This is how the bike looks upon arrival after being flown across an ocean.
At the southermost point of Africa- where one ocean meets another. Republic of South Africa.
Michael, Peter, David and Hennie at the Bush Pub (rugby on the tele!) Malgas, South Africa.
These birds like to run!
I arrived in Capetown almost a month later than I had originally planned. This is 'round the world riding and things don't always go according to plan. South Africa is beautiful country. It surpassed any expectations I had before my arrival. The undeniable jewel in the crown of the Republic is the city of Capetown. Set between the sea and the cliffs of Table Mountain, the city enjoys a spectacular location.
Not far from Capetown is the town of Paarl, in the heart of wine country. In this region are many enjoyable towns where one can enjoy a delicious South African wine paired with an eclectic variety of food. The beef here is amazing. No offense to Argentina, but the RSA put the boot to your butt when it comes to beef! There is also plenty of game available: springbok, kudo, oryx and many more. I have enjoyed my share.
"A day (or two) on the road: In the Great Karoo, from Fraserburg to Calvinia."
With yet another powerful winter storm approaching the Southern Cape, I departed the city of George with the hope of putting the mountains of the Groot-Swartberge and Outeniqua behind me. I hoped they would absorb the brunt of the storm, leaving me free to ride through the Great Karoo ahead of the wind and rain.
The ride to the town of Fraserburg was a nice one. There were plenty of mountain passes and the weather was fine. After several hours out of George I reached a large road, the N1. I used this road for some 25 miles to reach the town of Leeu-Gamka. From there I took a narrow road towards Fraserburg. On this 80 mile stretch of road, I didn't see another vehicle or person. I have come to love this kind of riding- just me, the bike, my gear, a map and a continent. There was only one problem for me that day: my back hurt. I've had problems with my back for eight years. It comes and goes, but this afternoon, the pain began to grow.
Rolling into Fraserburg, things didn't look so cheery. The town had a rough feel to it. The natives were staring at the bike and my white face with varying degrees of intensity. It was cold and night was upon me. I fueled the bike and the attendant spoke enough english to point me towards a guest-house. I was lucky to find a nice place for the night. For less than $20usd I got a warm welcome and a great room. The place was homey and spotlessly clean. The owner was a woman named Mack. She and her husband ran the place. Right away she began asking about my journey, shocked to hear I had ridden from the US. I was tired, cold, hurting and hungry and just wanted a hot shower. Her questions continued unabated as I struggled with my heavy gear. She followed me to my room and asked where I was headed, etc. In the back of mind I kept thinking, "can't this woman tell I'm spent?" She then asked if I would be visiting the famous scenic flowers along the N7. I told her I was heading that way the next day. She had something to show me said- and quickly returned with a thick stack of photos of the flowers. I finally told her of my condition and was glad that I did. When she heard I hadn't eaten all day, she said she would put together some leftovers from their dinner. Within minutes I was in a hot shower. When I went back to my room, Mack had turned on the heat and left a bottle of Windhoek Lager on a table in the dining room. Very soon she brought a veritable buffet on wheels into the dining room. She left me alone with the food and pictures, which I now perused with pleasure. I felt much better at that point, but my back pain persisted.
That evening I awoke to hear a powerful wind blowing across the Great Karoo. I wondered if I shouldn't stay another night to rest up before pushing on towards Namibia. I slept very little that night. When I tried to stand up in the morning, I couldn't at first. It took several tries. I asked Mack if there was a chiropracter in town- I suppose I knew the answer already. She and her husband helped me load up the bike and get underway. The wind howled as I hunkered down for a hard days ride. My hope was to reach the N7. If I could get off this windswept plateau, I thought, it would be much warmer- and less windy.
Leaving Fraserburg, the next town was a place called Williston. It was only some 75 miles away, but the cold and wind made me pay for each mile. I had hoped to find a cafe or restaurant there to warm up. I didn't. My map showed Calvinia to be a larger town close to 100 miles away. I knew this day was going to be a tough one. I was right.
About an hour out of Williston, I ran into light snows and then very small hail. The hail stung my face. I slowed and used my left hand to cover my lower face. Before long I rode through the weather. My legs then began to shiver- a little at first, then alot. I hadn't been this chilled since the Altiplano in Peru. Roughly 20 miles out of Calvinia I decided to spend the night there. I knew I was done for the day. Roughly 10 miles out of Calvina I spotted a barricade in the road. There were police vehicles along the side of the road, lights flashing. Policemen stood in the road. They waved a car ot two through the barricade but then pulled me over. I immediately suspected cops out for a handout- was I in for a surprise!
