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April 27th - May 13th 2009

South Africa Cont.

 

27/04/2009

Bluff (Ansteyís Backpackers)

Happy Birthday to me!

Woke up this morning to a troop of Vervet Monkeyís climbing over the roofs and grounds of the Backpackers.

Internet so far isnít as good as we had expected for South Africa, the connection at the Backpackers is very slow, and expensive. There are two internet cafťs in the mall, one a wi-fi connection charged through a credit card, again expensive, and the other not too pricey, can use my own laptop but not their electricity!!!! And I have a flat battery, no internet again today.

Shopping for tonightís meal is done so the rest of the day spent not doing much .. Everyone is missing their vehicles but the wait will soon be over.

We all had a good dinner (even if I say so myself, Ďcos I cooked it). At the end of dinner Marc presented me with a birthday present from the group. After a little speech from Marc, I opened the gift, a model motorbike, with apologies that it wasnít a BMW, they requested that I include it in some of the pictures we take on the rest of the trip. Hopefully that will explain the occasional appearance of ď26Ē. I might make it a bit of a challenge and hide it away in some of the pics, no prizes for spotting it though!

28/04/2009

Bluff (Ansteyís Beach Backpackers)

Today is the first possible day we could get the vehicles back. The phone call was made to Pelican Freight first thing with a disappointing reply, the ship hadnít yet docked!!! When we questioned their response, because Ian had checked MOLís site which said that it had docked on time, they would check and get back to us. 30 minutes later we had confirmation of the ships arrival, the freight office had checked the wrong info which showed the Volta wasnít due in Durban as it had already offloaded and sailed and was on itís way to Singapore!! Vehicles will be available tomorrow or Wednesday.

The laptop battery is charged so we walked the 30 minute walk up to the Mall again for internet, CLOSED!

Nothing for it but to have some beers round the pool.

29/04/2009

Bluff (Ansteyís Beach Backpackers)

Another call to Pelican Freight this morning and we can get the vehicles tomorrow at 11:30 .. At last!

We eventually get the internet cafť as well so the site is sort of up to date.

No sign of Henri and Marie by the time we had dinner ready, a bit concerned with them not being back before dark. None of us had their mobile number but we knew that Jurg did so we tried to call him without success. Just as we were lifting dinner, Henri and Marie walked in. They had received an email from their Ghana Shipping Agents, MOL Ghana had raised the cost of their container by $100, and wouldn't fax the release documents to Durban until they had the money. No way for them to pay direct by credit card to either their Agents, MOL Ghana or MOL South Africa. After numerous phone calls to Ghana and Durban, the only way that they can get the release notes is to make a money transfer to the Ghana Agents who then pay MOL Ghana who will then release the container to MOL South Africa. Luckily for them, their Agents agreed to pay† the $100 before receiving the money transfer. That could have cost a lot in storage fees (Rand 1000 a day) until it was all sorted.

We were glad we didnít leave Ghana without all the paperwork in order and in our possession or we could have had the same problem, the extra $100 on our container was absorbed by SuperMaritime.

30/04/2009

Bluff (Ansteyís Beach/Haven Country Lodge)

09:30 - Myself, Marc, Henri & Marie head out to meet up with Ian, Jurg and Erika at Pelican Freights office, leaving Lorraine, Clo and the kids to pack up. We arrive to find out that MOL had taken over the dealings from our agents and that both containers were in their Customs yard yesterday and had already been opened and cleared by Customs but not unpacked. Weíre not overly happy about the containers being opened without either us or our agents present, and definitely not happy about the extra Rand 4000 they were going to charge us for the privilege. Itís going to be a long day trying to sort this out, we are expecting to have to pay the extra but are not going to give in easy. As most of the communication was in French, Ian and I left Marc, Jurg, Henri and Marie to deal with Pelican. After a lot of haggling and checking figures, we find discrepancies in both Pelicanís and MOLís figures, and that there had been misunderstandings in communications between the two leading to MOL taking over. By 12:00 noon we had settled on a figure, and Pelican were covering some of the cost for their mistakes. In the end the extra charges to us amounted to around Rand 800 per container. The next problem was that we had to be clear of the Customs yard by 16:00 but we still couldnít get the vehicles until MOL had their cheque from Pelican. It is 13:30 and Pelican need to get a bank cheque written up and delivered to MOLís offices before the vehicles are released.

