I was supposed to meet the sprinter bus to Johannesburg at 7:15 am. Dina called at 6:45 am to say that the bus is already waiting. I drove to the meeting point at the end of the gravel road from the farm and one of the farm helpers drove back. The bus was fairly full and I apologized for the delay, as I was sitting down next to Nicole. A young paramedic from Cape Town on a family holiday. We chatted pretty much the whole journey, well it was still early morning. Nice young girl with positive outlook on life, even with a hectic and traumatic job like that, sure deserves some respect. A quick look at Eastgate Shopping Centre and I walked on to Brown Sugar Backpackers. A friendly welcome, a quick tour around and after a coffee by the pool, I made my way downtown. I quickly realised that not many Caucasians walk these streets and therefore received surprised looks from the black community. Joh’burg appears like one big prison cell.
All shops, even bakeries and fruit stalls were in lockup. Not to keep people in, but to keep unwanted and harmful visitors out. Purchased products were handed through an iron fence of some sort. What strikes me with this is, that there are no white people on the streets. Basically, the crime rate, which is statistically very high, comes within their own people. I can’t tell that it always has been that way, before apartheid crumbled, but another clear indication that South Africa is not in good shape economically. In comparison to Madagascar, even in Tana, where life is just as tough, I can’t recall any fenced shops.
Downtown Joh’burg??? Well, I wasn’t overly impressed. The main roads were bustling with people. Apart from a few white business men and women, who jumped straight in their flash cars, I was again the only white person as far as I could see. Shops and stalls selling pretty much everything on fashion, Chinese electronics and African traditional arts and gifts, most of them made in Taiwan. I walked back on a different route and watched a game of football for a while,on an uneven paddock. Some impressive individual skills, but not much structure with ball possession.
Lena and Bastian came to the backpackers the next morning, with the reason I went to Johannesburg. A ‘96 build Toyota Land Cruiser, painted like a zebra. They both had the car for about 2 1/2 years and cruised southern African on multiple trips. Therefore, it was well looked after and well set up, with a roof top tent and a 3 way fridge. Just jump in and go, pretty much. After explaining the ins and outs we came to a fair price arrangement. Ok, some might think, it’s an old car, with lots of mileage. And that it is, but these engines go forever, if serviced and looked after. And being painted like a zebra,it has character, just like me… ha ha…
We went for a test drive to the next shopping centre, to finalise the financial side and some shopping. The queues on the cashiers are extensive and when you finally get there, it’s obvious why. The pace of movements would be in my books not even 1 out of 10. The one thing I really don’t get, is that how on earth do they produce some of the fastest runners in the world. They should legalise ‘speed’, no kidding.
With my new wheels, I went for a test drive in the evening, to catch up for a beer with Nicole, the young paramedic I met in the bus. A chatty and fun evening.
The walls at Brown Sugar backpackers are full of hand written poems and sayings; pretty close to the truth, just common sense really, but an entertaining way to have breakfast, which in fact, was fantastic and plentiful. The staff are extremely friendly and helpful, a great place to stay in Joh’burg. A quick chat with Lena and Bastian, it was time to go.
I farewelled Lena and Bastian, who had a hard time saying good bye to their long term companion. I can understand why, but said that I will look after Zimba well. First stop was a tyre station, as one tyre was definitely on his way out.
John came out to inquire my request. A friendly Namibian, born in Windhoek as well, never short of a good punt. After a good look at the tyres, he pointed out that I won’t get far with any of the 4 tyres. Guess I should have had a closer look!? But he was right, no way I can do that trip on those hoofs. He gave me a few options on quality and prize. I went for the better option, best wheels and rims in the business for African terrain. Now I have even more confidence for this adventure. He looks pretty cool too.
The drive back to the farm near Memel was very uneventful, but hot.
My zebra purred like a lion, I have suspicions it is the African equivalent to a wolf in sheep skin.