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Gimme hope Jo'anna, give me hope.

A symbolic photograph depicting modern South Africa.

What do you think?

After all the repairs were completed on the truck we left Cape Town and headed East, taking in Route 62 and the Garden route.

Leaving behind the mechanics' lovely dog, Dusty was hard to do.

Along route 62, there is the famous Ronnie's Sex shop which despite its name, was a general store set up by ….. Yep, Ronnie. The other bit came after his friends decided to play a practical joke on Ronnie and painted the word sex along the side of Ronnie's shop already painted and it has now become a tourist icon, but we must off caught Ronnie on an off-day as the place was closed when we passed. Not that we were looking for sex or anything!

The Iconic Ronnie sex shop. It's now a bar but it was closed when we passed by.

The Garden Route and Route 62 was for us, twee after being in gritty west Africa but enjoyable all the same, with lots of eating and drinking opportunities to temp a stray tourist or two.

Some of the attractive, manicured stops on the Garden route.

Well designed to capture the tourist Rand.

Next up was East London, and St Francis bay to name a few places where, after 21 years, I was able to meet old friends from Cradock Round Table. It's been 21 years since we all last crossed paths in a European Round table exchange to Cradock, but it was as though it was yesterday. Just the drinking was much more subdued this time around.

All that behind us and we headed for Lesotho. A small country that packed a big punch.

The mountains held some amazing treats and the local village people moved around by horseback with leather pouches on the horse's flanks to store their goods. As they passed us by dressed in their traditional blankets we were greeted with huge smiles and warm hellos, but boy, wasn't it cold up in the mountains.

Wonderful Lesotho and the people of the country.

This way of life hasn’t changed for centuries, apart from the introduction of mobile phones of course. I think the scenery here is my favourite of the trip so far.

The mountains offered some wonderful views and whilst exploring, we saw various homes built in the traditional stone style with thatched roofs, but we became confused by some homes that were sporting a flag that was no more than a white plastic bag. Eventually, curiosity got the better of us and we had to ask what it meant. The particular family we asked couldn't have been more friendly and laughed out loud at these two daft tourists asking such a question. The answer was simple, the white plastic bag indicated a Shebeen or unlicensed drinking den serving home-brewed Millet ale or similar. We didn't sample!

Horses play a big part of Lesotho life.

Leaving Lesotho was not easy but we had to crack on and Johannesburg was on our sites.

We wanted to add a couple of new lockers to the truck and we had started conversations with several Aluminium fabricators in Jo-berg to make them (more shoe space for Charlotte) and I decided we would use one guy that had been quick in responding to my enquiry and sounded just the ticket to make our new lockers and he suggested we drove down with the truck to get measured up and agree on a cost.

When we arrived at the workshop, it was in the middle of the Hood and we stood out like a sore thumb. The area was called Regent Park but I hasten to add, not like the Regents Park that I know. This was like something off the movies.

Djomo, the owner was outside and greeted us. The temptation to drive off was very strong but we bit the bullet and smiled through gritted teeth.

Djomo spent a few hours measuring and head scratching whilst we stood with our backs to each other hoping that we had all bases covered in the event of an attack! But as time passed, we started to relax and to our surprise, people started talking to us and asking about the truck.

Everyone was really friendly and not at all scary. They told us they were the good guys and the Nigerians down the street sold the hard drugs and to stay away from them but the local weed dealers came and chatted and even posed for a photo.

I asked why they moved around in a pack as they all wanted to sell their weed and how did that work as a group? The answer was simple, they worked as a type of Co-operative and moved around as a group for safety as they carried products and cash and so to work together made much more sense.

Eventually, Djomo finished his measuring up and we were free to go until he had the materials ready.

Djomo measuring up for the new lockers.

When the materials arrived, we headed back to the Hood to start work and en route, the truck developed a grating noise coming from one of the wheels on arrival we removed the offending wheel to find we had damaged the studs holding the wheel in place and that day was the start of a Bank Holiday weekend.

The lockers under construction

The truth soon dawned on us, we were stuck in Djomo’s yard until the shops opened again 4 days later. You couldn't make this stuff up. Honestly.

Djomo reassured us we were safe and he had a night watchman in place who would protect us.

Guys on the street corner just hangin'

A small fruit and veg stall typical of any African street.

The local weed dealers posing for a photo.

Djomo told us he had worked in the area for 15 years since coming into South Africa from his native Cameroon. He told us he had been robbed 7 times in the first 2 years of opening his workshop and how he had told his father he was going to find the thieves and punish them (he is a big strong guy) and his father had told him two leave them alone as if he took revenge, the thieves would surely kill him.

Just an everyday scene from the Hood.

The truck starting to gain some interest.

They are rough, tough streets but the people are so nice.

He told us how he took his father's advice and carried on working hard and ignoring the break-ins eventually they left him alone and he became a respected member of the community locally and he told us that's why we would be okay.

The following day Djomo came to work despite it being a bank holiday and worked all day on our lockers. As the day started to fade, his wife and various friends started to arrive and we were invited to an impromptu BBQ, Cameroon style with the meat being cooked on an open fire and then roughly cut up as everyone ate with their fingers and no one was sure if the sauce was Cameroon style mayo or axle grease and nobody cared. These guys took us into the world and their hearts and much alcohol were also consumed by one and all.

A last stir of the sauce before the meat is cooked.

Everyone awaiting their food.

I am sure they had sanitised the newspaper before putting the meat on it.

Djomo and I spoke of our fondness for Whisky and, of my love for Irish whisky and suggested I went to buy a bottle from the local liquor store. Djomo insisted he chaperoned me and fleeced me to ensure my phone was left in the compound and all other valuables. Just in case ????

On our return, all the men mixed the Irish whisky with Coca-cola and ice and said they liked Irish whisky too. This wasn’t quite how I wanted them to taste a true drop of Tullamore Dew, but never mind.

We survived the weekend and have many new friends as a result.

We even got serenaded whilst the meat was cooked.

That's how to prepare meat?

The lockers were completed and Charlotte now has more storage for her shoes and I have more storage for my tools.

A parting gift to us from Djomo and his family. A fish-prepared Cameroon style.

All well that ends well.

The road north was now beckoning and it was time to go. We headed for the Botswana border and on to the next part of our wonderful adventure.


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