Wicked Campervanning

June 8th 2010
Published: June 20th 2010
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After hearing the horror stories and having travelled to many dodgy countries before, I am bracing myself for hoards of people offering all sorts of rubbish while also tricking me out of my valuables, but the OR Tambo Airport experience is a pleasant surprise. There are hoards of people but they are there to help and assist free of charge, a refreshing welcome to South Africa. There's a slight glitch getting the football tickets but that is mainly due to the internet line going down sporadically, and there are plenty of people around to deal with the problem.
I have a pick up from the airport to the wicked campers campsite, the campervan is brilliant! By day it has table and chairs, by night it converts to a huge bed, plenty long enough too. The boot opens to reveal the kitchen which is equipped with sink, cool box, gas burner and utensils.
Steven Hawkins arrives about 3pm after I've had a nap and am slightly alive again. First test of the camper on the road, first stop petrol, next stop food! Luckily I had already befriended some Aussie blokes who have started the fire while we're gone, perfect for barbq-ing our steaks. The meat here is so cheap; I will be feasting on it daily!! After a completely dry flight with stopover in Cairo with a dry lounge, the SA beer goes down a treat!

The Apartheid Museum is a 30min drive, Soweto is right next door, you can't go wrong, the hostel owner says. But he doesn't know I have Steven Hawkins with me...

I drive again as SH is nervous of an automatic, so he takes lead navigator role. We leave the campsite at 10:30, for the easy-highway all the way- 30min drive. Somehow we don't manage to find the very first road R24, this is where the alarm bells should have been ringing, your navigator could not find his way out of a paper bag!! After a 90min-standard road-stressful journey we rock up at the Apartheid Museum. The noise was deafening, the car park is filled with hundreds of school children all screaming and blowing horns, buses full of more arrive and the screaming and horn blowing increases. It's mayhem! Unbeknownst to us, there is a South Africa, noon, planned 5minute noise making. Similar to a planned one minute silence, but much noisier!

The Apartheid Museum is excellent, very well done, but slightly ad hoc on chronology, mainly due to its winding layout. You could spend many hours in there, reading all of the information and looking at the exhibits. To make the experience more real you get given a card for entry, this is a random selection or either white or non-white, you then have to enter through different doors and the segregation begins. There is a temporary Nelson Mandela exhibition which is quite emotional, especially with the background videos, one of him on the Rugby pitch shaking hands with the South African captain and one of the tears in his eyes at the Nelson Mandela concert while the numerous bands and singers sing Free Nelson Mandela. A great, but moving day out.

The plan was to continue from here to Soweto, the South Western Township, the most touristy township but probably a good starting place for our culture trip. Unfortunately I was still driving so the navigation went awry and we ended up in central Jo’Burg, miles away from our intended destination. I called time out and took over directions from that point, we still didn’t get home until after dark but at least we took a direct route! More barbq in the campsite, even more campers have turned up so it’s a lively night. I had to down some red wine after the trauma of the day so was distraught when that ran out quickly and there was no-one sober to drive and get more. Then by some kind of miracle I meet a bloke on the way to the hostel toilets, he is running an overland truck group and has a whole truck full of quality red wine. I buy two more bottles and shock the camp fire crew with my new purchase. Brilliant!!

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