Day 16. 27th December 2013. Johannesburg to Nottingham Road via Newcastle. 521kms
This day was bittersweet. My wife was to leave Johannesburg and fly back to Nairobi (the bitter part) and the ride towards Cape Town would resume. I enjoyed and thank God so much for the time he allowed us to spend together (the sweet part). Since the day we all arrived in Johannesburg, so many things had happened. Moses had headed out to Cape Town via Durban the next day. Mbeche’s wife could not arrive on 25th as we’d hoped so he flew back to Nairobi planning to fly back in with her around 3rd January. John and his wife spent time with family and left for Durban through Swaziland. Mburu and his wife rode (on their bike) off to Durban together with Mwongela and his wife (in a hired car). So on this day it was going to be just Nick and myself. Nick’s wife Jush was also leaving Johannesburg for Nairobi together with my wife.
We had a good ride and when we stopped for breakfast at Heidelberg we got advice on how we could use a more scenic route and also avoid tolls. This is how we ended up using the Newcastle route. It was awesome.
This country has a lot of beautiful landscapes and great roads. We passed through Ladysmith (the home of the legendary Ladysmith Black Mambazo singers) and got to Nottingham Road around 6pm. One of the support vehicles had arrived and had found accommodation for us. The other support vehicle arrived later and now had Wangui and Nzisa (ride doctor) who had arrived earlier from Nairobi. Nottingham Road is an expensive town and is a beautiful retirement sort of place. Rich older people have settled here and many have guesthouses they operate. Though expensive, the quality is very good. That evening before we slept, Nick got an email from a guy in Port Elizabeth called Kevin who said he had been following what we’re up to and would be glad to meet us when we get there and would organise for us to meet some Kenyans living there. We called him and promised to get in touch on arrival.
Day 17. 28th December 2013. Nottingham Road to Butterworth. 536kms.
Nick had also been in touch with Mburu and the others who had left before us. These guys really had issues in Durban. There was no accommodation anywhere in Durban and they ended up sleeping in Mwongela’s car. Mburu had problems and had to replace his tyres. They had also met with a leader of the Christian Motorcycle Association there and wanted Nick to go meet him. We then decided to split up. Nick would go to via Pietermaritzberg to Durban then East London while I and the support team would go to East London directly.
So now it was just one bike and the two support vehicles. 10 kms into our journey we found the spot where Nelson Mandela was captured. It was a great stop. SA really treasures Mandela. There is a small museum at the spot and a wonderful optical illusion sculpture.
Please tell me you can see Mandela’s face in the sculpture. Made me think. A lot of times we see our lives as just a mass of illogical and unrelated events, but step back and see the big picture and you’re totally blown away when you see what God, the master sculptor has been up to. Wow!
This day ended up being Mandela day for us since we also passed Qunu, pronounced Q(click)unu (!) the village with his home and and where he was buried barely two weeks before. When we got to his house, it was guarded by very friendly cops who politely told us we could not go in since it was private property but they we could take pictures from across the road.
As you can see, I’m in my rain gear. It was a rainy and very windy day but in the background you can see Mandela’s house. In this picture, the focus is me and my bike (!) But if you look at what’s really important you’ll see the home of a real African legend, hero and global icon. So in this picture and in life, perspective is everything.
So when we got to a town called Idutywa we tried to get accommodation but it was so difficult because there was some major event at the town (kinda like the story of the birth of Jesus eh? No room at the inn? …) so we went about 30kms further to Butterworth which was even worse. At least in Idutywa there were a few rooms. Here there was not a single one. We had dinner and we had to make a decision, either go back to Idutywa and make do with what we had got or head further out towards East London. We chose the latter and barely 5kms later we found a beautiful place called Nzovuyo Lodge. Yet another spiritual lesson. Sometimes we get discouraged and wanna go back to where we know and are comfortable with, but if you take just a few steps into the unknown you find wonderful things God had in store for you. All it takes is a few little steps of faith.
Day 18. 29th December 2013. Butterworth to Port Elizabeth via East London and Port Alfred. About 390kms
This was a very cold, drizzly and foggy morning. Visibility was so bad I chose to drive in between the two vehicles till I could see more. It was a relatively short ride given what we were now used to. To put it in perspective, it’s like for the last few days I wake up every morning and ride from Nairobi to Mombasa and shine days even Malindi.
It was great to enter East London. We were reunited with Mburu, Mwongela, John and their wives and also with Nick. We left for Port Elizabeth after lunch but Mwongela and his wife were left there. Their plan was to drive to Cape Town the following day.
We hooked up with Kevin. A very very kind guy. It’s like God had an angel for every portion of our trip. Kevin was our Port Elizabeth angel!
Stop press: let me post this then I’ll try do more later