South Africa has an image problem.
When SA makes the news in Canada, it’s invariably bad. Someone’s been killed. Another one has been necklaced. Labour issues. Trouble in the shanty-towns that ring the cities. Etc. etc.
Well, there are problems, naturally. But the reason the news is bad is precisely because it is bad. It’s different because it’s out of the ordinary. Nobody reads about the good stuff is because the good stuff is normal.
I have only spent a few days here but my first-hand experience have all been positive. The scenery is fantastic, the people warm and friendly, the food excellent and even the drivers are courteous. It’s the norm for drivers to pull aside to let a faster vehicle by.
It’s that sort if courtesy that met Gavin and myself as we got started. After a short stop for me to get armoured pants and proper riding boots we were on the road.
The first bit was straight highway riding, which helped me just to get a feel for the bike and riding on the left.
I was really nervous about that. I figure that if I ran into an emergency situation my natural tendency would be to go right which would pit me directly in the oncoming lane. But, hey, we don’t live in risk-free world.
Turns out that riding on the left isn’t so hard after all. I was all nervous about it for nothing.
There’s a life lesson for you.
The scenery here is fantastic. From a point overlooking wine country, Gavin filled me in on the history of some of the original European settlements, how they came to be and where much South African wine comes from.
The sky got a little dark and I was worried about rain, but before long we were through some mountain passes and riding in sunshine and blue sky.
At another short stop Gavin gave me a quick geology lesson, telling me about a structure called the Cape Fold. It’s basically rock that, over millions of years, has been compacted and twisted and now forms part of the crustal bowl inside which Cape Town sits.
Not only is he a motorcycle guide, he also knows his geological stuff.
And what stuff it is.
Huge sandstone mountains, one time the seabed when sea levels were much higher. It’s magnificent country.
I pulled off on occasion to drink in the scenery and atmosphere of the place. The sun was high, the temperature hot, the breeze slight. And I was loving every minute of it.
At one point Gavin pulled off at a small bar called Ronnie’s Sex Shop. Originally it was just Ronnie’s Bar, but to lure more customers hr changed the name to Ronnie’s Sex Shop and the rest is history.
The riding day ended with me tired, a little saddle sore and looking for a cool shower. After a decent meal I retired to my motel room – not the Ritz but clean, quiet and comfortable – and was out in moments.
A good day. I loved it. More adventures planned for the following day, including a visit to an ostrich farm and caves.