We carried on and joined up with the whole group who had taken the opportunity to have a beer or two whilst waiting for us. [Actually, I seem to remember most of the guys brushing their teeth with beer in the morning -- any opportunity was good enough :-)]. 14:09 and we were off again on our way to Hukuntse to fill up with petrol. Tanks filled, 3 Pula’s worth in the one, Wouter had forgotten he’d already filled it up in Tsabong, [I was just making sure I had maximised the carrying capacity of the tanks -- W] we left (15:47) for our campsite.

Take several Land-Rovers, a flat pan and you have the ideal opportunity for a photo shoot. One parked, the rest raced to line up, everyone scurried out and roared off in opposite directions to get the ultimate shot of 11 series Land-Rovers lined up on a pan. I have to say it did make an awesome sight. The pan was near Lehututu and was huge. We parked by the trees on the side and set up camp. Sadly, the day of endless driving on sand with nothing to see but bushes, bushes and more bushes had left me slightly cranky (to say the least) so I stuck very much to myself for a while and just observed those around me. There was quite a bit to observe really, five men attempting to decapitate a tree with a towrope and one Land-Rover whilst Wouter [and others -- W] rushed around taking photographs of the event.

A long read and lovely hot shower later I was ready to be sociable again. That shower of Wouter's is a saving grace, it may sound like a jet engine taking off, [scared Keith out of his wits a few times] but once it gets going, the water is piping hot. There is something rather thrilling about having a shower behind a makeshift shower curtain in the bush.

Since we hadn't had time to purchase meat in Tsabong and had been warned about bringing any into Botswana, we bartered with Hennie and traded two bottles of red wine for some chicken and wors. We wrapped up potatoes and gem squash in tin foil, bunged them into the fire and braaied the chicken and some mielies on the rooster. A feast fit for a king! Half a bottle of bubbly and a plate of food later I was ready for my bed. Wouter kindly set up the bed and I crawled into it (literally--not much else one can do inside a Land-Rover [Tanya means as opposed to "crawl in", we did catch some flack for some of the "other things" we did in there... -- W]). The rest of the camp carried on partying and Wouter came to bed a bit later.

Tuesday, 29 April 2003

We woke bright and early (06:30) and I read whilst Wouter had what looked like an extremely cold shower. [True -- I must remember that the input side water is blerrie cold in the morning and the geyser's not *that* good -- W]. We have now discovered that the burner on his shower can’t cope with icy water so early in the morning. I wisely opted to forgo my shower till later in the day. We had a fry up for breakfast, bacon, eggs and toast, plus a few marshmallows to keep the sweet tooth at bay. Chatted to a few folk and then struck camp.

We left the campsite at 09:31 and drove back across the pan to start the next part of our journey. It wasn't long into the trip when we lost the convoy; we were driving along when all of a sudden everyone vanished. [Rule #1 of convoy driving -- make sure you can see the guy *behind* you :-)]. We carried on almost into the middle of the village, having been stopped by one man who offered to be our guide, when we spotted that Johan had stopped [he was behind us :-)]. We turned around figuring on asking him whether he knew which way to go when we spotted the rest of them. Sneaky lot had parked behind some buildings and were completely invisible from the road. Being the only vehicle without radio we were at a slight disadvantage. Turned out there was a craft shop there, which everyone wanted to look at and Keith had gone off into the village (Zutshwa) to find the Chief. From a very personal point of view, I was somewhat disappointed by the contents of the craft shop. In fact in the whole area of Botswana that we were in, there was practically nothing to buy as a curio to take home.

Someone noticed that our petrol tank seemed to be leaking at the top, and Wouter got somewhat drenched in fuel when he took the lid off. [Overfilled at Lehututu -- W]. We had the fire extinguisher at the ready when we started up again, thankfully it wasn't necessary and got put back in it's holder between our seats. We left the curio shop at 12:15 and all faithfully followed Keith who had a vague idea where he was going.

