The Journey, not the Destination: Goats, Wine, Mountains and Mafia #SAroadtrip

“I am looking for someone to share in an adventure that I am arranging, and it’s very difficult to find anyone,” said Gandalf. 
“I should think so — in these parts! We are plain quiet folk and have no use for adventures. Nasty disturbing uncomfortable things! Make you late for dinner! I can’t think what anybody sees in them,” said our Mr. Baggins.

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien 

road trip south africa

We were about 60km outside Port Edward when we realised that we might actually be in real danger.

A shiny white Audi appeared to be trying to run us off the road.

It swerved in front of us and the driver stuck out his hand, signally us to pull over onto the gravel embankment. Twice we pulled out in front to avoid a crash. Twice the same car drove up close and then over-took us. When we came to a bend in the mountain pass, we realised that this wasn’t going to stop. I imagined the headlines back in the UK: British Couple … Fatal Accident … South Africa. We were going to have to acquiesce.

Hubby slowed down and came to a stop in the middle of the road. From the Audi, now pulled over in front of us, climbed two large men who headed towards us. My mouth went dry. Scenes from the Die Hard films came to mind.

Thus far, goats and pot holes in the road had simply been a lesson in quick manoeuvring. Being pulled over by the local taxi syndicate mafia-types was a different matter altogether!

In the back seat of our car sat an elderly black man in a neat tweed jacket. He let out an audible breath. He was the fourth person we had given a lift to so far in our more than 2000km drive from Kimberley in the Northern Cape to where we now were in a rural mountainous part of the former Transkei.

Thug 1: Why are you picking this man up?
Me: We are giving him a lift.
Thug 1: Pull over onto the gravel.
Hubby: No.
Thug 1: I want to know why you are giving this man a lift. There are taxis. You are taking our business.
Thug 2: We will charge you.
Stranger from another car: Is everything okay? You need to get out of the road. It’s dangerous to stop here.

*Thug 2 says something dismissive in Xhosa and than leaves*

Thug 1: TELL ME. I want to know why?
Me: We are just giving him a lift.
Thug 1: I am not speaking to you. I’m speaking to the driver.
Hubby: We are not asking him for money.
Me: Listen, we are just trying to be kind. <Divine inspiration?>

*Thug 1 and Thug 2 exchange confused glances.*

Thug 2: We are warning you … DO NOT give any more people lifts. They must take a taxi!

We drove off in silence, all three of us quietly thanking God for our precious lives.

Next, a certain lightness and frivolity took hold. We all talked at once. I took out our Xhosa-English dictionary to aid my halting Xhosa. “Siyahamba Umnghazi!”  I said. “Uyaphi Mhlekazi?” We are going to Mnghazi. Where are you going Sir? “Ndiya eLusikisiki,” he said. I am going to Lusikisiki. “Kulungile!” Okay! “Siyanceda wena!” We help you! 

And then, hoping he’d excuse our bad grammar: “Siya bafunda ukuthetha isiXhosa!” We are learning to speak Xhosa!

“Llungile,” said the man through a toothless grin. That’s good!

Our planned two week road trip from Kimberley to Morgan Bay via Lesotho (as well as the rest of our month-long stay in South Africa) was a great adventure. There is just too much to tell. So as not to bore, I give you some of the highlights in pictorial tidbits (click on any image for full size slide show and captions).

P.s. Please have a close look at the map of our trip for statistics which you will find in the map keys – Geography teachers please note my excellent map skills.
P.p.s. The only place our linguistic skills did not help us at all, was in Lesotho. Even when the Basothos spoke their limited English, the lilts, liaisons, rhythm and stresses of their speech were not familiar. It took repetition, rephrasing, acting and pointing on both sides to be fully understood.
P.p.p.s. Wherever we went we brought a dramatic thunder storm and rain. Since they hadn’t seen rain in Kimberley for more than a year, the Kimberlians we frankly reluctant to let us leave.
P.p.p.p.s. I was told by a shopkeeper in a Biltong shop in Kimberley that my accent was ‘gorgeous’. So much for Hubby and his laughter at how I pronounce certain words!
P.p.p.p.p.s. Thankfully my brother’s surfboard and our Lesotho blankets, which missed the connection in Johannesburg, were safely delivered by British Airways 4 days after our return to the UK. Now my brother can resume his North Sea antics – crazy man!
P.p.p.p.p.p.s. We tried to squeeze in as many family and friends as possible. This meant we saw lots of beloved peeps, but some so fleetingly. Thank you so much if you were one of those who we only managed to see for 30 minutes (CS and PS in Durban) or 2 hours (Aunty K, Uncle M, SG x2 in Umgazana; B&B and Aunty N & Uncle B in Kirstenbosch Gardens; ‘The East London Ladies’, Birdie and Charlie; Sissi and Boetie in JHB) etc and nevertheless you managed to look happy and grateful! Also, thanks to the precious peeps who hosted and fed us along the way.

6 thoughts on “The Journey, not the Destination: Goats, Wine, Mountains and Mafia #SAroadtrip

  1. Hi .What a brilliant journey.A lively ‘taxi’ ride at the beginning of the adventure though which gladly ended positively.It adds a whole new meaning to hailing ……’TAXI’.I really love all your photos which fully complete the ‘Journey’.Love to all the family.x


  2. Loved your post Nyama. What a great way to share your adventures by using your photos! It gave me such a good idea of what you were up to. I am so glad you guys had a good holiday and are rested and ready for 2017. It promises to be an interesting year!


  3. Wow! Sounds like it was an incredible trip- perhaps one worthy of a book? Or at least a series of posts- this one was riveting! Amazing that you guys were bearers of rain. Last year I got to experience amazing thunder storms in North Carolina and in Krugersdorp (we don’t get them very often in Ireland- far less frequently than in London). My favourite was the Krugersdorp one. My host was so tickled at my awe and wonder at the storm that he unlocked the front door gate so that I could stand on the balcony and just enjoy the roars and flashes. Glad you guys escaped the mafia and continued to have a most excellent adventure!


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