AdventureAfricaSouth Africa

6-26: Muddy Adventures

Landlocked again today.We all convened on the beach in our wetsuits – ready to launch – while the staff conferred.But the waves were too large and the breakers too close to shore, which meant no room for the boats to gain ground.A shame because, aside from the wind, the weather was lovely and we were all wanting to be wet today.But it was not to be.

Muddy Adventure – Take One

Later Evvy and I sat by the fire, bored, reading our books when çois came to tell us the group plans for the day: lunch, then a group walk to see a Zulu Medicine Man.He said, “Antony and I have to go pull a truck out of the mud, but we’ll be back soon.”

“Okay.”We replied, and went back to our books.

He returned one minute later.“Listen, this truck thing might be a bit of an adventure.Do you…”

We were out of our seats before he’d even finished his sentence.Of course we wanted to!Anything to get out and do something for the day.Within minutes we were tucked into the back seat of Antony’s Land Rover.Me between Andy and Evvy, çois riding shotgun, and Ant driving.Rob Thomas blasted from the speakers as we four-wheeled our way down muddy, almost impassible African roads.Antony – it turns out – is a professional Land Rover driver who trains other drivers how to four-wheel.Lucky for us, since some of the roads were two feet thick with mud. I’d have gotten us stuck before we even left the lodge.

Along the way we arrived at a one-lane bridge that crossed over a small river.Ant veered right, rolling down the hill and through the rocky riverbed.“African truck wash.” he said dryly, his eyes crinkling in the rearview mirror.

We drove to the cell tower where the truck – which belongs to one of the local microlight pilots – was stuck deep in the mud.We parked on a hill overlooking the dirty debacle, and the boys hemmed and hawed and tossed all sorts of boy-like phrases back and forth before determining this was no use without the keys to the truck and, since the driver was in his microlight, we’d have to find another way to amuse ourselves.Disappointing, since Evvy and I had our cameras at the ready and a small group of locals had convened to watch the truck-removal antics.

Stuck Truck

Instead we took pictures of the Wild Coast view, teased çois, bemoaned the three massive bait balls we could see from the shore, and then Ant decided to give the truck a try.We stayed up on the hill and watched as he expertly drove his Land Rover down some tricky hills – one of which was easily a 45 degree angle.When he reached the stuck truck, he attached his winch and pulled but the thick mud had formed a tight seal around the tires so moving wasn’t an option without additional leverage.We tabled the pull for later and climbed into the truck for our drive back to Mboyti.

Our four-wheeling trip concluded on a hill overlooking the ocean and Mboyti with a round of “Black Label” beers that çois procured from a tin shack.This shack (or maybe it was a shanty) seemed to act as a sort of drive-by-convenience store that sold surprisingly cold beers.Drinks in hand, we sat in the afternoon soon and told offensive jokes that had us rolling with hilarity.

Muddy Adventure – Take Two

Back at the lodge we passed the time with a late lunch and chatting with some of the other Sardine Runners until the boys had collected all they needed for the next truck-saving attempt.After a few hours Ant and çois appeared with the missing microlight pilot and gave us the “let’s go” nod.We stopped to load up some wooden fence posts as leverage before heading to the scene of the crime.This time Ant didn’t stop on the road above, but continued down the steep incline – at 45 degrees – without even missing a beat.As the truck tilted at precarious angles and on uneven surfaces, Evvy and I traded a look that clearly said, “holy shit!”Our fingers clenched around various grips in the truck.

Ant, who hadn’t batted an eyelash at being slanted over to the right with barely a two-wheel balance, chuckled at us through the rearview mirror.“This is the most quiet you two have been all day.”

My attempt at capturing Ant’s driving skills

Of course we arrived safe and sound, and I wanted to do it all over again.

The truck de-sticking involved three trucks, four men, three women, five cameras, and a slew of locals who emerged from their huts for the afternoon’s entertainment. The boys positioned some boards in the mud and placed a car jack on top to leverage the truck upwards so the tires cleared the mud and there was room for the fence posts to be place underneath.Once this was done, Ant reattached the winch and pulled the pickup free.

Jacking up the Truck

Free At Last

We “supervisors” climbed in the Land Rover and we began our path back up the 45-degree hill to return to the road.

Because we now had three dirty trucks there was a bit of a backup at the African Truck Wash which, incidentally, also doubled as a foot wash for our boys who were covered in thick gobs of mud.

African Truck Wash

Ant, çois, Evvy and I celebrated our successful truck de-sticking with a Sundowner next to the tin shack/shanty/convenience store.Another round of Black Label beer bottles were ordered and we sat on the hill in the setting sun, watching the bait balls in the ocean and wishing we’d been on the water, but entertaining each other with jokes of terribly poor taste.

What Ails You?

There’s a stomach bug picking off the guests one by one over the past few days.Discussions at dinner involve naming everyone who’s been afflicted and still down for the count, and those who have yet to be socked with it.

As çois says, “It’s gone all pear-shaped.” Which I now add to my vocabulary to mean, “it’s all sorts of wacked.”