While the French clan were dealing with Pelican I made a call to BMW to get the phone number of their tyre suppliers. A quick call to GearUp Motorcycles and I have a set of Continental TKC 80ís that can be fitted tomorrow before they close at 13:00 or Saturday

13:45 - A taxi is called to take us to the Customs yard 30 minutes away back on the Bluff, traffic is heavy due to roadworks, an accident and several vehicles broken down. After going to 3 Customs yards before we get to the right one, it is now 14:45. We find the containers and my bike is already unloaded, again Iím not happy. A quick check over and all seems to be ok, now we have to unload the rest. We clear it with the guys in the yard that we might not be done by 16:00 and all is ok with them. I was right, Ian couldnít fit down the gap to get his Landy out so it was down to me. Ianís and Marcís cars both out no problem, then on to the other container, we had to push Jurgís car out as his battery had gone flat. All vehicles out of their containers, Marc re-inflating his tyres and jumping Jurgís battery, Ian checking his car for any damage (I was careful Ian!) and Henri leaking fluid from his power steering pump quicker than he could top it up, all we needed now were the release papers stamped to allow us to take the vehicles out. A slight problem, we had asked at Pelican for paperwork detailing all the vehicles, they said we would be ok with the one copy which only had the bikes details and Bill of Lading numbers. Luckily the guy dealing with us in the yard had a brain and tied up our copies of the Billís of Lading with the minimal details on the release note.

We managed to get out of the Customs yard not too long after 16:00. Jurg and Erika headed off to the Haven Lodge, where we would be staying now all the vehicles are back, and the rest of us set off for Ansteyís to pick up the gear left there and the† rest of the family. All loaded up, and after clearing the crowd that had gathered, we set off in convoy round the corner to Haven Lodge. Jurg was already set up and it didnít take long for the others to set up, we were last, even with help setting the tent up from Hugo and Jo. Ian stayed for a while but was headed back to his friends for a couple of days. A quick trip to the Mall over the road and we were all set for a B-B-Q tonight. Itís going to be difficult cooking anything but B-B-Q for 10 people now we donít have a proper kitchen.

01/05/2009

Bluff (Haven Lodge)

Off to Durban today to get the long awaited TKCís, with the excellent directions from John at GearUp, we found the place quite easily. We left the bike with them while we wandered off for a look around the shops and a bite to eat. Back to GearUp at 12:45 and the bike is sat there with nice new shoes on. After some running in tips from John, 5 x 20 minute rides, letting the tyres cool between each to harden the rubber and extend the life of the tyres, and a reminder that they have a 100MPH limit, we are on our way. The handling feels different but Iíll get used to it.

10,500 miles out of the original Bridgestone Battlewings, 8,000 of those miles two up and vastly overloaded on some crappy African roads is not bad, and they still had a bit of tread left. Not expecting anywhere near that mileage out of the TKCís but we can now enjoy some dirt, eh Lorraine?? Ö.. Maybe!

Yesterday, we realised after moving from Ansteyís, that in the rush to leave, none of† us had picked up our key deposits, so, as we had the only ďmobile transportĒ, we would pick it up today. No problem, all monies returned without question.

B-B-Q again tonight supplied by Jurg and Erika, very nice.

02/05/2009

Bluff (Haven Lodge)

Maintenance day today, Marc is going to rotate his tyres, my suspension needs looking at (the back wheel is kicking against the pannier rack), Henri and Marie are getting their power steering problem looked at and also going to Pietermaritzburg to look at roof tents and racks. Jurg and Erika are getting their vehicle inspected for their insurance.

I gave Marc a hand with swapping the tyres around in the morning, then Marc, Jo, Lorraine and I wandered off for supplies for tonightís B-B-Q. We found another internet cafť in the mall across from the campsite, closed when we got there but open until 13:00 on Sunday.

Chicken and Baked spuds, again enjoyed by all, thanks for the appreciation and the Mexican Wave Marc.

03/05/2009

Bluff (Haven Lodge)

Bit of a late start today, Marc and I didnít return from the bar until about 02:30 this morning, time flies when youíre having fun!

Up at around 10:00. After a couple of cups of coffee we head over to the mall, the internet is open but wonít allow us to use our own laptops. Shopping for tonightís grub the depression gets worse, they donít sell alcohol in supermarkets on Sundayís.

Ian returns to the fold this evening, good to have another English speaker to even up the balance a bit!. Marc declines the bar tonight so itís me and Ian keeping up the standard. The bar is quite full and as usual noisy.Ö. still, the beers are cold.

04/05/2009

Bluff (Haven Lodge)

Slow day again. A trip up to the main Mall for internet. Maplinís have IGOT-Uís in stock but the battery on the laptop runs out before I finish the order, typical of my luck!

Itís Ianís birthday on Friday, but as we are all starting to go our separate ways before then, we decide to have his party tonight. Jurg and Erika are making Risotto, or rather, supervising me making it! a cake and 45 candles are purchased along with a stuffed elephant to add to Ianís collection.