A couple of Springbok and a Blou Wildebeest later we found the pan at 14:34. Having just settled on a good spot to camp, Amanda and Keith came driving up ["both hands waving"] to excitedly report she'd spotted lions. We piled into Keith's Land-Rover and went off to find them. Three lionesses, an extremely dead gemsbok and a jackal, what a fabulous sight! We didn’t go too close as we didn't want to disturb them, but we were certainly close enough to see the lions quite clearly through our camera lenses and binoculars. The jackal wasn't perturbed by us at all and kept trying to sneak up to the carcass and would then have to beat a speedy retreat when one or other of the lionesses stood up threateningly. We stayed and watched them for ages, meanwhile the others who hadn't yet reached the pan had been alerted by radio and were soon there with cameras ready.

Once we got back to our camp Keith made it very clear that he wanted us to camp in the middle of the pan, in a laager with those sleeping in tents on the inside within the protective circle. He didn’t believe the cats were aggressive, but like the domestic variety might be curious and come and take a closer look at what had been staring at them all afternoon. Realising the laager might not be the best environment for a private shower I seized the opportunity and had one on the side of the bank before we joined the circle down below. Whilst setting up the laager, I noticed a herd of Eland wandering across the pan, they turned to stare at us staring at them. [My first real live Eland sighting -- W]. What made the sighting of the lions so much more exciting was the fact that we weren't in the game park at that stage, we were literally in the wild. We kept an eye on them throughout the late afternoon and into the evening. Keith chose caution over valour and opted out of drinking for the night, in order to be alert in case of danger. There was a definite air of excitement in the camp and many of us were secretly hoping the lions would pay us a visit. We had an early visit from the jackal, he came right up close and showed his utter contempt of us by urinating in full view near the fire. Guess that told us off. As the evening set in supper preparations were under way and a variety of delectable smells filled the air. We made a curry mince, bumming meat off Hennie yet again. It would have been nicer had I been able to find the little box of curry I was convinced I’d packed. The bottle of Cape Curry we did have might have tasted of curry once, but that was just a memory now. As the night set in, the tension level rose and every now and then someone would nip off to Keith's Land-Rover to grab the spotlight looking for the glow of eyes in the dark. It was with a great deal of disappointment (and relief on Keith's part) when we saw the lions wander off in the opposite direction. Obviously we just weren’t tempting enough for them. We did see a black spotted hyena quite close by and I believe it made a bit of a noise in the night, sadly I didn’t hear it. A group of us stayed up quite late talking around the camp fire, trading stories of previous adventures in Africa, then it was bed time.

Wednesday, 30 April 2003

Someone snored!!! [A nasty rumour has it that it was Andre Goldshagg] Which was a really cunning ploy upon the part of that person because I’m sure no self-respecting wild animal would even contemplate going near anything that made such a noise. Breakfast consisted of yoghurt, I was feeling the effects of one too many amaretto's around the fire last night, and couldn't stomach anything else. Finally the moment of truth had arrived; I could ignore it no longer, sidling up to Wouter I whispered that I had a rather urgent call of nature. Non too discretely he handed me the trowel, toilet paper and lighter. Armed with these I wandered nonchalantly off in the direction of the bush and found my spot. Naturally I picked a bit of ground, which was extremely hard, so after much digging I had what I considered a decent hole. I’ll spare you the gory details, suffice to say I covered up my tracks and set about burning the toilet paper. It was only much later when I read the rules of the park that I realised I was supposed to dig a 40 cm hole. Have you any idea how deep that is? I mean I'd be half way to China before I could do anything! It does however explain why all the men disappear into the bush with a great big spade. I bounced back to the camp declaring to anyone that would listen that I was no longer a “Bush Virgin.”

After we'd packed up we took a drive on the pan, hoping to see the lions again but came across a herd of springbok instead. Beautiful animals, so delicate and graceful, and they have this crazy way of springing up and down on the same spot. It was 09:40 by the time we headed off for another long day of driving, back to Mabuasehube Park. Thankfully the road wasn't as bumpy as the previous day, my heart had gone out to Sam, anyone six months pregnant who opts to go on a Land-Rover trip into the bush deserves a medal. She had taken a lot of strain the previous day and yet had remained perfectly cheerful and friendly. At 11:30 the L/R appeared to ‘percolate’ so we stopped to let the engine cool down. We got a little further along when it started to sound decidedly unhappy and Wouter found the nearest tree to park it under and switched the engine off. Fortunately by this stage the rest of the group had decided it was much easier to have someone with a radio travelling behind us, so it wasn't long before Jaco pitched up and stopped to help. It was a complete mystery as to what was wrong. I seized the day and sat in the shade of the bush and quietly read my book, whilst the rest of them tried everything they could think of to fix the problem. Eventually Jaco radioed Hennie and said they weren't making any headway. Hennie then drove back with Johan to where we were parked. That old saying of many hands make light work, certainly applied here, it wasn't long after Hennie arrived that he suggested they look at the condenser, and sure enough that was the problem. [Well, by then we had changed the rotor, dizzy cap, two plugs, and the coil, cleaned the fuel filter, and set the points, so not many things remained. I'll write up a separate page on the symptoms of a flaky condensor sometime -- W]. It was short work once they'd established where the fault lay, and soon we were back on the road again.

