If we thought that our last day would be a quiet run of 330km into Cape Town then we are on the wrong rally! After 7km we were into the first competitive section but obviously the time allowed to drive it had been shortened to make it harder and we were over time. But the country was beautiful, following the Clanwilliam Dam through olive groves and vineyards on rough stoney tracks and then up and over high passes for about 100km and two more World Cup Sections until we were back onto tarmac.
Table Mountain came into view and we were silenced, we had crossed Africa and felt exhausted, so much effort for 29 days and the huge variety of people and landscapes and weather conditions. South Africa is a country of such amazing contrasts from the rough shanties and the disenfranchised rural poor to the impossibly modern and swanky first world takes just an hour or two.
It was not like our arrival into Paris, there were no crowds lining the streets and cheering as we quietly arrived at the Table Bay Hotel. David was there though, our sole supporter and he happily took photos and joined in with the relief of our arrival. We feel slightly confused and disorientated, our brains have had so much to deal with in such a short length of time that we havn't absorbed it all yet.
The hotel is extremely comfortable and we had a wonderful Prize Giving dinner and slide show to finish off. It was quite a relief to wear a dress again and we had a few raised eyebrows from the other competitors..yes we are just a couple of girls who seem to like a bit of a challenge!
Monday, 30 January 2012
Had to climb out of our rocky bowl and over the top to drive to the border through the most extraordinary moonscape of huge boulders piled high on each side of the road and then another massive flat plateau. Had a very fast World Cup Section on this which felt like we could drive forever, the sort of place that a land speed record could be set! (but perhaps not by us). As we were approaching the Orange River which is the border between
Namibia and , we came upon the most amazing feat of irrigation. Suddenly in this barren and inhospitable desert there was about 1000 acres of vines and peach trees, beautifully tended, green and perfect. All investment from South Africa , we presumed in the middle of this dreadful desert. The border was the most organised that we have been through but the temperature was unbearable, up to 45C someone said. South Africa
Then we climbed into the hills for more timed sections. The last section of the day was the first in which Ben Dawson hasn’t overtaken us since he broke his stub axle in
and has had to travel behind us in the running order. More dry rocky desert and then we followed the Oliphant river which was lush and green into the charming town of Clanwilliam where we had our last supper together magically put on for us by the ladies of the Bowls Club. Ethiopia
For a rather ordinary hotel in what could be an Australian country town, we had surprisingly delicious food. Last night they cooked what we liked in the way of stir fry, fish, pasta and more while we watched. Made smoked salmon sandwiches from breakfast for our lunch and left from the multi storey car park.
We did three trials, all on gravel, with gravel in between. They were so tight that we had to drive all day as though we were on a trial. Luckily they do have excellent gravel roads here and getting up to 90mph not too much of a problem, except for the nerves! On the last trial we came over the hill and the control wasn’t there. Confused, we pressed the yellow brick and carried on, not at full pace and finally found them a couple of miles on. Everyone had the same problem, obviously, and reacted differently, so they cancelled that trial which we think is a pretty poor outcome.
We think someone hit a calf.
Thursday, 26 January 2012
Just after we left the hotel this morning there was a road block with just one man in a visi jacket, no police,no uniforms and he was demanding $5 do we pay or do we go? We decided to pay up and get out of there and presume it was going straight into his pocket. A long drive today, 1000km down the
Caprivi Strip along a very straight road. There were signs warning us of elephants but sadly we didn’t see any, although quite a few others on the rally did. Crossed the border into with the usual endless queuing for carnet and passports and we had to write everything down longhand in ledgers in the passport offices while the officers looked on. Passed through a number of veterinary road blocks where we had our wheels sprayed and we had to get out of the car and stand on a disinfectant soaked mat. One soldier had a good look around the car and Rachel asked him what he was looking for. Open boot he said, yes but what are you looking for? Open boot, so Suzy opened the boot and he looked in, didn't open any bags, nodded and said we could go. Arrived in Tsuneb, a rather charming town and enjoyed a glass of beer with the others feeling guilty that we should be doing something to the car. Finally after supper Owen said lets change those wheels so we put our spares on the front and he realigned them for us, ready to go in the morning. Namibia
A sort of day off today well, drive for 484km and then have the afternoon to see the falls which are amazing, no matter what pictures you have seen nothing prepares you for the noise and huge scale of them, 1 mile wide and 250m deep. We walked down to them from the hotel and got absolutely soaked through, just like being in the pouring rain, went across the bridge and saw the rainbows produced by them, fantastic. Unfortunately, Gerard the rally photographer caught us on the way back so look out for pictures on the website. This evening we thought we had gone mad as there were zebras grazing on the hotel lawns just beside the bar quite surreal