Henri and Marie had gone into Durban to get their leaking power steering pump fixed, turned out to be a lot more wrong with it than just the pump. The pump would have to be ordered from Cape Town and wouldnít get to Durban until tomorrow so itís an overnight stop at the Happy Hippo for them and no party.

20:00 and every one is off to bed, except the drinkers, Marc, Ian, Lorraine and I head for the bar for a couple of hours, just for medicinal purposes as Lorraine has caught a cold.

05/05/2009

Bluff (Haven Lodge)

Sad day today, Marc, Clo and family are leaving around mid-day. The first of the family to leave. Ian is off early to service his Landy and says his goodbyes before setting off. Weíve been together for nearly two months during the shipping process and become good friends in that time. It was a pleasure meeting and travelling with you all.

We had another monkey raid this morning, a troop of around twenty paraded through the site.

We were going to get everything ready for our departure tomorrow, but Lorraineís cold had got worse during the day so we decide to stay here another day.

Henri and Marie return with their Landy all fixed, Ian arrived back at the site in not a very happy mood, his car has developed a noise which he thinks could be his Turbo on the way out, not cheap.

Clearing out every ones fridges before departure we had a bit of a pot mess for dinner. With Marc and family not there, dinner wasnít the occasion it has been and was over quite quickly. Jurg, Erika, Henri, Marie and Lorraine had an early night leaving Ian and I to hit the bar. It is Karaoke tonight, some good voices but mostly bad, the things you have to suffer to have a drink.

06/05/2009

Bluff (Haven Lodge)

Ian is off to the garage again today to sort out the noise from the engine. Jurg and Erika, Henri and Marie left around mid-day. Then there were two.

We managed to get the order done for the IGOT-U, so hopefully it will get posted out quickly and we will be able to put our tracks back on the site without too much missing.

Called Ian to see what he fancied for dinner, he wouldnít be coming back to the site, as suspected his turbo had gone and he will have to leave his car in the garage until Friday for repair so he is staying with his friends again. Then there was one.

With everyone gone we are back to basics, no tables or chairs, no light and a one burner gas stove. Weíve been spoilt.

07/05/2009

Start Mileage-10521

Miles-87

Bluff (Haven Lodge) - Howick

Time for us to get back on the road. It was difficult trying to remember how everything fitted on the bike after all this time, but we eventually got there. A couple off ďBakkiesĒ (pick up trucks) had pulled onto the site last night, they are travelling around Africa from South to North, GPS mapping the country, no freebies!

A slow plod today, on the back roads heading for Kamberg in the Drakensburg mountains. We had phoned a couple of sites in advance to† check availability, one put us off straight away with their attitude on the phone, but the other (International Backpackers), just a bit further down the road seemed a lot better, so we booked a week with them.

The run up was going to be in 4 x 20 - 30 minute stints to finish off setting the tyres as directed earlier by John at GearUp† M/cycles. One of the stops saw the bike on itís side again. We had pulled into a petrol station but had to park on a slope to clear the entrance, we immediately drew the attention of the local drunk, to the amusement of every one else around, who started giving us his life story, at least thatís what we thought, itís hard for us to understand South Africans when they are sober let alone steaming drunk. Then the begging began and he started to get a bit antagonistic towards us, time to get going. One of the guys that had been enjoying the show saw what was going on and tried to get the drunk to move on, as Lorraine climbed on the bike, because of the slope, the bike pivoted on the side stand and went down on the left pannier, the drunk then tried to push her back up trapping her against the bike. Luckily there were some sober people around to lend a hand and we were soon upright and on our way with the drunk chasing us.

We stopped at Pietermaritzburg for lunch but time was not on our side, it was starting to get dark and† we still had about 200 kmís to go. We jumped onto the motorway to make up a bit of time. As we approached Howick the heavens opened, time to look for a B&B, which we found just on the outskirts. Rand 400 a night, expensive but it was now chucking it down so we took it. They had a garage to park the bike out of the rain so we could leave it loaded which was good. The storm that came in was a biggy, there was a leak in the ceiling with water dripping on the bed. We moved the bed to stop it getting soaked and found a Rand 100 note which made us feel a bit better about the place. The storm kept knocking out the power every 5 minutes, after about an hour of the lights going on and off it went for the rest of the night. Early night.

08/05/2009

Start Mileage-10608

Miles-54

Howick-Kamberg

Just outside Howick is the place where Nelson Mandela was captured and he was given the freedom of Howick after his release.

We packed up and left the B&B. Just a short trip into Howick to see the falls and a wander around the village, then take the backroads to Kamberg. On the way we passed the spot where Nelson Mandela was captured but couldnít see much as it was through a locked gate into a field.

