The sounds of Africa, the sounds of broken glass…

Nelspruit Travel Blog

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Am I lost again? 58km to Belfast

With a big music festival up in Swaziland, the Bushfire Fest, it was time to move.  They had a good line up of local African music and I was looking forward to an African Festival.


We’d been in contact with Auzzy Sue from one of the trucks in knew, now doing her own thing off the truck and we meet up at the Funky Monkey backpackers in Nelspruit.  By this time the soccer World Cup was in the air everywhere, many flags flying, places being cleaned up and football paraphernalia being sold in the shops, on the streets and local hawkers at the robots desperate for business (traffic lights to the rest of us).  This is where Chile would be playing.  Sue had managed to get us tickets and a place to stay at her friends in Swazi, things were coming together.  We planned to get across the border a couple of days after Sue planning a visit to a local canyon first, I must we were told. 


The Landy was not on best behaviour and refused to start.  Ass!  A local mechanic came out and arranged to collect the following morning to change the fuel pump.  Out came the Hanes manual I’d bought and a phone call the my nephew, Robert.  The next morning I put my head in and around the Landy knowing some more about the fuel system, pulling pipes off and checking the wiring (there was no sound from the fuel pump?).  I was back under the drivers seat changing the fuel pump relay (again) that AB had shown me when doing the maintenance walk through when I bought the Landy and said this second relay up sometimes comes out on rough roads and to give it a push and shake back in place if the Landrover stops.  Hmmm, funny thing was accidently moving the first relay made the fuel pump burst into life and on removing it exposed a problem, the relay holder was burnt black.  A look at the colour codes on the wiring diagram in the Hanes manual confirmed this one was for the fuel pump. SORTED!  Out with the old and in with a direct wired connection, happy days it was going again!!


The happy days were about to change and we didn’t see it coming…  We where still putting things in order and buying more things in Nelspruit.  We bought some ‘KO Pepper’ spray that morning in a gun shop (spray it at the eyes of anybody and they would be blind on their knees with pain, with no long term effects), a couple travelling by 4x4 we meet at the backpackers advised it and Paulina could use it because there had been times when she felt threatened sat in the Landrover alone when I was off getting something.  Another continuing concern I had was making the rear of the Landy more secure, behind the rear passenger seats.  Everything would be in plain sight behind the Landy windows.  We went to a 4x4 centre I spotted on the way into town to look for something, my efforts to source something wasn’t going well.  We parked at the bottom of a steep ramp at the rear of the shop and walked up.  It wasn’t even a minuet when I heard an alarm going off and a worker inside the shop started shouting, the Landrover alarm!  I looked over the wall as I ran out the shop to see three local guys running with one of our backpacks towards a waiting car.  My legs could carry me quick enough as my sun glass fell chasing after them, they where in the car and moving with me still shouting and running up the road after them but they were gone…


A local armed security firm arrived that the owner called and some time after the police.  Discussing our movements they all said they followed us after I got money from an ATM outside a shopping centre waiting for their chance.  I had no idea even though I had made a few u-turns along the way.  What would had happened if Paulina was still sat inside…  my blood was starting to boil more...  Looking at the small spread of glass inside I would say they used a broken spark plug gripped in there hand to break the glass, quiet and very effective homemade tool.  Luckily the alarm worked and the worker shouting straight away scared them off before the one guy who dived in the window could passed out lots more stuff to his other two mates.  These were professionals, well dressed and coordinated, they even had a false number plate on the car when the police checked it out!  This was not an act from a desperate hungry African who needed to eat which I could really understand.  These well dressed baboons where the scum that would condemn many a visitors opinion of South Africa  Paulina lost a rucksack her mother had given her years ago and nothing else was gone but the heavy rucksack was only full of books and magazines.  I lost my Lonely Planet of Africa I carried all the way, various novels and a brand new Spanish for Dummy’s!  (wander if the police would be looking for an African speaking bad Spanish?).  I would have liked to see there face when they opened it… I would have liked to see there face as the big bulbar on the front of the Landrover pushed them off the road with me grinning at the steering wheel!!!


We couldn’t get a replacement window in Nelspruit and tomorrow was the weekend.  This cancelled our African music festival.  The company I’d bought the Landy from left a replacement window with the night security, for free, cheers Rob!  I paid a deposit to the guy we were visiting that day to makeup outer metal mesh to secure all the rear of the Landrover and he said it would be a nice job using powder coating paint.  We needed security, we needed security after this. 


Speaking about South Africa it has a new wave of xenophobia sweeping across it but it has been said they would not kill people until after the World Cup, it’s tribal, against black immigrants with businesses, black and white…  What will happen after the World Cup?  How will the world see South Africa?  Tourists robbed (including us), including a hotel held up at gun point with Chilean reports robbed.  I hope it isn’t a falling nation…but they have a hard task ahead and need commitment with much less greedy politicians and people in powerful positions.  ((speaking with a couple of police later in the trip, on the day of the World Cup final it seemed to me they were reading a script, not speaking freely about South Africa really is at the moment, they said how safe South Africa was but personally I’m not convinced.  I’ve heard others reading a script, radio, TV… but that’s my opinion)) 


We drove back the 400km N4 and N12 to Johannesburg that night with the window taped in plastic, picked up the window and Corrie told us to come back the her house, Reon was off on business, they were sad to her about the “affirmative shopping” as it’s called here.  On the way back that night I had a call from the police wanting to take finger prints, this was hours later and there was no point returning, I told them I would gladly go to a station in Johannesburg.  They did call back.  People here don’t have faith in the police and I had no faith that anything would come of this.  I had another call from a police officer some weeks later but missed it and when I tried to call back there was no answer, nobody at the police station even picked up public contact number and I called lots of times.  Who do you call in an emergency then?  That’s why the private security firms do very well.


Next day Paulina and I fitted the window that Rob had given us, and also managed to get Corrie’s automatic gate working again and welding it back in place.

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Am I lost again? 58km to Belfast
Am I lost again? 58km to Belfast
photo by: vulindlela