The Long Truck Journey to Freedom

Trip Start Oct 29, 2003
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of South Africa  ,
Friday, November 3, 2006

Day 39 out of 41 and we finally make it into South Africa. We camped at the rather ugly fishing village of Lamberts Bay - together with the smell of hundreds of Cape Gannett and the odd dead seal. And for our last night under canvas it also chucked it down as well.

The next day we drove into Cape Town, the final destination. We were met with mist and rain plus the opportunity to see Will Young and Gareth Gates live in concert. I think the young Canadians might have preferred that, but instead we all went to a farewell dinner at a tourist trap called Mama Africa's. Having said that, it had great live music and great food (including springbok, kudu, oryx and crocodile steaks).

After a nice sleep in I spent the day wandering around Long Street and poking around the markets as it was still drizzling with rain and the clouds (known as the Tablecloth) was firmly positioned on top of Table Mountain. The was a three day wait for ferries out to Robben Island where Nelson Mandela (and many others) were imprisoned during Apartheid. Along with Mark I decided to see if I could get a standby ticket on the 9am boat for the following day, and by luck we managed to get on.

It took about half an hour to get out there and fortunately it was a perfectly clear day. The downside to this was the fierce wind that kept both the clouds away and the cable cars from going up Table Mountain. The tour of the island lasted two hours, the first on a bus giving a brief history (it has housed a leper colony and served as a British garrison during World War II). The second hour was in the prison where the guide - all are former political prisoners here during apartheid - so the stories of the mental and physical abuse (he was tortured and his dad was murdered by the police) were made that more incredible. It was stunning to hear, and the passion they had for forgiving - or even understanding - their oppressors was almost as strong as that for their cause.

It was here that Mandela spent 18 of his 27 years in prison, and where he and his fellow banned ANC members secretly met and drafted a constitution for a new republic. This became the basis of the new government when apartheid was abolished and became president in 1994. What really hit home was the fact that it wasn't abolished until 1991 - my first year at university - and I suppose a 50 year struggle (the National Party was elected in 1948) wasn't very newsworthy, or maybe I just wasn't paying enough attention.

We were back at the visually appealing but soulless Victoria & Alfred Waterfront by 1pm and seeing as Table Mountain was once again a victim of the weather due to the high winds - it's over 1,000 metres high - myself and Mark decided to climb the smaller peak to the side of the Table.

It took about five hours to get up and down Lion's Head and I was only nearly blown off three times by strong gusts. The last part was hairier as we had to pull ourselves up on chains to reach the summit (669m) but the views made it well worth the windburn, sunburn and knee-nack.

So after driving over 6,500 miles from Nairobi that was it. The Truck people bade farewell to each other swapping the obligatory emails and promising to keep in touch.

Yeah right, whatever (with the exception of maybe two or three).


Final Big Brother Truck Update

Things I thought you'd like to know about the folks I've spent the past 6 weeks with:

Dull Eric and KC - Canada

Turns out Eric has a PhD in maths, so that explains his rather undeveloped social skills. His best question was to a guide when surrounded by a tower of giraffes in Zambia: "Have you named them all?" After an awkward silence, the guide replied, "Um, noooo."
KC is a teacher in human kinetics, not genetics, which I initially thought she said. This sounded quite sophisticated and it rather annoyed me. Her being a glorified PE teacher makes me much happier.

Brucie and Mary (The Luvvies) - Canada

They were married in 1960s swinging London. They think London is wonderful. In fact they stop there on their way back home. I wished them a wonderful trip, as they really are quite cool (Brucie nearly got arrested at his daughter's university for doing cartwheels in the streets after a few shots of tequila).

Dawn, aka Mama Africa - Australia

Her cousin is Pamela "Mrs Billy Connolly" Stephenson. She has met him several times and says he is clever, articulate and charming (all this despite being Scottish). She does, however, hate his stage persona.
She's offered me a job on her farm in Australia.
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