Against storm

Against storm

The first 100 kilometers in South Africa we were spoiled for the last time by Hannie and Karl. They transported us by bus from Oranjemund across the border to Port Nolloth. This saved us the control of customs and without any major issues, we got a 3 months valid visa. At the end they even organized a campsite where we could safely spend the night. The farewell to the two of us was not easy.

Originally we wanted to cycle from Port Nolloth to Steinkopf on the N7 to visit the Cederberg. The people in Oranjemund had advised us against it. Now in midsummer there are regular forest fires and the heat can not be overheated. A friend of Karl, Riaan (who is also a cyclist and very knowledgeable about the area) advised us to drive along the west coast. He was able to show us ways that are not even marked on the map. So we could also bypass the busy main roads. Some sections were often quite sandy. But slowly we have a lot of experience in pushing.

Already on the second day, just before Hondeklip Bay, a jeep stopped next to us. Susan and Eugene are from the East Coast and currently traveling with their mountain bikes and a SUV, including trailers along the west coast. They invited us for dinner and paid us 2 nights in a large tent at the campsite. In addition, we arranged to meet the next day. They made a few purchases in Garies and came to meet us afterwards. For the coming days they always organized the accommodations for us. Since they speak Afrikaans that was very helpful for us and we were often allowed to carry our luggage with them in the trailer. A true luxury!

The area here belongs to Namqualand. It is one of the first natives of southern Africa to migrate from central Africa, together with the northern Namibian Great Namaqualand main settlement area of ​​the Nama. The people here are known for their direct and happy way of life. Now in the summer, the landscape on the west coast is pretty dry. In winter, however, everything changes. One of the main attractions of the Namaqualand is the desert bloom, which takes place annually at the end of August / beginning of September. Given the prevailing temperatures and rainfall, a millionfold blossoms unfold from the seemingly lifeless desert ground within a few days.

The biggest enemy for us (the locals warned us) is the wind blowing at this time of the year. Always around noon around a headwind set in, which developed into a real storm. With a fully loaded bike a really hard challenge! But as you say so beautifully: headwind forms the character and the wind is too strong, you are too weak. You just have to ignore the wind. This is the only way to lose your mind during this ordeal.

Between Groensriviersmond and Brand se Baai, I made a crucial mistake: Susan and Eugene offered us a ride along the approximately 60-kilometer-long stretch of sand along the Atlantic Ocean. Officially, this can only be accomplished with a SUV. Tania gladly accepted the offer. My will was too strong to get into a car. So I pushed and pulled Dusty (my bike) with all my strength for a whole day through deep sand.

The whole action ended with Tania having to rescue me with the owner of a farm (where we stayed overnight) in the evening. Not even 30 kilometers I had done that day! They came to me in a SUV and loaded me up. The next day we went over Lutzville slowly into another landscape. From here to the south, wine is grown in a large still. The South African Pinotage is one of the country's best-known export goods. Pinotage is a type of red wine created by crossing Cinsault and Pinot Noir.

From Doringbaai we followed the Railway Service Road via Lamberts Bay to Saldanha. The railway line Sishen-Saldanha is an 861-kilometer, single-track, electrified railway line. On it run heavy freight trains. In 1989, the record run of a train of nine electric locomotives, seven diesel locomotives and 660 loaded cars took place. The train was 7303 meters long and weighed 71,210 tons. On average, a train is about 3 kilometers long and powered by 4 to 6 electric locomotives. A pretty impressive spectacle. By 2008, 600 million tons of ore were being transported.

A big problem in South Africa is safety. Mostly we had to stay in guesthouses. Although the communities provide campgrounds, these are often in very bad shape and not safe. Almost everything here in South Africa is fenced and surrounded by high walls. It feels like being in a high security prison. Nobody trusts the other.

