Week 1: Settling into Jo’burg
We arrived in Johannesburg on the 24th to pick up the Land Rover we had purchased online from a guy that turned out to be a modern day G.I. Joe (whom we’ll call James Finch). James had grown up on a wild African farm and had been in the South African special forces, and man, did he have stories to tell us! Of training in the dark, eating rotting baboon guts, scaring away lions, and getting stranded at sea off the coast of Mozambique…And that’s really just the beginning!
His family was absolutely amazing not only to let us stay with them while we sorted out our stuff, but also to very much help us sort it out. They spent part of the first week making phone calls for us to find out some key visa and car insurance stuff, and James was able to take Moreno around to help him with the car stuff.
That said, they also absolutely terrified us with stories of how dangerous Johannesburg is. Everyone here has pretty much been affected by crime – serious crime – and it doesn’t show signs of stopping. The consensus seems to be that while Africa’s an amazing place to holiday, living here is a whole other ballgame.
The Land Rover
As mentioned, our overland adventure will be done in the Landy, but we got it completely bare (more on that coming soon), and needed to get cabinets done and fitted so that we could actually live in it.
This came with some snags and delays, but the biggest hiccup came when we found out that despite what all the papers said, as non-residents, we weren’t able to purchase the Landy off of James. So just to be better safe than sorry, we’ve come up with an agreement on paper to “rent” the vehicle from James, even though we’ve actually purchased it (we have paperwork for that, too), with lots of preparations for the various scenarios that might pop up when it’s time for us to leave the continent.
Week 2: Almost Final Touches
By the beginning of the second week we knew we wanted to be on the road already – we didn’t want to overstay our welcome, but there was still so much to do with the Landy. Moreno was able to hire James’ farm hand, Kuda, to help him with some of the labour during the day, but was still up till midnight every night working on it.
We also had to go into Pretoria to get our entry permits extended: as Canadians, we’re allowed entry without a visa for 90 days, but since our flight out of Cape Town is past the deadline, one way or another we’ll either be kicked out, or not let in in the first place.
By the end of the week, we were so close to leaving, but we still had no mattress for our bed and no one was available to size and cut foam day-of. We actually had to leave because our hosts were throwing an overnighter birthday for some family, so we decided to take our Landy on a mini camping/wildlife viewing test run for the weekend.
Pilanesberg Test Run
We decided to go to Pilanesberg National Park, which is a reserve three hours away from Johannesburg and has the Big 5. Despite our mini adventure getting there (they tell you not to drive at night for a reason), it was a great experience and a great first run! (And you’ll be able to read about all of it and see photos of what we saw shortly!)
Yes, we did finally leave Jo’burg, but not till mid the next week, and not before another hiccup had to be taken care of. That’s coming up in the next post!