A white man with a moustache approached me. He was speaking Afrikaans. With my helmet on and earplugs in I couldn't make out a word. I asked him to wait a moment and removed my gear. "Is your name David?" he asked. "Yes" I replied. "Did you sleep in Fraserburg last night?" he asked further. "Uhhhhhh, yes" I stated, my curiosity growing. "A woman named Mack called and told us you left a wallet with US dollars in it." I immediately reached down to my left boot and knew exactly where I had left the wallet in my room- right on the table. There are five things I make sure I have every morning, a simple checklist: 1) My $$ and cards, hidden on me. 2) My muggers wallet with "give-away" cash and an invalid credit card. 3) My passport and documents 4) My Spyderco knife 5) My camera. Due to my back pain, I had forgotten my checklist. Strangely, upon hearing the news, I wasn't the least bit concerned. I knew I would simply deal with it. In the end, I didn't really...
The cop with the moustache turned out to be Inspector Brandt, of the Calvinia Police Force. He asked me to follow them to the station. There, I was helped off my bike and into the building. Inside were a mix of black and white Officers. These guys could be poster boys for the New South Africa. They were obviously a competent group of fellows and formed a very professional team. Several men were working the phones when I entered the office. I was invited to sit but declined due to my back pain. "We have a solution" one of the Officers suddenly announced. A police car from Fraserburg had to go to Williston for an oil change. Inspector Brandt's wife had a bank courier that ran from Williston to Calvinia. Inspector Brandt told me I'd have my wallet by 5pm. That was that. Now came the questions, which I was glad to answer! Inspector Brandt told me he knew of a nice place to stay- and the owner was a chiropractor (sort of).
Inspector Brandt led me to a cozy little restaurant in Calvinia. He spoke to the women there in Afrikaans and must have explained my situation. They quickly arranged for me to be taken to my room for the night and promised medical help later that afternoon. I left the restaurant to saddle up for the 200 yard ride to my room. I was unable to mount up on the left side and had to stand on the right foot peg with my right foot to climb into the saddle. The pain was worsening. A cleaning lady was summoned to carry my gear into my "room" for the night. Before long I settled into a two room cottage. It was a fantastic place with a large porch in front and a braai pit in the back.
That afternoon, I was picked up and taken to the Doctor's office. It was a funky place, and so was he. His hair was entirely grey, he wore it in a poneytail, perhaps a foot long. He wore an unusual shirt which only partially covered the top of his dark blue sweat pants. On his feet were black socks and heavily used Berkenstocks. I filled out no forms and was shown right in. He had heard all about me, he said. He asked 15 or 20 questions about my back problem, it's history, etc. He asked me to lay face-down on a table. He kept asking questions, twisting my feet about and pushing/pulling on my legs. After 2 or 3 minutes he said, "On your back please....did you know your left leg is longer than your right leg?" Huh??? "Slide your heels up to your butt." He then placed the palms of his open hands on my knees and simply said, "look." His left hand was half an inch lower than his right. He explained I had a choice: visit a chiropractor for the rest of my life, or simply get inserts to put in my right shoe to even the load on my lower back. He cracked my back to relieve the pain and turned me loose, feeling much better.
When I emerged from his office, his wife was waiting to take me back to the cottage. En route to the cottage, she asked if I liked quiche. I told her I did. Later that afternoon, one of the girls who works in the restaurant stopped by with a huge piece of hot, fresh quiche and a bottle of South African white wine- "it's on the house" I was told. Around 4:30pm Inspector Brandt arrived with my wallet. He asked me to check its contents while he waited. Everything was there. I reached for my regular wallet and asked what I owed for the delivery. He didn't say a word, he simply raised his hand and shook his head with a smile on his face. He was what I would call a typical South African, just great people here.
As the sun set behind the Bokkeveldberg that evening, I sat on the front porch enjoying a glass of wine. I reflected on the events of the day and felt thankful for the many people I had met. In the morning, feeling much better, I enjoyed a solid breakfast served with rich, black coffee. I felt like a new man. I thanked everyone for all their help as I returned the key to the restaurant. As I mounted up the whole staff watched from the doorway of the restaurant. The girl who brought the quiche and wine the day before asked, "David, will we see you again?" I smiled and answered honestly, "I really don't know."