We arrived at Mabuasehube (16:20) and set up camp on the same campsite. As per usual my first stop was the ablution block and a much sort after shower. It had been particularly hot so the lack of hot water was not a problem. Jaco and Willem had decided that Keith's haul of wood he'd brought in with him clearly was not enough. so they had taken his landy and gone outside the park to find more. One is not allowed to use the wood within the park for firewood, you have to bring it in from outside.

Our supper consisted of left over curry mince from the previous evening and smothered in chutney it really was very good. Having driven for hours and had the stress of trying to fathom what was wrong with the L/R we were somewhat tired and went to bed early.

Thursday, 1 May 2003

We awoke as the sun was rising and discovered that a hyena and a jackal had raided the overflowing rubbish bin in the night. What a mess they'd made. Everyone began to stir at much the same time, and breakfast preparations were soon underway. We did the egg, bacon and baked beans thing. As there was a day spare we had all agreed to remain within the park, and Keith had managed to secure a booking at a campsite about 40 km's away. It was quite some relief to know that we didn't have to drive for 100s of km's, I can tell you. Once again wood was collected from the outside and Wouter and I set off just after 10:00 on a slow drive to the other camp. On the way we spotted a meerkat, and stopped to watch him, soon he was joined by two of his friends and all three stood up together to stare at us. They are extremely cute little creatures.

We were just passing one of the campsites when we saw Hennie motioning to us to stop, they had come across some mutual friends [Andre Marais, whom I got my deep cycle battery from, and company] and had stopped to share a beer. We joined them for a chat and then carried on to Khiding Pan where we were to camp for the night. I went off to have an afternoon siesta, and Wouter joined me a bit later, we didn't nap for long though. It was nearing sunset and we'd wanted to take the short trip back to Losolongo Pan to see whether any interesting animals would visit the man made water hole. We took our bubbly and sat for ages waiting, but the only things to visit were a couple of sprinbok, and a very disgruntled crow, who was airing his grievances to the world (and he had many). Keith had mentioned that we needed to be in camp by 18:00, so we hurried back to make curfew. A lovely hot shower, brief natter around the campfire later and we were ready to make supper. For some obscure reason I threw a wobbly, got all tearful, reckoned I was sick of the bush and when asked by Wouter what was wrong, said in a little voice "I want to go home". Eventually I got my emotions under control enough to join Wouter at the fire in preparing chicken risotto. It came out remarkably well, and between the two of us we "licked the platter clean". It was early to bed again, must have been all that fresh bush air that made me so tired.

Friday, 2 May 2003

Woke at 07:30, unusually late for the bush, [But early for some] broke camp and left at 09:26 heading for the gate. We finally saw a gemsbok up close by the side of the road and managed to get rather a nice shot of him. We later learnt that half the group had spotted a leopard lying in the middle of the road, and a cheetah on the pan. We all made it through the gate by the cut off time of 11:00 and set off for Berrybush.

The road again seemed to go on and on forever, we eventually arrived in Tsabong and Wouter stopped at the petrol station so that I could buy some much craved after chocolates. We rather bravely bought some takeaways from the restaurant across the way--a beef curry and rice for Wouter and steak and chips for me. We're still standing so I guess there couldn't have been too much wrong with it.