Several charges of corruption and rape have already been made against the incumbent president, Jacob Zuma. The last part of our trip together we drove through the West Coast National Park and got to see our first Kudus. The animals reach a head-trunk length of 193 to 248 cm and a shoulder height of 121 to 157 cm. Male animals weigh between 249 and 344 kg and are thus up to 150% larger than females weighing 160 to 210 kg.

In Durbanville, we visited Ansie and her family. We had met at the New Year's celebration in Swakopmund. As before, in other places on this trip, we were also spoiled by them with all the rules of the art. At the end they transported our bikes and luggage in their off-road vehicles to Cape Town. The white South Africans, along with the Sudans, are the most hospitable people I have met in Africa!

I liked Cape Town right away. It feels like being in a western metropolis. After almost 2 years in Africa, I enjoyed this modern and well-kept city very much. For a long time I have noticed that I have to end my African adventure. Originally I wanted to re-cycle the whole continent. Here in Cape Town would have been exactly the halftime.

However, I can no longer stand the eternal monotony and the people of Africa. For too long, I no longer feel well and therefore decided to draw a line under this chapter. However, I do not want to go home. That's why I first had to put together a plan. The first few days I visited several embassies and consulates to get some ideas for my onward journey.

Together with Tania I cycled after a few days to Cape of Good Hope to air my head a little. In April 1488, the Cape was sighted by a European for the first time by the Portuguese navigator and explorer Bartolomeu Diaz when he had already circumnavigated the southern tip of Africa and was returning to the north. With the opening of the Suez Canal (in Egypt) in November 1869, the route around the southern tip of Africa suddenly lost its importance.

One day later my family visited me. I have not seen my sister for almost 2 years. Together with them we made many trips. Tania left after a few days and flew back to Switzerland. In addition, I met some friends that I had met on my journey through Africa and live in part in Cape Town. Through them, I also got a different view of the country mediated. South Africa is one of the strongest economies in Africa. I was astonished that in some cases young people in particular are looking very positively into the future. Hopefully their dreams for a better South Africa will come true.

Practically we found the sightseeing buses. You can drive as you wish from one attraction to the next. Around Cape Town there are some very nice things to discover. Among other things, Cape Town is famous for its landmark, Table Mountain. He is one of the seven wonders of nature. The area of ​​Cape Town was originally populated by the San and Khoikhoi. In 1652, the Dutchman Jan van Riebeeck landed in Table Bay and founded a supply station for the merchant ships of the Dutch East India Company on its route to India.

We liked the Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden at the southern foot of Table Mountain very well. This was given to the city in 1902 by Cecil Rhodes. The site was made a botanical garden in 1914 to protect the unique flora and was the first protected garden of its kind in South Africa.

Another problem had crept into my bike: My Pinion circuit began to crack more and more often. In consultation with the bike shop Leuthold we decided to exchange them. Thanks to the fast and competent organization of the bike shop Leuthold my mother could bring me the new circuit. Once again a big thank you to the whole team. You are great!

After 10 days I had to say goodbye to my family again. Many thanks for your visit! I had already made a decision at this time and now I know where my journey will continue. With Tommy and Wesley I drove to Stellenbosch two days before my departure. The Stellenbosch community is known for exporting quality wine from over 120 wineries. However, we only drank beer that day (after all, local beer!). Tommy and Wesley both studied here for a while at the university and showed me a little bit the beautiful city. This was just the right ending of my time in Africa. MyCiti bus went to the airport the next day.

South Africa is a land of contrasts for me. The hospitality of the white people is really fantastic (not once have a black or colored South African invited us) and I would like to sincerely thank all the people who welcomed us with open arms. Baie baie dankie! You can not always put everything on the rails of racism. A separation of skin color, as the ANC (African National Congress) since the end of apartheid pursued (BBBEE, Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment) is in my view the wrong approach. This country has a lot of potential. On departure, I remembered a quote from Jimi Hendrix:

"When the power of love overcomes the love of power, only then will there be peace."