Life & Travels Afloat in our Moody
Here in the urban jungle there roam many herds of BMWs and Mercedes interspersed with various lesser breeds. Aside from the hoards of ubiquitous Toyata minibuses, or Chinese knock-off copies, that are the main means of transport for many, there are the 4x4s….
Most are the local equivalent of Chelsea tractors, (Brits will understand), Sandton safaris might be the local equivalent. Pumped up saloon models with drive added to the other 2 wheels, you know, Audi Q7-types that never leave the black stuff unless the owners are p****d. No matter, they are to be found breeding in most urban habitats these days, usually ferrying rug rats to school, and they do give their pilots a superior view of the scurrying masses. (Oh dear, thats alienated the few that punish themselves by reading these ramblings… this CLEARLY does not apply to the more adventurous friends and colleagues who have sporty 4x4s! 🙂 )
No, where I am heading with this is that in this part of the world, there is a separate species of transport more specifically set up to wander off-piste. These are usually Landcruisers or LandRovers (not Range Rovers please, these are confined to urban boundaries), with various modifications to enable cross-country jaunts, camping in the bush, hunting etc. They come adorned with roof-racks and jerry cans, sump guards and bull-bars, winches and spotlights, the latter often on the roof. Actually such lamps have a serious purpose beyond just illuminating the dangerous wild. Driving at night in places like Botswana, kudu can emerge and will try to jump over the lights. With just normal headlights, this can make for a terminal introduction between man and kudu.
Quite how many of these more rugged beasts actually get to engage 4-wheel drive in low ratio is not obvious. Some may belong to the ‘canned’ game farm hunt brigade, identifiable by their smart new camo gear, unscuffed boots, designer labels etc, but there are many people who want to really experience the wild.
At this point, I will remind you of my friend Daniel. We are working together on the same projects once more, and he is the proud Land Rover owner pulled over for exceeding the national speed limit in Namibia, much to his wife’s embarrassment, (shame the Guinness Book of Records missed it). Sentenced to doing time in the Johannesburg office, not unnaturally he too feels the need to escape on a regular basis, so he decided the solution was he should have another Land Rover here as well. So over many beers, the Landy hunt was on. After a brief aon of indecision, the shortlist of 2 was instantly reduced by 50% when after closely looking at the more expensive option, the dealer finally confessed that it had already been sold. Ok, a more helpful salesman might have admitted this at the outset, but nuff said….
Now this Landy is one cool looking beast! It draws the eye, and lesser motorists give it a wide berth. It is, I confess, the first vehicle I have driven that comes complete with an axe on the side of the roof rack, which might partly explain my last comment. Its minor failings, (needs new shocks, better brake pads, etc), are instantly overlooked. Even the robot beggars, (bit cruel, traffic light = robot here), are challenged as they really need stepladders to engage in their pantomime acts of pleading. Sorry again, you think I am being heartless here, but until you have seen the red light activity (oops, un-pc again, I just mean when the lights are on stop!), you won’t understand. As Daniel has a bit of short-term difficulty driving his car and this beast at the same time, I have selflessly offered to help him out with his problem 🙂
So the task now is to get the few bits and pieces ready for the first planned trip. Remember our unfinished business of the Sani pass, and the visit to Lesotho……….