Awake at 07h30, breakfast at 08h00, packed by 08h45 and waiting for the Big Red Bus. At precisely 09h00, to the second, it arrived. Clearly the discussion on punctuality had been taken in!
Loading my bags into the van, the French guide closed the doors and we set off into the rush hour traffic. Progress around Cape Town was slow and soon we found ourselves in the industrial part of the city, passing stacked boxes in the container port. With the bus now full, even by 09h15, it was beginning to feel warm.
Continuing to the outskirts, we passed numerous unfinished building projects that, with only 40 days to go to the World Cup would probably remain unfinished.
Eventually we joined the N7 and headed north, following the Atlantic coast towards Namibia. The city gave way to brown, tired looking grass and then scrub. As we began the long slow climb into the black lands, cattle began to graze between the trees and bushes now abutted the road.
Suddenly, there was a bump and the bus served. The first thought was a flat tyre but then there was a tirade of expletives from the cab - something
more serious had clearly happened. Slowing gently to a halt, the three guides and myself got down and went around to the back of the bus only to find that the rear door was missing. My rucksack was roughly a ¼ mile down the road, which luckily, was deserted. There was no sign of the door.
Setting off, three of us headed down the road, searching for signs of a rather large red door and eventually found it in a field. Lifting it carefully, we moved it off the private land and onto the side of the road where we could take a better look. The hinges were missing, the thick metal bolts were bent, there was a dent on the top of the door but, more importantly, the padlock was still in the door. It seems that all the damage was caused by the door flying off and bouncing on the road. It was extremely fortunate that the road was empty otherwise there would have been a very serious accident.
It took four of us to carry the door back to the bus and to lift it on to the roof, where we strapped it down very
securely. All of the baggage was moved into the bus, leaving just the bed rolls firmly wedged. The plan was to continue as scheduled whilst a replacement vehicle would drive down from Jo'burg overnight and meet us at the Namibian border the following day.
And so it was that we arrived, a little later than planned, in Algeria. Set in the mountains, glistening gold in the sun, the camp site is literally an oasis. A clear stream runs down from the mountains with lush green trees growing along its banks. Children swam in the cold water, not old enough yet to have gained a common sense!!
The tents went up without too much difficulty and there was a little free time during which some went swimming in the icy cold mountain stream. When the sun had dropped a little, we all set off for the waterfall. Even at 16h00, it was still hot and the climb up the mountain was slow, with frequent stops for water. Finally, we made it to the top and filled our bottles with the clear water cascading from the mountain.
We arrived back in camp long after sunset and were met by
the smell of chicken on the braai. Needless to say, we were ready for tea in short time and were all in bed by 20h30 ready for tomorrow's early start.
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