We arrived at the backpackers just in time, as soon as we had parked the bike the heavens opened again and it was cold. Not sure about camping!

Ian sorted the coffees out while we warmed up a bit, Anne Marie & Miranda (the couple that run the backpackers) turned up a little while later. As we were the only guests they kindly offered us a chalet at the same rate as we were quoted for camping, we had to think hard before deciding to take the offer!!!†

The rain eased up and the sun came out giving us a view we couldnít believe.

We had an excellent evening with the staff, good food, good beer and good company.

Anne Marie got excited as I was going to transfer all the films I had on the Archos onto her laptop, one thing she was missing since leaving the U.S. to come here. Just my luck, as soon as I plugged everything in the power went out .. And stayed out.

09/05/2009

Kamberg (International Backpackers)

Woke up this morning to a sunny day, and what a view.

Shopping, lunch and internet in Nottingham Road, not too much to the village but big enough. We managed to find an ATM and an internet cafť. We stocked up at the Spar then headed back with a quick stop at the chocolate factory in Rosetta for Lorraine. Seeing as she had treated herself we went over the road to the Rosetta Inn for a quick beer, my treat.

We had planned to cater for ourselves this evening but Miranda insisted we ate with them, a nice big plate of fish and chips.

Miranda had a notion for Irish coffee, but hadnít got any cream, lucky we had bought some earlier so donated it to the cause and made her day.

10/05/2009

Day trip to Giants Castle(Drakensburg)

There is a scheme in SA where locals and tourists can buy a ďWild CardĒ that is valid for 1 year and gives free entry into a lot of the Parks and Reserves in SA, Botswana, Zambia and Namibia. With the expensive entry costs into some of the Parks e.g. Kruger, it could prove to be a bit of a saving.

Brilliant roads and brilliant scenery on the way to Giants Castle We arrived at the gate and enquired about the Wild Card, yes they do it, but their machine isnít working at the moment. No other option, we paid the R25 each entrance then it was another R25 each to visit the San Rock Paintings. We hadn't realised that there was a 45 minute walk from the reception to the caves, as we were still in the bike gear, and it was hot, we decided to just have lunch and enjoy the view from the restaurant and to come back another day better prepared to visit the caves.

Got back to the Backpackers just after dark, not good as I still haven't replaced the headlight bulb that blew somewhere back in Mali, or Burkina or wherever!!!

When we get back to the backpackers we notice there are some new guests (Colin & Amy), luckily they are happy in one of the other chalets so we donít have to give up our double bed!

Miranda and Anne Marie had friends visiting, Stephan and Nikky, so the alcohol was flowing as we sat around the fire pit outside. Anne Marie and Nikky left to get some home made Wart Hog Worstís (Sauasages) that Nikky and her father make at their farm, which Ian cooked up for us on the fire, very tasty.

I cooked up a Carbonara for everyoneís dinner tonight, but due to an excess of alcohol (and some home grown cigarettes), I failed to remain standing long enough to eat it Ö oops!

11/05/2009

Kamberg (International Backpackers)

A bit fuzzy this morning so a lazy day ahead. Catching up on the website, trying to arrange the next service for the bike. Loaded all the films from the Archos onto Anne Marieís laptop, she still canít watch them though as I donít have the codecís on my laptop to enable them to play!

12/05/2009

Kamberg (International Backpackers)

Trip to Kamberg Park today to see the San Rock Art, not far from the Backpackers but down a 11 KM stretch of dirt road. Lorraine is beginning to get used to the dirt now and making my life a bit easier without getting the screams and moaning every time the bike twitches on a rock or a rut in the road.

We arrive Kamberg Park and again try for the Wild Card, but again, their machine isnít working!!

It is a hike to the paintings, this time 3 hours. Once again we are not prepared for a hike so decide to just have lunch there and to watch the interesting video about the San bushmen in the parks theatre.

After the video we head into Nottingham Road to use the internet and get some supplies. On the way back to Kamberg I notice a road sign pointing off to the right for Nottingham Road, 42 KMís, another 12Kmís of dirt through some nice countryside.

Back at the Backpackers, I loaded the codecs downloaded from the internet onto Anne Marieís laptop, she can now watch her movies, wonít be seeing much of her now then!!

13/05/2009

Kamberg (International Backpackers)

Local day today. A trip out to the Spotted Horse pub for lunch and to book horse riding for tomorrow, recommended by Colin and Amy as a good day out. Horse riding booked for tomorrow. The spotted Horse no longer do lunches so we check the Garmin for pubs close by and choose The Boars Head in Rosetta, huge plate of curry which I couldnít eat and at a reasonable price. We were going to take a ride to Highmoor to try and buy the Wild Card, but as it was getting close to dark we put it off for another day.

 

 

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