They say the craziest experiences make for life’s greatest, most pleasurable-to-tell stories… or something to that effect.
Above is a photo of me and my buddy D-money as we arrived at our holiday destination in Swaziland, for the Bushfire festival. We thought camping for the first time; in a ‘foreign country’ and mixing with hippies from all corners of the globe in the name of partying to international sounds and consuming copious amounts of sweet local beer Sibebe would be our big adventure. Turns out that the real adventure would begin when the festival ended.
Bushfire happens over Friday, Saturday and Sunday, and unlike our smart colleagues who also attended the festival – Dumile (D Money) and I didn’t think to take Monday off. It was only at 4pm on the Sunday, when The Soil – the group I’d especially gone to see, came on stage. There was no way I was going to leave even though we were already running late.
True to form the group delivered a performance I couldn’t have imagined in my wildest day-dreams. I was drunk and high with awe: singing along, dancing, applauding and simply losing my mind – oblivious to the ticking time.
“Oh sh**! those were the first words out of my mouth when I finally came back to planet earth and realised how late we were. Dumile was contemplating our boss’s offer to leave on the Monday at the crack of dawn. I on the other hand was so over the communal showering and sleeping on the hard ground. Come hell or high water I had to sleep in my bed and in my flat that night! I eventually convinced Dumile that we had to trek back to Jozi and off we went.
To catch the long-distance taxis to Joburg we had to go back to go forward. We endured a 45 minute taxi ride to the Manzini national taxi rank which was in the complete opposite direction of where we were going. The taxi was filled with church-goers returning from worship and there we were, dusty, clumsily carrying big bags and honing of alcohol which – judging by the amount we’d consumed – was probably seeping through our pores. The taxi took forever to get to Manzini, dropping off everybody and only getting to our stop at the very end.
The sun had set already and my sixth sense was telling me things were not going to be good. And just as I predicted when we got to the rank we were told that the last taxi to Johannesburg had left 15 minutes prior to our arrival. I don’t know whether it’s common practice for Taxi drivers to be so kind and helpful in Swaziland but I really take my hat off to the guy who attempted to help us. He started calling around to find out whether the taxi had passed the border, maybe it could wait for us at there, but alas it was not to be. He advised us to take a meter taxi to the border & then hike from there.
We bargained and bargained with the private cab driver with the assistance of the taxi driver who found him for us, and negotiated him down from E250 to 200 Emalangeni – which is equivalent to R200 rands.
We got into the taxi and drove for +/- 2hrs to get to the border. Our consciences wouldn’t let us get away with paying the negotiated fee. I kept thinking that for a trip like that in Johannesburg I could have easily parted with R5/600, so we topped him up with another E150, bringing his fee up to E350.
After the border things got even more interesting. It was time to hike and believe me nothing brings you down to earth quicker than people looking at you like you could be a highway robbery couple, or just scum. Initially I was choosy, I would only put my thumb out for big cars like Twin Cabs, while Dumile flagged down anything that moved. Some of the dodgier Cressidas & old Toyotas would stop, only for us to find out they were only going as far as Mpumalanga or at most – Heidelberg and not Johannesburg.
With my pride bruised, from being unsuccessful with the fancy rides I eventually surrendered and also started flagging down anything and errrthang, and finally Corsa van stopped. I was still wrestling with my feelings of snobbery, even though I knew my pride was fighting a losing battle. Dumile asked the two guys in the van where they were going, they said Pretoria and we threw our luggage overboard and pleaded with them to drop us off in Jozi. They obliged and off we went in a canopy-less van with two complete strangers. I was comforted by the fact that they played Gospel music, which meant there was little chance of them turning out to be serial killers.
We sat in the back of the bakkie; the car driving at 120+/h on the freeway with the wind howling up a storm. Luckily we remembered that we both had blankets from the camping. We also remembered that hey … we had taken so many beverages to to Bushfire that we had leftovers of wine and whisky. We figured if we died from the speeding car overturning, or if we froze to death, being drunk would be the best way to go out.
After a couple of shots entered the bloodstream, the situation became less of a crisis and we started seeing just how funny it was and we relaxed.
We realised we were hanging out under a jewel scattered sky, the kind of one never got to see in Johannesburg courtesy of the pollution. At some point I think we passed out because before we knew it, it was 3 hours later and we were back in Johannesburg.
We made it. Alive. In two pieces – he in one and me in the other 🙂
This story never fails to get its share of ‘WTF’s or ‘were you insaaaane!!!’ reactions from everybody I tell it to, so it will always feature high on my list of adventure stories which I look forward to telling.
The photos in this blog don’t really correlate to the article, but you best believe this a definite must-add event to your pleasure bucket list 😉