We arrived at Berrybush and I headed straight for the showers (what a surprise), and once clean went to talk to the two resident cats, big beautiful animals and incredibly friendly. Everyone pretty much did their own thing, several people disappeared for afternoon naps, whilst others sat around and chatted. I discovered a splinter in my finger and after much moaning about Wouter's clumsy attempts to get it out, Keith took over, and then when he couldn't get it out, David (really not sure if that is his name or not) managed to get it out, my poor abused finger.

[We sat around chatting, and Hennie asked what kind of music we would be listening to, had we been at home. Tom Waits, of course, said I, turns out that nobody knows Tom Waits! Shock! Horror! First thing I did when I got to work was to rip a song ( Lucky Day) from The Black Rider)and send it to him. But he's been afraid to comment, so far :-)]

The day drew to a close and we all congregated around the fire where Hennie gave a a very nice thank you speech. Jill had prepared a gastronomic delight for us, bobotie, pap, potato salad, carrot and pea salad, sauce, mutton chops, rice, pasta salad and pudding! It really was superb and thoroughly enjoyed by all. Seconds, even thirds were had by many and once all the food was finished we sat around the fire and talked together in small groups. It wasn’t long before Wouter and I slipped away to bed.

Saturday, 3 May 2003

A rooster started crowing at 05:10 much to the annoyance of many, and he didn't shut up till everyone was up. Persistent bird! By 07:00 everyone was up and about, packing up their last minute things and having coffee and rusks with Jill and Keith. We said our goodbyes and promised to meet up again at the next Legends trip and started off on our homeward bound journey. We were still animal spotting on the way to the border post, only this time it was cows, goats, donkeys and even pigs wandering aimlessly across the road, much to Wouter's annoyance who kept yelling obscenities at them. We were across the border by 09:00, the Botswana side being much friendlier this time, even though the one official kept repeating in a rather stern voice "write South Africa out in full, please". Our side was a breeze and soon we were bumping our way towards home. First stop was Olifantshoek where I raided the local supermarket for various lotions and potions to be used in the first available bath to re-hydrate my skin. I then bought takeaways from a shop that had 21 different varieties of burger ranging from the common to the more exotic e.g. Blondie burger, Rhino Burger, Johannes Burger, Dunk Burger. I kid you not. On we drove passing Dave Lehr and company in Upington but they soon caught us up and flew past. We were ahead of schedule so we decided not to stay in Kenhardt but rather to drive on till Brandvlei and stay there. However when we got to Brandvlei Hotel there was no "room in the inn". The entire place seemed to have been taken over by the "Wild Bulls of Upington", rather scary looking biker dudes complete with leather trousers, jacket and biker babes. Secretly I was glad there wasn’t any room, it looked like it was going to be a seriously noisy long party. With little choice but to carry on we climbed back into the land rover and headed towards Calvinia, some 148 km's away. Wouter intimated he'd like to keep on driving till Cape Town, [I merely mentioned the option -- W] which didn't please me in the least. [I noticed... :-)] I had one focus in life at that point, and that was my bath. So I sat in somewhat stony silence all the way to Calvinia resigned to my fate. Just outside of Calvinia (20:30) the L/R started to make some seriously strange noises and we stopped outside a house to have a look, [The throttle spring wore through the lever and departed, so the engine was revving like crazy. Fixed it with a bungee to the passenger door hinge -- W] this of course set the neighbourhood dogs barking madly. To my delight Wouter suggested I look out for a hotel and we ended up at the Hantam Hotel. A drink and supper later (of which I didn't eat much, far too late at night to be eating food) I finally got to have my much sought after bath. The bath was tiny, but armed with my lotions and potions I soaked the dust of the bush away, and hit the bed hard.

Sunday, 4 May 2003

We woke late and waited around for ages before someone was found to present us with a bill. The landy had leaked oil in the night so Wouter had done a sneaky cover up job with a spade and some sand and we skedaddled out of there before anyone noticed. Our animal spotting hadn't stopped though, I now added llama to the list of things seen on the trip. Things with the Rand-Lover went steadily from bad to worse, [Oil leaking on the clutch, and I lost second gear coming down van Rhyn's pass. So with no second gear and a slipping clutch, going up hills was, erm, interesting... -- W] and we limped into Bellville at 15:15. Suffice to say I enjoyed my first trip in a land rover into the heart of the African bush and will definitely do it again, I’ve just made one request, somewhere greener!

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